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.