Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date – 03 May 2017
As a motoring reviewer, I am fortunate enough to explore different automobiles on a weekly basis and be afforded the opportunity to experience some of the finest and most exotic automobiles on modern roads. While some vehicles get the blood pumping due to their sheer performance or outrageous looks, there are few which represent a sheer attention to details and luxurious elegance only comparable to the likes of a luxury ocean going yacht.
Meet the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet. Perhaps the finest example of a vehicle which already forms part of luxury “Superior” class limousines bought by some of the world’s most famous people.
While many of the major automakers build their own unique luxury saloon cars, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains at the pinnacle of this space and is widely regarded as the technological trailblazer which has brought the world the likes of some incredibly important technological and safety systems. Systems like ABS, curtain airbags and some major technological advancements, such as night vision stereoscopic cameras were all born on the S-Class Mercedes-Benz.
People at the top buy S-Class! Presidents of company’s, as well as, entire countries are either driven or drive S-Class. As a result, the level of detail and attention to quality is simply spectacular.
With the cabriolet version, Mercedes-Benz was adamant that the S-Class would be able to rival the likes of the Bentley Continental GTC. Having been fortunate to experience the GTC in person, I am able to report, that the S-Class Cabriolet is easily well accomplished enough to impressive both in terms of presence and sheer attention to detail.
A Bygone Era
Back in the late fifties, Mercedes-Benz offered the 220SE “Ponton” in its cabriolet format. Offering a level of automotive class and luxury which left bystanders standing with their mouths open, this is an era which in many ways has been forgotten due to the ever evolving world which in recent times focuses more on economics than simply showing what is possible when engineers push the envelope.
The S-Class is about luxury. I don’t feel the need to talk about the amount of horses under its bonnet, the amount of kW the engine produces or even the mammoth amount of torque which it offers up. What is important to mention is that the vehicle is available in three different variants.
The S500 Cabriolet, the S63 AMG Cabriolet and S65 AMG Cabriolet. I spent my time driving the S500 Cabriolet with its 4.7-litre twin turbocharged V8 engine. 0-100 km/h is achieved in under five seconds, but that doesn’t matter much either! What matters, is that the power is simply effortless and immense. With all of its prowess, the S500 is driven by the Mercedes-Benz 9G Tronic gearbox which utilises the higher gear ratios as overdrive gears.
The result is a ride which is just as smooth when pulling off the line, as it is when overtaking on the highways at speeds in excess of 100 km/h. Put simply, the power delivery is just as impressive as the ride quality itself. Top speed is electronically governed to 250 km/h as part of a German gentleman’s agreement, however, you can feel the wealth of power is simply endless as I’m sure that it is even more evident in the AMG specced models.
Attention To Quality
With not even a single stitch out of place and some of the softest, most comfortable materials known to man, the interior of the S-Class cabriolet represents a level of comfort, only comparable to the likes of top-notch lounge, or perhaps a comfortable bed. The simply beautiful Nappa leather seats massage you as you drive along, thanks to fourteen air pockets which inflate and deflate in the seat backrest as you drive along. If this is not enough, the menu even offers you the option to select a hot stone inspired massage function to really relax you as you drive along.
The theme of relaxation is continued with the fragrance scent bottle which perfumes the cabin with an array of available fragrances on command. Owing to all of this, when you drive an S-Class they say that you are more relaxed and that your heart beats as much as five times fewer per minute than it does in the likes of say a BMW or Audi. The S-Class, therefore, offers an incredibly comfortable and refreshing drive.
As I mentioned earlier, the S-Class is always at the forefront of the technology market. As a result, when you drive an S-Class, you are immersed in a world of technology which simply boggles the mind. Apart from the wealth of safety systems including radar-guided cruise control, the S-Class offers systems which will not only follow the car up ahead but also bring you to a complete standstill if either another car, person, cyclist or animal crosses the road, even before you have the time to notice or react.
The dashboard is made up of two massive screens. 12.3 inches each in diameter. the displays can be controlled and tailored to your individual requirements and preferences. Media is delivered and controlled by the central navigation touchpad, which allows for gesture-based recognition, as well as voice-guided control. In the true sense of luxury, you can customise each and every characteristic to ensure that your S-Class is setup unique to your own style.
The driver instrumentation display is completely digital and of course. Owing to a series of camera lenses, the vehicle even offers a system known as Mercedes-Benz Night Vision Pro Plus. A stereoscopic lens allows the instrument cluster to become a night vision screen, which weirdly is not at all distracting, and enables you to see far ahead of the usual vision which the naked eye delivers at night. When night falls, the entire cabin is warmly bathed by mood lighting which is available in a choice of colours. Complementing the array of colours is sound which is delivered by the Benz’s Burmeister audio system. The system is fitted as standard on the cabriolet and sound is impossible to fault.
There are way too many toys to even mention. What you see in an S-Class usually only starts appearing on smaller mass market automobiles years into the future.
I could go on writing forever about this vehicle. It offers some very unique and immensely impressive characteristics, all of which I can report are dwarfed by the fact that at its price which starts at just over R2300,000 it is somewhat of a bargain.
Before you think I have lost my mind, I should explain that its nearest competitor, the Bentley Continental GTC cost in excess of R2000,000 more at its base price, and while choice at this level comes down to personal preference rather than price, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet is a simply phenomenal vehicle so many fronts and a glimpse into what is possible when an automaker sets out to impress.