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Could the hybrid version of the S-Class be the best?
We try Mercedes's all-new S-Class with hybrid power.
Electrically adjustable, heated and automatically dimming (exterior driver's side) mirrors with kerb/parking function, hands-free access - contactless opening of the boot lid plus remote boot lid closing, heat-insulating, dark-tinted glass, heated windscreen, keyless-go starting function with seamless door handles, HD headlights with multibeam LEDs, panoramic sliding sunroof, power closing doors and boot lid, active multicontour driver and front passenger seats, climatised front and rear seats, electric sunblind for rear window and doors, electrically adjustable rear seats including memory function, four-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, interior lighting - active ambient lighting with 64 colours and ten colour schemes, heated multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather with gearshift paddles, Thermotronic four-zone automatic climate control, 3D driver display, DAB digital radio, MBUX augmented reality head-up display, MBUX augmented reality for navigation and MBUX navigation premium, 12.8in OLED central display, Burmester 3D surround sound system, wireless smartphone integration, wireless charging front and rear.
As the first all-electric EQS models have hit the UK, we've had the chance to drive another alternative from Mercedes in the form of the hybrid version of the latest S-Class. Like the S400d L, I can only imagine this S580e L will appeal to chauffeur companies ferrying executives between customers' homes to airports around the country. Or maybe to company directors that want to cut their costs, but don't want to make the jump to full EV power. Either way, the 353.1mpg combined fuel figure and up to 63-miles electric range is sure to appeal.
What about the other costs, I hear you ask? Well, consumption and range aside, this is still an expensive car, especially in the range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus Executive spec tested here. Still, despite the heady £116,330 price, you do get a frankly unbelievable 7% BIK figure, but it is still expensive at 140.81p per mile over three-years/60,000 miles. So, think not cheap to buy but cheaper to run - although the hybrid model depreciates more than the S400d L driven previously.
Like other S-Class models, just looking at the figures isn't really getting to the point of what is the best-selling luxury car. There are the technical innovations to consider, too.
Firstly, let's talk about the infotainment. This is our second time with a current S-Class and its standard-fit Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), with a 12.8in OLED touchscreen central display, 12.3in digital driver display, plus an MBUX tablet (part of the Executive line grade) - which can be used as a fully-fledged tablet outside of the vehicle. As before, the driver display was fitted with 3D technology, along with other clever features including facial recognition, which detects driver drowsiness and exterior mirror settings. Last but definitely not least, there is the 'Hey Mercedes' virtual assistant, which is pretty good at recognising instructions or requests from any seat in the car.
As before, we found the MBUX system easy to use, with impressive graphics and, after a proper handover, we felt we got more out of this system than last time. However, again we thought there was more to be learned, which would be easy enough for an owner to do after spending time with the car. Also, the 3D driver display, which despite being an asset takes some time to get used to - it still made us feel a bit dizzy and it was better for our eyes to have the instruments showing rather than the map.
The interior again is a high point, and we still believe this is one of the nicest we've ever sat in. The way the screens float on a dashboard made of a large, polished piece of wood which stretches into the door cards looks modern and classy. The door pulls and electric seat controls on the doors appear to 'float' too, although this did cause a slight issue for passengers during the time we had the car. Due to the design, the door pulls are so well disguised that they thought there were none. Then there are the front seats, which still impress with how comfortable and supportive they are. In our range-topping test car, they were finished in the softest Nappa leather, although the light colour looked like it would get dirty easily. The 1,750-watt Burmeister sound system is the perfect accompaniment, too.
Like the S400d, the S580e is only available with the long-wheelbase body. The result is expansive rear legroom, plus more exceptionally comfortable seats, and my kids particularly liked the tablet that could control various functions of the car - especially the lighting. The boot is practically-shaped, but all the battery kit robs it of 45 litres, reducing it to 535 litres. Because the S580e L starts in full electric mode, we'd say refinement steps up from its already exceptional level, making it even more satisfying to be driven in rather than driving. Even after a very early start on one drive, we arrived relaxed despite early morning road closures.
Our range-topping model rode on 21in wheels and big wheels are usually a cause for worry - but not with the S-Class. Although, the air suspension on the S580e almost felt too soft, despite trying the many settings.
Impressively fast given the hybrid kit, all the technology means you can enjoy the 367hp even with its considerable 3,070kg weight - where you can. The steering is light but responsive, and there's not much body roll in corners, although the inconsistent brake feel disappoints.
The EQS is here, but the S580e L offers a real alternative to those who can't or don't want to make the switch to full electric power. The S-Class remains one of the best luxury saloons and the hybrid is in our opinion the best version.
Mercedes-Benz S580e 4MATICL AMG Line Premium Plus Executive