It’s been decades since Mercedes-Benz has sold a car with a straight six engine, but that configuration is on its way back to the Benz lineup, along with a mild hybrid system expected to become standard in many forthcoming models.
The news comes from a Mercedes future tech presentation in which the company revealed a straight-six code-named M256 that will make its debut under the hood of an S-Class next year. Bolted to that engine’s crankshaft will be an electric motor/generator that, fed by a battery pack, will contribute up to 18 horsepower to forward progress and do the usual hybrid trick of charging the battery via regenerative braking. What the electric motor can’t do is drive the car on its own.
Benz says the new gasoline-fueled engine is related to a 2.0L four-cylinder diesel that just launched in European versions of the E-Class and is reportedly coming to North America, and may be followed by its own inline six variant.
One American car mag that has reported on this says they feel it’s unlikely the new electrified six will be used in the US-market S-Class, which currently starts out with V8 power. It’s a different story here, where the entry point to Mercedes’ flagship sedan line is the S 400, powered by a twin-turbo V6.
The question that remains is what current Benz engine or engines this new mild-hybrid one will replace. That twin-turbo V6 is a fairly recent addition to the company’s range, leaving a 3.5L naturally-aspirated motor that we figured was set to be phased out by a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder.
We’ll bring you more news when Benz announces its official North American plans for this intriguing new engine.
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