BMW 650i Coupé, Mercedes S 500 4Matic Coupé, Front view 35 Photos Zoom

BMW 650i Coupé vs. Mercedes S 500 4Matic Coupé: Luxury coupés compared

There is in fact a back seat, however the BMW 650i and Mercedes S 500 Coupé focus their truly complete top-of-the-range luxury on the driver and front passenger. The comparative test clears up which of the two does it better.

Pay attention, here comes the worst bump on the entire Monbachtal test lap. The type of course that lifts cars off their suspension from speeds as low as 60 and smudges hair gel into the innocent roof liner. So with your left leg pressed against the Mercedes foot rest, stomach muscles tensed and – oh, was that it? The passenger also looks in the rear-view mirror in irritation. The Mercedes S-Class Coupé allows itself no more than a gently sway, lands without a bang or even the slightest reverberation on its velvety Airmatic paws. Here our all-wheel-drive coupé doesn't even need the expensive Active Body Control chassis with active tilt control technology, which Mercedes reserves for its rear-wheel drive models.

At this point we don't want to bother you with Swabian marketing highlights such as "Das Beschde oder nix" (the best or nothing), however, we can't remember a single car to have mastered this section of the track so confidently. And not only this one: whether it's short transverse ribs on the motorway, cobbled streets in the Old Town or deep potholes – the composure with which the Mercedes S-Class Coupé ignores the driving surface is sure to astonish even experienced test drivers.

In this regard, alongside the Mercedes S-Klasse Coupé the BMW 650i is anything but inept. Firm, yet in view of the ambitious 20-inch wheels by no means rock hard, the 6 Series Coupé masters uneven terrain, absorbing long bumps in the road surface with a suspension system that adapts as it goes. Short bumps on the other hand permeate through its adaptive chassis to the steering wheel, even in "Comfort Plus" mode, which, together with the rumble of the chassis, causes turbulence, whereas the 500 remains thoroughly relaxed.

The Mercedes S-Class Coupé is quieter than a Rolls Royce Ghost

You might have guessed: very much in the style of a saloon, with the Mercedes S-Class Coupé the Swabians are redefining the standards of comfort. The seats also contribute, which have no need for all of their hotstone active workout massage gimmicks, as they still feel unbelievably comfortable after hours of driving. And then there's the sound insulation. With a reading of 68 dB at 160 km/h never has a car been quieter in theauto motor und sport,test. In the case of the previous front-runner, the Rolls Royce Ghost, the meter showed 69 dB an. The fact that the S-Coupé undercuts its saloon competition lies with the more elaborate door seals, but also the smaller surface area of the windows. "Small" and "S-Coupé" in the same sentence? At 5.03 metres long, the C217 has become an imposing car, just nine centimetres shorter than the four-door version, which actually comes down to the truncated wheelbase.

It's no wonder that the interior of the Merceds S-Class Coupé turns out to be more than airy and even passengers in the back seat have top-class head and leg room. In the front, the driver and passenger are seated on individual white Nappa leather seats, pampered with heated armrests and the sophisticated sounds of the Burmester HiFi system. Whenever then "Downtown Mood" scent with a musky note of "sumptuous sensuality and sex appeal" flows out of the built-in air freshener and the ambient light shimmers dark red, the wide central armrest could quickly get in the way.

Why bother when the 455 bhp engine provides genuine sex appeal anyway: the 4.7-litre V8 reacts smoothly and almost without turbo lag to the smallest motion on the accelerator, pushes forwards with a whisper and without the jolts of an electric drive system, and when open, the flaps in the exhaust upon request the Mercedes S-Class Coupé, rages to a speed of 100 in less than five seconds, with a raucous eight-cylinder roar. If you prefer to take it easy, both luxury coupés can manage under 10 l/100 km, with an average of just under 13.

However, you cannot entirely argue away the 2.1 tonne weight of the Mercedes S-Class Coupé. Although it isn't much slower than the BMW as it weaves its way through the drive dynamics course BMW, the Benz tends to tilt more in corners, sticking to the track with less precision than the 650i, with its bump-free, yet decoupled steering. Switching from the Mercedes to the BMW steering feels like pulling off ski gloves.

