The Mercedes-Benz E-Class range already includes a four-door saloon, family-lugging estate and mad AMG versions of both. A svelte E-Class Coupe was added earlier this year and now this, the new Cabriolet adding even more glamour to the line-up.
In the metal
Whether you're a drop-top fan or not, there's no denying that Mercedes-Benz's execution of converting the E-Class Coupe into the Cabriolet has been very successful. It's bigger than the car it replaces and the lengthened wheelbase is useful for interior space as much as it is for adding style. The E-Class Cabriolet is low and wide, too, giving it real presence. To that you can add sharp looks, as well; the surface treatments are familiar, where subtle detail lines soften the deep flanks, helping the E-Class Cabriolet be elegant rather than showy, as is exactly how it should be.
The interior follows that theme. Mercedes-Benz is on its A-game regarding interiors presently and the E-Class is demonstrative of that. There's a large dual screen set-up that's both beautiful to look at, configurable and easy to operate, even more so if you choose the Comand Online option with additional extra widescreen display.
Do that and it makes everything else in the class feel a bit old and traditional, yet it achieves that without unnecessary gimmicks, as it's all simple to use and clear to read. You can add a head-up display, too, which projects useful nav and driving data in your line of sight. Elsewhere, Mercedes' attention to detail is exquisite; things like the shape and feel of the air vents exude quality and thought.
Practicalities wouldn't usually be on a Cabriolet buyer's mind, but the stretch in the wheelbase adds credence to the E-Class's claim to be a genuine four-seater, while the boot holds a decent amount of luggage, too. There's even a 50/50 folding rear seatback to allow longer loads on the occasions your E-Class Cabriolet is required to earn its keep, though if you're after a flat-pack wardrobe you might want to borrow the estate...
The expectation is of a comfortable, able cruiser with some agility and that's exactly how the E-Class Cabriolet acquits itself. It inevitably loses some of the E-Class Coupe's sharpness in transformation to open-topped convertible, but that's entirely in line with what customers will expect from it. Across Europe there are four engine choices, two turbodiesels and a pair of petrol units. The lower powered of each have four cylinders and the higher output versions are V6s. Those V6s come with standard 4Matic four-wheel drive, while the four-cylinder cars make do with just their rear wheels being driven. In all that's via a nine-speed automatic transmission that's as slick as they come, shifting beautifully, while the spread of ratios means there's always an answer to your right foot's questions.
Obviously that answer's quicker and louder with the bigger engines, but in truth, outright pace aside, it's difficult to see why you'd spend the extra, especially when the E 220 d does such a good all-round job. It's quiet and smooth in operation and the 400Nm of torque produced from just 1,600rpm is enough to shift the E-Class Cabriolet convincingly. Against the stopwatch that means a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds, but that's hardly important, as the E 220 d's strength is its mid-range, where, in combination with that nine-speed automatic, it gives a pleasing push when you ask more from it.
The lower power, four-cylinder cars make do with the standard suspension with selectable dampers, though you'll never find cause for anything but the Comfort setting. It steers accurately enough and the ride and body control are fine, while it also feels able and agile in the corners. The biggest limitation is its size. It feels big on the road, which is little wonder given the increase in track widths over its predecessor, though at least that aids stability.
Drop the roof, slow down and enjoy the E-Class Cabriolet as intended, instead. Wind buffeting is kept to a minimum when you do so thanks to the Aircap deflector that can be raised above the screen and the partition that comes up behind the rear seats. We'd leave them down if you're sticking to slower speeds around town in a bid for admiring glances, as they do little for the E-Class Cabriolet's lines when extended.
There are Airscarf neck warmers, too, to keep you toasty on cooler days with the roof down. Another drop-top specific piece of tech means wipers that only wash on the down stroke so as not to get you wet when you're cleaning the screen of summer detritus. Mercedes really does think of everything. Optionally you can heat the door panels, while the seats are covered in a sun-reflecting leather to help keep them cool, too.
All very clever, as are Mercedes-Benz's optional driver aids, which creep towards autonomy. They find a natural home in the E-Class Cabriolet, where you're more likely to be enjoying the view, the car effectively driving itself when you do so thanks to the various layers of driver aids. We're a long way off jumping in the back and letting it do its own thing, but in a car where you're likely to be distracted by the view, or looking for attention, it's perhaps not a bad thing that the electronics are keeping an eye open.
What you get for your money
The E-Class sits in an awkward place in the market, being slightly larger than cars like the Audi A5 Cabriolet or BMW 4 Series Convertible, as those are more realistically rivals for the C-Class Cabriolet. So we expect it to look pricey compared to them, but then there's no other four-seat drop-tops out there to compare it to, unless you start looking at sports cars, or indeed the S-Class Cabriolet above it. Specifications are good in Mercedes-Benzes these days, though it's still possible to spend a lot on options. We'd suggest that Comand Online if you're ticking boxes, as well as the head-up display and useful things like the 'smartkey' operation on your phone and wireless charging - which will be useful for the forthcoming iPhone 8 that is set to come with wireless charging ability as standard, we believe.
A stylish, capable addition to the extensive Mercedes E-Class range, the new Cabriolet adds some glamour and makes more sense and use of the E-Class's extensive technology offering. If you want a premium car that's indulgent, that can do everyday stuff yet still be a glamour puss, then it's a fine choice, indeed.