Mercedes S-Class Coupe review
Supreme luxury, lots of comfort, svelte styling and strong performance mean the S-Class Coupe is one of the best in the business
When it comes to making large and luxurious cars, Mercedes-Benz has plenty of experience – and although the S-Class Coupe might have two fewer doors than its saloon sibling, it’s no less comfortable.
Traditionally the S-Class and its variants like this S-Class Coupe always launched with a new piece of groundbreaking technology onboard, and it’s no different here. The S-Class Coupe replaced the old CL model, and is based on a shortened version of the full-size S-Class’ chassis.
It’s available with just three engines – all petrol, unlike the regular S-Class saloon, which features diesel and hybrid models, too.
Opening the range is the 4.7-litre S500 V8, with a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 in the S63 AMG version and a gargantuan 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 in the bonkers range topping S65 AMG.
With enough performance on offer from the S500, the AMG models are for those who want something a little more exclusive with extra tyre smoking appeal, but all three engines are beautifully refined, smooth and torquey.
The S-Class Coupe isn’t just about performance, though. With features such as Swarovski crystals set into the headlights and an active curve tilt function that leans the car into bends like when cornering on a motorcycle or a high-speed express train, there’s lots of clever tech, as you’d imagine. The latter is actually for comfort though, to stop the body rolling through bends, so the driver can turn it off if they want to.
Occupying the same sector as the Bentley Continental GT, go for the entry-level S500 and the S-Class Coupe is a cut-price alternative with even more tech, just as much luxury and strong performance.
If that’s not enough, the S63 and S65 AMG models offer enough grunt to rival the Continental GT V8 S and GT Speed respectively, but opt for a car with those three famous letters on its boot and you will have to pay for the privilege – that’s why our pick of the range is the quick, comfortable and refined S500 Coupe.
Engines, performance and drive
The S-Class Coupe is lower and shorter than the S-Class on which it is based and as a result it’s sharper to drive. Fortunately it retains the incredible comfort of the saloon and takes it to another level with some ground-breaking technology never before seen on a production car.
We’ve already mentioned the Curve Tilt Function, and it's a development of the Magic Body Control that debuted on the saloon. It uses cameras to scan the road ahead for undulations and primes the suspension to neutralise any bobbing effects and smooth the ride out.
The upgraded system can now see bends too, and it loads the suspension so as to actually lean the car into the corner just like a motorcycle does. The idea behind this is not to increase cornering speeds but to enhance comfort by minimising lateral acceleration so, that in a bend, rather than rolling to the outside of your seat you are pushed down into it, a bit like on a roller coaster.
The Curve Tilt Function comes as standard on the AMG models but is an option on the S500 and is activated by pushing the air suspension button twice.
The sensation is a bit odd at first, but after a while you start to appreciate it. And combined with the Magic Body Control, it gives the sensation you are flying centimetres above the road. Really, though, this technology is merely the icing on the cake, because even with the standard fit air suspension the ride is so good you feel as though you are floating, funnily enough, on a cushion of air.
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It's a similar story with the engines. You can get the S-Coupe with either a 4.7-litre bi-turbo V8 with 449bhp in the S500 or a 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 with 577bhp in the S63 AMG. On paper the difference may seem vast, but you don’t notice it quite as much when cruising on the road. That's especially true of the 621bhp S65 AMG model, which genuinely doesn't feel much quicker than the S63, despite a price difference of around £57,000.
The S500's smooth nine-speed auto gearbox suits the nature of the car more so than the seven-speed unit in the AMG models, because while the S-Coupe steers and handles very well for something weighing two tonnes, there is something about the Mercedes' tranquil nature that doesn't egg you on to drive it fast like an Aston Martin DB9 or Bentley Continental GT does.
Maybe it's the serenity of the cabin - apparently it's the quietest of any production car and we have no reason to doubt that. Even the engines are generally hushed, though if you press the sport button a valve opens in the exhaust to make them rumble like a V8 or a V12 should. But then, even though the S-Class Coupe is a sharper drive than the saloon, it's still not really supposed to be a sports car. It's designed as a seriously rapid stylish and luxurious gadget laden cruiser and the most comfortable coupe in its class. And that's exactly what it is.
Keep it in the Comfort setting and the AMG models retain the majority of the S500’s ride comfort, despite the sportier setup and larger wheels. However, slot the suspension into sport and the big alloys and low-profile tyres do thump a touch over motorway expansion joints. Another reason why we’d stick with the cheaper, more efficient S500.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The S-Class Coupe isn’t available with a diesel engine unlike the S-Class, so it’s not going to be cheap to run. The S500 returns 33.2mpg and emits 197g/km, while the S63 AMG does 28mpg and 237g/km. Go for the S65 AMG and this drops further, to an eye-watering 23.7mpg and 279g/km CO2. As yet there are no plans for a diesel but a hybrid borrowing its tech from the S-Class could be on the way.
However, anyone who can afford the S-Class Coupe in the first place probably isn’t too concerned about fuel bills. The entry model starts from just over £96,000, while the 63 AMG commands a £29,000 premium. This is nothing compared to the cavernous leap to the S65 AMG however – at £183,000 it’s roughly £57,000 more than the already potent and luxurious S63.
Interior, design and technology
Despite getting the S-Class name, unlike with its predecessor the CL, this time round there is a much greater visual differentiation between it and the limousine on which it is based.
The bodywork, for instance, features sharp creases down the sides, a long bonnet, sloping roof and a neat spoiler integrated into the bootlid plus, of course, two, rather than four, doors. The coupe is a really striking machine, though it’s more handsome than beautiful.
Also standard is a panoramic sunroof, which you can upgrade with Magic Sky Control that allows you to darken the glass at the touch of a button. There are two individual seats in the back that are separated by a central console that runs all the way from the front and blends into the new dash design which, once again, is unique to the Coupe.
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Mercedes really has pulled out all the stops to give the car a lavish and luxurious interior, ensuring that every surface you touch oozes quality. Thing is it still doesn't feel quite as unique to sit in as a Bentley Continental GT, but the technology on board makes that of its British rival seem as antiquated as building cars by hand.
You get all the same goodies as on the saloon. That means a touch sensitive control for the infotainment system, two huge display screens and enough gadgets to fill the Apple Store. Other highlights include the metal finish eyeball vents for the air-conditioning, the precise action of the switchgear and the rotary controller for the infotainment system.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
In the front there is plenty of room, but being a coupe there isn’t anything like the space in the back as with the saloon. That said it’s about as good as it gets in this class as there is just about enough headroom for adults. Legroom is good, but even with the long doors, getting into the rear can be a touch job for taller people due to the low, swooping roofline.
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The front seats automatically slide forward to help, but long distances shouldn’t be too much of a problem, thanks to the air-cushioning ride giving the S-Class Coupe the edge over its rivals for rear passengers.
Boot space is decent in this class too with 400 litres of room, which is more than enough for some suitcases or a couple of sets of golf clubs.
Reliability and Safety
Mercedes has forged a strong reputation for building durable cars, and this is backed by a strong 11th place finish in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey.
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As you’d expect, the S500 comes with plenty of standard safety kit, including eight airbags, a traffic sign recognition camera, a driver drowsiness monitor and a stability control system that incorporates Curve Dynamic Assist and Crosswind Assist. It can also be fitted with the Driving Assistance Package, which adds blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, plus a night-vision camera. Put simply, there’s lots of advanced tech on offer to give even more peace of mind when it comes to safety.