These grainy black-and-white pictures are the first official pictures to show a completely undisguised example of next year's Mercedes E-class cabriolet. They were filed to an agency to register various elements of intellectual property on the new E-class convertible.
They confirm what we've known from the various test mules spotted over the last few months; that the new E-class will be a true soft-top, eschewing a fashionable folding metal lid in favour of a lighter, more space-efficient canvas roof to ensure it's position as a viable four-seater with a decent luggage area isn't threatened. So is the new E-class cabrio based on the E-class coupé?
The vast majority of the car's metalwork is, as expected, shared with the E-class Coupé, with the exception of the rear wings and bootlid which appear to be unique to the convertible version.
It also shares the same technology under the skin, with the same five-engine line-up including two diesels – a 2143cc, four-cylinder 204bhp E250 and a 2987cc, 235bhp V6 for the E350 – and petrols ranging from the 1796cc four-cylinder E250 (204bhp), via the 3498cc, 292bhp V6 E350 to the V8-engined E500, with 3878bhp from its 5461cc motor.How much will the new Merc E-class convertible cost?
Prices will be just as wide-ranging, from around £35k for the base E250 cabrio to over £50k for the E500 soft-top – and that's before you've raided an options list that can add thousands more.
One element that isn't clearly visible in these shots but is sure to be a talking point for the E-class cabrio is the retractable wind deflector mounted on the windscreen header rail. Flipping out when the roof is dropped, it acts as a spoiler to direct wind blast over the passengers' heads – even those in the back – without resorting to a mesh screen behind the front seats.
Although the timing of these new pictures seems to suggest that the car could make its debut at Frankfurt next week, the official line is that the cabrio won't appear in showrooms until early 2010, at the same time as the E-class estate goes on sale.