Development of the new Mercedes-Benz S-class cabriolet is continuing apace and the car has been spotted undergoing trials on public roads ahead of its planned launch in 2015.
The car had only previously been seen in a heavily disguised form towards the tail end of 2012. The latest spy shots reveal that the S-class cabriolet will make use of a folding soft-top roof and that it shares much of its styling with the new CL-replacing S-class coupé on which it is based.
The Mercedes S-class cabriolet will open up a fresh niche for large luxury 2+2 soft-tops, occupying territory close to the Bentley Continental GTC.
The camouflaged prototype fails to disguise the heavily raked windscreen (shared with the S-class coupé) and the large rear quarterlight window, which gives an indication that the rear cabin will be relatively generous for a soft-top.
Compared with the E-class cabriolet, the S-class will have a roomier, higher-quality cabin, which will be part of its appeal to owners who want the space to carry a pair of adult passengers in open-top luxury.
Mercedes has previously floated the idea of a luxury soft-top in the shape of the 2006 Ocean Drive concept, although that experimented with four-door styling.
A key feature of the new S-class is the classy, near-Bentley-quality interior. Scoop pictures of the cabin have previously revealed a fully digital dashboard with a four-dial instrument pack, paired with a widescreen sat-nav/multimedia system set in matching rectangular binnacles, matching that of the new S-class.
Extra luxury is added by a swathe of wood trim across the cockpit, punctuated by ‘eyeball’ air vents fashioned from metal, which look like they’ve been lifted straight out of a Bentley parts bin.
Under the skin, the S-class cabriolet will be packed with high-end technology, much of it focused on improving the car’s road manners and breaking new ground in safety.
Like the new S-class saloon, the cabriolet will feature ‘Magic Ride’ suspension, first revealed on the company’s F700 concept. It scans the road surface and adjust the air springs and dampers to suit the prevailing conditions. By working on each wheel individually, the system is said to be able to provide a constant ride height and eradicate cornering lean.
As on every generation of S-class, new safety technology will also be introduced. This is likely to include refinements to Mercedes’ convertible rollover system.
A ‘Braking Bag’ under the front axle, activated during the last moments of an emergency stop, will provide extra retardation. The car is also expected to incorporate a new seatbelt-mounted airbag.
Engine options have yet to be announced but the S-class coupé on which the cabriolet is based was initially offered with a twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8. It produces 448bhp and 516lb ft, which is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission.
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