Mercedes Unveils S-Class Convertible

Courtesy of Mercedes Benz
Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche with 1971 and 2016 convertibles

The S-Class Cabriolet is the first full-size Mercedes-Benz convertible since 1971.

Mercedes-Benz chief Dieter Zetsche unveiled the company's first full-size convertible in four decades at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt.

The 2016 S-Class Cabriolet coupe is part of Mercedes' recent strategy of building out its flagship S-Class model to compete for buyers in the booming ultraluxury segment previously dominated by Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Earlier this year it introduced the S-600 Maybach, an 18-foot-long limousine-like variant of the S-600 sedan. The high-performance S-63 Cabriolet also unveiled at Frankfurt is a plausible competitor to Bentley's Continental GT Speed Convertible.

Rather than the retractable hardtop now the norm for convertibles, the Cabriolet utilizes a three-layer canvas softtop that can be raised or lowered in under 20 seconds while the car is stationary or traveling at speeds up to 37 mph.

The S-550 Cabrioet is equipped with Mercedes' new nine-speed transmission. The S63 gets a 577-hp twin-turbocharged V8 and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Both models will go on sale in the U.S. in the spring of 2016.