Mercedes-Benz constructs an ultra-class coupe with the S500
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
Mercedes-Benz, that ultimate car crafter from Germany, produces the precision machines many critics rank among the best in the world of fine automobiles.
For an elite few, this automaker also constructs an ultra-class full-size edition primed with massive horsepower and stocked with every conceivable comfort, then wrapped in the sensuous cues of a lengthy 2-door coupe.
Mercedes calls this marvel the S500 Coupe.
Stretching long and slinking low, the 2-door Mercedes seats but four in a salon trimmed in expensive leather and accented with glossy rare hardwoods.
The coupe packs an enormous V8 engine capable of propelling more than two tons of streamlined steel from zero to 60 mph in the scant space of 7.2 seconds.
On-board systems for safety, security and comfort carry the science of electronic computerized automotive technology to new high marks in terms of complexity and completeness.
Overriding its dazzling technical aspects, perhaps, this coupe looks as classy as anything on wheels.
One more thing: The S500 bears a price tag that, when you include a federal luxury tax, totals to six figures.
Like the yacht owner once observed, if you must inquire about the price, you probably can't afford it anyway.
I know I can't, but I spent a week pretending I could.
See, this S500 showed up in my driveway one morning, as if delivered by a fairy god mother. A copy of the window sticker, which accompanied the coupe, listed it for $91,900, plus $395 for a glass sunroof, $102 for special floor mats, $475 in dealer freight fees and another $1,700 in a tax applied because of its gas-guzzler classification.
The tab came to $94,470, plus $6,140 in luxury tax.
That window sticker I encountered before figuring out where the ignition key had been concealed, so I spent the remainder of my day debating whether I had the guts to venture out of the driveway in a vehicle which costs far more dollars than the average American home.
Ultimate, I decided to risk it all, and let me tell you: A wonderful week of driving ensued.
If you're not familiar with this S-Class series, understand it represents the top of the Mercedes-Benz line and encompasses two coupes and five sedans.
All S-Class sedans save the abbreviated S350 turbodiesel ride on a wheelbase stretched to 123.6 inches, and both coupes come with 115.9-inch wheelbase.
All carry a 4-wheel independent suspension system with front double wishbone and rear 5-link design, plus speed-dependant power steering of recirculating ball-type construction and 4-wheel vented discs with power assistance, a complex anti-lock system and electronic traction control.
All also stock a stunning array of luxury features.
Differences between models essentially come down to powertrain applications.
Within sedans, for instance, the S350 turbodiesel employs a single-cam 6-in-line plant with 12 valves, mechanical fuel injection and 148 horsepower rating. A 4-speed automatic transmission completes this team.
The S320 sedan also uses a 6-cylinder plant, but it's naturally aspirated, displacing 3.2 liters and producing 228 hp in concert with a 5-speed auto shifter.
Two other sedans, the S420 and S500, provide V8 power from 4.2-liter and 5.0-liter plants. The former pumps 275 hp while the latter soars to 315.
Then an ultimate Mercedes sedan -- the S600 -- packs a massive 6.0-liter V12 engine that hits 389 hp.
The two coupes mirror S500 and S600 sedans in terms of engines and horsepower ratings.
Prices vary dramatically due to powertrain and number of doors attached, as sedans with lesser horsepower seem almost affordable when compared to coupe renditions, with S320 and S350 listing for $65,900. The S600 coupe, on the other hand, tallies to more than twice that figure.
The interior of S-Class coupes differ from sedans in rear seat design, as sedans have a 3-person bench while coupes have two sculpted seats separated by a wood-lined console with storage bin and fold-down padded armrest.
Gaining access to this rear passenger area seems less difficult than in lesser coupes because S-Class doors cut deep toward the rear section and, when you fold the front seatback to climb aboard, the seat automatically and electrically moves forward out of the way. Once snuggled in back, pull that seatback rearward and the seat returns to its original position.
Front buckets rank among the most comfortable, but Mercedes has always held the design edge in seats.
The S500 Coupe has a number of new convenience items this year. For a German automaker that cannot fathom the American penchant for drinking cola or coffee while driving, the most surprising of these are the two cupholders concealed in center console, front and rear.
An optional new portable cellular telephone features voice-activated dialing and response for hands-free usage.
Exterior modifications include a redesigned prow with integrated grille and headlamp clusters, new bumpers that wrap to bodyside moldings for a sleek low look, and redesigned tail that's more fluidly rounded.
Also, the platform was dropped a third of an inch so the car now hugs the ground in a muscular stance.
Technological improvements begin with improved fuel economy numbers due to stronger yet lighter engine components and extend to an off-switch for traction control to permit rear wheel slippage when desired, plus a new active damping system to control suspension components at each wheel for increased ride comfort and handling response.
My S500 drove with sporty agility through curve sets but still produced an elegant ride quality comparable to a plush limousine.
This Mercedes looks so sleek and expensive, feels so refined and luxurious, behaves so powerfully and assuredly that these endearing traits transfer quite naturally to the egocentric self. You feel so good driving the S500 -- but knowing you could actually afford to drive it becomes the coupe's ultimate ego stroke.
1995 MERCEDES-BENZ S500 COUPE
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1995 MERCEDES BENZ S500 Specs
| Model Options:
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||DOHC 5.0-L V8 32v
| Gas Mileage: