With the CLK convertible out of the Mercedes line-up, the four-seat soft-top niche is filled by this, the E-class Cabriolet. We’re driving the E250 CGI.
What’s the spec of the new Mercedes E250 CGI Cabriolet?
The CGI part tells us we’re driving a direct-injection petrol turbo. The 250 bit means this is the 1.8-litre turbo that’s good for 201bhp and 229lb ft. A five-speed auto transmission comes as standard.
Our test car is in base SE spec, but standard kit is strong: 17in alloys, heated part-electric leather seats, a fully electric acoustic hood, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a steering wheel and gearknob wrapped in tactile Nappa leather.
The badge might say E, but the chassis is an E- and C-class combo and this convertible actually sits on the C-class wheelbase, hence rear legroom is adequate rather than generous.
Shouldn’t it be a folding metal hardtop?
Fabric roofs are back in vogue thanks to the weight penalty and packaging constraints that their metal equivalents bring. It’s incredibly hushed with the roof up, and it doesn’t spoil the looks, but there are some drawbacks. Roof up there’s little rear headroom and with it down the already stingy boot becomes even smaller. Thankfully the roof drops on the move, but it takes around 25sec and you can’t go above 25mph. The Aircap system is also flawed.
What’s an Aircap?
It extends from the windscreen header rail at the push of a button, much like an Audi TT rear spoiler pops up from its boot. It works well for rear seat passengers, hugely reducing bluster and making conversation easier.
However, it looks odd, has negligible benefits for those in the front seat and generates noticeable extra wind noise.
How does this new Merc drop-top drive?
It drives well, but it’s very much a cruiser with relaxed steering and brakes and a competent rather than entertaining chassis. Well-judged for this market, we’d say, but don’t go expecting fireworks.
The petrol engine is quiet at idle, but at light acceleration you’ll notice a sticky diesel tick. The five-speed auto is smooth but lazy, so the petrol’s need to search for and drop ratios lends a ponderous edge to proceedings.
This is a nice car compromised by a few important details. If you have to go for a four-pot, the diesel E250 CDI actually pairs more satisfyingly with the five-speed auto, but, if you can, hold out for a V6 petrol or diesel with the slick seven-speed transmission.
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