Mercedes S300 Hybrid vs Lexus LS 600h

Lexus vs Mercedes
24 Jun, 2014 11:57am

Can new eco Mercedes S300 take hybrid limo crown from Lexus LS?

After a slow start, hi-tech hybrids are attracting mainstream success. And it’s not just penny-pinching family cars that are getting the eco-friendly electric treatment.

The newest generation of luxury limousines has also been given a green makeover. The latest arrival is the Mercedes S300 Hybrid, which combines a small-capacity four-cylinder diesel with an electric motor to deliver a compelling blend of performance and economy. But are captains of industry going to be convinced by such a humble powerplant, or are they likely to be swayed by a theoretically smoother and more refined petrol unit?

To find out, we’ve lined up the new S-Class against a pioneer of the luxury hybrid class: the Lexus LS 600h. Boasting a strong and silent 5.0-litre V8 and muscular 221bhp electric motor, the innovative car has the Mercedes beaten hands down for performance, plus it comes lavishly equipped and is backed by a decade of petrol-electric know-how.

Mercedes S-Class review

Lexus LS review

So which of our fuel-saving flagships takes victory in this classy encounter? Click on the links above to read the in-depth review of each car, then scroll down for our verdict.

Head-to-head

Engines

Despite sharing similar hybrid principles and performance on the road, the Mercedes and Lexus are very different under the skin.

The LS’s petrol engine has over twice the capacity of the diesel S-Class. Plus, its electric motor alone produces 221bhp – almost as much as the S300’s total output. And while the Lexus delivers its power to all four wheels through a CVT gearbox, the Mercedes uses a seven-speed auto and is rear drive.

Comfort

The LS 600h’s reclining seat, four-zone climate control and powered blinds are all fitted as standard; you’ll have to pay £4,000 to get the same kit on the S-Class.

Although both models feature a long wheelbase, our tape measure revealed that the Lexus had an extra 90mm of rear legroom.

Business users

If you plan on purchasing one of these cars for business use, the Mercedes is a no-brainer. A higher-rate earner will pay £7,018 a year tax to run an S300 specced to the same level as the Lexus – that’s still £5,714 less than for the LS 600h.

Verdict

1st place: Mercedes S300

Mercedes S-Class static

The brilliantly engineered S-Class can comfortably lay claim to the title of ‘best car in the world’. Its diesel-electric hybrid system isn’t as well integrated as the Lexus’ petrol unit, plus it’s a little thirsty, but it’s remarkably refined and delivers surprisingly strong performance.

2nd place: Lexus LS 600h

Lexus LS 600h static

There's lots to like about the LS 600h – its hybrid system is very effective, there’s loads of standard kit and it’s comfortable. But the price tag is hard to ignore, and the Lexus doesn’t feel composed on the road. It also lacks the bespoke quality of the best limousines.

Figures

Mercedes S300 Hybrid L AMG Lexus LS 600h Premier
On-the-road price/total as tested £72,260/£103,185 £99,995/£99,995
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £30,783/42.6% £42,398/42.4%
Depreciation £41,477 £57,597
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £2,455/£4,909 £6,366/£12,731
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,160/£3,600 £2,731/£4,552
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 50/£624/C/£30 50/£929/J/£265
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £40 per month £272/£596/£272
Length/wheelbase 5,246/3,165mm 5,210/3,090mm
Height/width 1,496/1,899mm 1,480/1,875mm
Engine 4cyl elect/2,143cc V8 electric/4,969cc
Combined peak power 228/3,800 bhp/rpm 439/6,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 500/1,600 Nm/rpm 520/4,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd man/fwd CVT/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 70 litres/foam 84 litres/foam
Boot capacity 510 litres 420 litres
Kerbweight/payload 2,035/700kg 2,440/375kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 12.3 metres/N/A 11.8 metres/0.27Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unltd)/4yrs 3yrs (60k)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers Variable (1yr)/136 10k miles (1yr)/51
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 9th/12th* 4th/1st*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 8.0/7.2 secs 6.8/5.2 secs
30-50mph in kickdown 2.9 secs 2.3 secs
50-70mph in kickdown 4.3 secs 2.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 155mph/1,900rpm 155mph/1,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 47.1/32.0/8.8m 50.3/36.6/8.9m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 71/44/56/66dB 62/44/60/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 34.4/7.6/530 miles 26.0/5.8/480 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 58.9/62.8/61.4mpg 26.9/37.7/32.8mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 13.0/13.8/13.5mpl 5.9/8.3/7.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 220/120g/km/17% 251/199g/km/32%
Airbags/Isofix/air suspension/camera Eight/yes/yes/yes Eleven/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl Yes/yes/£2,300** Yes/yes/yes
Climate ctrl/leather/heat./vent. seats Yes/yes/yes/£660 Yes/yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go Yes/yes/£1,490 Yes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes

Disqus - noscript

You say the Lexus' price tag is hard to ignore, but the Mercedes tested to a similar spec (20k of options) is over 100 grand!!! If your spending that amount of money then I doubt business users will care about the tax difference. But oh wait, the Mercedes with its German heritage comes out on top. Wonder if AE's certain German bias - and owners - have anything to do with it....?

