~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer
Once upon a time in America, powerful large sedans ruled the roads, and the bigger the better for many drivers. It is one reason why the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 elicits nostalgia even among people who can only imagine those olden days.
Slide behind the wheel of an S580 and motor onto an Interstate highway. You can picture yourself in a pre-World War II Mercedes-Benz 770, the 1930s luxury sedan of choice, often chauffeured, for high-ranking government officials in Europe and elsewhere, including Nazi Germany.
In 2022, the S580 is part of the the pinnacle of the Mercedes S-Class sedan lineup, and what some critics have argued that represents the standard by which other full-size luxury cars are judged. Others are the less powerful S500 and the more luxurious S-Class Mercedes Maybach. At more than 17 feet bumper to bumper, they are a few feet short of those 1930s beasts. But they are benchmarks for modern large performance sedans.
The S580 tested for this review was a 2022 model nearly identical to the 2023 version, which has minor trim changes from its predecessor. It came with stunning dark metallic green paint with flecks of gold that looks black from a distance. Its 17 feet 4 inches of body houses 120 cubic feet of space for five passengers in sumptuous comfort as well as a trunk of 13 cubic feet.
Where the S500 uses a 480-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a mild hybrid 48-volt electric motor booster, the S580 comes with a 4.0-liter V-8 engine with twin turbochargers that makes 496 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force.
A nine-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and all-wheel drive gets the power to all four wheels and can slingshot the S580 to 60 miles an hour in about four seconds with a top speed of 129 mph. The trade-off comes in the EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption rating of 16/25/19 miles to the gallon.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story. Big sedans often have been mush-mobiles, even as high performance machinery. As the famous racer Carroll Shelby once described 1960s-era muscle cars, “Great motors. Couldn’t turn. Couldn’t stop.”
The 580 has none of that. It is a powerful, agile sedan that cruises nearly as quietly as an electric car and has the well-weighted steering and handling of a smaller sports sedan, as well as an air suspension system for ride comfort. Rear-wheel steering aids maneuverability and parking. Yet on the road it imparts the regal feel of motoring in an expensive limousine.
Luxurious accommodations enhance the ambiance. The front bucket seats and outboard back seats are upholstered with plush cushions and perforated leather. Flush outside door handles automatically protrude as the driver approaches. There’s also a soft-touch feature to insure that the doors close quietly.
Best of all for spirited motoring, the substantial side bolsters on the driver’s seat automatically counter the force of cornering, holding the driver’s torso in place. Outboard back seats are nearly as supportive and comfortable with plenty of head and knee room. Unfortunately, the center seat is compromised by the automotive cliché of a high, hard cushion, a large floor hump and intrusion of the center console.
Some nice interior touches: There’s mood lighting on the dash and front and rear doors, along with a small, portable ashtray in the right rear door pocket. Seems the designers figured the chauffeured moguls would be smokers. The rear window and back door windows also have power operated sun screens, and the overhead panoramic sunroof’s rear panel can be opened separately for better light.
The trunk, though small at 13 cubic feet for this size sedan, is well finished, with a pass-through in the rear seatback for skis or other long items.
Base price of the tested S580 was $118,750. It came with $7,140 of options, some labeled as AMG Line, which is the in-house Mercedes-Benz high-performance division. Options included the rear-wheel steering, and sport wheels and tires, However, not all the AMG options had to do with performance, such as the embossed floor mats.
As expected, there’s a full suite of safety and convenience items, including forward collision warning and automated emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go. Also: Navigation system, automatic climate control, SXM satellite radio, Apple Car Play and Android Auto and wireless smart phone charging.
The S580 is the complete package.
- Model: 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 4MATIC four-door sedan.
- Engine: 4.0-liter V-8, twin turbochargers; 496 hp, 516 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 17 feet 4 inches.
- Height: 4 feet 11 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/trunk volume: 120/13 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,992 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 16/25/19 mpg. Premium gasoline.
- Base price, including destination charge: $118,750.
- Price as tested: $125,890.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Mercedes-Benz