Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet review
It’s big, heavy and S-Class – but Cabriolet is well-fitting, toned and luxurious, writes John Carey.
There was a thumping and squeaking sound when the S-Class Cabriolet’s automatic fabric folding roof finished closing. Just 20 seconds ago, we were basking in the warm sunshine of an early spring afternoon in southern France, the sound of birds chirping, rustling trees, the sound of distant cars.
Now the interior is shady and almost silent.
The tranquility on the roof of this luxurious four-seater convertible is astounding. Even when its V8 engine revs sharply as the car accelerates out of the toll booth and reaches the automatic speed limit of up to 130km / h, the Cabriolet is still noisier than its Coupe version.
It is not an illusion. Development director Hermann-Joseph Storp said there is no difference in decibels between hardtop and soft top with a steady speed of 110km / h. The Cabriolet roof sounds different, focusing on the lower frequency of the Coupe’s stiffer metal structure, he explains, but it’s noisier.
Cabriolet is the latest addition to the widest S-Class line to date. Mercedes started in 2013 with standard limos and a long wheelbase. Since then, it has added longer and more luxurious Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-Maybach Pullman models.
The lovely pillarless Coupe, built on a short version of the S-Class chassis, is its closest relative. The smallest two S grades share 60 percent of their body shell, but the soft upper has different rear metal to match its folding roof.
The soft roof is designed as a more comfortable car to drive.
Most of this is aluminum and Benz’s engineers claim that the bare body of the Cabriolet is heavier than the Coupe. However, the three-layer roof and its electric actuator add 85kg to the Cabriolet.
“We wanted to give the convertible a different character from the Coupe,” Storp said. The soft roof is designed as a more comfortable car to drive.
This is an issue as much as a choice. Benz’s Tilting function (helping the car body bend like a motorbike to enhance cornering power) is standard in the S-Class Coupe but there’s simply no room for this technology in the Cabriolet.
When Cabriolet arrives in September, it will have the same engine options as the Coupe – and cost around $ 30,000.
The $ 360,000 S500 features a 4.7-liter (335kW) twin-turbo V8 engine paired with the latest 9-speed Mercedes-Benz automobile. Next up is the $ S63 S63, with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 (430kW) and seven-speed automatic.
Finally, there’s the super exclusive $ 522,000 S65 with a 6.0-liter (463kW) supercharged V12 engine and seven-speed automatic, again from AMG.
All models come standard with the manufacturer’s latest active and passive safety devices, including fireworks pop-up rollover protection.
The S-Class Cabriolet is very large (more than five meters long) and weighs (more than two tons) but it does not waver. Hefty, yes, but also fit and toned. The roof is up or down, this is a very nice convertible.
The more relaxed characters of the drivetrain feel more in tune with the car’s seafaring character.
That was a good drive too. There are no signs of body shivers often opening cars and it’s also surprisingly agile in terms of its size and weight. The handling isn’t sharp sports cars but the big Benz can be created to gracefully flow on a winding road. Direct steering helps, as well as well-chosen installations for the standard air suspension.
The S500 is a little softer and sweeter to drive than the AMG tuned S63. It rides better and the drivetrain’s more comfortable character feels more in tune with the car’s seafaring character.
However, it is far from slow; Mercedes claims 0-100km / h takes 4.6 seconds flexibility.
The luxury cockpit uses high quality materials – such as Nappa leather.
The large front seats are extremely comfortable and the work of the aerodynamic engineers of Benz is clear in the lack of turbulence while driving down (anyway with the optional Aircap system). The two rear seats are good for people of up to medium height but it can become a bit windy back there at highway speeds.
In the S63, significantly faster than the S500, the sturdier suspension and larger V8 engine do not increase the Cabriolet’s natural comfort vibe. And $ 85,000 saved by choosing the S500 instead is enough to buy, say, a very well-equipped C-Class.
Perhaps the only shortcoming of the S-Class Cabriolet is the relatively small cargo bay. It can hold only 250L, on par with a tiny tunnel, with the roof down and just over 100L with the roof up.
Other convertibles make a similar compromise – but there are few quiet, good-looking and seductive cars like the S-Class Cabriolet.