New Car Previews

Preview: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Mercedes-AMG S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan received a substantial update recently, leading many to ask when the same upgrades would be applied to the Coupe and Cabriolet variants.

The answer to that question: Now.

Well, not “now” now, but soon. Spring 2018 will see the first units arrive in Canada, with pricing yet to be announced.

Previous years saw a difference of $30,000 between the four-door and two-door S 550 4Matic, and $20,000 difference between the Mercedes-AMG S 65 sedan and coupe. You can expect a similar gap to the 2018 S-Class sedan.

For reference, the sedan starts at $106,400 for the S 450 4Matic and goes to $254,800 for the S 65.

Like the sedan, the S-Class coupe and cabriolet get a subtle aesthetic update, largely carried by larger openings in the front grill and more sculpted front and rear fasciae. The grilles too are brought more in line with the flagship S 65 – with that trim getting a new vertical accent to set it apart.

One trick the S-Class didn’t get, but that the coupe and cabriolet do is OLED taillights. These dimmable LEDs are made with organic material printed on glass, similar to certain smartphone and television displays but with a much greater light output. It’s not quite bioluminescence but it is very cool technology that we’ll explore soon.

But it’s under the hood where this model refresh really takes it up a notch. Three new engines, dramatically enhanced driver assistance, more cosseting driver and passenger features, and improved suspension are the big changes.

Like in previous years, the six-cylinder variants of the coupe and cab won’t make it to Canada, making the base trim the Mercedes-Benz S 560 4Matic.

The 4.0L, 469 hp, 516 lb-ft, bi-turbo V8 is 14 hp more powerful than its predecessor and more efficient courtesy of a new nine-speed automatic (replacing the seven-speed). The combined figure for this trim is 8.7 L/100 km (down from 9.3). Much of that change comes from four-cylinder deactivation on coupe models, which is helped by the CAMTRONIC valve-lift adjustment system.

More importantly than the fuel consumption figures, the “base” S-Class coupe and cab will get you from zero to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.

Moving to the Mercedes-AMG S 63 gets you the same amount of displacement, the same number of turbos and cylinders, but a much shorter 0–100 time – 3.5 seconds in fact. This heavily massaged, handcrafted AMG lump is good for 603 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque – all shunted through a fully variable, torque-distributing 4Matic system, via a nine-speed multi-clutch automatic gearbox.

That’s the fastest time of any of the S-Class coupes or cabriolets, because the big-daddy S 65 comes the way god intended: with rear-wheel drive only. That configuration, plus a few extra kilos, makes it harder for the carryover 6.0L bi-turbo V12 and seven-speed transmission to do its work, hence the 4.1 second 0–100 km/h time. A combined fuel economy rating of 11.9 L/100 km is an utterly useless figure I’m putting in here just in case someone asks (but nobody will).

If you’re wondering why the S 65 is still the best option, despite drinking more fuel and taking longer to get to 100 km/h – the answer is simple: 6.0L, bi-turbo V12. Oh and also… 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to make your cheek muscles ache for years.

New 10-spoke 20-inch wheels that come with muscular wheel arch flares will be an option on the S 560 in Canada.

There’s a new interior trim as well, the designo-exclusive Nappa leather in porcelain and Tizian red .

Mercedes-Benz’s gorgeous Widescreen Cockpit combines three screens to form a contiguous instrument cluster/infotainment screen in the dash, and the instrument cluster portion can now be programmed to show navigation and eco-coaching data to the driver. A new steering wheel has touchpad-like controls which allow the driver to swipe, pinch, and control the entire visual interface much like a smartphone, without removing their hands from the wheel itself.

Another welcome addition, the Distronic driving assistance system (with lane-keep assist, road-following, and adaptive cruise control) is controlled via the steering wheel, doing away with the awkward, difficult to read, fidgety stalk of old.

That Distronic system has also been enhanced to allow it to automatically reduce speed for curves, traffic junctions, and roundabouts using GPS data. This is another step forward in the inexorable march toward autonomous driving.

As well as predicting curves for Distronic purposes, S 65 Coupes will have Magic Body Control suspension. This suspension uses two cameras in stereo to read the road ahead, and can actually pull the suspension up and thus soften bumps in the road. For the dynamic set, this system will tip the S 65 up to 2.65 degrees into the corner, actively fighting against body roll.

Meanwhile, the occupants are put through a mobile spa treatment courtesy of the Energizing Comfort Control system. So no matter how silly you’re being behind the wheel, your passenger can be soothed with the heated/cooled and massaging seats, multi-zone climate control – including fragrance projection as well as customized lighting and sound. There are 64 lighting colours for you to choose from – allowing you to set the mood in the cabin with utter precision.

Not enough pampering for you? The door armrests and centre console lid are also heated for your comfort. There are six programs available: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort, and Training. Technically there are eight, because Training has three sub modes: muscle relaxation, muscle activation, and balance – each with several exercises.

More details on the S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet will come out when the certification process is done and we get our hands on the first units at launch – but with more power, better capability and ever-higher levels of occupant coddling, the S-Class is set to cement its position as the ultimate flagship.