Mercedes-Benz has built a two-door version of its range-topping S-class for more than three decades, but it hasn’t offered a convertible variant since 1971. Sun-seeking swells could roll down palm-lined boulevards in a two-seat Mercedes SL or, for a time, an SLS AMG, but the four-seat convertible options at Mercedes-Benz topped out with the E-class. When it introduced the latest S-class coupe, Mercedes decided to re-enter the high-luxury (think six-figure) four-place convertible arena, and thus we have the 2017 S-class cabriolet.
This reborn S-class cabriolet is available in three models, which mirror those of the coupe: the 449-hp S550 with a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8, the AMG S63 with its 577-hp twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8, and the AMG S65 featuring a twin-turbo V-12 making 621 horsepower as well as 738 lb-ft of torque. The S550 coupe comes standard with all-wheel drive but the S550 cabriolet is rear-wheel drive, the thinking being that it’s likely to sell predominantly in warm-weather climates. The S63 cabriolet retains all-wheel drive just like the coupe, mostly to aid in putting the engine’s tremendous torque to the ground. And while the S65 seemingly could use all-wheel drive for the same reason, it’s rear-drive only, as is its fixed-roof sibling.
We’ve already called the S-class coupe “a stunner,” saying it “exude[s] power and opulence and status.” How is the cabriolet different? Not in any of those respects. The big change is the replacement of the steel top with a multilayer power-folding softtop. With the top raised, however, that change is not immediately apparent from inside the cabin. The headliner is a soft microsuede, the same material that covers the A-pillars and the sun visors. The driving experience is extremely quiet; the minor wind whispering seems to come from the side-view mirrors. The only giveaway is when you look behind you, and where the hardtop has tapered C-pillars, the cabriolet has wide expanses of material behind which hide the top mechanisms, including tension arms that help give it a smooth, sag-free appearance.
Lowering or raising the roof can be done at speeds up to 37 mph, via a button located under the center armrest lid—which can open to the right or the left, allowing access for either front-seat occupant. Top down, the S-class cabriolet looks almost like a speedboat for the street—although that impression may have been engendered by the color scheme of the S550 we’re driving: white with a navy-blue top and a porcelain-and-deep-blue interior. Given that the interior is open to public display, potential owners might want to give extra thought to color choice, particularly since Mercedes offers six interior schemes, complemented by four roof-fabric choices (blue, dark red, beige, and black). This interior is the same one we’ve lauded in the coupe, with a leather-covered lower dash and a contrasting, leather-topped upper section that wraps around into the door panels—it’s particularly striking with the yacht-deck–style planked-wood trim. Contained within is a 12.2-inch center screen and a second screen of the same size for the electronic instrument cluster. (The latter, however, can wash out under bright sunlight, making the optional head-up display a most welcome alternative.) A wide chrome band surrounds the open interior compartment, and two artfully perforated stainless-steel speaker grilles in the hard tonneau cover (part of the Burmester audio system) add a final bit of bling to the car’s top-down appearance. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer