Mercedes E Class Cabrio
PUBLISHED: 11:15 30 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:50 20 February 2013
Liam Bird reviews
Id envisaged a lovely drive in the sunshine, sunglasses on, hood down. Instead, I was provided with the perfect testing ground for the new Mercedes E class cabriolet - four hours on the motorway, in rain of biblical proportions.
Even in conditions that would have had Noah reaching for hammer and nails, it was easy to forget that I was in a soft-top - and by that I mean a proper fabric hood, not a folding hard-top.
Mercedes new E class cabriolet, the E350 Bluemotion, proved a near-perfect motorway companion.
With an acoustically tuned hood thats nearly an inch thick, the new full four seater convertible remains beautifully quiet. So quiet in fact that you could assume you were driving a saloon. Road noise is minimal except for the odd thump from a cats-eye during lane changes, and with the digital radio tuned to the latest traffic news, very little of either the hammering rain or the engine note could be heard. Travelling by E Class is both relaxing and refined.
And thanks to a couple of clever innovations called the AirCap and AirScarf, when the weather does eventually allow you to roll back the roof the E class remains that way.
AirCap is a small wing that rises electronically from the top rail of the windscreen and pushes the airflow up and over the car. Together with the small wind deflector in between the rear headrests - which rise automatically if a rear seatbelt is buckled - it prevents the air passing above the car from re-entering the cabin and therefore reduces buffeting. It means that with Airscarf gently blowing warm air into the back of your neck and the heated seats switched on you can enjoy open topped motoring late into the evening, or on days when less well-equipped convertibles would have you reaching for your thermals. It also allows rear seat passengers to travel, top down, in comfort, rather than just in the wind.
Whether you go hood up or hood down, the E-class cabriolet remains a handsome looking car. The pillar-less profile is reminiscent of the CLK it replaces.
Inside theres more Mercedes familiarity. A trademark large leather steering wheel frames a five-dial dash and, as usual, theres only one column stalk to control both the indicators and wipers. Its a little confusing at first but you soon get the hang of it. The combined sat-nav and DAB unit is easy to fathom and every switch has a feeling of reassuring indestructibility.
On the road too, the E class feels beautifully constructed. The steering, light at parking speeds, weights up nicely as your pace quickens and theres more than enough torque to pass slower traffic without troubling either the V6 diesel engine or 7 speed auto box unnecessarily. The ride balances body control and comfort well, though its slightly softer than you might expect.
But the E-class doesnt pretend to be a sports car. Its for discerning individuals who like to go about their business in style and comfort and for whom quality is a must. After four hours in the rain I can safely say it fits that bill nicely.