The Goodwood Test: Mercedes-Benz S 500 AMG Line Cabriolet

11th June 2017
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.



This car started life as the Mercedes S-Class, a luxury limousine that’s been around for more than 40 years, slowly establishing itself as a rival not merely to the BMW 7-Series and Audi A8, but more premium models such as the Bentley Flying Spur. It then lost two doors to become a sporting coupe variant, and finally lost its roof last year. The result, the S-Class Cabriolet, has few rivals; at a push, you might wonder if there’s really a £100,000 difference between this and the Rolls-Royce Dawn. It certainly sits alongside Bentley’s Continental GTC, as well as the cheaper Maserati Gran Cabrio. The S500 is the entry-level variant, although, with a starting price tag of £111,215, there’s not much to suggest this is the bargain basement offering. Above it sit the S 63 AMG with its bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8, and the 6.0-litre V12 in the S 65 AMG.



This is a very good-looking car, by anyone’s standards, with a low-slung, lean nose bearing the company star-spangled grille featuring hundreds of chrome pins. That fabric roof is as handsome and well designed as the one in the Rolls-Royce Dawn and gives a sumptuous grand-tourer appeal to the model. The car sits on 20in alloys which are a reminder of the car's latent dynamic abilities. 

Inside, not only is the car packed with clever tech, but it’s wonderfully unobtrusive. A sweeping 12.3in touchscreen display, on a two-step fascia that wraps round you, has information on anything you’d want. 360-degree camera view when manoeuvring, usual DAB radio choices, satnav including links to Google maps displaying the route programmed on your phone, in-car internet access for Facebook, news and weather reports and more.

With the roof down, passengers sit in sublime, unruffled comfort: the car has the Merc Airscarf headrest vents that weave a ribbon of warm air round your neck, and heated armrests in the centre console and doors. An air balance package provides individual fragrances inside with four to choose from – there’s posh for you. The Burmester surround sound system has 13 speakers and a glorious aural depth. It’s a very, very nice place to sit.



Stunning, and staggering. Under the bonnet, the 4.7-litre V8, mated to AMG’s seven-speed auto, develops 455bhp and 516b ft of torque, shifting this two-tonne car to 62mph in 4.6 seconds. The power delivery is smooth and suitably quiet with a gurgling exhaust muffle to let passers-by know something serious is driving the wheels. Both axles are air-sprung, naturally for a car of this calibre. The steering is speed-sensitive, which I’ve never been a fan of, but is barely noticeable here.

On the go, the chassis just soaks up anything vulgar like a pothole, protecting its passengers in the thickly sound-insulated cabin. This is a four-seater, so don’t expect sportscar performance; it’s a grand tourer in the truest sense, with space for luggage and a ride and character tuned to eating up the miles and delivering a fresh driver to the destination. It is, however, dynamically sharper than the Bentley or indeed the Roller, and might offer the best balance yet between spirited driving and long-distance touring.



In many ways, this car feels like the pinnacle of Mercedes’ achievements: where the marque’s well-honed twin pillars of luxury and performance converge. We haven’t tested the barn-storming S 65 AMG model; no doubt this would be the one were we to win the Lottery (it’s another £80,000), but the S 500, which only comes in AMG Line, is a subtle, refined version of top-down luxury motoring, and pretty damn perfect in its own way.

Price as tested: £126,520

  • Mercedes-Benz

  • s-class

  • cabriolet

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