Dubbed the S550 Cabriolet, the base car is available only with a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 engine producing 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque going to the ground through a nine-speed automatic transmission and standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Buyers looking for more performance should look to AMG's S63 and S65 models.
Performance and Style
While the S550's power output alone may suffice for performance credentials, its real party piece is its exclusive active curve tilting function. Part of the Active Body Control system, the curve titling function allows the Coupe to lean into bends, conveying an increased sense of poise and composure. Using a stereo camera and a lateral acceleration sensor, the system can predict and compensate for upcoming bends with up to 2.5 degrees of tilt.
Accentuating the Cabriolet's sporting character is an active exhaust system. As engine speed increases, pneumatic flaps in the rear section of the exhaust are opened to allow more sound to enter the cabin. The change-over point is dependent on the drive mode of the vehicle. "S" mode opens the flaps earlier, while "E" mode keeps them closed in all but the most aggressive driving.
The S550 Cabriolet is the very picture of road presence. Its 116-inch wheelbase falls between the E-Class's 113.2 and the S-Class Sedan's 124.6, guaranteeing stability and comfort to complement its performance.
While the S550 Cabriolet exterior design is meant to evoke power and aggression, the interior features all of the technological wizardry and old-school luxury one expects from a Mercedes-Benz. The wrap-around dashboard and upper door treatment contrasts strikingly with the floating lower console, a look that required a unique, low-mounted airbag to execute. Leather can be found on nearly all interior surfaces, and trim pieces are accentuated by "Silver Shadow" electroplating for added depth and contrast.
The Cabriolet's 2+2 seating layout is accentuated by deeply-sculpted and bolstered rear seats designed to provide support to passengers in high-performance situations.
The dash is dominated by twin TFT displays which house the gauge cluster as well as the Coupe's entertainment, navigation and climate features. As in the S-Class Sedan, these are all controlled by the interface housed in the center console, which is equipped with a touchpad for handwriting and gesture-based input.
Features and Options
The S550 Cabriolet comes standard with a robust feature set, including LED lighting (exterior and interior), a Burmester AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system, heated seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a power rear window sunshade, adaptive high beam assist and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Like the S-Class Sedan, the Cabriolet comes standard with a navigation system, a Burmester AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system, a panorama sunroof, heated seats, leather upholstery, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, full LED exterior and interior lighting, a power rear window sunshade, adaptive high beam assist and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Additional features, including the upgraded Burmester High-End 3D surround sound, head-up display, heated center console (Warmth Comfort Package) and expressive headlamps (featuring Swarovski crystals) are also available. DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control with Steering Assist is also available with the Driver Assistance Package.
Mercedes engineers managed to improve the S-Class' night-vision system with the introduction of Night View Assist PLUS, which is equipped a special pedestrian detection function. The Pre-Safe braking system has also been improved to reduce injuries in unavoidable crashes. Mercedes says the car can apply maximum braking pressure automatically around 0.6 seconds before what is recognized as an unavoidable accident. The system therefore acts as something like an "electronic crumple zone," Mercedes contends.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for building vehicles with industry-leading safety features, and the S550 Cabriolet is no exception. In addition to standard ABS and electronic stability control, a full suite of high-tech safety features are available as standard equipment or part of the Driver Assistance Package.
The core standard safety system is COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, which utilizes radar to detect stopped traffic and assist the driver in avoiding a collision. It can stop the vehicle from speeds up to 65mph without intervention from the driver, or communicate with the PRE-SAFE system to help reduce the severity of a collision if it is unavoidable.
The PRE-SAFE PLUS system prepares the car in the event of an imminent collision, increasing brake pressure and distribution forces properly to maximize stopping power. It also prepares other on-board systems (airbags, seatbelts) for the impending crash.
ATTENTION ASSIST monitors behavior and alerts the driver if there are indicators of inattention that could contribute to an unsafe driving situation.
Other optional safety features include BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive High Beam Assist and Night View Assist PLUS.
In this segment, cost and configuration comparisons can get a bit murky. S550 buyers can also look at the Bentley Continental GTC, or check out the aging Maserati GranCabrio.