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Mercedes-Benz Review Roundup: S550, S65 AMG, E320 BlueTEC And Sprinter Hybrid
Posted June 18, 2008 At 2:20 AM CST by T. Philips

Exterior views of the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, E320 BlueTEC and Sprinter Hybrid

Although Mercedes reviews have been a little light the past several days, we've managed to dig up a grand total of four articles for your Wednesday afternoon reading entertainment. The Mercedes-Benz S550, S65 AMG, E320 BlueTEC and the Sprinter Hybrid - these are the models scrutinized, thus giving you some idea how the aforementioned models perform.  In our usual Mercedes Review Roundup fashion, you can find excerpts from each review and links back to the full articles immediately below.


Mercedes-Benz S550 (via SearchChicago)
Reviewer's rating:  Unspecified

"During the test period, I felt like royalty. From a night at the symphony to a girls’ day out, my passengers and I had a lot of fun pushing all the buttons (except for that SOS one, please) and generally traveling in style. My backseat passengers liked the power rear sun shade. My front seat passengers liked the heated/cooled seats and optional dynamic side bolsters that help hold you in your seat during more aggressive driving.

The interior quietness was sublime, which opened the door for pleasant conversations or a great music-listening experience. Much of this was due to the infrared reflective/noise insulating glass. The problem, however, is that the glass worked too well. In fact, the windshield was so thick, my garage transponder couldn’t be read through the glass. I actually had to hold the transponder out the open sunroof to get it to work. Kind of makes you wonder how you would deal with an iPass.

The S-Class is a large vehicle with an overall length of 205 inches. Surprisingly, it is quite nimble and has a really decent turning radius. I never would have guessed this but had the opportunity to test it when I got blocked into my parking space at my condo. I had to do a series of tight turns right to get out and managed to do a complete 360 in about double that amount of space. Of course, the rearview monitor and Parktronic included in the Premium III package also played a part in freeing the S550. The guys who blocked me watched me maneuver out of my space then apologized after I was free. Without lifting a finger or moving one of their own vehicles. Boo. Chivalry is apparently very dead."

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Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG (via AutoWeek)
Reviewer's rating:  Unspecified

"'It's like a day at the spa,' said a passenger enjoying the heated seat and its wonderful massage function. We agreed; we had enjoyed those same features a couple weeks prior in the 'entry' S63 at $143,000, the only difference being this car comes with four extra cylinders, a pair of turbochargers, 86 more horsepower, 273 lb-ft more torque and a bigger monthly nut.

If you can afford it and you want to drive yourself, this is your car. It is as luxurious as it gets on four wheels--plus, it's a German-built rocket ship. The earth-rotating power from its twin-turbo V12 is nothing short of gasp-inspiring, regardless of where you are on the speedometer when you stuff your foot to the floor. Three figures come quickly, effortlessly, but completely controlled via the weighted steering, solid suspension and superb braking action.

It glides down the road with explosive V12 power. Overtaking maneuvers aren't an issue; it is just about insane when you find a healthy opening on the road.  While it's certainly not something in which you'll ever do hot laps around your local track for fun, it does shuttle a load nicely. The massive brakes are strong and get things stopped quickly."

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Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTEC (via
Reviewer's rating:  Unspecified

"Accelerator lag notwithstanding, the E320 Bluetec's drivetrain gives up nothing to the gas type; in fact its high torque at low engine speeds makes for confident, drama-free acceleration. The engine's sound is different, but not by any means noisier than the gas V-6; in fact, the latter has to rev higher and work a little bit harder to get a move on, so in some instances you're more likely to hear that one than the diesel. Overall, though, the cabin is very quiet.

The seven-speed automatic transmission is so smooth it fades into the background. Shared with the gas models, this transmission has a button on the center console marked C/S that selects between two drive modes, Comfort and Sport. Comfort is a word that makes sense when applied to adjustable suspension firmness, but I don't think there's anything uncomfortable about the Sport transmission mode. What Sport does is hold onto lower gears until higher up the engine's rpm range, which keeps power at the ready. It also makes the transmission kick down more readily when you jab the accelerator. The tradeoff to this mode is lower fuel economy. C mode is more conservative with the shifts, and might better be called E for Economy or Efficiency.

There may be a Sport mode on the transmission, but if you're looking for a luxury sport sedan, the E-Class isn't it. The luxury is there, and it's hard to argue with the AMG version's sporting capabilities, but overall the E's handling and braking don't compare to those of the BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF — or even the Acura TL, Audi A6 or Cadillac STS. Across the board, when I think of 'drivers' cars,' the Mercedes brand doesn't come to mind. I'm not quick to generalize, but I'm comfortable with this one."

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Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Hybrid (via
Reviewer's rating:  Unspecified

"Development of Mercedes-Benz' Sprinter Plug-in Hybrid van reached the point where we were able to drive it around the port of Hamburg last week. Here's what CM thought. Compared with the Toyota Prius - the most familiar benchmark hybrid vehicle - the Sprinter features a simplified driveline, but adds the ability to be plugged in to a main supply to give a full charge at the start of day.  The 14kWh of lithium-ion batteries are mounted underfloor behind the rear axle, which has no impingement on load space, and, Mercedes claims, only a minor loss of payload. The driver has the option of two switchable modes, combined electric and engine drive for general operation or fully electric drive for sensitive areas. Under electric power, it has a range of around 30km while in combined mode - tests have seen a 40% improvement in fuel economy.

From a driving perspective, the Sprinter is no different to a familiar automatic, apart from the silence running under electricity. Even without the engine, low-speed acceleration is lively enough to satisfy normal needs. The new technology is now virtually production ready, although pricing issues mean that it's likely to be at least two years before it will be introduced to European markets. Of this batch of customer-trial Sprinters, 11 are destined for a selection of US cities, with another two staying in Germany."

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