First off, let’s be crystal clear: there’s nothing ‘entry level’ about the S560's V8 engine. It is a brilliantly refined motor, emitting little more than a muffled V8 warble under a light throttle that rouses to a more guttural – but still wholly dignified – woofle when you give the accelerator a healthy prod.
Mercedes' nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is intelligent enough to rely on the S560's massive 516lb ft of pulling power rather than have to change down continually when accelerating, although switching to sportier modes encourages it to use more revs in lower gears. In Sport and Sport+, accelerator response is improved, too, and the S560 will ultimately rack up a 0-62mph time of just 4.6sec.
Sport mode also adds weight to the steering and stiffens the S560's standard air suspension, and just as its 0-62mph time is scarcely believable, it’s certainly eye-opening how ably the big S-Class will corner. Don't get us wrong, you can feel it is a two-tonne machine and its reactions are never as sporty as an Aston Martin DB11’s, but the way the S560 maintains a relatively level body in the turns and feels eager to change direction makes it more fun to drive than you might think.
There's even an optional Curve mode, which actively counters body roll and tilts the car towards the apex of bends to counter the unruly G-forces acting on you and your passengers. You can actually see it working in our main picture on the previous page, but the experience is very similar to those high-speed trains that tilt in to bends to stop your tea from sloshing everywhere.
Yet it feels its best at a steady and stately cruise. Switch to Comfort mode and the suspension almost breathes a relaxed sigh as it softens, the steering slackening slightly and the exhausts becoming a little more muted in the process. And it wills you to breathe more calmly, too, as you're soothed from A to wherever B happens to be.
Large speed bumps are soaked up easily and without too much pitch and dive from the body, while typically scruffy British road surfaces glide beneath you with only a subtle, easily ignored shiver. It's only over sharp-edged potholes, particularly when cornering, that you feel a heavy thunk and shudder, as well as some body flex. Otherwise, the S560 is cosseting and indulgent, with very little wind and road noise to upset it stress-relieving modus operandi.
Things are a little more rabid in the bonkers-fast S63, but only when you want. This car has a serious amount of power on offer – 604bhp, in fact – and squeezing the accelerator in Sport+ mode delivers all that oomph with an incredibly orchestral soundtrack that borders full-on NASCAR. The brutal acceleration can be tempered when required, and in Comfort mode the S63 remains brisk but with a more chilled bent. It is to the S63’s great credit that it can offer these two diametrically opposed extremes so apparently effortlessly.
It’s a similar story with the ride. It gets a different, more aggressive suspension set-up from AMG, but it’s still staggeringly comfortable, with the different driving modes helping the car to be both a comfortable mile-cruncher and a sharper-focused play, all at the press of a button on the centre console. It's still more about creating theatre than matching the more genuinely capable sporting abilities of the DB11, but for those looking for a comfort-biased grand tourer, any S-Class Coupé is about as good as it gets.
We have yet to drive the S65, but expect even bigger thrills, sound and performance. For most buyers, though, the S560 is more than good enough and looks almost like good value next to the pricier AMG models or its rivals, including the DB11 and Bentley Continental GT.