2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet first drive review

Talk up the feel of the wind in your hair and the natural high of sunshine as you will; but in the world of convertibles, there are those that cruise the scene, and there are those that help make the scene.

The 2017 S-Class Cabriolet lineup is without question in the latter group. It’s a true four-seat convertible that manages to splice together the beauty and grace of the S-Class sedan, the ostentatious perfection of the S-Class Coupe, and just a hint of attitude from the SL roadsters—and yes, a nod here and there to the formality of the CL coupes that precede it.

On a programmed drive route that took us from Nice, along France’s beautiful Côte d’Azur—the French Riviera—then through Cannes (bustling a few weeks before the Cannes Film Festival) and then up into the countryside, we found the S-Class to be a glamorous conveyance.

But it’s far more than that; on the motorways and winding foothill roads the rest of the afternoon, this big ragtop demonstrated a near-ideal mix of comfortable and engaging—in a way that will please as a special daily driver, an executive’s weekend getaway car, or the sort of car you entertain with, for double dates and evenings out.

A roomy four-seat ragtop: a rarity today

With its long, 117-inch wheelbase, four-seat layout, smart-stowing soft top, and lineup of big turbocharged V-8 and V-12 engines, the S-Class Cabriolet stands as a far-opposite counterpoint to the two-seat, retractable hardtop, four-cylinder SLC Roadster.

In the U.S., the S Cabriolet comes in three flavors: S550, with a 4.7-liter V-8 making 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque; AMG S63, with a 5.5-liter V-8 at 577 hp and 664 lb-ft; and AMG 65, with a 6.0-liter V-12 at 621 hp and 738 lb-ft. The S550 comes with the Mercedes 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic transmission, while both of the AMG models include the AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed automatic.

The two V-8 models of the S-Class Cabriolet will arrive at U.S. dealerships in late spring; expect the S65 to arrive by late summer.

The S63 also includes all-wheel drive—a system that sends 67 percent of torque to the rear wheels by default for driving enjoyment.

Top speed is electronically limited to 155 for the S550, or to 186 mph for the two AMG versions, with acceleration the quickest (3.8 seconds to 60 mph) for the S63. The S65 and S550 check in at 4.0 and 4.5 seconds, respectively.

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