2022 Mercedes S580

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A measure of the sea changes in the new car market is that even in the $100k luxury car market, a V8 engine – at the very least – is no longer a given. 

In fact, that kind of money no longer buys more than a six in most of the cars in this class, like the Audi A8 and the Lexus LS500 – which no longer offer more than that, for any amount of money. 

What It Is

The S-Class is Mercedes largest, most luxurious – and expensive – sedan. Well, shy of a Maybach sedan – but that’s in another league.

It is also one of the few sedans in this league that still offers a V8 engine.

Prices start at $111,100 for the S500 – which comes standard with an a 3.0 liter inline six, turbocharged and further boosted by a flywheel starter/generator mild hybrid set up to generate 429 horsepower. 

The $117,700 S580 comes standard with a 4.0 liter V8, twin-turbocharged to summon 496 horsepower. 

Both engines are paired with the same nine speed automatic and Mercedes’ 4-Matic all-wheel-drive system.

The Benz is significantly more expensive than Audi’s top-of-the-line A8 – which stickers for $86,500 to start but comes in just one trim and with just one engine, which isn’t a V8. Similarly – and even more so – the Lexus LS500, which stickers for $76,100 and which used to come standard with a V8.

It now comes only with a 3.5 liter V6. 

That leaves the Genesis G90 and BMW’s 7 Series sedan, both of which still offer V8s as optional engines. However, the current (2022) 7 Series is an older design that dates back to 2016 while the current S-Class was all-new last year (2021). A redesigned 7 Series is expected to debut for 2023 – and it may (or may not) still offer a V8 engine.

The G90’s available V8, meanwhile, isn’t nearly as strong – and the G90 isn’t nearly as speedy, either.

What’s New For 2022

An “E-active” adjustable suspension is an available option for both the S500 and the S580. 

What’s Good

Six figures still buys a V8. 

More room in the back than most cars have up front. 

Rides like the latter-day “Grosser” it is. 

What’s Not So Good

It’s become necessary to spend six figures (and then some) to get a V8. 

You can still get a V8 – standard – in the Genesis G90 – for less than six figures.

Much less room in the trunk than much smaller cars – and rival same-sized cars.

Under The Hood

Cars like the S-Class used to come standard with V8s, at the least.

It was a given when you spent the kind of money that a car such as an S-Class costs. Be grateful – to channel Lord Vader – you can still get a V8 at all in the S-Class.

The standard engine is an in-line 3.0 liter six paired with a mild hybrid system that consists of a flywheel-mounted generator/starter that is used both to provide supplemental, on-demand power – to the tune of 429 horsepower, in total – and to cycle the 3.0 six off as often as practical, not so much to increase gas mileage (who cares about that at this price point?) but rather to reduce as much as practical the quantity of gasses “emitted.” Those not being the ones that create or worsen smog – as they are already essentially nonexistent – but rather the gas claimed to be causing the “climate” to “change.” That gas being carbon dioxide. The less you burn, the less “emitted.” The smaller the engine, the less it burns – and so there you go.

It is why cars like the S-Class, which are six-figure/top-of-the-line cars – no longer come standard (most of them) with V8s, which are larger – and so “emit” more of the dread inert gas, carbon dioxide.

Anyhow, 429 horsepower is still a respectable amount of power even if it comes from a less prestigious (because smaller) engine that is the same size as engines in less prestigious, less expensive cars. It is not, however, as much power as used to be standard in the S-Class as recently as 2017, when this top-of-the-line Benz came standard with a 4.7 liter V8 that made 449 horsepower and a commanding 516 ft.-lbs. of push-you-back-in-the-seat torque – vs. a comparatively puny 384 ft.-lbs. of torque for the 3.0 six that’s standard in this S-Class.

Gas mileage is slightly higher, if you are into that: 21 city, 30 highway vs. 16 city, 25 highway for the old V8. Also, 4-Matic all-wheel-drive is standard now, too.

