I am often asked what car l personally drive as it is presumed l trundle around in some supercar. Due to the fact that l drive like my trousers were on fire every day in testing a huge variety of cars, l choose a car that l can calmly waft around in for the 500 odd miles a year l actually travel in my own car. I drive a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It certainly isn’t new but it is very low mileage, well maintained and wafts upon request. So when MB asked me to review the new S-Class coupe, l leapt at the chance.
The S stands for Sonderklasses, meaning special class, and has been the flagship model for the company since 1972 and has been in production ever since. They have used it to launch many innovations that today we take for granted in terms of safety systems, driveline technology and interior features. The S-Class is ranked as the world’s best-selling luxury sedan.
First off, the Coupe is gorgeous to look at. Not as big as l thought although still 5 metres long, with beautiful sweeping likes and a stance that says you are coming through – at speed and in style. There is no slow Coupe and it comes simply with the choice of three hugely powerful engines – 4.7 V8, 5.4 V8 and the very sexy 6-litre V12.
I have been delivered of the S500 with a 4.7-litre V8 that is totally effortless and has oodles of power to spare in any situation. And it sounds fantastic. Not the howl of a sports car but the low rumbling growl that reminds me of distant thunder – until you bury the go pedal into the Axminster as then the thunder instantly arrives inside the car and makes my hair stand on end.
It has one of the best interiors around and there is nothing to pick at. There is enough technology in this car to not only fill 40 pages but to power a small City. The computers are working all the time, stabilising, gauging, monitoring and calculating your every move and although not the best at evil little switch backs or tight country lanes, it has astonishing grip and doesn’t roll around the corners. It offers Magic Body Control suspension, which reads the road ahead far faster than l can and actively pulls the wheels up and down to absorb every bump and the Curve Tilting function will actually lean the car into corners like a motorbike. It will demolish long distances with such ease that you might be inclined to just turn round and go back again just for the hell of it. Sadly, we don’t really drive for pleasure anymore but this made me just go out and drive with nowhere to go. It’s that good.
The floating dash is glorious with a huge TFT screen, delivering world-class multimedia and connectivity and it is so damned quiet that only when you power down a window and the world comes rushing in do you really understand what they have achieved. This is due to superior sound proofing and double glazing and is on a par with the RR Wraith l recently reviewed.
I am never that keen on the rear seats of a coupe as ease of access is sacrificed for the exterior looks and here’s no exception. When you lean the front seat forward it moves of its own accord and back again into its starting position but you are standing like a lemon waiting for it and then again before the driver can climb aboard. There is not a coupe on the market any different so perhaps l should shut up and just drive.
If getting picky, whilst smiling like a baboon, the indicator stalk is too close to the cruise control stalk, the handbrake is a faff working out which way it goes and the sheer number of buttons and features can make your head spin. Do what l do. Find the sport button, find the suspension button, the air conditioning, the satnav and the radio. Sod the rest and let this computing powerhouse sort everything else out and just drive. Oh, but then there’s the optional night vision camera and the Magic Sky Control, which switches the panoramic roof from light to dark……..
I was pleased to see the 500 badge but not as ecstatic and l would of been seeing the top of the range S65 badge. That little monster will give you a V12 with 630bhp and 62 in 4.1 seconds although at £188,595, it bloody well should. And the noise……..
This has always been, and still is, the best selling luxury car in the world. Now send me the new cabriolet please Mr. Jackman………