Mercedes S-Class Coupe review
Supreme luxury, comfort, svelte styling and performance mean the S-Class Coupe is one of the best in the business
The entry-level S500 version of the S-Class Coupe is a cut-price alternative to the Bentley Continental GT with even more tech, just as much luxury and strong performance.
If that’s not enough, higher-performance models are available for those who want something a little more exclusive, with extra tyre-smoking appeal.
In fact, the AMG S63 and AMG S65 models offer enough grunt to rival the Continental GT V8 S and GT Speed respectively - but opt for a car with those three famous AMG letters on the boot and you will have to pay handsomely for the privilege.
But all three engines are beautifully refined, smooth and eager to accelerate, and that’s why our pick of the range is the quick, comfortable and super-refined S500 Coupe.
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 sister car, it’s no less opulent.
It replaced the old CL model in 2014 and is based on a shortened version of the full-size S-Class's framework. Mercedes has also launched new soft-top version of the Coupe, which is badged the S-Class Cabriolet.
The S-Class Coupe is available with just three engines – all petrol, unlike the regular S-Class saloon, which also features diesel and hybrid models.
Traditionally the S-Class and its variants always launch with a new piece of groundbreaking technology on-board, and it’s no different here. Magic Body Control and Curve Tilt are camera-based systems that read the road ahead and lean the car into bends by pre-adjusting the standard Active Suspension.
Other ‘firsts’ for the S-Class Coupe include LED lighting inside and out (carried over from the saloon) with Swarovski crystals set into the headlamps.
As with its predecessors, the model is built alongside the saloon at Mercedes-Benz’s Sindelfingen plant in Germany, although the AMG versions have their engines – which are hand-assembled and ‘signed’ by a single AMG operative – trucked-in from Affalterbach near Stuttgart.
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Opening the range is the 4.7-litre S500 V8 AMG Line for around £96k. It’s already pretty lavishly equipped, but you can also upgrade it with the £5k Premium Package to have 20-inch alloy wheels, a Burmester sound system, massage seats and a keyless-go system.
The twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 in the S63 AMG version costs £125k, and the huge 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 in the range-topping S65 AMG costs £183k. The S500 uses Mercedes’s nine-speed automatic gearbox, while the two AMG-powered cars have seven-speed transmissions – and as always with a car like this, the sky’s the limit when it comes to options!
Engines, performance and drive
The S-Class Coupe is lower and shorter than the S-Class on which it's 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 groundbreaking technology never seen before 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, then 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 is not to increase cornering speeds but to enhance comfort, so rather than rolling to the outside of your seat in a bend, you are pushed down into it, like on a roller coaster.
The Curve Tilt Function comes as standard on the AMG models, but is an option on the S500. You activate it 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.
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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.
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 set-up and larger wheels. However, change the suspension setting to 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.
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 between the engines 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, whose 6.0-litre V12 makes an enormous 621bhp, yet doesn't feel much quicker than the S63, despite a price difference of around £57,000.
A look at the figures supports the seat-of-the-pants analysis – 0-62mph times are 4.6 seconds for the S500, 4.2 seconds for the AMG S63 and 4.1 seconds for the AMG S65. All are limited to 155mph, but the Driver’s Package will increase that to 186mph on the two AMG cars – the £2,760 cost includes some race-track training.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
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.
Of course, all these figures are achieved on the theoretical ‘combined’ test cycle that averages out driving styles, so if the performance tempts you into mashing the pedal to the carpet occasionally, you’re going to see that fuel economy drop.
Unlike the S-Class Saloon, the Coupe isn’t available with a diesel engine, with no current plans for one either – but a hybrid borrowing its tech from the S-Class could be on the way.
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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 enormous leap to the S65 AMG however – at £183,000 it’s roughly £57,000 more than the already potent and luxurious S63.
A more important consideration though, could be range. All three Coupes share an 80-litre fuel tank, so you could potentially drive as many as 490 miles in the S500 between fill-ups – but don’t blame us if you don’t achieve it!
Similarly, a light-footed approach in the S65 could stretch range to 417 miles, but if you manage 300 we’ll be impressed...
The S-Class Coupe attracts the top group 50 insurance rating, whichever model you choose.
