Mercedes S-Class Coupe review
The Mercedes S-Class Coupe is one of the most comfortable and elegant coupes around
Mercedes has a long history of building supremely comfortable large elegant coupes, and traditionally it launches them with some form groundbreaking technology - and it's the same story with the new S-Class Coupe.
It's the replacement for the CL and, as the name suggests, is based on a shortened version of the chassis which underpins the brilliant S-Class saloon.
The coupe is available with three engines: a 4.7-litre V8 in the S500, a biturbo 5.5-litre V8 in the S63 AMG and a 6.0-litre biturbo V12 in the bonkers S65 AMG. In all honesty, the S500 provides all the performance you could want, with 0-62mph in less than five seconds, but there's plenty of tyre smoking appeal in the AMG models.
Mercedes has introduced two new features on the S-Class coupe, never before seen on a production car. The first is the use of Swarovski crystals in the daytime running lights and indicator repeaters to create a clearer beam. The second is system which leans the cars into bends like a motorcycle. It's designed for comfort more than it is handling and it can be switched off if the driver chooses to.
The S-Class Coupe is designed to offer the exclusivity and luxury to match a Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9, while offering an even more cosseting ride and more technology, all for a comparatively lower price.
Our choice: Mercedes S500 Coupe
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, is all-new with 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 stunning looking 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 and they are separated by a central console which runs all the way from the front and blends into the new dash design which, once again, is unique to the Coupe.
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 intuitive COMAND rotary controller.
The S-Class Coupe is lower and shorter than the S-Class on which it is based and as a result it is 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.
Called Curve Tilt Function, it's a development of the Magic Body Control which debuted on the Saloon that uses cameras to scan the road ahead for undulations and primes the suspension to neutralise any bobbing effects and flatten the ride out.
The upgraded system can now, however, 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 standard 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.
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 hardly notice it on the road. That's especially true of the S65 AMG model, which genuinely doesn't feel much quicker than the S63, despite a price difference of around £50,000.
The S500's 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission is a smoother shifter than the quicker SPEEDSHIFT MCT auto in the AMG too. And this suits the nature of the car better. Because while the S-Coupe steers and handles very well for something weighing two tonnes, and the all-wheel-drive system (which won't be available in the UK), provides impressive grip, 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.
Mercedes has also announced that it will introduce a nine-speed automatic gearbox to the coupé in 2015, which should help improve fuel efficiency and acceleration even further.
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 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.
Mercedes has forged a strong reputation for building durable cars, and this is backed by an impressive top 10 finish in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey.
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 which 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.
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 head and leg room for adults.
Getting into the rear isn’t the easiest, even though the front seats automatically slide forward, 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 space, which is more tan enough for some suitcases or a couple of sets of golf clubs.
The S-Class Coupe is only currently available with two bi-turbo V8 petrol engines so it’s not going to be cheap to run. The S500 returns 30mpg and emits 219g/km, while the S63 AMG does 28mpg and 237g/km. There are no plans for a diesel but a hybrid 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 will start from around £100,000 new, while the AMG is likely to command a £25,000 premium.