|Positives: Land yacht with power, truly decadent interior, cutting edge driver aid technology abounds, all the sophistication of a Bentley without the same amount of pretense.
|Negatives: Weird color schemes, headrests are too large, more controls than a battleship, options list equals the price of a Honda Accord, improved infotainment system is still frustrating
|Bottom Line: This is one of Merc's most luxurious cars, even in non AMG trim. It's a rapid, premium lifestyle convertible that's more suited as a boulevardier than it is the twisty backroads, but it's also pretty great to drive hard despite its size and weight. The interior is suited for a king, as long as that king is tech-savvy.
The high rating for the S Cabrio's driving experience is essentially for its luxurious ride combined with a still sporty experience for a droptop boulevardier. The numerous high-tech driving aids are the best in the business.
Ride Quality: Regardless of the situation, the S560 Cabrio is smooth and composed. In Comfort mode, the suspension is cushy, and in Sport and Sport+ modes, things firm up nicely.
Acceleration: This is a land rocket, but acceleration is deceptive. The 9-speed automatic shifts almost imperceptibly, and before you know it, you're at triple digit speeds.
Braking: The brakes bring this heavy beast to a stop very well, and pedal feel is progressive.
Steering: There's not much in the way of feedback through the steering wheel, but there's a good amount of effort, and it tracks on-center even at high speeds.
Handling: The AIRMATIC Active Suspension manages things well in turns, and body roll is minimal. Still, this is more of a straight-line cruiser, not an autocrosser.
The S Cabrio is a rolling feast of technology, but the standouts are the driving aids, which are cutting-edge. The adaptive cruise control works brilliantly at all speeds, and the semi-autonomous system can adjust based on posted speed limits, as well as in turns, at toll booths, and intersections.
Infotainment System: The system looks and responds far better than previous generations, but the menu levels are far too deep. The huge color screen is vivid and attractive, but the operation overall could be simpler.
Controls: High-end controls are centralized on the screen, center stack, and console, including great metal HVAC buttons situated in easy linear fashion, and the COMAND controller in the center console is easy to use and actuates well, just like the steering wheel controls.
Though we prefer the clean and elegant lines of the huge coupe, the Cabrio does a fine job of mimicking the shape of the hardtop. With the top down and in lighter interior trim colors, it's downright elegant. It still turns heads, but it's not in your face the way Bentleys are.
Front: The huge contoured grille flanked by the optionally Swarovsky crystal highlighted headlights draw the eye and add a high level of sophistication.
Rear: The thin taillights look handsome but lack the kind of drama a convertible of this price should have. The big rectangular quad pipes are a nice touch and look great flush with the lower rear fascia.
Profile: From the side and with the top down, the S Cabrio looks long and elegant. We just wish things were a bit more stylized from this angle.
Cabin: We didn't exactly like the white interior with the red dash top, but overall the look is very posh inside with only the finest of materials. The curved dash that wraps around to the door panels is masterful. designo leather trim is distinctively perforated, giving it an added level of style.
The level of comfort in the big convertible is top-notch, as it should be. We don't bemoan the car's limited visibility because it is a convertible, after all. The big surprise is the seamless execution of the soft top, which is great at keepign sound at bay and fitting so well when it's secured to the front window that you almost can't tell it's a convertible from the inside.
Front Seats: There's so much adjustability, bolstering, and padding that pretty much everyone can find a great position. We just wish the bulky headrests were more comfortable when reclining.
Rear Seats: These are beatuiful to look at, but space is tight in terms of leg and headroom. ONly short adults and kids can really sit back here and only for short periods of time.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): With the top up, it's whisper-quiet inside. Even with the top down, there's not much wind intrusion, and the baffle helps mitigate turbulence well.
Visibility: This is a big, long car with a huge hood and a small rear window. Visibility is okay but the cameras are absolutely necessary in tight spaces.
Climate: The climate system is strong and responsive to the controls. Heated and ventilated seats are very good, too.
Though the S-Class in any permutation has yet to be crash tested by the IIHS or NHTSA, the lack of any crash data is mitigated by a high level of safety technology throughout the vehicle.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The standard list is long and impressive. It includes Adaptive Braking Technology, Attention Assist that senses driver inattention and drowsiness and warns the driver with audio and visual cues, Pre-Safe Predictive Occupant Protection System, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, a rearview camera, LED Intelligent Light System, Adaptive High Beam Assist, and Active Brake Assist.
Optional Tech: For the turly low price of $2,250 (shockingly low), you can get the Driver Assistance Package that's loaded with features such as Active Steering Assist, Active Lange Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, and Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function. The list goes on.
Those who go the two-door convertible route, even in a big luxury vehicle, aren't in the business of hauling a lot of gear. Though the cabin is spacious, it's still not a place to store tons of small items, either.
Storage Space: The retractable door at the base of the center stack hides cupholders, and there are two mesh net pockets on the lower sides near your feet. The big center armrest is deep and long, good for stowing bigger gear items out of sight.
Cargo Room: The soft top divider crowds the trunk when the top is down, so there's only 8.8 cubic feet there. Put the top up, and the divider automatically moves out of the way, giving you a few more cubic feet. It's enough for two people's soft luggage for a weekend but not much more.
We didn't expect good fuel economy in a twin turbo V8 that's almost 5,000 lbs. And that's what we got. That being said, the returns aren't disappointing given the nature of this big luxury cruiser.
Observed: 17.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 156 miles
Driving Factors: We drove most of the time in Sport or Sport+ modes to maximize performance. We only drove in Comfort for a few miles to test out the suspension and throttle response.
The sound of the premium Burmeister Surround Sound System is as magnificent as the system's aluminum mesh speaker covers that qualify as automotive art. The sound is rich, loud, clear, and crisp, with the kind of undistorted bass that makes audiophiles weep with joy. We loved this system, and it's standard.