2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible Test Drive Review: Welcome To The Good Life

­2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible Review
$134,300
Price (MSRP)

What’s New For 2019?

After a mild refresh updated the 2018 model’s style and added valuable driver assistance systems, like lane-keep assist, a heads-up display, forward collision warning, and more as standard, the S-Class Cabriolet remains relatively unchanged as it heads into the 2019 model year. Mercedes-Benz has, however, seen fit to introduce an Exclusive Edition variant for the Coupe and Convertible body styles with a range of model-specific trimmings and design elements.

S-Class Convertible Exterior

With a design rooting back to 2014, the S-Class Cabriolet retains modern design elements paired with classic proportions. A long hood extends forward, characterized by two embossed stripes running its length, while full LED headlights are standard up front along with OLED taillights. Available as an option, but included in the Exclusive Edition, are headlights that can be upgraded to LED units with real Swarovski crystals. Other design highlights include a mechanically folding soft-top roof and standard 19-inch alloy wheels that can be optioned up to 20-inches. Alternatively, an AMG-line package equips the car with more aggressive bodywork.

Dimensions

Sharing the bulk of its dimensions with the S-Class Coupe upon which it’s based, the S Cabriolet rides on a 115.9-inch wheelbase and measures 198.1 inches in length overall. At 83 inches wide, it’s nearly a full inch narrower than the S-Class Sedan, while at 55.8 inches in height, it’s a full three inches shorter than the Sedan, and 0.2 inches taller than the Coupe. Based on the large S-Class platform, and with the added body strengthening required in convertible guise, the S-Class Cabriolet is a true heavyweight with a curb weight of 4,802 lbs.

Exterior Colors

For 2019, the S-Class Cabriolet boasts a color palette of 11 hues, compared to last year’s 14 – two of the exclusive designo colors being cut from the offering. The standard palette comprises nine offerings, including Obsidian Black Metallic, Emerald Green Metallic, and Lunar Blue Metallic, and all are free to choose from at no additional cost. Two designo colors remain; designo Diamond White Metallic for an additional $795 and designo Cashmere White Magno for a whopping $3,950. Four soft-top colors are available at no cost, with the colors on offer being black, dark blue, beige, and dark red.

  • designo Diamond White Metallic

  • designo Cashmere White Magno (Matte Finish), Requires additional 6-8 weeks production time.

  • Black

  • Magnetite Black Metallic

  • Obsidian Black Metallic

  • Iridium Silver Metallic

  • Lunar Blue Metallic

  • Diamond Silver Metallic

  • Emerald Green Metallic

  • Selenite Grey

  • Anthracite Blue Metallic

S-Class Convertible Performance

Just one engine/drivetrain combination is on offer for the S-Class Cabriolet, making the most potent non-AMG performer the S 560 Cabriolet. With 463 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque gleaned from its bi-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine, mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive, 0-60 mph comes up in 4.6 seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 155 mph. While the S-Class retains the historically relevant rear-wheel drivetrain along with some of its rivals, newer competition like the forthcoming BMW M850i Convertible, have made the switch to all-wheel drive, something not available on the S-Class Cabriolet.

Engine and Transmission

With just one trim available, the only engine on offer in the S-Class Cabriolet is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 badged as the S 560. It develops 463 hp and 516 lb-ft, pairing that with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox with steering-mounted paddle shifters. A smaller engined S-Class is only available in sedan guise.

Buttery smooth doesn’t even begin to describe the relationship between the engine and transmission. Whether cruising around town or driving up a steep winding road, the 9-speed automatic always seems to be in the right gear. If it isn’t the transmission will shift find the best ratio so smoothly that only those straining to feel the gear change will detect it. The fact the twin-turbo V8 makes torque across a broad range of revs means the transmission can behave strangely, pulling off fuel-saving stunts like starting from a red light in 2nd gear or upshifting when accelerating up a hill. But when the computer isn’t vying for more fuel economy, it can turn the S 560 Cabriolet into quite the performer. Driving up steep and curvy mountain roads is best done in Sport mode (or in Individual mode with the drivetrain set to sport if a softer ride setting is preferred) to keep the S-Class in low gears. Whether on a hill or a flat surface, mashing the throttle will uncover a fleeting hint of turbo lag before a mad dash to the horizon commences. The engine will emit a deep, rich, and slightly muted rumble as it pops off each gear. Throughout the process, feel vibrations are never felt from the engine bay, just notice the tachometer flipping back and forth as momentum builds.

  • Engine
    4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

When Mercedes first designed the S-Class Cabriolet and its coupe cousin, it had one problem to contend with: the fact the sedan on which both cars are based is far more focused on offering rear-seat passengers the most comfortable ride possible than it is on giving the driver a sense of satisfaction. The S-Class Cabriolet had to preserve that comfort-first ethos while simultaneously delivering a drive engaging enough to earn it the title of a grand tourer. The result of Mercedes’ work is nothing short of amazing, because the S 560 Cabriolet not only strikes a balance between comfortable and engaging, it merges the two attributes in ways that seem impossible to rational minds. It doesn’t matter what road it’s on, the S-Class will digest it using its pliable suspension and rock-solid chassis in such a way that it feels like the car gliding on a thin sheet of air rather than rolling on rubber. In the city, the steering is feather-light but also direct, with a perfectly balanced on-center range neither making the Cabriolet dart too much nor feel too loose. When the road gets narrow and twisty, switching into Sport mode helps by stiffening up the steering. And while digging the Mercedes’ set of Pirellis into a corner reveals almost 5,000 pounds worth of body roll, the suspension and steering mask the discomfort and help the heavy convertible soak up lateral Gs so that occupants hardly feel jostled.

S-Class Convertible Gas Mileage

With a V8 under the hood, exceptional gas mileage is hardly something an S-Class Cabriolet driver might care for, but still, Mercedes delivers decent fuel economy through cylinder deactivation on one bank of cylinders, enabling EPA-rated estimates of 17/26/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles respectively. With a 21.1-gallon fuel tank requiring premium unleaded gasoline, drivers can expect a range of around 422-miles in mixed driving conditions, according to manufacturer claims.

We spent our week with the S-Class Cabriolet driving almost 200 miles in the city, on the highway, and up and down a local mountain road. Despite spending only 3 miles in Eco mode and over 60 in Sport mode, the end of the week-long drive left the mileage indicator reading an average of 19.7 mpg.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 17/26 .

Pros and Cons

  • Ultra-luxurious interior
  • Impressive noise insulation for a soft-top convertible
  • Refined and powerful engine/gearbox combination
  • Brilliant ride quality
  • High levels of standard tech and safety features
  • Impractical in-car storage capacity
  • Extremely expensive
  • V12 engine reserved for harsher-riding AMG only
  • The soft-top roof makes a small trunk even smaller
  • Limited use of rear seats

S-Class Convertible Interior

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has come to be known for its opulent interiors that can be compared with Rolls Royce and Bentley more than those of Audi and BMW. The Cabriolet continues the legacy with one of the plushest, most upmarket cabins from Mercedes to date, with plush quilted leather seats, massage functions, heating, ventilation, and an array of electronic adjustment all available, along with Mercedes AirScarf technology to ensure even cold winter mornings can’t keep the soft-top closed. Interior fit and finish is world class, and the dual-display infotainment-come-driver display system still looks as good as it did when it first debuted. Practical rear seat space might be compromised in Cabriolet guise, but in a pinch, at least there’s still seating for four.

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