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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.3
The S Class Coupe has had an update, with the S560 and S63 here to terrify other road users with technology and pace. Peter Anderson has driven them both for the first time.

Ever since the middle of the 1990s, I've been captivated by the Mercedes-Benz S Class. It used to be known as Sonderklasse - special class - and teenage me certainly thought it was. The one that caught my attention was the W140. A huge, two-tonne beast when that sort of mass was rare, it was loaded with amazingness and owned the road.

Part of its unique appeal was that that it was properly ugly. When it hove into view it was like a battleship entering Sydney Harbour. And it used almost as much fuel, with the V12 on board.

Over the years, genuine style has invaded the S-Class and today I found myself, for the first time, in an unusually pretty pair of S Classes - the S560 and S63 Coupes. And, astonishingly, it's the first time I've ever driven an S-Class. So with all that baggage I've built up over the years, they had a lot to live up to.

Mercedes-Benz S560 2018: (base)
Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$219,800

Is there anything interesting about its design?  7/10

The S Class Coupe is obviously related to the sedan but manages a svelte appearance. Slimmer hipped and with a more Coke-bottle shape, the Coupe - if you squint a bit - has a bit of the classic old pagoda about it. Obviously you can't do pillars that slim anymore, but the glass roof takes away some of the visual weight inside and out. 

The cabriolet's roof is nicely integrated and looks good when it's  up, which isn't always the case.

  • The S Class Coupe is obviously related to the sedan but manages a svelte appearance. (S560 model shown) The S Class Coupe is obviously related to the sedan but manages a svelte appearance. (S560 model shown)
  • The Coupe - if you squint a bit - has a bit of the classic old pagoda about it. (S560 model shown) The Coupe - if you squint a bit - has a bit of the classic old pagoda about it. (S560 model shown)

They all look long, though. It's obvious to see why the cars all run on 20-inch wheels - anything smaller would look hilarious.

The cabin is a fairly sensible re-imagining of the E-Class. The big twin-screen layout of the dash and multimedia system seems a bit more at home here. The chintzy Burmester speakers in the doors let down an otherwise classy cabin, which steers clear of otiose vulgarity in looks and materials.

How practical is the space inside?  6/10

Well look, if you end up in the back of the S Coupe, it's not a riot of space. Obviously it has back seats (the SL doesn't even squeeze a jump seat into its considerable length) but they're for occasional, if luxurious, use.

The boot is a reasonably decent 400 litres, obviously the cabriolet loses a few litres with the roof folded. Front and rear passengers will both enjoy a pair of cupholders and the whopping long doors will each hold a bottle.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  7/10

One thing hasn't changed in nearly 20 years - the S isn't cheap. Available in coupe and cabriolet, the S560 starts at $314,900 for the former and $336,900 for the latter. Step up to the S63 pair and you'll pay from $370,500 for the coupe and $399,900 for the cab. If you're super keen for something spectacular, the twin-turbo V12-powered S65 is available for between $508,900 and $520,500, and features Swarovski crystals in the headlights, for some reason.

As you can imagine, there's quite a bit to cover, so for both cars I'll stick to the edited highlights. The S560s roll on 20-inch alloys, has a 590-watt 13 speaker sound system, digital TV, auto parking, active cruise control, panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather, active seats and power-closing doors.

Inside, the S560 has a 590-watt 13 speaker sound system, digital TV, and Nappa leather. (S560 model shown) Inside, the S560 has a 590-watt 13 speaker sound system, digital TV, and Nappa leather. (S560 model shown)

It also comes standard with a heating pack that not only heats the seats but the steering wheel and centre console. In the cabriolet you also get the 'Airscarf' neck heater.

Both cars also feature's Mercedes' Magic Body Control with curve function. More of that wacky feature later.

The S63 AMG is a step up in power, price and spec. One notable change from the S560 is the loss of 'Magic Body Control', which is replaced with mere air suspension. The 20-inch alloys are 10-spoke forged units, the brakes higher performance composites with red calipers, while an AMG sports exhaust brings the noise.

The S63's 20-inch alloys are 10-spoke forged units. (S63 model shown) The S63's 20-inch alloys are 10-spoke forged units. (S63 model shown)

Naturally, both are swathed in high-quality leather and feature dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled electric seats that adjust in every direction, deep carpets, keyless entry and start, fully digital dashboards and just about every gadget to which you can point your imagination.

Entertainment and sat nav are via Mercedes' 'Comand' system, which is displayed on a massive 12.3-inch slab of glass at the top of the dashboard. The 13-speaker Burmester-branded system is predictably impressive and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you only have to use the basic software for the radio or various car controls.

