MERCEDES BENZ S56O COUPE Rental Los Angeles & Las Vegas
Mercedes Benz S560 was a new introduction in the current generation, intended as a large, relaxed and sophisticated variant of Merc’s flagship saloon. The large four-seater was to be designed without a hint of a sporting pretence, a sensible notion when applied to a five-metre-long open-top cruiser. Unfortunately, it seems most buyers never really got that memo, buying the AMG S63 Cabriolet in numbers well above the standard non-AMG S500. Of course, Mercedes-AMG was only too willing to comply, happy to sell you two different S-class convertible models with (real) AMG badges fitted to the bootlid.
But along with the S-class’s mid-life update, Mercedes has given the ‘standard’ S560 model a new engine, more toys and a standard AMG-line body, but when compared to the full-fat AMG models, does less equal more – even on something as overtly ‘more’ as the S-class convertible?
As what might be considered the entry-level S-class convertible, the new S560 proves to have many of the same talents as its more expensive AMG siblings, but with a more defined, authentic character.
When Mercedes gave the S-class range a small nip and tuck earlier this year, the Cabriolet followed suite. The biggest change for the S560 model was the fitment of a new M176 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine owing much to the 603bhp M177 AMG unit found in the S63. Like the AMG, it’s also a ‘hot-V’ engine, with the two turbochargers nestled between the two banks of four cylinders.
The advantage over traditional turbocharged V8s are like all ‘hot-Vs’, namely their ability to spool up more quickly thanks to the compact plumbing of the turbos. Although this is not an AMG-built engine, it’s still impressive on paper, producing up to 462bhp, with 517lb ft of torque available from as low as 2000rpm. It’s that torque figure, as well as the engine’s ability to hold those numbers over such a vast plateau of revs that makes the S560 feel so effortlessly powerful, with only a hint of V8 rumble emanating from the rear quarters.
Rivals at this point are a little far-fetched, with most either being too ‘sporty’, or far more expensive. The closest will likely be the incoming BMW 8-series Convertible, although the only petrol variant available so far is the warmed-up M850i, lacking the softer, more sophisticated overtone evident in the S-class. Aston’s DB11 V8 Volante could also be considered a rival, but is more expensive at £141k, less roomy and does without anything like as much on-board tech or comfort features.
Closer in spirit, if not price, is the Rolls-Royce Dawn, one of the few modern cars that places a higher emphasis on comfort and luxury than the S560 Cabriolet. At way over £230k, it’s a considerably more expensive and glamorous enterprise, but with a distinctly restrained approach, so long as you spec it calmly. The all-new Bentley Continental GT Convertible is also about to go on sale, but at £175k is over £60k more expensive, before options.
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