The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet might be on its deathbed.
Between the rush to develop electric vehicles and a new, global fascination with SUVs, the classic convertible has fallen out of favour with buyers. At Mercedes-Benz, that means the next-generation C-Class and E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet are likely to morph into one new model, dubbed CLE.
There’s still some life in the current E-Class Cabriolet. With the bigger, more expensive S-Class convertible gone it’s currently the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz drop-top range, and is currently competing with… nothing, really. BMW doesn’t do a 5 Series convertible, and the biggest Audi drop-top is the A5.
Should you hurry out and snap up an E-Class Cabriolet before it’s gone?
With a sticker price of $147,153 before on-road costs, the E350 Cabriolet carries a $14,000 premium over the equivalent E-Class Coupe and a $17,000 premium over the equivalent four-door E-Class Sedan.
Our tester had the Vision Package ($3400) and power closing doors ($700) fitted, upping the sticker to $151,253 before on-road costs.
Rivals are thin on the ground. You’ll pay $126,400 before on-roads for the Audi S5 Cabriolet, and the BMW M440i xDrive Convertible has a sticker of $141,900 before on-roads. Both are smaller than the E, however.
With beige and black leather, polished white wood on the dashboard, and two high-resolution screens in front of the driver, the E350 Cabriolet makes a strong first impression.
More subtle alternatives are available, but you didn’t buy a convertible to blend into the background. Roof raised, you could be fooled into thinking you’re sitting in a hardtop coupe up front.
The driver and passenger sit low, looking over the long bonnet, and there’s a little motorised arm on hand to pass you your seatbelt. Heaven forbid sir would ever have to reach over his shoulder.
Along with the standard heating, cooling, and range of electronic adjustments we’ve come to expect from a Mercedes, the front seats feature an AirScarf which will blow warm air on the back of your neck when the roof is down.
The driving position is excellent, allowing long-legged drivers to stretch right out, and the chubby steering wheel is a quality item. It’s a shame Mercedes-Benz insists on fitting its cars with what could be the fiddliest wheel controls in motoring.
Rather than proper buttons, it has touch-based sliders that make what should be simple jobs harder.
The infotainment system offers a blend of old and new Mercedes-Benz technology. The screens are running the latest MBUX software, which means they have slick animations and modern graphics, but the controller on the transmission tunnel is the rotary dial from the older COMAND system.
Once you’re dialled into the mix of swipes, button presses, and dial twists required to navigate the system it’s simple enough – and Hey Mercedes voice controls work well – but rival systems are more intuitive upfront. The fact you only get wired smartphone mirroring, and Apple CarPlay is in a small window on the screen, is disappointing.
Dropping the top in the E is simple enough; you just lift a small switch ahead of the central storage bin below 60km/h, and the soft top quietly goes about its business.
Once it’s dropped, the cabin is a surprisingly hushed space. Another button beside the roof-opening switch raises a wind deflector, which uses a spoiler on the windscreen and a mesh unit behind the rear seats to cut down on buffeting.
There’s no getting away from the fact the roof has been dropped, but Mercedes-Benz does a great job keeping the worst of the wind outside of the cabin.
Rear seat space isn’t really what cars like this are about, but the E-Class does have space back there to bring friends along for a beachside cruise.
We fit fully-grown adults back there on short trips, with decent legroom and enough headroom beneath a closed roof, but you wouldn’t want to spend too long back there.
Access is a bit tight through the long doors, even with the front seats slid as far forward as possible, so making a graceful entrance or exit can be a bit tricky.
As for boot space? It’s heavily compromised by the folding soft top.
There’s a claimed 385 litres, but the load space itself has a narrow window once you’re past the initial opening. It’ll swallow a set of golf clubs thanks to the wide aperture at the rear, however.
There’s no spare wheel, just a can of goo to patch a hole if you’re in a pinch.
Power in the E350 Cabriolet comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 220kW and 400Nm. It’s rear-wheel drive, and a nine-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The engine is backed by a 48V mild-hybrid system designed to deliver smoother start/stop, and provide an extra boost when you mat the throttle.
The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 6.1 seconds, and flat out you’ll be doing 210km/h. Claimed fuel economy 7.8 litres per 100km, and the car drinks 98 RON premium unleaded. The fuel tank measures 66 litres.
We saw 10.9 litres per 100km over a week heavily skewed to city driving.
Want a sporty drop-top from Mercedes-Benz? Buy a Mercedes-AMG SL.
