2015 Mercedes S-Class Plug-in Hybrid (CNET On Cars, Episode 71)
The most unlikely plug in hybrid.
How pickup trucks really crash, and the top five car technologies you really care about.
It's time to check the tech.
[NOISE] We see cars differently.
We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling Telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line, this is Cnet on Cars.
Welcome to Cnet on Cars.
The show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
Well thanks to MPG and clean air targets in California and about a dozen other states.
We're getting some very odd vehicles with plugs in them these days.
None more unexpected than the Mercedes S Class plug-in hybrid.
Is it a sign of the times, a sign of the future, or just the price of doing business.
Let's drive it, and check the tech.
And this is Mercedes Benz's first plug in hybrid, but it's not their first hybrid.
It's not even their first S-class hybrid.
They used to have this unloved beast called the S400 that was a mild hybrid without the plugin part and it did mild things for the MPG, like Four better in the city, not bad.
And zero better on the highway, so nobody cared.
It died in 2013.
This is a much more serious animal with a much bigger battery and the ability to be plugged in, as well as generate on the fly The back here of course is where the big battery lives.
The additional traction battery for the power train.
This is clearly taking up some space back here.
Although it is by no means killing the trunk.
This is an 8.7 kilowatt hour capacity battery.
To put that in context, Compare it to a Nissan Leaf, which is electric only, that has a 24 kilowatt hour battery.
A Tesla model S has either a 70 or 85 kilowatt hour battery.
So this is a more modest helper since this car isn't only an EV.
You charge it right there, in what I believe is the only charging port I've run into yet that is integrated back here, on the bumper.
Some folks have expressed concern that that's a very frequently hit part of a car.
And how often will that be disabled by bumps and dings in parking lots?
It's a two hour charge from flat on a 240 volt circuit, which you'd certainly wanna have at your home.
Now inside the S550 hybrid is a lot of familiar terrirtory.
Very plush, very comfortable and this wonderland of dual giant LCD wide screens.
I'm not going to recover all this cabin technology.
For that, head over CNET and just search S550 and you'll find our detailed review of the debut of this gas engine form.
Here is what I want you to notice though.
Two new controls on the console.
This one here has a little battery icon above the car.
As you cycle through that, you get four different modes right there on the instrument panel.
HYBRID is gonna be your most common mode.
It's your well understood blend of gas and electric power.
E-MODE is electric power only.
Silent running, and the accelerator pedal will actually push back if you're goosing it too hard, to optimize battery drain.
E-save defends the battery state, by using the electric motor the least, and recharging it the most.
And charge goes the furthest, it prioritizes charging the battery above all and doesn't use electric motor at all.
Honestly, there's a lot of inside baseball here, I bet you'll just leave it in hybrid mode.
And this button right here has an E+ mode.
It's a separate layer, separate from those four, it's a little complex here.
That one, among other things, is going to set up camera and radar to look ahead, and if you're closing on a vehicle in traffic where you're gonna have to trounce the brakes and waste inertia, it's gonna prompt you to do so more gently, and earlier, conserving momentum.
Now, unlike what you expect from an S Class, there's not some big brawny engine in and in here, it's fairly small.
It's a three liter gas engine V six.
Still a V. You've got your bright orange electrical current cables down here and that means you're attached to of course the electric motor, which is embedded in the transmission on this vehicle inside the works of the seven speed automatic.
So it's highly integral to both adding umph as well as doing regeneration Of power going back to the battery.
Some of the numbers compared to your base V8 S550, 329 base horse on this guy plus another 114 from the e-motor give you an odd 436 total.
The gas engine car has 449 so that's 13 better.
Torque here is 479 pound feet, 516 on the gas V8, so we're losing 37.
Both have the same 7 speed, automatic architecture, although the gas engine car can be had all wheel drive.
This hybrid goes to 60 in 5.2 seconds, the gas engine car is a little quicker at 4.8.
And of course that big battery charging apparatus and electric motor add weight.
The MPG is notably improved.
We're 24/30 in the hybrid.
Just 17-26 without it.
And of course, where there is no comparison is electric range.
This car can go 20 miles on electric power only in the right condition.
And up to 80 miles per hour on pure electric.
This is a key part of the strategy that helps this car Work on the credits Mercedes needs in zero emissions marketplaces like California, and other very stringent states.
By now underway, you know that an S Class is a big buttery thing.
This one's bigger and butterier.
It has this incredibly modulated ride of course, owing to that 450 pounds of battery in the back.
Unfortunately, the throttle response is real lumpy.
Sometimes you got a bunch of power, sometimes you have a good amount but it's not the same kind.
Deceleration is coming in and out.
Because you got all these different drives, modes of electric, gas, gas and electric, and different kinds of region.
It's just not linear and if you You trounce the pedal and really get onto a freeway onramp or something, absolutely no problem.
It's that around town stuff, where it's a little bit [SOUND], in and out of different modes that's jarring, which doesn't make sense in a car like this.
So I'm left wondering, who's really gonna Excited about this car.
Who out there is saying finally, that's the S-Class I wanted.
It saves some gas, it's measurable, but it's no Prius.
So what are we left with?
I think an S-Class that the world wasn't asking for, but California and other state regulators were.
Okay, pricing on this S550 hybrid is about ninty-five-three delivered.
What is interesting is that at that base price, it's the exact same as the gas engine B8 twin turbo.
There is no hybrid penalty on this car.
That's pretty notable.
Other things to bare in mind is, these kind of luxury cars, in particular the S class have dramatic.
Five year depreciation.
I think that'll be compounded by the fact that you've got a hybrid here, which is probably going to be much better in five years, and this'll be the antiquated technology.
That's not gonna do you any favors either.
also know that this is only available rear wheel drive.
If you want all wheel drive, you gotta get a gas engine only.
Find our full review on that Mercedes S five fifty E with a plug in the bumper at cars dot cnet dot com.
Well you don't have to live in Texas to know that a pickup truck for many people is Also, the family car so you want it to absolutely be safe but verifying that has become surprisingly controversial in recent months.
We'll update the smarter driver when CNet OnCars returns.
Ford's new F-150 truck passes the IIHS small overlap crash test with flying colors, except for the ones that don't.
[NOISE] The big cab Supercrew received the coveted Top Safety Pick, the shorter Supercab version earned only a marginal rating in the same crash.
In the front small overlap crash test, the extended cab F150, the toe pan and pedals moved nearly a foot back towards the dummy's legs.
Steering column moved eight inches towards his chest, coming dangerously close.
The difference turned out to be a set of special steel reinforcing tubes, welded in front of and behind each front wheel in the bigger Supercrew model.
The smaller super cab doesn't have them.
A key takeaway here is that the IIHS can't and doesn't test every version of every car and truck it crashes.
Usually, it doesn't matter.
But here, it clearly does.
And as a result, the institute has just made it's But it will test multiple body styles of big pickups that will soon include Silverado, Tundra and Ram which just announced it has added reinforcing bars to all its cab styles.
It pays to double check which model of pickup truck you're considering buying.
And knowing if that's the exact cab version that was tested, or was it a different one, that may not collapse quite the same way.
Welcome back to CNET On Cars.
Coming to you from our home at the Mount Tam Motor Club, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Well you may have heard me mention in some recent Performance car videos we've done that the vehicle had a dry sump lubrication system.
The biggest oxymoron in all of autodom.
We've actually got a number of cars coming up that have one as well.
So it seems like it's time for a car tech 101.
On dry sump.
Now most cars, including very likely yours, have what's called a wet sump.
Sump being the old German, Dutch word for a mighty wet Bog or marsh which is actually a pretty good analogy for what happens down here at the bottom of your engine.
It's what's known as the oil pan or the crank case, also known as the sump.
The heart of the lubrication system is the oil pump.
The two revolving gears create a suction as the teeth move apart.
This suction draws oil from the storage reservoir, or oil pan.
When this is a wet sump, that means basically all your oil lives down here except when it's being pumped out, circulated around the engine through little passages, where it gets all the things that need lubrication lubricated.
And then it drips back down here to do the cycle over again.
But the problems with that design are actually many.
