Review: Mercedes-Benz once again stakes its claim as maker of the world’s best luxury car with the S 580 e PHEV

Overview

As the transition to electric vehicles powers ahead, many car-makers, including Mercedes-Benz, plan to streamline their product line-up to try to increase profit margins. Rumours abound that “cheaper” models such as the A-Class and B-Class may be casualties in the drive to luxury-brand status. But there are no such concerns for this week’s test car, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class S 580 e LWB, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with an all-electric range of more than 100km.

Outside, it is sleek-looking, with perfect proportions and flush door handles. Inside, it feels modern but familiar and the lavish interior is simultaneously a nod to the past and a glimpse into the future as it seamlessly blends digital and analogue. The technical innovations are too numerous to list, but the highlights include a tablet-style 12.8in infotainment screen that comes with just about everything from the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant to a fingerprint scanner.

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The plug-in hybrid is only available in long-wheelbase form, so passengers front and back will have no complaints as the well-appointed seats can accommodate even the tallest of passengers comfortably. Boot capacity, at 350 litres, is considerably down on the regular version.

Powering the rest of the range is a choice of petrol and diesel options. The hybrid power comes from a three-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine and large electric motor that produces 510hp and a top speed of 250kmh — clearly designed with German autobahns in mind. On the road, it’s comfortable with a sumptuous ride and it defies its sheer size and bulk. It’s engaging with plenty of grip and there’s no shortage of power. It can also charge rapidly and with the right charger can replenish 80pc battery capacity in as little as 20 minutes.

One thing guaranteed in an S-Class is you get almost every safety and security feature ever invented — including Active Distance Assist Distronic; if this system identifies a situation where the distance to the car in front is becoming critically short and the driver does not react to a warning, the system will bring the car to a complete stop without any input from the driver and will do this at speeds of up to 130kmh.

The starting price for the S-Class range is €138,665 and the S 580 e LWB AMG Line version is priced from €150,500. Our test car came fully loaded with optional extras and will have your bank balance wincing at the asking price of €159,286. Luxury rivals include the Audi A8 TFSI (€103,865), Range Rover P440e (€145,998), and the Lexus LS 500h (€173,020).

There’s a reason why the Mercedes S-Class has long been considered one of the best luxury cars in the world. Every new incarnation raises the bar in terms of safety, luxury, performance and technology. And each time you think its rivals just might just catch up, the gap widens as Mercedes unveils yet another feat of automotive engineering and technological magic wrapped in an even more elegant exterior.

The S Class PHEV comes with a very usable all-electric range so it’s more than just a token electric. But at just under €160,000 the question isn’t so much would you buy it over rivals, but rather why would you buy it over the all-electric Mercedes EQS?

Star rating: 5/5

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Under the bonnet

Mercedes-Benz S-Class S580e LWB

Starting price: €138,665 (€159,286 as tested)

Engine: 2,999cc straight-six petrol, 28.6kWh battery, single e-motor

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic 

Co2/Motor Tax: 18g/km/€140

EV Range: 102km

Economy: 0.6l to 1.0l/100km

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About the author

Geraldine Herbert