2024 Mercedes-Benz S 580e PHEV

The S 580e plug-in hybrid embodies everything a Mercedes-Benz flagship should be, while also embracing electrification
The S 580e plug-in hybrid embodies everything a Mercedes-Benz flagship should be, while also embracing electrification

by Nick Tragianis | April 3, 2024


The S-Class — or Sonderklasse — has always represented the flagship of Mercedes’ motorcar lineup. It’s inevitable that it went electric; Benz wants you to think the EQS sedan and SUV are the way forward, but those two haven’t quite made the best impression. Fortunately, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz S 580e rights those electrified wrongs.

There’s a timelessness to an S-Class that makes it seem almost impervious to aging. Take a 1999 S 500, for example: it carries itself with a grace and poise you simply wouldn’t expect from a 25-year-old car. It looks the business, with tidy lines and an imposing stance that whispers “old money” even today. That timelessness is missing from the EQS; novel as it may be today, it’s very much a here-and-now kind of car embracing trends that will probably age like milk. Without fail, our takeaway after each EQS we’ve sampled has been the same: why couldn’t Mercedes simply take the existing S-Class, and make it electric? Well, the S 580e lets you have your cake and eat it, too.

Granted, comparing the EQS to the S 580e is a bit of an apples-to-oranges scenario. Where the EQS is a fully electric blob-shaped thing, the S 580e is a plug-in hybrid. The internal-combustion end is made up of Mercedes’ 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six, augmented by an electric motor and a 22.7 kWh battery pack. It’s good for a combined 510 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, sent to all four wheels via a commendably smooth nine-speed automatic. Mercedes even quotes a zero-to-100 km/h sprint of about five seconds — pretty swift for a big sedan pushing 5,600 pounds.

Electrification suits the big S to a tee. It’s as quiet as a church mouse in EV mode, and with 354 pound-feet of insta-torque from the electric alone, the S 580e easily keeps up with traffic without firing up the gas engine. In fact, you really have to put your foot into it in order to wake it up, but when you do, it comes on imperceptibly and builds power as smoothly as you’d expect from an inline-six. The whole setup makes nearly any situation effortless, be it commuting in traffic in EV-only mode or passing 18-wheelers and left-lane hogs alike. V8s may be synonymous with the Sonderklasse, but you don’t lose anything going with the inline-six/plug-in hybrid combo.

Like its forebears, the S 580e takes isolation seriously. It wafts along undisturbed, with the adaptive air suspension filtering out all but the roughest of potholes and choppiest of roads, and the ample sound deadening and laminated glass all but eliminate wind and road noise. It’s a very serene environment, but the S 580e occasionally exhibits the same kind of inconsistent brake feel as the EQS leading to some occasionally jarring stops, though it’s not as frequent. That or we’re finally used to it.

Whether you subscribe to the “compromise” or “best-of-both-worlds” angle with PHEVs, it’s clear Mercedes was perhaps a bit too optimistic in estimating the S 580e’s range. Benz quotes 90 kilometres of EV-only range, while Natural Resources Canada rates the S 580e at 74 km in EV mode. Our experience lined up with the latter. We consistently eked out 76 kilometres each time we ran the battery down from full, with ambient temps around the freezing mark. That’s a lot less than 90, but still quite good. Level 3 fast-charging is a $650 option; without it, expect a full charge from empty in about two and a half hours on a Level 2 charger.

With the gas engine pitching in, the feds rate the S 580e at 11.5 L/100 kilometres in the city, 8.2 highway, and 10 combined. That’s an appreciable improvement over the V8-powered, gas-only S 580, and you’ll likely see better numbers in practice. We left the big Benz to its own devices in “Hybrid” mode, averaging a frugal 7.2 L/100 km over the 750-plus kilometres we covered. Mercedes may be too optimistic with their own numbers, but our real-world figures proved plenty frugal. And unless you’re absolutely, positively, 100-per-cent bent on full-electric, the S 580e blends electric and luxe better than the EQS.

Inside, the S 580e eschews the EQS’ tech-heavy razzle dazzle for a more traditional vibe. Tech still abounds; a 12.8-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen running Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment sits front-and-centre. There’s a sliver of physical switchgear on the centre console, but most functions are handled through the touchscreen or Mercedes’ excellent voice controls. There’s also a highly customizable all-digital instrument cluster, an available 3D instrument cluster, and an optional augmented reality heads-up display — but no Hyperscreen. Thank goodness.

Flanking the infotainment is an expanse of wood trim and brightwork, spanning across the dashboard and flowing into the door panels. It’s a fairly minimalist layout relative to the EQS; we prefer this environment by a long shot, but we could do without the piano black accents, even if it is real wood beneath the gloss. We also noted a few spots where craftsmanship should be better for a $176,400 as-tested luxobarge, though it isn’t as egregious as some EQS we’ve sampled.

The rear-seat environment is equally opulent. Both chairs feature massaging, ample adjustability, sunshades all around, and even a pop-out tablet controlling the S 580e’s functions. More lavish accommodations, like pop-out tables and footrests, are lumped into pricier packages, but the interesting bit about the S is that you don’t have to be chauffeured to enjoy the full experience. It coddles you up front as well, offering the same range of adjustability, massage functions, and even heat.

Yes, heat. Once you’ve experienced heated armrests, you can never go back.

A flagship has to be an automaker’s best foot forward, their creme-of-the-crop showcasing the best of what they can do. The EQS misses the mark in a few ways, leaving us feeling simply whelmed each time we handed back the keys. The 2024 Mercedes-Benz S 580e, on the other hand, embodies everything a range-topping Benz sedan should be. It’s impeccably smooth, positively sumptuous inside, and although an EQS boasts much more electric range, the S 580e’s gas engine backup quells any range anxiety while also offering plenty of electric range for most commutes, even on the highway. Turns out, all Mercedes had to do to prepare the Sonderklasse for an electric future was take the existing S-Class, and make it electric.

Who knew?

Vehicle Specs
Full-size luxury sedan
Engine Size
3.0L twin-turbo inline-six + AC motor + 22.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Horsepower (at RPM)
510 hp
Torque (lb-ft.)
553 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
11.5/8.2/10.0 (hybrid)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
7.2 (hybrid)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
350 L
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nick Tragianis

Managing Editor

Nick has more than a decade of experience shooting and writing about cars, and as a journalism grad, he's a staunch believer of the Oxford Comma despite what the Canadian Press says. He’s a passionate photographer and loves exploring the open road in anything he gets his hands on.

Current Toys: '90 MX-5 Miata, '00 M5, '16 GTI Autobahn