I could not have picked a better week to test the C200 Cabriolet. There had been so much rain in Wellington over the last few days, that part of me hoped Mercedes would give me a boat to review. But like UPS, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom, Drive Life will deliver our reviews.
The range is an odd one to say the least, as there are not many product lines where there are more performance AMG options than normal models have available. Available C class models in the cabriolet configuration are the C200 at $89,900, the C43 AMG at $135,900 and the C63 AMG at $189,900. It’s not often you see such large gaps between the models’ market price. Most of the features are similar across all models, with the main difference being the C200 has a 2.0L Turbo straight 4, the C43 has a 3.0L Twin Turbo V6 and the C63 has a 4.0L Twin Turbo V8. Who knows if the more expensive models are worth the difference? But we can let you as soon as we review one.
My first thoughts were good, as a black C class coupe stood in front of me with a fabric roof. Normally I am not a big fan of black with aluminum trim, but for the C200 it seemed to work – even more so when the top was down, giving it a grand land-yacht like feeling. I am also not a big fan of interiors that are not black, black is simple, elegant and timeless. It works for every car, but for the C200, the cream leather was very nice, giving it a luxurious upmarket allure. The C200 had a lot going for it, the only thing I thought standing next to it was that it seems a bit small in length and maybe a tad girly, but couldn’t put my finger on exactly why.
For the week that I had the C200, I spent a lot of time inside with the roof up, and it’s not because I didn’t want to be seen in it. But as fate would have it, on the week that I had a convertible to review, Wellington had a massive tropical storm, and some of the worst weather I have seen in a few years. It rained, and rained and rained. It rained so much that I found myself looking out at the C200 from my house each night, wondering exactly how waterproof the roof was. Thankfully, each time I went out to the car, it was not a fish bowl and was completely dry inside.
If you have read our review on the Mercedes-Benz C 200 you will be aware of the updated interior that has been flowing though the new models. Everything about the interior is quality. Well, almost everything. Actually everything but one thing. My current beef with Mercedes-Benz is with their Comand Package centre console screen. To this day, I can’t see how they can design such an amazing interior, that flows from one side of the cabin to the other, and then stick that screen in the middle. Stuck on like an afterthought, looking like some cheap Chinese aftermarket knock-off.
Everything else is in the cabin is flawless, and well designed. The seats are so comfy, and can be adjusted in height and length for that perfect fit. And even for a guy as tall as I am, I found it easy to settle into the C200. This model had the black wood grain inlay finish, which was very nice. A lot nicer then the piano black finish we had in the C200 sedan. As the wood grain finish was almost matte it did not get dirty or look as cheap as the piano black finish. This would be my choice if I was to buy one.
You will also be surprised at what you get as standard in the C200; Garmin Map Pilot navigation, AUDIO 20 with 7-inch TFT (800 x 480) colour display, touchpad control, single-disc CD player with MP3/WMA/ACC compatibility, AM/FM tuner and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, Burmester audio speaker package, DAB+ digital radio, Dynamic select with 4 drive modes, electric park brake, heads up display, keyless start. And to give it that sporty feeling you also get AMG floor mats and AMG sports pedals as standard.
Towards the end of the week, there was a break in the weather. And I didn’t miss a minute of it. I quickly pulled over, and activated the roof. In just over 10 seconds the roof was down, secured, and I was away. It was a bit like a movie, pulling away in slow motion as the wind blows through my hair, except it was Wellington and my hair was being blown all over the place even before moving off. But enough daydreaming, now it was time to see what the C200 Cabriolet was all about.
It was around 5pm and I kept the top down for the next few hours, testing out what the conditions in the cabin were like when it started to get cooler. Even at 100km on the motorway I was impressed at how the wind was forced around the driver and passenger. The windscreen did come back further then I was expecting, however this aided in the deflection of the wind. There were additional features that helped to improve this called AirCap. A splitter above the windscreen where the roof connected to, when combined with an air deflector behind the rear seats, reduces circling wind within the cabin. When both of these systems are working, it’s impressive how little wind comes into the cabin, when you consider there is no roof or windows around you.
Later in the evening, it started getting a bit cooler, and even though I would probably just put the roof up, I wanted to test the AirScarf system. Imagine an air con vent in the back of the seat just between the headrest and main seat upright. The controls for there were on the door with the seat heaters. When activated, the Airscarf initially feels like someone blowing on your neck, but as it heats up, you soon get used to it. And when combined with the heated seats and some air from the dash vents, you really didn’t notice the temp drop at all. Not the most ideal or eco friendly way to stay warm, but it’s an impressive system nonetheless. It’s also worth noting that this is not standard, the Warmth Comfort Package is an additional $1900.
