We know looks are subjective, but we rate the latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet as one of the prettiest drop tops on the market.
It’s classic Mercedes-Benz at its contemporary best, with plenty of style and panache. That’s despite bucking the current trend for a folding metal roof and going with a soft top.
It’s also one of the most pleasurable cars to live with on a daily basis, too, due to what we would call ‘functional versatility’ – a car for all seasons, as the phrase goes.
By functional, if not practical, we mean there’s no issue with four adults climbing aboard the Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet and travelling 40 or 50 kilometres into the city for dinner or a show, preferably with the roof down.
There’s adequate legroom in the rear seats for those up to six-foot, although headroom, even for those with shorter frames, is compromised whenever the roof is up.
However, like most luxury coupes these days, the Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet is strictly a four-seater, with two individual pews in the rear, complete with mandatory cup holders and central armrest for greater passenger comfort.
One item that isn't plentiful on board the E250 Cabriolet is boot space; there isn't a lot of it, thanks to a receptacle inside the boot that neatly retains the lowered fabric roof.
The standard leather sports seats up front, while not upholstered with particularly supple hide, may as well have been designed by a panel of esteemed chiropractors, such is their ability to mould to the shape of your back.
They’re comfortably bolstered, too, as are those in the rear, which allow more enthusiastic drivers to properly enjoy the surprisingly sporty attributes of this cabriolet.
Granted, there’s a long list of Mercedes-Benz factory fit options available for the E250 Cabriolet, as we’ve come to expect from most luxury car makers these days. But equally there’s a generous inventory of standard kit on board, too, notwithstanding that this is the entry-level car in the model line-up.
Highlights include bi-xenon headlamps with intelligent light system and adaptive high beam assist, 7-inch TFT colour display, electric wind deflector and easy-entry function for the rear seats.
That said, you might want to tick the ‘entertainment package’ for the Harman Kardon sound system alone. The audio quality, even with the roof down, is extraordinarily good. The other goodies in the package are keyless engine start and a TV tuner, which covers analogue and HD reception, but again it’s the audio clarity that enhances the viewing experience.
While the interior look and feel is what we would describe as mostly business class, there’s still plenty of real wood trim and polished metal accents to make this cabin a nice enough place to be on a long drive, or the daily commute.
Soft-tops often provide scant relief to outside noise, but not this one. In fact, it’s all too easy to forget that the only thing between you and the elements in the E250 Cabriolet is a frame and some fabric, given the superb insulation that has been engineered into this car.
Don’t worry about your hair when the roof is down, either, because thanks to an innovative wind deflecting system called Aircap – which upon the press of button raises a lip above the top of the windscreen - even rear-seat passengers are provided with a virtually wind-free environment.
It’s not the quickest electrically operated roof on the market, but 20 seconds is acceptable, especially when the mechanism itself is smooth and completely hidden when lowered.
The badge might say E250, but that’s not quite an accurate representation of what lies under the bonnet of this particular variant.
In fact, it’s a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection. And while you’re already thinking, ‘ho-hum’, it’s actually got more than a few herbs. That’s 150kW and 310Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheels via an exceptionally good seven-speed automatic transmission.
That said, jump on the throttle with any degree of urgency and you’ll immediately discover plenty of turbo lag. That is, until the rev counter starts climbing above 2000rpm and the E250 Cabriolet gets going with a fair degree of gusto.
Mercedes says the E250 Cabriolet will still sprint from 0-100km/h in a spritely 7.8 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 210km/h.
Thankfully, the latest upgrades on the entry-level E-Class Cabriolet included the 7G-TRONIC transmission with sports mode and paddle shifters, replacing the previous five-speed unit.
Left in full automatic mode it’s a comfortable drive with smooth upshifts and a propensity to quickly find top gear in a quest for ultimate fuel economy. For a more entertaining drive, you can either shift via the shift lever or the more enjoyable steering column-mounted paddle-shifters.
The E-Class Cabriolet, like almost all drop-tops, suffers from a degree of flex in the body, but it’s minimal on this car, and only over relatively poor road surfaces does it translate through the seats.
It’s not a true driver’s car, but it’s at least capable of tackling twistier sections of tarmac with plenty of enthusiasm.
There’s plenty of weight in the steering, right from dead centre, and reasonable feedback for the driver through the steering wheel.
Impressive, too, are the car’s grip levels, even under heavy loads through a series of tight bends. That was especially apparent in some torrential rain during our test period, when the E250 was remarkably composed in slippery conditions.
Ride comfort is generally good, too, with only the worst of potholes upsetting the three-link front and multi-link rear suspension set-up.
Additionally, there’s an extensive inventory of active and passive safety equipment fitted to this base model E-Class Cabriolet that includes adaptive brake with hold function, brake drying function in the wet, hill start assist, adaptive flashing brake lights, nine airbags, driver fatigue detection system, head restraints for driver and front passenger, parktronic (including parking guidance), and a host of other safety kit.
At 1695 kilograms, the E250 cabriolet a relatively light car considering it’s size and body style. It’s also aerodynamically sound with a drag coefficient of just 0.28 and two of the reasons why we were able to achieve average fuel consumption over the week of just 6.7L/100km, which didn’t include any freeway travel.
The Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet is the epitome of a ‘car for all seasons’ delivering beautiful styling, luxury accommodation for four adults and decent performance with excellent fuel economy.