I think the reviews are based on owning the car for about 5 minutes, from the (normal) focus on depreciation and omission of reliability.

There is, perhaps, an obvious point missed in this review... that is, if you can afford to spend £100K on a car in the first place, are you likely to be worried (too) much about fuel costs? Unlikely, therefore the silkier smoother serene petrol V8 and massive electric motors of the Lexus would surely make this a better place to be chauffeured around in? I don't doubt without hybrid kit, the Merc is probably the better car - it is newer afterall, given the current Lexus has been around since about 2007 or so?

As it stands I'd quite happily be driven around in either of these.

The actual review is at odds with the verdict. To be honest, it still sounds like the Lexus is the best hybrid limousine.

Surely the Porsche Panamera Hybrid could show these two how to have a good balance of performance and efficiency? This Merc is quite slow and the emissions from the Lexus are about the same as a merc S500 which is V8 only.

AEstaff have made it perfectly clear that they're not German owned.

Besides, don't think you'd find a single reviewer in the World that would rate the Lexus above the S Class.

Yeah. I would agree with the last comment. It seems not so clear cut from reading the review. Looking at the numbers is pretty similar I would agree. I would suggest that these two deserve a week of head to head from the perspective of the personal owner and the chauffeur/taxi company perspective. It seems odd just to award it to the Merc after such a close thing. It suggests a bias.

Predictable result from AE. However, whilst buying my lottery ticket a few weeks ago I was thinking about these two exact cars for my dream garage. I started looking at the S-Class website and was blown away by the style, class, luxury and technology on offer.

I then went to the Lexus site to look at the LS and it was like they were using the same website template as for a Toyota Yaris, and it didn't come across much better than that either. I was not impressed.

OK, that tells you nothing about the cars themselves, but it does show that Mercedes really know how to sell a luxury motor and Lexus are just dabbling really. The LS just didn't feel special enough, and that's before you've even decided which dealers to spend your valuable time in. In this market, that's critical.

The Lexus guzzles more fuel, emits more CO2, is noisier, is less refined, dynamically is very much inferior, the fit and finish is second best, it possesses nowhere near the same level of opulence nor luxury; it depreciates far more and is far more expensive to buy in the first place, it also has far higher annual tax liability than the S-Class.
On top of all that it looks rather ugly and has very little brand prestige compared to the Mercedes.
Still want that Lexus?

Im a Lexus fan. I love their cars. BUT, although the LS600h is a fantastic piece of kit, I do think it needs updating. Its been around since 2007 and has just been given a small facelift.

Its very smooth and for people who want that kind of experience, the LS600h is the one to go for but obviously, the Merc is awesome too.

If it was me, Id just get the LS460 F-Sport which is £20k cheaper, looks the business and drives very well. The brembo brakes on the F Sport are no match for the Merc either and it still gets to 60 in 5.9s. Win Win situation. Plus, the Lexus is more exclusive.

That's experience from BOTH the Lexus and the Benz then ? What car do you own Mark Rodriguez ?

Really, you'd choose a car solely from a website? Surely you'd go and actually touch and feel a car before dismissing it? You might well end up with the same result, but I don't think I've ever ruled out a car from a website.

Yeah got to love armchair reviewers, eh! :-)

Not sure if this fair comparison, comparing the S300 to the LS600h, first the S300 is the basic S-Class what with the 4 cylinder 2.1 & the LS600h is almost top spec 5.0 V8...... & the s-class from 72,260-£103,185 now that is expensive so at 100k for the Lexus V8 is pretty good price !, A 4 cylinder car for well over 72k ! Really ?? oh for me, Lexus ! Every time !

As it happens, I've recently test driven both the new S-Class and the Lexus LS. Needless to say the Merc was far superior in virtually every way, especially in terms of refinement and dynamics. So yeah, you could say that what I write is based on actual experience.

What about you, old chap? What makes you so sure that the S-Class doesn't wipe the floor with the Lexus?

For your sake, hope you and the HTG lad below aren't the typically ignorant, unemployed pub junkies I see so often nowadays. ;-)

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