First there was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and then there was everything else -- or at least that's how the narrative has gone with luxury cars since the 1970s. Stuttgart's biggest bruisers always seem to have led the way, but rival automakers Audi and BMW have long put up a fight. So, following the debut of the on Wednesday, let's see how it fares against these established luxury rivals.
For this story, we'll be focusing on the gasoline-powered 7 Series models. If you want to see how the fully electric i7 compares against other full-size EVs,.
Powertrain and performance
The 7 Series will be offered in 740i and 760i xDrive forms. The former is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 engine, while the latter has a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. Both use 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, but only the V8 is paired with all-wheel drive.
Similarly, the new S-Class is offered in two models: the S500 and the S580. The former will be powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six, replacing the turbo V6 currently offered as the base engine in the 2020 S450. The S580 gets Mercedes' exquisite 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Both feature EQ-Boost mild-hybrid technology and are only offered with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
For 2022, the Audi A8 is only available with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. If you want V8 power, you'll need to spring for the higher-performance S8.
||BMW 740i||BMW 760i||Mercedes S500||Mercedes S580||Audi A8|
|Engine||Twin-turbo 3.0L I6||Twin-turbo 4.4L V8||Twin-turbo 3.0L I6||Twin-turbo 4.0L V8||Turbo 3.0L V6|
|Power||375 hp||536 hp||429 hp||496 hp||335 hp|
|Torque||383 lb-ft||553 lb-ft||384 lb-ft||516 lb-ft||369 lb-ft|
|Transmission||8-speed auto||8-speed auto||9-speed auto||9-speed auto||8-speed auto|
|0-60 mph||5.2 seconds||4.1 seconds||4.8 seconds||4.7 seconds||5.6 seconds|
|Top speed||155 mph||155 mph||130 mph||130 mph||130 mph|
|Fuel economy (city/hwy)||TBD||TBD||21/30 mpg||16/25 mpg||19/28 mpg|
Infotainment and safety tech
Arguably the most important factor in a modern luxury automobile is its technology, and all three of our competitors are packed to the gills. The most important update for BMW comes in the form of a highway driving assistant that allows for extended-range hands-free operation at speeds up to 85 mph. Automatic lane changes are included in this technology, and BMW offers automated parking assist, too. The latter can even be controlled via a smartphone app from outside the vehicle.
Moving inside, the 7 Series has BMW's latest iDrive 8 infotainment suite. A single housing holds a 12.3-inch gauge cluster as well as a 14.9-inch multimedia touchscreen. Back-seat riders are treated to a pair of 5.5-inch digital control panels on the doors, which allow passengers to operate things like the multimedia system, sun shades, seat controls and more.
BMW's coolest new feature, however, is the Theater Screen: a 31.3-inch display that folds down from the roof. It can display content in 8K resolution () and has streaming software built in. There's even a fully immersive theater mode where the 7 Series raises its sun shades, dims the ambient lighting and plays the audio output in surround sound. In terms of in-car entertainment viewing options, it doesn't get much better than this.
The big change for this generation of S-Class is the move to a, which improves on the first-gen software that made its debut in the a few years ago. The new version has 50% faster processing power and runs on a 12.8-inch tablet-style OLED screen. The updated electrical architecture of the S-Class means that not only is MBUX possible, but a whole slew of other exciting features become available, too. For example, the head-up display is available with augmented reality to project navigation data onto the road ahead. There are also comfort features like fully climate-controlled seats and a three-dimensional digital gauge cluster, and even a fingerprint scanner to adapt the interior environment to each driver's preference automatically. It's a whole new landscape.
From a safety standpoint, the new S-Class has no shortage of the good stuff, either. There's a new rear airbag system that offers increased passenger safety thanks to a bag that deploys more gently, reducing the risk of some injuries. A revamped driver attention monitor called Attention Assist uses an infrared camera to detect driver drowsiness. And there are also around a dozen standard driver assistance systems on the new S-Class, ranging from Mercedes' version of adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping and lane-change assist, active brake assist, active blind-spot assist and more. The S-Class has always been big on safety and that trend continues today.
But Audi isn't exactly asleep at the back of the class. The A8 offers competent suites of advanced driver-assistance systems that include all the greatest hits like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and more. The A8's air suspension also has a precollision system that can instantly raise one side of the vehicle to better distribute the force from an impact. The latest version of Audi'sinfotainment system is straightforward to use, feature-rich and responsive.
When it comes to exterior dimensions, these cars are all huge, and these days, are only available with one wheelbase length. Inside, the accommodations are similarly large. There's nothing else to analyze here; we'll let the numbers below do the talking.
||2023 BMW 7 Series||2022 Mercedes-Benz S-Class||2022 Audi A8|
|Wheelbase||126.6 in||126.6 in||123.1 in|
|Length||212.2 in||208.2 in||209.5 in|
|Width||76.8 in||76.9 in||76.6 in|
|Height||60.8 in||59.2 in||58.3 in|
|Front headroom||39.7 in||42.1 in||38.3 in|
|Rear headroom||38.6 in||39.4 in||38.5 in|
|Front legroom||41.2 in||41.7 in||41.5 in|
|Rear legroom||43.3 in||43.8 in||44.3 in|
|Cargo capacity||13.7 cu-ft||12.9 cu-ft||12.5 cu-ft|
Because the Audi A8 is the oldest of these competitors, it's also the least expensive. But considering how much more comfort, convenience and tech features are offered in the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, it arguably makes the higher MSRPs worth the added coin. The Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are on sale now; the 2023 BMW 7 Series is expected to arrive in the US before the end of 2022.
||MSRP (incl. destination)|
|2023 BMW 740i||$94,295|
|2023 BMW 760i xDrive||$114,595|
|2022 Audi A8 Quattro||$87,595|
|2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic||$112,150|
|2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 4Matic||$118,750|