For a brand founded on fanciness, a flagship must not only be sumptuous and splendid, it must make a statement. And while Mercedes produces about a dozen models priced above the six-figure mark, and a handful that crest $200,000, it has only one flagship — and it’s not the $208,000 SLS AMG GT Roadster. It’s the $215,000 CL65 AMG coupe: a twelve-cylinder, twin-turbo behemoth predicated on the idea that, at the top of the economic food chain, there is always a plutocrat willing to pay a premium for profligacy.
For those apex predators, the tri-star brand just introduced a replacement for the CL. Benz had already extended the top-notch S-Class nomenclature to encompass vehicles that may have been marketed as Maybachs if that experiment hadn’t been such a flop including S600, Limo, and purported Pullman and Landaulet replacements. So it makes sense that the new old flagship follows suit. The CL is dead. All heil the S-Class Coupe.
Though we’re only seeing the “base” S550 here in Geneva, with a twin-turbo 4.7 liter V-8 (449 hp/516 lb.-ft) and a seven-speed automatic, we can extrapolate from this handsome, albeit slightly tarpon-esque two-door into S63 and S65 AMG coupe — and rumored convertible — permutations. We find its fluid shape cohesive, if a bit familiar (hello, 6-Series), and though we generally dig Benz’s recent surfboard-imprinted flank design, there might be a bit too much pressure on the longboard on this one. It looks a bit like gramps has cinched his belt too tight, with waist meat overflowing up into the already narrow daylight opening. Thankfully, a B-pillarless design is retained, which, along with a giant MAGIC SKY DARKENING LCD-impregnated glass sunroof, should reduce any suffocating references to Poe’s immuring Cask of Amontillado.
Other MAGIC tech includes all of the accident- and anxiety-reducing autonomeity found on the S-Class sedan, a list that is far too long to detail, but includes the ability for the car to start, stop, steer, guide, park, not crash, not whip your head back and forth, not clobber pedestrians, and not kill sub-intelligent roadside animals all by itself. New to the two-door is a standard heads-up display, along with a scrollable infotainment touchpad like the one Audi has had in its upscale cars for years. Additionally, there’s de-yawing "active curve tilting control" function that uses turn-sensing cameras to lean the car to one side or another in advance of switchbacks and sweepers, presumably to reduce any sense that you’re driving a car and not operating an autobahn-dominating perpetual movement drone.
Also available are Swarovski crystal headlamps, because Acura already had the license on Home Shopping Network's Cubic Zirconia brand, and real diamonds were foolishly deemed too ostentatious.
Inside, there’s the same delicious, category dominating interior found on the other high test S-Classes—a devastatingly delicious cabin that nearly out-Bentleys Bentley. Though in the coupe, there’s more real metal, less back seat, and additional leather options.
We’ve always loved the purposeful potency of Benz’s big coupe. Though it will fight us for the right to do so, we can’t wait to captain this flagship.