The anticipated petrol-electric version was inadvertently revealed during a media presentation of the new S-Class model's user interface system in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Screenshots of the limo's TFT instrument display revealed versions showing 'E drive' accompanied by a battery usage gauge and graphic drivetrain schematic featuring an electric motor sitting behind a conventional engine and a battery pack positioned in the boot.
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class hybrid has yet to be officially confirmed but was previewed most recently by the Vision S500 Plug in Hybrid concept (main image) shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show.
The S500 Hybrid concept teamed a 3.5-litre V6 engine with a 45kW electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. It was good for an estimated 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.5 seconds and fuel efficiency of 3.2 litres per 100km – an economy figure the new S-Class hybrid is believed to be targeting.
A Mercedes-Benz S-Class hybrid is currently sold in the United States in the form of the S400 Hybrid (pictured above), though this is a ‘mild hybrid’ that does not offer full electric drive.
The new S-Class hybrid that will be sold in a larger number of markets, however, will have the ability to drive for a limited number of kilometres on its electric motor alone before the V6 comes into play.
Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Stamoulis said drivetrains for the new S-Class weren’t being disclosed until the model’s full reveal in May.
CarAdvice’s spy photographers have already this week snapped the undisguised exterior of the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while the company has just released the first pictures of the interior.