There’s a reason that cars like this are often subjected to boat comparisons; the odd ‘land yacht’ classification. Cliché as it is, there really is a calming, almost meditative relaxation to the way a big, heavy convertible slicks down the road. It's exactly the same sort of all-consuming easiness that also characterises really posh boats.
That means you don’t really want to go quickly. The S 500 feels best in Comfort mode, driven smoothly and without fluster, with the roof down and the smug factor turned right up.
Ride comfort – even on the optional 20in alloys fitted to our car, and on UK roads – is very impressive. The vast majority of the time it cushions you from the road’s scarring, while big bumps and undulations are soaked up with soothing long-wave suppleness, and not too much dip and dive from the body. Only occasionally, and normally with cornering forces thrown in, do you get a big enough disturbance to unsettle the big Merc. This is also when you’ll notice a slight shake and shudder through the body, a tell-tale, albeit barely noticeable, hint that losing the roof has taken its toll.
Still, there is a strapping V8 and some world-class chassis tech at play, here, so it’s no surprise that the Merc can be hustled with remarkable finesse for a 2.1-tonne car. In Sport mode the steering is a bit heavy and loses some of the organic-feeling progression that you enjoy in Comfort, but the extra bite does give welcome added reassurance as you point the S-Class’ nose through surprisingly pointed direction changes.
Overall, it has a satisfying willingness to respond directly and with precision if the mood takes you. Even the body roll and pitch is well-controlled for such a huge car, so it’s actually the fairly slow steering and soft pedal responses - designed to aid smooth rather than fast driving – that keep you conscious of the bulk you're wielding around.
That V8 is a delight, with a power delivery that builds progressively but with real zealousness, making it easy to hit just the right blend of rapid but un-taxed progress that really suits the car. Sometimes the gearbox delivers a little more shunt on kickdown than you want in such a soothing car, but it’s a small criticism for the nine-speed auto, which otherwise blurs shifts very well.
Inside it’s as indulgent as you’d expect of something that has the option of Swarovski crystal embellishments in the LED headlights. If you could fit a chandelier in there, it wouldn’t look out of place.