The Mercedes E-class Cabriolet has been treated to the same refresh that the saloon was treated to, yet the convertible is an old car compared to the saloon and estate models. Like the coupe, it’s based on the W204 C-class that’s just been replaced by the fine new Mercedes C-class, meaning that the AMG-trimline soft-top we’re driving is also older than the current-gen W212 E-class that arrived in 2011.
So what’s this car?
All soft-top E-class models get the new one-piece headlamps instead of the quartet previously, and both the coupe and convertible have a more angular front than the saloon and estate. There are three diesel and two petrol E-class cabs to choose from, and the E250 CDI is the mid-spec diesel. The E350 Cabriolet costs £1500 more than the E250, and while it cuts a whole second from the 0-62 time, it weighs more and is thirstier, too.
Age is relative though…
The E250 Cab may not feel old in isolation if you’re driving an older car, yet look at anything else in the current Mercedes showroom and you’ll spot the cues. The button-festooned dash and odd foot-apply/dash release hand brake will be binned for the next E-class: this car still makes do with the dated central display with the old Mercedes Comand system. Yet the E250 is still a comfortable boulevard cruiser: refinement is good (not great), and comfort levels high if you’re in one of the front seats – the rears are better for luggage than loved-ones.
What about that roof?
It takes a mere 16 seconds to open, and the same again to close. It can be done at up to 25mph so it’s an easy job at a London traffic light if you don’t mind the attention it draws…. There’s a wind deflector between the rear head restraints (which you can remove by hand) but there’s not masses of wind. This can be an all-weather proposition, too, as there’s the AirScarf, which blows warm air the back of your neck as well as the heated seats. The roof swallows 90 litres of boot space when it’s down, with 390 in total
What about the diesel engine?
The 204bhp 2.1-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel is newer than the rest of the E250 Cab. It’s a superb engine: all-alloy, common-rail injection and does a commendable job in a relatively large car here in the E-class (albeit a C-class platform, as mentioned). Its strength is in its 368lb ft of torque, as well as the claimed 57.7mpg and 128g/km of C02 figure. What the on-paper stats don’t show just how malleable and talented this engine is at shifting 1845kg.
Does it feel heavy to drive?
No, not at all. The claimed 7.7sec 0-62mph time won’t have you arrested, yet the diesel’s flexibility makes this a handy convertible. You can muster your way through traffic and enjoy a B-road more than you might expect – this is not a bloated show-pony. That 368lb ft of torque is on tap from low revs, and while it lacks low-speed refinement, the seven-speed auto is smooth so on the motorway it’s a relaxed cruiser. The brakes are a little bitey: at first, they feel like a light switch, with little progression, but get used to them and they still have a hard grab as you smoothly apply the pedal.
How does the body handle not having a fixed roof?
There’s no noticeable scuttle-shake and the whole package feels tight. Saying that, the ride is firm – perhaps too firm for some – with the E250 upset over mid-corner bumps, too. The Adaptive damping and ‘Agility suspension’, which reads the road and adjusts the dampers accordingly, does really well at managing larger bumps and surface changes, and there’s very little roll around corners, too. You’ll feel every nuance of the road beneath you through the suede steering wheel as you tackle corners, yet the steering doesn’t seem to match the rest of the package – it’s light, making it easy to park, yet you need loads of lock before it engages, and then it weighs up, but doesn’t tell you much as the weight isn’t progressive.
So could you live with this car, or is it a summer special?
This is a £45k convertible. The new 4-series – which hasn’t exactly impressed even in 435i turbo form – is similar money and offers a more competent, new look as well a superior infotainment. Add to the fact that this car feels a generation behind other Mercedes, because it literally is, and the E250 cabriolet starts to become less convincing.
The soft-top E-class is a competent, comfortable and livable cab that still looks sharp and offers a complete car with the few sacrifices for the folding roof itself. The trouble is that the whole car suffers from its older base, and no amount of make-up is going to make it feel younger.