The current generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class sits comfortably above its peers. Mercedes has been building grand saloons for over sixty years and the S-Class name itself dates back to 1972. But while the four-door models are acclaimed for their refinement and innovation, the accompanying two-door coupé models have been a bit of a mixed batch, with grace and beauty often taking a back seat to technological trimmings.
All that has changed with the newest S-Class Coupé, which launched earlier this year and is finally making its way to the UK. The launch model is the S63, a car that represents both the pinnacle of Mercedes' design ethos and the abilities of its AMG division to make fast cars even faster. For a start, the S63 is a beautiful car, with flowing, curvaceous lines and scalloped, sculpted flanks that make the most of its generous proportions. Inside it's a similar story, with a big LED instrumental panel incorporated into a hefty slab of dashboard that doesn't overwhelm with unnecessary complexity (Tesla take note).
On the road, the big Benz can feel its size, although there's a full complement of 360-degree cameras and sensors to help you squeeze through the occasional tight spot. Where this car belongs, though, is on a long, gently undulating road that extends to the far horizon. Performance is limitless, and the inclusion of Mercedes' 'Magic Body Control' system helps the big car adapt itself to changes in the road. A camera scans the surface, priming the suspension to flatten out bumps and smooth off the apexes. The result is a creamy, luxurious experience that would befit the grandest limousine, let alone a car capable of hustling itself to 100 miles an hour in under 10 seconds.
That indulgence can possibly be over-extended. The optional 'Air-Balance' package adds a diffuser and a suite of scent sachets to the glove box, but only serves to evoke upscale hotel bathrooms, while the Swarovski-accessorised headlights are a twinkle too far. The other technology deserves more attention. The subtle lane-keeping system is by no means as strident as similar systems from Japanese manufacturers and the S63 prefers to err on the side of the caution, warning you if you take your hands off the wheel for more than ten seconds (not recommended in any case). But in the right conditions the car will happily and autonomously track along with traffic, subtly twitching the wheel to keep you in lane, the brakes electronically primed to react quicker than any human driver.
Whether you're pushing the limits or just cruising along, the S63 gives the sense that you're driving the future, although it's a rocket-fuelled future from the world of pulp sci-fi. Ultimately, that cutting edge technology is at the bidding of a mighty twin-turbo V8, still seen as the only way to serve up noise, power and refinement unlike any other.