MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS CABRIOLET
Like driving on a pillow
WHEN Mercedes unveiled the C217 S-class Coupe in 2014 as a pillarless twodoor, we knew a Cabriolet was certain to follow. If anything, it’s even better looking than the Coupe, open or closed, a swooping, indulgent beauty whose styling benefits from not having to package a bulky, folding metal roof.
The Cabriolet shares the Coupe’s footprint, though it’s 6mm taller. And heavier. The S500 sends the scales to 2040kg, 85kg more than the Coupe, 50kg of which comes from the astonishing power-operated roof.
The roof – please don’t call it a ragtop – is an engineering marvel; five layers of fabric that lower interior sound levels to silently match the coupe cruising at 110km/ h. The taut outer skin (available in four colours – black, blue, beige and red) is three fabric layers, each 1.5mm thick, then comes a 20mm-deep polyester padding and finally a new polyester with foil that Mercedes says delivers an “air-tight” fit.
The soft-top opens and closes in 20 seconds at up to 60km/ h and can be opened or closed by the key from outside the car.
To prove its durability, Mercedes ran each colour roof through 20,000 open/close cycles; the average owner is expected to do so maybe 100 times a year.
It works brilliantly. Top up at 110km/ h, the S500 is virtually silent. No noise from the roof, quiet engine, just a rustle of noise from the tyres. Only over 140km/ h does it begin to produce more noise than the Coupe.
Lower the roof, activate the Aircap that’s standard in Australia, and a louvre above the top of the windscreen extends while a wind block rises behind the rear seats. Cruising at 120km/ h with the side glass up, the interior is draught-free and quieter than any convertible I’ve driven.
To make room for the roof, Mercedes moved the twin bucket rear seats 50mm forward and each 16mm closer to the centre of the car, so it’s not quite as commodious as the Coupe.
While the S500 lacks the dramatic exhaust note of the S63, few buyers will complain about performance – 0-100km/ h in 4.6sec is quick. In terms of handling finesse and ride comfort, the S500 is more appropriate to the wafting character of a big and heavy convertible. In the air suspension’s Comfort mode the super-soft ride crushes anyy irregularities while introducing ing some float. Set it to a more sporting mode and it instantly tly becomes a brilliant grand tourer. ourer. Your choice.
Driving the S500 is, in the e words of John Carey, like riding ding with a mattress on top and a pillow underneath. Simply superb.
Model Mercedes- Benz S500 Cabriolet Engine 4663cc V8 ( 90°), dohc, 32v, twin- turbo Max power 335kw @ 5250- 5500rpm Max torque 700Nm @ 1800- 3500rpm Transmission 9- speed automatic Weight 2040kg 0-100km/ h 4.6sec ( claimed) Fuel economy 8.5L/ 100km...