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Setra S 500 LE business: A new low-entry bus

© Daimler Truck

On 22 March 2023, Daimler Truck, the joint parent company of the Mercedes-Benz and Setra bus brands, sent out a surprising press release: The new low-entry bus series “S 500 LE business” from the group subsidiary Setra will be available from autumn 2023.

The S 500 LE business series belongs to the “Multi Class” type family and will succeed the previous “S 400 LE business” series. This in turn replaced the last low-floor bus from Setra, the S 415 NF. This was because it had become a “victim” of a new, more stringent emissions standard – it was no longer wanted to be adapted to the new emissions standard.

The “S 400 LE busines” series is the last one that has not been involved in all the renewals of the Setra programme so far. This was already shown by its model type designation, which still began with a “4”, indicating that this series still belonged to the fourth generation of Setra buses. Nevertheless, the S 400 LE business series continues to sell very well. Above all, private entrepreneurs who operate scheduled bus services, often on behalf of public transport operators, greatly appreciate the intercity bus from the renowned premium coach builder.

Like the previous low-entry buses from Setra, the new S 500 LE business series will be built at Daimler Truck’s Turkish plant in Hosdere near Istanbul.

© Daimler Truck

The equipment of the new series

Setra emphasises that the new bus is designed for and suitable for all types of use, from regular services to excursions. That is why it is also available with different seating arrangements, with a simpler one for purely scheduled services, but also with comfortable touring seating. It will be available in four lengths: with 10.5 metres as “Setra S 510 LE business”, with the predominant 12 metres as “Setra S 515 LE business”, with 13 metres as “Setra S 516 LE business” and as a three-axle bus with a length of 14.5 metres under the name “Setra S 418 LE business”. It will be available with different door arrangements: the customer can choose between three different options for the front door. On the one hand, a single-wing, somewhat narrower door is offered. But you can also opt for a door that is still single-leaf, but wider. And finally, Setra also offers the classic double-track entry at the front with a double-wing door in its new low-entry bus.

In the middle of the bus, the operator can choose between a single narrow door and a double wide door. A completely new feature is that all four versions of the new series can also be supplied as three-door models. This is Setra’s response to the current trend of giving vehicles more doors for their lifetime. This third door, however, is only offered as a single narrow door.

The bus is divided into a low-floor front section that extends up to and including the centre door. Behind it, there are three steps up to floor level in the rear car. It is noteworthy that this step between the front and rear carriages is clearly also emphasised in the exterior appearance of the bus and is not cached with black-painted exterior planking as in the predecessor model. The window panes in the front of the bus extend much further down than in the rear. In addition, the step in the bus is emphasised by a wide strut behind the centre door. – At the possible door in the rear, there are then three steps up to reach the floor level of the rear car.

The engines

The two-axle versions of Setra’s new low-entry bus are powered by the 7.7-litre Mercedes OM 936 engine, which can produce 220 kW (299 hp) or 260 kW (354 hp), depending on customer preference. The three-axle S 518 LE business will be equipped with the Mercedes OM 470 engine with 10.7 litres displacement. It produces 290 kW (394 hp) on the road. As far as transmissions are concerned, a manual transmission, an automated manual transmission and torque converter automatic transmissions from Voith or ZF are on offer.

Hybrid module possible

To make the new Setra even more fuel-efficient and economical on the road, it can also be supplied with a hybrid module. In this version, a small electric motor is connected between the transmission and the diesel engine to support the diesel unit when starting up, which means that the diesel unit does not have to “make such an effort” during this phase of high fuel consumption. This actually saves a considerable amount of diesel oil.

Predictive Powertrain Control

In combination with the automated manual transmission “GO 250-8 PowerShift”, the cruise control “Predictive Powertrain Control” (PPC) supports the driver. It works on the basis of stored data on the route and knows in advance, for example, when a roundabout is coming up at which the brakes will have to be applied anyway. PPC automatically adapts the driving style to this upcoming “obstacle”. The same applies, of course, at the entrance to built-up areas, etc. …

Preventive Break Assist 2

Naturally, the new Setra is equipped with the latest version of “Preventive Break Assist 2”. This works with a combination of camera and wheel sensors and thus reacts to stationary and moving objects such as pedestrians and cyclists. The system warns of collisions and at the same time initiates partial braking. This also protects standing passengers from emergency braking.


The versions with a length of 12 and 13 metres will be delivered from autumn this year, the two types with lengths of 10.5 and 14.5 metres will follow in spring 2024.

© Daimler Truck
© Daimler Truck
© Daimler Truck