Setting a new luxury sedan benchmark
Mercedes-Benz and innovation are synonymous going back to the days of the horse and carriage, quite literally, when it created the Patent-Motorwagen in 1885 — the world’s first production vehicle. The German luxury manufacturer continues to push the envelope in the new S 580.
“The new S-Class reinforces our claim to produce the best automobile in the world,” says Markus Schäfer, Daimler AG Board of Management member. “This is where covetable luxury meets the greatest possible safety and highest level of comfort.”
Though boasting a long wheelbase form factor for maximum space and stability, the car doesn’t look nor handle like the limo one might expect. Cue the short front overhang, wide track, large diameter flush-mounted wheels and optional rear-wheel steering that significantly reduces turning radius. Other styling enhancements include flatter-shaped LED headlamp with signature three-point daytime running lights, and the introduction of hidden door handles designed to pop out when the driver is detected in the vicinity.
S-Class interiors have traditionally been high tech and lounge-like in environment, and the seventh generation model takes things to another level. A total of five high definition screens, all featuring customizable layouts, around the cabin can be added. The main tablet-esque unit is surrounded by sumptuous open-poor wood veneer, aluminum trim and Nappa leather.
A virtual concierge is available at all times to accept voice inputs. Simply say, “Hey Mercedes” and then a command such as, “turn on the air conditioning,” causes the computer to perform the task hands-free.
As starting to be seen on higher-end products and EVs, an augmented reality head-up display beams navigation and other information onto the windshield, seemingly interacting with the outside environment, to make following directions more intuitive and less distracting than having to stare at a display.
The seats may very possibly be the most sophisticated of any vehicle on the market today. The front pair houses up to 19 motors for massage, various position adjustments, lumbar support and heating and cooling. If the Burmester stereo is bundled, there are even resonators inside converting bass tones into vibrations allowing a truly immersive listening experience.
In addition, the backrest is isolated from the bottom cushion, the latter equipped with springs to adapt to different occupant weights, helping absorb vibrations and offering better protection in a crash. The cherry on top is a full set of headrest pillows all around — driving and sitting in the S 580 is what it must feel like to ride on a cloud.
A 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 mild hybrid engine lurks under the hood, producing 496 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes-Benz’s EQ Boost technology provides an additional but temporary electric burst of 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque when needed, for example accelerating from a stop or executing a passing manoeuvre. Performance is above average, smooth and whisper quiet.
Also installed is a 48-volt electrical system that shoulders some of the motor’s load via helping operate the water pump and air conditioning compressor. Overall, full-size eight-cylinder cars really don’t come much more efficient than this.
MSRP: $173,367 (base)
Motor: 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8
Horsepower: 496 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 516 @ 2,000 rpm
Gearbox: nine-speed manual
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 15.8 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Photos courtesy of Mercedes Benz.