First of all, look at this pan down here or on this V8 to my right.
They're both big and tall.
That means the engine has to sit higher in the car.
cannot scrape the ground or Bump in the Suspension, that means the highest Center of gravity, higher Hood knows where have you, all the makers don't like that.
Secondly the Oil kit is coming back to the same Hot Plate, so it is hard to cool the oil Third, because this can only be a given size to fit in the engine bank, you can only have so much oil.
Engines would like to have more oil, fresher oil, and cooler oil.
And fourth, you get oil starvation in a design like this.
The oil's just down there by luck and by gravity and hard cornering sometimes it moves to one side and the pickup where the oil is sucked up goes dry once in a while.
When that happens, The bearings go dry.
Not good on a high-performance engine, a dry stump seeks to cure all that.
It's the first high-performance sports car with dry sump lubrication for a lower center of gravity.
A dry sump engine still has a pan at the bottom of the engine but it's much smaller.
It catches oil and it's immediately then pumped out to a reservoir.
Somewhere else on the car.
Where, typically, another pump then moves it back to the engine.
It's all very controlled and done under positive pressure.
You end up getting a lower engine and lower center of gravity because you don't have a great big pan to protect down at the bottom.
You have no oil starvation in hard cornering because everything is done under positive pressure.
And you end up likely with cooler oil because it gets a vacation from being in the engine all the time, and you can have a lot more of it, cuz the oil resovoir can be as big as you have room to fit.
The downside of a dry sump design is basically cost and complexity.
You've got a pump or two that are external to the engine You've got some very critical plumbing, you're got that reservoir to hold all that oil, has to go somewhere else in the car.
So they're only justified in high performance situations today.
But if you look at a high performance car, look at our reviews of them, you're going to increasingly see the dry sump design making its way into vehicles that are not just track cars but are high performance road cars.
In a moment, measuring mileage.
Demystifying all those conflicting numbers.
And the car tech you really want, when Cnet on Cars continues.
This is an Aston Martin Vanquish.
It's a grand tourer and has a big engine.
It's what happens when you decide you want to treat yourself after a lifetime of hard work.
You see this car's party piece is it's six liter V-12.
It kicks out 568 brake horse power and 456 pound foot.
It will crack 200 miles per hour if you've got the space.
And you'll get from 0 to 62 in 3.8 seconds.
That makes it the quickest accelerated full production car that [UNKNOWN]
has ever made.
Which means there's a potential for a lot of silliness indeed.
Buy more from the XCAR team of cnet UK at cnet.com/xcar.
Welcome back to cnet on cars.
I'm Brian Cooley.
Here's the part of the show where I take one of your emails.
In this case I'm going to take a whole slew of your emails.
But before we get to those, I want to give a nod to Keith from the Phillipines, who sent us some photos of his wheel upgrade from last episodes email section.
Remember he had a Honda Civie with 15s on it.
He wanted to go to 19s, I suggested maybe 17s or 18s.
He finally ended up doing his wheel conversion to a nice set of 18s that look really good.
Nice work Keith.
Now we've got a trio of emails to get to about units and measurements that we use on the show as we communicate the specs of cars.
The first one comes in from BossJim who says, when you present technical information about a car I usually convert the units Units to metric myself.
Last time I tried a different online calculator to go from MPG to l/100km and I found out that this calculator gave me 20% lower results than one I used previously.
He asked can you please give me the right Formula to convert MPG to l/100km, Weight: Pounds to kg, and also acceleration time, the 0-60 thing that we talk about here in the U.S. Well, let's take those one at a time.
First of all in your You're comparing MPG on cars, you've got to get to apples and apples.
MPG and liters to 100 are actually not.
That's apples to oranges.
You wanna take liters per 100 kilometers and compare that to gallons per hundred miles.
That step is actually rated on US cars, but almost nobody knows about it over here.
It's in the fine print on the window sticker and other places.
We talk about MPG in the U.S, but in fact when you're comparing two cars, it's actually not a good way to do it, for some weird rounding errors that are beyond my grade level in math.
Once you do look at gallons or liters per miles or kilometers, you end up with a very easy piece of mathematical conversion to do.
