- mercedes-benz has just debuted the new 2021 version of the s-class sedan.
- we see how it stacks up against competitors from audi, bmw, and other luxury brands.
- the new s-class will be initially be available in six-cylinder s500 and v-8 s580 models.
the mercedes-benz s-class is arguably the quintessential german flagship luxury sedan. but it still faces a healthy set of competitors from other german brands including audi and bmw, along with others such as lexus and genesis. we took a look at how the new 2021 s-class stacks up against the latest versions of the audi a8 and bmw 7-series, while also examining secondary rivals such as the genesis g90 and lexus ls.
engine and transmission
the norm in this segment is to offer a base six-cylinder engine and an optional v-8. mercedes, audi, and bmw all stick to this template, although the s-class and bmw use inline-sixes while the audi uses a v-6. the benz has an edge here, with its base s500 model's hybrid-assisted 3.0-liter inline-six making 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, significantly more power than the audi and bmw, which both make 335 horsepower.
upgrade to the s580 with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter v-8, however, and the mercedes doesn't top the charts. its 496 horsepower is significantly less than the bmw 750i's 523-hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter v-8. the a8 trails both with a 453-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter engine.
a plug-in-hybrid version of the s-class is likely, as both audi and bmw offer hybrid models. we won't even get into the higher-powered performance variants wearing amg, m, and s badges here. but rest assured that mercedes will soon reveal multiple amg versions of the new s-class to go up against the audi s8 and bmw m760i.
all three sedans are imposing machines, with long wheelbases and elegant proportions. the s-class is the widest, tallest, and has the longest wheelbase, but the a8 is slightly longer overall. the 7-series is somewhat shorter in overall length and width but has a wheelbase just 0.2 inch shorter the benz's.
while short-wheelbase versions of each of these sedans are availble in europe, it's become the norm to only offer the long-wheelbase model in the u.s. audi, for instance, refers to our a8 as the a8 l, but mercedes and bmw don't designate
when it comes to luxury, it's all about what's inside these sedans' plush cabins. the new s-class is coming in hot on the tech front with a massive 12.8-inch touchscreen that dominates the center stack and uses mercedes' mbux infotainment software. the 7-series' central idrive screen measures 10.3 inches, while the a8's mmi system features two screens, an 10.1-inch upper display and an 8.6-inch touchscreen mounted lower on the dash.
the rear-seat experience is paramount, too, and the more expensive s580 model will offer an optional executive line package with all sorts of creature comforts including massaging power-adjustable seats that are heated and cooled, an dual-screen entertainment system, and separate climate zones for each rear passenger. this should line up nicely with the bmw 7-series' luxury rear seating package and the audi a8's executive plus package, both of which offer similar levels of opulence in the back seat.
best of the rest
premium brands including acura, cadillac, infiniti, and lincoln are all without flagship sedans these days. but the lexus ls and genesis g90 are still going strong in this segment. the ls offers an ls500 model with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter v-6 engine and an ls500h hybrid with a more efficient gas-electric, and both are getting styling and equipment updates for 2021. the g90 was recently facelifted with a distinctive look and offers either a twin-turbo 3.3-liter v-6 or a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter v-8.
jaguar recently finished production of the xj sedan, but that flagship sedan is set to make a comeback soon as a fully electric model. as such, it'll compete more closely with the s-class's ev stablemate, the eqs, which will likely debut later this year.