Unique combination of high quality, comfort and space, realistically priced
- Ample performance from E 220 d
- Luxurious, high-quality feel
- Genuinely refined with roof up or down
- Expensive, yet good value
- Tamer hybrid AMG version for thrill-seekers
- Should have 360-degree camera as standard
- Diesel noisy at idle – from outside
- Fleet appeal reduces exclusivity
Over several generations, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet has refined the art of large-scale open-top touring. It is somewhat larger than the most obvious four-seater rivals, translating into impressive interior space and equipment. BMW’s 4 Series may be smaller and more nimble, the Audi A5 more efficient, but neither can touch the E-Class for decadence; at least, that appears to be the aim for Mercedes.
They have succeeded, where the interior, ride and build are concerned. Under the bonnet, everything on offer is adequate – but far from excessive. In the E-Class Cabriolet, Mercedes has chosen to take a more relaxed approach to the traditional pleasures of open-topped motoring.
Open air, without messed-up hair
Having the roof down doesn’t have to mean being cold or windswept, with Airscarf (neck-level heaters) and Aircap (wind-deflector) technology that genuinely works to make the open car feel sheltered. These can be disabled if you want to experience the environment fully, and with all the windows down the large car feels suitably slimmed down and breezy.
The strongest competition for the E-Class Cabriolet comes from within Mercedes itself, where you can opt for a better equipped C-Class if you don’t need space for adults in the rear seats. You may also wish to look to the Range Rover Evoque Convertible for an urban – but cramped – alternative.
BMW’s 6 Series rivals the E-Class for size despite reduced passenger space, but prices start where the highest-spec E 350 d 4Matic – including most options – trail off, and the bias is towards high performance. If leasing, the gap in monthly cost is much smaller – though BMW’s options can take a 6 Series close to £100,000 by the time the specification matches the E-Class.
Essentially then, the E-Class Cabriolet is unique in offering an affordable, luxurious soft-top with genuine space for four. Similar interior space is only offered in models costing considerably more – such as a Bentley or Rolls-Royce - or in the case of the Vauxhall Cascada, costing considerably less with an appropriate reduction in materials, technology and power.
Less complex styling, more complexity inside
In introducing the 2017 E-Class Coupe, Mercedes turned the focus from the exaggerated arches and complex surfacing to a smoother, traditional cigar shape. The new Cabriolet inherits that design, replacing the pillarless hardtop with a multi-layer fabric roof that folds in 20 seconds, and can be operated up to 31mph.
Inside, the design language for the S-Class provides the template for open-pore woods (only offered on the E-Class Cabriolet and Coupe) and high-end metallic finishes, bold turbine vents and optionally, the distinctive wide-view instruments. This panoramic dashboard incorporates instruments and infotainment in a single glass panel, and is a must-have option – if not for the functionality, for the style and residual value.
Similarly the Burmester surround sound is a must-have to keep that high-end luxury feel intact, and comes as part of a very useful set of convenience and lighting upgrades.
Mercedes convertibles aren't generally considered to be good value; in this case, however, the E 220 d Cabriolet in particular exceeds expectations for the near-£45,000 list price. Once stacked up against the competition, and the improvement in quality over the smaller C-Class is considered, the baby S-Class atmosphere paired with useful, sensible powertrains is extremely tempting.
Options are surprisingly limited, too – though four colours of soft top, and an exclusive rubellite red colour are available alongside a range of monochrome and two-tone interior schemes. Most features are bundled into a handful of packs, limiting the customisation possible.
The Parkers Verdict
When the entry level E 220 d is as good as it is, it’s hard to see the case for going up the range unless you want 4Matic all-wheel drive - but undoubtedly the cachet of larger-capacity engines – and their badges - will be hard to ignore and diesel engine notes are rarely pleasant. As an indulgent luxury car the E 400 is really the only one to offer the exhaust note and effortless performance to suit.
Option packages represent good value too, with only the enhanced leather trim looking like an indulgence – the convenience and technology you’ll want is priced very competitively against similar upgrades from rivals, despite looking expensive as a pack.
Refinement, optional all-wheel drive security and cutting edge interior design position the E-Class Cabriolet as one of the most accomplished all-rounders you can buy today. It is a large car though, and benefits from the sensors and driving assistants to reduce stress when driving and parking in cities.