- Power with smoothness
- Exemplary build quality
- Beautiful interiors
- All-wheel drive on most models
- Loaded with safety and technology features
- No Maybach or AMG sedan this year
- Sluggish handling
- High cost of entry
features & specs
The benchmark for luxury cars, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan gets even roomier and tech-rich while the coupe and cabriolet carry over.
What kind of car is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class? What does it compare to?
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship is a sedan, coupe, and convertible that combine to set the industry standard for luxury and sophistication. It’s a powerful, tech-rich, and endlessly comfortable car that competes against the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Lexus LS.
Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class a good car?
The S-Class represents the pinnacle of automotive art, with a smooth and quiet ride, effortless power, coddling luxury, and the latest in technology. We rate it a 7.6 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
What's new for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class?
Mercedes splits the S-Class lineup for 2021, with a redesigned sedan and carryover coupe and convertible body styles. The change means no AMG or Maybach sedan models this year.
The new S-Class sedan grows inside and out with more length, a wider wheelbase, wider track, and slightly taller height. The changes give it more head room up front, more leg room in the rear, and a larger trunk.
S-Class sedan engine choices are reduced to two. The S500 4Matic has a 429-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, while the S580 4Matic’s twin-turbo V-8 produces 496 hp. Both use a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that adds up to 21 hp and 184-lb-ft-feet of torque.
A standard air suspension carries over, as do adaptive dampers, and the 2021 S-Class sedan is now offered with a rear-axle steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees opposite of the fronts to reduce the turning radius to that of the compact A-Class.
An interior redesign for the sedan does away with the twin-12.3-inch touchscreens that share a piece of glass and the round turbine-style air vents in the coupe and convertible. Instead, the sedan has rectangular vents and a new 12.8-inch portrait-style center touchscreen that runs the second generation of the brand’s MBUX infotainment system. Available augmented reality directions continue, but they now appear in more places, including the digital instrument cluster, which is available with a 3D effect.
The coupe and convertible carry over with just an equipment change to the standard Premium package that adds heated front seats that also heat the shoulders and neck, and a surround-view camera system.
With two generations in one model year come two generations of design. The new sedan has a larger grille that sits over a lower air intake that runs the full length of the front end. The profile’s character lines aren’t as sharp, the headlights have a new shape, and the wheel designs are new. The carryover coupe and cabriolet benefit from sleek, sweeping profiles that play out beautifully over their long bodies.
The coupe and cabriolet continue with two models each, S560 and S63. S560 models have a 463-hp version of the 4.0-liter V-8 without a mild-hybrid system, while the same V-8 in the S63 models makes 603 hp and offers slingshot straightline performance. All have satisfying steering and sublime ride quality, but big-car handling. No S-Class is efficient with fuel economy in the range of 20 mpg combined.
The front seats of every S-Class are incredibly comfortable, with lots of space, heating, heated armrests, cooling, and massage. An Executive Line package for the sedan makes the rear seat a control center with three available screens and many of the amenities of the front seats.
How much does the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class cost?
The S-Class starts at $110,850 for an S500 4Matic sedan. It comes standard with the two dash screens, ambient lighting, leather upholstery, heated and cooled power-adjustable front seats with massage, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, Burmester audio, the air suspension and adaptive dampers, a panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Also standard are a smorgasbord of safety features, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, active blind-spot monitors, automatic parking, and a semi-autonomous highway driving system. The older S-Classes haven’t been crash tested and we don’t expect the new one to be either.
Where is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class made?
In Sindelfingen, Germany.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is stately inside and out.
Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class a good-looking car?
Yes, in all versions. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class ranges from elegant to beautiful based on body style. The look outside is regal and restrained, and the interior design is tasteful and inviting. We rate it a 9 here.
The new S-Class sedan’s styling carefully modulates its look with more subtle strakes and lines all around its body. The grille flows into the hood more gradually, from between slimmer headlights. The roofline is strikingly similar, but the surfaces down the S-Class’ side have more muted creases and curves. Hidden door handles extend from the body; the Aston Martin technology exchange goes both ways after all. Shallower diamond-framed taillights replace blocky, tall units on the prior version of the big Benz.
