PREVIEWED IN THE Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is reportedly considering offering a plug-in hybrid version of the next generation S-Class.
Based on the S-Class sedan and featuring technology similar to that found in the production S400 BlueHYBRID revealed in 2008, Mercedes claims the S500 Plug-In Hybrid returns a fuel economy of just 3.2 l/100km.
"The Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid is a new milestone on our path toward zero-emission mobility," Mercedes-Benz chief Dr Dieter Zetsche said.
It is a luxurious and safe S-Class vehicle that offers superior driving performance while at the same time consuming less fuel than current compacts.
All of this shows that our top models will also be able to combine automotive fascination with responsibility for the environment."
Speaking with British magazine Autocar, Mercedes R&D head Thomas Weber said that introducing hybrid technology at the top of the brand first is the best move.
?It makes a lot of sense to bundle the high-price tech option to the sort of customers willing to pay for this sort of thing,? Mr Weber told Autocar.
Like many hybrids, the S500 Plug-In Hybrid's 45kW electric motor offers the ability to drive on electric power alone, travelling up to 30 kilometres on one charge of its 10kWh lithium-ion battery.
When the battery's charge is depleted, the conventional petrol engine (Mercedes has not offered details for this engine) will kick in.
Used together, Mercedes-Benz says the electric motor and petrol engine will propel the big sedan to 60mph (96km/h) in under 5.5 seconds.
According to Autocar, less expensive models in the S-Class range will include six and eight-cylinder versions, all featuring direct injection, stop-start technology and the ability to be matched with forced induction components and electric motors.
As for the styling of the new S-Class, recent spy photos of the next generation S-Class Coupe reveal a larger, squarer grille, as well as a new curved headlight design with a LED strip along the bottom of each. Our renderings (above and following) offer a glimpse of what might lay ahead.