Love it or hate it, the tuning kit is an attention-grabber

Rolling in the lap of luxury usually requires a few things, not the least of which is a car that rise to the level of a person’s status. The Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet certainly qualifies as one of those cars. The convertible is everything you want in a luxury car, boasting an effortlessly elegant design matched only by a surprisingly powerful V-8 engine sitting under its hood. But like every car in existence today, the S-Class Cabriolet is by no means a “perfect” car. It can still be improved – or wasted – in some form or fashion. Depending on what your perception to Carlsson’s “Diospyros” program for the S-Class Cabriolet is, rest assured, we can all agree that the luxury drop-top looks, well, different.

To Carlsson’s credit, it swung for the fences with this one. The German tuner is known more for its impressive engine upgrades, but to be fair, it has, on occasion, developed eye-watering programs in the past. Remember the 2011 Super GT Carlsson Royale R25? Whoop. That one was, for a lack of a better description, an acquired taste.

A lot of you might even feel the same way towards the S-Class Cabrio Diospyros. It wasn’t exactly dressed to attend galas and balls, that much I’m sure of. But it sure looks different, that is if a mint chip ice cream-looking color finish qualifies as your description of “different.”

For better or worse, the Diospyros tuning program is going to turn a lot of heads, and while the model being touted here is the S550 variant of the S-Class Cabriolet, Carlsson says that it can install the program on any trim of the model, including the pair of high-performance AMG models.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet “Diospyros” by Carlsson.

Exterior

Off the bat, you can tell that this program looks different from what you’re used to with the Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet. Instead of the usual color options being offered by Mercedes, Carlsson eschews that in favor of an exclusive pastel color finish it calls “Carlsson Heritage Green.” The shade of is the really telling part because it’s light enough to actually look more like a mint green finish. Either way, it’s an interesting color choice that I expect will get a mixed reaction from people. Even I can’t decide which direction to go. All I can say is that it looks good in certain angles and less so in others.

Carlsson also ensured that the whole car doesn’t drown in the same color as various body trims are finished in gloss black, creating a more balanced look to the whole cabriolet. The other unique styling details is the is the set of 20-inch wheels that look like the old disc-type wheels that populated the auto scene back in the 70’s and 80’s. The Mercedes SL, in particular, featured these wheels at one point or another, creating a nice historical connection to one of the most famous Merc models of all time. Just as important, the Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet that the German automaker unveiled at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show also has the same type of wheels.

Designs from other tuners

The overall exterior section of the Diospyros program is a celebration of the senses, but it does like some notable aerodynamic bits that other programs have on offer. Fellow German tuner Brabus also prepared a program for the drop-top AMG S63 Cabriolet.

2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet 850 By Brabus Wallpaper quality
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Note: Photo of Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet 850 by Brabus

It’s not as colorful as Carlsson’s Diospyros kit, but the all-black treatment is another way to go in dressing up the AMG S63 Cabriolet. The stylistic look is matched by an aero kit that includes a front spoiler that attaches to the front bumper and a carbon rear spoiler that can be installed on the cabrio’s trunk like. A few more carbon surrounds were lined up to surround the air intakes on the front bumper while carbon fiber covers for the exterior provide the cosmetic upgrades. The tuner’s own Monoblock wheels also make its appearance on Brabus’ kit for the AMG S63. Unlike Carlsson, Brabus is offering a choice of wheel sizes, ranging from 18 inches to 22 inches, although for this particular kit, the tuner opted for 21-inch Platinum Edition forged wheels that look more in tune with the size of the car compared to the 20-inch set offered by Carlsson.

2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Big Bang by Wheelsandmore
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2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe By G-Power
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Note: side by side photo of the Mercedes-AMG S63 Big Bang by Wheelsandmore and the Mercedes-AMG S63 by G-Power

If you like your S-Class just the way it is, there are tuners that offer minimal to no upgrades on the car’s exterior. Take for example Wheelsandmore and its “Big Bang” tuning kit for both variants of the S 63 AMG. The only upgrade attributed to the car’s exterior is the set of 21- or 22-inch three-piece F.I.W.E. forged wheels or a set of three-piece ultralight forged 6Sporz² wheels that come in the same size.

Speaking of going the “wheels-only” route, G-Power’s program for the coupe version of the AMG S63 is also just made up of a set of 21-inch Hurricane RR wheels. The good thing about these particular set of wheels is that, according to G-Power, they’re made from 6061-grade aluminum, the same lightweight yet high-strength material that’s commonly used in the aerospace industry.

Interior

2016 Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet "Diospyros" By Carlsson Interior
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As interesting as the exterior upgrades are, Carlsson’s work on the interior of the S-Class Cabriolet is even more sophisticated, maybe even bordering on being too much for the luxury convertible. The dominant feature is the Vintage Cognac-colored Nappa leather upholstery, which covers a significant section of the cabin’s surface area. The other significant feature is the use of West African ebony veneer, which can be seen on certain components of the S-Class Cabriolet’s interior, including the fascias, the steering wheel, and the rear deck.

A side note of trivia for the inquiring minds: Carlsson got the name “Diospyros” from the same source of the veneer, the West African Ebony tree, which apparently goes by the scientific name “Diospyros Crassiflora.”

Name-association notwithstanding, the upgrades do make for a good complement to the Carlsson Heritage Green body finish of the car. It’s not the most pleasant car to look at, but the overall combination does work in bringing another layer of style to the S-Class Cabriolet.

