Concept drive: Mercedes Ocean Drive

By Guy Bird for Auto Express, Feb 2007

Driving a million-pound concept car

Forget about its incredible looks, luxurious interior and potent powerplant. The most amazing thing about this drop-top Mercedes S-Class is that it's a car you could see on a street near you sooner than you think.

To prove the point Auto Express was invited to be first behind the wheel of the fabric-roofed cabriolet at an exclusive event in the US. The car was unveiled as a concept called Ocean Drive at January's Detroit Motor Show, but nearly all its features are entirely feasible for production. It sits on the long wheelbase platform of the S600 limousine, and the four-seater four-door cabrio has a prominent upright grille that's even larger than the one that adorns the front of the current S-class.

The LED lights either side are more angular and illuminate in a distinctive ‘C’ shape – to mimic their rear counterparts – and the concept’s flanks are smoothly rendered and uninterrupted by flush chrome door handles that glide open with a fingertip touch. Subtle creases kick off both front and rear wheel arches and frame the specially produced 36-spoke, 21-inch alloys perfectly – which dazzle on the move. Open the door and step inside and the seat automatically moves back and downward to provide easier access. Once seated the memory function returns the seat to its optimal setting.

Touch a button on the end of the rear armrest and two goblets and a mini bottle of champagne slide out on a horizontal tray, ready to toast your fine vehicle choice

Firing up the Ocean Drive’s engine reveals the same bassy V12 thrum that top end Mercedes customers will already be familiar with in the S- and CL600. Although the engine clearly means business, for the purposes of this test only low speed cruising was permitted, as the one-off concept is not fitted with Merc’s usual suspension wizardry. However, in many ways this car is all about upmarket promenading and Dana Point just south of Los Angeles looking out onto the Pacific Ocean provided the perfect backdrop. Inside, the car oozes luxury. The dash shape and switchgear may be familiar to the S-class but the Ocean Drive’s finish is a class above. Soft cream leather and tactile Italian woven fabric cover everything from the one-off wood steering wheel, seats, lower doors and dash complemented by subtle brown bird’s eye maple wood trim on the panelling and soft-top rear compartment cover.

Arguably the biggest wow factor of all is reserved for the rear passengers though. At the touch of one button, the centre armrest folds out between the two rear seats. Touch another button on the end of the armrest – and a cover drops down to reveal two champagne goblets and a mini bottle of champagne sliding out on a horizontal tray, ready to toast your fine vehicle choice. The top-up to top down procedure is a swift 20 seconds both ways and occupants will feel supremely comfortable in either mode – due to Mercedes’ Airscarf neck-level heating system. All this adds up to a very special car. If Mercedes does decide to make it, I’m sure the high-rolling boulevards of Ocean Drive and elsewhere will be only too happy to let it grace their tarmac.

 

First opinion

Superbly finished but with few outlandish concept features either inside or out – it looks like a car that could go into production to take on the Bentley Azure and new Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe with few changes. Mercedes has history in making this kind of vehicle too, the concept’s historical forerunner being the 300d Cabriolet built to order up until 1962.

 

In detail

 

  • Engine: 5.5-litre V12
  • Power: 510bhp
  • 0-60mph: 4.8 seconds (est)
  • Top speed: 155mph (est)
  • Price: £200,000 (est.)

 


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