Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • E-Class style influenced by S-Class
  • Controls different to others, but logical
  • Modern, architectural feel

Opting for the E-Class over the C-Class is a significant cost, but it is immediately apparent where the money has been spent when you’re inside. The dashboard initially may not to be all tastes, with an architectural, designer-interior ethos that threatens to place style over functionality.

Rendered in plastic, this would be frustrating – but the E-Class is trimmed as a smaller S-Class, and it works. Pick the open-pore wood finishes and the bold swathe across the full width of the car looks completely right, topped with a wide, single glass panel for instruments and entertainment displays.

More to the point, once the initial impact of the styling has become familiar, you find the controls are logical and easy to reach. Heating retains some hardware switches, and only a scattering of driver assist functions are obscured by the wheel.

E-Class interior technology dominates design

The 12.3-inch display of Comand Online is essential to fill the central space, and comes with connected services that enhance the E-Class feature set considerably. Mercedes would, of course, like all E-Classes to be specified with this and the complementary dynamic 12.3-inch widescreen instruments as well - the infotainment panel is such a central feature, visible to all passengers, that not using the full area cheapens the look inside the car considerably.

The E 350 d and E 400 come with Comand Online in the standard specification, going some way towards reducing the effective premium paid for the larger engines and ensuring the higher specification cars get the full effect of that dashboard.

Leave the optional widescreen cockpit display box unticked, and you can enjoy the classic performance of Tubular Dials – a set of traditional analogue instruments with the usual LCD information section between – regardless of infotainment options. Pleasant as the Dynamic display is, if you must save the £495 it adds to the £1,495 Comand Online package, the conventional dashboard is perfectly functional.

Go without either option and the entry-level 8.4-inch sat-nav/DAB radio display looks lost behind this wide glazed section. It cheapens the feel of the car, and it’s surprising that any specification of E-Class Cabriolet or Coupe ships so equipped.

Between the supportive seats is a wide centre console that is free of handbrake or gear controls. Gear selection is via a dainty little column-shift switch, the parking brake is a switch in the traditional Mercedes position down by your right knee, and the area between the seats is dominated by the solidly-made touchpad for media controls.

Once familiarised, this is intuitive and avoids the sticky-fingerprints-on-screen misery of touchscreen systems. It’s also one of the most pleasing tactile elements of the car, a solid lump of metal with a glassy, clicking surface like a high-end laptop.

Comfort

  • Exceptional seats as standard
  • Impressive ride quality
  • Roomy rear seats and legroom

Based on an executive saloon car, the E-Class Cabriolet starts from a foundation of long-distance comfort. AMG Line trim means sporty, supportive seats that have a wide range of adjustment. Memory for the electric seats is part of the Premium Plus package.

Comfort with the roof down is aided by Airscarf technology; two fans in the headrest draw air and heat it to create a zone of warmth around the driver and passenger’s shoulders. It works with the roof up, too, providing a soothing heat for stiff necks – perhaps not intentional or even medically proven, but pleasant. Front seat heating is standard as well.

Staying focused on comfort

Sharp response on smooth winding roads is one thing, but the E-Class Cabriolet shies away from ultimate harshness. What that technology can’t do is mask the weight of the car, or the suspension’s need to be able to absorb big ruts and poor surfaces for drivers who want a more relaxed mode. For Britain’s roads, that’s a bonus – this is a Cabriolet that has no fear of urban speed bumps.

The firmer damping modes do result in it being caught out by larger imperfections, though that is as much a result of the increased pace the car feels comfortable with.