What did the other tuners do?

2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet 850 By Brabus High Resolution Interior
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2016 Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe Black Edition By Mansory High Resolution Interior
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Note: interior photos of Mercedes-AMG S 63 Cabriolet 850 by Brabus and the Mercedes-AMG S 63 AMG Black Edition by Mansory.

I suppose there is a market for this kind of exterior and interior treatment, but just as important as it is for the colorful types to have a program that suits their tastes, there are other tuners who prefer cleaner looks with their respective tuning programs for the flagship Mercedes. Brabus, for instance, continued its own tradition of dressing up the cars it builds programs for in black, a suitable choice considering owners of the S-Class may want to have their cars look as auspicious as possible. Even with the monotonous choice, Brabus still offered a few premium materials, including fine leather and carbon fiber, the latter of which was used to offset the wood inlays and trim strips that come as standard features on both the coupe and cabriolet models of the S-Class.

Another tuner known for its outlandish interior dress-ups is Mansory because that sure was the case when it presented its Black Edition program for the S63 AMG. That kit also featured generous helpings of leather upholstery and carbon inserts, as well as illuminated door sills, bespoke floor mats, and a leather trunk house decor.

All these are solid options, but again, there’s also the option of no option at all. Some tuners are more than happy to leave the interior of the S-Class alone and truth be told, a lot of customers actually prefer going that route. Wheelsandmore and G Power come to mind, but there are also programs created by the likes of Renntech and Lorinser.

Drivetrain

2016 Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet "Diospyros" By Carlsson Exterior
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This is where the program goes into tricky territory because Carlsson itself said that the “Diospyros” kit was available for multiple variants of the S-Class, including the S63 AMG and the S65 AMG. At least that’s what Carlsson is referring to when it says that the price of the whole program varies “depending on the engine and equipment.”

That said, the tuner only revealed the net power gains for the S550 Cabriolet’s 4.7-liter biturbo V-8 engine, which it says goes up to 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, an impressive gain of 101 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque.

Since there are no known tuner upgrades dedicated to the S550 Cabriolet, I think it’s fair to line it up against similar programs for the model’s coupe counterpart, S550 Coupe. On that end, we can lean on Renntech and Fab Design, two tuners that have engine upgrades for the S550’s coupe counterpart.

Renntech, in particular, gets the V-8 engine’s output up to 530 horsepower and 606 pound-feet of torque thanks in part to a software engine kit. Meanwhile, Fab Design’s program is a little more potent than either of these two engine kits, thanks in part to its own unspecified enhancements that brings the V-8’s output to a tidy 630 horsepower and 678 pound-feet of torque. These figures are enough to propel the S550 from an idle position to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds to go with a top speed in reach of 186 mph.

Check out how the power figures stack up among these three tuners in the table below.

Tuner Power Torque 0 To 60 MPH Time Top Speed
Carlsson 550 horsepower 590 pound-feet 4.7 seconds* 186 mph*
Renntech 530 horsepower 606 pound-feet 4.7 seconds 155 mph
Fab Design 630 horsepower 678 pound-feet 4.5 seconds 186 mph

Note: *estimate

For the record, I believe that Carlsson does have upgrades available for other variants of the S-Class, specifically the AMG S63 and S65 models. Both models are powered by a bigger 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine that produces a standard output 577 horses and 664 pound-feet of torque. Given these numbers, I think it’s fair to assume that Carlsson’s program for both AMG variants could net outputs in the neighbourhood of 750 to 800 horsepower to go with similarly valued torque numbers. At the very least, we can take a look at these programs prepared by other tuners for the AMG S 63 to see the numbers that Carlsson can theoretically get to for the high-powered versions of the S-Class.

Tuner Power Torque 0 to 60 MPH Time Top Speed
G-Power 705 horsepower 738 pound-feet 3.8 seconds 155 mph
Brabus 838 horsepower 848 pound-feet 3.5 seconds 217 mph
Mansory 985 horsepower 1,034 pound-feet 3.2 seconds 186 mph

Pricing

Pricing for Carlsson’s “Diospyros” program for the S-Class Cabriolet starts at €214,000, which converts to about $227,000 based on current exchange rates. Depending on the variant though, the price could shoot up to as high as €336,000, or around $357,000. Prices don’t come with VAT so prepare to add more to that amount once the full price is tallied up.

For an idea on the price of the program alone, it’s worth noting that the range-topping AMG S65 has a price tag of $234,050 so it’s likely that the upgrades included in Carlsson’s “Diospyros” tuning kit will set you back around $80,000 to $100,000.

By comparison, Renntech’s own program costs just north of $15,000, which tells us that dressing up the S550 Cabriolet in an exclusive paint finish and adding Vintage Cognac-colored Nappa leather and West African ebony veneer is going to cost a lot of money.

Conclusion

2016 Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet "Diospyros" By Carlsson Exterior
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Personally, I like what Carlsson did here, even though I recognize that others aren’t as warm on it as I am. My brother even blurted an NSFW phrase to voice his disgust. But I’m sticking by it because the Diospyros program is unique without being too flamboyant. I probably would’ve had a more violent reaction if the color choice was louder, but the combination works for me and the added engine enhancement is a cherry on top of that mint chocolate chip ice cream.

  • Leave it
    • Looks expensive
    • Not for everyone
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