Mercedes' E-Class Cabriolet brings an extra touch of class to the executive drop-top sector, a very cultured convertible that aims to set new standards for comfort and refinement in its segment. With the impressive built quality, slippery aerodynamics and high-tech engines, it's a tempting package for those wanting a drop-top to use all year round.
As you'd expect, this E-Class Convertible shares its engine ware with the E-Class Coupe, which means that all models get 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and the headline news is the installation of a completely new 194bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine in the entry-level E220d variant. There are three other mainstream engine options; the 245bhp four-cylinder E300 and then two V6 variants, both of which come with 4MATIC 4WD. Choose between the 258bhp E350d diesel or the 333bhp E400 twin turbo petrol model. All variants are equipped as standard with 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and the DYNAMIC SELECT system that allows you to tweak steering feel, throttle response, gearshift timings and stability control thresholds to suit the way you want to drive. If you opt to replace the standard DIRECT CONTROL suspension (lowered by 15mm over the saloon model) with optional adaptive damping or DYNAMIC BODY CONTROL air suspension, the DYNAMIC SELECT system's modes will alter ride quality too. There are "Comfort", "ECO", "Sport", "Sport +" and "Individual" settings to choose from.
Mercedes claims that handling response has improved this time round, thanks to this generation model's lighter weight and wider track. This isn't the kind of Executive segment convertible designed for a driving enthusiast though. Instead, the emphasis is on comfort and high-tech, with innovations including high-resolution MULTIBEAM LED headlamps and a DRIVE PILOT system that can virtually supply autonomous driving - depending on how you use it.
When the soft top is up, the E-Class Cabriolet has a silhouette similar to that of the E-Class Coupe. A striking front section with a low-positioned diamond radiator grille and centrally located star, LED High Performance headlamps, a drawn-out bonnet with power domes and fully retractable side windows underline the more dynamic looks of this generation model. The fabric soft top is available in dark brown, dark blue, dark red or black. More importantly, it can be fully opened and closed in 20 seconds when travelling at a speed of up to 31mph and buyers can specify the AIRCAP electric draught-stop system and the AIRSCARF neck-level heating system.
The roof's multi-layered structure with sophisticated insulation reduces wind and driving noise, which makes it easy for the occupants to hear each other talk, even when driving at high speed. The soft-top structure is equally effective when it comes to climate comfort, making the Cabriolet suitable for use all year round. After opening, it folds down into a bespoke compartment in the boot and a retractable cover separates the soft top from the remaining boot space. The boot capacity of 385-litres (310-litres when the roof is open) means the E-Class Cabriolet doesn't compromise too much on practicality. Plus 50:50 folding rear seat backrests create a through-loading feature for longer items.
Assuming that it's not lashing down with rain, here is a convertible you can use for roof-down motoring almost whenever you want. It can be cold or windy. Your journey may be at high speed. Or it may include rear seat passengers. Either way, it matters not. In few other five-figure soft-tops will you find yourself retracting the hood quite so often.
And that's the beauty of this car. It isn't the sharpest steer in its class. Nor is it the most lavishly equipped or the most affordable to buy. But it's the best at being all the things that typical executive cabriolet owners want their cars to be. And yes, it feels a class above its rivals, just as a Mercedes-Benz always should.Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet range