The S Class is the flagship luxury product from the German manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz. It has been the benchmark for excellence, technology development and safety for decades.
I was lucky enough to spend a week behind the wheel to experience what it’s like to live life with an S-Class Coupe.
The S-Class Coupe is available in four different variants in New Zealand; The S 560 Coupe which retails at $257,600, the S 560 Cabriolet which retails at $276,100, the AMG S 63 Coupe which retails at $303,300 and the AMG S 63 Cabriolet which retails at $330,100.
All S-Class variants are rear-wheel drive and all have the same 4.0-litre V8 Bi-turbo and 9G-Tronic transmission. The 560 Coupe and Cabriolet engine spec produce 345kW of power and 700Nm of torque. The AMG S 63 variants produce 450kW of power and 900Nm of torque.
The range of options available on the S560 is so big that I decided that instead of filling up three-quarters of this review with brochure specs, I will just link you over to the New Zealand S-Class specification brochure instead. Link can be found HERE
The S560 Coupe key features are 20-inch AMG 10-spoke alloy wheels, active multicontour seat package, AMG Line, designo exclusive nappa leather upholstery, driver assistance package, glass panoramic roof, and KEYLESS-GO drive authorisation system.
The AMG S 63 Coupe key features include 20-inch AMG 10-spoke forged wheels, AMG high performance braking system, AMG performance steering wheel, AMG sports exhaust system, and AMG sports suspension based on AIRMATIC.
Both cabriolets are similar to the coupe with the additional features, AIRSCARF Neck-level heating, AIRCAP electronic wind deflector, Multi-layer ‘acoustic’ soft top, heated front armrests & front centre console and heated steering wheel.
That is a pretty big beautiful coupe, such strong lines that are emphasised by the chrome window trims. It doesn’t seem to be a coupe, as it is as big as any other large 4-door sedan. The front grill states luxury, sophistication and money, while the rear feels more like a C-Class than something special like an S-Class. The AMG wheels are perfect, giving it a bit of a sporty feel while not being too mad like a full-on AMG model. Our review car was black, I think silver would have looked a bit dull and white wouldn’t feel classy enough. Classic black was the right choice.
Looking inside, the seats were like no other, they looked like they were a large percentage of the purchase price. They oozed luxury comfort and I couldn’t wait to sit in them.
Sitting inside the S-Class Coupe was more like sitting in a fighter jet than a car. The entire dash curves from one door all the way around to the other, enveloping the driver and passenger. The main focus point was the two 12-inch widescreen LCD screens, both crystal clear and full of colour. The one directly in front of the driver displayed the driver’s standard dials and instrument clusters. This could be changed from classic dials to a more modern central gauge which I prefer. This setting allows you to see additional information on both sides of the central gauge. On the left, you can display different information like range or fuel consumption. On the right, the default was the day and date, which changed to the map when using direction.
The seats are on another level of luxury that I have never really experienced. Just looking at them, you can tell that they will be comfortable – but your body is not really ready for just how comfortable they are. You know that feeling when you sit in an expensive lounge chair in a furniture store and you have that Goldilocks feeling. It’s when you you let a big relaxing breath out like you’re deflating. It feels good, and that’s pretty much what it’s like to sit in the S class each and every time you get in. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what the seats have to offer.
I have never seen seat settings as I did in the S-Class. There are so many options that it’s no longer viable to have the complete range of buttons on the door or side of the seat itself. Once you started adjustment you are shown an adjustment menu in the central display screen. Here you are able to adjust all the different motors in the seat to refine its position to your liking. You also have access to the range of massage settings, different lumbar controls and the Dynamic seat settings. The Dynamic seat settings engage automatically during cornering, which adjusts the side bolsters in real time as you corner. This gives your body more support as the G-forces increase when cornering.
The rear seating setup was a bit disappointing; if you were more than 5.5 feet tall, then you are not going to find you have much room back there. That is unless the driver is the same size. I did not see the point to having two more seats back there, two very nice seats I might add. The rear space was so unlike the front it was like being in another car. It was cramped and felt more like an afterthought then how it felt being in the front two seats.
The steering wheel offered up a typical array of buttons, plus two touch/swipe buttons. This new touch and swipe buttons were used to control the central display screen and the driver additional info screen. I like many things about this S-Class, these buttons were not one of them. They were not ideal to use, as you would on a phone, as your thumb never seemed to be in the right orientation to use it. It felt more clumsy and gimmicky them a scroll wheel or directional pads. I never got the hang of them and found I had to swipe of touch them several times to get to where I wanted too. Nice try Mercedes-Benz, but let’s focus on what can be improved instead of changes for the sake of it.
Most vehicles these days have climate control, many have a dual zone, some even have a quad zone. For an S-Class that’s just not enough to push the boundaries of driver and passenger comfort. This 560 S-Class offers you Energizing Comfort settings, which are more like enveloping environments. For example, if I selected warmth, a multitude of functions engage to comfort me. The seat heaters are switched on, the air-con will switch to heat the cabin, the massaging seats start a hot stone massage session and finally, there will be a selection of relaxing music played during your Energizing Comfort session.
There are several settings; Refresh, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training. Apart from training, each of these has a range of different settings, massages and music to accompany them. I have to admit I found it a bit of a gimmick when I first came across this feature, however as the review carried on, I found myself using them much more than I expected.
The Training setting was split into 3 sections; muscle relaxation, muscle activation and balance. This is where it got a bit different, as the muscle relaxation and muscle activation were a bit more akin to gym work then driving. And the third section balance was targeting your brain and your peace of mind. I know what I just wrote, it was weird when I used it too, having the car tell you to clean your mind and take slow and long breaths to relax your body and mind. It’s as odd as it sounds.
The Drive modes in the 560 S-Class are similar to most Mercedes-Models. The default mode is Comfort and you can also select Sport, Sport+, Individual and the new Curve mode.
Comfort is very comfortable, more so than your average Mercedes-Benz. This is thanks to their Magic Body Control system, which is able to scan the road surface ahead through the stereo cameras mounted in the top of the windscreen. This scan is calculated in real time, and this information is send to the dynamic suspension system. This means that the suspension knows what undulation is on the road ahead, and can adapt to make the driver and passenger experience smoother. It was amazing to watch in action, following vehicles that would hit an uneven surface of the road, shaking the car as it went over it, and then following over the same area in the 560, almost without feeling anything at all. If I had not been watching for how the road affected the car ahead, I would probably not have noticed anything at all. Very impressive system and I suspect it will be something that will trickle down the Mercedes-Benz range soon enough.
While driving out of a large parking structure I had to drive over some speed bumps. I am used to these bumps as I have driven over them many times. However, this time was different. When I approached the car seem to elevate itself, so that it could adjust for the bump, making it have less of an impact on the vehicle at slow speeds. I was not sure if this was a direct result of the Magic Body Control system or another feature that helped to raise and lower the vehicle when travelling over a larger obstacle. I thought this as there was a button on the central console that allowed the driver to manually raise the vehicle when required.
When driving the 560 S-Class you can’t but notice how quiet it is. It’s so quiet that you can barely hear the road noise from the tyres. When you enter and exit the vehicle it becomes apparent why it’s so quiet, as the glass in the doors are double glazed. When driving you only need to lower the window by a inch to test the difference between how much noise it outside, and how quiet it is inside with all the windows closed. Hats off to the engineers who helped to make this car as quiet as it is for the occupants, it would not have been an easy job.
Curve is a new selection that is only currently available with the S-Class. Curve mode changes how the car handles when cornering at any speed. When cornering in any large car at 60km/h a cars weight pushes against the corner making the body roll in the opposite direction. The driver is also affected in the same way by the g-forces that pulls the driver’s body in the opposite direction. Curve mode works to reduce these forces as much as possible, by leaning info the corners like a motorbike would. For example, when I drove into a left hand sweeping corner at 60km/h the left front corner of the car dipped down into it and the right side of the car was elevated to simulate the lean into the corner. I was amazed at how much of a difference this made, not only to the forces on the car but to the g-forces on my body too.
It also made the driving experience very satisfying, as each corner felt like you nailed the apex and sailed through it perfectly, regardless of the line the vehicle took. The overall effect of this feature made the massive luxury coupe feel more like a small sports coupe that was able to change direction on a dime. It’s noticeable from the driver’s position from low speeds, and for the passengers from higher speeds. The mode’s name does not do it any justice at all, and will hopefully be changed to something more fitting in the future.
