2012 Mercedes S400HV Hybrid Review

The current edition of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship sedan made its appearance as a 2007 model, and underwent a mild nip and tuck facelift for 2010. As part of the refresh, the German automaker also debuted its first gasoline-electric hybrid, the S400 Hybrid. As the world’s first mass-production automobile to employ a lithium-ion battery (the Tesla Roadster is a low-production vehicle), the S400 Hybrid is considered a milestone. And, rather than costing thousands more than its conventionally powered cousin, the S550, it costs thousands less. In fact, with a base price starting at $91,850, the S400 Hybrid is the least expensive S-Class model in the lineup.

Since its introduction as a 2010 model, the S400 Hybrid has not had any styling changes or revisions to features offered.

A Different Luxury Hybrid Approach

The Mercedes S-Class is renowned for its powerful engines; from the S550’s 429 horsepower V8 and culminating with the S65 AMG featuring the AMG-tuned V12 that produces an outrageous 621 horsepower. But instead of adding electric power to boost the output of a V8, the decision was made to offer a hybrid that would appeal to a more discerning driver: one that seeks a more eco-conscious way of traveling in luxury.

Developed jointly with BMW, the S400’s hybrid system is a “mild” hybrid similar to Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid powertrain, meaning it cannot be driven on electrical power alone. The 275 horsepower V6 gasoline engine is similar to the 3.5 liter used in other Mercedes cars and SUVs, but this version has different cylinder heads and pistons and a modified camshaft. It also uses a more efficient combustion strategy known as the Atkinson cycle, a common hybrid approach. The downside of the Atkinson cycle is diminished engine torque, especially at low rpm.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

That’s where the electric motor comes in – think of its as sort of a substitute for a turbocharger that instead of cramming more fuel in, effectively reduces fuel requirements, while still yielding more total power. The small, disc-shaped three-phase external-rotor AC motor fits in the torque converter housing between the engine and the specially adapted seven-speed automatic transmission. When called upon, it adds 118 pounds-feet of torque and 20 horsepower to the V6’s output to boost starting acceleration and improve passing performance. The combined system generates 295 horsepower and an impressive 284 pounds-feet of torque. The compact motor also functions as a starter and generator.

Energizing the motor is a 32-cell, 120-volt, 0.9 amp-hour, lithium-ion battery. About the size of a shoebox, the battery fits neatly in the rear right hand corner of the engine bay. Regenerative braking pushes electricity back into the battery.

Like most hybrids, the Mercedes S400 system incorporates a stop-start function. When the car stops at a light or in traffic, the engine shuts off, saving fuel. Lift off the brake pedal and the engine instantly revives, briskly accelerating courtesy of the electric motor. In total, the hybrid system works with the German precision you would expect.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

In the U.S. hybrids are about fuel mileage, in Europe it’s about emissions. The S400 Hybrid has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway, for an average of 21 mpg – a little more than a 20 percent improvement over the S550. As for emissions, it has an extremely low CO2 output of 186 grams per kilometer and receives a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle rating from the California Air Resources Board.

Big European Sedan Style

Luxury rivals Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Lexus offer standard and extended wheelbase sedan models. For U.S. buyers, the S-Class comes only in one version, and it’s long – slightly more than 17-feet long. A deft pen, however, stretches out a well-proportioned body to create a low and lengthy body.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The hood points downward and merges into a pronounced arrow-shaped grille and wing-like headlamps. A steep windshield meets the roof that gracefully curves rearward towards a shallower raked rear window. Prominent wheel arches defeat the look of a big slab-sided car. The culmination of the design is a stately sedan with a big dose of European style.

Inside, there’s small doubt that the Mercedes S-Class has the most refined and luxurious cabin in the car business – Bentley and Rolls Royce excluded. Automobile Magazine summed it up with two words, “Gorgeous interior.”

Quilted leather highlighted by Eucalyptus wood trim dominates a supremely quiet cabin, with hardly an ounce of plastic to be found. Fit-and-finish is impeccable, and switches have a ribbed texture that operate with a substantial mechanical feel.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

An option to seriously consider is massaging front seats, a pampering feature that Mercedes has perfected. Settings range from slow and light to fast and vigorous. Skip the upgraded seats and you’ll find the standard ones still impressive: 16-way power-adjustable, ventilated and heated.

