2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet Review
The savagery of the exhaust note as it thunders violently off the mountain walls is very much at odds with the gentile confines of the 2016 S63 AMG Cabriolet cabin, but such is the contradiction of Mercedes-Benz’ newest take on the S-Class platform. Such is the contradiction that only the geniuses at AMG execute so well for that matter. The S-Class Cabriolet is very much a Jekyll and Hyde proposition, especially when there is an AMG badge affixed to the sheetmetal.
With the Cote d’Azur as a backdrop and the princely surrounds of Nice, Cannes and Monaco adding some sparkle to our drive programme, there’s few better places to test the mettle of what will be a very exclusive cabriolet when it lands in Australia in September. Even Mercedes-Benz S500 Cabriolet ownership doesn’t come cheap, let alone S63 AMG or S65 AMG versions – the latter set to become the most expensive Mercedes-Benz available in Australia.
Those three models cover the options that will be available in Australia, with the S65 AMG being order only. Despite that, there are six orders already placed for the S63, with four already in the bank for the S65 – it seems there’s no shortage of enthusiasm for expensive Mercedes-Benz metal down under then.
Read our speculative S-Class Cabriolet pricing and specification story.
Back to the intoxicating soundtrack that continues to entertain as we thunder through the mountains north of Nice. The twin turbocharged V8 engine makes such a ridiculously glorious noise, you can’t imagine many instances where you would rather opt for Comfort mode. No, its Sport+ all the way. So much so, I double back at the top of a mountain pass, just so I can trundle to the bottom and do it all over again.
The stupidity of the engine’s soundtrack is glorious, and it’s something you’ll never get sick of. Although the idea of a vehicle as refined as an S-Class savagely downshifting through each gear change on deceleration (seven speeds for the AMG models) is probably a little confronting for the average buyer. Sir will have an AMG S-Class simply because he can afford one thank you very much. At this end of the spectrum, performance might be more important in theory than practice.
Regardless, our drive loops in both S500 and S63 AMG are set to test the dynamic ability of both, notably the braking ability on downhill runs. The speed with which you can build ridiculous velocity means the brakes will be worked, and worked hard. So too the steering, not to mention the suspension underneath a vehicle that is in reality most likely to serve time as a high street cruiser. You can’t blame us for testing its chops though can you? Where the AMG variants opt for seven-speed gearboxes, the S500 gets a nine-speed automatic.
There’s no perceptible flex in the chassis with the top down either, a malaise afflicting many a convertible from the old days. The S Cabriolet’s chassis is rigid, which assists the outright handling but it traverses poor surfaces beautifully too. In fact, the S63 AMG is the best-riding AMG vehicle I’ve ever driven in any segment. The adaptive suspension irons out any road surface in very impressive fashion.
A quick freeway blast in both vehicles illustrates their relentless ability to pile on speed in a straight line too, especially the AMG-tuned masterpiece. Even the S500 will roar up to 200km/h rapidly. The cacophony of sound from the AMG-tuned motor – even with the roof up – distracts you momentarily from how quickly you’ve buried yourself deep into three-figure territory. Drive your S-Class Cabriolet like this in Australia and our draconian laws will see you catching public transport in very short order.
The exterior style of the new S Cabriolet is classy without being diminutive. The LED lighting package assists here, but so does the gentle sculpting of the thick sides, not to mention the roof profile, which is near perfect when fixed in the closed position. The Coupe is beautiful, but the lines of the Cabriolet might be even more desirable. Drop the top, and the S Cabriolet’s profile is even more appealing, low-slung and beautiful. The roof itself is a work of art, as you’d expect for the price I guess, and can be raised and lowered at speeds up to 60km/h.