We’re getting used to the modern reality that a number on a Mercedes-Benz’s decklid no longer bears any relation to the car’s engine displacement or, well, much of anything at all. Consider the refreshed-for-2018 S-class, which adopts S450 and S560 badges to denote its base 3.0-liter six-cylinder and up-market 4.0-liter eight-cylinder models.
Naming liberties aside, the S560e represents an appropriate step forward for the electrified S-class. As before, the V-6 is twin-turbocharged, yet this time around it boasts 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque compared to 329 ponies and 354 lb-ft. The transmission has been upgraded from seven forward gears to nine, and the electric motor embedded in it gains seven horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque for new totals of 121 horses and 325 lb-ft. Mercedes hasn’t revealed the total system power this generates, but we suspect it’ll eclipse the old S550e’s 436 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque.
The new battery is about the same size as before, but it packs 13.5 kWh of capacity where the old model had only 8.7 kWh. This, along with the relocation of the power electronics to the engine bay, opens up some of the cargo space previously lost to both. As is in vogue among today’s German plug-in hybrids with an eye on the China market, the S560e now can travel 31 miles (50 kilometers) on electricity alone before the engine kicks on and assists.
How does the Benz know to nag the driver to lift off the gas? The S560e factors in the battery’s charge level, approaching speed limits or interchanges, and traffic scenarios to determine whether the powertrain should free-wheel sans any engine-braking effect from the electric motor’s energy recuperation or recharge the battery using the electric motor.