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Mercedes’ S-Class Coupe loves corners so much, it actively leans into them

When I think of Mercedes-Benz, I don’t think of stately SUVs or small sports cars, though it has great expertise in making both. No, the cars that truly represent Mercedes-Benz – in my mind – are its hulking coupes.

The breed’s lineage reaches back to the 1952 300 S Coupe. Over the years, the full-size Benz coupes have been called many things. The most recent iteration is the CL-Class, which debuted in 1992.

The CL, despite its name, was just like its predecessors; the two-door variants of flagship S-Class sedan.

For me, these highfalutin runabouts perfectly encapsulate the breed. They combine the gravitas, technology, power, and refinement of the long-wheel base S-Class into a shorter, sportier form.

The S-Class is for moving great people with great ease. The S-Class Coupe, however, is for doing it with great style.

Background

The current CL is downright old. It was last refreshed in 2006, which makes it ancient in automotive terms, especially sitting next to the all-new 2014 S-Class.

The CL has always followed the model cycle of the S-Class. And since there’s a new four-door S-Class, there, too, must also be a new Coupe. And there is. But this time, it’s called not the CL but the S-Class Coupe. And, as you can see from the images above, it’s truly a thing of stunning beauty.

Design

When designing the S Coupe, Mercedes designers worked to perfectly encapsulate the brand’s design idiom: “sensual purity.” Additionally, designers strove to “modernity and the avant-garde.” While these sound great, they’re clearly German buzz-speak that only a man named Lothar would think is evocative.

Up front, the S Coupe grins brightly with a new diamond radiator grille, which accents and surrounds the iconic Mercedes logo with “chrome-plated elements.”

Flanking the elegant grille are full LED headlights. On Edition 1 S550, the headlights will feature “unique headlamps with no less than 47 Swarovski crystals. Seventeen angular crystals form the flare-shaped daytime running lamps, with 30 round-shaped crystals making up the turn indicator lamps.”

2015 Mercedes S Class Coupe headlight

Moving alongside the S-Class Coupe, we see a very strong shoulder line, reminiscent of other new Mercedes, which leads into a muscle over the rear axle, giving the car a look of lightness and agility.

In the back the S-Class Coupe looks – to me – like a weightier SLS. The two-part rear bumper makes it look sporty while also looking undeniably luxurious.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say the backend looks a bit too squished up top for my taste. I understand the dual-bumper design, but it also screams of an internal design conflict. It makes me imagine some very terse but precisely worded emails being exchanged between the Mercedes S Coupe design staff.

Power

Mercedes will offer the S Coupe in only one model in the U.S. at first: an S550 4MATIC powered by a 4.7-liter Biturbo V8 producing 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Power will be sent to all four wheels through Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, by way of a 7-speed automatic.

Delightfully, the S Coupe won’t just be a two-door luxury coupe, wafting about the landscape. Mercedes has fitted it with an exhaust system with flaps that open at higher rpm and at ignition. This way, you won’t scare children when idling through town, but you also can look extra sporty when you fire your German two-door land yacht.

As for 0-to-60 times or fuel efficiency numbers, Mercedes has yet to release those figures. Straight-line acceleration, though, isn’t really the point of the S550. The S63 Coupe on the other hand…

Handling

Honestly, the S Coupe’s power figures aren’t that exciting. What’s really intriguing, however, is the all-new “active curve tilting function.” The new system, which debuts on the S Coupe, allows the car to lean into corners, much like a motorcyclist or a skier.

The purpose of the system, Mercedes insists, is not to make for faster cornering, but to rather limit the cornering forces on the passengers, making for a smoother and more comfortable ride.

How does it work? It’s essentially a new function of the Active Body Control, which debuted on the 2014 S-Class. It uses stereo cameras to detect roadway imperfections and pre-adjust the suspension accordingly. Using the hydraulic cylinder plungers of the Active Body Control, active curve tilting can raise one side of the car in a corner in a fraction of a second up to 2.5 degrees.

My gut wants to say that it’ll be a very strange sensation. I doubt very much, though, you’ll ever be able to feel it, which – sadly – is the point.

Interior

Lastly and most importantly, we come to the interior, which is what really matters most about the S Coupe. I don’t need to tell you why. You already know why.

Red interiors went away for a while. After you sell the Ford Aerostar minivan with a red interior, it’s no longer cool. Thankfully American automakers have forgotten what red leather looks like, and we’re allowed to have sensuous “Bengal red” interiors from the Germans again.

Mercedes uses words like “wrap-around” and “hovering” to describe the S Coupe interior. I’m just going to call it “tops.”

Exclusive nappa leather by Designo bathes front and rear passengers. The shoulder lines run seamlessly from the front to the rear thanks to frameless windows and seatbelts embedded low where the B-pillar would normally be found.

2015 Mercedes S Class Coupe front cabin

The driver can control just about every vehicle function and feature through the two-piece, and simply massive, TFT screen in the dash, which is highlighted by a lighting corona.

At the base of the center armrest, the driver can control the COMAND infotainment system with a touchpad. Along with pinching and swiping motions like those on a smartphone, the touchpad also allows for the user to draw out letters for entering addresses and searches.

Sound comes from a standard Burmester surround sound system, or buyers can order an optional Burmester High-End 3D surround sound system for improved sound quality.

If the massive TFT screens in the dash weren’t enough, Mercedes also offers an optional Head Up Display (HUD), allowing the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road while monitoring vital data.

Nick Jaynes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Jaynes is the automotive editor of The Manual. When Nick isn't behind the wheel on the open road, he can be found…
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