Sensitive BMW steering

While the BMW 6 Series may be a long way off when it comes to comfort, it makes up for this delightfully on corners – on flat, meandering country roads and steep serpentine bends. In everyday driving, a clear motorway access road is all that is needed in order to take a deep breath and relax, which it does in a delightfully neutral fashion, thus coming across much narrower and lighter than it actually is. But be careful, in the fast lane you are generally already much faster than the traffic flowing alongside you.

With the xDrive all-wheel drive, the BMW brings its 450 bhp onto the road in particularly humourless fashion, accelerating to a speed of 100 in 4.5 seconds - with a lot more punch than the Mercedes S-Class Coupé. There is something about revving up the 4.4-litre engine, and the same applies for letting yourself by shunted by the short gear-shift pauses of the eight-speed automatic and enjoying the low position of the sports seats. However, after longer journeys is presses firmly into your buttocks like a racing bike saddle and leaves the furniture in the Mercedes feeling like a gel seat in contrast.

In the rear there is only room for passengers of up to 1.70 metres to sit upright, in contrast to the full four-seater Mercedes S-Classe Coupé, the daintier 6 Series opts for the 2 + 2 configuration. The interior of the BMW actually exudes more sporting spirit, which comes down to the cool metallic inlays, but also to an operating layout with the right combination of buttons and iDrive controllers. Important functions can be assigned to the radio station buttons, and give the huge range of features, the menus are intuitive and clearly laid out.

Mercedes S-Class falls down when it comes to operating controls

And here we come to the most serious weakness of the Mercedes S-Class Coupé. When having a clear-out of buttons, the Swabians clearly used too big a broom, even frequently used air conditioning features have to be fished from the on-screen menu. Here cars and globes roll across the screen, which after just a short period of time is more irritating than it is impressive as it slows down operation, and what's more, an overview of the respective functions on offer is sorely lacking. The new touchpad provides little relief as it is positioned, of all places, above the control dial, partially covering it. The Mercedes is already in need of the thorough revision that the BMW system has enjoyed in recent years.

However, this victory does just as little to help prevent the Mercedes' victory as the huge price difference. The additional 30,000 Euros for the BMW is hefty, even in the luxury class. In any case the Mercedes S-Class Coupé, with LED headlights, Comand-Online and keyless access offers a reasonable level of standard equipment. What's more, the 1.2 square metre glass roof will not go unnoticed. After all, the fantastic chassis ensures that you don't have any hair gel smudges distorting your view of the sky, even on the bumpiest of roads.

Mercedes S-Class Coupé with Head-up Display and touchpad

In keeping with the sublime drive, the multimedia offering in the Mercedes S-Class Coupé is also top class: the standard Comand Online clearly displays navigation routes on its 30-centimetre display and gathers live traffic data from TomTom via the on-board radio module. Unlike in the BMW, the other online features such as web-radio, Google search, news and weather services function via the driver's smartphone, coupled via Bluetooth. If you frequently use Internet functions, you should therefore take out a mobile phone contract with an ample flat-rate data allowance. And take a little time to learn how to use the system. For again unlike its Bavarian competitor, the Mercedes does away with mechanical buttons altogether, and is instead operated primarily via the rotary push-button and its convoluted menu. In any case many functions can be called up by the exceptional voice control, which recognises complete navigation addresses without any problem, even at high speed. In spite of its modern and comprehensive range of media, with a music server and SMS reading function, Comand can handle classic formats such as UKW, which is received with a good level of quality. Subject to additional charge, the system can be enhanced with DAB+ (535 Euros), Head-up display (1,202 Euros) and sound systems from Burmester (1,309 or 7,497 Euros).

Operating controls can be upgraded

In view of the good basic functions, the majority of Mercedes S-Class Coupé customers should get over the fact that Comand does not offer quite so many online functions as the BMW system. The complicated and sluggish menu structure is rather more annoying.



Achim Hartmann


24 February 2015
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