The Mercedes-Benz S-class is the pinnacle of the brand’s luxury offering. The car is now in its 7th generation and promises to be the most advanced and luxurious S-class to date.
Engine – The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8 engine with EQ boost. Total power output is 496 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque (370 kW / 700 Nm). The EQ boost system is a mild-hybrid electric motor that aids in providing a bit of extra torque & horsepower when accelerating, a smooth auto start/stop system, and improved fuel economy. It provides an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque (15.6 kW / 250 Nm). With the S580 tipping the scales at 2,166 kg (4,775 lbs), Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100 km/h time of 4.4 seconds. From behind the steering wheel, the engine pulls hard when the turbochargers are in their correct boost threshold. However it doesn’t feel as violent as it does in AMG cars. Below ~1,500 rpms, there will be a bit of a delay between the time you press on the throttle pedal to the time the engine provides it’s monstrous torque; that is, if you don’t let the transmission downshift.
Fuel Economy – For something that weighs as much as a large SUV and has a V8 engine, the fuel economy figures are not that bad. It is rated at 14.4 L/100km (16.3 MPG) in a city and 9.4 L/100km (25 MPG) on a highway. The EQ Boost system is very clever as it will shut off the engine before you arrive at a complete stop. It can also shut off the engine when coasting in Eco mode on a highway and then fire it right up again when pressing the throttle or brake pedals. Before it started snowing, I managed to average around 11 L/100km (21.4 MPG). But once the snow came, I was averaging closer to 14 L/100km (16.8 MPG) because I was letting the windshield defrost in the mornings.
Transmission – The S580’s V8 engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The primary focus of this transmission is to provide seamless shifts between gears and it does that very well. Of course for faster shifts you can put the car into the Sport+ drive mode but sporty driving is not what the S-class is about. One thing to note, you can easily tell that the S580 was designed for Autobahn cruising as you won’t get into 9th gear until you drive over ~110 km/h.
Braking – The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 can be equipped with a Sport braking system that has perforated brake discs and 4-piston front calipers as equipped on this demo vehicle. The braking performance is good for such a large car. However, the brake pedal is … odd, to say the least. The first 10% or so brake pedal travel feels like you’re stepping on air. A balloon offers more resistance than this pedal for the first 10%. Push harder and then you start to feel more pedal resistance. The car still slows down gradually when initially applying the brake but you don’t get any feedback whatsoever from the brake pedal.
Handling – This new generation S-class is not that much different in weight over the previous generation but the air suspension, adaptive dampers, and 4MATIC AWD system all work together to make this large car be a bit more sporty than a barge. It feels a bit more athletic in Sport+ mode but 99% of the time, this car will be driven around in Comfort mode. Unfortunately from behind the steering wheel, it doesn’t feel particularly joyous to drive. The S580 can also be equipped with rear-wheel-steering with up to 10 degrees of rear wheel movement – at slow speeds – to make the S-class more maneuverable around parking lots.
This car also has a very impressive stability control system. When it’s fully engaged, it hardly allows for any slip even when the S-class is on the slipperiest of roads. In ESC-Sport mode, it will allow for some rotation of the back end but it’ll still make sure that the car goes wherever you’re pointing the steering wheel. I was very impressed by this system during the snowfall that we had here in Vancouver. But this car feels most at home on a highway. It is smooth, quiet, and stable even at Autobahn speeds.
Ride Comfort – Plush is not a good enough word to describe the ride of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580. The car glides over bumps like as though you’re driving on a freshly paved piece of road. On highways, the ride is on the cusp of being a tad on the floaty side over some road undulations. But for the most part, it feels like you’re in an executive private jet.
Interior Space – The front seats have 19 electric motors for various adjustments, massaging, and ventilation features. They also tighten to keep you planted when driving more enthusiastically around corners in Sport mode. Space in the front seats is plentiful for tall and short drivers.
But of course, it’s the back seats that you want to be in. The S500 is the short wheelbase while this S580 is the long wheelbase. At 6’4” behind my driving position, I feel as though I’m in the back of a crew cab pickup truck. There is a lot of space. Opt for the Premium Rear Seating Package and the rear seats are powered, ventilated (in addition to standard heating), and massaging. If you sit behind the passenger seat, it can be moved forwards with a little foot rest popping out from underneath the seat. The rear also has sunshades for all windows as well as ambient lighting. Pop down the center console and a small 7-inch Samsung tablet can be accessed from which you can change the massaging program, the ambient lighting, rear entertainment system (if equipped), and audio system. There are also airbags in the back of the front seats to protect the rear occupants in the event of a crash. A first for any vehicle.
