It looks superb from some angles, a little awkward from others but modern, authoritative and every inch a Mercedes. The rear is perhaps the most distinctly different thanks to the fact that the number plate is now relocated to the lower section of the rear apron (giving greater prominence to the famous badge).
The interior, in terms of both quality and design, is pretty special. I'm not a massive fan of TFTs but accept that the amount of multi-functionality required by modern luxury cars means there is no viable alternative and yes, we are all accustomed to flat TV screens in our homes and workplaces. They do seem a little at odds with the more traditional elements of the architecture though.
The feeling of opulence is enhanced by a first driving stint in the S500. This car has been designed to be as quiet as possible and on a motorway cruise is virtually silent, the ride comfort exquisite. The 455hp, 4,663cc bi-turbo V8 is extremely smooth and with 516lb ft of torque on offer from just 1,800rpm this is an effortlessly rapid machine.
The amount of adjustability inside the car is remarkable. The seats alone could take up a few thousand words. Apart from myriad electric adjustments, heating, ventilation, bolsterage, grippage and such like there are a number of massage settings - including one that simulates an energising hot stone massage. Ridiculous! The optional 'happy ending' setting set to launch some time in 2015 according to rumours...
Hustling the big coupe on narrow roads is an experience. You never get away from the fact that it is a massive machine - both in a vernacular sense (it more than fills its side of the road) and also in the true sense of the word.
Some 65kg have also been shed (forged alloys, lighter brakes and a hefty 20kg from the clever lithium-ion battery). That said, this is still a five metre, two ton coupe.
Waft and roll
At first I was disappointed by the handling, but so well does the car hide its true speed, you are often travelling a lot faster than you initially think. However, sudden bumps and yumps occasionally give an unsettling feeling of 'float' while unevenness in the road surface when braking and turning really do remind the driver of the car's bulk.
There is a very clever new suspension option, though: Curve Tilting. A world first, this takes the existing Airmatic system to the next level. The steering is light, accurate but sadly lacking in the kind of graduated weight and detailed feedback you want from a car with performance pretensions.
S63 AMG is also here - in both four- and rear-wheel variants, although only rear-wheel drive will be on offer in the UK.
Visually the AMG carries extra menace in its 20-inch forged alloy wheels (optional ceramic brakes peeking from behind them), discreetly aggressive aero addenda and (optional) matt paint finish. Inside the AMG branding continues with figure hugging sports seats, AMG steering wheel and various badges just in case you forget where you are.
Starting up should dispel most doubts though: this engine is a stonker. We have experienced and indeed drooled over it already (in the E63 AMG S) and there is no arguing that this is one of the great road car power units. The numbers are deeply impressive - 585hp and 664lb ft of torque, equating to a 0-62 time of under four seconds in the 4Matic version or a barely-less-impressive 4.3 seconds in the UK-spec two-wheel drive variant.
Bad to the bone
Given the kerb weight, that is pretty remarkable but even more so is the relentless push towards the horizon that seems barely to subside. In-gear flexibility is stunning and the ability to punch past slower moving vehicles makes fast progress effortless. All this with a hard-edged V8 soundtrack that is evocative without ever being intrusive thanks to the adjustable flaps in the exhaust system.
Dynamically the AMG is, as you would expect, much more engaging. There is nicer heft to the steering to accompany the existing accuracy and without curve titling engaged a more authentic feel through the bends. Ironically the firmer sport setting in the suspension gives the nicest ride - not very soft, but more cohesive. Whether our uniquely challenging (awful) British road surfaces will ask sterner questions, especially in less than ideal weather conditions, remains to be seen.
Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9, it excels.
Prices will start at around the £100,000 mark with the AMG model close to £125,000 when UK sales commence. Mercedes believes it has created its most beautiful and technologically advanced car ever in the new S-Class Coupe. The first part of that statement will very much be down to the eye of the beholder... But the second? With Mercedes' track record, that really is saying something.
MERCEDES-BENZ S63 AMG COUPE
Engine: 5,461cc V8 twin-turbo
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 585@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 664@2,250-3,750rpm
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
MPG: 27.9 (NEDC combined)
Price: £125,000 (est.)