|All rights reserved.
In a move opposite
to Audi and BMW, Mercedes decided to abandon separate nameplates for
its sedan-based coupes. This results in C-class Coupe and E-class
Coupe. Now the flagship CL-class is also rebranded to S-class Coupe,
no longer hiding a fact that we always know: it is the coupe version of
S-class. I suppose few people would feel sorry for the demise of
CL-class, because it has never been a big success. No matter styling or
build quality, it fell short of our expectation and never matched the
high standard set by its spiritual predecessor SEC, which was also the last time the
car was officially known as the S-class Coupe (even though the
nomenclature was different then).
This time around the S-class Coupe looks more like a winner. Being
priced at about £100,000 in the guise of S500 or £125,000
for S63 AMG, it doesn’t have too many rivals – Aston Martin DB9 and
Rapide, Bentley Continental GT and Maserati GranTurismo are its closest
competitors. Wealthier buyers may also consider Aston Vanquish and
Ferrari FF as alternatives. What about BMW 6-Series, Gran Coupe and M6?
I would say they are not classy
enough to trouble the Mercedes.
One thing separates the new Mercedes flagship coupe from its
counterparts: style. This is a true beauty – sleek, elegant and classy.
Yes, Maserati has sexier curves, but the Mercedes’ streamline profile
is nearly as attractive, and it has amazing level of attention to
such as the radial mesh grille and the complicated LED elements in
its headlights. Fine chromed elements decorate locations where
Heavy sculptures create tensions at its sides and lessen the visual
bulk. The same effect is achieved by its frameless windows and the
of B-pillars. This is the best looking Mercedes coupe to date.
You might not aware of its size from pictures, but in the real world
the new S-class Coupe has strong presence. After all, this car measures
in excess of 5 meters long, 1.9 meters wide and its wheelbase spans
across 2945 mm – the latter is just 90 mm shorter than its saloon
sister. Its roof is lowered by a massive 85 mm. In addition to the
steeply raked A and C-pillars, the greenhouse is inevitably smaller.
Fortunately, given its sheer size the rear seats are still comfortable
to hold 6-footers, something not even a 4-door Aston Martin Rapide can
claim, let alone the emergency seats offered by Bentley Continental GT.
As in the S-class saloon, its chassis is a hybrid structure of aluminum
and steel – the front is constructed in aluminum while steel is used
from the firewall rearward to benefit weight distribution. Almost all
outer panels are aluminum sheets, as in the old CL-class. Despite that,
it still tips the scale at 2 tons, something attributed to its immense
rigidity, remarkable NVH suppression and luxury. Anyway, it undercuts
Bentley by a good 300 kg.
cabin owes much to the S-class saloon, bar the sportier
3-spoke steering wheel and a new touchpad controller on the
transmission tunnel. Much of the dashboard is carried over from the
saloon. It features even the same air vents and the huge, dual-TFT
panel, whose lack of aesthetic still displeases me, but its rich
graphic is really eye-opening. The Coupe does get some more tasteful
trims, including carbon-fiber ones for AMG, and more stylish design for
door panels. Overall build quality and sense of occasion are now on a
par with the best of the class, including Bentley and Rolls-Royce,
whereas IT technology and functionality easily trump both. As expected,
the multi-adjustable, heated, cooled and massaged chairs are superbly
Start the 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8, the S500 Coupe immediately shows a
refinement outstanding for even this class. It is remarkably smooth and
quiet – perhaps too quiet for a coupe. The sound insulation used
throughout the cabin is just as effective as the S-class saloon, which
means a new class standard is set. Even in high speed cruising there is
little wind noise can be heard. On the flipside, enthusiastic drivers
will never get warm with the car. Yes, it corners flatly and rides
impeccably – thanks to high-tech features like Magic Body Control
(which uses stereo camera to scan the road ahead and adjust the
suspensions accordingly) and Active Body Control (which utilizes
adjustable hydraulic struts to provide anti-roll function), it steers
quite responsively for a car so large, and it accelerates in straight
line with a pace nearly matching the old CL63 AMG, but it lacks the
sharpness and communication that distinguish a Ferrari, Maserati or
Aston Martin. In other words, it feels like a sedan-turned coupe rather
than a thoroughbred GT.