The S400 Hybrid is brimming with interior tech starting with a 15-speaker harmon/kardon audio system, Bluetooth, ipod/MP3 interface, 7.2-GB music register and a hard-drive navigation system with Zagat. Optional is a dual-view navigation screen that can show a DVD movie to the front seat passenger and the navigation screen to the driver. The only electronic quirk is the COMAND interface that makes simple processes like tuning the radio or adjusting climate controls complicated and frustrating.

Driving Manners

HybridCars.com drove the S400h on the roads of Southern Germany. Our drive loop took us from Stuttgart – the home of Mercedes Benz – to the town of Buel and back, a round trip of approximately 150 miles. The route was evenly comprised of high-speed driving on the Autobahn – where we ran at, ahem, triple digit speeds – as well as moderately paced rural roads, and narrow streets through smaller hamlets.

Mercedes-Benz alludes to the S400h as having the power of a V8, but that’s a stretch. The company’s own numbers show the hybrid reaching 60 mph in 7.2 seconds compared with the V8 S550 making it in 5.4. That’s not say the S400 is a slug. Performance may not be exhilarating but the car felt surprisingly sprightly and right at home on the high-speed Autobahn.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The S400 drives much smaller than it is. Cutting through the tight twisties of Germany’s Black Forest, the hybrid cornered flatly and with confidence. It is as nimble and agile as its gas-powered counterpart. Stability comes from Active Body Control, a suspension system that continually adapts its tuning to the current driving situation. Other high-tech advancements include a pre-collision system, adaptive high beam assist, lane keep assist, and radar-based cruise control.

Of course, we tracked fuel economy and achieved an impressive 29.3 miles per gallon on our 150 mile jaunt – danged good for a car that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds. With much stricter speed limits in the U.S., it’s reasonable to assume fuel efficiency results will be even better.

Economics

To state the obvious, the S400 Hybrid is expensive. The base MSRP of $91,850 can easily and quickly climb from there when piling on the options. But for that price, not only are buyers getting the Mercedes-Benz prestige factor, they are also getting the engineering that the German automaker has built its reputation on. And for giving up a bit – just a bit – of performance, they are getting in exchange an S550 with better fuel economy and saving $2,600. That’s rather compelling for uncompromising affluent buyers seeking a slightly greener ride.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

Prices are manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing.

 


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2012 Mercedes S400HV Hybrid Review
Base MSRP: $91,000
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  • apples 2 apples

    Yes, diesel cars get better mileage, but didn’t I read somewhere that it requires 20% more crude oil to produce diesel vs gasoline? If we compare diesel burners to gas burners, how much less diesel fuel must they burn before we break even in terms of oil consumption?

  • Ahmed Kallel

    This is the best car i have ever seen:
    -good for environnement
    -do not use much fuel
    -very powerful (2300 horses)
    -have a very good air conditionning system
    -and many others things i don’t know yet
    Thanks for this design
    Best regards!

  • Happy

    Now I like my Toyota Prius Hybrid even more!

  • ramon
  • Pantamon A.

    When will launch in Thailand.
    How difference between with E200.
    ManyThanks

  • chankahhow

    have any dealer sell this Mercedes S400 BlueHybrid in Penang or In Malaysia …How about price in Malaysia.

    Can i become a dealar in Malaysia to sell this car…

  • Arthur Douglas

    I have a 2007 E-320 and it gets 29 mpg (average). Best car I have ever had. Waiting for a diesel hybrid plug-in from Mercedes and I am sure they will make one in the next few years.

  • Chris Branum

    I found a great video that explains how the Hybrid S-Class works. Here is a link to an explanation of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgf-F5gIGSA

  • Anonymous

    This is a trick: the same amount of crude is used. Diesel is less refined than gasoline. Diesel takes less money to refine.

  • MB Girl

    Perhaps you haven’t heard of the recent problems with Toyota accelerators. Just yesterday, a man was unable to stop his Prius, furtunatly the police were able to stop him and he was unharmed. So yes, it is less expensive, but what is money in comparison to your life??!!

  • Anonymous

    i have to purchases one piese of s 400 mercedes 2010.

    please confirm me how can i do that ?
    sncerliy

    aqdvocat:omar naZmi alazzeh

  • Mike Williams

    I must purchase the S400. What is the price?? $$$

  • ahmed is right !

    you are so right dude amazing car i agree and wait for a day when we all have better than this. coming soon

  • Anonymous

    Only the rich can drive this car. Little Joe will be driving Toyotas and Nissans.

