Mercedes-Benz E Class Convertible (2013 - ) review
Read the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet convertible (2013 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The conversion to two-door cabriolet gives a sharp and distinctive look, although the Mercedes E-Class name is quite misleading: this car is actually based on the platform of the smaller C-Class. The bold front grille with extra-large Mercedes-Benz emblem, single-piece headlights and rakish front bumper gives an aggressive look, while the swept-back tail lights and strong rear arches give the E-Class Cabriolet a muscular and stylish appearance. For an even smarter look, go for one of the AMG Sport models, which have larger (18 inch) alloy wheels and a unique AMG styling pack inside and out.
The cabin of the E-Class feels like it has been sculpted from stone, such is the depth of quality and attention to detail. All of the materials feel like they’ve been designed to last a lifetime, with tactile leathers and soft-touch plastics all around. The metal appliques and inserts break up the sea of dark plastics and work well with the other materials. The foot-operated parking brake frees up space in the console between the seats, and the sat-nav screen is mounted high up on the dashboard and is exactly where you want it to be. The only criticism is that a lot of the buttons are similarly sized and therefore it is easy to press the wrong one when driving.
Normally Cabriolet models are a pain to manoeuvre with the soft-top up, but the visibility in the E-Class is actually pretty good, both behind and over the shoulder. In any case, parking sensors are fitted as standard on all models to help. Mercedes claims that the car is a full four-seater, but rear passengers wouldn’t want to travel in the rear for long, especially with the roof up, as headroom is quite limited. The E-Class is at its best carrying children or as a 2+2. Boot space is restricted, too, with an odd-shaped compartment. With the roof up there’s 290 litres of space, and with it down just 200 litres. This is considerably worse than the Audi A5 Cabriolet and BMW 3 Series Convertible.
Ride and handling
Despite its racy looks, the E-Class Cabriolet doesn’t like to be hurried, and is at its best cruising along in a relaxed fashion. Grip levels are high and handling relatively tidy, with decent levels of feedback from the steering. The suspension in standard guise is best, with the uprated sports option a little too firm for UK road surfaces – which is a shame, given that almost the entire range comes with the AMG Sports trim. Engine noise is kept well in check, as are road and wind noise, and even on the motrway, the cabriolet isn’t much noisier than the coupe. The aircap system is designed to keep the cabin free from buffeting and draughts, and in the main works well, although the price you pay of for less buffeting is more wind noise.
There’s a wide choice of engines, and the range kicks off with the familiar 220 and 250 CDI diesel models, both of which give very acceptable performance. An even better bet is the 350 Bluetec, another diesel engine, but with six cylinders and the largest amount of torque of any engine in the range. It will get the E-Class to 62mph in little more than 6.5 seconds, but rather than flat-out performance, it’s the flexibility at low revs that impresses and perfectly suits the car’s touring character. Of the two petrol-engined models, we’re yet to drive the E200 model, but the flagship E400 is a very quick bit of kit. It hits 62mph in just over five seconds, but we think it’s a less sensible car to buy that the E350, as it costs several thousand pounds more and needs working harder for similar performance.
Given how fast it will go, the E400 returns impressive fuel economy of 35.8mpg but the E350 returns 47.9mpg and the E220 CDI improves this to a credit-crunch-friendly 57.7mpg (with a manual gearbox). On the road prices represent excellent value and if you choose your model with care – opt for one of the diesels, in other words – you will recoup a decent chunk of those costs further down the line. The diesels will also reward with a cheaper tax bill.
Mercedes-Benz has a great reputation for reliability, and that continues with the new E-Class Cabriolet. All of the materials are top quality and everything feels built to last. Owners speak highly of their cars, and the German brand performs well in reliability surveys and customer satisfaction indexes.
It’s not very often that all variants of a particular car range are crash tested, and therefore the Cabriolet version of the E-Class hasn’t yet been driven into Euro NCAP’s crash barrier. The four-door saloon has, though, and it scored a five-star safety rating. Seven airbags are standard (with up to eleven available), but that’s just the start of a superb list of safety kit. Attention Assist, designed to detect and alert the drowsy driver, is also standard, as are Collision Prevention Assist and Neck-Pro head restraints. Anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic stability program are linked to the pre-safe system which enables safety devices including seatbelts and airbags to respond more quickly to a potential accident both in front of and behind the car. Adaptive high beam assist, also a standard fit, automatically chooses the best headlight setting, removing the need to dip for oncoming traffic, while the options’ list includes many more systems (such as Distronic Plus, Pre-safe Brake, Blind Spot Assist and Active Land Keeping Assist) in the Driving Assistance package..
All E-Class Cabriolet models are well equipped, with SE trim featuring DAB radio, the Comand online infotainment package, alloy wheels, adaptive damping, leather upholstery and part-LED headlights. AMG Sport models add larger alloys, upgraded brakes and a unique AMG look inside and out. At the top of the range, AMG Sport Plus (exclusive to the E400 models) adds 19-inch alloys, a dynamic handling package, the intelligent light system, leather trim on top of the dashboard and an uprated stereo. Popular options include larger alloy wheels, a neck heating system, sat-nav, adaptive cruise control and a range of uprated audio systems.
If you are looking for a stylish soft-top with room for four passengers, they don’t get any more distinctive than the E-Class Cabriolet. It’s well equipped, has impressive safety credentials and will be reliable. Factor in frugal petrol and diesel engines and the Mercedes makes a top buy.