Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID – maintains its segment leadership…now with AMG Bits

Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID test drive
This S 400 HYBRID maintains its segment leadership…now with AMG Bits
Review and Pictures by Daniel Fernandez

In its first year of release in 2014, this new S-Class line-up featured one hybrid version and one petrol model: S 400 HYBRID and S 500. Both models boasted class-leading efficiency and up to 20% lower fuel consumption than the outgoing S-Class model series.

All the new engines already meet the requirements of the Euro-6 emissions standard and the S 400 HYBRID meet the strict criteria of efficiency ‘class A’. Now for almost all Malaysian owners who bought the S 400, the selling point of this Mercedes Hybrid was its tax incentive pricing of just RM587,888 for the locally assembled S400L HYBRID. This selling price sent the S-Class competitors running back to their individual factories looking for a quick solution to keep their super luxury models still in the sales running for this segment. Almost immediately the Jaguar and BMW showrooms were quieter and existing Jaguar XJ and BMW 7-Series stocks were starting to be covered in dust. Thanks to the ‘magic’ of pre-registration, sales in BMW and Jaguar showrooms slowly increased.

This new S-Class hybrid was so efficient at its time of launch that it almost sounded utopian: within 10- years Mercedes-Benz, by realising “Efficient Technology”, had almost halved fuel consumption in the 150 kW output category to 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres, for example, while the drag coefficient of this new S-Class (cd=0.24), it clearly undercut the previous model’s figure and sets a new benchmark in the luxury sedan segment in 2015.

But most of the buyers were not interested in its fuel efficiency and reduced carbon footprint. They were instead interested in the price savings and nothing else. BMW Malaysia soon retaliated with their all new 7-Series in 2017 with an immediate RM100,000 discount at launch. This did stir some excitement in BMW showrooms but not enough to dent Mercedes sales. Now 3 years later, Mercedes maintains its sales leadership in this segment and to keep possible buyers keen, some AMG bits have been added to this S 400 Hybrid to liven its appeal and keep BMW’s pre-registration showrooms filled up.

Sensual shapes and stylish sportiness

People all over the world can recognise a Mercedes-Benz straight away. The classic Mercedes face is unforgettable in the brand’s history. The features of the style-defining front design are both simple and complex, especially on the S-Class: it is strong in character and unmistakable and, instead of following fads, it exudes confidence and status. A true market leader, dynamic yet not aggressive, sophisticated yet not fancy.

To underline the effortless superiority of the new S-Class, and its ambition to lead, the radiator grille is now larger, upright and distinctly three-dimensional in design. The four louvres taper outwards and do not touch the chrome frame. Instead of diamond-shaped perforations, the lower air intake now features tiny louvres in high-gloss black, which follow the shape of the grille. The front-end design is completed by a chrome strip on the lower part of the bumper.

The headlamps have clearly defined contours. In the case of the dynamic LED High Performance headlamps with Intelligent Light System (optional), the indicators, side lights and daytime running lamps are arranged behind the lens so that the brand’s hallmark “torch” is immediately recognisable both day and night. The Mercedes-Benz lettering in the headlamp is illuminated.

The greater need for passive and active pedestrian protection has likewise been taken into account in the front design. The additionally required crash gaps have been ideally configured to lend the front end greater presence and a more dominant feel.

Powerful, elongated body

With its long bonnet, the flowing, domed roof line and the gently slanting rear end, this S-Class has classic saloon proportions. The size and space have been fashioned in such a way that the new S-Class appears prestigious, and the powerful roof line is also in keeping with the car’s sporty coupé-style intentions.

A character line descending discreetly from front to rear, the brand’s hallmark “Dropping Line” which elegantly structures the side wall and generates additional dynamism even when the car is at a standstill. The subtly created convex-concave effect of the entire flank gives rise to an extremely powerful and elongated car body that demonstrates both excitement and calm. The pronounced shoulder above the rear wheel adds further emphasis to the car’s athletic character.

Every detail and each of the detachable body parts have been stylistically optimised. The exterior mirrors, for instance, have a new, more dynamic form, while the precisely shaped exterior handles emphasise the body’s distinctive lines.

The overall composition is accentuated by elegantly designed chrome trim strips, notably the trim strip on the rear door frame, which widens rearwards in one piece. The likewise three-dimensional trim strip at the bottom sits deeper and establishes a visual link with the doors’ functional gap. Consequently, the sheet metal remains untouched, and an eye-catching design feature is created. The chrome strip has a plastic support element at the bottom to protect against stone chipping.

Horizontal lines and eye-catching light design

The extravagantly sculpted surfaces and lines of the side wall on the new S-Class generate excitement as they flow into the rear end. As well as being elegant, the slightly slanting form has aerodynamic advantages.