On top of the dashboard is Mercedes' 'Comand' system, displayed on a massive 12.3-inch slab of glass. (S63 model shown) On top of the dashboard is Mercedes' 'Comand' system, displayed on a massive 12.3-inch slab of glass. (S63 model shown)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  8/10

All four coupes and cabriolets ship with Daimler's formidable 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. The S560 scores 345kW/700Nm to drive the rear wheels through Benz's own nine-speed automatic. With all of that available, the S560 will crack the ton in 4.6 seconds and make a wonderful racket on the way.

The twin-turbo V8 produces 450kW/900Nm in S63 trim. (S63 model shown) The twin-turbo V8 produces 450kW/900Nm in S63 trim. (S63 model shown)

Moving on to the S63, the same engine delivers a massive 450kW/900Nm. The run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in just 3.5 seconds and if I thought the S560 made a good noise, the S63 with its standard sports exhaust makes a better one. Again, Mercedes' nine-speeder is along for the ride.

How much fuel does it consume?  7/10

The lower-powered 560 drinks 98RON at the rate of 8.5L/100km for the coupe and 9.9L/100km for the heavier cabriolet.

The S63 ups the ante with 9.9L/100km for the coupe and an identical 9.9L/100km for the cab.

Our launch program contained some...er...spirited driving, which would explain the mid to high-teens fuel figures.

What's it like to drive?  8/10

Let's start with the S560. That smooth V8 rumble is all you'll ever hear if you just slot into drive and go for a leisurely spin. The nine-speed automatic continues to be a revelation to me - in the GLC63 it's good and here, once again, it's excellent, finding the right gear for the occasion and riding the fat torque curve. Other nine-speed autos are not very good at all.

The test route for the S560 played to the strengths of the car. It had some lovely winding roads, which brought the trick suspension into focus - the Magic Body Control with curve function is hilarious. While the active suspension works hard at all times to ensure the ride is smooth and drama free, the Curve mode (no, really) actually leans the car into corners.

That smooth V8 rumble is all you'll ever hear if you just slot into drive and go for a leisurely spin. (S560 model shown) That smooth V8 rumble is all you'll ever hear if you just slot into drive and go for a leisurely spin. (S560 model shown)

Those of you who remember the video game Wipeout 2097 will be big fans of Curve mode. As you approach a corner, you turn the wheel and then the car leans into the bend. This isn't active damping reading the road, it's the outside suspension lifting the car and the inside lowering it, so the car feels like it's gliding, like a hovercar. It's wild but oddly calming. Mercedes reckons it's great for those who get car sick. As I didn't have my wife on hand to test this theory - she chucks at the first sign of a corner - I couldn't verify this claim. That will have to wait.

The S63 AMG is a completely different proposition. The air suspension is more than up to the job of helping smother the effects of the car's considerable weight, meaning that no matter what you're up to, the car feels reasonably light on its feet. It never feels small, though, commanding the respect of the driver and plenty of space from other road users.

In the S63, the air suspension is more than up to the job of helping smother the effects of the car's considerable weight. (S63 model shown) In the S63, the air suspension is more than up to the job of helping smother the effects of the car's considerable weight. (S63 model shown)

And boy, do you need some space if you kick the S63 into Sport mode. In true AMG style, the electronic reins relax and the big luxury coupe cheerfully kicks off. The tail will wriggle under an unsympathetic right foot, that signature V8 roar, crackle and hiss filling your ears. The S63 is always the harder-feeling car, but it delivers with a more sporting drive than the S560.

Being the generous soul I am, I volunteered to return the S63 to its home for the evening rather than consign it to the back of a truck. On the back roads I took to reach the highway, it was rock solid - fast, predictable and a lot of fun. Once I found the boring straight bits, it turned into a supremely comfortable cruiser, ticking along in ninth at the legal limit (and being Melbourne, it was very much the legal limit), dispatching overtaking with barely a flex of a toe. 

The active cruise took the stress of keeping away from the State Revenue Office's clutches while being quiet and utterly pleasant.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  8/10

The S-Class coupe comes loaded with eight airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward and reverse AEB with pedestrian detection, reversing camera, crosswind assist (I know, right?), traffic-sign recognition and reverse cross traffic alert.

The S-Class Coupe does not have an ANCAP or EuroNCAP rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  7/10

Mercedes offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assist for the duration.

The company also offers both service plans (where you pay up-front as part of the vehicle purchase) and capped-price servicing on the coupes. Servicing over three years is in the order $2500.

EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality6
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8

“Both of these vast vehicles are phenomenally comfortable - this is the kind of car that Mercedes does so well, and has done for decades. The S Class is rarely a disappointment but it's difficult to believe that such a big, heavy GT car can also dance the way the S63 does.”

Is the S Class still the car that springs to mind when you think ultimate luxury? Or has another brand taken its place? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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