2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid Interior
Super Luxury sedan interiors are all, as a rule, exemplary. Within that class, however, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid stands out. Its passenger cabin combines advanced technology with classic European luxury -- where else can you find quilted leather and a navigation screen that displays different images from different angles, together? Reviewers single out the S-Class’ extraordinary Drive Dynamic seats (an option, but Mercedes says that most buyers opt for them) for particular praise.
Reviewers complain, however, that the car’s COMAND driver interface is unusually difficult to operate, even when compared to the complex menu systems other automakers use at this price. Like BMW’s iDrive, the COMAND system uses a single dial and a series of menus on the navigation screen to control everything from seat memory settings to radio stations. Reviewers are often critical of these systems, but several say COMAND may be the most tedious.
- "The S400 Hybrid is a beautiful car in terms of craftsmanship.” -- Washington Post
- "First-class materials and soft accent lighting create an elegant interior ambience that's as good as it gets. Ingot-solid structural integrity adds to the appeal" -- Consumer Guide
- "Fit and finish is impeccable on Mercedes' flagship, and the materials quality is truly superb." -- Edmunds
We’ve found few published reviews concerning the standard seats found in the S400 Hybrid. Most reviewers, instead, have tested the optional Drive Dynamic upgraded seats. These may be the best offered in a Super Luxury Sedan. Constructed of 11 pneumatically-adjustable chambers, the seats are almost infinitely adjustable. The seats can be set to change shape in response to the car’s movements, keeping driver and passenger supported even as the car itself turns. The 14-way power-adjustable front seats are heated and cooled, and, optionally, offer four massage settings.
Eight-way power-adjustable, heated and cooled rear seats are available as an option, as is four-zone climate control.
- "The S-Class affords outstanding room and comfort. Only the very tall will find headroom lacking due to this car's sloping roofline and intrusion from the sunroof housing. Seats offer fan ventilation, automatic-inflating side bolsters, and a relaxing massage function. " -- Consumer Guide
- "Dynamic multicontour seats have 11 air chambers that fill and deflate as you drive, which allows the seat to cradle your body in virtually any position. During aggressive driving, the side bolsters can automatically pump up and down in response to cornering forces to better hold you in place. These seats can also provide a soothing massage." -- Edmunds
The S-Class Hybrid’s passenger cabin is constructed of sumptuous materials, with creamy soft leather and hand-polished burl walnut throughout. The car’s design aesthetic combines old world luxury (quilted leather door panels, for instance) with high-technology.
The S-Class Hybrid features an extraordinary suite of cabin electronics, including some technologies not yet available on non-hybrid versions of the car. Its 15-speaker harmon/kardon stereo and hard-drive based navigation system (which stores Zagat reviews of restaurants and hotels) are well-liked. And though few reviewers have tested it, the car’s navigation screen is among its most extraordinary features. It features split-screen technology, enabling it to show different images to those viewing it from different directions. The system can play a DVD movie for passengers while displaying a navigation map to the driver.
Auto writers, however, are generally frustrated with the car’s electronics because of their controls. Mercedes’ COMAND driver interface controls everything from radio stations to seat position settings though a single dial and a series of menus on the navigation screen. In the only consistent criticism of the S-Class that we find, reviewers say COMAND is needlessly complicated and difficult to learn -- but the S-Class isn’t available without it.
We should note, however, that all Super Luxury Sedans use these systems. The automotive press generally considers the Remote Touch device in the Lexus LS and LS hybrid to be the most user-friendly such system, and the S-Class’ COMAND device to be among the worst. It is possible to bypass COMAND for some functions by using the car’s voice recognition system instead.
- "Gauges are large and clear. Features and their related controls are in abundance; nearly all require some study to understand, and many divert the driver's attention. Most climate functions are handled by simple buttons, but the COMAND system absorbs too many audio controls, complicating their use. It also governs a daunting array of navigation, phone, seat, suspension, and cruise-control adjustments. Further, COMAND's response to inputs via the center console knob or dashboard buttons is frustratingly slow." -- Consumer Guide
- "When it comes to usability, many find Mercedes' COMAND system quirky and unintuitive, although the current generation of the interface is easier to use than in the past. Another pet peeve is the S-Class' turn signal stalk, which is located down lower than on most cars and is somewhat inconvenient to reach." -- Edmunds
The S400 is the only hybrid vehicle on the market to offer trunk space that competes with similar non-hybrid cars. The car’s advanced Lithium-ion batteries are the key to the feat -- other hybrids carry larger, heavier Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries, which automakers position beneath the trunk in order to offset the weight of a car’s engine, balancing handling. The smaller, lighter Li-ion cell of the S400 fits under the car’s hood with the engine, meaning that this car’s trunk is identical to the trunk of the gasoline-powered S-Class. The S400 has 16.3 cubic-feet of storage space -- one of the largest cargo capacities in its class. The space is easily accessed with an available electric trunk closer. Reviewers have occasionally complained that that car lacks significant interior storage, but the same is true of all of its major rivals except the Lexus LS and LS Hybrid. The rear seats of the S400, however, do not fold to expand storage space.
- "Mercedes was able to locate its smaller and more energy dense Li-ion battery pack, which consists of thirty-five cylindrical cells supplied by the French firm Saft, in the engine compartment, leaving the S-class's 16.3-cubic-foot trunk intact.”-- Automobile Magazine