Ouch… this is where owners really pay for the pleasure of driving a new S-Class coupe. A quick look at some of the industry predictions for depreciation suggest the £96k S500 will be worth less than £35k second-hand over a three-year/30,000-mile cycle.
Think that’s bad? See how you feel when you’re selling on your £125k AMG S63 for £42k, or your £183k AMG S65 for £53k...
Still, that’s not much different to an Aston Martin DB9 or Bentley Continental.
Interior, design and technology
The previous generation CL’s design had a lot in common with the S-Class saloon. But this time round, despite getting the S-Class name, there is a much greater visual differentiation between the Coupe and the limousine on which it's based.
The bodywork, for instance, features sharp creases down the sides, a long bonnet, sloping roof and a neat spoiler integrated into the boot lid. It means the coupe is an undeniably striking machine, though it’s more handsome than beautiful.
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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.
Mercedes 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.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
All three models feature Merc’s COMAND Online system with Media Interface. It includes DAB radio, CD/DVD player and Bluetooth, as well as a 12.3-inch colour display with HDD navigation. You also get voice control and internet access to Facebook and M-B apps. A TV tuner is standard on the S65, but otherwise optional.
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Audio is upgraded in the S63 with a 13-speaker, 590W Burmester system, and in the S65 with a 24-speaker 1,520W system. Either of these can be ordered on the S500 too.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
There’s no doubt the S-Class saloon is one of the most comfortable cars on sale today. The Coupe version doesn’t compromise on that at all, sharing the same Active Ride air suspension and soft, supportive seats.
The driving position and layout of the controls is superb, and there's a range of optional luxury features that include chairs programmed to pamper the occupants with a range of massage techniques. It would be a churlish owner who found cause for complaint.
It’s a big car to place on the road, but it comes with a range of practical features such as a head-up display, internet connectivity, all-round cameras and a raft of driver assistance technologies, all designed to give the driver an easy life.
Unlike the previous CL Coupe, there’s decent space for grown-ups to travel in the back seats too.
Although it’s essentially a sporting model, the S-Class Coupe is still vast – the S500 AMG Line breaking the 5m barrier at 5,027mm nose-to-tail. That’s barely shorter than the regular 5,116mm saloon, although most S-Class saloons are the long wheelbase version at 5,246mm.
For comparison, the Bentley Continental Coupe is 4,806mm while the Aston Martin DB9 is 4,710mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
In the front there's plenty of room, but being a coupe there isn’t anywhere near as much space in the back as the saloon. That said, it’s about as good as it gets in this class, with just about enough headroom for adults.
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Legroom is good in the rear, but even with the long doors, getting in there can be tough for taller people due to the low, swooping roofline. The front seats automatically slide forward to help.
Long distances shouldn’t be too much of a problem for rear passengers, thanks to the air-cushioning ride giving the S-Class Coupe the edge over its rivals.
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Boot space is decent for the class with 400 litres of room, more than enough for some suitcases or a couple of sets of golf clubs – and not too far short of the 470 litres offered in the S-Class saloon.
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 – although that’s one place down on the year before.
Sadly the days of the ‘engineered at any cost’ S-Class are long gone, and as it’s packed with such a wealth of electronics, there’s plenty that could go wrong with any of its variants. But the S-Class’s excellent engineering standards and reputation suggest that not much actually will.
That said, while the S-Class isn’t included amongst the 200 cars ranked in the Driver Power survey, the E-Class and C-Class ranked 67th and 188th for reliability – although both did very much better for build quality.
The S-Class hasn’t been independently crash tested, but the model has been associated with industry-leading safety for donkeys’ years.
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.
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The S500 can 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 the most peace of mind when it comes to safety.
If you want more, there’s always the S-Guard version of the Coupe’s saloon car sister. That one’s pretty much bomb-, bullet- and warfare-proof...
All Mercedes-Benz models come with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. This is par for the course in the luxury sector, but of course you can pay extra to extend the cover – costs vary depending on term and the scope of your policy.
Mercedes-Benz offers a Service Care maintenance plan for all its models. Covering the S-Class Coupe for everything in the schedule for up to four years should cost £41 per month – but check with your dealer.