CAPE TOWN, Western Cape - Maybe it wasn’t just coincidental – the musician and the new Mercedes S-Class Coupe just launched in South Africa.
At the launch event for the opulent new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé in Cape Town musician Jeremy Loops mesmerised media guests with his pedal skills and a technique called looping.
Looping, in a musical sense, is to repeat a section of sound material to create musical patterns. By layering a wide variety of sounds a lone artist can then build a melody to reach an aural crescendo reminiscent of a big-band orchestra.
BUILT UP AND IMPROVED
In much the same fashion Mercedes-Benz has used “looping” to develop what was initially known as Airmatic that made its debut in the W220 S-Class (can you believe it was more the 15 years ago?).
Layer by layer the system was built up and improved, eventually evolving into Active Body Control and, of late, into Magic Body Control, as available in the current S-Class models.
Now another “layer” has been added in the new S-Class Coupé (as the CL successor is now officially branded) – aptly called Active Curve Tilting by Stuttgart.
EXCLUSIVE TILT TECH
Essentially this world-first function – pioneered in the F400 Carving concept car and making its debut in the Coupé AMG models – uses the same stereo cameras employed by Magic Body Control to read road surfaces ahead to also capture the curve and trajectory of upcoming corners.
So, while hydraulic cylinders fitted to the struts of the body-control suspension prepare to adjust the forces in each strut individually, the base point of each strut is moved, adjusting and correcting continuously on information from the sensors; allowing the grand coupé to lean into the curve.
An additional lateral acceleration sensor provides input on speed and steering angle, allowing the Coupé to incline by up to 68mm into the bend – not unlike a skier or motorcyclist.
Using the active body control switch the function can be selected as one of three drive modes ("Curve", "Comfort", "Sport") and, according to MBSA’s executive director Florian Seidler, it’s not aimed at increased cornering speeds but rather at enhancing passenger comfort “by reducing lateral acceleration acting on the vehicle’s occupants".
In fact, the more assertively you drive, the more subdued the effect becomes until it cancels out completely beyond 180km/h.
BUT DOES IT REALLY WORK?
On the twisty and undulating Western Cape test route, including the Franschhoek Pass, it initially felt a bit odd as the powerful AMG Coupé reacted contrary to the laws of physics.
However, intuitive drivers will become accustomed to this; half expecting it, and then using the body movement to follow the preferred line into the corner. It felt even more remarkable from the passenger seat. There was very little sensation of lateral G’s and you weren’t thrown around in the seat, even during hard cornering.
This, in conjunction with the body control systems and super-quiet cabin, ensured a magic ride – more surprising as the Coupé rides on a shortened version of its fantastic sedan counterpart’s platform.
It also worked a charm in conjunction with the plethora of other Intelligent Drive systems, the only discord in this symphony being the Active Lane Keeping system which too aggressively wanted to guide you back on what it considered the straight and narrow…
SENSUAL DESIGN, GRAND CABIN
The new Coupé’s understated, yet sensuous, lines hide its bulk efficiently. It incorporates design cues from the GLA, SLS and AMG GT, and from the rear it also mimics its main rival, BMW’s 6-Series Grand Tourer.
Besides the imposing snarling grille the eyebrows above the full-LED headlights now have a semi-circular counter-curve; for those wanting even more exclusivity, headlights with 47 Swarovski crystals, or a larger Magic Sky Control panoramic roof, are optional…
Inside the new cars no expense was spared. The high-class cabin materials are opulent to the Rolls-Royce degree (no wood veneer, though…). Leather abounds and air vents, switches and other elements are finished in electroplated "Silver Shadow" trim.
While no fan of the slab-like, hovering, split information screen in the dash, I must admit it works well. The sportier steering wheel improves on the one in the S-Class and the head-up display now has auto-brightness adjustment.
A touchpad allows all head-unit functions to be operated using finger gestures and handwritten messages but while the sumptuous individual seats are sporty and comfortable, leg room in the rear is quite restricted.
The limo Coupé can be specced with options longer than the Zuma rap sheet – including an air fragrance and ionisation package (standard in the top model), heatable armrests, hot-stone seat massaging and Burmester 3D surround-sound system for exemplary audio quality.
CHOICE OF THREE MODELS
Initially SA was in line for two models only – the S500 Coupé powered by a 4.7-litre biturbo V8 good for 335kW and 700Nm and the S63 AMG Coupé with a 5.5-litre biturbo V8 pumping out 430kW and 900Nm.
However, buyer demand convinced Merc to also make available here the unique-in-thes- segment and top-of-the-range S65 AMG Coupé which comes with the six-litre V12 biturbo engine delivering a manic 463kW and 1000Nm of torque. Mated to the AMG Speedshift 7G-Tronic gearbox, it effortlessly accelerates to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and on to its (restricted) top speed (as with the other models) of 250km/h.
The potent power of the Bluedirect V8 in the smaller, lighter S63 (it weighs 65kg less than its predecessor) is channelled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed Multi Clutch (MCT) gearbox. Even without launch control it still delivers scintillating performance, racing from 0-100 in only 4.3 seconds.
As MBSA decided to delay the S500’s introduction to mid-year as it will then come with the marque’s new nine-speed auto transmission; only AMG models were available at the launch event.
Not that anybody complained…
Their sport exhaust systems with automatic exhaust flaps gave them a very agreeable range of soundtracks, quite understated in "C" (Controlled Efficiency) mode and more emotive in "S" (Sport) and "M" (Manual) modes…
Yet, in keeping with the serene nature of the grand coupés, it was not as brash and loud as one might expect –further reinforced by their whisper quiet cabins (Mercedes claims they are the world’s quietest series-production vehicles).
...AND THE PRICES
So, what price for a car that represents the current pinnacle of opulent transportation (well, at least until the new Maybach lands) for the three-pointed star? One that glides along as if on a magic carpet, yet with enough performance to scare hyper cars?
It starts at R1 913 000 for the S500 Coupé, adding R175 000 for the Editon 1 (with Intelligent Light System, including Swarovski crystals, and Designo exclusive nappa leather).
Add a cool half-million for the S63 AMG (R2 499 100) and another R120k for the Edition 1. And the S65? Yours for a whopping R3 070 700, not including CO2 emissions tax…
MERCEDES-BENZ S 65 COUPE: The ride effect is as if the car is working contrary to the laws of physics - it tilts through the bends, rather than leans. Image: Mercedes-Benz
S500 Coupé S63 AMG Coupé S65 AMG Coupé
Engine: 4663cc V8 biturbo 5461cc V8 biturbo 5980cc V12 biturbo
Power: 335kW @ 5250-5500r/min 430kW @ 5500r/min 463kW @ 4800-5400r/min
Torque: 700Nm @1800-3500r/min 900Nm @ 2250-3750 r/min 1000Nm @ 2300-4300r/min
Consumption: 9.1 l/100km 10.1 l/100km 11.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 213g/km 237g/km 279g/km
0-100 km/h: 4.8 sec 4.3 sec 4.1 sec
Top speed: 250km/h* 250km/h** 250km/h*
*Electronically limited **AMG Driver’s Package limited to 300km/h