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Driving the New Mercedes-Benz S-Class S550 and S63 AMG Coupes

In both design and performance, the new S-Class Coupes branch out from Mercedes’s historically conservative approach…

Mercedes-Benz has traditionally treated its flagship coupes with buttoned-down restraint, incorporating precision engineering into an understated package that flies below the radar of most driving enthusiasts. For 2015, the cars in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe family depart from that paradigm, with all-new designs that feature more aggressive and even sporty characteristics than the German manufacturer typically employs. Included in the new line are the S550 ($119,900) and S63 AMG ($160,900), which both offer a driving experience that also goes beyond Mercedes’s historically conservative approach.

While these S-Class Coupes respond effortlessly at moderate speeds, with stately but maneuverable performance, burying the pedal reveals surprisingly brisk but smooth acceleration. This sense of quickness is apparent in spades when driving the 449 hp S550, but it becomes even more noticeable with the 577 hp S63 AMG, whose aggressive 664 ft lbs of torque and stiffer suspension enable more vigorous dynamics. The S63 can reach 60 mph from a standstill in only 3.9 seconds, aided by all-wheel drive, which minimizes wheelspin (and is standard on most of the S-Class Coupe models). Both the S550 and S63 intentionally allow some of the twin-turbocharged V-8 engine’s exhaust note to be audible within the cabin, giving the driver a closer connection to their sporting soul.

The interiors offer exquisite expanses of quilted leather (optional), elegant wood surfaces, and matte-aluminum switchgear. As with the S-Class sedan, the cabins can be perfumed via a glovebox-mounted atomizer that spritzes fragrance into the car’s air-conditioning system. Available amenities include remarkably comfortable multi-contour seats with a hot-stone massage feature, heated armrests, and Magic Sky Control, which electronically changes the transparency of the sunroof glass. The cockpits are delightfully devoid of button clutter. A new dial-and-touchpad-operated interface works intuitively, though deep menu structures sometimes make simple tasks more complex than they should be.

The cars’ exteriors, which draw styling cues from the recently redesigned S-Class sedan, have gentler curves that lend the vehicles a presence more Italianate than Germanic, more enchanting than purposeful. Opulent indulgences include headlights decked out in 47 Swarovski crystals each. While most S-Class Coupe shoppers will probably be content with the strong performance of the S550 or S63 AMG, those who seek absolute excess might want to wait for the S65 AMG Coupe ($230,900), which tops off the lineup with an active-leaning suspension and a 621 hp twin-turbocharged V-12 that promises even swifter and smoother acceleration—and an experience sure to satiate even the most performance-hungry driving enthusiasts. (mbusa.com)

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