For those who can afford the luxury of a Mercedes S-Class and want everyone to know it, the German automaker is offering its S550 convertible for the first time since 1971.
Worried that the four-seat sedan will be draughty or lack the atmosphere of its fixed-roof version? Don't. The 2017 S550 Cabriolet comes standard with a new intelligent climate control that uses 12 sensors and 18 actuators that automatically keep the driver comfortably warm or cool, even with the top down.
This climate control can combine with heated seats, heated armrests, neck-level air vents that are built into the front seatbacks and Aircap, an automatic wind protection system for when the roof is down, to ensure an unbelievably comfortable ride.
Multicontour massaging front seats that soothe like a hot stone massage are part of a $3,500 option package, and a $6,400 Burmester 3D sound system that uses 24 high-performance speakers and 24 amplifier channels provides crystal clear sound, even with the roof down.
The car also comes with an "air balance" system that ionizes the cabin air and adds a scent to personalize the interior. And buyers can even add sparkling Swarkovski crystals to the headlights and stuff 20-inch wheels into the wheel wells.
As expected, the S550 Cabrio is expensive. The starting manufacturer's retail price, including destination charge, is $132,325, and it's easy to get to more than $160,000 by adding many of the tantalizing options.
Built as a version of the S-Class large four-door sedan, the S550 convertible comes with two large doors and a starting retail price that's $34,800 more than the starting MSRP with destination charge for a base, 2017 Mercedes S550 sedan. But the S550 Cabrio is sexier and flashier than the more formal fixed-top sedan.
Both cars use the same 449-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, which delivers a strong and quick response in any situation.
At startup, the powerful torque of up to 516 foot-pounds can come on at a low 1,800 rpm in the convertible and forcefully push driver and passengers back into their seats.
Mercedes estimates that the 16.5-foot-long convertible can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a speedy 4.6 seconds. Yet the car's nine-speed automatic transmission does a good job of managing and meting out the appropriate power in less demanding conditions such as stop-and-go traffic.
The test-driven convertible was surprisingly quiet inside. Its power-operated fabric roof has three layers for good insulation, and wind sounds are minimized by aerodynamic shaping of such things as the outside mirrors. Impressively, the roof goes down in less than 20 seconds and can be operated at speeds up to 37 miles an hour. And the compartment in the trunk that the roof folds into automatically opens when the driver presses the button to put the roof down.
Maximum trunk space is 12 cubic feet with the roof up and just 9 cubic feet with it down.
Only two people can sit in the back of the convertible, but it provides decent legroom for adults as long as the front seats are up a ways on their tracks. The S550 Cabriolet is heavy and solid-feeling car. The test-driven version weighed more than 4,800 pounds and averaged less than 20 mpg in combined city and highway travel.