And you can still get a V8 in the S-Class  – which you can’t anymore in S-Class rivals such as the Lexus LS500 and Audi A8, both of which offer nothing larger than 3.5 and 3.0 liter sixes, respectively, that max out at 416 and 335 horsepower, respectively.

It isn’t quite as large as the V8 that used to be standard in the S-Class as recently as just five years ago (it feels like a lifetime ago). Just 4.0 vs. 4.7 liters. But it is still a V8, at least. And more than that, it’s stronger. 496 horsepower and the same 516 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Interestingly, it rates the same mileage: 16 city, 25 highway.

Which is still exceptionally high mileage for an almost-500-horsepower engine propelling a nearly 4,800 lb. (empty) car.

Speaking of propelling . . .

The six-cylinder-powered S500 is capable of propelling itself to 60 in 4.8 seconds, an astounding feat for a car this big, this heavy – without a big V8 under the hood. With a V8 under the hood, the car’s zero-to-60 time drops to less than 4 seconds.

This by the way is quicker – in both cases – than the 0-60 times posted by the only other car in this class that still offers a big V8. That one being the Genesis (Hyundai’s luxury division) G90, which comes standard with a 3.3 liter V6 that makes 335 horsepower and can be had with a 5.0 liter V8 that makes 429 horsepower. With either of its two available engines, the G90 is slower – needing about 5 seconds to get to 60.

The G90 is, however, considerably less expensive – either way. The V6-powered version stickers for $74,950 and with the V8, $78,700. That’s nearly $40k less than what it’ll cost you to get the S-Class, with a V8.

On The Road

I’ve had the chance to drive both versions of the S-Class (see the earlier article that focused on the S500, here). Either version will treat you to that which has become almost as rare a V8 engine in this class of car.

A luxurious ride.

As opposed to the firmer ride of a luxury-sport sedan, which is what most of these kinds of cars try to be. It is an incongruous thing given the point of the thing.

If the thing in question is meant to be a luxury car.

You want to be comfortable above everything else. To be insulated and cushioned from the world – and road – outside. This Benz does it in the manner of the  Grossers of the past – that being a reference to the massive W100/long-wheelbase Benz 600 sedans of the past that were the favored luxury sedans of people like the Beatles and which outdid even Rolls-Royce when it came to insulating those within from the world – and road – outside.

This Grosser rides on a 126.6 inch wheelbase and to convey a sense of how long that is, consider that two-thirds of a Chevy Bolt EeeeeVeee would fit in between the Benz’s front and rear axle centerlines (the distance between the two being the wheelbase of a car). That kind length in between the front and rear axles – along with well over two tons of weight steamrollering the pavement – is what delivers the kind of ride that only a really big car can.

It’s more than just that, of course.

Underneath the big Benz is a suspension designed to damp any untoward motion that might arise as a result of all that weight undulating with the road. The optional E-Active Body Control helping to keep the roll under control.

Out back – way back there – the rear wheels do their part (via a new rear wheel steering system) to shorten what would otherwise be a turning radius so wide the back end of the car would still be going straight after the front end came out of a curve.  It makes this big car track like a mid-sized car and you’ll be surprised by its athleticism, if you ever feel like exercising it.

Probably, you won’t – because it’s really not the point.

The point is to enjoy the ride, not rush it. Turn on the multi-program seat massagers (you don’t even have to turn them on – just ask the car to turn them on) and feel the weight of the world waft away, following the lead of the three pointed star wherever your whimsy leads you.

It’s an experience not to be missed, even if your S doesn’t have the V8. But you really ought to consider getting it, for it is the thing that puts even more distance between this car and its under-engined/under-powered rivals.

At The Curb

Like the Grossers of the past, this Benz is a big car – but most of its bigness is in between the axle centerlines, the space where the passenger cabin lies. And that space is immense, especially in the rear.

