What's the used Mercedes 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.
What used Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet sports will I get for my budget?
You’ll have needed way over £100,000 to buy a new one but between £50,000 and £70,000 will get you into the snug and sporty driver’s seat of an S-Class Cabrio. This lower figure will buy a 2016 S500 car with an average mileage for the year and a full service history, bought from an independent or franchised dealer. Between £70,000 and £75,000 should net you a good 2017 or 2018 car, and one of the newer S560 cars, while think of £80,000 for an S63 AMG model, and upwards of £90,000 for a 2019 or 2020 Merc.
How much does it cost to run a Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet sports?
It’s not going to be cheap. The official fuel consumption figure, according to the older, more generous NEDC tests, for the S560 is 27.7mpg, so it’s unlikely you’ll even match that in everyday use. The S65 version drops that right down to 19.9mpg, with corresponding CO2 emissions of 325g/km.
As far as annual car tax goes, those cars registered before the changes of April 2017 came into force will be charged on CO2 emissions output, so expect bills to be high. Those cars registered after that date will be charged at a flat rate, currently £155 a year, but will also attract a supplementary luxury car tax of £335 a year from years two to six as they cost in excess of £40,000 new.
Expect insurance to cost, too, as all S-Class Cabriolets sit in the top group, 50. Likewise servicing is best left to a Mercedes main dealer, and this won’t come cheap, although there are a number of plans to let you pay fixed amounts in advance via direct debit.
Which used Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet sports should I buy?
We’d be quite happy with one of the earlier S500 versions, but the best of the current crop is the S560, so we’d seek out one of those in its only trim option, AMG Line.
Our favourite model comes only in AMG Line trim and brings luxuries such as 19in alloy wheels, air suspension, climate control, keyless entry and start, a panoramic roof, metallic paint, automatic LED headlights, heated seats, wireless phone charging and a Burmester premium surround-sound hi-fi. If you opt for Premium Equipment Line, this adds features such as a 360deg parking camera, massaging front seats, nappa leather and front heated armrests.
Our favourite Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet: S560 AMG Line
What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet sports?
The BMW 6 Series Convertible is a huge and glamorous continent-crosser, with a choice of petrol and diesel units that offer great speed with reasonable refinement and economy. It’s good to drive and luxurious inside, and makes a great used buy.
The Aston Martin DB11 Volante marks a return to form for the British sports car firm. The V8 makes great sense. It’s a sharp handling and a sporty drive. Rear room is not as convincing as the S-Class Cabrio, however, and nor is refinement.