"The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is stylish and comfortable whether the roof is up or down.”
Mercedes’ E-Class Cabriolet is not just stylish and comfortable – it's one of the few four-seat drop-tops that's as comfortable to drive with the roof down as it is with it closed. Thank the innovative 'Aircap' for that. It's a cleverly designed wind deflector that keeps draughts at bay in the E-Class Cabriolet's cabin. Mercedes-Benz bucked the growing trend for folding hardtops and instead used a more traditional fabric roof. That has some advantages, not least that the boot can offer more space with the roof stowed. Seven engines and two trim levels give buyers plenty of choice, including diesel options - the E-Class Cabriolet is the first open-topped Mercedes-Benz to be offered with diesel engines.
The E-Class Cabriolet is not as much fun to drive as BMW's 3 Series Convertible, but the comfort and refinement on offer from the Mercedes is more impressive. The smaller engines struggle with the Cabriolet's additional weight over the E-Class Coupe (on which this car is based), so the E 250 CDI diesel or E 250 CGI petrol are the best mid-range all-rounders. The diesel engine feels particularly strong. The steering is well weighted and accurate, and the automatic gearbox shifts seamlessly. The E 500 Sport model is very quick, but the E 350 CDI, with its effortless mid-range performance, suits the car's relaxed style best.
You’ll notice the rattle of the diesel engines starting up with the roof down, but on the move they’re nicely hushed. Roof up the Cabriolet is nearly as quiet inside as the E-Class Coupe, while that Aircap system makes even high-speed cruising with the roof down draught free for all four people inside. Front seat passengers get heated seats, while an optional ‘Airscarf’ blows warm air on their necks, too.
Stung by the reliability issues of the previous E-Class, Mercedes-Benz ensured that this new model meets its exacting reliability standards. The E-Class Cabriolet doesn’t feature in the Driver Power top 100, but Mercedes-Benz is positioned 9th out of 35 for car manufacturers. Safety equipment includes some complex technology, which not only anticipates accidents and responds, but even monitors the driver and suggests they take a break if it spots they look drowsy. Anti-lock brakes, airbags and electronic stability control all feature, too. Quality is very impressive.
For a two-door convertible, the E-Class Cabriolet is surprisingly practical. The boot is shallow, but even with the roof down it’ll hold a decent amount of luggage. There's a through-load hatch into the passenger compartment that allows you to carry longer items too. It's possible to seat four inside, so long as the driver and front passenger don’t like to sit too far back. Oddment storage is taken care of by a large glovebox, a lidded bin on the centre console between the seats and deep door pockets.
Value for money
The E-Class has a Mercedes-Benz badge on the front, but it's not quite as expensive as you might think. The days of underwhelming standard equipment are also gone - the SE version comes with front and rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, automatic climate control, cruise control, an eight-speaker audio system and Bluetooth telephone connection. Sport models get firmer suspension, larger alloy wheels, an upgraded braking system, plus a sports steering wheel.
The Cabriolet running costs should be relatively palatable. The E 220 and E 250 diesels manage average fuel economy above 50mpg, while emissions are correspondingly low. The four-cylinder petrol engines return economy in the 32-38mpg range. V6 engines cost more to run, and the 5.5-litre V8 in the E 500 will punish you at the pumps and hit you heavily for tax. Resale values are good across the entire range, thanks to the car's desirability.