But most significant, by a mile, was its all-electric range, which was a genuine 67-70 miles, despite a claim of just 62-63 miles. How nice it is for a manufacturer to underestimate such a thing for once. What this meant was that journeys in which I’d usually take the family Golf were undertaken by S-class, because charging at home is still by a mile the cheapest way to put energy in a car.
Taking a daughter to the station, going to the supermarket, visiting local mates, all done by S-class without burning a single drop of fuel. And even if I had to go to Heathrow and back, once it had hoovered up some miles through regen, I’d say at least a third of the 250-mile round trip was done on electrons alone. So not only could I afford to run it, most of the time this 2.3 tonne, 500 horsepower limousine was the cheapest car I had at my disposal.
That said, the loss of one-third of an already small boot did rule it out from certain journeys. Collecting a daughter and her clobber from Uni was only possible in the Golf. Now it’s not a like-for-like comparison, but I do remember getting all the other daughter’s stuff into a BMW 7-series.
And the haptic controls on the steering wheel are rubbish. How many times have I heard from this and other manufacturers that ‘you’ll get used to them’, and I did. What they fail to mention is ‘even when you do, they still won’t work properly and you’ll still hate them’, which they don’t and I do. What is so terribly wrong with a button?
Other gripes? Well, it pretended to have a battery fault when it didn’t, the brake pedal felt fine until you suddenly had to jump on it, when it felt decidedly dead and the car’s mass, length and softness has undoubtedly attenuated the handling poise that was a unlikely USP of previous generations of S-class.
That aside, the S580e has been better than impeccable, and not just because it was fast, quiet and comfortable. For this kind of car such things should be, and are, a given. More importantly, it turned every journey into an occasion, and brought home hours closer because you felt like you were there even when pulling out of the long-term car park. And it did distances like nothing else in my experience this side of a Bentley Flying Spur. Including a return 1000-mile journey to Le Mans, out one day, back the next.