The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the most renowned nameplates in the world, well-known to be the pioneer of new technology in the industry. It also continues to be a benchmark for flagship luxury sedans. In a world where the sedan market is shrinking each year, with more and more buyers flocking to crossovers, somehow the S-Class has retained its relevance. This is the first of a ground-up redesign, known as “W222”. We spent a week with the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S 580 4MATIC to determine whether the latest example is still the gold standard.
Mercedes-Benz opted to retain their current design language, and the W222 S-Class looks very much like the current E-Class and C-Class sedans. It certainly has more presence than its smaller siblings, but very obviously looks like it’s part of the same family. The new model has plenty of distinctive features, and the gorgeous LED lighting all around the car is more indicative of its flagship status. A plethora of wheel designs is available to round out the styling even more.
Power comes through a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with mild hybrid EQ Boost technology. Output is 496 horsepower at 5,500RPM, and 516 lb-ft. of torque available between 2,000 and 4,000RPM. This translates to a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 4.4 seconds, which is substantial for a car that weighs nearly as much as my house. It’s powerful and feels as such, building power in the upper part of the range with decent urgency, but the overall smoothness of the car does make it feel slower than it should.
Sport Plus is the most aggressive setting, which adds some weight to the steering, lowers the air ride a bit, re-calibrates the throttle and transmission to be much more aggressive. The result is a car that actually does behave like a sports sedan, and the urgency provided by the 48-volt electric motor helps hustle this thing along through the curves with even more confidence. Models equipped with the rear-axle steering feature give 4.5-degrees of angle on the rear wheels, which trims down the turning circle a smidge.
The nine-speed automatic is tuned wonderfully and does its job imperceptibly regardless of the situation. Obviously a manual shifting mode is available with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, but there’s no use in using these because the transmission always knows what to do.
Where the S-Class really comes into its own is ride quality, an area where the German flagship has exceled for many decades. The air suspension offers a remarkably supple ride, soaking up every single road imperfection like it’s nobody’s business. It’s a bit on the softer side in its standard “Comfort” setting, but adjust it into a sportier mode and it firms up nicely. I’ll argue that it’s a touch too floaty for those used to firmer rides like the 7-series, but the S 580’s body control is a step above every other sedan on the road today.
Fuel efficiency is rated at 14.4L/100km in the city and 9.4L/100km on the highway. We actually had the chance to take it on a 300-kilometer highway run to Prince Edward County, and with no real effort returned 9.7L/100km in winter conditions. We observed 12.5L/100km in combined driving over a 700-kilometer weeklong test. As expected, the S-Class requires 91-octane premium fuel in all circumstances.
The cabin of the S-Class is a marvelous place to spend time. The seats are beautifully upholstered in high quality Nappa leather, and our long-wheelbase example featured it in the Sienna Brown Exclusive colour. There’s a tablet in the rear seat center console to control everything from media to rear-seat massage and adjustment. All four of the outboard seats are heated, cooled, and offer a variety of massage types including a Hot Relaxing Back setting that’s sublime after a long, stressful day at the office.
A massive 12.8-inch touchscreen houses the connectivity interface, which offers wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and just about everything else you can imagine. The problem is that everything is touch-operated, including volume control and temperature setting. This requires the driver’s eyes to be off the road, and can be distracting. The system is quick to respond however, and can be operated using voice control if needed. The 1,750-watt Burmester audio system is pretty good, but not quite the benchmark it once was.
Mercedes still takes pride in offering one of the safest vehicles in the world, and the new S-Class is no exception to this. The advanced driver assist features include the standard lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, stability control systems, and more. Building on this is one of the smartest assist suites around, with a lane-change assist feature where the S 580 checks the blind spot, and changes lanes automatically when the signal is applied. It still barks at you if the driver’s hands are off the wheel for more than a few seconds, but the system works seamlessly.
At the time of this writing, two models of S-Class are available to Canadian buyers, starting with the S 500 4MATIC with its boosted six-cylinder powertrain at $123,500. The S 580 tested here is the entry point into the V8 and starts at $139,900. Our tester was equipped with 20-inch wheels, Premium Rear Seating Package ($7,200), Exclusive Package ($5,500), and a few other bits and bobs. The total sticker came to $165,850 before taxes and fees, which isn’t far off from a fully jammed BMW 750i or Porsche Panamera 4S.
Even though many buyers are gravitating to boring crossovers, and sedan sales overall are slowly declining, the S-Class still has strong sales numbers throughout the world. Livery fleets globally still buy these things in droves, and so do executives, both those that drive and that are driven around. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz S 580 4MATIC offers a sea of luxuries, new features, and brings with it an overall package that remains the gold standard in motoring today.