  • John LaMar MD

    Why is vehicle so expensive? My Honda Hybrid cost $22,000!

  • jules

    You cannot even compare a Honda to a Mercedes, really now…

  • Petrus Gandamana

    I enjoyed this brand new Merc S400 hybrid on June 2010 when just arrived at Taipei International Airport and picked by the Grand Hyatt hotel limo.
    It was really a memorable moment (one hour ride to the hotel) and I just said to myself that I have to own this incredible car soon!

  • Lake

    Does this car have Front fog lamp, and where is it?

  • Anonymous

    i bought this car and it was horrible … the driving experience sucks, for Mercedes if they can hear me : DONT MAKE HYBRIDS

  • Keilon

    How can u compare a Honda 2 a Mercedes…
    What a geek

  • RISKY

    I got the black one, i order on April for 150,000.00 US Dollar
    my car come to my country is second car. The first one the color is brown. i like that car, but i LOVE my BMW M5 more then anything.

  • klevius

    No, you cannot compare an advanced high quality Honda with an oldfashioned medium quality Mercedes, never! R u guys serious or really that ignorant?! Light weight Toyota Prius has a 36 hp electric motor whereas this heavy stone age Merc has a tiny 20 hp! Prius has a continuously variable transmission whereas the Merc has a conventional automatic! Mercedes, like BMW, simply doesn’t have the tech dick to perform a decent hybrid passenger car. This is why they have to relay on Toyota! Remember that the first Prius hybrid came 13 years ago (when the Euros couldn’t even spell to hybrid), and that 9 years ago a Toyota van (Estima) was equipped with an AWD hybrid system connecetd to a continuously variable transmission that Daimler or BMW can’t still produce! Wake up guys, you’re an embarrasment for your girlfriends! Check my page, it was made long ago but still rules!

  • cc

    Absolutely not true. Diesel takes less refining than gasoline. It’s probably the other way around, gasoline takes 20% more crude oil.

  • Anonymous

    For the Gentleman that prefers a Toyota or a “Nissan over a Mercedes, then I say to you..”More Power to You”,, if you like “shake and break cars”. In 1987 I purchased brand new off of the lot, my first Japanese made engine in a Dodge Vehicle body, and it lasted 99,000 miles before the timing belt, and the 4/4 drive train went belly up. However in 1992, I purchased my first Mercedes 1976 300SL..with 250,000 miles, and vehicle repair reports, and the only parts that had been replaced were the spark plug wires, plugs, and tires. The only thing that was broken were the chrome door handles. The car’s engine performed like a new engine, and the ride was as firm and as soft as a Lincoln Towne car or Lincoln continental with air bag shocks. The only non performance that the car represented was it’s inability to withstand the crashing of a giant tree upon it’s top,,(LOL). My second all time experience with vehicles was with a 199,4 3.3 liter ply mouth grand voyager; and I retired that vehicle in March 2010, after 360,000 miles on the body, and 225,000 miles on the first engine. I did replace the engine after 225,000 miles and later the transmission and drive axle.
    The second engine was from a 1995 grand voyager, with 35,000 miles when I had it extracted from a wrecked vehicle, there by giving me 135,000 miles of service before I retired the vehicle. My former experience with ford vehicles were similar in mileage to the voyager, and Mercedes engines. To summarize this comparison of apples to apples.. with the four styles of vehicles that I am referring to, I vote Mercedes to be at the top of the list, Chrysler and Plymouth next in line, with Ford running a close third. So my question to all concerned about the Mercedes’ reliability; How should I rate the Japanese engine in this scenerio? I think they are shake and break vehicles,,Myself..and the only domestic semi luxury car that comes with reliability are the European Cars, such as Mercedes, BMW,Austins Martin,The former MGB, etc, and American Traditional Vehicles..Surely you can count on Lexus, and Acura, but that is not in the class of a toyato hybrid that you are comparing the Mercedes to. Try a real car instead..Dude

  • MR HETTIARACHCHI

    is there is a right hand driven s class hybrid?

