Mercedes-Benz S 580 e hybrid (2022) review
Could plug-in hybrid power for the Mercedes S-Class suddenly consign diesel to the history books?
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on September 14, 2022

Mercedes S 580 e overview

It has long been said that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a showcase for the tech that will appear further down the range in the future. While the new all-electric EQS dampens expectations of the current S-Class slightly, Merc's traditional flagship now comes with the firm's latest plug-in hybrid system and, without wishing to spoil the surprise, it's brilliant.

We've already been impressed by the S-Class in diesel guise, but the way that the S 580 e performs - plus the fact that the plug-in models now start at a lower price than the diesels in Ireland - means that the luxury limousine class could be turned on its head.

Power for the S 580 e tested here comes from a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and a 110kW electric motor for a combined maximum output of 510hp. The motor is fed by a 28.6kWh battery, which gives the S 580 e an official electric-only range of 102km, while DC fast-charging capability means the pack can be topped up in as little as 20 minutes.

In a way, the S 580 e is a halfway house between the diesel S-Class and the electric EQS. It offers zero-emissions running like the EQS, but there's no range anxiety when the battery is flat. And with a 100km range on offer in EV mode, there's a good chance that you could do a day's driving and not trouble the petrol engine. Keep the battery topped up, and it could be weeks before you visit a petrol station.

Mercedes isn't the only luxury car maker switching to PHEV tech. The Audi A8 TFSI e features a V6 petrol engine and electric motor, but comes with a smaller battery so its range isn't as impressive. The latest Range Rover is available in P440e and P510e guises, while the new-for-2023 BMW 7 Series will get a much-improved plug-in hybrid system. The Lexus LS 500h offers a non-plug-in option, or you could go fully electric, with cars including the new BMW i7, or even models such as the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT, which are sportier than the S-Class, but still luxurious when you want them to be.

The Mercedes S-Class model range

Irish pricing for the Mercedes S-Class starts at €138,665, or from €142,315 for the long-wheelbase version. The standard wheelbase S-Class only comes with the less powerful S 450 e plug-in hybrid powertrain, not the S 580 e set-up tested here. That's a lot of money, but then this is a high-tech luxury limousine that's packed with equipment even in its most basic guise.

Not that there's anything basic about the S-Class, as standard equipment is generous. Air suspension, adaptive cruise control, active lane, steering and speed limit assist are all fitted, as is four-zone climate control, heated front seats, navigation with augmented reality directions, active park assist with rear camera, memory seats and intelligent matrix LED headlights. A lot of these features are controlled via the portrait-style, high-resolution, organic-LED touchscreen display (measuring 12.8 inches across the diagonal), which also includes a fingerprint scanner that allows you to configure the car to your preferences every time you climb aboard.

Add the Night Package, and the AMG Line model gets dark chrome exterior trim for a meaner look, while Mercedes offers three more packs to upgrade the S-Class even further. The Advantage Package costs €7,918 and adds a panoramic sliding sunroof, remote parking control, a 3D driver's display and Burmester surround sound.

On top of that, the Premium Package (€16,700) adds a big head-up display, massaging climate front seats and an 'Interior Assistant', which turns lights on and off and adjusts door and mirror settings depending on where your hands are gesturing.

Finally, the €16,831 Premium Plus Package adds an 'Energizing' air package and further interior climate controls, heated rear seats and extra heated elements in the cabin, such as the armrests. Back-seat passengers can be treated to even more option packs, which add kit such as electrically adjustable massage seats with memory function, remote front passenger seat adjustment for maximum legroom and even a rear tablet that allows control of the infotainment.

All of this extra equipment bumps prices up significantly, and our test car came to almost €160,000 as tested, while going wild with the options will put the price well over €200,000.

From the outside, the S-Class looks seriously good in our car's spec. Silver is a lovely, subtle colour that helps the car stand out, while the high-spec lights front and rear and gorgeous upgraded alloys are all highlights.

The Mercedes S 580 e interior

Climb aboard, and the S-Class has a more appealing cabin than the electric EQS. It manages to combine the traditional and the high-tech, with lots of super-soft leather, wood trim and metal controls further boosting its upmarket appeal. The vast screen and digital driver's display look ultra-modern, but they are also very user-friendly and complement the rest of the cabin.

One minor gripe we have is with the multifunction steering wheel - the touch-sensitive controls are a bit too easy to accidentally operate when turning the wheel; we'd rather a more conventional push button set-up.

Interior storage is just as impressive as the technology on view. The high-set centre console has lots of space for storage bins and cup holders under soft-opening covers, there's a deep under-armrest bin, too, while wireless phone charging and useful USB-C connections make it doubly handy.

The back seats are vast, but only really comfortable for two people. As with most limousines, the S-Class has two plush outer chairs that can be specced with massage function, electric adjustment and all sorts of cabin air filtration systems, but the middle seat is more of a high-set perch for occasional use. Most of the time it's best to have the middle seat armrest folded down - it features cupholders and space for the optional tablet controller.

There's a 535-litre boot in the S 580 e, which is 15 litres down on the standard S-Class, courtesy of the large drive battery under the floor. Still, that's plenty of room to play with, and more than you get in rival PHEV limos this side of a Range Rover.

The Mercedes S 580 e driving experience

The driving position in the S-Class feels like it's set further forward than you might expect for such a large car - to make as much room as possible for back-seat passengers - and it feels quite cocooning as a result. However, this is soon forgotten when you pull away and experience the driving luxury that the S-Class offers.

It's an incredibly quiet car in general, helped no doubt by the standard-fit double glazing and, when you're running in electric mode, there's next to no outside noise to be heard. Mercedes quotes a 102km all-electric range, and we managed pretty much 100km on electric power before the engine kicked in on a drive from Dublin to Glendalough and back on main roads. Even when the engine is running, the S-Class is still ever so silent, and the overall range is around 800km, which is nearly a match for the diesel version.

Mercedes offers different modes that allow you to pick the ideal drive setting for you, but they seem oddly labelled. There's 'E' for all-electric mode, then 'B' for battery hold (which saves the charge for later in your journey), the default 'H' hybrid setting, 'S' for Sport mode and 'I' where you can set individual parameters. The Hybrid mode is so effective with its energy use, and the battery is so big, that it doesn't drain as quickly as it does in some rivals.

That all-electric range could really be a game-changer in terms of PHEVs, especially when you consider that the S 580 e comes with fast-charging as standard. The high-speed CCS connector means that high-voltage DC public charge points can be used and, if you find a location with a high enough charging rate, you could top up the battery in as little as 20 minutes. With tech like that on board, it's easy to keep the battery full at all times.

The rest of the S 580 e driving experience is as you would expect from an S-Class, and the extra weight of the drive battery doesn't have much of an impact on the way it behaves. The standard-fit air suspension does a fantastic job of isolating the car from the road. It can judder over lateral ridges in the road, as nearly all air suspension systems do, but otherwise it's fantastic. Press on, and the S-Class still delivers, with a Dynamic mode that stiffens the damping for sharper responses. There's huge speed on tap, while good steering and excellent body control mean it doesn't feel like a big, heavy limo in corners. There's plenty of grip (our car came with Bridgestone Potenza tyres) while the big brakes bring things to a halt quickly as well.

However, in regular driving, you're more likely to be using the brake energy regeneration system rather than actually pressing the pedal. It's a clever set-up, but might take some getting used to. For example, if you're approaching a slower car and your foot is off the accelerator, the S-Class will apply brake energy regen to slow and keep at a safe distance - even if you're not using cruise control. The system works especially well on downhill sections, but the disconcerting thing is that the brake pedal is pulled away from the driver's foot, which is an odd sensation. It's also not entirely intuitive or consistent. The force of the regen can be altered over three levels using what appear to be gearchange paddles behind the steering wheel (they're not).

Our verdict on the Mercedes S 580 e

Since the current Mercedes S-Class launched in Ireland, the pricing has changed comprehensively, and now the plug-in hybrids make more sense than the diesels. The entry-level S 450 e looks like a bargain, while this long wheelbase S 580 e does it all: it has an impressive electric range, but with the usability and refinement you expect from an S-Class, combined with incredible performance. It's arguably the choice of the line-up - and a more resolved car than the electric EQS in the process.


Tech Specs

Model testedMercedes-Benz S 580 e LWB AMG-Line
Irish pricingS-Class from €138,665, €159,286 as tested
Hybrid system110kW electric motor with a 28.6kWh battery, turbocharged inline six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine
Transmissionnine-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body stylefour-door, five-seat saloon
CO2 emissions18g/km
Irish motor tax€140 per annum
Electric range102km
Fuel consumption0.9 litres/100km (313.9mpg)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h5.2 seconds
Max power510hp
Max torque750Nm
Boot space325 litres
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