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First look: S-class spawns S400 hybrid

Lean limo: Petrol-electric S-class delivers 220kW/385Nm and returns 7.9L/100km.

Mercedes reveals its first hybrid passenger car, but it is not coming Down Under

22 Sep 2008

MERCEDES-BENZ will launch its first hybrid passenger car in overseas markets during 2009, but the Australian branch of the German manufacturer has told GoAuto this week that it was not engineered for right-hand drive.

The S400 BlueHybrid will premiere at the Paris motor show next week – in the same hall as BMW’s first 7-Series hybrid, which uses the same “mild” hybrid technology with a different engine and transmission combination.

A Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific spokesman said that although the S400 would not be sold Down Under, hybrid power should be available on select sub-S-class Mercedes-Benz cars by 2010.

4 center imageDubbed the “world’s most economical luxury saloon with a spark-ignition engine”, the S400 BlueHybrid combines a “thoroughly re-engineered and improved” version of the German marque’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine – now producing 205kW (up 5kW) – with a 120V three-phase AC electric motor that generates 15kW and a “starting torque” of 160Nm. The combined output is 220kW and 385Nm.

In another first for a series-production model, the S400 hybrid also uses a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack, rather than nickel-metal hydride as seen on its most obvious rival, the Lexus LS600hL.

Mercedes claims lithium-ion offers a number of advantages, including a higher energy density and better electrical efficiency, together with more compact dimensions and a lower weight.

Driving through a reconfigured version of the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, the green S400 Blue returns a 7.9L/100km fuel consumption average – a saving of 2.2L/100km over the S350 upon which the hybrid car is based – and 190g/km of CO2, which represents a 21 per cent reduction. Indeed, the CO2 figure is claimed to be the world’s lowest in this vehicle and performance class.

Acceleration from 0-100km/h is achieved in 7.2 seconds, with top speed reached at an electronically governed 250km/h. Additional weight of the overall system is just 75kg.

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