Sedan buyers looking for a sportier look can add a Mercedes-Benz AMG styling pack with blacked-out trim and sport wheels. Meanwhile, the coupe and, to a lesser extent, the cabriolet wear a low, sleek design with lines that can play out over the cars’ substantial length for an even more elegant look.
The S-Class welcomes passengers inside with wavelike forms and undulating surfaces in the coupe and cabriolet that are squared off and ironed flat in the sedan. It’s an interior dominated by warm or cool surfaces and digital displays, composed of rectangular screens and vents that play off the dramatically simplified dash shape. Those screens warm up the cabin or cool it down visually; they can cycle through a range of color schemes and schemas including Discreet, which gives a choice of seven colors, Sporty which is of course red, Exclusive pearl, or Classic white.
Those screens play into the design. While the coupe and cabriolet feature twin 12.3-inch displays, the sedan has a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster capable of a trick 3D effect, and a lower-set and easier-to-reach 12.8-inch portrait-style touchscreen. Both layouts provide plenty of tech flair.
The coupe and convertible have clever turbine-style air vents.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class traffics in power and tranquility, but not agility.
Every powertrain in the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is powerful, the ride is exceptional, and the steering satisfying. These strengths earn the S-Class an 8 out of 10 for performance.
Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class AWD?
Rear-wheel drive is the default, but several S-Class models come standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
How fast is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class?
The new base engine for the S-Class is found in the S500 4Matic sedan. It’s a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that spins up 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque and is aided by a 48-volt mild-hybrid starter-generator that adds up to 21 hp and 184-lb-ft-feet of torque during acceleration. It’s capable of a 4.8-second 0-60 mph time, according to Mercedes. The S580 4Matic sedan features a twin-turbo V-8 that produces 496 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque and also gets help from the mild-hybrid system. It cuts the 0-60 mph time to 4.4 seconds, and is a model of poise and smoothness, as is its 9-speed automatic transmission.
S560 coupe and cabriolet models get a slightly detuned version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that cranks out 463 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque and enables a 4.5-second 0-60 mph time.
The coupe and cabriolet S63 models turn up the twin-turbo V-8’s meter to 603 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. It cuts the 0-60 mph time to 3.5 seconds, and adds some bark and snarl while remaining smooth and comfortable.
Every S-Class has a standard air suspension with adaptive dampers that helps deliver a glass-smooth ride. The coupe and cabriolet have a Magic Body Control system that continuously adjusts the suspension to deal with upcoming road imperfections and improve an already great ride.
Handling isn’t as advanced. The S-Class is a large car that leans quite a bit in turns and lacks the agility of a sport sedan. However, the quick and direct steering provides a satisfying feel. The available rear-axle steering turns opposite of the front wheels below 37 mph to improve parking lot turning radii, but it has little effect on on-road handling.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Comfort & Quality
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sports beautifully designed and finished interiors with lots of space.
Spacious, exquisitely assembled, beautifully finished, and outfitted to coddle passengers, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class earns a perfect 10 out of 10 for comfort and quality.
The 2021 model grows by 1.4 inches in length to 208.3 inches, 2.0 inches in wheelbase to 126.9 inches, 0.4 inch in height to 126.6 inches, and has a track that’s 2.0 inches wider. That makes it even roomier than the outgoing model.
The S-Class’s front seats have a mission to envelope and pamper occupants. They are extremely comfortable with power controls, standard heating and cooling, and available massage.
The rear seats in the sedan are also comfortable thrones, especially with the amenities of the Executive Line package.
The coupe and cabriolet are big cars with small rear seats. Style wins out here over space, and the cars are best used as two-seaters.
The sedan’s trunk is larger this year, now at a hefty 19.0 cubic feet, though some of the space is lost with the higher end sound system and the available rear refrigerator.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been a safety leader, but it has no crash-test ratings.
How safe is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class?
