Newest member of the S-Class lineup is the S550e—the first-ever plug-in hybrid offered by Mercedes-Benz. Based upon based on the long-lived, top-line S-Class sedan, as redesigned for 2015, the S550e supplies a level of efficiency never before seen on the German automaker’s flagship. In addition to the ability to take short trips on battery power alone, the plug-in conveys all the prestige and luxury and prestige you’d expect from the prime example of Mercedes-Benz excellence.
What's new for 2016
A new model, the S550e was introduced during summer 2015, initially in California. Like other 2016 S-Class models, the S550e gets a new standard embrace2 Connect package, with a selection of apps and remote start function. Three mbrace subscription upgrades are available: Secure, Concierge, and Entertain.
Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz S550e
The rear-wheel-drive S550e contains a turbocharged 3-liter V6 engine and an electric motor. Combined, they develop 436 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The S550e’s seven-speed automatic transmission and adjustable air suspension are shared with other S-Class models.
With its lithium-ion battery fully charged, the full-size cruiser can run on electricity alone for about 12 miles. Beyond that point, the S550e operates on a combination of gasoline and electricity, just like a conventional hybrid. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 24 mpg around town and 30 mpg on the highway, or 26 mpg in combined driving. Weighing the potential for all-electric operation, the EPA also gives it an equivalent estimate of 58 MPGe (city/highway).
Recharging a fully depleted battery takes about 2.5 hours, according to Mercedes-Benz, at a 240-volt source. Charging from a standard household 110-volt outlet takes considerably longer. Theoretically, at least, owners who make only short trips, with sufficient charging time between outings, could drive indefinitely without filling the gasoline tank.
Four operating modes are selectable: Hybrid, E-Mode (battery alone), E-Save (to keep the battery fully charged), and Charge (using the gas engine to charge the battery). A haptic accelerator pedal alerts the driver when the limit for all-electric driving has been reached.
The S550e is priced the same as the regular S550, with its gasoline V8. Although the Plug-In sedan is slightly less powerful, it can accelerate to 60 mph in a brisk 5.2 seconds.
Looking beyond its powertrain, the Plug-In model ranks as pure S-Class. That means a flock of standard indulgences, including a cabin fragrance system, a power rear sunshade, and automatic soft-close doors. Not to mention more ordinary features: dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power front seats with memory, navigation, voice control with learning, dual 12.3-inch display screen, COMAND infotainment with touchpad, and so on. The standard 590-watt Burmester surround-sound system plays through nine speakers. Naturally, Mercedes-Benz lets buyers choose from a vast array of leathers, woods, and color schemes.
Options can make the S550e even more posh. The Premium package ($4,500) adds an automated parallel-parking system, keyless ignition, power rear-side window shades, and a hands-free power trunk lid. Multi-contour front seats include ventilation and a massage function.
For $2,800, the Driver Assistance package provides a suite of active safety technologies, including adaptive cruise control with steering assist, Pre-Safe braking with pedestrian recognition, pre-collision alert with cross-traffic assist, plus active blind-spot and lane-keeping assists.
A $2,600 Warmth and Comfort package adds power heated/ventilated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated armrests. For even greater ride comfort, Magic Body Control uses a front-mounted camera to evaluate upcoming road surfaces and adjust the suspension accordingly. Sounds like magic, all right.
Plenty of back-seat amenities are available, including seatbelt airbags, additional seat adjustments, a refrigerated compartment, power footrest, plus a center console with foldout tables and heated/cooled cupholders. Rear-seat packages are also on offer.
Pure-electric operation isn’t likely to last for even the 12-mile estimate, unless the S550e is driven especially gently. As soon as the gas engine starts, the sedan turns into a gas/electric hybrid. The Magic Body Control suspension, also available on other S-Class sedans, is especially tempting. This high-tech system does a phenomenal job of isolating passengers from even the slightest road imperfections.