Extraordinary Rides: Mercedes S-580 4Matic sedan is first class

By C.A. Haire

Mercedes Benz is noted as a top-tier brand in the automotive industry, and S-class sedans are its lineup’s flagship.

If the sharp styling and large pointed star emblem on the hood don’t convince you, the $128,000 price tag of our test car certainly will. When you pull up to the curb driving an S-class, people know you have arrived.

So, what are we getting for this fee? Under the hood is a sophisticated 4.0-liter turbo V-8, cranking a hefty 496 horsepower. It is hooked to a nine-speed transmission and all-wheel drive for superior traction.

European versions will have a top speed of 155 mph, while the U.S. iteration will be reduced to 130 due to tire design. Either model can reach 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Fuel economy is listed at 17/25 mpg. We observed 20 in city commuting and 28 on highway trips. These are impressive numbers for a massive 2.5-ton car.

The cabin is first class all the way, with fantastic fit and finish, coated with a sea of top-grade leather. A switch offers economy, comfort, sport, sport+ or independent drive modes. There is a perfume dispenser to atomize the cabin.

Most controls are operated on a large touch info screen. On the positive side, it is easy enough to use. On the negative side, it has too much glare reflecting on a sunny day. And after a day of use, the fingerprints and dust buildup were an issue. The passengers in the second-row seats were not complaining, as there is plenty of room back there, which makes long trips pleasant.

The overall performance is hard to beat as well. With brisk acceleration, superb cornering, solid stability and strong brakes, this is a top-grade ride that is hard to beat. For those who want an S-class but don’t need all that power under the hood, the entry-level S-500 might work. It has a 3.0-liter turbo inline six-cylinder with a peppy 429 horsepower output, and starts at $110,000. 

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