The Mercedes E-class cabriolet will be unveiled officially later this week, but I've just seen and sat in it at an advance briefing.

As our first pictures from the technical demonstration day show, the car has the look and feel of the coupe on which it is based. Even so, it's reassuring to see that the design team, led by Gerd Schottke, have managed to convey the car's inherent comfort-orientated drive in its styling.

Merc E-class cabrio - first pics

Mercedes E-class cabriolet - first pictures

Schotte asserts that, with the soft-top ringed by chrome, and a long 'decked' overhang at the rear, the E-class cabrio has something of the appearance of a sailing boat - and if you think about the charming wooden cruisers you'd see on an Italian lake, rather than a speed boat, you can understand what he means.

The interior is essentially a refinement of what's gone before, but there's no doubting it's a relaxing place to be, with soft touch materials wherever you look, and many of the buttons covered up so you aren't distracted unless you need to use them.

The highlight of this early showing was sampling the car's innovative Aircap system in a windtunnel. With the turbine cranked up to 150kph we were warned we'd be blown out of the car if we tried to stand up, yet sat in the front I was completely protected, despite being six foot three.

The effect of raising Aircap when sat in the back was almost as remarkable, although my height did start to come in to play. The demonstration proved that Mercedes's claim that this is a car for all seasons and for four occupants does have serious merit.

Aircap - which will be fitted as standard in the UK - is pretty practcal, too, as all the parts are permanently fixed. E-class cabrio buyers won't be struggling to fit air deflectors, or cursing the boot space they take up when not in use. What used to be a complex and time-consuming job is now a matter of pushing a button.

I've one reservation, though, The front, windscreen-mounted air deflector looks pretty odd when its raised - almost stuck on as an afterthought (although it can't be retro fitted, incidentally) - and I'm not sure how that'll sit with traditionally style conscious open-top buyers.