Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
Known previously as the CL coupe, the new 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe is a two-door version of the recently redesigned S-Class sedan. It combines all of the brand's latest technology into a tastefully designed two-door with equal amounts of comfort and performance.
What Is It?
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe replaces the previous CL coupe in the brand's lineup. Calling it a two-door version of the S-Class sedan is a bit oversimplified, as the S-Class coupe gets its own unique styling in addition to riding on a wheelbase that is 8 inches shorter than the sedan's.
Unlike the Mercedes-AMG GT which is a single-minded sports car, the S550 coupe is an all-around performer that's well suited for everyday use or weekend getaways. It is fast in a straight line and capable in corners, but its best asset is the ability to remain supremely comfortable and quiet in any kind of driving environment.
There are three versions of the S-Class coupe: the base S550 4Matic, a high-performance S 63 AMG 4Matic and the top-of-the-line S 65 AMG. The S550 and S 63 AMG both come standard with all-wheel drive (4Matic) while the S 65 is rear-wheel drive only. Pricing for the S550 coupe starts at $120,825, while the S 63 starts at $161,825. The S 65 has a base price of $231,825.
Power in the S550 is delivered by a 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8 that delivers 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Stepping up to the S 63 AMG ups the ante to a 5.5-liter V8 rated 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Both models use a seven-speed automatic but the S 63 uses an AMG-specific version with multiple shift modes. The S 65 is powered by a twin-turbo V12 that develops 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. It uses a slightly modified version of the AMG-tuned seven-speed automatic found in the S 63.
How Does It Drive?
The S550 coupe is designed to isolate you from anything that might make noise, jostle the cabin or otherwise interrupt the serene interior environment. It rides on a standard air spring suspension with multiple drive modes that allow you to dial in varying degrees of responsiveness.
As comfortable as the S550 coupe feels around town, it's capable of surprising speed when you open it up on the highway. Our S550 test vehicle might have weighed in at a substantial 4,737 pounds, but it still turned in a 0-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds. That's quick for any car, let alone a coupe the size of the S550.
It's hard to tell that you're going that fast. There's barely any road, wind or even engine noise even at full throttle, and what does manage to come through to the cabin is only noticeable in the background.
That level of refinement extends to every interaction you have with the car. From the feel of the steering to the action of the brakes, everything works precisely and with little effort. Again, such refinement masks its ultimate capabilities. As supple as the brake pedal feels, the S550 managed to stop in just 113 feet from 60 mph during our testing. It also weaved through our slalom at 66.5 mph. Both numbers are excellent for a car of its size.
If you prefer a coupe that delivers a little more feedback, the S 63 AMG will be more to your liking. Everything about the S 63 is dialed up a notch, so even in its standard settings it has an edge to it that the standard model lacks. The exhaust has a rumble to it at full throttle, while the suspension adds some road feel that the standard model only delivers at its most aggressive settings.
How Does It Rate in Terms of Interior Comfort?
This is easily one of the most luxurious and accommodating coupes on the road today. From the large doors that open wide to ease entry to the seats that offer heating, cooling and multiple massage options, the S550 looks and feels first-class in every respect.
As aggressive as the styling may look on the outside, there's still enough glass to give you a great view from the driver seat. Rearward visibility is slightly compromised, but the back-up camera helps alleviate any issues when backing up in tight spaces.
Like the S-Class sedan, the coupe has an elegant cabin design that does away with numerous buttons in favor of a central controller on the console and a large display screen on the dash. It takes some getting used to, but the interface is well designed and stocked full of features. Simple functions like temperature and fan controls can still be adjusted through the line of switches that bisects the dashboard.
Unlike those in some coupes in this class, the rear seats in the S550 coupe are surprisingly comfortable for adults. A center console divides the space into two well-contoured bucket seats and there's enough leg- and headroom for an average-size passenger to sit comfortably.
What Unique Features Does It Offer?
Although our test car didn't have it for us to try out, the S-Class coupe offers a new feature called Active Curve Tilting that is unique in the industry.
It's designed to lessen the centrifugal force exerted on passengers when the car rounds a corner by leaning the vehicle into the turn much like a motorcycle. So if you're turning right the car will lean to the right, but only by a few degrees.
Other features you might not expect include an optional Air Balance package that combines air filtration, ionization and a fragrance emitter with multiple scents. Then there are the optional heated armrests to assure that no surface you touch on a cold day ever actually feels cold.
How Safe Is It?
Because of its price, you're not likely to see any crash test results for this car. Don't worry, though, as the S-Class coupe incorporates every last piece of safety technology Mercedes offers.
Standard safety equipment includes Collision Prevention Assist Plus, a system that provides various levels of autonomous braking depending on the car's speed and the speed of cars around it.
There's also a Driver Assistance package that adds additional features like lane-keeping assist, Distronic Plus (Mercedes' name for adaptive cruise control), a cross traffic alert system and an identification radar for animals and people on the side of the road. Add to all that this coupe's substantial size and weight, and it's safe to say that you're not likely to find a safer two-door on the road.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Although extremely capable in terms of performance, the closest competitors for the S-Class coupe are grand touring cars that emphasize comfort and luxury over all-out speed.
The BMW 6 Series is similar in size and performance, yet it starts at a lower price. Available in both coupe and convertible body styles, as well as a six-cylinder model, the 6 Series matches the style of the S-Class if not its level of overall comfort.
The Bentley Continental GT starts at well over $200K but its largely hand-made interior reflects its asking price. On the downside, there isn't much room in the backseats and it lacks some of the sophisticated electronic features found in the Mercedes.
For pure style, it's worth considering the Maserati GranTurismo. Beautiful to look at inside and out, it's also powered by a 4.7-liter V8 engine that sings an Italian song unlike any other car in this category.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
This is a no-compromise coupe. It has more performance than you'll ever need and the kind of comfort that every driver wants. There's all the latest technology, too, and all of it comes tastefully wrapped in top-quality materials and a striking design.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
As capable as it is, the S-Class coupe, even in S 63 AMG form, is no sports car. If you want something to toss around on a mountain road, there are other two-doors that will prove more satisfying.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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