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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet road test report

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes’ new four-seat open-top is now back as part of the E-Class family rather than the previous CLK that has more in common with the C-Class in looks and drive. Svelte looks are all part of the deal and the new E-Class Cabriolet is also the first four-seat Merc convertible to be offered with a choice of diesel engines as well as some fine petrols. There’s also a very clever new AirCap system to keep wind bluster at bay.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

Image number 2 of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class CabrioletImage number 3 of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class CabrioletImage number 4 of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

Performance Performance - 4 stars

The E-Class Cabriolet uses the same engines as in the E-Class Coupe, so there are three diesels and four petrols. The range-topper is the 5.5-litre V8 petrol, which will account for only a tiny portion of UK sales. It offers 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, 155mph top speed and effortless acceleration through its seven-speed automatic gearbox. It’s also the swiftest E-Class open-top there will be as Merc says it will not offer an AMG version. The 3.5-litre V6 petrol, with 292bhp, is a more likely contender for buyers’ cash thanks to its brisk 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and easy power delivery. A seven-speed auto is also standard for the V6 while the entry-point E200 CGI comes with a six-speed manual ’box. This version uses a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine to deliver 184bhp and can also be ordered with a five-speed auto. A 204bhp version of the same 1.8 petrol engine is used in the E250 CGI that is only available with an auto five-speeder. Diesels are new for a Mercedes four-seat drop top and include 170- and 204bhp versions of the same 2.1-litre turbodiesel and a 231bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. The smaller engines are feisty performers and come with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmissions. Go for the punchy V6 diesel and you get a seven-speed auto as standard that helps the E-Class cabrio from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds where the smaller diesels need 8.8- and 7.8 seconds for the E220 and E250 CDI models respectively.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

Wafting and cruising and enjoying the sunshine are what the E-Class Cabriolet are all about. It’s not meant to be a sports car – Mercedes has the SLK and SL models for that – so the Cabrio errs very much on the comfort side of things, even in the UK-only Sport version. That’s not to say the Cabriolet is wallowy or afraid of corners. It will negotiate turns with calm efficiency and remains taut and unruffled, though the steering is not as precise as a BMW 3-Series drop-top’s. Still, the Merc suffers from barely any body flex or shimmy, even on spattered tarmac. All of the engines are hushed and wind noise is all but absent when the roof is raised. Roof down, the front cabin remains a pleasant place to be right up to motorway speeds, but the rear seats can suffer from wind blast at faster rates. However, Mercedes has thought of this and all UK cars come with the new AirCap. This device rises from the top of the windscreen surround to direct air up and over the cabin so that those in the rear are not barged about. Sounds like a gimmick, but it works and works very well.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

After the problems with the previous generation of E-Class, Mercedes has poured its heart, soul and every ounce of its know-how into making the latest E-Class range as solid as it should be. This rings true in the Cabriolet, with fit and finish of the highest order. The hood is thick, protective item that glides up from under its rear deck covering and slides into place in around 20 seconds. Lowering it is just as easy at the press of a button. Everywhere else you look, the E-Class Cabrio is one solidly made machine and all of the engines and transmissions have proven themselves in other Merc models, so no worries here.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The big worry with a soft-top is someone putting a tear in the roof. There’s not a lot Mercedes can do about idiot vandals as it has made the decision to stick with a fabric roof rather than opt for a CC-style folding metal top to save weight and space. However, in every other respect the E-Class Cabrio is as safe and secure as the Coupe version. It comes with an alarm and immobiliser, ESP traction and stability control, Mercedes’ Attention Assist to warn drowsy drivers to pull over, and Pre-Safe to better protect occupants in the event of an accident. There’s also Brake Assist Plus to prime the brakes in an emergency situation or even apply them fully if the system thinks the driver has not pressed the pedal firmly enough. On top of this, Mercedes says the Cabrio is every bit as strong as the Coupe in a roll-over situation and there are no less than nine airbags fitted. The airbags include a driver’s knee ’bag, front pelvis ’bags and, a first for a convertible, full-length curtain airbags that work with the roof up or down.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Anyone buying an E-Class Cabriolet over the Coupe, saloon or estate is unlikely to be choosing the car for its practicality. That said, the Cabrio can seat four adults, so long as those in the front are not too tall as otherwise rear legroom takes a dive. There’s decent shoulder space in the rear seats and, with the AirCap raised, it’s a comfortable place to be at higher speeds when the roof is lowered. Up front, the driver has plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel, while the classy dash is generally easy to navigate. The boot is a decent size for a convertible and can be expanded when the roof is raised from 300- to 390-litres capacity.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Desirable as the E-Class Cabriolet undoubtedly is, Mercedes’ four-seat drop-tops have not fared as well as those from BMW or Audi in the past. Merc says the predicted used values for this E-Class Cabrio are on a par, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, running costs for the smaller engined models looks like being very easy on the wallet thanks to economy that ranges from 36.2- to 53.3mpg depending on which model you choose. Even the V6 petrol and diesels return 32.8- and 41.5mpg respectively, though the V8 only manages 25.9mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are also good for most of the engines, so the E-Class Cabrio will not unduly punish private owners for road tax or business users for Benefit in Kind payments. List prices have been lowered compared to the previous CLK and the new car includes more standard equipment. There are two trim levels, starting with the SE that has 17in alloy wheels, heated front seats, parking assistance, leather seats, Bluetooth connection and the AirCap. The Sport version adds 18in alloy wheels, AMG body styling, sports braking system, sports seats and Mercedes’ Intelligent Lighting System to help see further into corners at night.

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