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Driven: Mercedes packs more into S-Class range

Feeling Blue: The Mercedes-Benz S300 BlueTec Hybrid is the new S-Class range opener, kicking off from $195,500 plus ORCs.

Fuel-sipping S300 BlueTec Hybrid arrives as Mercedes' new entry-level S-Class


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19 Jun 2014

MERCEDES-BENZ has followed up the initial launch of its S-Class limousine range in November last year by introducing four more variants, including the S300 BlueTec Hybrid, to complete the line-up.

The headline act is the German car-maker's new entry-level S300 BlueTec Hybrid variant, that now kicks off the entire S-Class range from $195,500, plus on-road costs.

Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy said at the launch that the new variant is “pretty important” to the brand in Australia, despite the fact it will not sell in great volumes.

“We don't expect to sell large number of them, but we wanted to introduce it to market because we wanted to make a statement – this is the most technologically advanced car that we sell in Australia,” he said.

“It's the most affordable S-Class because we negotiated very hard with Germany to get this price. We wanted to demonstrate to the wider community that technology plays a really important role for transport in the future – and this is one of the steps towards emission free cars.

“This is a no compromise car – boot space no compromise, driving, performance, dynamics – there is no compromise – it's the luxury car for people that do want to make a statement about the environment.”

Under the bonnet is a diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain made up of a 2143cc (Mercedes calls it a 2.2-litre) four-cylinder engine producing 150kW/500Nm, while the electric motor (or the “electric machine” as Benz refers to it) sits between the engine and the seven-speed automatic transmission and creates 20kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

Mercedes says the S300 is capable of consuming 4.5 litres of diesel fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, making the two-tonne plus diesel-electric hybrid more efficient than many light cars, including the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol-powered Mitsubishi Mirage that sips 4.6L/100km.

Electricity is produced through regenerative braking, which is then stored in lithium-ion batteries and then when the car is coasting – for example, around a car park – the electricity is sent from the batteries to the motor which sits in the transmission and turns the driveshaft.

The batteries for the electric motor are housed under the floor of the boot and although they do reduce the cargo capacity, it is not by much.

In comparison to its petrol-powered and non-hybrid but otherwise identical sibling the S350 with its 530-litre boot capacity, the S300's cargo area is 510 litres. The weight of the batteries is minimal too – again compared to the 2010kg S350, the S300 is 2046kg.

Despite its still considerable weight, the S300 can manage a zero to 100km/h sprint in just 7.6 seconds.

From the outside, the S300 is identical to the short-wheelbase S350 – apart from the badge on the boot-lid and measures in at 5116mm long and 2130mm wide.

Inside, the S300 maintains the same levels of luxury as S350 – with wood trim, leather upholstered seats and a leather stitched dash, which sweeps across in front of the occupants and around into the doors, while the two 12.3-inch TFT screens (one for the digital instrument cluster and the other for infotainment) dominate the dash.

The standard features list includes adaptive air suspension, Burmester sound, the Command infotainment system, a 360-degree camera, panoramic sunroof and a number of driver aids, such as Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus which monitors traffic and obstacles up ahead with radar and brakes to avoid a potential collision.

The only features not available on the S300 that are standard in the S350 are the LED intelligent lights system (option for $3500) and the Vision and Sound Package ($6500).

Mercedes-Benz says the S300 BlueTec Hybrid is current available to order with deliveries commencing in the coming weeks.

The first wave of S-Class variants that launched last year included the S350 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel from $215,000 plus on-road costs or $222,500 in long-wheelbase (LWB) form, before stepping up to the 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol S500 for $285,000 or $310,000 for LWB, while the hardcore 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol S63 AMG is priced from $385,000.

Now the S-Class second wave has swept into Australia bringing with it the final four variants of the range.

As well as the S300 BlueTec Hybrid, this also includes the S400 LWB from $230,000, which is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 direct injection petrol engine producing 245kW/480Nm and when matched with the seven-speed automatic, returns a combined fuel figure of 7.9 litres per 100km.

Another new addition is the long-wheelbase version of the hardcore S63 AMG that launched last year in short-wheelbase guise. Priced from $397,500, the stretched S63 features the same drivetrain as the regular version and only drinks 100ml of 98 RON more at 10.3L/100km.

Sitting at the very top of the S-Class range is the S600, which is propelled by a 390kW/830Nm 6.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V12 with a combined fuel consumption of 11.3L/100km. This variant is only available as a long-wheelbase.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class pricing*
S300 BlueTec Hybrid (a)$195,500
S350 BlueTec (a)$215,000
S350L BlueTec (a)$222,500
S400L (a)$230,000
S500 (a)$285,000
S500L (a)$310,000
S63 AMG (a)$385,000
S63 AMG L (a)$397,500
S600L (a)$415,000
*Excludes on-road costs

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