Mercedes-Benz used The “best or nothing” tagline for marketing your vehicles for the past 21 years. To make sure its 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 sedan ticks the “best” box, the German automaker has loaded its flagship vehicle with technology, including an infotainment system to anticipate its owner’s needs. learns, a few new rear-steering tricks and upgraded driver assistance features.
With a price tag that starts at $110,850, this is the luxury car for the exceedingly well-heeled executive who wants a top-notch Mercedes sedan with all the bells and whistles that modern driving and living needs – and then some.
In the S-Class tradition, the sedan is still a big baller. The new version gets longer (1.3-inch) and longer (0.4-inch), making for more room for passengers and cargo. The base 2021 Mercedes-Benz S500 comes with all-wheel drive and a new inline six-cylinder engine that makes 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. This is a bump of over 60 horsepower over the previous generation model. The S580 I drove also came with all-wheel drive and a smooth, powerful and quiet 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 496 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both the versions also get a 48-volt onboard mild hybrid system.
With a price tag that starts at $110,850, this is the luxury car for the exceedingly well-heeled executive, with all the bells and whistles modern driving and living need to be a top-of-the-line Mercedes. I want a sedan.
Mercedes has always touted its “human-centered innovation” in its S-Class. Initially, automakers used technology to improve safety (things like making sure doors wouldn’t suddenly open in a crash in the 1950s and crumple zones in the 1960s). Since the 1990s, the brand has focused on making driving, parking and navigation less clunky and difficult to use. For example, in 1996 it had an optional voice recognition package that allowed you to activate your carphone with a voice command.
Mercedes continues to push the technology envelope, recently launching an all-electric counterpart to the S Class called the EQS. The 2021 S-Class may mark a new generation of executive holler, and while it has a lot of technology to offer, it doesn’t quite outshine the all-electric EQS.
Mercedes has long been a player in the advanced driver assistance system space, introducing an adaptive cruise control feature called Distronic in 1998.
In the 2021 S-Class, ADAS gets an upgrade (called Drive Pilot) that includes a total of 22 sensors and cameras around the vehicle, which send information to five multicore processors that analyze driving conditions 1,000 times per second. Can and can customize. suspension accordingly.
That is to say, the car “sees” and reacts to road conditions, other vehicles, road signs, pedestrians and cyclists, and should then react like a human driver.
On the drive from Los Angeles to Montecito (about 130 miles if you take the freeway all the way), on winding mountain and ocean roads and stop-and-go traffic on LA’s heinous, concrete block 405 freeway, I put the S580 in Adaptive cruise for most of the trip. The system worked as intended, I went from 105 to 101 in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with the S-Class accelerating and stopping at the appropriate time. What’s more: I wasn’t tired (and annoyed) when I arrived at my destination after six hours of wandering on the road.
Even as a texting Angelino decided to change lanes, nearly side-swipe my car and avoid going into the back seat of the vehicle ahead, the adaptive cruise system retained control. I was paying attention when this incident unfolded, but Mercedes has designed its system to make sure drivers are attentive too, while the ADAS features handle some of the driving tasks.
Touch sensors inside the car and on the steering wheel as well as eye-tracking and facial recognition cameras monitor driver attentiveness. Take your hands off the sensor, and the driver’s display will alert you to your ways of deviating after a few seconds, deactivating the ADAS system.
Eye detection and facial monitoring are used to recognize specific signs of drowsiness and inattention of the driver, and display a warning message prompting the driver to brake. There’s also a new microsleep alert that tracks the driver’s eyelid movements by a camera in the driver’s display.
Mercedes claims the 2021 S-Class is designed for Level 4 autonomous driving and in September’s announcement of the new vehicle, officials said “Level 3 conditional driving is imminent.” The hardware in the vehicle is there to support that end goal.
Those 22 sensors and cameras are now capable of recognizing speed limit signs, construction areas, and other road hazards, which at times used to bother me a bit. The posted speed limit was dropped to 55 in some parts, and when ADAS was engaged, the S-Class would suddenly slow down to match the posted speed. It’s great when the traffic around you still isn’t moving 70-plus mph, but in high-speed traffic, it’s annoying.
