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Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
Thanks to Mercedes-Benz, you can have your cake and eat it too. That is, when you drive the full-size S550e, with the utmost in luxury, connectivity, safety and performance, you still can get up to 26 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway, and a combined 58MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In full electric mode, you are able to drive up to 14 miles. The S550e is for drivers who want something greener and more efficient. That’s having your cake and eating it too.
Power is almost the same as the gasoline driven S550, with a combined 436 horsepower and 479 pound fees of torque that hits 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.2 seconds. The gasoline engine in the S550e is a 3.0 liter, twin-turbo unit with dual overhead cams, an alloy block and heads with direct injection. It works with an 8.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack electric motor and an automatic Stop/Start efficient system.
The PLUS 7G seven-speed automatic transmission, with paddle shifters, sends all this power to the rear wheels. You have a choice of four driving modes: Hybrid-the default operating mode, E-Mode-run on battery alone, at speeds up to 75 mph, E-Save-keeps the battery fully charged for later use and Charge-which uses the gasoline engine to charge the battery to achieve electric range for later use. The S550e is the company’s first plug-in hybrid and has to accommodate a battery pack so its trunk space is 12.2 cubic feet, compared to the regular sedan’s 16.3, but there is still plenty of room for luggage and other storage items.
Styling of this all-aluminum bodied full-size sedan is aggressive with sharp creases sculpting its front chrome grille, deep airdam, flared side sills, strong rear shoulders, minimal bright work, to its rear valance with wraparound LED taillights and dual chrome exhaust tips. The coupe-like profile features steeply raked A-pillars and power-folding/heated/self-dimming aero-styled sideview mirrors. It rides on 8.5X19 inch cast aluminum wheels wrapped with Michelin ProContact 255/50R19 inch tires.
The S550 is the first car with all-LED lights, nearly 200 LEDs, outside and inside featuring Active front LED headlamps with Active High beams that change its light patterns, foglamps and turning lamps. The S550e ‘Hybrid Blue’ differentiates itself from the gasoline S550 with ‘Plug-In Highbred’ emblems on the front fenders; Blue front brake calipers and the rear 550e emblem.
The fully independent multi-link suspension system is the same as with the gasoline S550 utilizing AIRMATIC and Adaptive Damping System (ADS). The AIRMATIC electronically controls the air springs, auto 4-wheel level control (lowers/raises) ride height and when lower at high speeds improves aerodynamics, stability and efficiency. Incorporated in AIRMATIC is the ADS system that selects 1 of 4 damping profiles for each spring strut every time a wheel changes its direction of up/down travel.
There are also two driving modes—Comfort and Sport that works with the engine management system, electro-mechanic steering and world-class suspension. Electronic Stability Control, first introduced by Mercedes, keeps you and the car on track when challenging tight turns and when driving at high speeds.
Slowing the S550e down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 14.6 inch vented/drilled discs clamped with 6-piston calipers and rear 13.4 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers. Standard ABS, BA, EBD, Brake Drying; Adaptive Braking Tech works when you take your foot off the throttle then Brake Priming moves the front/rear calipers closer to the discs. There is also Hill Start and Brake Holding Assist. The regenerative brakes help keep power in the lithium ion battery pack.
The power, performance, efficiency are leading the way to better mileage with full-size luxury sedans. Nothing that Mercedes-Benz includes in the regular S550 is lost in the new S550e. It is easy, fun and thrilling to drive—and there is nothing to complain about mechanically.
Of course, one can’t find anything to complain about with the sumptuous, roomy, refined, handcrafted, luxurious, ergonomic, connected and safe interior. The list of standard features is long: all leather and aluminum interior with Nappa Nut Brown 16-way, heated, cooled and massaging leather front seats with three person memory, COMMAND System with a centered 12.3 inch navigation screen and touchpad, panoramic sunroof, a leather, Designo black piano lacquer wood and aluminum plate, two-spoke heated steering wheel, Air Balance, MAGIC VISION CONTROLER, soft-close doors, electronic trunk with underside-swipe opener, lighted, dual aluminum door sill plates, Mercedes-Benz clock, Burnmester 1,514-watt, High End 3D Surround Sound System with 24-speakers, including a subwoofer, Sirius Satellite Radio, and mega-USB connections.
To break up this long paragraph, here are a few of the other features found on the S550e: Designo black piano lacquer, flowing lines wood on the dashboard and doors, all metal buttons/bezels (except on the inside of the center console), MAGIC SKY CONTROL, black DINAMICA headliner, Night View Assist PLUS, rear/side power sunshades, and Rapid Heating for the front seats. The Rear Seat Package includes four-zone climate control, power right rear-side footrest, outboard rear seatbelt airbags with illuminated PRE-SAFE active buckles, and power outboard seat/back with memory, remote fuel door, detachable headrest pillows, heated/cooled outboard seats, heated rear/front center armrests and door armrests. It is amazing what one finds inside this car for luxury, comfort, connectivity and safety.
Safety, of course, is of the utmost importance and the S550e doesn’t disappoint. Standard features not listed above includes DISTRONIC PLUS with steering assist, front/rear cameras, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping, PRE-SAFE with Cross Traffic Assist, PRE-SAFE Plus rear-end collision protection, speed limit assist, Enhanced Radar-Based Regenerative Braking System, automatic parallel parking, Surround View system, rollover mitigation, and SOS post-crash notification.
What can one say? The S550e has everything outside and inside to make one feel proud to be an owner of this great vehicle. All eyes are on you as you navigate around slow city and easily merge onto highway traffic. And here’s the encore: Later in the year, Mercedes-Benz says that there will be cordless charging of the battery pack.
© Text and photographs by Harvey Schwartz
For more information about Mercedes-Benz products, go to mbusa.com.
THE MAIN INGREDIENTS
Name of vehicle:
2017 Mercedes-Benz S550e
$131,085.00 (as tested, including destination)
EPA fuel mileage:
26/city, 30mpg/highway/58 electric
Hybrid 3.0 liter twin-turbo, aluminum alloy, DOHC Direct Injected gas and
132kW electric motor
436 at 5,500rpm
479 pound feet at 1,000-4,750 rpm
7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters
EPA size classification*:
* Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.