Navigating the Northeast coastline for the first time in the new Mercedes-Benz S 580, plenty of adjectives roll through the mind: Impressive, imposing, roomy, luxurious and solid, to mention just a few. But you can add cutting-edge to the list. There’s no question, the new S-Class is a head-turner, with its coupe-like roofline and a long hood that barely conceals the power lurking beneath. Inside, it’s fitted with all the requisite, traditional luxury cues like open pore wood veneer, real metal accents and sumptuous leather upholstery for the heated, cooled and massaging seats. But, it’s with the vast array of technology onboard that it stands out.
Motorists will most directly interact with the sedan’s various digital displays. The instrument cluster uses two cameras in the instrument panel to track where a driver is looking to present a convincing 3D image. Data may be moved from one screen to another, a zoomed-in map popping up in the center of the gauge cluster or on a head-up display that itself appears to float 32 feet ahead. Using Augmented Reality, or AR, the display comes to life when you’ve got a destination plugged into the navigation system. Approach a turn and animated blue arrows will pop up on the screen, seemingly pointing directly to where you’ll make the turn.
The new S-Class relies on a variety of “eyes and ears” to see what’s happening all around the vehicle—five external radar sensors, five cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors. The cruise control automatically maintains a safe distance in traffic but, with a tap of the turn signal, will automatically change lanes for you as well. The system doesn’t go quite as far as Tesla’s Autopilot or Cadillac’s Super Cruise, but the S-Class can receive smartphone-style over-the-air updates that promise to add even more features and capabilities in the years ahead.
In typical fashion, Mercedes plans to roll out an assortment of S-Class variants, including a plug-in hybrid, while the big sedan debuts with several packages, starting with the 429-horsepower S 500 4Matic. The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 of the 2022 Mercedes S 580 AMG packs 496 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The package adds a “mild” hybrid system that delivers a neck-snapping takeoff. Power is directed through a nine-speed automatic to all four corners using the Mercedes 4Matic system.
The S 500 starts at $111,100, marginally more than the short-lived 2021 model, but up $17,500 from 2020. The S 580 begins at $117,700. But, for your money, you’ll get a sedan that stands tall over the competition, whatever metrics you use to measure it.