2021 Mercedes S-Class plug-in hybrid: pictures, specs and on-sale date

All-new Mercedes S-Class S 580 e L plug-in hybrid is now on sale in the UK, with prices starting from £104,490; deliveries are expected to begin later this year

Mercedes S-Class plug-in hybrid

The plug-in hybrid version of the latest seventh-generation Mercedes S-Class luxury saloon is now on sale in the UK, available in four trim levels and with prices starting from £104,490. It’s only offered in long-wheelbase form, but thanks to its 28.6kWh battery, the electrified S-Class can cover up to 63 miles on a single charge.

Mercedes’ new electrified rival to the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS boasts 'Level 3' autonomous driving technology among its technical advances; the latest S-Class will, as always, influence other models in Mercedes' range in due course.

This petrol-electric plug-in version of the S-Class sits above the mild-hybrid variants that have been available since the new S-Class launched in late 2020. However, we won't be seeing an all-electric version of this S-Class, as Mercedes has chosen instead to launch standalone electric models under its 'EQ' zero-emissions sub-brand.

We recently drove Mercedes' electric equivalent to the S-Class, the EQS, which has an impressive 478-mile driving range on a full charge and features even more technology, including the new 1.41-metre wide Hyperscreen.

Mercedes S-Class plug-in hybrid engine, drivetrain, battery and charging

The latest S-Class launched in late 2020 with a range of mild-hybrid turbocharged six-cylinder engines. This S 580 e L version is the only plug-in version available. It uses a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine in conjunction with a powerful electric motor and 28.6kWh battery for a total power output of 510bhp and a claimed pure-electric range of up to 63 miles. The S 580 e L can deliver up to a claimed 353mpg fuel economy and emits just 18 g/km of CO2.

Despite that hefty power output, there's no 4MATIC four-wheel drive: the plug-in S-Class is rear-drive only. The S-Class can charge at up to 11kW from a compatible home wallbox, while 60kW rapid-charging capability – unusual for a plug-in hybrid – is also offered. Find a fast enough rapid charger, and you can top up the battery from 10-80% in just 20 minutes, while recharging from a regular 7.4kW home wallbox takes under four hours.

A range of driving modes, spanning 'Eco', 'Comfort', 'Sport', 'Sport+' and 'Individual' features on all S-Class models, with the latter allowing drivers to set up the car's drivetrain and responses to their liking. The plug-in hybrid adds 'Battery Level' and 'Electric' modes to this list, confirming that drivers will be able to conserve battery charge for later in a journey, as well as operating exclusively on electric power.

Interior, equipment and technology

Inside the new S-Class, the cabin features a 12.8-inch portrait-orientated central touchscreen that runs the latest version of the brand's MBUX infotainment system. The central screen is joined by a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display with 3D dials behind the steering wheel, which itself is new and covered in touch-sensitive buttons. An augmented reality head-up display also features.

As the S-Class is intended as a luxurious car to be driven in, it follows that the latest version can be fitted with two 11.6-inch screens in the rear with internet access, along with an interconnected system of ambient lighting, air temperature control, audio and massage seats that can be programmed to relax or invigorate according to one of six 'Energising' modes.

Burmester sound systems return as high-end audio options, with the top-spec version boasting two amplifiers producing a total of 1,750W and a staggering 30 speakers, plus 'exciters' mounted in the seats to accentuate bass frequencies and provide what Mercedes calls "4D sound". And the car's ambient lighting isn't just for show – Mercedes' Interior Assistant uses it to light up parts of the cabin depending on the movements of the driver or passengers. The system can provide a visual warning if you're about to open a door into traffic, for example.

A headline feature for the new S-Class is the promise of 'level 3' autonomous driving capability. Mercedes says this will allow for "hands-off" motorway driving, with the car operating automatically in traffic – although the exact level of automation permitted depends on legislation in particular countries.

The plug-in hybrid Mercedes S 580 e L is available now in the UK in four trim levels. The first is the AMG Line Premium (£104,490), which features 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels, Burmester 3D surround-sound audio, a panoramic sliding sunroof, a remote parking package including a 360-degree camera, active ambient lighting, power-adjustable rear seats with memory, luxury head restraints and 'climatised' rear outer seats.

AMG Line Premium Plus starts from £109,385 and adds an augmented-reality head-up display, 21-inch AMG multi-spoke alloys, a heated centre front armrest, heated front and rear door armrests, plus a heated steering wheel and windscreen, as well as 'climatised' front seats and luxury head restraints.

Finally, there's the Executive line. AMG Premium Executive and the top-of-the-range AMG Premium Plus Executive get a seven-inch rear tablet, electric sun blinds for the rear doors and rear window and a 'chauffeur package' with a foldable, removable head restraint on the front passenger seat. The front passenger seat is adjustable from the rear in these models, too. Plus, there’s an extendable footrest behind the front passenger seat. Prices start from £106,130 for the Premium Executive, while the Premium Plus Executive costs £113,825.

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