2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet: When Too Much Isn’t Enough

NICE, France – The human being isn’t perfect, and probably never will be. Most of us can’t hide our materialistic side, either on a small or a large scale. We’ll camp in front of the Apple Store for get the latest iPhone model because its camera has a better resolution. We’ll buy a pair or fluorescent green and purple Nike sneakers so everyone will notice. And some people will flock to Mercedes-Benz dealerships in order to buy—cash or credit—the latest exclusive and ultra-expensive model.

Their latest model is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, and will be the flavour of the month before the automaker introduces an even more expensive, powerful and luxurious ride. Ok, it won’t be easy to come up with something even more lavish, but we never know what the Germans are up to.

But wait. Doesn’t Mercedes already sell the SL roadster, a beautifully powerful and sumptuous car that’s out of reach for the vast majority of consumers? Yes. Yet sometimes in life, isn’t it fun to have choices?

SL versus S-Class

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL can only accommodate two occupants, while the S-Class Cabriolet offers room for four. That’s an important detail for well-heeled buyers that have kids or miniature dogs to carry around. The SL gets a power-folding hardtop, while the S-Class is equipped with a soft top.

The latter can be raised or lowered in about 20 seconds, even if the car is travelling at a speed of up to 50 km/h. The top consists of three layers of material to provide, according to Mercedes-Benz, the quietest cockpit in its category.

Uh, what category? It’s a little tough to define, as in terms of dimensions, power and price, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet has very few direct rivals. We can nonetheless point a finger at the BMW 6 Series Cabriolet and M6 Cabriolet as well as the Bentley Continental GT Convertible.

Hierarchically, the S-Class Cabriolet will position itself above the SL in the brand’s lineup. By the way, both share the same powertrains, except for the SL 450 and its 362-horsepower, twin-turbo V6 that doesn’t have a droptop S-Class equivalent.

In general, the SL offers sportier drive and character, while the S-Class remains above anything else a grand touring car. Which didn’t prevent it from surprising us on the twisty roads north of the French Riviera.

Very powerful, diabolically powerful or ridiculously powerful

the base version, and we know very well it’s an insult to qualify it as such, is the S 550. It gets a twin-turbo, 4.7-litre V8 that develops 449 hp and 516 lb.-ft. This engine is matched to a new nine-speed automatic transmission, introduced in certain 2016 models and which will be spread across the Mercedes product range in 2017.

It’s a buttery smooth V8, and muscular when we suddenly feel a need for speed, that can be hushed in Comfort mode or roar angrily in Sport or Sport Plus. According to Mercedes-Benz’s stopwatch, the S 550 Cabriolet can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. Frankly, we couldn’t normally ask for more.

But since we can never be satisfied, the automaker obviously created the S 63 4MATIC Cabriolet. The only one of the lineup to include all-wheel drive, this version is equipped with a twin-turbo, 5.5L V8 that belts out 577 hp and 664 lb.-ft. of torque. Unlike the S 550, the S 63 keeps the old seven-speed automatic transmission.

Aboard the S 63, we’re treated to a goosebump-inducing symphony, and this engine has no problem hauling the car’s 4800-lb. weight, allowing it to rocket from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. Again, hard to ask for more, right?

But since we can never, ever be satisfied, Mercedes-AMG is equally introducing the S 65 Cabriolet. This one boasts nothing less than a twin-turbo, 6.0L V12 engine that develops 621 hp and 738 lb.-ft. of torque, also connected to a seven-speed automatic. Despite the extra power, the S 65 isn’t quite as quick as the S 63, with a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 4.1 seconds.

Amazing on the open road

It may be big and heavy, but the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet handles itself just as well on sinuous roads than on the crowded city streets of the French Riviera. Of course, the dense traffic and narrow roads aren’t very friendly to this big cabrio, but it felt nonetheless right at home in this aristocratic jungle.

Obviously, this isn’t a pure sports car, but a comfortable, sumptuous and refined GT. Visually, it’s a near carbon copy of the coupe, save for the top, since 60% of its body components are shared. Like the coupe, the droptop also gets Swarovski crystals integrated into its headlight clusters, as if the car didn’t look expensive enough as it is.

In Canada, the S-Class Cabriolet’s standard feature list will include an air suspension, an AIRSCARF system which blows warm air onto front passengers’ necks, a Burmester surround sound system, a heated and wood-trimmed steering wheel as well as an intelligent climate control system, called THERMOTRONIC, that automatically adjusts cabin temperature when the top is lowered or raised. Front-seat massaging and heated armrests are available as options.

The car also benefits from the AIRCAP system, which consists of a deflector located above the windshield that is said to reduce cockpit turbulence when the roof is lowered. AIRCAP activated or not, we didn’t feel any difference on the highway, and wind noise actually increased when the deflector was raised.

To dress up the cabin, one can choose between 15 types of seat upholsteries and colours in addition to wood, piano black or carbon fibre trim on the door panels and dashboard. The latter features elegant, circular air vents surrounded by stitched leather, but the upper part of the dash isn’t as stylish with its two flat-panel screens banally placed side by side.

If you must ask how much it costs…

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t yet announced pricing for the Canadian market, but no one will be surprised to learn that the S-Class Cabriolet will command a princely sum that only a microscopic portion of the population will be able to afford. It will also be more expensive than the SL, but since the human being is materialistic, some people will pay the price to have the absolute best. Or at least what will make their neighbours jealous.

We’re expecting a $10K premium over the S-Class Coupe. That means the S 550 Cabriolet should start at around $160,000, and the S 63 4MATIC would be priced at approximately $190,000. Both will be on sale in the month of May. The price will be quite steep for the S 65, which will arrive in August, and could reach about $275,000. Hey, no problem.