TopGear.com10 September 2013

Mercedes reveals S-Class coupe concept

New super-luxe two-door S is here - plus a completely self-driving version...

This is the new Bentley Continental-sized, VW Group-troubling S-Class coupe from Mercedes. Although it's not. Well, not yet - this is just a concept, but MB's promised us that a swoopy GT will join the line-up soon to replace the CL, and that this is a ‘concrete vision' of what's on the horizon.

So, what do we know, other than it's currently attracting Bundesliga-sized appreciative crowds at the Frankfurt Motor Show? It's 5050 mm long, 1958 mm wide, and 1409 mm tall - ie, Bentley-sized. It has a big bulges that resolve around the back end to emphasise that rear-wheel driveyness, there are 21-inch wheels (the fact they look a little small should bring those dimensions to life a bit), frameless doors, and there's a 449bhp 4.7-litre twin-turbocharged V8 under the bonnet.

Which all sounds very achievable in the real world. But don't worry, fans of arcane concept ephemera: we've got that too. The seats are trimmed in calf skin, the carpet and roof lining are made of silk, and the stereo selects tunes based on your mood using MoodGrid software.

Elsewhere there are the same superb 12.3in screens that you'd find in the new S-class saloon, an instrument panel with a "curved shape reminiscent of a whale fluke just before it re-enters the water", and there's a touch screen with four changeable world clocks on the centre console.

Also, you may have noticed that the concept's eschewed the usual CL nameplate. Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dieter Zetsche, told TG.com: "We thought the S-class is such a recognised nameplate. And this is the coupe. And if we were to do a convertible, that would be an S-class too."

And in other S-Class news, Herr Zetsche proved his intent to put a self-driving car on the road by driving (or should that be passengering?) a S500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle onto the show floor.

And this was after the very same S – a development mule for MB’s autonomous driving technology – had covered around 62 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim earlier in the month, more or less on its own.

The car was retracing the tread marks of Bertha Benz’s route – company founder Karl Benz’s wife, who used to test her husband’s cars over long distances – using sensors already fitted to the latest S-Class. Remarkably, the developers taught the technology platform to know where it is, what it sees and how to react autonomously.

"For us, autonomous vehicles are an important step on the way to accident-free driving," says Zetsche. "They will bring greater comfort and safety for all road users. That's because autonomous vehicles also react when the driver is inattentive or fails to spot something. On top of that, they relieve the driver of tedious or difficult tasks while at the wheel."

Professor Thomas Weber, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, adds: "With our successful test drives following in the tracks of Bertha Benz, we have demonstrated that highly automated driving is possible without the luxury of specially closed-off sections of road and relatively straightforward traffic situations.

“With the new S-Class, we are the first to driveautonomously during traffic jams. We also want to be the first to bring other autonomous functions in series production vehicles. You can expect that we will reach this goal within this decade.”

Would you like your S-Class coupe to drive you places? Or would you prefer to do it yourself, TopGear.commers?

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