When a mid-cycle refresh comes around, sometimes things can go awry — styling can get awkward, beloved powertrains can get axed and interiors can get weird. The good news for Mercedes-Benz fans is that the folks in Stuttgart didn’t mess with success. Instead, as with the sedan, the coupe and cabriolet’s refresh only adds to mix.
In base trim, if you can call an S-Class that, the 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine from 2017 saw the cutting-room floor, with the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 mill in its place. There are also minor changes, like new tailpipes, OLED tail lamps and redesigned front and rear ends. The AMG variants get the Panamericana grille from the AMG GT. While none of these changes are groundbreaking — together they work cohesively and won’t stand out as a change-for-change’s-sake update.
All of the tech goodies and driver aides either return or are improved. The Distronic Plus active cruise control system works with the Active Steering Assist to even help you roll around canyon roads without breaking a sweat. Of course, you’re mostly going to want to use these semi-autonomous systems in traffic — but if you happen to find yourself in some twisties, just know, you don’t have to move your right foot from the floor. Mercedes updated the steering wheel, hoping to make these functions easier for drivers to manage, and threw some extra bling in the interior.
Aside from the new steering wheel, the rest of the interior is largely unchanged. The massive tablet-esque digital gauge cluster and infotainment system screens are both 12.3 inches big — diagonally, of course. If you’re familiar with the modern Mercedes system, you won’t see any changes. However, if you aren’t, that’s where you’ll find all of your creature comforts like the seat massagers, media controls and perfume activator.
The S560 coupe looks sharp in every color, but the green metallic makes it look incredible in any light.
Despite being down 0.7 liter, the slightly smaller 4.0-liter V8 delivers 14 more hp than last year. That’s right, the base S560 sends 463 hp to the nine-speed transmission, along with 516 lb-ft of torque. From there, the nine-speed — or 9G-Tronic, as Mercedes calls it — sends all that power to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The turbocharged engine might not be as vocal as the long-gone 6.2-liter AMG V8, but it still has a good growl that’s peppered with the occasional pop and crackle.
Stepping up to the AMG-badged S63 gets you even more horsepower (603 hp) out of the same displacement. While it might share the displacement and turbocharger count, that’s where the similarities for these powertrains end. The AMG gets a different nine-speed, an AMG-Speedshift MCT transmission. The difference being that the standard nine-speed in the S560 uses a torque converter and the S63 uses an array of clutches to make the magic of motion happen. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system can send 100 percent of torque to the front or rear, allowing this barge to rocket to 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds — not too bad for a car that weighs more than 2 tons.
The ultimate AMG is not as quick but has four more cylinders and a two-number bump on its badge. The S65 AMG sports a 6.0-liter V12 that churns out 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. It’s rear-drive only and has two fewer gears. While slower than the S63, the S65 can still rocket to 60 in four seconds and can probably yank that old stump out of your yard if you so choose.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior is one of the nicest rolling out of an assembly line today.
All versions of the S-Class rely on a dynamic selector on the center console to help manage suspension, steering and throttle response. In comfort mode, the S560, S63 and S65 all float along the highway, ignoring its imperfections and robbing you of the chance to curse your local government. Switching the toggle to sport, or the more aggressive sport-plus mode on the AMG variants, and the suspension and steering firm — reminding you to dodge those potholes — the transmission holds your gear until it squeezes everything out of the engine, and the throttle sharpens up considerably. The S63 also opens its active exhaust system, which you can also activate by pressing its own dedicated button whenever you start the car.
Despite being a heavy cruiser, the S-Class coupe handles surprisingly well — not AMG GT well, but it isn’t a boring handling car. That said, it is big: 198.1 inches long for the S560 and 198.9 inches for the AMG versions, all sharing a 115.9-inch wheelbase. The S560 is 74.8 inches wide, and the AMG versions add a half-inch to that, making the total 75.3 inches wide.
Even with the pillarless body, there are no noticeable creaks or groans coming from unhappy materials getting too much stress. That’s good, since an out-of-place noise would take away from the rest of the plush cabin. The S-Class coupe’s big seats are comfortable enough to spend hours on end cruising along where your only gripe is having too many massaging options.
The interior materials are fitting of the price. There are no unsightly cut lines, the wood all feels elegant, the leather is soft and everything looks suitable for a six-figure price tag, which it also has. The seats even move forward and backward quickly when entering the backseat, a place the C-Class coupe struggles.
The high-tech amenities like night vision are cool, but the car suffers from an awkward placement between the speedometer and the tach. The system also indicates possible dangers by flashing a red box on the screen instead of providing an active infrared readout of heat. Another not-quite-ideal tech feature is that the revised steering wheel, while fancier-looking, does take some time getting used to. However, when the biggest problems in the interior are too many massage options, an inferior night-vision camera and a multifunction steering wheel with a learning curve, there are worse problems to have.
It’s hard to see under the yards of plastic covers, but the S560 coupe’s new 4.0-liter V8 packs two turbochargers and makes 463 hp.
The S-Class is the leader of the pack when it comes to German luxury these days — the sharp and simple styling, powerful powertrain and excellent driver aides put it a few steps above the competition. Of course, when climbing into the AMG variants, prices start to butt against those found in Aston Martin and Bentley dealerships — then the lines get a little blurry about what you’re trying to present to the world around you.
The S-Class coupe is a sleeper. The styling doesn’t scream at you, but it’s subtly handsome. If you’re looking for attention in the parking lot, you might need to look elsewhere — but if you’re trying to arrive in style, then leave in a hurry, the S-Class coupe is still where it’s at.
On Sale: Summer 2018
Base Price: $125,495
Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, nine-speed MCT; AWD
Output: 463 hp at 5,250 and 516 lb-ft from 2,000 – 4,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,700 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: 4.5 sec
Pros: Great styling and one of the best suites of semi-autonomous features in the game.
Cons: There’s still no touchscreen integration in the media system.