The new S-Class also gets a Lane Changing Assistant which helps the driver to change lanes safely without removing the ADAS system. Flip on the blinker while operating cruise control (and keeping your eyes up and hands on the wheel), and the S-Class will steer the sedan safely from lane to lane, provided everything is clear, making it into lane While focusing, very little input from the driver.
In addition to the ADAS progress, Mercedes has also upgraded its parking assistant. When opted with its branded Intelligent Park Pilot, the S-Class can “park itself” in multilevel Automated Valet Parking (AVP) structures without a human in the vehicle. As Mercedes notes, however, it will only be available in properly equipped parking structures and “provided that national law permits such operation.”
The new S-Class has grown so large (overall it ranks as the most mid-sized SUV on the market today), Mercedes has integrated new rear-axle steering, which allows the rear wheels to be angled at 10 degrees in both directions , which reduces the turning radius by about seven feet.
Mercedes has also paired it with an advanced air suspension system that uses those sensors and cameras around the car to soften the ride and optimize you to swim on rough roads, while providing an extra layer of protection. works for. If a side impact were to occur, the system could raise the car’s body about three inches in a few tenths of a second to protect passengers.
Unlike the EQS that my counterpart, Tamara Warren, drove, the $148,000-plus S580 I drove didn’t have a 56-inch hyperscreen. Instead, a 12.8-inch OLED screen that extends from the dash to the armrests graces the center stack and is the vehicle’s control center. Here you can do everything from controlling the scent emitted by the diffuser in the glovebox to accessing Mercedes wellness features. The screen is bright and clear with no glare in the hot afternoon sun and surprisingly not distracting at night.
However, one of the most impressive features in the new S-Class is the crystal clear and tremendously impressive 3D, augmented reality, heads-up display projected onto the windshield. You can turn your head around and still see the display from any angle in the driver’s seat. It is also visible to some extent from the passenger seat. Use the infotainment system (known as MBUX, abbreviated for Mercedes Benz User Experience) to navigate to the destination of choice and the blue augmented-reality features as you offramp, turn, and reach your final destination. Arrows pop up in the HUD and on a video feed. The road ahead sign in the center stack indicates which lane you should be in, where your turn is and where exactly the address you are looking for is located. Using the touch-capacitive buttons on the steering wheel, you can also turn the feature off and change the driver’s instrument display if it’s too distracting.
Mercedes says the MBUX has a 50% increase in computing power compared to the system in the previous model, and memory bandwidth of 41,790 MB/s powered by the NVIDIA Xavier (compared to the Tegra 3 in the previous generation). This translates to almost no stutter, load lag or confusion on the part of the system.
Plus, it helps keep the very nice, natural language voice recognition system working almost perfectly. You can use the touch-capacitive buttons on the steering wheel to activate the voice assistant or simply say the “Hey, Mercedes” key phrase to activate a voice command. Ask the system to watch something for you (provided you have connectivity), change the temperature, run the Mercedes preprogrammed wellness program (change lighting, temperature, and massage settings), call your parents, or navigate to a new location And the system almost never misses. The only trouble I had with this was when trying to use the voice controls to navigate to an address that had more than four numbers. (eg, 12345 West Elm Street). After a few tries, I resorted to plugging it in on the very intuitive, easy-to-use touchscreen on the center stack.
While I didn’t spend enough time with the new S-Class to try out some of the more advanced AI features, Mercedes says the MBUX can do everything from integrating your connected home into the system to navigating your favorite places. Like the one in EQS. In theory, you could then tell the system to turn on your home lights, and it would learn when you’d prefer to start the espresso machine on your drive home. The AI will learn your habits as you drive regular routes and ask the system to perform tasks like call, or navigate to a specific location each day. Eventually, it’ll just ask you if you want to call your office at a specific time or schedule a route to your favorite restaurant.
Packed with tons of features, technology and features that make driving more comfortable and far less stressful, it’s no wonder that the S-Class has already garnered several accolades including World Luxury Car of the Year (disclosure: I am a world car juror). If luxury is about intuitive and invisible technology that makes long drives feel like a spa day, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class has it in spades.