The Comand media package was a fairly easy to use system all round. The rotational and directional control knob in the centre console allows easy navigation and feedback when driving. Yes the screen still bugs me, and forever will, but the rest of the system is very intuitive and customisable. The Comand Package is also not standard and is $2990 extra
The boot, which I was expecting to be no bigger than the glove box, was also a surprise. Most drop tops will destroy any useable boot space in seconds, but Mercedes-Benz have tackled this very nicely. When the top is up, the boot is the size of a standard C class model 285L. To allow the roof to come down, you have to manually pull down a divider, which creates a compartment to house the roof. We did not measure the exact size, but it felt like you lost about a quarter of the useable boot space, which was not bad consider the size and complexity of the roof.
The C200 has the look and feel of a sports car, and even more so with the roof down. I was a bit concerned that the small 2.0L turbo straight 4 engine, might be a bit underpowered for this car. But I was wrong, this engine was great; it’s no AMG, but the C200 is not trying to be. It’s a comfortable cruiser, that has the right amount of power and sound to match. Most of the time the 135kw/300Nm engine would sit quietly in the background, as you drove around the city, never leaving you requiring high revs to move along with the flow of traffic. And when you got onto the motorway or a country road, it chirped up, giving you a lovely exhaust note. The C200 is nothing like the face-melting AMG’s, its more refined, but the power is there when you need it. It will get you from 0-100 in 8.2 seconds, so no it’s not very fast, but you find that you don’t over-rev this car as much as just wanting to waft along in elegant luxury.
Around my normal test route, I put the C200 through its paces on some curvy roads. I wanted to see if there was much effect to having the roof chopped off. And I must say, the car feels as stiff as it would as a coupe. You do however notice it does have a heavy frame and what feels like a lower centre of gravity, which may be due to the additional structure they add in to stiffen the frame. The result of all of this was a big grin on my face. Anyone who knows what they’re doing, knows that you don’t need to drive fast to have fun, some cars just feed back the exact feeling you need as you cruise around the coastal roads. And with the roof down and the engine humming in the background, it’s hard not to like this car.
Before we covered all the interior options, there is just as many for the exterior / driving aspects of the vehicle. AMG 18inch 5 spoke wheels, AMG body styling, Eco Start/Stop, 9 G tronic gearbox, Active parking assist, intelligent led light system with auto high beam assist, parktronic sensors front and rear, blind spot indicators, 360 degree camera. And the safety features include collision prevention assist plus, ESP, active bonnet, adaptive brake hold, PRE-SAFE accident anticipatory system.
While I was out and about I went and picked up a friend, Chris. As he is alway keen to see what cars I am testing, and I often find it’s very usefull to have another point of view for my reviews. At the lights we both looked over to the car next to us, and saw a few girls giggling away, we both laughed as it clicked. The two big guys in a mid size convertible car….. All we can say is the stereotypes are not true.
What it’s up against
These days there does not seem to be as big a market for the midsize luxury convertible. Audi does not currently have anything to offer while we wait for the new A5 convertible, leaving only BMW at the same price range. This does however make your decisions easier, and it could almost be a coin toss. But if you’re after something a bit cheaper there is always the new Ford Mustang Convertible, which we have yet to test.
Mid Size Luxury Convertible Coupe
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||0-100 km Time||Fuel L/100km||Boot Capacity||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Mercedes-Benz C200 Cabriolet||2.0L i4 Turbo||135kw / 300Nm||7.8 Seconds||6.3L / 100km||285 Litres||$89,900|
|BMW 420i Convertible||2.0L i4 Turbo||135kw / 270Nm||8.4 Seconds||6.2L / 100km||230 Litres||$87,000|
|Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible||2.3L GTDi Ecoboost||233kw / 432Nm||6.2 Seconds||7.1L / 100km||323 Litres||$64,880|
What do we think?
Even though I got to test this car during the wettest week we had this year, I did enjoy driving it. It’s very refined, and even though the interior colour choice was something I thought I would never pick, it worked very well for the cabriolet. It was hard to fault the car, much like the sedan, the price might be a sticking point for some, especially when you lose some of that boot space. If you’re after something a bit different, and long for that dreamy convertible car, don’t need a huge amount of practical space, this might be the car for you.
The saleswoman at the Mercedes-Benz dealership was kind enough to offer me a lift back to where I needed to go after dropping the car off. And as I got out of the C200 for the last time, I looked back, and thought to myself, she looks far better in that car then I ever could.
Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5
Mercedes-Benz C200 Cabriolet
|Vehicle Type||RWD Convertible Coupe|
|Starting Price||$89,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$94,790 NZD|
|Engine||2.0L inline 4 turbocharged|
|Transmission||9G- Tronic 9 speed automatic gearbox|
|0 – 100 kph||7.8 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1555 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4299 x 1780 x 2020 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||285 Litres|
|Fuel Tank (range extender)||66 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.3 L / 100km
Real World Test – Combined – 7.9 L / 100km
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||N/A|