Strengths and weaknesses:
- roomy back seats
- no Airscarf cooling
- finicky trunk
Drop-top completes E-Class
With the release of the new E-Class Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz may very well be able to lay claim to the best family of vehicles in the world.
The ‘E’ sedan, coupe and wagon are all superb vehicles in their own right. The drop-top E-Class - the third convertible in Mercedes’ line-up alongside the SL and SLK - adds much of the greatness one would expect, along with some convertible-specific features that make it a force as the ‘new kid on the block’ in the luxury convertible segment.
The E-Class cabrio comes in the same flavours as its coupe sibling, with an E350 and E550 available. Though there is no AMG model, you can at least opt for several AMG add-ons to help it look the part.
The cabriolet may be based off some amazing vehicles, but Mercedes made sure not to rest on its laurels, and has added a couple neat features to help it stand out not just as a great vehicle, but more specifically, a great convertible.
The two most notable features are Airscarf and Aircap. The former is a pair of vents placed just below the driver and front passenger headrests. They blow warm air at three different speeds onto the occupant’s neck for a little added comfort during chillier top-down days. We’ve used a similar feature in the SLK, but Airscarf adds the ability to manually tilt the vents up or down to accommodate occupants of all heights. It’s a great little feature that comes standard on all E-Class cabriolets - we only wish it could blow cold air as well for those hot summer days (don’t most people drive convertibles in the summer?).
Aircap, meanwhile, uses a button-operated retractable lamella at the top of the windshield to help keep air from rushing in the faces of rear passengers. That’s used in conjunction with a mesh windscreen in between the rear headrests. We give Aircap a try while sitting in the back seat and it unquestionably makes a noticeable difference. There is slight a tradeoff though - when Aircap is activated, it produces a high-pitched whine. It won’t impede on conversations or a great song that’s turned up, but it can be a little annoying. The lamella can also be raised or lowered at any time. Annoyingly, though, the windscreen at the back of the car negatively affects rearward visibility.
Top up or down, the E-Class cabriolet is a great vehicle to be in. A soft top is used in place of a hardtop, but you could close your eyes and, judging by the lack of sound that makes its way into the cabin, be forgiven for thinking you’re inside a hardtop convertible. Heck, it seems quieter than a lot of coupes and sedans we’ve driven.
In terms of driving dynamics, both the E350 and E550 are at their best when they’re in comfort mode. Yes, the former goes fast and the latter goes faster; yes they can be equipped with a ‘Sport’ mode, and yes they both use a lightning-quick seven-speed transmission, but we’re more than happy to sit back and take in the uber-comfortable seats, generous leg room and serene cabin - top up or top down. It’s worth noting that the rear seats are more than mere suggestions. They fit my long, lanky frame handily and, unlike many other four seat convertibles, I’m quite content to sit back there for long stretches.
The ‘E’ is a vehicle with a storied history and this new convertible version looks to be more than just a mere bud on the family tree.