What's the used Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet sports like?
With infinite logic, the magnificent S-Class four-door luxury saloon begat a two-door coupe version, for those who put style above practicality, and this drop-top cabriolet model for those who like a bit of wind-in-the-hair fun on their drive down to the south of France. It seems an obvious thing to cover all markets with a car that most people acknowledge as one of the finest cars in the world, if not the finest. It’s also a car that lends itself very nicely to these differing bodyshells, able to take a luxury limo formula and shake it up and pour it out into cocktail glasses marked pleasurable coupe and glamourous cabrio without offending taste, and even adding an olive and a twist of lime into the mix.
All this goodness is available with three engine options from new: an entry-level 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 in the S560, which replaced the earlier 4.7-litre V8 in the S500, a bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8 in the raucous S63 AMG and a staggering 6.0-litre turbocharged V12 in the range-topping S65 AMG. The AMG models are standalone trims, while the S560 is available in just one: AMG Line. This trim brings luxuries such as 19in alloy wheels, air suspension, climate control, automatic LED headlights and auto wipers, heated and electrically adjustable front seats and heated rear seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio, although the full list runs far longer.
On the road, the Merc’s engines are all a rare delight, as it plays the hushed cruiser brilliantly, but will wake up with a prod of the accelerator and change character immediately. Mercedes' nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is an intelligent and smooth-changing unit, and, with Sport and Sport+ driving modes available, the S560 can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 4.9sec. Huge mid-range performance is the chief virtue of the AMG cars, with a wave of effortless and endless power and, in the V12 S65, a silky smooth delivery.
It corners brilliantly, too, considering its size and weight, with plenty of grip and safe handling that borders on fun. There’s very little body lean in corners, even when pressing on, thanks to advanced tech that leans you into a corner as you go round it, to counteract the usual g-forces you might feel. The ride is equally meritorious, being smooth over motorways and urban ruts and only sharp potholes and irregularities occasionally catching it out. With a muted engine note at all times, the S-Class Cabriolet wafts, despite it losing some of the rigidity that comes with a fixed roof, where other cars simply go galumphing down the road in a blaze of haphazard spurts.
Its interior is no less impressive; in fact, it borders on fab-u-lous, darling. The dashboard and surrounding areas are appealing styled, with soft-touch materials, leather and chrome, and the driving position is multi-adjustable, electronically, so it’s easy to find the perfect set-up. Mercedes' Comand Online infotainment system with a 12.3in colour screen remains visually impressive and relatively logical, if not quite as simple to navigate as BMW's iDrive, due to the number of menus and sub-menus, which can become a bit tiresome to cycle through. It's also less responsive than the BMW system, occasionally leaving you pressing twice for a function because you thought it hadn't registered.
Space is incredibly generous up front, though the two rear passengers will have to compromise with whoever is sitting in the seat in front of them. Boot space with the roof up and divider moved out of the way is good, but divider and roof down, that volume is considerably reduced. It's good that the divider moves automatically so you don't need to get out and do it yourself, but there's really only room for a couple of large (but soft) weekend bags if you want to savour the full open-air travelling experience.
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