A convertible, it speaks to the soul. There is something about having the roof down and the wind blowing through your hair that you just can’t beat. With that said Bahrain can be a tough climate to really love and use one properly (you know, roof down stylie). After racing around the island in the SLC200 and C63 a few months ago and thoroughly enjoying both rides we were excited to see how chopping the top off Mercedes respectable E-class coupe would fair in comparison. As the newest member of Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class family, the four-seat cabriolet, with its classic fabric soft top, has a silhouette similar to that of the E-Class Coupé and displays the same proportions. The close ties between the two models are likewise apparent in design, with an emphasis on surfaces with clean lines and forms. It has been 25 years since the launch of the first Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet, and the latest edition of this model exudes even more style, comfort, space and intelligence than its predecessors. Impressed is an understatement.

The Exterior

When the soft top is up, the E-Class Cabriolet has an incredibly similar silhouette to that of the E-Class Coupé, surprisingly its 5.0 inches longer and 2.9 inches wider than the previous model, which thankfully creates more passenger space. The close ties between the two models are likewise apparent with the design emphasis being on surfaces with clean lines and forms. The low-positioned diamond radiator grille and centrally located star frame the front section of the car, while the LED High Performance headlamps, drawn-out bonnet with powerdomes and fully retractable side windows underline the dynamism of the Cabriolet. The soft top works in harmony with the muscular-looking rear while the lengthened, sculpted shoulders and extremely slim LED tail lamps emphasise the sporty character of the four-seater. We found on our test drive that people couldn’t help but stop and stare.

The Interior

This new E-class can be equipped with so much technology and so many luxury features that you could easily mistake it for an S-class. The seats are wrapped in heat-reflecting leather as standard, and hug you in a distinctively sporty manner. Two of the several available interior trims feature natural-grain wood. Adjustable, 64-shade ambient lighting, an aromatherapy system, and massaging seats are on the options list, too. Infotainment wise it features a dual high-resolution 12.3-inch displays that merge beneath a shared glass cover to create a widescreen that appears to be floating in thin air. The driver can also choose from three different styles for the virtual instruments in the instrument cluster: “Classic”, “Sport” and “Progressive”, which as well as changing the performance also change the visuals light colour and style.

The Drive

Driving around Bahrain, I couldn’t help but think of different methods in which I could get my hands on one of these. It was hard to fault. It effortlessly wafted through Manama, and showed its grit on high speed highway driving, quick, nippy and responsive. It even held its composure through tightly curving back street passes, but it’s much more at home on fast open lanes. The steering is accurate and provides rapid feedback from the road.  The same coil-spring suspension and adaptive dampers found in the E400 coupe are standard fare in the convertible. Eco, Sport, Sport+, and Individual modes allow the driver a control over ride firmness, transmission programming, and throttle response. Fitted with the optional air-spring suspension, Comfort mode is perfect for around town, with its welcome delivery of spaceship-like isolation from the road. The E-class comes standard with 18-inch wheels, while 19-inchers are optional. Either way, the ride is silky smooth. Sport mode adds an additional measure of control to limit the body’s motions if the path ahead quickly turns winding. More aggressive drivers may enjoy Sport+, with its increased engine noise, sharp shifts, and touchy throttle response, either way this car exudes so much refined luxury.

The Engine bit

Sharing most of its innards with the also new E-class coupe, including its twin-turbocharged V-6 with 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. That engine pairs with Mercedes-Benz’s familiar nine-speed automatic and, as in the coupe, can be had with rear- or 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The twin-turbo V-6 has exactly as much power as this largish droptop needs and you’re not left wanting a drop more. A more powerful AMG variant would be welcome (as always), but none are currently being offered; the V-6 E400 is the only available cabriolet model.

The Verdict

We don’t need to state the obvious I’m sure it’s clear to you by now that we are mega fans of the German auto giant that is Mercedes. But it is hard to fault a faultless product, they relentlessly produce reliable, cutting edge quality material, and they only seem to be getting better at it. This new adaptation is no different. In terms of competing within its own brand, it was definitely the preferred choice. Space wise it just pipped the SLC 200 to the post, but it does come with a little less aggression then the C63. It is more elegant and understated, and has some really cool tech. A resounding YES from Arabia Motors.

Categories: TEST DRIVE