Calling someone a “jack of all trades” sounds like a compliment, until the phrase “but a master of none” is added. In essence, you are saying the person is good at many things, but not outstanding in any of them.
Now, if you just study the S450e’s brochure and specifications, you might be tempted to conclude that the idiom applies to this limousine, which on paper, tries to offer something for everyone. But you wonder what it’s truly good at.
You see, the S450e is a plug-in hybrid. It has an internal combustion engine that appeals to traditional audiences, but it also has an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, which will please drivers looking for something more efficient and sustainable.
THE “STOP-GAP” MEASURE
If a hybrid has an engine and electric motor, then what is a plug-in hybrid? The easiest way to explain this is that a plug-in hybrid is more powerful and crucially, its batteries can also be recharged via a charger, hence the term “plug-in”.
With a larger battery and more powerful electric motor, a plug-in hybrid offers greater performance when it supplements the engine. It also enables the car to be driven further and faster on electric power alone compared to a hybrid.
But you don’t have to charge a plug-in hybrid. As the internal combustion engine is the primary driver, petrol remains the main energy source. Of course, using the engine to charge the battery defeats the purpose of using electric power to reduce petrol consumption, but you get the point.
Thus, for drivers who aren’t sold on electric vehicles, a plug-in hybrid is a potential alternative.
In the S450e, the 28.6kWh lithium-ion battery is claimed to provide a pure electric range of between 97-113km. It takes two hours to charge the battery from 10% to 100% with an AC charger. However, after fully charging the car, the stated electric range was only 84km.
Now, the gem in this powertrain equation is Mercedes’ turbocharged 3-litre straight-6, which is so refined that it is practically as vibration-free as an electric motor.
Alone, it produces 299bhp and 450Nm of torque, while the electric motor is capable of 148bhp and 440Nm of torque. However, we cannot simply tally the numbers, because both the engine and electric motor deliver their peak figures at different points.
Combined, both systems produce 408bhp and 650Nm of torque, propelling the S450e from rest to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds. That’s hot hatch territory and it leaves me wondering why this limousine – which is supposed to be “eco-friendly” – needs to be this quick.
S STANDS FOR SERENE
The S-Class is known for its blend of luxury and refinement, and with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, it adds serenity to its character. Start the car and silence, instead of the soft hum of the inline-6, greets you.
In Electric mode, the S450e glides out of the carpark in total silence, the only evidence of its motion is the sound of the tyres gripping the ground.
Ideally, the Merc should be left in the Hybrid setting, allowing it to determine when to use the electric motor or engine or both. But as long as the battery has enough juice, the car operates in full electric mode even at expressway speeds. The engine joins the party only when you stab the accelerator pedal to tell the car that all horses are needed, stat.
In terms of efficiency, the S450e is claimed to average 111.1km/L (0.9L/100km). However, I managed around 21km/L in Hybrid mode. In the more fun Sport setting, this dropped to about 8.6km/L.
With electric power, little disturbs the calmness of the cabin and the silkiness of the ride. The S450e is even more relaxing than the S450L. Insulated from the outside world and with the standard Burmester audio system serenading you, driving to and from work isn’t as stressful, even if you’re stuck in peak-hour traffic.
Interestingly, the S450e doesn’t mind being stretched when the driver feels like it. Engage Sport mode and the car is at its most responsive, with the straight-6 engine no longer content to remain in the background.
Find a straight and clearer stretch of road, floor the accelerator, and the engine purrs as the limo whisks you away.
The S450e’s plug-in hybrid powertrain has made it a “jack of all trades” because it now has the capability of satisfying a wider range of customers.
Progressive types will like the fact that it can run on electric power alone. Conservative customers will appreciate a silky ride and zero range anxiety. The flagship also caters to traditional buyers who prefer large saloons to SUVs, but without the correspondingly high fuel consumption.
The more you drive it, the more you’ll agree that the S450e remains a master of blending luxury, space and refinement. It is not a “green” limousine, for it still presents the very traits that make an S-Class an S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz S450e L 3.0 (A)
ENGINE 2999cc, 24-valves, inline-6, plug-in hybrid
MAX POWER 299hp at 5900rpm
MAX TORQUE 450Nm at 1800-4000rpm
TOTAL SYSTEM POWER 408hp
TOTAL SYSTEM TORQUE 650Nm
GEARBOX 9-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h
CONSUMPTION 111.1km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $673,888
AGENT Cycle & Carriage Industries