Two new coupés have joined the range of Mercedes-Benz cars available in this country; they are the 380 SEC and 500 SEC, costing £25,700 and £28,700 respectively. The two newcomers are based on the new “S” Class cars and have the benefit of the “Energy Concept” features which have been introduced across the “S” range. These features, aimed at providing better fuel economy without any loss of performance and without any conscious change in driving style required by she driver, include a new “thinking” foot-speed automatic transmission a high back axle ratio and micro-chip technology for the engine controls to ensure that not a drop of fuel more than necessary is used.
At a Mercedes press day recently, we had the chance to drive the 500 SEC very briefly and look forward to being able to try this fine car over a longer period shortly. What particularly impressed us, however, was the comparison between an early example of the “S” class and the equivalent latest version with the energy concept items fitted. When Mercedes do something, they do it well; rather than simply producing the latest car to try, telling as it was so much better than the old, they provided both old and new cars, equipped with telemetry (radio transfer of meter readings) devices to enable the occupants of one car to read the fuel consumption figures of the other. Driving the latest 500 SE as hard as reasonably practical over a 30-mile route of mixed driving, we achieved an overall fuel consumption of 17.9 m.p.g., some 16% better than the “old” car following 100 yards behind. Other lighter footed journalists pushed the new 500 SE to the 20 m.p.g. mark — a very creditable figure for such a large car.