"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 and, as of a 2013 update, it's fully automatic and rises above 25mph. 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.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The Cabriolet running costs should be relatively palatable, if not particularly good. Emissions in the best-selling 350 CDI Cabriolet are down from 162g/km to 156g/km in the 2013 updated model, while fuel economy is up from 47.1mpg to 47.9mpg. The four-cylinder petrol engines return economy in the 32-38mpg range, and the model update made them a little bit better on emissions. V6 engines cost more to run, with the new E400 retuning 35.8mpg. Resale values are good across the entire range, thanks to the car's desirability.
Interior & comfort
You’ll notice the rattle of the diesel engines starting up with the roof down, but on the move they’re nicely hushed. With the roof up the Cabriolet is nearly as quiet inside as the E-Class Coupe, while that automatic 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. A 2013 saw the gearlever move on to a steering wheel stalk with may feel unusual for some buyers.
Practicality & boot space
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. Although it's more practical than you might expect, the E-Class convertible could hardly be considered a practical car - it is a convertible, after all.
Reliability & safety
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.
Engines, drive & performance
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 E400 model, which replaced the E500 in 2013, is very quick but the E 350 CDI, with its effortless and useable performance, suits the car's relaxed style best. It's smooth and quiet but still feels fast- acceleration from 0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds. The relaxed seven-speed automatic gearbox is an essential option and suits the character of the car well. In auto mode changes are smooth and well-timed but in manual mode it never gives full control to the driver, changing up automatically, and can also get flustered if you ask it for really fast changes.
Price, value for money & options
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. There's lots of new technology in the 2013 model with a 360-degree camera, high beams which adapt to allow you to keep them on all the time, and traffic jam steering assist. The new car is about £2,000 more than before, but Mercedes says the new equipment is worth more than that. This isn't to say the E-Class is a good value car, however - it's not a very versatile or practical choice for this sort of money.