First Drive Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO
First Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
• SEE ALSO: Mercedes Buyers Guide
FLORENCE, Italy - July 10, 2014: I had a particularly exciting week, last week, with a pair of first drives in two brand new Mercedes-Benz Coupes. As I reported in March from the Geneva Motor Show, the S-Class Coupe Concept made waves with its stunning looks. They're appearance alone promised lots of driving fun and that's exactly what the first drives in the rolling hills of Tuscany delivered.
The match was ideal: a beautiful design in a gorgeous landscape, or vice versa if you like. The luxury coupe looks as if it was born in the lush country of Italy’s most famous area. But in reality the new S-Class Coupe has everything that you may expect of German craftsmanship, technology and quality build.
At the Geneva show the new coupe looked great, but out in the open air, that’s where it really counts. Posed in front of the Castello di Casole, the event hotel on top of a hill in the province of Sienna, it looks well in place.
Even though the S-Class Sedan has a dynamic stance, the shorter and lower Coupe looks more sporty. The basic level is 10mm lower, while the Airmatic suspension lowers the car by another 10 mm when driving at higher speed. The wheelbase has been cut by 8.7 inches, the length by 4 inches and the height bij 2.7 inches, making the S Class Coupe look right from the front to the rear.
New for the Coupe are the touch-pad controller for the infotainment, the same as we've seen in the C-Class, the head up display and the optional LED high performance headlamps with 47 Swarovski crystals each.
Furthermore, practically everything is the same as in the S-Class Sedan, including the innovations that we already highlighted last year after the Sedan’s first driving event. You can read my review of the S-Class Sedan by CLICKING HERE.
It speaks for itself that the new coupe also has Magic Body Control (MBC), the suspension that adapts to road conditions observed by a camera. In the meantime, Mercedes has added another feature to the ‘magic’ suspension, called active curve tilting. The new function, a world premiere for a production model, lets the car lean into bends in a way similar to motorcyclists or skiers. The stereo camera behind the windscreen scans the road up to some 50 feet ahead. When it recognizes a bend, the system immediately prepares the suspension to lean into it by minimizing transversal forces, compensating for body motion up to 3 inches more compared to the standard air suspension. Curve Tilt starts working, depending on the situation, between 10 and 28 mpg until 110 - to 118 mph.
During a short test lap with a prototype, I was kept comfortably upright in my seats instead of being pushed to the side, while gliding through the bends of the winding road. It is a real comfort feature and meant for those situations where you feel and drive relaxed, since the car gives less feed back than it does when the system is disengaged. When you switch Curve Tilt off, there is the usual choice between comfort and sport mode of the MBC.
Since curve tilt uses dampers with a high pressure cylinder, it will only (optionally) be available on the rear wheel drive models, which will arrive in January. Would I buy it? To be honest: probably not, as the standard air suspension is already very good.
From arrival at the Pisa airport to the hotel I drove an S 500 4Matic (dubbed S 550 in the US). Its tan Designo interior goes well with the dark green body color. After sliding on the quilted leather driver’s seat, it is easy to find the ideal position behind the steering wheel and there is plenty of room for taller people. In spite of the coupe’s length of 198.4 inches, it does not feel that way.
The dashboard looks less massive than in the Sedan. The lack of the clock in the center between the air vents make it’s design somewhat more spread out, more dynamic, probably because it's wrapped in one-tone leather. The steering wheel in the coupe has an extra third spoke, which also looks more sporty.
The V8 comes to life by pushing the start button and you immediately notice that more intense exhaust sound than that of the Sedan. Inside it is very quiet. Mercedes says that the coupe is the quietest they have ever built. In Sport mode, the V8 rumble gets a bit deeper, depending on engine speed and thanks to two flaps in the rear silencer of the exhaust system.
The 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of maximum torque, more than enough to drive forbidden speeds on the motorway and the country roads. Mercedes says the Coupe is nearly 200 pounds lighter than the larger sedan, a difference you may only notice in a direct comparison. As for the Coupe, it offers a nimble and dynamic character and makes you forget that it weighs 4,600 pounds. There is always so much power available, that passing some slower vehicles just feels as it takes not more time than blinking your eye. And you just feel safe, also – admitted - at forbidden speeds on the motorway and the country roads. The 7-GTronic Plus automatic transmission works extremely well. It shifts smoothly and quick. Paddle shifting offers only a bit more fun, but you may not be as quick and smooth as the technology!
Beginning in 2015, the Coupe will be the first Mercedes-Benz to get the new nine-speed transmission. Technically speaking, I don't feel any need for more gears. Truth is, that Mercedes needs to make the move in order to meet new emission and mileage standards on the European and North American markets. The new, in house developed, nine-speed delivers a 6 per cent drop in the S Coupe’s fuel consumption. And after the new transmission has been rolled out across all models, the fleet’s fuel consumption will drop 6.5 per cent. With respect to saving fuel, the Coupe has a standard start-stop system as from the introduction date.
In all aspects the new S-Class Coupe is a worthy addition to the Mercedes model line. It is also good that the new two door model is bearing the ‘S-Class’ name again. It leaves no doubt that it has the same genes and technology as the sedan and offers first class quality and driving capabilities. In other words, the Coupe is a worthy flagship.
On September 27th the S500 (S550) 4Matic Coupe will arrive in Europe and North-America. In the UK, the Coupe will arrive in October, in Japan by the end of this year, while China gets the new Mercedes Coupe in the first quarter of 2015.
Please stay tuned for more on the S-Class 63 AMG 4Matic Coupe that I drove a day later.
Technical details Mercedes-Benz S 500 4Matic Coupe
Engine V 8
Capacity 5461 cc
Power 335 kW/455 hp @ 5,250-5,500 rpm
Torque 700 Nm/516 lb-ft @ 1,800-3,500 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
L/w/h 198.4/74.7/55.5 inches
Wheelbase 115.9 inches
Kerb weight 4,607 lbs
Tires fr/rr 225/45 R18
Acceleration 0-62 mph 4.6 sec
Top speed 155 mph (130 mph in US, Canad, Japan, Australia)
Fuel cons. city/highw/comb.(est.) n/a (Eu cycle: 9.4-9.9 l/100 km) DELETE: or mpg
CO2-emission 219-232 g/km
Price (msrp) $ 97,400 (RWD as from Jan. 2015 $ 94,400)