MERCEDES- BENZ S500E L
There’s something magical about Stuttgart’s grand saloon. In the limo class it more than held its own against more expensive rivals from Britain and has over its 40-year history been accepted as a universal symbol of class – especially the 500s. I’ve long said that if I were to drive one car for the rest of my life, it would have been a previous generation ( W222) S500.
I wondered if I’d bestow the current crop of S500s with the status of being my dream retirement vehicle when the S500e L arrived for a week-long test at the PM office.
Part of the appeal of S500s for me were that they have always been powered by silky-smooth, muscular V8 engines that allowed for effortless overtaking acceleration and high-speed cruising. As you may have figured out by the name, the “e” in its nomenclature denotes that this S- Class is a plug-in hybrid, which means that unlike the V8-powered 500s before it, the S500e L uses a turbopetrol V6 in conjunction with an electric motor to minimise emissions and maximise efficiency. With interest picking up in alternative powertrain technology, Mercedes-benz, traditionally a trendsetter, definitely can’t be seen to be lacking.
So rather than ask what does S500e L does to live to up to S reputation, I asked what it does to catapult the lineage forward.
Well, it doesn’t look any different from any other S- Class, apart from the badging, which scored highly in my book – especially in this long- wheelbase configuration. Its cabin similarly doesn’t deviate from the tried and tested path of opulence and utmost comfort for the driver and three passengers. The digital instrument panel does have a display that helps the driver determine how much electric power is being used before the petrol engine takes over, like most of the competition, but apart from that, you’d have no clue as to the vehicle’s hybrid underpinnings.
That, and perhaps the deafening silence afforded by wafting along in peak hour traffic in full electric mode thanks to about a 65 per cent charge before the morning commute. The double glazed windows combined with the other cabin insulating materials are excellent on the rest of the line-up, but on this model the execution is sublime.
It just so happened that my mother, a librarian, needed transportation to her place of work one Monday morning and I happened to be driving the S500e L. Being someone annoyed by even
the tick-tock of a clock during the night, she found that the rear confines of the cabin, complete with privacy glass and window blinds, catered to her taste.
The lack of two more cylinders wasn’t missed, as I busied myself with trying to extract the maximum fuel efficiency from the hybrid Mercedes, managing an average of just over 6 litres/100 km over a weekend (I didn’t recharge the battery overnight, though I expected there’d be a lot more regenerative charge from the hybrid system). And on the occasional burst on the freeway, the combined outputs (see above) certainly didn’t disappoint.
I might not want a V8 after all.