||by sticking to their guns, they have produced a strikingly elegant automobile
That's got to be good news for us Brits as, despite an erratic climate, ours is one of the largest markets for open-topped cars in Europe and we need to drive them all year round.
The E-Class Cabriolet fills the void in the Mercedes line-up left by the demise of the CLK Cabriolet, and it sits on a shorter platform than its sibling E-Class saloon.
Mercedes says its designers felt that only a fabric soft top could convey a stylistically pure cabriolet feeling and, by sticking to their guns, they have indeed produced a strikingly elegant automobile.
The long bonnet, high beltline and subtly lowered soft-top profile are complemented by muscular haunches over the rear wheels, hinting at its powerful, sporting intent.
The LED tail lights are split, extending from the boot lid and wrapping right around onto the flanks. Narrow panel gaps between the adjacent units allows light transmission between the two, so that at night they blend seamlessly into one harmonious whole - accentuating the E-Class's width.
The E-Class Has A Couple Of Tricks Up Its Sleeve Called Airscarf And Aircap
The cabin is very elegant and stylish and made with high quality materials. The only negatives for me are these buttons, which are hard to pick out on the move, and the parking brake release which feels cheap compared to the other controls.
The new E-Class Cabriolet is a full four-seater and all the seats are finished in high-quality, hand-stitched leather although only the front two on our test car were comfort-ventilated - a £500 option.
Mercedes claims one of the quietest interiors in the segment for cabriolets with a fabric roof which - incidentally - can be opened or closed fully automatically within 20 seconds - even when driving at speeds of up to 25 mph.
The E-Class has a couple of tricks up its sleeve called AIRSCARF and AIRCAP designed to help you keep moving with the top down when conditions are less than perfect.
The AIRSCARF blasts neck-level jets of air to keep both driver and passenger warm and cosy while the AIRCAP's combination of a wind deflector and adjustable draught-stop reduces in-car turbulence at the push of a button.
If you have an environmental conscience - you might want to choose one of the cleaner 'BlueEFFICIENCY' models but we tested the unapologetic E500 - all 5 and a half litres of it.
The 387 horsepower eight-cylinder flagship petrol engine delivers its exceptional performance smoothly via the standard 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, covering the 0 to 62 mph sprint in just 5.3 seconds.
Peak torque is a whopping 530 Nm delivered between 2800 and 4800 rpm enabling almost instantaneous response for effortless overtaking manoeuvres.
The ride is smooth and refined and this is no doubt at least partly due to the bodyshell's improved torsional stiffness (up 30% over the CLK cabriolet) which Mercedes has achieved through a range of measures including the use of robot-guided laser welding and 70 metres of high-strength structural adhesive.
Comes As Standard With A Range Of Safety Systems Including Drowsiness Detection
If fuel consumption of 21.4 mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 257 g/km make your eyes water a little, then so will the asking price of over £56,000 for the standard car or over 65 grand for our test car which came loaded with extras, the highlight of which was Mercedes' sophisticated COMAND Multimedia system.
This features a high-resolution 7-inch colour display (the standard one is a 5.8-inch), fast hard-disc navigation with map for digitised areas of Europe, Traffic Message Channel, 6-GB memory for your digital music collection, a PCMCIA adapter slot for memory cards, DVD video and voice-operated control for audio, telephone and navigation.
The E-Class Cabriolet comes as standard with a range of safety systems including drowsiness detection and an active bonnet for pedestrians as well as an extensive array of airbags with multi-stage deployment.
Comfort and convenience features include an acoustic soft top, electrically adjustable front seats, 2-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free system for telephone, ISOFIX seat mounts in the rear and automatic front belt feeders which illicited an automatic "Thank you!" response from one of my more polite passengers.
Posted on 20.01.2012 by Massimo Pini
When considering value for money, however, it's important to bear in mind Mercedes' reputation for rock solid residuals, so when it comes time to sell your E-Class Cabriolet, you should get back a hefty chunk of that asking price back, although you'd probably fare better with a BlueEfficiency model than with the E500.
So is the E-Class Cabriolet truly a car for all seasons? Well, it certainly puts forward a very strong case. It has an impressive range of qualities and features that will help you enjoy open-air motoring on days when you'd really have no right to expect to.
It's a refined piece of kit, and in E500 form, it certainly puts a spring in your step.