When Mercedes-Benz unleashed its latest generation S-Class sedan onto the world last year, it effectively redefined the premium executive segment, such was that car’s all-conquering interpretation of full-size personal opulence. Safety, comfort, gizmos for days and an exquisitely crafted interior were wrapped in an elegantly imposing shell that not only said “I’ve arrived”, it also inspired involuntary genuflecting and peasant-like muttering.
Quick too, thanks to that creamy 449-hp, 516 lb-ft 4.7L twin-turbo V8.
But sporty? Hardly. Nor was the S 550 sedan ever meant to be.
Now Benz brings us a coupe version of its new S-Class that ramps up the agility, looks, price, desirability and… well, just about everything but back seat room and trunk space.
The two-door 2015 S 550 4Matic Coupe replaces the outgoing CL family of cars as Mercedes’ flagship coupe, and does so with a level of poise and panache that elevates the game considerably. With a starting price of $147,500, you could almost consider it a bargain if you make a habit of hanging out in Bentley or Maserati showrooms.
First off, the S 550 Coupe is unassailably gorgeous. Formal, yes. Understated, absolutely. Enormous, oh yeah. The lines flow in a series of beautifully resolved arcs from the shapely snout to its tapered derriere, delivering a profile that will make you weep. It’s aggressive while also dripping in sensuality, and looks fantastic from any angle. Mercedes has crafted a classic beauty that looks to stand the test of time.
I would advise all prospective customers to go for the $4,000 Swarovski Crystal LED Headlamp upgrade. Each lamp gets 17 crystals for the daytime running lamps and 30 for the signal indicators. Could have been tacky, but in reality looks super chic.
The Coupe gets sportier front seats than the sedan, and they strike a fabulous blend of long distance comfort and snug support. Of course they are heated, ventilated, infinitely adjustable, inflate the outside side bolsters when cornering and offer several massage functions. For a car this big, however, it is bereft of any meaningful rear seat legroom. I had to move my seat forward quite a bit to make the ride tolerable for a leggy back seat passenger. That’s what happens when you slice 221 mm out of the sedan’s wheelbase.
So the 2015 S 550 4Matic Coupe is a 2+2, but that said, the rear seats are more useful than those in the BMW 650i Coupe, which all of a sudden feels a class or two down.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S 550 Coupe, driver’s seat. Click image to enlarge
Once in those fab front seats, your hands grip a proper three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel. This replaces the odd two-spoke job in the S Class sedan. It oozes luxury in here. The exquisite craftsmanship and surfaces, be they wood, leather or metal, evoke an almost old-world bespoke ambience that blends beautifully with the modern stuff – most notable being the twin rectangular 12.3-inch TFT screens that toss up high-definition images of information relevant to navigation, climate, infotainment, night vision and myriad vehicle systems.
There are no analogue gauges in here. The speedo and tachometer are thoroughly convincing digital renderings that make other manufacturer’s attempts at this seem rather wanting.
The Coupe gets a head-up display and Mercedes-Benz’s new touch pad controller for the infotainment system that sports spectacular Burmester audio. Above is a panoramic glass roof, behind is a rear sun shade, below are velour floor mats and all around (at night) the cabin basks in lovely ambient lighting (with your choice of seven hues).