Note that the MBC system on the Coupe
adds another function: Active Curve Tilting. It makes use of the same
hardware to lean the car towards the inside of the bend. This sounds
like how a motorcycle corners, although the maximum lean here is much
modest at 2.5 degrees. It doesn't help the car to corner faster, but it
can partially offset the g-force acted on the occupants and make them
feel more comfortable in hard cornering. As we can see here, the
S-class Coupe puts comfort on first priority.
The S63 AMG model is much better. Its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 not only
delivers much stronger performance (585 hp, 664 lbft and 0-60 mph good
for 3.8 seconds in the case of 4-wheel-drive) but also a sporty exhaust
note that the standard model cries for. In normal driving it is still
very smooth and quiet, but once you open the throttle wide it roars
like a supercar engine, with a volume and sound quality lagging not
much behind the outgoing 6.2. Meanwhile, the MCT gearbox reserved for
the AMG model, which uses a wet clutch instead of slow-reacting torque
converter, works a lot more responsively than the regular 7G-Tronic. As
a result, the powertrain feels properly sporty.
As for ride and handling, it is adequately sharpened from the regular
model. The suspensions – note that on the more popular 4matic model it
uses Airmatic springs and adaptive dampers instead of the sophisticated
MBC – gets stiffer calibration, 10 mm drop of ride height and increased
negative camber for the front wheels. In addition to some weight saving
measures (e.g. lithium battery, composite brakes and forged alloy
wheels), which make the S63 actually lighter than S500, its handling
is noticeably sharpened. The heavier steering offers a little more
feedback, if still not something it could be proud of. The body control
and composure are superb, while ride quality and NVH suffers just a
tiny bit. For a car that large, the S63 Coupe is remarkably responsive
to steer. It might not be a great companion to attack B-roads, but in
fast curves it can match any great GTs, Ferrari included. Most
impressive is all the while it remains calm and relaxing, as the
immensely stiff structure and rich insulation can absorb everything.
This is what the big Mercedes coupe meant to be.
For a large luxury coupe, the S63 AMG Coupe leaves nothing to be
desired. It is fast yet easy to control, beautifully styled inside and
outside, impeccably built and super-comfortable to travel along. Drive
leisurely and it can be nearly as relaxing as an S-class saloon. Up the
pace and you will enjoy its throaty exhaust note, strong performance
and tight body control. The balance between luxury and sportiness is
better judged than Bentley Continental GT (which is neither as
comfortable nor as sporty), Rolls-Royce (all about luxury and not much
sportiness to speak of), Maserati, Aston and Ferrari (all lack the
relaxing character of the Mercedes, and their interiors are not built
with top-notch quality). The lesser S500 Coupe biases towards the
comfort side thus might be less desirable to demanding drivers. Same
goes for the supposedly range-topping S65 AMG Coupe, which is simply
S63 AMG Coupe:
S500 & S65 AMG Coupe:
|All rights reserved.
| S-class Cabriolet
This is the first
time we see a convertible based on the Mercedes S-class flagship. The
last time Stuttgart did so was in 1971. Engineering such a large
convertible car has always been a big challenge. You have to reinforce
the floorpan, bulkhead and body sides a lot to compensate for the
rigidity lost in the large opening. You have to engineer a large fabric
roof whose sealing and sound insulation are effective, whose power
mechanism good enough to open and close quickly, yet the large soft
roof does not add too much weight or occupy too much boot space. The
new S-class Cabriolet meets all these requirements soundly.
Derived from the stylish S-class Coupe, its wheelbase measures some
2945 mm, 105 mm longer than the recent C-class Cabriolet. Under the
large tonneau cover is the largest fabric roof in production. It can be
opened or closed in 20 seconds, same as the smaller roof of C-class
Cabriolet, and this can be done at speed up to 60 km/h (37 mph), or 10
km/h higher than the C-class. Its electric actuators must be very
powerful and sturdy. The soft roof itself is made of 3 layers to ensure
first class sound and thermal insulation. Moreover, the car employs
double-glazing side windows (all 4 of them) and improved door seals to
enhance sound insulation further. As a result, with the roof in place
the cabin feels just as quiet as the Coupe.
