Test Drive Review: Mercedes S550 Plug-In Hybrid – Video

AUG 16 2015 BY JAY COLE 28

In light of the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid’s arrival in the US last month – selling an even 10 copies, we figured we would pass a long a review of the first new EV offering you can actually buy in America this year.

We Did A Double Take When We First Saw The Location Of The Charging Port On The New S500 Plug-In In LA Last Year

We Did A Double Take When We First Saw The Location Of The Charging Port On The New S500 Plug-In In LA Last Year

As one would expect, CNET on Cars takes the S550 PHV out for a pretty thorough spin and files the above report (starting from the :50 mark).

Likes?  More capable than older hybrid attempts in the S Class family, great on the highways, much more efficient overall.

Dislikes?  Some battery intrusion in the trunk.  Pretty stupid location for charging (rear bumper).  Car ride is “buttery”, throttle response is not consistent.

Conclusion:  “An S Class that the world wasn’t looking for, but that California and other state regulators where.”

We will note that CNET seems to be under the impression that Mercedes was almost forced to make this car, and that credit/regulatory issues are at play making this car a reality behind the scenes.

However,  like the upcoming extended range Cadillac CT6 is to General Motors’ compliance needs, the truth is the small number of S550 Plug-in sales are just as immaterial to Daimler – who in no way needs any regulatory help in the US.

A full 1% of Daimler sales are already of the pure electric variety – thanks to the 2,123 Mercedes B-Class and smart Electric Drive cars sold through the first 7 months of the year in the US;  putting those numbers another way, that would be akin to General Motors having sold 17,800 Spark EVs already in 2015.

As a primer, the Mercedes luxury plug-in retails from $94,400 (the most inexpensive S Class the company sells) and features a 8.7 kWh battery that gets the big sedan to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.  Electric range comes in at about 20 miles on the top end.  (Update: Or 12 miles in the US according to the EPA)

Hat tip to offib!

Categories: Mercedes


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28 Comments on "Test Drive Review: Mercedes S550 Plug-In Hybrid – Video"

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A car nobody’s wants except for the compliance states. That about says it all.
I like the program it’s put together well.

We will see how the sales go in US. I think, the car was primarily designed to meet European Commission’s 95g/km limit for CO2 emissions by 2020. It could be great for US too, since the cost is same as the gas version. It may be actually cheaper with tax credits and state rebates.

I’m not sure what to think about it. I mean, I don’t like those types of cars to begin with. And if I had $95,000 to spend on a car, I’d probably rather have a Tesla or an i3 Rex.

I also think it is odd that the car is rear-wheel drive. They still use an old-fashion axel to take power to the rear wheels. 4 wheel drive makes MORE sense as a hybrid where the rear wheels are powered by electricity!

20 miles of range is OK for a PHEV, I guess.. But for some reason at $95,000 I expect a little more.

And I absolutely HATE the location of the charging port. I think it is the worst location I’ve seen yet on any vehicle.

“rear wheels are powered by electricity”

You are right that electric 4WD is optimal in several ways. For now PHEVs are mostly ICE mobiles with a small electric motors added. Hopefully Outlander PHEV will inspire new thinking.

I wish GM adds Voltec to an SUV with an additional motor for rear wheels as an option.

I love my Mitsubishi Outlander. Silly smooth most of the time 25 Miles ev driving as an average. Don’t listen about fuel economy 148 mpg?? That is absurd that they even get to publish these figures. But all in all. A great car.
By the way. I am responding from Scotland. UK

Rear wheel Drive is common in this class car. More recently some “large” Luxury” offerings in this class car have AWD as optional and or standard. But BMW 7 Series Mercedes S Class and the soon to avvive Large luxury offering from Cadillac the CT-6 is coming as a RWD sedan.

Lol, wait. You dont like if a PHEV is cheaper than the ICE equivalent? If you don’t like to buy a S-Class anyway why are complaining?

Yes the S-Class is expensive, yes the range is low. But the price of this vehicle isn’t because it is a PHEV, but because it is an s-class and has a lot of features other cars are missing.

I dont get it why people complain if good cars get electrified. Even if this is only 1/4 if your driving, you reduce consumption of fuel at least buy 1/4 and probably a little more because of regeneration.

That’s BS. They did not have to make this car, they could just pay tesla and others for the credits and have them capitalize on the R&D expenses of innovating.

Why would anyone buy this car when for about same $ can purchase a Tesla Model S?

Perhaps you could rephrase this, from “would” to “do” …

Why do so many people buy an S-class Benz when the same or less $ could have gotten them a Tesla?

Mercedes is the one luxury brand that currently beats Tesla in US sales.

…yes but a very low 20mile AER Benz is not providing any real AER benefit; it’s not a contender for someone wanting an AER experience in a luxury brand vehicle. I just don’t get the point (purpose) of this Benz vehicle.