One of the interesting attributes of the S (and shared with rivals such as the BMW 7) is that the rear seating area is more spacious than it is up front, at least in terms of legroom. There is nearly 44 inches (43.8 to be exact about it) in the back of the S as opposed to 41.7 inches for the driver and front seat passenger.  If you opt for the S580, you can up that ante with rearseat neck heaters and heated armrests as well as power-reclining rear seats. That’s why “Red” (from the TV series, The Blacklist) rides in back.

Up front’s nice, too. Though it could be nicer.

Mercedes – like every other luxury car maker – went all-in on flatscreens, for everything. The main gauge cluster is now an LCD screen. There’s an even bigger LCD screen off to the right for practically everything else. Plus multi-configurable LED ambient ambient mood lighting throughout. At night, it creates an ethereal glow – and five or six years ago, it was show-stopping. But today, it’s becoming . . . common. A word that ought not to be spoken when speaking of a six figure, top-of-the-line luxury car.

The reason why is that electronica – LCD screens and LED lights – is perhaps the only car-related thing that gets less expensive (and so more common) with each passing year. It is now common to find LCD gauge clusters and secondary LCD clusters – as well as ambient LED lighting – in cars that cost half six figures. It will soon be as common as AC and power windows, even in economy-priced cars.

That won’t be good for luxury cars, in terms of setting them apart from run-of-the-mill cars.

Were I a maker of luxury cars, I’d give some thought to ditching the LCD cluster – in the dash, at least – and replacing it with something that cannot be made or installed inexpensively, so as to give the car the exclusivity it ought to have. Such as fine chronograph gauges, for instance – on the Rolex model. Real metal/alloy trim around it.

The ironic thing is that classic luxury cars like the Grossers of the past had those things. Maybe they ought to have them, again.

The Rest

The fact that you can still get a V8 is great. It sets the S apart from rivals that no longer rival it, at least in terms of their diminished exclusivity – that being a function of their no longer even offering engines more exclusive than the sixes found in far-less-exclusive cars.

You also get a 30 speaker Burmester ultra, ultra-premium audio system, a rearseat entertainment system and a Heads-Up Display that projects what can only be described as a kind virtual reality hologram of driving info ahead of the car, as you drive. It is far more than the ’70s cheesy R2D2 “help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” HUDs one finds in lesser cars. 

But there is one thing you can’t get in this exclusive Mercedes that arguably ought to be standard – that thing being a full-sized car’s trunk. Instead, you get a small car’s trunk – just 12.1 cubic feet. It’s not an issue if it’s just you – and maybe someone along for the ride. But if you take two or three along for the ride you may not have room enough for their stuff in the trunk. And that’s a shame, because this latter-day Grosser is otherwise the ideal thing for a long road trip.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for something more substantive than just LED mood lighting and a digital dash, the S still has it.

Or at least, still offers it.

Get it while you still can.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me at [email protected] if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Why mess with this? Look at the resale prices on these when out of warranty. For the cost of an averagely high bill from the Merc dealer shop you can outright buy a V8 tub that can be made to appear to a clover as being a prestige car. I mean a Crown Vic cop car.
    Admittedly the car is white so I can hate whites, but with 38k miles and rust free other than stone dings to the wheel fender beads
    it is good.
    That means that you can forego collision insurance to begin. Then you can doll them up with the next to nothing cost of luxury interiors from all of the Lincoln Town Cars that are going to the crusher. Does it matter all that much if the seats don’t match? What could be more mirthless than showing up to the coffee shop than announcing “pull over buddy”. The 100kilobux krautmobile doesn’t have that.
    Wimmin don’t much care for these especially if it has the light bar and the Mister Microphone all working. To assuage their disdain you will just point out that it has a handy spotlight if she is rummaging for the house key in the dark. I’ll bet that Chicago suburban Karens will appreciate the Kevlar door panels and the stab proof seats for their unrestrained urchins in the back.
    There are too many positives to mention including positive traction rear end.
    Gee, I hate white though.

