The Mercedes-Benz S-Class cabriolet made its world premiere last night ahead of a scheduled debut in the metal at the Frankfurt motor show in a few weeks. It is, according to Benz, the world’s most comfortable convertible.
It’s the Stuttgart marque’s first open-topped luxury four-seater since 1971, and becomes the sixth member of the growing S-Class family behind the S-Class short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase, the S-Class coupe, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Pullman.
Indeed, what is surely the most sumptuous soft-top on the planet “completes” the Mercedes-Benz S-Class family, the company insists. The S-Class cabrio serves as a cosseting counterpoint to the SL-Class, and is ultimately a spiritual successor to the 170 S, (W187) 220 and the (W188) 300 S of the late 1940s/early 1950s, onto the later W111 (above).
Tellingly, Mercedes-Benz eschews such passé words as ‘ interior’, instead referring to the cabin as an “open-air lounge that exudes a yacht-like character”. You may recall our comparison of the S-Class coupe to a Riva speedboat. By all appearances, this car takes that baton.
“Two years after its launch, the S-Class family is now complete. We have never offered six models in the luxury class before — and never before have we enjoyed such success,” said Daimler board member, and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Thomas Weber.
According to its maker, the five-metre-long S-Class cabriolet is “exceptionally rigid”, though the use of aluminium and magnesium in the luggage compartment bulkhead (to add torsional strength) and rear floor lower the bodyshell weight to the same level as the S-Class coupe. About 60 per cent of the S-Class coupe’s body is carried over.
Befitting its positioning as a land-yacht, the car comes with the latest development of Aircap (a wind deflector system) and Airscarf (neck heating in the headrests), heated armrests and heated seats both front and rear — this, in old school US fashion, is a four-seater convertible, though, like the coupe, the rear row looks tight.
There’s also a fully automatic climate control system that senses when the roof is deployed, operated by 12 sensors and 18 actuators. There are features such as dewpoint sensors to eradicate windows fogging up — cough — and solar radiation detectors.
When the roof folds into the luggage area, an electrically operated retractable cover encloses the roof, compartmentalising the boot. Mercedes says the roof can be operated at up to 60km/h, and it takes about 20 seconds to open or close — something you do via a button, or remotely via the key fob. There’s also a through-loading hatch into the cabin.
The soft top comprises three layers, and this alongside the slippery aero rating (0.29Cd), and additional insulation is designed to keep road noise subdued. The S-Class coupe wears the claim of “world’s quietest car”, so the convertible has a lot to live up to.
Mercedes has developed its rollover protection system, which now uses pyrotechnic initiation of the actuators for the pop-out rollbars. These operate through yaw-rate sensors.
The ‘entry’ S-Class cabriolet is the S500 variant powered by a 4.7-litre V8 with 335kW/700Nm (from 1800rpm), sending torque to the rear wheels via a nine-speed auto. All versions get Airmatic air suspension.
The S63 4Matic version has a 5.5-litre Biturbo V8 with 430kW and a staggering 900Nm of torque, which is sent to all four wheels (the 4Matic system is rear-biased). The claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of the behemoth is just 3.9 seconds.
Update: Mercedes-Benz Australia says the S-Class cabriolet will arrive locally in late 2016.
Click the Photos tab to see more images of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class cabriolet.