Old Money vs. New Money: How They'd Spec the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Old Money vs. New Money: How They'd Spec the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

There's no official configurator yet, but we have the options list!

  • The three major trim packages for the 2021 S-Class are Luxury Line, Executive Line and AMG Line.
  • The S 500 model gets a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six making 429 horsepower.
  • The S 580 uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 to make 496 horsepower.

In case you hadn't noticed, Mercedes-Benz introduced the next-generation 2021 S-Class in September (that's about nine months ago in 2020 time) to somewhat mixed reviews. While the evolutionary exterior styling isn't particularly controversial, the dramatic redesign of the interior certainly raised some eyebrows. The new S-Class combines a 12.3-inch instrument panel with a 12.8-inch infotainment touchscreen and countless advanced features, leaving no doubt that it will be more of a technological tour de force than ever — which is saying something.

While you might think this would put off some potential S-Class buyers, we don't think it will. Shoppers in this stratosphere expect excellence in all forms. Even the not-so-early adopters have come to accept comprehensive technology as an integral aspect of today's superior automobiles.

But just who are these buyers, and which S-Class would they buy? Specifically, what's the Old Money 2021 S-Class build versus the New Money version? We've taken a deep dive into the early spec sheets released by Mercedes to come up with some pretty good guesses, if we do say so ourselves.

Build #1: The Old Money S 500

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Front Interior

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Front Interior

Not all buyers in this category have seemingly bottomless pockets and own land on more than one continent. Some may simply invest wisely and spend only when absolutely necessary. But either way, nothing but the best will do. Maybe a well-equipped A-Class would technically work just fine, but these buyers won't even set butt in an E-Class, let alone the lowly A. No, they've owned various S-Classes throughout the years, and they're not about to go backward.

Having said that, even with the availability of the S 580 — the one with the 496-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 — Old Money buyers don't see the point in spending money on performance that won't be used. Instead, they'll go with the S 500, which they probably also owned 20 or 30 years ago when it used a 5.0-liter V8 and Benz's naming convention actually meant something. The 2021 S 500's velvety turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six gets an extra boost to the tune of 184 lb-ft from a mild hybrid system (EQ Boost), enabling our Old Money friends to accelerate on an effortless hybrid wave of torque reminiscent of the discontinued S 600 model's turbo V12.

Inside, the base S-Class is so well equipped that the Old Money crowd may not go for any of the three optional equipment groups. To them, the Luxury Line's upgraded leather interior, bonkers Burmester audio system, 20-inch wheels and heated rear seats may seem unnecessary. Speaking of unnecessary, the Executive Line's focus on rear passengers with individual climate control settings, separate entertainment screens and massaging seats is just frivolous. As for the AMG Line's more aggressive styling, larger wheels and sporty accoutrements — well, that's just not how they want to be seen.

The Old Money S-Class, then, is an S 500 with zero trim packages. It's the perfect build for the buyer who's not out to impress anyone and simply wants the best.

Build #2: The New Money S 560

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Action Front 3/4

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Action Front 3/4

And now here's the 2021 S-Class build for those who need their car to pair nicely with their $165 Aether long-sleeve shirts and $280 Diesel jeans. Naturally, nothing but the S580 and its 469-horsepower twin-turbo V8 will do. The same EQ Boost hybrid system from the lowly S500 is standard here, too, but the New Money crew will just pretend they didn't hear that. They could wait for the inevitable AMG variant, of course, but their X6 M lease is set to expire and they want to switch things up for a year or two.

Having selected the S 580 as their canvas, they'll absolutely add the AMG Line — mainly for its badging, but also to nab the black exterior trim of the Night Package and the available 21-inch wheels. The 1,750-watt Burmester audio system, which is also included in the AMG Line, will inevitably be put to good use, although the trick four-wheel steering system will likely be more appreciated by the valet guy than the driver. It goes without saying that if the new S-Class comes in any shade of designo matte paint, the New Money buyer will be all over it.

So here's how to build a New Money 2021 S-Class: Start with an S 580, add the AMG Line with the Night Package and 21-inch wheels, and hold out for the sickest matte paint job Mercedes can offer.

Edmunds Says

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Action Rear 3/4

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Action Rear 3/4

However you option the new Mercedes flagship, it's bound to provide one of the most rewarding and tech-forward driving experiences in the world. Keep checking our 2021 S-Class page for the latest updates on pricing and inevitable new variants like an AMG performance model.