  2. The S has always been my dream car. I’m just drawn in by long wheelbase vehicles. And the price has always been way to far away. But not now. The trucks I have been driving for 25+ years are now $70K, so I’m getting closer……….. maybe before I die?
    I just checked and my truck wheelbase is 153″, and I love it.
    Thanks for the Crown Vic/TC reference El Guapo, love those cars too.
    Another good one that rode great was the Park Ave. Get the blown version and it’s a good luxury car.

  3. If the stars align, the S580 is what I want for my wife. After we give up the 2014 A8 4.0T. The A8 that we have is very nice and properly powered (~420 HP, IIRC). Anything less than that and you’ll be watching Subarus, Hondas, and various other rice burners laugh as they blow doors on you.

    A 3.0T in the size of an A8 is just stupid. There’s no two ways about it. That’s an appropriate sized engine for an A6 or smaller. But I’m pretty sure you can’t even get that nowadays unless you’re looking at the S6. Who knows where that’s gonna go.

    The current year S8 does offer the same 4.0T as my wife’s car but it starts around $116K, pretty sure. She and I don’t like the S-line styling and we’re both 100% fed up with Audi.

    Interestingly — in terms of “who in their right mind wants one” — the RS6 Avant has a similar V8 with a higher tune and is definitely higher performance than even the S8. But you can’t get one for less than ~$130K (IIRC).

    Now, I love the A6 Avant, which Audi stopped selling in the USA (but still in Europe). It was and remains my favorite car that Audi ever made, except perhaps the S6 Avant (but again that has the S-line styling which I’m not a huge fan of).

    The A6/S6/RS6 Avant is basically an A6 sedan made into a wagon. While any fans of the Avant surely want it to be decently powered, who in hell wants an Avant race car?! I guess a small handful of people do. I don’t. The maintenance on any Audi RS-anything is astronomical.

    I will learn to love an E-wagon. Won’t be hard although, these days, those are under-powered as well. But not nearly to the tune of most Audis. I can get one slightly used with a nice sized V6 with all the features anyone could ever want.

    I’m still a huge Benz fan but Audi left me, not the other way around, and so it’s a bitter divorce and I hope they die a miserable death.

    • Out of curiosity, I checked Audi A7/S7/RS7. That, as you probably know, is basically an A6 made into a hatchback. Very similar to the A6 Avant but less wagon-like and more hatchlike. Interior and cabin/cargo space is almost identical.

      Now, even the S7 comes with 3.0T. Albeit with a pretty decent tune. But again, you gotta suffer the S-line styling, which I don’t like. It’s rated at 444HP which is very good for that size car. But it starts at $82.5K for the Premium which is the lowest trim level.

      The RS7, the “race car” version of the A7 does come with a 4.0T rated at 590HP and starts at $118.5K. This is not a reasonable choice for me. For people that want the S-styling and are willing to pay Audi RS maintenance prices, it might not be that bad.

      The A7/S7/RS7 gives you almost A8 features in a smaller frame. Again, it’s basically an A6. And A6 with a 4.0T would be pretty awesome. Again, if you can afford it. Apart from me being through with Audi — even if I wasn’t — that’s just a bit too much for me.

  4. The automakers, huge and powerful corporations, COULD put on a full-court press AND WIN against the UNconstitutional government “laws,” “regulations,” and “executive orders,” and inform the public that we’re being lied to about “emissions” versus actual pollution, lied to about “carbon” as if CO2 is pollution, and lied to about electric cars (manufacture, use, and disposal) as better than internal-combustion-engined vehicles.

    BUT THEY DON’T. Thus, they’re IN ON IT. The leaders, the controllers, of the manufacturers are in on it with the leaders, the controllers, of the government.

    How is it that these huge powerful corporations’ leaders and all the big media and the controllers of government all lie together? It would be easy to understand if they were all Chinese. But they’re not Chinese. What are they?