This is a relaxed cruiser designed for soaking up the sun in style, rather than an all-out weapon for demolishing coast roads. Provided you’re comfortable with that, the E-Class is a pretty lovely thing to drive.
Usually the preserve of big family SUVs or off-roaders, the E-Class Cabriolet features air suspension under the skin as standard in Australia. For a car riding on 20-inch wheels it does a good job filtering out small urban bumps, although you really feel its weight when it thumps into bigger bumps.
You won’t get the windscreen wobbling, but there are times where the body doesn’t feel quite as solid as the coupe or sedan. Realistically, it’s not something that’ll worry most owners, nor is it an issue unique to the drop-top E-Class.
Power in the E350 comes from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that feels adequate, but never more than that. On light throttle inputs it’s smooth and quiet, but put your foot down and it doesn’t have the laid-back, linear feeling you want in a big Mercedes-Benz.
The nine-speed automatic transmission shuffles smartly through the ratios when you’re cruising, and is clever enough to hang onto gears almost all the way to redline when you mat the throttle.
The engine has a determined bark at full noise, although anyone hoping to indulge in a more expensive-sounding soundtrack will need to look at the six-cylinder AMG E53.
As is the case in multiple modern Mercedes-Benz models, the brake pedal in the E-Class can feel a bit touchy and tough to modulate at low speeds.
The pedal is soft, and it’s tough to modulate as the 48V mild-hybrid system harvests energy. More weight and a more logical build up of brake pressure would be welcome.
There are no such issues with the steering, which is nicely weighted in the default Comfort drive mode. This 4841mm-long cruiser is easy to place in the city, and the array of cameras on hand means there’s no excuse for scraping a wheel.
Mercedes-Benz has some of the best driver assists in the business.
The adaptive cruise control does an excellent job maintaining a gap to the car in front, the lane-keep assist intervenes subtly when you stray towards the white lines, and the lane-change function will actually steer the car into the next lane when you indicate.
Ride comfort is excellent at 100km/h, and insulation on the soft top is seriously impressive. There’s barely a hint of wind whipping around the window seals, and the tyre roar is kept over Australia’s nastier country bitumen – an issue in plenty of European cars.
Rather than feeling like a weekend car you need to put up with on longer trips, the E-Class Cabriolet is a well-rounded car that just happens to have a folding soft-top. Just make sure you pack light…
E200 Coupe highlights:
- AMG Line exterior styling
- 19-inch 10-spoke AMG alloy wheels
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch MBUX infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Parktronic Active Park Assist
- Surround-view camera
- Mercedes me Connect app integration
- Wireless smartphone charging
- 64-colour ambient lighting
- Electrically-adjustable front seats with three-position memory
- Heated front seats
- Leather upholstery
- Rear privacy glass
- Agility Control suspension with passive selective damping
- Keyless entry/start
- Handsfree boot access
- LED headlights with Adaptive High Beam Assist
- LED tail lights
- 360-degree cameras
E350 Coupe and Cabriolet add:
- 20-inch AMG multispoke alloy wheels
- Air Body Control air suspension
- Multibeam LED headlights
- Metallic paint
The convertible also features the Mercedes-Benz AirScarf, which blows hot air on the back of your neck, and has a pop-up air diffuser atop the windscreen to smooth things out in the cabin at speed when the roof is dropped.
The W213-generation E-Class Sedan has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on testing carried out by Euro NCAP in 2016 – though the E350 Sedan is currently unrated. Coupe and Cabriolet versions are also unrated.
The E-Class Sedan earned scores of 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 90 per cent for child occupants, 77 per cent for pedestrian detection, and 62 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Lane-change assist
- Blind-spot assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Evasive steering assist
The E-Class features nine airbags as standard, along with an active hoop that fires when the car detects a rollover.
The E-Class line-up is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 25,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
A three-year service package will set you back $2800, four years is priced at $3750, and five years costs $5600.
The E-Class Cabriolet might be a niche player in 2022, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a lovely cruiser.
Like most convertibles, it carries some compromises. It feels heavy, the boot is tiny, and it’s expensive relative to the sedan, but this isn’t really a rational purchase.
With the sun shining on the white leather interior, your partner smiling in the passenger seat, and music pumping through the Burmester stereo, there aren’t many cars out there that make you feel like the E-Class Cabriolet can.
If you’re buying a big convertible to make you feel good, though, we’d suggest opting for the AMG E53. A bit of extra punch and more emotional exhaust note would add another layer of enjoyment to the E350.
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