Summer Solstice Sled

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The flagship S Class loses two doors and its roof, but adds fun in the sun in exchange.

Luxury high-end, four-seat convertibles are relatively rare these days. But Mercedes-Benz is still a player in this league with its S-Class 560 Cabriolet. And with this model, both power and beauty are in the mix. In the engine compartment a 4.0-liter V-8 twin turbocharged develops 463 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic transmission handles the gear changes.

Notwithstanding this power statement, the real thrill is the look of this model, particularly when the top is down. Of course, there is no mistaking the make of this car because of the classic Mercedes grille stretched across the front with the tri-star in the center. But perhaps more importantly, the body is low with 19-inch alloy wheels and has interesting cuts on the side panels. The rear end is clean with classic Mercedes tail lights and four rectangular exhaust pipes nicely integrated into the rear bumper. With the top down, this is truly a looker.

Like other newer Mercedes models, the interior has received a major redoing with emphasis on the use of large video screens atop the dash. Interestingly, when the door is opened, a large Mercedes badge is projected from the base of the door onto the pavement. In this S-Class model, two large 12.3-inch screens are atop the dash. One screen is directly behind the steering wheel, and the other is in the center of the dash. With multiple buttons and dials on the steering wheel and the center console, there are seemingly an infinite number of choices on what to display. In reverse gear, the center video screen provides a 360-degree view around the car, and offers different views as well. Among the choices on display are the performance preferences. By changing the alternatives, the suspension and shifting modes are altered to suit the driver’s preferences. The choices are eco, comfort, sport and sport-plus. The entire interior is leather wrapped with puka-covered leather on the seats, which can be cooled or heated. Perhaps more interesting is a massaging feature for the front two seats, and there are many choices of where the massage is felt.

In the rear area, there are two seats with a center console dividing them. Armrests are available with cup holders. Unlike most rear seats, which are in a fixed position, these seats can be moved back and forth. Legroom is a little tight depending who is in the front seats. The powered trunk lid is opened with a button in the interior or the key and reveals a medium-sized nicely lined interior.

The raising or lowering of the three-layered convertible top is handled with a simple push of a button, and goes up or down in seconds. And the top simply goes up or down without having to even touch it or any controls. And with the top down, starting the twin, turbo-charged big V-8, one can hear a deep, throaty exhaust sound. Acceleration is a throw you back into the seat variety with a zero-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds. The nine-speed automatic transmission shifts without being sensed. But for the shifters of the world, there are paddles behind the steering wheel to manually handle the gear changes. As mentioned earlier, the ride is adjustable from comfort and absorbing to semi-race car.

And, of course, the best fun is driving with the top down, to feel the breeze, the sunshine, and hear the exhaust note when changing the gears with the paddle shifter…all in an attractive and unique car.

MODEL: FOUR-SEAT LUXURY CONVERTIBLE
POWERTRAIN: 4.0-LITER TWIN TURBOCHARGED V-8, 463 HORSEPOWER, NINE-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
PERFORMANCE: 0-60 IN 4.5 SECONDS
PRICE: : $134,300, AS TESTED $141,315

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