The S-Class sells in numbers too small to warrant crash-testing by the agencies that perform those tests. However, it’s a leader in safety technology and comes loaded with safety equipment. We don’t rate cars without crash-test results.
Standard active safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane control with emergency-stop and lane-change assist, active brake assistance that can prevent turning into oncoming traffic, active blind-spot monitors with brake support and vehicle-exit support, automatic parking, and a system that controls the steering, brakes, and throttle in some highway driving as long as the driver is paying attention.
Also on the docket are a new rear-seat airbag system, a surround-view camera system, and available night vision.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a variety of body styles and models, all lavish and powerful.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is best known as a luxurious sedan, but it’s also a stylish coupe and convertible. All are extremely well appointed and offer the full gamut of options. We rate it an 8 out of 10 for its variety of body styles and options, as well as its generous standard content.
The 2021 S-Class sedan is new, but it doesn’t yet have an AMG or Maybach model. Meanwhile, the coupe and cabriolet continue with the last-generation platform. Mercedes offers the 2021 S-Class sedan in S500 4Matic and S580 4Matic models for now. The coupe and cabriolet come in S560 (cabriolet), S560 4Matic (coupe), and AMG S63 (both) models.
The $110,850 S500 4Matic sedan comes standard with the MBUX infotainment system with a 12.8-inch touchscreen; a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster; ambient lighting; leather upholstery; power-adjustable front seats with heating, cooling, and massage; LED exterior lights with automatic high beams, keyless start; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; wireless smartphone charging; soft-close doors; a Burmester sound system; an air suspension; a panoramic sunroof; and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Which Mercedes-Benz S-Class should I buy?
We’d opt for an S580 4Matic sedan with the AMG Line package for its better looks and grippier tires. It costs $121,650 and adds AMG body styling, AMG floor mats, AMG wheels, and wider, staggered tires.
How much is a fully loaded 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class?
The most expensive S-Class sedan is the S580 4Matic with the Executive Line package at $132,500. It adds heated power-adjustable and massaging rear seats, four-zone automatic climate control, rear wireless charging, a rear entertainment system with two 11.6-inch screens and a removable 7.0-inch tablet, a rear passenger airbag, rear belt airbags, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear armrests, and rear-axle steering with 10 degrees of turning angle.
Additional options include a 3D instrument cluster, augmented reality navigation overlays, a Burmester 4D sound system, and 20- and 21-inch wheels.
The top 2021 S-Class cabriolet is the S63 model that runs $186,450.
The S-Class comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty. It offers no complimentary service like some rivals.
The S-Class sedan and S-Class coupe and cabriolet have two generations of infotainment systems. The newer sedan has the next generation of the MBUX system with a quicker processor and a different layout. It has a 12.8-inch touchscreen with a portrait-style layout set low on the center stack. An OLED screen, it uses less energy and has a better picture. The system has some cool new features, including a stop light view that shows the view ahead to make it easier to see stop lights, revised augmented reality overlays when using navigation, and a fingerprint sensor to call up driver profiles.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also new. It has an optional new 3D effect for the various screens and navigation, and the effect is quite striking. The augmented reality overlays also appear on this screen, as well as the optional head-up display.
The coupe and cabriolet have the old MBUX system with twin 12.3-inch screens on the dashboard under a single piece of glass, one for the instrument cluster and the other for infotainment. It also has augmented reality overlays. Both versions respond to “Hey Mercedes” voice commands and both are at or near the state of the art.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Fuel economy isn’t the priority for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class good on gas?
Big and powerful, the S-Class doesn’t go light on gas, but, aside from AMG models, it doesn’t gulp it either. We base our rating of 3 out of 10 on the new S580 4Matic sedan.
The S580 4Matic gets EPA ratings of 17/25/20 mpg. The S500 4Matic doesn’t have ratings yet.
The carryover S560 coupe and convertible get EPA ratings of 16/26/20 mpg, while the S63 4Matic coupe is rated at 16/26/19 mpg and the S63 4Matic convertible gets 14/24/17 mpg. All models require premium fuel.