V6 Hybrid, not a V8
Unlike the aforementioned BMW and Lexus, the Merc rides forward with the help of the stables' much-used 3.5L V6. Although this engine is not offered in the S-Class in North America, it is a fashionable choice in Europe. Putting out roughly 279 hp on its own, what makes this Hybrid exactly that is the addition of an electric motor that boosts power to 295 hp. Torque is a healthy 284 lb-ft. The lot is mated to Mercedes' own 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission. Combined energy is sent to the real wheels exclusively.
Along with the electric motor, the S400 comes with the usual slew of Hybrid must-haves, including a high-capacity lithium-ion battery, an automatic start-stop technology, not to mention the key regenerative braking system.
Where the Bimmer (440-hp V8) and the Lex (438-hp V8) go for big power and some performance, the S400 is more comfortable cruisier like the luxury liner that it is. It is certainly no slouch, as it can reach 100 km/h in only 7.2 seconds, so merging with traffic flow will never be an issue. Also, if you're buying a hybrid because it's a hybrid, the S400 consumes and pollutes considerably less than the other two. My week-long test returned an average 12.5L per 100 km, which is commendable given the sheer size and weight of the car.
Under way, few cars rival the S-Class for a sheer mousse-like ride and the impression of total bulletproof-ness. Unfortunately, the Hybrid falls short on a few points that could easily sway people into the scarcely more-expensive S450 ($108,000). Here's why.
It begins with the automatic start-stop technology, a great idea that should be incorporated into all cars without exception as far as I'm concerned. As you come to a full stop, the car's powertrain shuts off. If, at take off, you're a little rushed, you'll be met with a dead throttle pedal for a long second, maybe even a pair. I find this just about unacceptable; most hybrids equipped with the same technology aren't as severely afflicted. As well, once the engine gets going, the transmission behaves as though it has just been awaken from a deep slumber and is slow to react and to acquiesce to the driver’s requests.
Other Reviews Available For The 2010 Mercedes S-Class S400 Hybrid
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2010 Mercedes S-Class S400 Hybrid Specifications
Similar to 2010 Mercedes S-Class S400 Hybrid