MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS CABRI­O­LET

Like driv­ing on a pil­low

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - PETER ROBINSONN

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...

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