Publisher's note: Normally, the cars you read about here at MikeHagertyCars.com are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days. Seven is typical. Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days. Our "30 Minutes With" series features cars we spent half an hour driving during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Day in Half Moon Bay, California.
Needless to say, these are quick drives and brief impressions that we hope to be able to flesh out with a full review of the vehicle at some point in the near future.
Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at our host hotel, the Aristocrat, down Highway 1 to Highway 84, onto Stage Road (named for the former stagecoach stop still---but barely---standing on the corner), past the historic (since 1889), socially-aware and only-in-Northern-California funky San Gregorio General Store, through some marvelous twists and turns that lead back to Highway 1 and ultimately back to the hotel.
At the hotel, support teams from Page One Automotive and DriveShop sanitize the vehicles as they return while journalists choose their next vehicle from a total of 27 cars, trucks and SUVs provided by their manufacturers. This goes on for eight hours on day one, minus a 90-minute lunch break, and for three hours on day two. For me, that was enough time to drive 11 vehicles that I hadn't driven yet.
My first drive of the second day, my ninth overall, was in the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580.
The arrival of a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is an event that only happens every six or seven years. This is the standard-bearer---the largest, most luxurious sedan Mercedes makes. It is, historically, where Mercedes introduces innovations in design and equipment that are destined to become part of its other models in years to come.
Under the hood is a 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 engine with 496 horsepower and 510 pounds-per-foot of torque. It features EQ boost to attain that torque figure and make automatic on/off while idling smoother. The EPA fuel economy average is 17 city/25 highway.
The S580's flush door handles extend for use when touched.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 is a technological tour de force, but with surprises. Pillows on the headrests. A move away from a cabin-width screen to a larger separate-screen configuration for vehicle functions and amenities.
And those functions and amenities---they're among the most advanced yet in an automobile. This is a vehicle that listens to you, responds in the same way your phone does when you say "Hey, Siri" or "Hey, Google"---except that "Hey, Mercedes" results in things your phone simply cannot do.
The base price of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 is $116,300. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see the standard equipment list for yourself.
Our tester had $25,890 in extra-cost optional equipment onboard. Again, I'll refer you to the window sticker at the end of this review.
Thirty minutes simply wasn't enough to even scratch the surface of the S580's capabilities. So we've booked a full week's evaluation. Look for that to post here in mid-September.
Meantime, what I can tell you is that the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 handled every bit of the drive route with the same level of confidence and capability. The drive was over too quickly.
Inevitably, at an event featuring both the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost and the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580, comparisons are going to be made. I was asked, more than once, which was the better car. Both are magnificent yet very different automobiles. One of the blessings of my economic status is that I am unlikely to ever be faced with the dilemma of which one to buy.