From £28,360
Stuttgart’s latest cabriolet is ever so desirable - but pricey, too

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

The E-Class is a refined and relaxing return to old Mercedes qualities

25 February 2010

What is it?

This is confusing. First, Mercedes-Benz determines the E-class cabriolet is too old-fashioned and replaces it with the CLK Cabriolet, which sells in much larger numbers than its direct predecessor for a period of 12 years and two model generations.

Then it decides the CLK Cabriolet no longer fits its newly realigned line-up and kills it off in favour of - you guessed it - the E-class Cabriolet.

With a purposeful appearance mirroring that of the E-class coupe already on sale here, one of the best soft-tops mechanisms you’ll find anywhere and a top-notch interior that can be optioned with all of the German car maker’s latest comfort, safety and entertainment features, the Kings Road crowd are surely going to find this classy new open-top hard to pass up.

At the start of UK sales later next month there will be no fewer than seven E-class cabriolet models offering the choice of three diesels and four petrol engines. We drove the mid-range E 350 CGI, which is expected to become the most popular model over time.

What’s it like?

At typical motorway cruising speeds the E-class cabriolet’s refinement with the roof up is hugely impressive – if not quite the equal of that of the coupe, then not far away in ultimate terms.

The roof itself is a superbly finished multi-layered affair that stows in just 20sec at the press of a button located underneath a small pod on the leading edge of the centre armrest. As with the old CLK, it sits underneath a hard tonneau at the rear of the cabin in the top section of the boot to preserve the E-class cabriolet’s purposeful lines.

Many cabriolets claim to accommodate up to four adults. But the truth is a lot of them only offer sufficient space for two along with a token rear bench seat designed primarily for luggage stowage. The new E-class cabriolet, however, can be counted among the limited number of open-tops boasting four genuinely useful seats.

With the roof up, luggage capacity is put at a somewhat disappointing 390 litres – the same as that offered by the old CLK cabriolet. When the roof is lowered it drops to just 300 litres, demanding the use of soft baggage owing to an overall lack of space and narrow aperture.

In subjective terms, it feels quite rapid. There’s a silken feel and underlying willingness to the engine that tempts you to switch the gearbox into manual mode and run it hard up to the 6500rpm cut-out. Its best work, however, is done at a constant cruise in automatic mode. Tall gearing and the almost-silent qualities of the engine below 2500rpm add to the refinement and overall feeling of wellbeing.

Although it doesn’t quite feel as rigid as the E-class coupe, the E-class cabriolet is still remarkably controlled. Get stuck in on a winding mountain road and you find it is a much more rewarding drive than the old CLK cabrio.

The new car steers with greater precision, is more responsive and boasts better body control. Best of all is the ride, whose composure is exceptional by open-top standards both at low speeds around town and at a steady cruise out on the motorway.

Should I buy one

Those tempted by the E-class cabriolet’s impressive combination of style, luxury, performance and refinement should be warned. Some of the engine and gearbox combinations available at launch won’t be offered for long before being replaced by newer and more efficient units.

Not that this is likely to make much difference to the new German open-top’s sales prospects, I suspect. As a fashion statement for the in-crowd, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Join the debate

Comments
17

28 February 2010

Shame it is so dumpy to look at, (three series looks better imho, and that has a metal roof!)there is just no flow, looks like each feature of the car was designed in solitary confinement, a real pity.

About time Citroen put that C5 DHC prototype into production and showed them what elegance is.

28 February 2010

[quote 230SL]Shame it is so dumpy to look at[/quote]

Funny you say that, the other half said that when we saw our first E class coupe on Friday. I have to admit that I find the E class immensly disappointing- inside and out- especially after the C Class Saloon which i really like

28 February 2010

Dumpy? Needlessly aggressive looking and with half a dozen too many swage lines perhaps, but dumpy? Hardly.

I like the look of this, though as it's only a two door I won't be allowed to buy one. Perhaps when the kids have left home - though a look at second hand prices of the last E-Class convertible will reveal the UK's genuine least depreciating car. It's still expensive even now, almost 20 years later, with better examples on sale for between £15,000 and £25,000.

28 February 2010

I am going to consider an 350 CDI in SE to replace my CLK 200K Sport. Sport suspension and wheels are just far too hard for UK roads, especially now they are in pieces and the E Class Sport will be no different.

However, to the point, what engines/gearboxes are due for change? Are all getting the 7 speed auto?

28 February 2010

Engines/gearboxes up for change...? As far as I am aware if it's a CGI petrol engine then it's safe, as are most of the CDI diesels. I'm guessing the big change will be updates on the E500. I think it's currently the only non-Blue Efficiency (apart from the AMG engine). As for the gearboxes - again as far as I remember - 5speed autos on 4 cylinder engines, 7 speed on the 6 and 8 cylinder lumps.

28 February 2010

Greg thank you very much. I read Steve Croppleys comments about less being best with the CDI 220, being the best engine over the CDI 250 and CDI 350 fo the E Class estate. However, current issues with the 4 cylinder engines aside, that should be resolved for future 4 cyclinder engines, everyone on the web says the CDI 350 is the best. The price difference is relatively small, £1500 increments from 220 to 250 to 350 and with the 350CDI you get the 7 speed auto. Additonal road tax is nothing to me, as mpg, although new one off showroom tax is around £300 compared to £150 for 220 and 250. Also I do not think Sport suspension will suit UK roads and that SE with 17" wheels must be the way to go. Furthermore SE is around £3500 cheaper as Sport does not have leather as standard. Diesel over petrol, regardless of miles, as the price compared to the petrol makes sense for private users, especially when selling on. As for an open top and diesel I do not think it will be too noisy and I like relaxed driving letting the torque do the work.

Grateful for any views on the best diesel engine and SE over Sport.

28 February 2010

[quote 230SL]three series looks better imho[/quote] I think you need to compare to the 6Serie for comparison. Different proportions and standards for the class.

1 March 2010

[quote Wing Co]Grateful for any views on the best diesel engine and SE over Sport.[/quote]

If you are looking for a peachy combo for your new E Class, get the 250 CDI and wait for the 7 speed auto later in the year. The 5 speed box is old hat and has high emissions. The 7 speeder should deliver co2 close to the manual car.

1 March 2010

[quote 230SL]Shame it is so dumpy to look at[/quote]

For as long as white is trendy, cars will look dumpy. If you look at the press shots of almost every car launched in the past year, they are in white and the reaction from every blog is that it looks dumpy, regardless of make or model.

Dark metallic colours suit the E Class best, and that counts for every body style.

Check out a 3 series or 6 series cabrio in white, they look just as dumpy and very very Chavvy!!!

1 March 2010

[quote 230SL]Shame it is so dumpy to look at[/quote] I find this car very pretty. The rear 3/4 angle gives you the impression of a car with great stance and a hint of sportiness

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