The trunk can accommodate 538 L (19 cu-ft) of cargo capacity. An increase of almost 20 L (0.7 cu-ft) over the previous generation S-class. With the optional power rear seats, they cannot be folded down but there is a pass through between them.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The S-class is a quiet car. It doesn’t really matter what driving environment the car is in, it will always provide a serene and tranquil cabin. Squeaks and rattles are non-existent inside the cabin.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – So how much does the Mercedes-Benz S580 cost? A lot is the answer but it’s not the most expensive “Mercedes” that you can buy. There’s a Maybach for that. But getting back to the S580, it starts at $139,900 CAD ($116,300 USD) with this demo vehicle being equipped to $166,000 CAD. It’s not fully loaded so that price can be increased further. Due to the different package options between the United States and Canada, this demo vehicle would be similar to the Executive Line but without the rear wheel steering system & rear entertainment package for $136,000 USD.
Gadgets – The Mercedes-Benz S-class has been the first car to feature the latest gadgets. Back in the day, it was the first to feature ABS, electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control, and night vision among many other innovations. While it’s difficult to continuously outdo oneself over the generations, the 2021 S-class is packed with safety & convenience features.
It features Pre-Safe Impulse: Side which can raise the car by 3-inches in a tenth of a second if it detects an imminent side impact. However this system is paired with the E-Active Body Control that is not available on the 2021 model year. It will be for the 2022 model year. Other safety & driver aids include an enhanced lane centering system that can also aid in changing lanes. The S-class is also equipped with the necessary sensors for semi-autonomous driving like Cadillac’s Super Cruise system. It will make its debut first in Germany before being available to other countries and markets. These are just a few of the vastly long list of safety and driver aids that are standard on the 2021 S-class.
As for convenience features, one of the biggest changes is with the updated 2nd generation MBUX infotainment system. It looks similar to the previous generation but is less cluttered with sub-menus. It also has 50% more computing power than the previous generation making it much faster to react to inputs. It is displayed on a 12.8-inch OLED display and can be controlled by the touchscreen or voice controls. There no longer is a touchpad.
Other gadgets include a head-up display that can display augmented reality navigation directions. A 3D effect driver display can be optioned. This is similar to the 3D effect on some Genesis vehicle driver displays. All seats have multiple heating and ventilating settings along with the front arm rests also having a heating feature. And of course if optioned, all seats can have up to 10 different massaging programs.
Interior Design – The 2021 S580 launches a host of new design cues that will most likely find their way into other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The most prominent is the new OLED 12.8-inch infotainment screen. It looks great however I have one small complaint. It now integrates the climate controls into the screen rather than having physical buttons. The climate controls are always displayed regardless of which menu or sub-menu you’re at but I personally still prefer physical buttons. The driver also receives a larger 12.3-inch digital screen with revised graphics and gauge displays.
Moving away from the screens, a lot of the other controls (drive mode selector, heated seats, etc) are no longer individual buttons. They are part of a larger panel with haptic touch. I’m sure that it is less expensive to produce and looks better in photos but it makes the buttons feel cheaper somehow. Same goes for the seat controls. They are no longer individual toggle switches but rather individual touch sensitive switches.
The rest of the interior in the front and the back is bathed in ambient lighting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mercedes-Benz has the best ambient lighting system in the business. It’s not overdone in the S-class and there are a few new multi-colour options to choose from.
Exterior Design – The 2021 S580 follows the design cues of other current generation Mercedes sedans such as the C-class and E-class. It does receive a slightly different front fascia from the others along with the Mercedes star hood emblem. The tail lights and rear end though looks almost identical to its smaller sedan brothers. However, as a whole, the car has a presence with a lot of people turning their heads to look at it.
Warranty – Just like every other Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the 2021 S580 comes with a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle & powertrain warranty. It also comes with 4 years / unlimited km roadside assistance, 4 year / 80,000 km surface corrosion, and 8 year / 130,000 km warranty for certain emission parts. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For U.S.A. warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 4MATIC still defines the luxury car segment. It is the yardstick that all other luxury cars are compared against. This 7th generation S-class has stepped up its game to be relevant in today’s world of the latest gadgets and technology. It does have some questionable interior controls that may not be to everyone’s taste and it’s not the most engaging Mercedes vehicle to drive but it is super comfortable if you’re a passenger and it’s packed with technology that will someday find its way into other vehicles. It is the pinnacle of luxury cars.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca