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Lexus LS 600h and Mercedes S 400 Hybrid in the test: luxury sedans on the green wave

Rossen Gargolov
Lexus LS 600h and Mercedes S 400 Hybrid in the test
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I somewhere in dim corners, in attics and basements they dawn. Yellowed, a little musty, but far from ready for the waste paper: “Hobby” magazines, that bi-weekly Bible for all technophiles, future believers, do-it-yourselfers (“do-it-yourself jet engines”) of the 1950s to 1970s. In the hobby cosmos, the authors talked about, among other things, nuclear-powered aircraft or atom-fertilized gardens, but at least the widespread use of electric cars with electricity, well, you guessed it: atomic energy. And those who regularly hoarded collective coupons received poster-sized exploded drawings as a reward.

The Lexus LS 600h offers the possibility to drive purely electrically

If the magazine still existed today, it would be boring instead of the one Techno star cuts, test drive vouchers for the Lexus LS 600h . Friends of ingenious visions will keep their mouths and eyes open in view of the combination of a V8 petrol engine, two-stage electric motor plus power split by means of a planetary gearbox and the option of driving purely electrically. Against this maxi serving of technical sushi, the hybrid series premiere from Mercedes appears like a Swabian snack: simple and tasty - but efficiently filling.

The Mercedes S 400 Hybrid draws an additional 160 Nm from the electric motor

After all, even people with a taste for comfort and an appetite for luxury smile with satisfaction when they see it S 400 with its 3, 5-liter V6 discreetly grumbling and taking a short extra sip (160 Newton meters) from its electric motor bottle after pressing the stiff accelerator pedal. The Mercedes cannot drive purely electrically (therefore mild hybrid ), but the overall system is small and light at 75 kilograms. Housed in the converter housing of the seven-speed automatic transmission to save space, the disc-shaped synchronous motor from ZF, which is just under five centimeters wide, doubles as a starter and generator. Similar toThe Lexus also recovers energy from the S 400 (for the driving report) when the accelerator is released or the brakes are applied (recuperation). This flows to the lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 0.9 kilowatt hours located in the engine compartment.

The braking force is rather average for both

Up to a deceleration of 0.15 g, the electronically controlled brake pedal throttles exclusively via the generator only then do the pads hydraulically grip the discs. And the brake pedal simulation feels as synthetic as it sounds. Not only sports drivers want conventional stoppers back. Especially since the braking distance of around 39 meters from 100 km /h - as with the Lexus - is rather average. Its start-stop function, which is jerky at creep speed, also needs fine-tuning.

The acceleration values ​​do not differ significantly

And the acceleration? Does the 279-hp V6 (with modified cylinder head and the option of the economical Atkinson combustion process) freshly made from the 15-kilowatt Stromer paint black lines on the asphalt at the traffic light sprint? No, the values ​​hardly differ from those of the equipment-adjusted 4,500 euros cheaper S 350 - but also not significantly from those of the 445 PS strong LS 600h (for comparison test). Anyone who expects the Lexus Sumo to trample the hybrid Daimler with the power of its two opulent hearts according to measured values ​​will be disappointed.

The Lexus LS 600h has a total output of 445 PS

But even if the opponents only separate tenths on paper - the LS drive unit is convincing in practice across the board. Even people who otherwise enjoy archaic engine construction, praise manifolds and identify the contour of sharp cams on idle fluctuations are amazed. For example, when the 394 hp V8 gasoline engine and the 224 hp electric motor add up to a system output of 445 hp. It seems as if hordes of engineers were only busy refining the cooperation of the components - from starting with the electric motor including gentle rolling (purely electric) to the imperceptible starting and latching of the gasoline engine to fine-tuning the speed with the Planetary gear with sun and ring gears.

Great - and therefore worth full marks. Especially since the five-liter V8 - in contrast to the Mercedes V6 - still sounds befitting even under load. Although the fat Lexus combustion engine is publicity in the shadow of the hybrid periphery, the engineers have turned all the screws. Electrically adjustable intake camshafts are just as much a part of it as the combination of intake manifold and direct injection. The V8 always receives its fuel efficiently and in a way that reduces emissions.

The Mercedes S 400 Hybrid is almost 20,000 euros cheaper

TheThe continuously variable transmission serves the appropriate speed with a mixture of servility and a large gear ratio spread. So it can be that, despite steady acceleration, the engine speed remains at 2,000 rpm, and does not exceed 2,500 rpm at high motorway speeds. Only when it gets down to the nitty-gritty and the accelerator pedal in the direction of the carpet does the needle shoot beyond 6,000 rpm. Somehow unworthy of a hybrid sedan that prefers hectic-free gliding, enveloping its occupants in leather for 103,900 euros, heated or ventilated seats, multi-channel sound and bedding on air springs. 19-inch wheels and suspension elements only respond unwillingly to short bumps. The S-Class, which costs 85,323 euros - also air-sprung and adaptively damped - rolls more smoothly on its 17-inchers, although rumbling noises on bumpy roads sometimes shake the impression of the magic carpet.

The equipment scores the Mercedes S 400 Hybrid

A venial sin if you lounging in what is perhaps the best option seats in the world, the massage function (tip: slow and strong) has placed itself on the favorite button and is cared for by assistance systems striving towards the goal. Whether excellent automatic light, lane change, lane keeping or adaptive cruise control - the S-Class delivers everything (partly for an extra charge). Even the Lexus, which is properly equipped in terms of safety, has to fit. The Japanese could also improve on some details. The air conditioning gives off a draft instead of a feeling of wellbeing, and some buttons give off a compact-class aroma. Added to this is the reduced trunk volume of 390 liters (S-Class: 560 liters) due to the powerful nickel-metal hydride battery.

The Mercedes S 400 Hybrid consumes significantly less fuel

To make matters worse, the S 400, which is just under 360 kilograms lighter, also consumes significantly less fuel, with its more precise steering, circles more willing around tight corners, conveys more feedback and accuracy in fast motorway curves than the Lexus LS 600h. Although it even sends a variable steering ratio into the race. After all, the Lexus can counter slippery terrain with the traction of its all-wheel drive. “Hobby” readers should be enthusiastic - despite the clear Mercedes S 400 hybrid test victory.


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