Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe [C217] (2014 - 2020) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe is an exquisitely finished two-door Grand Tourer with an unusual and rather refreshing reluctance to attract attention that sets it apart in a luxury coupe market that during this 'C217'-design's production run between 2014 and 2020 was filled with flamboyance. It may be based upon the familiar 'W222'-series S-Class saloon but it's very much its own design, a beautiful piece of engineering with standards of class and technology that are well able to justify what when new was a six figure price tag. If your car matters more than the statement it makes, then this one's understated elegance will be a tempting alternative to Bentleys and Aston Martins better suited to footballers and lottery winners. The 'S' in 'S-Class abbreviates the German word for 'special'. And this Mercedes is.

Models

2dr Saloon (3.0, 4.0, 6.0 petrol]

History

So, you've succeeded in life. But there's still a distance to travel. A distance you'd like to complete without undue fanfare but in exquisite comfort. The style of a luxury coupe appeals but the brash vulgarity of a Bentley Continental or a Maserati GT doesn't. Assuming that you're looking for a large, premium badged luxury coupe from the 2014-2020 era and want something a bit nicer and more luxurious than, say, a BMW 6 Series or something from Jaguar, that leaves only one car on your choicelist. This one, the Mercedes S-Class Coupe.

It's worth touching upon a little history here, for the brand has much of it, having been represented in this segment since it launched the legendary 300 S Coupe in 1952, hailed by the press of the time as 'a car for the world's elite'. Ever since, Mercedes has brought us an almost uninterrupted series of exclusive two-door Grand Tourers combining sophisticated design with trailblazing technology - every model in its own way an automotive classic. First there was the 220 S Coupe of 1956 with its self-supporting pontoon body. Then we had the Type 220 and Type 280 SE Coupe models that sold for a decade from 1961 and were amongst the very first cars to feature disc brakes.

Our own recollections of the Three-Pointed Star's progress in this segment start with the lovely C216-series SEC coupes we saw in the Eighties, replaced at last in 1992 by a C140 range that included an S600 variant introducing the idea of 12 cylinder power to this sector, this model later also used to debut ESP stability control for the very first time in the automotive world. It was a mark of this top Mercedes model's significance and one that prompted the brand to badge its flagship luxury coupe as a range in its own right, the company re-launching their Grand Touring contender as the 'CL-Class' in 1999. Still though, the innovation continued, this model showcasing an Active Body Control system that transformed the way that cars of this size and weight could handle, a set-up further refined when the second generation version was launched in 2007 and updated in 2010.

By 2014 though, Mercedes was setting its sights a little higher amongst models of this kind. The CL-Class had sold to people who wanted something a little nicer than, say, a Jaguar XK, but who couldn't quite stretch to a properly, exclusively luxurious coupe like an Aston Martin DB9 or a Bentley Continental GT. These were the cars and this was the market segment Stuttgart really wanted a piece of, but to address it, something more than merely a sleeker two-door version of their S-Class saloon was needed. Something like this. The 'S-Class Coupe' name might imply a closer relationship with Mercedes' top limousine but the execution of this 'C217'-series design suggested that a much more distinctive approach had been taken this time round. There's a unique look and feel to this car, both inside and out. And yes, like its predecessors, it continues to trailblaze ground-breaking technology that advances the luxury standard. In 2019, the S500 was replaced by the more powerful S560. The S-Class Coupe sold until 2020, but wasn't replaced.

What You Get

'Sensual purity'. At the launch of this 'C217'-series S-Class Coupe model, we were told that this was what drove the shape of this car - and Mercedes' efforts to differentiate it from the boardroom limousine it's based upon. Whatever your view on that, there's no doubt that it's the most distinctly-styled large luxury Mercedes coupe of recent times, characterised by typical rear-wheel-drive proportions that are emphasised by the sculpted lines of the long bonnet with its pronounced powerdome and the low glasshouse with its high beltline. The result is a car that was visually unique in the Stuttgart maker's line-up in its period and quite exclusive enough to stand alongside the Bentley and Aston Martin rivals it was directly aimed at.

If you doubt that, just take a look at the front. All S-Class Coupes got full-LED headlights with jewel-like eyebrows made up of little hi-tech bulbs, but some original buyers paid extra for the optional stylistic feature we think you just have to have with this car, the two main front lamps decorated with no fewer than 47 Swarovski crystals, there to create an exotic lighting signature you'll never tire of admiring.

