So, it would stand to reason that their introduction must represent something significant, some major advancement or uniquely available feature. After all, Audi reserves its massaging footrest for rear-seat occupants of its forthcoming A8 sedan, and even Lexus only offers its origami-pleated leather and Kiriko cut-glass interior on its new LS sedan.
At first glance, this exclusivity doesn’t seem to exist. The Coupe and Cabriolet share the standard designations found in their forthcoming 2018 sedan counterparts. There are AMG S63 and S65 models in states of tune exactly the same as those on the four-door models, their twin-turbocharged V8 and V12 engines making an enhanced 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, and a staid(!) 621 hp/738 lb-ft, respectively. And there is a “regular” S560 model, which, despite its callback to the 560 nomenclature of the classic W126 S-Class of the ’80s and ’90s, features a familiar 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, now tuned to produce 463 hp and 516 lb-ft.
There is the same intuitive ACTIVE DRIVING ASSIST 4.5 system, a suite of radars, cameras, sensors and black magic that allows the cars to cruise semiautonomously in select circumstances, mainly on the highway or in stop-and-go traffic. There is the same crisp, double-screen 12-inch dash and infotainment setup, sealed in a seamless binnacle under a two-foot piece of glass. There is the same familiar but somewhat frustrating knurled-Oreo-under-a-flip-phone controller to adjust the central screen, and the same finicky touch-sensitive sliders on the steering wheel to control the screen in front of the driver. There is even the same ENERGIZING Comfort system that adjusts the lights, massage, ventilation and atomizing cabin odorizer functions to add to your “wellness” routine, a health claim matched in dubiety only by those from users of gravity boots and those who consume SnackWell’s Devil’s Food Cookies.
There are, of course, some new paint, trim, wheel and upholstery offerings not seen on the sedan. But it is not until you get around to the absolute rear of the car that you’ll notice the major design difference: Standard OLED tail lamps. (Neat!) And it’s not until you open the hood that you’ll note the major engineering difference. Well, you won’t notice it when you open the hood, because like most contemporary cars, you can’t see much beyond a big, plastic engine cover when you do that, and the innovation is computerized and deep inside the vee. It is, of course, another ALL-CAPS improvement, this one bearing a name that may seem more at home on a 1950s Oldsmobile: CAMTRONIC. Basically, it’s a deactivation system that shuts off four of the eight cylinders under light load to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions. You cannot get it on the convertible for some reason, but in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, it is described as making the car “more dynamic.”
With its 26 extra horses and new nine-speed transmission and all-wheel drive, the S63 model sees the only real enhancement in performance stats among the group, with a 0.4-second faster romp to 60 mph, now dispatched in 3.4 seconds. The S65’s output, seven-speed automatic and RWD status remain the same, as does its 4.0-second 0-60 time. Despite 14 hp more, the S560’s time remains about the same, at 4.6 as well.
That increased speed might ordinarily make the S63 our favorite sibling in the family line, and we do adore its adrenalic rush — it is faster from a standstill to a mile-a-minute than every single variant of the brand’s sporting two-seater AMG GT, including the race-bred GT-R. But because we worship at the vile altar of more, and because this car is meant to compete not with Bimmers and Audis but with Bentleys and Astons, we have to give our most revered honor to the 12-cylinder S65 Cabriolet.
The two-door S-Class, like its four-door brother, is not a sports car, meant to rip off stoplight burnouts. It is a stately boulevardier, a cavalier cruiser, meant to dominate via the sheer prodigiousness of output, without ever breaking cover. It is creamy heavy cream. And like that deplorably rich liquid, if you whip it too hard, it has a tendency to separate and turn to clumpy butter and dreary buttermilk, diminishing both its performance and its luxuriousness by splitting them out into their constituent elements. If you whip it just the right amount, it turns into whipped cream. The S65 is the crème-de-la-crème of cream.
The S-Class Coupe and especially the Cabriolet are among our favorite Mercedes-Benz vehicles right now, perhaps even entering into the pantheon of our favorite Mercedes vehicles ever. And, after a couple days of piloting its engine and open-/closed-top variants around the mountains, coasts and superhighways of Southern California, this assessment remains just as true for the updated version, despite the relative lack of differentiation from the sedan.