Mid-sized four-seater convertibles don’t come better than this
- Svelte looks
- AMG performance
- Economy of diesels
- Uncomfortable rear seats
- Manual gearbox best avoided
Joining the German-dominated ranks of premium-badged four-seater convertibles is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet.
It seems remarkable that it’s taken Mercedes so long to produce a soft-top version of the C-Class, a popular range that’s now in its fourth generation, but judging by our experiences with the car, the wait was worth it.
Brand aficionados will point out that despite its E-Class mimicking styling, both generations of the former Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Cabriolet were C-Class based, but this is the first time the convertible’s been embraced as part of the regular ‘C’ range.
It has few direct rivals but its primary two are the Audi A5 Cabriolet and the BMW 4 Series Convertible – the latter, unlike the Mercedes, has a folding hard-top, rather than a fabric roof. Alternatives that are more leftfield include the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and high-end derivatives of the Vauxhall Cascada.
Soft top with practicality – to a degree
Styling-wise, the Cabriolet shares more with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe than it does its Saloon or Estate relations, giving it a lithe, lower profile, roof up or down.
Its sleekness is preserved by virtue of the folding fabric soft-top, which concertinas more elegantly than a three-piece hard-top, robbing less boot space in the process.
Not that you buy a four-seater convertible if practicality’s your chief requirement, but with the roof raised there is up to 360 litres of boot capacity, shrinking to 285 litres when the soft top’s stowed away into the well behind the back seats.
While the cabin essentially apes the other C-Classes, the two seats in the rear are best suited to children. They feel firm, with upright backrests – while head and elbow room are fine for adults, headroom – roof up – is at a premium.
Diesel efficiency, petrol power, AMG ferocity
Most C-Class Cabriolets sold in Britain are expected to be diesel-powered, with both the C 220 d and C 250 d variants featuring the venerable 2.1-litre engine in 170hp and 204hp guises. Stick with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive for the lowest emissions, with the C 220 d producing just 116g/km of CO2.
Two turbocharged petrol engines are offered, both with a 2.0-litre capacity and badged C 200 and C 300, with 184hp and 245hp on offer, respectively.
For real performance, you have to look at the trio of Mercedes-AMG C-Class Cabriolets. As a halfway house there’s the C 43 4Matic, with a 367hp 3.0-litre V6 petrol, but for the ultimate performance the C 63 and C 63 S Cabriolets pack a thumping twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, serving up to 510hp and scorching from 0-62mph in as little as 4.1 seconds.
High quality, well equipped
One downside to convertible driving isn’t so much wind-in-your-hair, it’s wind-trying-to-blow-your-hair-off. Back in 2010 when the current E-Class Cabriolet was revealed it featured a novel concept called Aircap to reduce the blusteriness, which also makes an appearance on the C-Class Cabriolet.
It’s a two-part device involving a spoiler which rises from the top edge of the windscreen and an air deflector behind the back seats that elevates. For those up front it’s very effective, an increase in wind noise being the penalty. On the downside it’s an eyesore and benefits those in the rear negligibly.
The Cabriolet is well built, employing high quality materials and following the plush Sport and AMG Line range structure of the C-Class Coupe. The Mercedes-AMG range features even more equipment and a host of sporty touches to help justify their high prices.
Read the full Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet review to find out how good this new soft-top is.