So the exterior looks right. What about the cabin? Well as you take a seat, allow your restraint buckle to be graciously delivered by the electrically-extending 'belt butler' and look around, you'll take in the way that the design team moved to differentiate this car from its four-door stablemate in an attempt to create more of the kind of 'wrap-around' effect that coupe buyers will be looking for. It's wasn't easy to achieve this - the front passenger airbag, for example, had to be moved to a completely different and lower location. But the end result just about delivers the superior Grand Touring ambiance this price point requires. Specified correctly, it can feel very high end indeed, despite the fact that all the main elements are the same as those found on the kind of entry-level S-Class saloon you could buy for half as much.

As with that car, the dash is dominated by two 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT screens that more dismissive writers described as looking like a couple of iPads shunted together. We actually think they look rather sleek, with wondrous graphics that make those on rival infotainment systems look very old-fashioned. The display directly ahead of the driver performs all the functions you'd expect from a conventional instrument cluster. Most of the other information you'll need - audio, phone, navigation, media features and so on - is to be found on the centre-dash screen that delivers the bewildering functionality promised by Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system.

It's not especially easy to get to the two individual back seats, even though the front chairs automatically slide forward to aid the process, but once you're installed in the back, it's pretty much as good as it gets in this class, provided you're not excessively tall or long of leg. And the boot, the lid of which glides up automatically on the sporting AMG models? Well this model's more stylised shape means that with 400-litres on offer, you get luggage capacity that's 90-litres less than the old CL-Class coupe could offer - and 110-litres less than the space provided by an S-Class saloon.

What You Pay

Please contact us for an exact up-to-date valuation.

What to Look For

Obviously buy with care - there are a lot of electrical features that could go wrong and you need to make sure that all the powered seat systems work properly and infotainment screen and instrument displays function as they should. Obviously, insist on a fully stamped-up dealer history and inspect the big alloy wheels for scuffs that could require a price reduction. There were a number of recalls for this model that you should be aware of. At one point in production, due to an issue with the wiring harness that sent an incorrect camshaft signal confusing the engine stop start system and causing it to cut out, some models had sometimes to be put in Park and restarted manually after coming to a stop.

And other recall issues? Well, there were reports of a rear seatbelt malfunction which saw the seatbelt extender in the back seat not retracting correctly when in use: check this on any car you inspect. There were also reports of an oil leak from the turbocharger, potentially leaking oil on to hot engine components; affected cars should have had a replacement oil feed pipe fitted as part of a recall. In some instances, some front passenger airbags weren't installed correctly; again, a recall sorted the problem and you should make sure that the car you're looking at has had it. There was also an issue reported regarding faulty software on the production line that saw the start stop system sometimes shut down. And there was an issue with the safety and emissions control system, which was fixed by a software update recall. In a few instances, there was a malfunctioning occupant safety system which saw the main power supply dislodged when the airbags went off, which then prevented various safety systems (including the automatic door lock release) to stop working. Make sure that the car you're looking at has had all of these things attended to.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2019 S500 Coupe - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £51. An oil filter is around £12. Front brake pads sit in the £173 bracket for a set (for rears it's around £215). A tail lamp is around £337-£351.

On the Road

Most sales were of the entry-level S500 version of this S-Class Coupe (later upgraded in power and re-badged S560). But you might want to try and stretch to the racier S63 AMG variant, which has a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 beneath the bonnet that generates 585bhp and some 900 Newton metres of torque. Above that is the 6.0-litre V12-powered S65 AMG flagship model. That fronts up with 630PS and a round one thousand Newton metres of pulling power.

You'll probably be expecting us to justify S63 AMG ownership with talk of aural fireworks and sure enough, they're served up in magnificent measure courtesy of the switchable sports exhaust that S500 buyers can't have. A far more important feature than that though, was reserved exclusively for S63 and S65 AMG ownership, a piece of ground-breaking technology never previously seen on a production car. It's called a 'curve tilting function', a system able to load the car's suspension at speed through sharp turns so as to lean it into the corner in the same way a motorcyclist or a skier would. This minimises the lateral acceleration that through a tight curve would normally roll you towards the outside of your seat and instead, you're pushed down into your chair the same way you would be on a rollercoaster.

Overall

Before living with this Mercedes S-Class Coupe, you might be a little sceptical about its charms. After all, if you've earned enough to pretty much buy a used Bentley, isn't it logical to simply ahead and get one rather than opt for what critics would see as a coupe version of a mere luxury saloon? The thing is though, this S-Class Coupe is far more than that. With this 'C217'-series design, Mercedes at last gave its super luxury Grand Tourer its own unique appeal.

Most of the time, at the wheel of this Mercedes-Benz, you'll be content to sail close to the summit of automotive refinement in a GT that combines fascination, perfection and responsibility in equal measure. Bentley and Aston Martin customers want to be noticed. S-Class Coupe customers don't need to be. Which in its own way we think, like this car, makes them more exclusive still.

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