Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 26, 2018
The E-Class Cabriolet lands in that happy medium between the more compact C-Class and the more grandiose S-Class convertibles in both size and price. Visually, they look fairly similar since they all carry the corporate headlight design and chrome pin front grills, but the E-Class is molded together with softer lines though it may not be as toned or as muscular as the outgoing model.
The rear is distinctive with wider taillights and a horizontally-accentuated stance, and frameless side windows without B-pillars allow for a refreshing half-moon opening when cruising with the roof up. The grey on black colour scheme on our tester does not help to accentuate the car’s width nor add any street presence, but its shape is attractive up close in person. Ironically enough, the only 2018 E-Cabriolets I’ve seen on the road have been this exact spec.
The E-Class Cabriolet follows the Coupe and only comes in one spec: the E 400 4MATIC: a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 propels all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is good for 329 hp and 354 lb-ft, more than enough if you ask me. 0-100 km/h comes in a swift 5.5 seconds, just two-tenths of a second slower than the Coupe, which is not surprising as the Cabriolet weighs 60 kg more due to extra stiffening and bracing.
On the road, the power translates into proper forward thrust. Anything over 300 hp is more than enough for a mid-size cabriolet, but Mercedes has tuned the engine to deliver said power smoothly and softly, rather than abruptly as most turbocharged engines tend to go. That being said, don’t expect AMG levels of performance here. The E 400 performs better as a luxury cruiser than a speedy bullet.
As much as I would want Mercedes to plop down the 4.0-litre V8 engine from the E 63 into the Cabriolet, and offer front row seats to one of the most astounding soundtracks in their portfolio, I doubt there is a market for that, especially in Canada where convertible weather is limited to less than six months.
Driving wise, the steering is soft and numb, yet acceptable in this application. It is not sporty feeling by any means even in the “Sport” setting, and the steering ratios are too quick, making it difficult to predict the amount of turning force needed. At times I found myself turning “too much” and “too quickly” without even noticing. And speaking truthfully, the Sport and Sport+ mode that tinkers with the transmission, suspension, and steering, just felt out of place in the E 400.
The Cabriolet is no corner carver by any means, but the E 400 keeps its composure and handles its weight appropriately without feeling ungainly or overbearing. This is one wafty grand tourer and having the ability to put down the roof makes the scenic drive that much more enjoyable. The E 400 does not exhibit any of those rattles typical of convertibles, the chassis is surprisingly rigid, and the whole car felt solid. Furthermore, the optional air suspension ($2,000) cleverly assists in making sure occupants are undisturbed by the bumps on the road.
No, the E-Class is not as sumptuous as a Rolls-Royce Dawn but it’s sure coming close. Even with the acoustically insulated fabric top up, wind and tire noise is kept to a minimum. Top down, barely any wind gets into the cabin even when approaching triple digit speeds, so you yuppies don’t have to worry about disturbing your hairdo.
If you’re familiar with modern Mercedes interiors, the E 400 Cabriolet will be of no surprise. It’s an excellent place to spend time in, carrying over all the tech from the E-Class Sedan with a wide and expansive dashboard further accentuated by strategically placed ambient lighting and two massive displays linked together.
The seats are unbelievably comfortable with excellent bolstering, adjustable headrests that can move fore and aft, massage ($1,800), ventilated, and heated features, as well as the Airscarf, a vent that blows hot air around your neck to extend convertible usage into the colder seasons.
Mercedes finally added an optional heated steering wheel ($250) to the fold, a much desired feature that was missing in the E-Class Coupe. All-wheel drive practically makes it winter-ready as well pending a nice set of snow tires.
The cabin is noticeably larger than the outgoing model. Headroom or legroom isn’t a problem for front passengers, nor is it for the rear. I can snugly sit behind myself (I stand six feet tall), and lowering the roof allows from infinite headroom. You can even have heated rear seats ($650) if you so choose, proof in the pudding that Mercedes has made the rear seats adult-friendly and actually usable, a rarity in the convertible world. Four adults can fit in this convertible properly - they just won’t have anywhere to put their bags.
Which leads me to possibly the biggest downside of the Cabriolet: the tiny trunk. You can barely fit a standard size suitcase back there, as the retractable roof takes up most of the precious real estate. The trunk runs deep, but shallow in height. The only other gripe I had was the lack of an exhaust note from the V6. Even with the roof retracted, I could barely hear a thing - a good or bad thing, depending which camp you’re from. On the bright side, you can operate the roof up to 50 km/h, so you don’t have to worry about making a full stop when the clouds starting spitting.
The Mercedes E 400 Cabriolet is a capable four-seat cruiser that wafts about in silence and comfort, just don’t expect a hair-raising drive or enough storage capacity for four adults to escape for the weekend. Rather the E-Class will coddle you in massaging seats, blow hot air onto your neck, and give you an unfiltered view of your mountain drive. If Rolls-Royce was going to make an $80,000 convertible (which is never going to happen), it would be somewhere along the lines of this Mercedes. Droptops don’t get more refined, relaxing, or as plush as this.
Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz E 400 4MATIC Cabriolet
Paint Type: Selenite Grey
Base Price: $80,300
Price as Tested: $95,190
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,826 / 1,860 / 1,436
Curb weight (kg): 1,965
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
Horsepower: 329 hp @ 5,250 - 6,000 rpm
Torque: 354 lb-ft @ 1,600 - 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km:
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.2