Mercedes-Benz S500 Coupe 4Matic first drive review
What is it?
Old name. New tricks. That is Mercedes-Benz’s brilliant new S500 Coupé, which resurrects one of the German car maker’s most revered model nomenclatures and pioneers an advanced new tilting chassis that allows it to corner in similar fashion to a hard-charging motorcycle.
Set for UK sale from September at a price expected to rise to close to £95,000, the S500 Coupé enters the Mercedes-Benz line-up as a replacement for the CL500, which finally bows out after a lengthy eight years of production.
What is it like?
Stunningly styled with the sort of attention to design detail you expect on a car that forms the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz’s line-up, the big two-door boasts a much more distinctive look than its predecessor. It now appears much less like a two-door version of the S-class saloon and more of an individual model in its own right.
These observations continue through to the new S500 Coupé’s interior, which while sharing certainly elements with its highly-rated four-door sibling has been given its own uniquely styled dashboard facia and associated trims.
It is a superb driving environment, boasting tremendous levels of comfort, first rate quality and some useful options, including a new head-up display unit. Not that you’d expect anything less from at car at this end of the market. The rear seats gain added accommodation, too, but the boot drops 90 litres in capacity owing to the sloping rear end.
It is hard to fault the S500 Coupé’s twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 engine, which runs a slightly higher state of tune than that unit used in the old CL500, endowing it with an added 19bhp at 448bhp.
It might lack the sheer low-end explosiveness of the S63 AMG Coupé’s larger 5.5-litre V8 powerplant, but with a solid 516lb ft of torque on tap at just 1800rpm it delivers crisp responses, proves creamy smooth throughout the rev range and pulls hard to the redline.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox, which uses Mercedes-Benz’s column mounted shift lever and steering wheel mounted shift paddles to free up space on the centre console for a sizeable oddment bin, shifts decisively and smoothly through the ratios, providing the big coupé with both serene low-speed qualities and serious pace on a loaded throttle.
When the stylish new S500 Coupé goes on sale here it will lack one vital option being offered to buyers in other European markets, though, namely 4Matic four-wheel drive. Like the latest S500 saloon with which it shares its mechanical package, the model developed for right-hand drive markets retains rear-wheel drive only.
Mercedes-Benz claims 0-62mph in 4.6sec in four-wheel drive, which makes the S500 Coupé 0.3sec faster up the strip than the CL500 4Matic. Official performance figures for the rear-wheel drive model have not yet been revealed.
More than its sheer pace, it is the dynamic properties that really set Mercedes-Benz latest upmarket coupe apart from its predecessor.
The latest in electro-mechanical steering, a newly developed chassis with wider tracks and an advanced air suspension that uses both cameras and sensors to scan the road and automatically alter the spring and damping properites provide the S500 Coupé with real poise and engaging agility. Again, it is not quite in the same league as the S63 AMG, but Mercedes-Benz has clearly succeeded in creating a car with both real dynamism and fantastic compliance.
Ride quality, aided by one of the most sophisticated chassis fitted to a production road car, is quite superb. Even more impressive, though, is the suppression of wind noise, making it whisper quiet even at high speeds.
In a move that proves Mercedes-Benz has lost none of its spirit for innovation, the S500 Coupé also comes with an active curve tilt function. It leans the big Mercedes-Benz into corners in a manner similar to a motorcyclist at speeds between 9mph and 112mph. As a result, the lateral acceleration acting on the driver and passengers is reduced. As well as enhancing comfort, it also provides the basis for faster cornering speeds, and with it added agility.
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