Mercedes AMG S65 Cabriolet 2018
Mercedes AMG S65 Cabriolet 2018 By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
When a Mercedes convertible is calling, surrender to the temptation and treat yourself to a slice of automotive royalty. There is none higher on the Benz food chain than this one. Meet the AMG S65 Cabriolet and get ready to empty the bank accounts.
This is what you’d call a Dream Car and I only wish that I never had to wake up. With a starting MSRP of $253,195 including transportation charge and gas guzzler tax, it is the priciest Mercedes model. Like all of the AMG 65 vehicles, it’s V12-powered and lavished with every comfort the Germans’ know. And for the 2018 model year, the S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet receive the same freshening as their sedan counterpart. I tested the updated S560 a few months ago and you can watch that review next.
If you’re not familiar with AMG, it’s the in-house tuner for Mercedes’ higher performing machines powered by handcrafted V8 and V12 motors. They’re the cream of the crop enrobed in exclusivity. And here we have the S65 Cabriolet, restyled this year with the knockout AMG-exclusive Panamericana grille, chrome design elements and organic LED taillamps with a unique light signature. This car is so beautiful it hurts. The hue is called Anthracite Blue Metallic and it’s exceptional. Now the cabrio can’t match the organic fluidity of the coupe’s design, but once the top is down it’s a showstopper. I could look at this car all day and never tire of its details.
This isn’t your typical cramped-rear seat convertible either. Adults are welcome and are comforted by the ease of a power sliding function, three levels of warming if needed and a pop-up wind screen to preserve the tranquility. And yes, this designo Saddle Brown Nappa leather is as soft and expertly sewn as it looks.
And of course, stimulating the senses even further comes with firing up this 621 horsepower 6.0-liter twin-turbo 12-cylinder – a sound that defines strength with a startup growl that sets the stage for an exciting drive.
One notch down from this car is the AMG S63 and though its V8 isn’t as powerful, that model is faster and more performance-oriented whereas the S65 is more akin to Gilded Age gallantry – old money for whom only the best will do.
Do you remember the old CL, this car’s spiritual predecessor? I always loved that car for its combination of stateliness and exclusivity. And this car is far sexier and available as a convertible and even rarer in this V12 AMG form. This is special and it feels it. From the moment you hear that stirring exhaust note, the S65 proclaims its exceptionalness. It’s got exotic car looks, arguably the most sensuous interior available and the commanding strength of range-topping AMG power. It’s not a sports car per se – it’s too big and heavy for that – but its performance is still enthralling and at times physics defying. Even as an AMG this car is first and foremost about elegantly potent top down motoring of the highest order. The only thing more breathtaking than driving it is its price.
738 pound-feet of torque and a smooth 7-speed auto make acceleration purely effortless. The immediacy whisks this nearly 5,000 pound car away in a no-nonsense 4 seconds flat. Even with an engine stop-start system, mileage only reaches 16mpg in combined driving. Comfort, Sport and Sport + driving modes manipulate the Cabrio’s specific adaptive damping air suspension with a wide spread in firmness. Despite its body roll-killing electronics and other suspension innovations, I could use even more suppleness in the default Comfort mode for a more Rolls-Royce magic carpet ride. This isn’t a car you necessarily drive for sport but when you do it can certainly handle the task with precision and refinement.
The cabin is a feast for the eyes and with spa-like elements such as massage, fragrances and selectable atmospheres the experience will blow your mind, especially at night…
Just like in the S560 I had, the configurable ambient lighting just adds to the wow factor. And the new Energizing Comfort settings holistically combine all of the sensual features including massage, music, scents, and climate that’ll blow your mind. The 1,190-watt 24 speaker Burmester 3D Sound System is aural heaven, AIRSCARF neck-level heating and heated armrests mean top-down is always an option, and the driving and convenience electronics are off the charts even if controlling them can be a little frustrating. From Night View Assist Plus that highlights pedestrians and animals in the dark to Route-Based Speed Adaption and Active Speed Limit Assist that knows when a curve is coming and when speed limits change and automatically adjusts the cruise control this car has every trick in the book including a host of semi-autonomous driving features. I only wish Mercedes used wireless Apple Car Play like BMW because you can’t use the wireless device charging while plugged in.
Carbon ceramic brakes are desirable for their ability to dissipate heat and perform with shut down authority time after time without fade. But they often squeal and grab too hard…not so here. Plus, look ma – no brake dust on these multi-spoke wheels.
Add about $9,000 if you want them. The exclusive forged wheels that hide them have a fascinating design: each of the 16 spokes twists in a special way so that the light-catching contours radiate to the center of the wheel hub creating a wheel that appears larger than its 20” size.
With its quiet cabin, even with the top down and at speed, the S65 provides a very special top-down experience. Trunk space is limited to a smallish 7 cubic feet however and if you’re thinking about all-wheel drive, you’ll have to step down to the S63.
At $263,445 as-tested the S65 Cabriolet is ultra-rare and highly desirable. And you might want to procure one while they last as Mercedes is on record as saying the V12 is not in AMG’s future.