Horizontal lines running from the boot lid to the bumper emphasise the car’s width when viewed from the rear. The hallmark signature of the Mercedes Benz designers can also be seen in the rear windscreen, which cuts into the C-pillars. The upper area of the glass is rounded to give it a coupé-like character. The three-dimensional chrome insert on the boot lid adds a new dimension in high-quality design.

The real highlights are the new-style tail lights which are completely encased by the car body and, thanks to this solitarily integrated styling, complete the design right down to the last detail. Their meticulously crafted inner workings reflect the current state of the art. Featuring three horizontally arranged fibre-optic cables, the design echoes the hallmark Mercedes meander and so ties in seamlessly with the long line of predecessor models. The combination of attention to detail with exacting technical requirements is apparent in both the night and the day design. The rear fog lamp is housed in the centre of the bumper, while the reflectors are elegantly integrated on the left and right sides.

Visual breadth and calm solidity

With its clear architecture, the interior design of the S-Class embodies a classic, superior, cutting-edge saloon. The interior’s expressive character derives from a uniquely fluid, sensuously elegant style. Horizontal elements and lines create a setting characterised by visual breadth and calm solidity. High quality and elegance harmonise with clarity and functionality: the interior design of the S-Class combines ride comfort, spaciousness and user-friendliness to the very highest standard.

The radically redesigned instrument display extends behind the two-spoke steering wheel – reminiscent of the S-Class heritage, as a key element of the horizontal alignment. It replaces the traditional instrument cluster and combines numerous other functions in a visually and ergonomically highly sophisticated manner. The entire display unit appears to be free-floating, an impression reinforced by ambience backlighting.

The high-quality unit formed by the centre air vents and the analogue clock is precisely set into three-dimensional wood trim. For the first time this classic wood trim feature is positioned very low. This creates a second level of decorative trim whose luxurious stitched leather lies in the primary field of vision. Both levels extend elegantly across the entire width of the dashboard and doors. With this layout the designers have created an association with the wing-beat of a bird. The result is an extraordinary impression of width combined with a pleasant, calm ambience.

The visually prominent dashboard is characterised by the striking double ‘S’ curve. This already made the preceding model unmistakable, and imparts a feeling of spaciousness, safety and security.

The perfectly coordinated use of materials and colours produces an elegant interior seemingly cast from a single mould. There is generous use of wood trim, especially in the dashboard and centre console. Metallised switch surfaces with pearl-effect paint finishes in three colour shades to suit the interior colour particularly highlight the outstanding quality.

Innovative lighting systems in the form of a continuous light band under the wood trim strips and the central display, a completely new dimension in ambience lighting – and elegant lighting units with stylish details in the headlining enhance the comfortable atmosphere. The number and size of the stowage facilities in the interior have been greatly increased compared to the preceding model.

Passengers in the rear are also seated in first-class – the design and exclusivity of the seats, door panels and all controls are to the same, high standard as the front. In the rear, the backrest inclines backwards into the parcel shelf, which means that legroom is not restricted even in the resting position. As an additional individualisation feature, the “First Class Rear” incorporates a Business centre console combining personal comfort with practical convenience (integration of a telephone handset, additional stowage compartments, folding table, etc.). The side finishers of the front seats are formally integrated and feature useful stowage compartments.

The rear seat comfort is class best with its wide sift padded seats and long legroom space. The rear seats are also electric powered for reclining and have controls on the centre armrest to control the climate, audio and your given flat screen fitted at the rear of the front seat headrests. It’s a nice place to be in when in traffic or on a long drive interstate. The driver also gets a really comfortable seat and driving position and has all functions in good reach and soft padded seats for long hours of driving.

In combination with the first-class quality of materials and outstandingly high perceived value, the decidedly varied range of available appointments emphatically confirms the premium positioning of Mercedes-Benz. The innovative architecture of the interior design, which is based on both additive and integrating features, allows a choice of different and very individual styling in terms of colours and materials.

Carpet ride
Like any other hybrid, the combination of a combustion engine and a battery power motor, the behind the wheel excitement is confirmed. The acceleration when pushed is impressive, the midrange power delivery is inspiring, given the size and weight of this saloon.

Reason to Buy

However, these are not the reasons why a well heeled Malaysian buys this S-Class……the reason is simply the hybrid tax savings on the purchase price. The closest rival, the 2017 BMW 730iL sells now for RM698,800 before the usual showroom haggling for that hefty discount to almost match the S 400’s RM598k.

Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID Specifications
Engine: 3.5-litre, V6 petrol + electric
Power: 225+20 kW (elec.) at 6500rpm
Torque: 370Nm + 250Nm (elec.) at 3500-5500rpm
0-100 km/h: 6.8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6.3l/100 km (claimed combined)
Top speed: 250km/h restricted

Selling Price: RM598,888.00

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