Driven: Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE

DRIVEN: Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE Review

Here is Mercedes-Benz’s, ultra-refined, luxury saloon; the S 400 Hybrid L SE.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE all about?

The Mercedes-Benz S Class is Mercedes’ most luxurious car on sale, and competes strongly against the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, and even the likes of the Rolls Royce Phantom.

Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE Review

The S 400 Hybrid is a class leading vehicle with a 3.5-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine, which puts out 306bhp and 370 NMs of torque. The Mercedes is a full hybrid car that charges by regenerative braking, that power is then used to power an electric motor, adding an additional 27bhp, that can be used at the same time as the V6 engine or completely by itself for up to 20 miles. Which means that this large luxury car has big performance, but can also be very economical.

The £94,530 car on test was fully kitted out with the premium functionality that you would expect, including electric closing doors, reclining and massaging rear seats, Burmester premium entertainment system, and even night vision.

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How does it drive?

Not that all S Class owners will be sitting in the front of the S Class, but when you do the only way to describe the driving experience is utterly serene.

When I first set off in the S Class I did a few miles without the diesel engine even kicking in. Whilst driving on the electric power, you can’t hear a thing in the driver’s cabin, literally nothing, it’s unreal. The AirMATIC air suspension smooths out the bumps on the road, and you can literally only hear the noise of your hands feeding the steering wheel as you turn it…unbelievable!

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When you put your foot down, asking the Mercedes for a little more power, the 3.5 litre diesel engine kicks in instantly and off you go. This process works seamlessly, and when you ask for that extra bit of power the S Class still shifts. With 0-60mph coming up in 6.8 seconds, and then not stopping until it hits the 155mph top speed electronic limit. The impressive speed is achieved using both the torque from the V6 diesel engine and the electrical motor together, and also the rapid response from the 7G-Tronic Plus seven speed automatic gearbox, that can also be controlled via the paddles on the steering wheel, if you wish to dictate the gear shifts.

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The S 400 Hybrid driving experience is elegant, and so well refined. The car is very large and heavy, but this is well hidden by the clever engineering, which makes the car a dream to drive. You will be challenged to find a car that is as smooth to drive as the S Class hybrid.

What’s it like inside?

We could be here for a while as the S Class’s interior is literally jam packed with features. So I will mention only a few key features.

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Let’s start with the front of the S Class; sitting in the driver’s seat, you notice the use of exquisite materials absolutely everywhere in the car. Once you settle into the car you will see that it’s not like anything else around, it is more like sitting in an aeroplane, or space shuttle, rather than the cars we are used. Straight in front of you, you have the instrument cluster that is a huge high definition digital display, which can be used for a massive variety of features, including night vision.

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Moving slightly to the left you will see the media centre display, which is a whopping 12.3”, corner to corner. I spent a good hour going through all the settings and configurations that you can access via the console, and I still didn’t cover everything that you can configure. Just to give you a taste of some of the advanced features that were included, you can pick from one of seven different massage settings for each of the seats in the car, and even multiple different seat heating temperatures, and heat patterns.

The Burmester premium audio system in the car is unbelievably well tuned and a dream to listen to, even the graphics for simply showing which radio station you are listening to are the best I have ever seen.

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There was also the 360 degree parking camera, which is simply brilliant for a car of this size and value.

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Then you move into the back of the car, and despite how unreal the S Class is to drive, the back seat of the S Class is the place to be. The car on test came with the executive rear package. This package means that you get electronic reclining rear seats that tilt back to 37%, the seats are brilliantly designed and feel ultimately comfortable and very relaxing. The seats are fully adjustable, heated, cooled, and will even massage you until you reach your destination. These seats were that good I would buy a couple of them just for my living room if I could… if only Mercedes-Benz made sofas!

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Once you have experienced the seats for a while, you can take a look at the rest of the environment surrounding you. One thing you will notice is the ambient mood lighting that goes all around the car to give the effect you wish, and you can choose the colour yourself.

Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE Review

In the back, you can still be in full control of the entertainment and car systems. There are two large screens in the back of the car, and using the remote control you can use all of the S Class’ complex functionality as if you were in the front seat.

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The Experience

Whether you are the passenger or the driver of the S Class, you won’t be disappointed. Mercedes-Benz strive to make the S Class the very best in its class, and I think that they may just have achieved this.

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The S Class is at the top of its game when it comes to refinement, and adding a touch of hybrid technology in the mix has made the car ultimately quiet and silky smooth. Within the industry, a lot of people argue that the S Class is more refined and more luxurious than other cars that are 3 times the price of it, there is no doubt in my mind that the S Class is at the same level as them.

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If you can afford it, buy it! The car is a little out of most people’s budget, but the value for the cost is actually very good. The enjoyment from driving or, even better, being driven around in the S Class is second to none and one that needs to be experienced to be understood, but you won’t look back once you have tried it.

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Video Highlights


Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid L SE
  • Price: £94,530.00
  • Engine: 3.5-Litre diesel
  • Power: 306bhp +27bhp (eletric)
  • Torque: 370Nm
  • Transmission: 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic
  • 0-62mph: 6.9 Seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Weight: 2,630kg
  • Economy combined: 44mpg
  • CO2: 147g/km

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Author: Paul Hadley