As hybrid cars go, the S400 had some pretty good pep with 295 horsepower, but it was clearly underpowered compared to the rest of the S-class line up. The next one up is a V8 with 382 horses, a significant increase.
Now you can do a lot with 295 horsepower, even if it is moving a very heavy and solid car. There was some lag when I put the hammer down, but it did get up to speed pretty quickly. The spec sheet cites 7.2 seconds to go from 0 to 60 Mph. I didn’t test that, but merging onto freeways was accomplished easily and safely. Once there, the S400 floated effortlessly at high speeds, cruising the highways with the panache that few cars can offer.
As a comparison of luxury hybrids, the Lexus LS Hybrid offers a much more hefty 438 horsepower to play with, although it results in a highway MPG of only 22, compared to the S400 26. I guess you can pick how green you want to be.
The S400 provides a very stable ride, with good lateral resistance in turns. It is clearly not a sports car and it should not be expected to be driven like one. The S400 is almost in the class of car where the owner might as easily be riding in the rear as behind the steering wheel. When cornering, the heft of the car is noticeable, but easily manageable.
The suspension has both regular and sport settings, which make a detectable difference in the road feel. However, even the sport setting provides for a very comfortable ride with bumps and potholes suitably suppressed. It just lets you know there was a bump. On the regular setting, there is only the hint of a bump. As you would expect from a car company known for its focus on safety, the brakes were more than sufficient to bring this baby to a stop.
I have always found the Mercedes designers to be some of the best in the business, combining gracefulness and power into a form that still screams advanced technology. The S400 is no different. The sloping, sleek lines speak to the elegant aerodynamics, while the angled headlights offer a hint of aggressiveness. There is no question this is a premium luxury vehicle that pushes the technology envelope.
The S400 Hybrid delivers on the promise of supremely elegant luxury, with a slight compromise of some power to achieve better gas mileage. It owns the highways, cruising along them with strength and confidence. If a short coming exists for this car, it lies in the overwhelming capabilities the S-class offers. The car is so loaded with cutting edge technology that most of it will be underutilized. It will take months for owners to understand how to operate the nifty features and capabilities of such a highly advanced car. And the COMAND controller could still use some improvements to further simplify operation.
However, it is hard to fault a car for having too many good features. Perhaps it is a bit of sour grapes on my part for not having more time with such a wonderful car to test them all fully. Over time, owners will have the opportunity to appreciate their cars even more, as they discover what all it can do.
|Official website for Mercedes-Benz cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.mbusa.com|
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