Available with either V8 or V12 power
THE Mercedes-Benz S-Class is renowned the world these days for being the top luxury limousine, ferrying everyone from plutocrats to prime ministers to their business meetings and summits.
Its restrained styling, voluminous rear quarters and reputation for invincibility (particularly true with the early cars) has made it the favorite big sedan of those who want to say, “I have arrived,” without shouting about it. But with the current-generation S-Class, the company said it decided to roll out its first luxury, four-seat droptop since 1971.
“After 45 years, we are once again offering an open-top variant of the S-Class,” said Daimler AG Board Member Ola Källenius. “The new S-Class Cabriolet symbolizes our passion for individual and timelessly exclusive mobility, which we share with our customers.”
Although the S-Class Cabriolet still resembles the saloon, its sleeker body shape and more aggressive styling certainly depart from its four-door sibling’s more discreet and upright pretensions. Up front, the chrome egg-crate grill topped with the signature three-pointed star hood ornament has been replaced with a sportier grill carrying the company’s massive logo in the middle. This is flanked by slimmer headlights that plunge into the sculpted lower bumper with its two big air intakes.
Down the side, one can truly see the sheer size of the S-Class Cabriolet. However, the addition of body contours and character lines along the fenders and the lower-door area (extending to the rear bumper) do their part to keep the car from looking like a wheeled whale wearing a bonnet. Adding to the premium look is the chrome strip running all around the edge of the passenger cabin.
But perhaps the most radical departure from the S-Class sedan is the rear, which it shares with the S-Class Coupe. That back end is squarer, topped by a small spoiler and framed by slim LED taillights connected by a chrome trim strip. The lower bumper also carries a diffuser-style trim piece with exposed dual exhaust pipes.
Twin-turbo V8 and V12 power plants
The noises coming out of those pipes can either be the bellow of a V8 or the growl of a V12. The S-Class Cabriolet line-up starts with the S500, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter, twin-cam, 32-valve, direct-injection V8 producing 455 horsepower and 700 Newton-meters of torque. Next is the S63 AMG, which gets a twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter, twin-cam, 32-valve, direct-injection V8 producing 585 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque. At the top of the heap is the S65 AMG, which gets a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter, single-cam, 36-valve V12 producing 630 horsepower and 1,000 Nm of torque.
While the base model gets a nine-speed automatic gearbox, the S63 gets the company’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the S65 gets a seven-speed automatic gearbox. While all have electronically limited top speeds of 250 kilometers per hour, the S500 will do 0 to 100 kph in 4.6 seconds, the S63 (with 4MATIC all-wheel drive) will do it in 3.9 seconds and the S65 will do it in 4.1 seconds.
Stiffened chassis and adaptive damping
To put that performance to the tarmac, the S-Class Cabriolet is fitted as standard with AIRMATIC semi-active air suspension featuring infinitely variable damping control. The company said this system sets standards with respect to road roar and handling stability and can also be set to a sporty- or comfort-oriented mode.
And although this model shares around 60 percent of its bodyshell with the coupe, the company said it features a completely new aluminum rear floor. The company said this has helped the S-Class Cabriolet’s chassis become as stiff as the coupe’s, without being any heavier.
Yacht-inspired, intelligent interior
Stepping into the car through those massive doors, one will find that the S-Class Cabriolet carries the luxury accoutrements befitting a flagship model. The company said there is a choice of leather, nappa leather or designo Exclusive nappa leather plus six different interior color concepts, including a maritime-inspired combination of deep-sea blue and porcelain, to enable the broadest scope for individualization.
In addition, the company said the soft top – available in black, dark blue, beige and dark red – folds down in around 20 seconds at up to 50 kph to create an open-air lounge that exudes a yacht-like atmosphere. In addition, the top can be opened and closed from outside the vehicle with the electronic key and also has a three-layer acoustic material that works with the double-glazing in the windows for a serene driving experience. This can be augmented with the optional AIRCAP automatic wind-protection system that reduces interior turbulence at the touch of a button.
Also, the company said S-Class Cabriolet owners need not worry about fiddling with the climate-control system every time they put the roof up and down because the car’s fully automatic Thermotronic climate-control system adjusts to the conditions to maintain a suitable temperature. In addition, customers can order the Airscarf neck-level heating system, which directs warmed air around the head and neck areas of the occupants from the head restraints, and the Warmth Comfort Package, which includes heating in the center console, the door armrests and the steering wheel.
Forward, side and vertical safety
Because convertibles make drivers more vulnerable in crashes, especially with the top down, Mercedes-Benz has fitted the S-Class Cabriolet with a fully pyrotechnic roll-over protection system as standard. On detecting an impending danger of the vehicle rolling over, the airbag control unit sends a corresponding signal to the system, which quickly extends behind the rear head restraints using gas generators to help to maintain a safe passenger compartment.
In addition, the S-Class Cabriolet comes with: Pre-Safe Brake with pedestrian detection, Distance Pilot Distronic with Steering Pilot and Stop&Go Pilot, Brake Assist Bas Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and Night View Assist Plus. The company said the standard Collision Prevention Assist Plus is able to carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 100 kph, thereby reducing the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles.
The company also said the Pre-Safe preventive occupant protection system has been upgraded to Pre-Safe Plus, which can recognize an imminent rear-end collision and warn following traffic by flashing the rear hazard lights at a high frequency. In an impending rear-end crash with the car stopped, the system can “lock” the brakes and activate the Pre-Safe belt tensioners immediately before impact.