Mercedes is planning to introduce 10 brand new models by 2015 – and the most radical of the new crop will be a four-door cabriolet version of the new S-Class.
“Some [S-Class] customers would really like a cabriolet,” Thomas Weber, Mercedes’ head of research and development, told us. “We did a concept for the cabriolet, just like we did with the CLS Shooting Brake, and the reaction was excellent.”
The new S-Class, due next year, will spawn five models – the S-Class Coupe (formerly known as the CL-Class), an S-Class estate, a stretched wheelbase Pullman to replace the now defunct Maybach brand, and an S-Class cabriolet.
The latter was previewed by the Ocean Drive concept, which debuted at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show, and the production model will break with convention by keeping the concept’s four-door layout.
Mercedes says it will learn lessons from the Maybach, which has huge 1.5-metre-plus door openings and the latest alloys, to make sure the chassis is stiff enough even without a roof.
As with the concept, the hood is likely to be made from fabric, as a folding hard-top this large would require too much space to store.
It’s not unheard of, however – the Peugeot 407 Heuliez concept, seen at the 2006 Geneva show, featured four doors, four seats and a folding metal hood, although it did not make production.
The S-Class cabriolet, on the other hand, is definitely on the way, and could arrive as soon as 2014.