Mercedes drops the top on the S-Class
Mercedes has added yet another string to its top-end luxury bow with a new variant of the S-Class. The S-Class Cabriolet joins long wheelbase, short wheelbase, coupe and super luxurious Maybach versions of Mercedes' flagship, backed by the bold claim that it is the world's most luxurious convertible.
The major problem that comes with creating a convertible is rigidity. By chopping the roof off a car, you're removing a major structural element, which means manufacturers are stuck in a bind: add weight and strengthen the body, or try and save weight and sell your car with a weaker body.
For the new S-Class, Mercedes has addressed the issue by using a magnesium luggage bulkhead and aluminum in the bootlid, resulting in the Cabriolet having a rigid structure but weighs the same as the S-Class Coupe.
The S-Class Cabriolet body pulls off another clever trick – even though it's more than five meters long, Mercedes has managed to keep it from looking like a boat. In fact, the latest S-Class is a fantastic looking car. With its broad, long taillights and sharply surfaced sides, Mercedes has outdone its own C-Class Coupe in the race for best-looking car of 2015.
The Cabrio's body is also aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of 0.29. Thanks to extensive underbody paneling around the engine compartment, main floor, rear axle and wind-tunnel-optimized wing mirrors, the S-Class Cabriolet's aerodynamic prowess helps to cut down on wind noise and fuel consumption.
If you manage to roll an S-Class Cabriolet, pyrotechnically activated roll hoops spring out from behind the rear headrests. The headrests are triggered by new yaw rate sensors that are more accurate than the tilting cone systems used on older systems. The pyrotechnic system is supported by a reinforced wall behind the seats, which also contributes to the extra structural rigidity in the body.
Also contributing to the car's low in-cabin noise levels are improved door seals, better window glazing and its three-layer fabric roof, which now utilizes a butyl layer for improved water resistance and a smoother profile.
If you're the sort of convertible buyer who doesn't want to hear the elements buffeting them with the roof down, Mercedes has created an optional Aircap system that utilizes a wind deflector and an extendable draught stopper that is designed to create turbulence that reduces noise levels.
The S-Class Cabriolet's climate control system is fully automatic regardless of whether the top is up or down. The system is fully networked with the rest of the car's functions and utilizes 12 sensors and 18 actuators to detect the levels of solar radiation and interior and exterior temperatures – there's even a separate sensor to check the quality of the air coming in.
On the go, the system constantly works to make sure the footwells and blower temperature work to perfectly meet with what the passengers have asked for.
Under the S500's long, low bonnet is a 4.7-liter V8 engine that produces 335 kW (455 hp) and 700 Nm, while using just 8.0 L/100km (29.4 mpg). But the engine that tops the range (and if you're buying this car, you want the range-topper) is the 5.5-liter, twin turbo V8 in the S63 AMG model.
The AMG V8 puts out 430 kW (585 hp) and a scarcely believable 900 Nm of torque. Those massive outputs make for less-than-impressive fuel efficiency figures, with the S63 slurping 10.4 L/100km (22.6 mpg) and emitting 244 g/km of CO2 on the New European Drive Cycle.
The S-Class Cabriolet will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month. Gizmag will be on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned!