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  • Best of Year 2012
  • Editors' Choice

Miele S2121 Olympus Review

The Miele S2121 offers solid performance and build quality, but it's out of its element on high carpet.



The Miele S2121 Olympus occupies a unique niche in the world of vacuum cleaners. It’s an entry-level, high-end canister vac that’s designed exclusively for use on hardwood floors and low-pile carpets. When used as directed, it delivers some of the best performance we’ve ever seen. On thick carpet, though, it’s completely out of its element, like a Mercedes sedan off-roading at Moab.

Even though it sells for the relatively high price of $299, the Olympus isn’t a full-featured vacuum. There’s no motorized or even turbine powered brushroll — just a straight floor brush, and HEPA filtration is also absent out of the box. While its MSRP may seem high compared to vacuums from other manufacturers, keep in mind that this is one of Miele’s least expensive vacuums: Their higher-end units sell for upwards of $800. While the Olympus isn’t quite up to the standards of its pricier siblings, its fit and finish are head and shoulders above any other vacuum we’ve tested in this price range.

Design & Usability

This vacuum shines as far as fit, finish and ease of use.

With three casters, the Miele S2121 Olympus’s canister will follow you around without flipping over or getting caught on a piece of furniture. It glides smoothly over all kinds of flooring, and is extremely lightweight—it weighs less than 13 pounds, about half the weight of similar canisters. Despite its lack of bulk, the cleaner itself feels quite substantial and well-built. Plastic latches click into place with ease, and nothing makes any unpleasant rattling sounds.

It's apparent that this vacuum was meant for use on short carpet and hard flooring, as it gets bogged down in high carpet.

The brush is a bit of a different story. Again, its apparent that this vacuum was meant for use on short carpet and hard flooring, as it gets bogged down in high carpet and has no wheels, only some smooth fabric on its underside. While the buttons on the back of the cleaner are easy to get at without bending over, it’s still more of a pain than fingertip controls on the hose handle itself.

Our biggest complaint about the Miele S2121 Olympus is its extremely short cord. While the extendable wand makes it easy to maneuver around a room, an 18 foot cord is just too short for cleaning a whole floor without having to stop, unplug, and find a new outlet. It’s nice that the cord is easily retractable with a mechanism that doesn’t snag or whip, but we’d prefer a cord at least 25 feet. The hose and extendable wand combine to give nearly a nine foot cleaning radius around the canister. The wand itself extends to four feet, which makes it easy to clean curtains or suck up spiders crawling across the ceiling.

Unlike others we’ve tested, the Miele’s cloth dust bag features a plastic collar that easily slides in and out of the canister, and a flapper that keeps dirt from escaping. It’s easier to get dirt out of the Olympus than any other vacuum we’ve tested, bagged or bagless. It's worth noting, however, that unlike other Miele products, this one doesn't come with any HEPA filtration.


Features & Performance

Strong suction decimates debris and dirt on hardwood floors, but don’t even think about using this vacuum on high pile carpet.

It’s clear that the Olympus was designed for cleaning hardwood, tile and other solid floor types. In our tests it mastered hardwood floors and didn’t do too badly on short carpet, either, but on high-pile things just fell apart. The lack of a motorized brushroll means that the vacuum’s performance depends solely on straight suction. That’s fine with larger debris, but fine dirt and dust need to be agitated out of thick carpet fibers. For that, straight suction just doesn’t cut it.

Our favorite thing about this vacuum, though? It's one of the quietest we've ever tested.

If you’re thinking you can just add one of Miele’s optional powered brushes to the Olympus, that’s unfortunately impossible. The hose carries no wiring harness, so it wouldn’t get any power from the canister. You’d just have a heavier, less effective, more expensive straight suction brush.

As far as bag capacity, this machine will definitely cost you. Our tests show the disposable bags are pretty large, holding about a half gallon of dirt each. At $15 for a five pack according to a quick online search means you’ll still spend more on cleanup than if you bought a more expensive bagless unit. If you don’t want clouds of dust flying around every time you empty a vacuum, though, it may be worth it. Our favorite thing about this vacuum, though? It's one of the quietest we’ve ever tested. The motor even “ramps up” when the unit is switched on, giving your ears a chance to adjust to the noise.


This Miele is ideal for cleaning up hard floors.

At $299, the Miele S2121 Olympus is pricey for a straight-suction canister vacuum that’s only effective on hard floors and short carpets, but its performance in those categories in superb. It’s also lightweight, quiet, and is built with the precision of an architect's tool or a soldier's weapon as opposed to a small cleaning appliance.

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