New Cars for 2010: Europe

Mark Bramley Greg Pajo

Mercedes-Benz ML450 and S400 Hybrids

New: Two hybrid powertrains.
Noteworthy: Give Mercedes-Benz credit - it doesn't commit to anything halfway. Although the automaker has long hesitated on hybrids, it now comes to the market with not one but two sophisticated designs. The S400 uses a small motor sandwiched between its 3.5-liter V-6 and seven-speed automatic and is the first production hybrid to use lithium-ion batteries. The ML450 also employs the 3.5-liter V-6 but ties it to the two-mode technology Mercedes codeveloped with General Motors, Chrysler, and BMW. Both hybrids promise impressive gains in fuel economy, with the ML450 improving 6 mpg in the city over an ML350 and the S400 achieving an EPA-estimated 26 mpg on the highway.

ON SALE: Now/December (S400/ML450)
PRICE: $88,825/$55,000 (S400/ML450, est.)
S400 SpecS: 3.5-liter V-6/electric hybrid, 295 hp (combined), 284 lb-ft (combined); rear-wheel drive
ML450 SpecS: 3.5-liter V-6/electric hybrid, 335 hp (combined), 381 lb-ft (combined); 4-wheel drive

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