The seven-speed ’box is superior too, with barley detectable shifts both up and down. Its only drawback is the now familiar hesitation to respond to throttle movement at low speed and under certain conditions. It’s hard to define exactly when this may or may not happen, and it’s this inconsistency of behaviour that makes the trait most annoying.
We’re already familiar with the rest of the latest E-class’s attributes as a convertible. The cabin is roomy and comfortable and, with the optional leather upholstery and Memory Package electrically adjustable seats, almost luxuriously well appointed.
Mercedes’ wind-deflecting Aircap system helps keep turbulent air out of the cabin – and its occupants’ hair – at speed, while the Airscarf (a £320 option that should be fitted as standard) directs warm air out of the bottom of the front seats’ headrests and around the driver’s and passenger’s neck to further improve roof-down comfort in less than ideal conditions.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the market for a quality convertible with a premium badge then the E 350 CDI should be on your shopping list. Certainly in 3.0-litre V6 diesel guise, and relative to the E 250 CGI, it feels like a more complete car, with performance to match, rather than feel belittled by, its dynamic capabilities.
Of course, the extra straightline go and torquey diesel muscle don’t come free of charge, with the base price for the E 350 starting a full £5k higher than that of the E 250. It’s still not the most involving driver’s car – a 3-series convertible does a better job of that – but as a comfortable, effortless and semi-opulent form of open-top transport, the E 350 makes a strong case for itself.
Mercedes-Benz E 350 CDI BlueEfficiency Sport cabriolet
Price: £40,780; Price as tested: £51,030; 0-62 mph: 6.9sec; Top speed: 155mph; Kerbweight 1845kg; Economy: 40.4mpg; CO2: 189g/km; Engine: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 228bhp at 3800rpm; Torque 398lb ft at 1600-2400rpm
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