    For me, the above is a rhetorical question. But for those who want the answer WITH verifiable facts to prove it, click the link below.

    If you want car companies to be properly led and allowed the freedom to make what we want to buy and can afford to buy, first we must rid our country of the infestation.

    https://worldtruthvideos.website/watch/jimpact-2022-08-27-cars_RXitIU5oAAzx7o2.html

  5. Good point on the “luxury” vs “luxury sport” ride and handling. A buddy of mine (known as “The Vulture” for his proclivity to hit estate sales) recently picked up a nauseatingly perfect ‘08 Lincoln Town Car, and we naturally had to “persuade” him into an inaugural weekend road trip to Vegas in it. That thing just floated down the highway and made for an extremely relaxing trip. I had forgotten how pleasant a road trip could be in one of the big sedans, and now find myself circling the Sun City classifieds.

    Seems like now is the time to snap up the luxury sedans while we still can, and they can still be found for minimal cost on the used market.

    • Hi El Guapo,

      Those old Town Cars are superlative in this respect. And – yup – they are a remembrance of what’s been taken away from us. Keep on mind that the TC is a fancier Crown Vic – and ordinary people could once upon a time afford cars like the Vic. Full-size. Six passenger. V8 engine. Full frame and rear-drive.

      This was only about ten years ago.

      • Eric,

        I used to be a limo driver, and I usually drove a Mercury Marquis with the 4.6L V8. That was a SWEET engine! The car was good too-not a bad front office, if you ask me… 🙂

  6. ‘I’d give some thought to ditching the LCD cluster and replacing it with … fine chronograph gauges, for instance – on the Rolex model. Real metal/alloy trim around it.’ — eric

    Steampunk, as it were: heavy gauge polished brass. Team up with Swiss luxury watch makers. Moon-phase indicator; watertight to 100-meter depth.

    Mind you, I like LED ambient lighting. But one can buy aftermarket kits from China now to install them in any old 2-liter econobox.

    Must be tough catering to the fickle rich these days, especially with Big Gov steadily circumscribing the playing field.

    Gone are the days when posh folks could buy a high-and-mighty 3-ton Duesenberg with a supercharged Lycoming straight-8 — gigantic ribbed-chrome exhausts protruding right out the side — and just freaking rule the road.

    As Neil Oliver said last week,

    “What seems obvious is that we are being groomed to live small lives, to make way for the grandiose expectations and entitlements of the elites that are working so effectively to hoover up the last of the wealth.

    Smaller lives, colder lives may actually be the best we can hope for, given the plans evidently laid out for us by those with their hands on the levers of power. Our leaders used to tell us we needed them in order to be free. In future they will have us believe we need them to be safe. Caged animals are safe, but it’s not much of a life.”

    One will be surprised if Germany is even able to continue making cars this winter, as its energy-starved industrial machine sputters to a shuddering halt on behalf of the noble Ukies.

  7. Hi Eric,

    We do live in very sad times for car buyers, as you point out. For the 2023 MY, BMW still offers a 4.4L TT V8 in the 760i xDrive Sedan, which starts at 114k. But the prior generation offered a V12, which is now gone. The 2022 Audi S8 had a V8 and started at 117k, there are no prices for MY 2023 yet. The 2023 Genesis G90 no longer offers a V8, but only a 3.5L V6.

    On the topic of V8s under 100k, there is the 2023 BMW M550i xDrive Sedan which has the same 4.4L V8 and starts at 80k. The engine makes 523hp and works well with the ZF 8 speed transmission. This one looks like a steal, given the current car prices!

    The downsizing is also driven by the ridiculous registration fees in Europe, in addition to emissions regs. Anything above 3.0L is cost prohibitive to register, so most cars there have very small engines, like 0.9L or 1.3L.

    Keep up the good work, Eric, hopefully we can push back against some of this madness here in the US.

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