Grand coupes have long been a Mercedes-Benz tradition, one that is both respected and challenged by the all-new 2015 S550 and S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe. With its styling and sumptuous materials, it respects the bespoke nature of a flagship coupe. At the same time, it is challenging tradition with a suite of high-technology driver aids that point the direction towards autonomous operation.

The design is a harmonic blend of proportion and traditional Mercedes cues that start with a long hood/short rear deck profile. The S-Class Coupe is a true hardtop with no B-pillar between the front and rear side glass. A powerful grille with a large three-pointed start dominates the nose, the hood features Mercedes' signature twin power domes and the rear deck is punctuated by a fixed ducktail spoiler. The sides are clean with parallel character lines giving the impression of forward movement.

The S-Class Coupe rides on a 116-inch wheelbase and measures 198 inches in overall length. Equipped with a choice of 19- or 20-inch wheels, the coupe is a muscular yet elegant timeless two-door.

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Leading-edge interior design 

The cabin is a sublime blend of traditional materials like Nappa leather and woodgrain accents with cutting edge technology that is apparent in the two large screens that dominate the dash both in front of the driver and over the center console. This two-part TFT screen seemingly hovers between the top surface of the dash which wraps around the front of the car and the highly sculpted lower section that flows through the center console.

Mercedes-Benz' COMAND system employs both a rotary dial to toggle through control functions as well as a touchpad that allows the driver to operate the same functions with finger gestures. There is also a row of redundant switches on the dash for the climate control, as well as steering wheel and stalk mounted controls for the cruise control, wipers and sound system. In addition, an optional head-up display uses full-color projected LCD images for speed, navigation and engine performance.

The 4-passenger S-Class Coupe is fitted with individual bucket seating for both front and rear passengers and the standard sound system is provided by Burmester, with the optional Burmester High-End 3D surround system employing more than 20 speakers.

Massive V8 turbo power

Both the S550 and S63 AMG 4Matic Coupes benefit from turbocharged V8 power. The former uses a 4.7-liter twin turbo engine coupled to a traditional 7-speed torque converter automatic transmission. This drivetrain produces 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The higher output S63 AMG model uses a larger 5.5-liter twin turbo V8 mated to a single clutch 7-speed MCT manual gearbox with an automated clutch. Output is rated at 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Later next year, the rear-drive 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG will bow with a 6.0-liter twin turbo V12 making 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Priced at $230,900, that model will have a 7-speed AMG Speedshift Plus dual clutch gearbox.

There is a distinct difference in the driving dynamics between the S550 4Matic and its S63 AMG sibling. The S550 is plenty quick with 0-60 mph acceleration of 4.5 seconds and a limited top speed of 130 mph. It delivers 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway for a combined average of 19 mpg. This particular model is swift, surefooted and smooth, thanks to both the seamless shifting of the 7-speed gearbox and the subtle operation of the automatic stop/start fuel savings system. Using the sport mode dials up the performance aspects, opening up exhaust flaps for a more aggressive exhaust note, while disabling the stop/start system. Still, the S550 is a supreme cruiser, a great way to go grand touring in style.

The AMG Evil Twin 

With a $41,000 premium over the S550 base price of $119,900, the S63 AMG 4Matic coupe is the evil twin of its more sedate sibling offering up a blistering 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds (it is a tenth quicker than the S65) and it has a limited top speed of 186 mph. For than extra 40 grand, the AMG is lighter and comes equipped with composite brakes, forged light-alloy wheels and the AIRMATIC air suspension system with adaptive damping.

The S63 is fast, equally surefooted as the S550, but it has a more definite edge to its performance and ride due in large part to the MCT 7-speed which is more deliberate in its shift action. The 5.5-liter V8 has a more of a bass rumble to it than the 4.7-liter unit in the S550, and as a result, it roars to life with more authority in the stop/start mode. Despite having more muscle, the S63's fuel economy is only 1 mpg less than the S550 at 15 city/23 highway and 18 combined. The S63 is clearly a driver's car and yet its design and materials, which promise more of a luxury experience, sometimes feels at odds with the directness and dynamism of this AMG variant. Priced higher and built in fewer numbers, both the S63 AMG 4Matic and its S65 V12 counterpart will be more exclusive and highly prized among those shopping similar coupes like the Bentley Continental GT.

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Driver aids galore

Among the equipment available on the S-Class Coupes, there's standard Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which uses radar to use automatic braking to either prevent or mitigate collisions, Parktronic with active parking assist and Magic Vision Control night vision. An optional Driver Assistance package includes Distronic Plus adaptive cruise with steering assist, BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic assist, Pre-Safe automatic braking with pedestrian recognition and Active Lane Keeping Assist. 

Other features that add to the upscale aura of the S-Class Coupes include LED ambient lighting with a choice of 7 colors and 5 dimming levels, Air Balance, which ionizes and filters cabin air as well as being able to introduce various fragrances to the atmosphere, and a Warmth & Comfort Package that includes a heated steering wheel, front and rear seats, as well as heating the front armrests on the door and center console.

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