When the roof is opened, wind buffeting can be minimized by the
standard-fitted Aircap, which pops up an aero foil above the windscreen
header, and mesh wind deflector, which rises vertically from behind the
rear seats. Doing so will inevitably damage the beautiful shape of the
car, especially the strange-lookng Aircap. Nevertheless, when you are
sitting inside the car you are unlikely to be care about its exterior
looks. What catch your attention must be the lavish interior design and
materials. Though it doesn’t deliver the sense of bespoke craftsmanship
as Bentley or Rolls-Royce, in the mass production world it is almost
peerless. The dashboard design and the huge TFT screens can be
described as flamboyant, yet their forms mate with functions. The
flamboyant-looking front chairs have neck-warming Airscarf (though it
is currently in patent dispute), massagers and thigh supports. The rear
seats are a little disappointing though. Despite the long wheelbase,
rear legroom is not too generous. This means the front occupants have
to compromise a little to accommodate adults behind. On the plus side,
the rear seats have good head and shoulder room, whereas the backrest
is not too vertical as in the case of C-class Cabriolet.
Despite the Aircap and wind deflector, at highway speed the occupants,
especially the rear, still suffer from some turbulence. This might have
something to do with the steeply raked windscreen which gives the
cabriolet an excellent Cd of 0.29. Otherwise, the cabriolet is
Its chassis is remarkably rigid, thanks to structural strengthening
including a new aluminum rear floor and rear bulkhead as well as extra
cast aluminum parts reinforcing the side walls. Pop-up rollover
protection bars are incorporated into the sturdy rear bulkhead. These
modifications add about 115 kg to the kerb weight, which is peanuts for
a car carrying over 2 tons. On the road, you don’t notice any loss of
rigidity unless on the worst surfaces, yet that rarely affects its fine
handling and smooth ride. The S500 Cabriolet with its 455 hp 4.7-liter
twin-turbo V8 is tuned for effortless performance, ride comfort and
refinement. It does this job better than its arch-rival Bentley
Continental GTC yet costing considerably less to purchase. S63 4matic
is brawnier and its larger AMG V8 is more exciting to listen. Taking
merely 3.8 seconds to sprint from rest to 60 mph might shock many
people, but in fact its handling is precise and safe. However, a
smaller, lighter car like C63 Cabriolet is always more agile and more
feelsome. Still, the S63 is a better option than the
range-topping S65, which is just a show of wealth.
One thing the AMG duo does better than the standard car is styling.
However, none of the Cabriolets can quite match the S-class Coupe,
whose sleek proportion is somewhat lost in the transformation.
||All rights reserved.
| S-class Coupe/Cabriolet facelift 2018
of the range is still S63, which gets the most improvement.
following its sedan sister, the S-class Coupe and Cabriolet also get a
mid-life revision. Among all models, the AMG S63 gets the most changes,
most notably the new 4-liter twin-turbo V8 with 612 hp and 664 lbft of
torque (27 hp more than the old 5.5-liter), 9-speed MCT transmission
and rear-biased 4matic+ system, all of which are adapted from the E63
S. This improves its 0-60 mph acceleration from 3.8 to a remarkable 3.4
seconds, although top speed is still capped at 186 mph. The AMG model
also gets the most visual change, i.e. a Panamericana grille like the
AMG GT, so it looks quite a lot angrier, washing away the feminine
theme of the old car.
On the road, the S63 Coupe’s new powertrain feels even more refined in
Comfort mode, as it registers only 1600 rpm in cruising, but in
sportier modes it feels noticeably sharper. Despite the considerably
reduced capacity, its throttle response is quicker, thanks to the
shorter exhaust ducts of the hot-V engine and the use of twin-scroll
turbos. The exhaust still produces exciting crackles on overrun. The
9-speed MCT is a big improvement from the old 7-speed unit, too. Its
gearshifts are not only smoother but also quicker in manual mode.
Meanwhile, the 4matic+ offers plenty of traction yet a rear-biased
handling characteristic in sportier modes. The only weakness remains
the steering, which lacks feel.
As a cross-country GT, few could match the S63 Coupe. Its cabin is
high-tech, luxurious and spacious – the rear seats can accommodate
average adults for short journeys. Its adaptive air suspension provides
good cruising refinement. Its directional stability is high and the
performance is outstanding, even faster than an Aston Martin DB11. It
is not quite as agile or as engaging to drive as the latter, but it is
a more spacious and more comfortable kind of GT. Its closest rival will
be the forthcoming new Bentley Continental GT. Otherwise, there is
nothing quite like it on the market.
Lesser S-class Coupe includes the 367hp V6-powered S450 and 469hp
V8-powered S560. They are not quite as big an improvement as the AMG
S63. The top S65 keeps its dated V12 and 7-speed transmission as it is
cruising to sunset. This means pick of the range is still the S63.