Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet review
The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is a comfortable convertible that makes drop-top driving even more enjoyable
The innovative 'Aircap' wind deflector on the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet could change drop-top driving forever. Its clever design keeps draughts at bay in the E-Class Cabriolet's cabin, and for once passengers can go for a spin without jeopardising their hairstyles, even with all the windows down. On the facelifted car – introduced in June 2013 – the Aircap became fully automatic, rising at speeds of above 25mph and lowering below 9mph. With the E-Class, Mercedes has boldly bucked the growing trend for folding hardtops and instead used a more traditional fabric roof. It comes with a main advantage of extra boot space, but also folds at speeds of up to 25mph, so drivers won’t be caught out by sudden showers. Seven engines and two trim levels give buyers plenty of choice, including diesel options. The facelifted model saw each engine become more efficient, and a new E400 was introduced at the top of the range to replace the 4.7-litre V8-powered E500. The E400 has similar performance but has a much more frugal 3.0-litre biturbo V6 under the bonnet.
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The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is low, large and long, and and has remained true to the saloon model in its features. The front end is arranged around a large horizontal grille, centered with a bold Mercedes badge. Its headlights are smooth and rounded (though pre-facelift car had angular split lights) and sit below a gradually raising bonnet that expands towards the windscreen. As with the Audi A5 Cabriolet, Mercedes has opted for a traditional fabric roof on the E-Class, which gives the car a classic cabriolet look. In the cabin, everything is beautifully arranged and well designed. The materials are slightly under-whelming, opting for soft-touch plastic rather than leather on the dash.
The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet offers buyers efficiency and performance, with five different engines available. These are taken from other E-Class models, with the petrol engines delivering from 181bhp to 328bhp, and the diesels giving 168bhp to 248bhp. These aren’t the most powerful engines in the convertible category, but they do deliver really good economy figures and save money in running costs. They are also incredibly smooth and suit the cruising nature of the E-Class. The biggest-seller is the diesel E350 CDI, and it's easy to see why, thanks to it's excellent refinement and suprising mid-range punch. Handling is good, but the car is more of a boulevard cruiser than a back-road blaster.
The E-Class should live up to the German manufacturer’s unbreakable reputation. Safety equipment includes some complex technology which anticipates accidents and responds accordingly. This even monitors the driver and if it spots any signs of drowsiness, it suggests the driver should take a break by flashing up a cup of coffee sign and making a beeping noise. Anti-lock brakes, airbags and electronic stability control all feature, too. This is the first Mercedes cabriolet with headbags mounted in the doors to boost protection in case of a side impact. The car also comes with roll-over protection, a reinforced windscreen and central pillars, which add stiffness to the structure.
The E-Class Cabriolet is surprisingly practical, thanks to a large array of storage. The boot is shallow, but even with the roof down it’ll hold a decent amount of luggage – one of the benefits of a fabric roof. A through-load hatch into the passenger compartment even allows you to pack your skis. There is also plenty of storage available in the large glovebox, a lidded compartment in the centre console and deep door pockets. Legroom is slightly cramped, but four adults can travel in relative comfort, as long as the driver and front passenger don’t like to sit too far back.
Despite being a Mercedes, the E-Class isn’t quite as expensive as you may think it should be. New, it costs more to buy than most of its rivals, but the margin is quite small and with the impressive amount of standard equipment you get for your money, the price is somewhat justified. Facelifted cars do cost around £2,000 more than their predecessors but Mercedes says that it has added in more than £2,000 worth of equipment, so it's actually better value for money. All the engines are pretty efficient by class standards: especially the diesels, which deliver great economy and drive down running costs. On the secondhand market, the E-Class suffers heavier depreciation than some of its rivals, and servicing charges are expensive.