New Mercedes S 500 Cabriolet 2016 review

Our verdict on the £110k 'entry-level' Mercedes S-Class Cabrio as it hits Britain

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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There's no denying that the S-Class Cabriolet is a luxurious, fast and refined choice. However, it’s a car that doesn’t come cheap, and the Mercedes badge on the nose may not be tempting enough to sway Bentley Continental GTC buyers. Still, the plush interior delivers exactly the same kind of cosseting comfort as the S-Class limo, and that’s exactly what this sort of car is all about.

The Mercedes S-Class has long set the standard for luxury limousines, and now the range has been expanded to include two-door Coupé and Cabriolet versions. The latter has just arrived in the UK, and we’ve sampled the entry-level S 500 AMG Line model.

Calling it the entry-level car is rather misleading, though, because at £110,120 it’s not cheap, and it comes with plenty of luxury kit as standard. Air-suspension, adaptive LED headlights, nappa leather and wood trim inserts are all included, while upgrading to the £4,995 Premium and £6,235 Exclusive packages (as fitted to our car) adds luxuries such as climate and massage seats, a heated steering wheel and armrests, 20-inch wheels and a 360-degree camera system.

Head-turning looks also come as standard. The S-Class Cabriolet is essentially the Coupé with the roof chopped off, but it looks neatly proportioned, even if it is on the large side. You can specify different roof colours, while the hood can be opened at speeds of up to 37mph via a switch located under the central armrest. Dropping the top is a fully automated process that takes 18 seconds, and once stowed it leaves a clean look.

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An E-Class-style rising windscreen header rail and rear wind deflector help reduce buffeting, but while they spoil the car’s clean lines, they’re essential if you’re going to be driving with the roof down at over 40-50mph. Power comes from a 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8, and with a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds the S 500 is no slouch.

The engine has a pleasing rumble, but the Mercedes is at its best when cruising. Its air-suspension soaks up bumps well in Comfort mode, although you can feel the car shudder over big imperfections. Switch to Sport, and the adaptive suspension counters any roll well, even if the lack of a roof still delivers some chassis flex that the suspension can’t compensate for.

Stay within its limits, and the S 500 is a refined and luxurious cruiser that’s quiet and accomplished whether the roof is up or down. There’s not much room in the back seats considering the car’s size, but there’s no faulting the cabin luxury or the sense of occasion the S 500 brings.

Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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