The power from that 4.0-litre V8 was impressive. During the day to day it was able to waft the car along effortlessly, almost silently due to the level of soundproofing installed. 700Nm is a lot of torque, it never came on like a raging garden faucet; it was more like a high-end kitchen tap. The power flowed efficiently and at the level required with little or no fuss. Even when you wanted power, it was still a bit understated. The world moved past at an accelerated rate, while the calm, serene cabin remained at ease. Sport and Sport+ mode changed the car to a more edgy version of comfort. It was not a garish as some of the AMG models, it livened up the throttle pedal and transmission settings making it feel more exciting. While in sports mode you can select to display in real time the changes that are happening to the car. In the central display screen, you are shown the car in motion, the suspension system and wheel turning angle. All of this changes and displays in real time depending on how you adjust the car, or the ground it travels over. You can also choose to display the performance gauges, which show the kW and Nm the engine is producing on demand. It’s kind of pointless, but it’s fun to see.
Normally I like using the sports modes of most coupes, so much so that I can sometimes leave it in sports mode for most of the review. But the 560 didn’t feel right in sports mode, some of my calm had left the cabin, and I wanted to go back to its more comfortable modes, back to Curve mode I went.
The headlights and tail lights were both LEDs, the rear went one further and were actually OLED petal, that fanned across the taillight. This was pretty cool, even more so when they light up in sequence when you started the car. The front headlights are amazing, the active light system and adaptive highbeam assist PLUS keep the Mercedes system head of the game. They have always had the best adaptive light system, right from the very start. I will never get tired of watching the lights the headlight beams dance around other cars in the dark night sky.
The list of safety systems on board the 560 S-Class almost melt the mind. It features anti-lock braking system, anti-theft protection package, active blind spot assist, active bonnet, active brake assist with cross traffic function, active distance assist DISTRONIC, active lane change assist, active steering assist, adaptive brake with hold function, Hill Start Assist and brake drying function in the wet, acceleration skid control, attention assist drowsiness detection, crosswind assist, electronic stability programme, curve dynamic assist, evasive steering assist, PRE-SAFE brake and PRE-SAFE accident anticipatory protection system with pedestrian recognition. Its great to have all this safety tech, however I was starting to wonder if the driver was going to be of any help at all during an emergency situation.
Is there competition for the S-Class coupe? Bentley or Aston Martin perhaps. Both very high-end luxury brands, but they don’t offer the same cutting-edge technology found in the S Class. This fact alone may leave the S-Class in a league of its own.
High-end Luxury Coupe
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||0-100km/h in seconds||Boot Capacity, litres||Price, Highest to Lowest|
|Bentley Continental GT||6.0L W12 twin-turbo||467kW / 790Nm||23.2||3.7||370||$355,000|
|Aston Martin DB11||5.2L V12 biturbo||447kW / 700Nm||11.4||4.3||270||$340,000|
|Mercedes-Benz 560 S Class Coupe||4.0L V8 biturbo||345kW / 700Nm||8.5||4.6||470||$257,600|
|Maserati Gran Turismo||4.7L V8 Turbo||338kW / 520Nm||11.4||4.3||261||$224,990|
|Lexus LC 500||5.0L V8||351kw / 540Nm||11.6||4.7||197||$215,000|
What do we think?
How I felt once I returned this car was unexpected. This is not your average car by any stretch of the imagination. There are features in it that I didn’t even know cars had or needed, all of which that changed the driving experience dramatically. It felt special, much like treating yourself to a day spa.
Looking forward to getting back into to its relaxing environment that almost cuts you off from the stresses of everyday life. It’s the flagship product from Mercedes-Benz that sets the benchmark for technology and safety advancements around the globe. Comfort is second to none, with every feature combining to create the most stress-free and enjoyable driving experience.
For those who can afford it, the S class is a driving experience like no other, and for those who can’t, you will just have to live vicariously through my brief moment behind the wheel.
It’s hard to really convey what it was like to drive an S Class, much like flying first class, you just have to experience it to understand.
Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 out of 5
2018 Mercedes-Benz 560 S Class Coupe
|Vehicle Type||Large Luxury Coupe|
|Price as Tested||$259,300|
|Engine||4.0-litre Bi-Turbo V8, direct-injection|
|Transmission||9G-TRONIC automatic transmission|
|Spare Wheel||Space saver|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1815|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4656 x 1890 x 1644|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||550|
1600 litres (rear seats down)
|Fuel tank capacity, litres||66|
|Fuel Economy, L/100km||Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.5|
Real World Test – Combined – 10
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Turning circle, metres||11.9|
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 years warranty|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|