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Still Top Dog

Mercedes-Benz refreshes the luxury sedan class leader.

After a week of quality time in the S580, the Mercedes-Benz flagship sedan, I was reminded of why this big, competent cruiser has remained the benchmark of automotive luxury. About now, you might be asking “what about Bentley or for that matter, Mercedes’ own Maybach edition?” Fair enough. But I would submit that apart from prestige points, it’s hard to put more tangible luxury in a car than our loaded S580.

The Substance

I vividly remember my impression of a new S-Class a couple of decades ago while driving through a driving rain storm. I wrote at the time that the machine around me felt like it could withstand Armageddon. That secure feeling is still alive and well in today’s big Mercedes and enhanced with a wealth of safety and technology features. This big sedan works hard to keep you safe with advanced driving aids when underway and if a collision is unavoidable, you’re in the best place I can imagine to stay safe.

The newest S-Class is offered in three model trims, the S500 with a perfectly reasonable and smooth 429HP, 3.0-liter engine, our S580 with its 4.0-liter, 496HP Twin turbo V8 and the Maybach edition that adds ultra-luxury touches. An AMG version is no longer offered since the S580’s nearly 500HP will launch the big sedan to 60 MPH in just four-seconds.

 

Start a Conversation

If you wish for something from S580, just ask. “Hey Mercedes’ summons a quick response from an improved Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) and the voice recognition’s deep vocabulary will nearly always deliver the operation you request, from wipers to music selection and navigation. The system’s first generation was pretty good, but so attentive it would occasionally interrupt a human conversation as if it was eavesdropping. Thankfully that’s fixed. I used to worry that I might be ratted out if I talked too critical during an evaluation.

Display is another expression of 21st Century technology and the S-Class is all aboard with not only big OLED screens, but three-dimensional presentation in the heads-up display. And the robust, optional Burmeister sound system will surround you with 30 speakers, including two subwoofers and even adjustable bass vibration in the front seats. Those same seats can also heat, cool and massage as a part of six different settings in an Energizing Comfort program. No wonder there’s a microprocessor shortage in the automotive industry.

 

We don’t have space to report on all the abundance the new S580 delivers, but a trip to the retailer can fill in all the blanks. I can simply share that despite a host of worthy rivals at this flagship level, Mercedes-Benz’ S-Class remains the standard of luxury.

THE FINE PRINT

2021 Mercedes-Benz S580

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  4.0-liter Twin Turbo V8

HORSEPOWER:  496 @ 5,500 RPM

TORQUE:  516 lb.ft. @ 2,000 RPM

BASE PRICE: $116,300

AS TESTED:  $143,240

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  17-city, 25-highway, 20-combined

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