Like you, I like EVs and this car does not float my boat …

But, instead of looking inward and dumping on this car that does not make sense to you, you could learn a lot more by asking what it is that the other folks see in it.

this is an interesting comment, that got me thinking. when i was younger, i wanted an s-class benzo because it impresses women and makes it easier to score. but now that i’m older, i don’t care whether some (now) old hag is impressed with me anymore.

aside from a reflexive reaction anytime an s-class benzo is mentioned, when i think about it, i now prefer smaller cars. the Chevrolet Volt is about the right sized car for me; it doesn’t impress women, but i really like the car. and as a practical matter of ownership, i think that i would prefer driving the Volt to driving (and parking) a boat-sized benzo.

No, but if you want to decrease fuel consumption it works.

Mr. M is right. If this PHEV manages to cut oil consumption in half, for a class of car that has a history of getting nailed for “gas guzzler” taxes, this is a massive win for the economy.

An S-Class that gets lousy MPG can easily burn twice as much gas as a Honda Civic in a year. So if this manages to cut the gas consumption in half, it has EXACTLY the same net effect as a Prius owner buying a pure EV.

And if this first generation is just 20 miles, that’s fine. It is still a great start. The next generation can get better.

This whole idea of every green car being perfectly optimized is a false ideal if it gets in the way of wide adoption.

by “economy”, I mean fuel economy….

I see this car as a huge potential “own goal”.

When Mercedes customers experience electric drive, the ten mile range won’t be nearly enough and they’ll begin shopping Tesla.

If Tesla can improve their luxury features at the high end, then Mercedes will have a huge problem in their hands when buyers of this car look to upgrade.

Why would anyone buy a Mercedes when for about same $ can purchase a BMW?

This is the first coment that asks the real question 😉

interior space

The purpose was to meet the minimum requirement to not give the money to another company to do R&D with, but to spend it on product development.

…ok that makes sense except that it requires consumers actually buying a certain minimum number of this car for Benz to get the reg credit…I just don’t see why any consumer would be motivated to purchase a 20mile AER Benz.

There are about 100k S-class sales per year. With the price for the plug-in leveled with a normal S-class I see lots of potential customers.

There are still extremely few buyers that have EV and range as their main criterias.

…hopefully for Benz’s sake you are correct but I’d think anyone seeking and AER luxury experience wIll have done some research and realize this car is not meant to deliver any meaningful AER experience; that it’s just a compliance place-holder for Benz.

when viewed from the european perspective, there are a couple of advantages in the PHEV s-class benzo over the ICE benzo: first, you pay a much lower CO2 tax at the time of purchase; second, the PHEV benzo is exempt from london’s congestion charge. as to the second issue, there is a congestion charge of between £11 and £12 per weekday to operate automobiles in central london; the PHEV benzo is exempt from that charge, so you end up saving about £250 per month.

the disadvantage of the PHEV benzo is that the ICE is smaller and has less torque than does the regular ICE benzo. in addition, the PHEV benzo is heavier. the cnet reviewer seemed to be pleased, though, with the exception of his complaint about the PHEV benzo changing modes during city driving. that said, i don’t know if he tried driving the car after the stored battery charge was exhausted.

if you didn’t watch the video, one thing that needs to be made clear is that the PHEV s-class benzo is not an ICE s-class benzo with an electric motor; the PHEV s-class has a smaller ICE, which is supplemented by an electric motor. one of the problems with this c-net review is that that reviewer, as do many of the posters on this forum, fails to recognize that there is a world *outside* of the U.S. so, for example, the reviewer failed to recognize the significance of the “charge” mode (which is equivalent to the “hold” mode in the chevrolet volt). yeah, i think that mercedes-benz doesn’t mind picking up a few extra energy credits by selling benzo’s in compliance states in the U.S., but this is a car that is driven by european mandates, in my view. some of the posters ask: why would anyone buy a benzo instead of buying a tesla? many of the people buying tesla’s don’t own them as their *only* car; i suspect many of them already have a benzo in addition to the tesla. furthermore, you would have to be an EV-enthusiast to an extreme to not realize that the level of… Read more »

Great point about the world outside North America. However, rather than Europe, I think China may have “a little something” to do with this car as well as the hybrid Cadillac CT6. Doesn’t hurt the CAFE or EU numbers but I suspect the driving force is China.

Hopefully GM with the phev option for the CT6 won’t be copying this car too closely.

20 mile range is too wimpy for a $95k vehicle.

I’m curious as to the size of the charger. If it has a 8.7 kwh battery, then what is the effective discharge/charge amount? 6.0?

SO that’s around a 3.3 kw charger if it will recharge in 2 hours.

I hope the PHEV ct6 decides to go with the GEN2 Volt battery as the concept had. That would be a clear competitive advantage to this car.

So is it a 3.3 kw charger?