£111,215 - £193,900 Price range
23 - 32 MPG
The Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet is one of the largest four-seater convertibles you can buy and according to Mercedes it’s the most comfortable drop-top on sale. It rivals the Bentley Continental GTC, Maserati GranCabrio and the Rolls-Royce Dawn.
While some rivals align themselves to a dynamic drive or unparalleled luxury, the Mercedes’ trump card is its technology. Just one of the numerous innovations is a special suspension system called Curve Tilt which improves comfort by leaning the car into corners much like a motorbike.
The interior is as you’d expect from one of the most expensive cars Mercedes makes, meaning clear and uncluttered, but beautifully designed and draped in soft leather and expensive wood. Passenger space in the rear might be a bit less than what you expect from such a long car, but those in front can stretch in comfort.
Out of three engines on sale it’s the entry-level 4.7-litre S 500 that should be enough for 95 per cent of buyers, because it’s really quick and also sounds great. If you simply must have an AMG model, though, we’d recommend the S 63, because the S 65’s engine doesn’t quite warrant the price increase.
That six-figure base price inevitably means a lot of standard equipment including air suspension, LED headlights and a generous amount of expensive leather and wood in the cabin.
The overall cabin design is heavily influenced by the S-Class saloon, but because this interior can be more easily seen if there’s no roof there’s more attention to detail here. At a glance there doesn’t seem to be a lot of buttons on the dashboard, but that’s because they are cleverly grouped and positioned quite intuitively. For example all the infotainment buttons are grouped around the rotary controller on the centre console, while the driving assists are to the right of the steering wheel at your fingertips.
The Comand infotainment system has plenty of advanced features such as live traffic updates and compared to rivals it’s almost space-age – the Bentley has an old generation VW-based touchscreen and the Maserati has an even older aftermarket system. Only the excellent BMW system in the Rolls-Royce Dawn comes close, and that car costs another £130,000.
Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet passenger space
The two-door S-Class is just a few inches shorter than the saloon and this translates to acres of room for those sitting in front. They also get seats that adjust electrically in more ways that you can imagine and if you go for the £6,235 Exclusive package the seats get a heating, cooling plus a massage function. If you’re not too fussed about those then rest assured the standard leather seats do the job of pampering you just fine.
Things aren’t so good for those sitting in the back. Yes, there’s space for two six-foot adults and the rear seat automatically stops moving if it senses it’s about to crush your knees, but ultimately you’d expect more from something so large.
Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet boot space
With a capacity of 350 litres the S-Class Cabriolet’s boot space is 100 litres larger than the Bentley Continental GTC’s load area, while at 174 litres the Maserati has a boot about half as big as the S-Class. That all sounds good, but the capacity of the Mercedes is achieved by taking into account all the small pockets and crevasses inside the awkwardly shaped load space. The bottom line is it can only fit only one large suitcase. The load lip is also quite high and the metal it’s made from is prone to scratching.
With the power of turbocharging it’s easy to make even the heaviest car fast in a straight line, but when it comes to corners the S-Class Cabriolet employs some very clever chassis technology to make it surprisingly agile when needed without losing out on the main focus of the car – comfortable cruising.
The first system is called Active Body Control or ABC. It resists body roll by tilting the car into corners. It feels a bit unnatural at first but once you get used to it it makes a huge difference to comfort, especially for passengers.
The other clever system is so advanced it even has magic in its name – the Magic Body Control utilises a front-mounted camera to scan the road and prepare the suspension for potholes, turns or changes in elevation. The result is in Comfort mode the S-Class Cabriolet has Rolls-Royce levels of waftiness, while in Sport mode it’s more involving and manageable than the Bentley. Oh, and the seat bolsters inflate to keep you in your seat during cornering – it feels a little odd at first but works magnificently.
The S-Class Cabriolet doesn’t bother with diesel engines or feeble six-cylinder petrols – the engine choices are two beefy V8s and a massive V12, all with two turbochargers.
The range starts with the S 500 which packs a 4.7-litre engine producing 455hp. That’s a respectable figure, but the 516 lb ft of torque available as early as 1,800rpm is what gives it impressive overtaking ability. We’ve driven it and it pulls hard from low revs, emitting a deep bellow as it does so. The fact it accelerates so well from low in the rev range means you can happily cruise about with the engine just ticking over, enjoying the S-Class’s relaxed roof-down attitude.
Next up is the first of the two more performance-focused AMG models – the S 63. Its 5.5-litre V8 does a great job of converting petrol into pleasant exhaust noise and with a 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds it’s sure to scare a fair few Porsche and Jaguar owners.
On paper the S 65 range-topper sounds great – 630hp and 737lb ft. However, whereas the S 63 has its pulling power more or less spread throughout the rev-range the S 65 has those numbers for a very short period of time. It’s the quickest in the range to do the 0-62mph dash in 4.1 seconds, but it costs so much more than the S 500 you more or less pay £16,000 for each tenth of a second.
The S 63 and S 65 use a dated seven-speed automatic gearbox, whereas the S 500 gets the new nine-speed unit that to our experience is currently the best in the business.
Making a value-for-money case for a car that costs more than £100,000 is very difficult, but compared to rivals that sometimes have double the price tag the S-Class Cabriolet is quite the bargain. For your money you get one of the most advanced automatic gearboxes, space-age suspension tech, class-leading infotainment system and powerful engines.
As with any premium car there’s a huge amount of optional extras and Mercedes has cleverly grouped the most popular ones in packs. The £2,580 Driving Assistance package is the first we recommend you spec up, because it comes with active cruise control which can drive the car autonomously even in a traffic jam.
The AMG Exterior Carbon Fibre package is perfect if you want your S-Class AMG to stand out, but not too much. The £5,000 pack consists of several exterior details made from the lightweight material. If that pack is a bit of a stretch, the AMG Night package achieves a similar visual result by painting those details in gloss black and it only costs £765.
As Mercedes’ technological tour-de-force model, the S-Class saloon wins comparisons left, right and centre. The drop-top S-Class plays on the same strengths of the saloon, but adds a more exquisite interior and really clever chassis technology. What the stats don’t tell you is the feel-good factor you get behind the wheel of the S-Class Cabriolet. This is a car that makes you feel calm, composed and capable of tackling long distances in complete comfort, all the while having the power to overtake almost anything on the roads.
It really is a car with almost zero drawbacks and a million advantages over lesser convertibles. However, if money was no object the Rolls-Royce Dawn remains the most desirable large cabriolet – if you don’t mind stumping up the equivalent of another S-Class Cabriolet…
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