Converting pounds to kilograms is easy, one pound is .45 kilograms.
Kilograms are much heavier and 0-60 in the US or 0-100 kilometers per hour in Europe which is 62 miles per hour, is messy.
You can't just do a numerical conversion, because each car has got its own unique torque curve.
And the way that it gets to those additional two miles per hour is not just a straight extrapolation.
It may spike up or spike down for that last little bit.
It's not a big deal, but you can't just do it numerically, I'm afraid.
They are somewhat different measurements.
Okay, next one comes in from Omar.
He's writing in from Malaysia.
He says, regarding fuel consumption, I've been wondering if the gallons you state are US gallons Gallon or imperial gallon.
He says he finds it over on our sister site, XCar; the fuel efficiency seems to be much higher than he hears on CNET OnCars.
Okay, so the gallon thing is very different.
Imperial gallons, as are quoted on cars sold in the UK market, are 17% more fuel than a US gallon so you're going to see a complete difference in the amount you get per gallon of fuel.
It's Not even close.
And the last one comes in from Patric P. He's in North Carolina, but travels a lot.
He says I'm on business in the UK this week, and I've noticed that here, cars tend to get about 20 mpg than their US counterparts.
He says I went on Ford's website and saw that a Focus, just like I have at home with the powershift transmission, gets 54 mpg in the UK.
And his in the U.S. is rated just 37 highway.
"Why the big discrepancy?" He asked.
A few things are going on.
First of all, see the note we just talked about on imperial gallons.
You're seeing an imperial gallon rating and because those gallons are bigger, yeah they get a lot more mileage out of their gallon.
Secondly, the way cars are tested, in Europe and the United Kingdom, the actual circuit they drive to measure fuel economy is very different than in the U.S. as I understand it It tends to be a shorter drive, at lower speeds than we do here in the US.
Finally, notice there are very different power plants in Europe.
The focus there, may not have the engine you have over here, even if the transmission is the same.
European consumers will accept a lot of manual gear boxes, they'll accept a lot of smaller engines that American consumers just aren't interested in, so it tends to be more different than the sheet metal Now, we try to explore every new technology in cars here at CNet on Cars.
That's kind of our mission.
But let's face it.
There's always the core of these things that most consumers care about the most.
So that makes for an interesting top five.
JD Power asked consumers about 59 car tech features.
Ranging from those involved in energy efficiency to in-cabin entertainment, we've ranked the top five responses based on how many people selected this technology for their short list.
Number five, self-healing paint.
25%, there's really no such thing as self-healing paint.
There is Nissan's scratch shield but that only smooths out very minor scrapes in the clear coat only.
It's not the paint.
But we so hate the expensive, time consuming results of a dent or scratch that we keep on dreaming.
Number four, a rear camera with a display in the mirror.
30%, not just a rear cam but one that has a little tiny display.
At least it's up where you should be looking when backing.
instead of looking down.
Number three, collision mitigating braking.
This is one of those getable of the early self driving technology, the one that would jump on the breaks when you forget to.
Any of you think this might be driven by the guilt people feel about staring down at their phones in traffic?
Number two, a night vision technology, thirty three percent.
Here's an odd one since so few people have ever tried it Apparently not enough to know that in my experience it often sucks.
But we love anything with the phrase night vision in it.
Before I get to the number one technology we want in cars.
Here are the ones we want the least.
Like health and wellness technology.
Just your control and haptic feedback screen.
Bless your hearts, you're right on the money there.
Interestingly missing from the top ranks of what we do want are hybrid technology and the latest smartphone integration like Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Maybe they just need some time.
The number one technology you say you want in a car is blind spot tech.
40% The automotive blind spot back over there is one we know we need help with, and they're only getting worse because cars keep bulking up more and more like fortresses on wheels.
Who says you gotta join the Army to drive a tank?
Thanks for watching.
I hope you enjoyed this episode.
Seems like you did because the emails come in a torrent, and I'm glad you do that.
I read everyone, reply to as many as yI can, and a lot of them become segments in the show.
I'll see you next time we check the deck.