  • Le

    There will no doubt be some rich people who do not care for gas prizes, do not truly understand what it means to want to save the environment, but want to appear green. For those people, this car will do.

    I must say that I am truly disappointed by Mercedes’ lack of effort trying to produce less gas guzzling cars. 29 mpg can be achieved by even gasoline-only cars. Of course, I do see that a gasoline-driven car with that performance will no doubt use even more gasoline, but isn’t that precisely the point? It’s irresponsible to market this car in light of the circumstances we are in. Mercedes, of course, will sell this car because they can and because there will be a few people going for luxury, performance, pseudo-eco cars.

    For my part, after having grown up in Germany, and waiting to buy an environmentally friendly German-made car (now that our financial situation is improving: career etc.) for years, have come to the conclusion that German car makers in general will not serve my needs.

    Although it pains me, I will vote with my wallet by NOT giving my money to a German car maker, but a Japanese car maker. Their hybrid cars will in the near future produce hybrids with mpgs in the 60s to 70s which is the minimum threshold for my next car.

  • izzah

    i’m looking forward to having it as my first-owned-dreamed car.

  • miplo

    this is marvalous i love this, wish i can get 1 free

  • Okoli M

    I have this auto and it is the best i have owned. This is my fourth Benz line. Its worth the money.

  • Okoli M

    I have this auto and it is the best i have owned. This is my fourth Benz line. Its worth the money.

  • adam haren

    What is led thing on top of windsheild for? Pls get back to me I’m concerned I did remove and installed new ones

  • Anonymous

    hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  • george lema

    i real like & admire mercedes benz than any car in the world. but its price!!!!!!!!!????????? mmmhhh!!!!!. i wish if i can own a c class of 2003 komprresors.

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    PART-1-
    OUR ORDER FIRST IS -1- MERCEDES BENZ PASSANGER CAR E-CLASS-350 WHITE COLOR -1- SET IT IS SAMPLE AND ALSO EXCATLY SEND A SAMPLE PHOTO TO YOUR CO FOR OUR ORDER.
    PART-2-
    YOUR PRICE MUST BE FOB-PRICE USD SHIP SEA YOUR COSTOMS.
    PART-3-
    OUR ORDER WILL BE MORE AFTER ONE M-BENZ RECIEVED OUR COSTOMS AND CHEKED IT EXCATLY.
    OUR EMAIL IS DESSOMID@YAHOO.COM
    MANAGER DAIRECTOR MR. SOLTANI
    AWAITING GOOD PRICE USD AMERICA DOLLAR.
    WE HAVE SOME PRICE USD FROM ANATHEN CO AND ALSO PLZ LET US GIVE A NICE ORICE TO US.
    B.REDS.N.TKS.THANK U FOR YOUR ATTN.

  • Anonymous

    You are a pretentious prick!

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  • tapra1

    The route was evenly comprised of high-speed driving on the Autobahn—where we ran at, ahem, greater than 100 mph—as well as moderately paced rural roads, and narrow streets through smaller hamlets.TuxNews

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  • Mike @ Take This Car

    Insightful. The Mercedes S400 Hybrid really is quite the car.

    Hybrids have helped to shape the automotive industry in recent years, and if anything is apparent, it’s this: drivers are always on the look-out for ways to cut back on fuel costs.

    For more about Hybrid models, check out our post Three Hybrids You Never Knew Existed over at the Take This Car Automotive Blog.

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  • Liam Borand

    A great piece of advice there for those of us who are in the market for a new car. I think the lesson here is that buying a high end car such as a Merc, doesn’t actually have to be as expensive as you think. I purchased my SLK from a registered “used approved” dealer which I found via Autoweb, and it’s unbelievable how much money you can save this way. You don’t need to compromise on the quality of the car either, as you just know that the guys at Mercedes would have invested a lot of time and money into making sure the car was fully fit for the road before they sell it on to you.

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  • x

    I bag your pardon. 29 mpg equals 12.3 kpl. how dare you boast?
    With the 200CDI of 1999 I run average for summer and winter 20 kpl (46 mg) and I dare not boast about this.

  • Thinktank

    Three years later, I hope you had your head examined and fixed.

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  • josef

    In view of all these special features, it is considered one of the best offers in the hybrid category by the company. The article on the subject is quite refreshing and loaded with interesting facts and comparisons. Nice job. Mercedes mechanic