It’s not often we get to review convertibles, maybe it’s due to our location and the famous Windy Wellington weather. Most of them have been small sports cars that dont always fit well with taller drivers.
However, when the words E-Class Cabriolet are spoken, you won’t be squeezing into a dingy, this will be a land yacht.
There are two E-Class Cabriolet models on offer in New Zealand, the E300 which we are testing and the E400 4Matic. Both cars look the same with only engine and running gear being the major difference.
The E300 is rear-wheel drive and is powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. This engine produces 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque and is driven through a 9-speed 9G-TRONIC transmission.
The E400 4Matic is all-wheel drive and powered by a 3.0 litre V6 twin turbocharged engine. This engine produces 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque and is driven through a 9-speed 9G-TRONIC transmission.
There is a choice of 2 wheel options, 12 different paint options, 4 roof material options, 8 upholstery options and 2 interior trim options.
The standard specs for these models are impressive. To touch on just a few you get the COMAND Online Infotainment system, AIRSCARF neck-level heating in front, Electrically operated park brake, Sports Seats with horizontal quilting, THERMATIC dual-zone automatic climate control, 20-inch AMG multi-Spoke alloy wheels, AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension, AIRCAP automatic draught-stop to reduce draughts, AGILITY SELECT with five driving programs, AMG bodystyling, KEYLESS-GO package including keyless start function, MULTIBEAM LED Headlights, Parking Pilot with Active Parking Assist PARKTRONIC, Sports exhaust system and 360° camera with dynamic guidelines. For the full list of standard options check out the Mercedes-Benz New Zealand website.
The optional equipment list is small, with 5 different options; Multi-contour front seats, Digital TV Tuner, wireless charging system for mobile devices, AIR-BALANCE including ionisation, improved air filtering and fragrancing, and alarm with tow-away protection and interior surveillance.
The optional packages available are the Vision Package, Warmth Comfort Package and EXCLUSIVE Line package.
The Vision Package includes a Burmester® surround sound system with 13 speakers and a Head-up display with virtual image windscreen projection. This package is a $2490 option on the E300, while being standard on the E400.
The Warmth Comfort Package includes Climatised Front Seats including seat heating and ventilation, Heated Rear Seats, Seat Heating Plus for Front Seats and Heated Front Armrest. This package costs $1900 for both the E300 and E400.
The Exclusive Line package is a no cost option for both models, and includes Macchiato Beige/Espresso brown leather, open-pore light brown elm wood trim, multi-function steering wheel in nappa leather in 3-spoke design and fabric roof liner in beige.
If an E-Class rolling out on front of a dealership, ready for you to take the keys does not ooze elegance and sophistication, nothing will. In metallic black and trimmed with chrome highlights it looked strong, sleek and rather expensive. It was overcast and spitting which meant the roof was up. This look didnt suit the E300, or many convertibles for that matter. You could just tell the car wanted to drop its roof down and cruise down the nearest coastal highway.
After a quick overview from the dealer, the key was handed over and it was time hit to the road. I was hoping that the skies would clear so that I could really enjoy what this Cabriolet had to offer.
Inside the E300 it was clear from the start that this is a luxury vehicle. Firstly the seats were high-quality sports seats that also incorporated the AIRSCARF neck-level heating. With multiple adjustment and memory settings available, it was no time at all until I became comfortable in the driver’s seat.
The back seats looked a bit tight, I did jump in, but could not put the seat back into my driving position. I am tall, most under 6ft might not have as much issue with this. I see it as good useable space for kids, however it looked a bit cramped for adults.
The dash was finished in black ash with an open pore satin-like quality. It looked and felt like real wood, which raised the cabin’s level of luxury. There were some cool art deco like air vents. For something that can be so simple, they really went all the way with the design, which I really liked.
Above the dash were two 12.3 inch widescreen displays. One for the driver that displayed all of the relevant driving information and the other was the central media display screen. This system started out in the S-Class and has been working its way down the models, it was impressive, and everyone who saw it was left drooling over it.
The driver’s display reminded me somewhat of the display in the Tesla P100D we reviewed. It had a nice futuristic feel, which could also be changed to the classic two dails. I stuck with the more futuristic look. This had the RPM gauge and speed in the centre of the screen, on the left it displayed the nav and on the right it showed some driver’s information. Both left and right section of the screen could be customised to show different information.
The central media screen offered the typical menus and features seen in most of the Mercedes models, with access to nav, media, phone, vehicle setting and profiles, and a digital manual.
The entire cabin had an array of LED environmental lights that were under the trim, in the doors, footwells and around the console between both front seats. The ambient interior lighting had the ability to change to 64 different colours, I personally liked the cooler colours available.
The week with the E300 was a wet one, I must be cursed. But there was light at the end of the tunnel, and on Sunday the clouds parted and there was sun. It was not warm – 13 degrees from the temperature gauge on the driver’s display. What’s important is that it was not raining, so the top went finally came down for a test drive.
The roof itself is pretty impressive, it’s obvious by the cloth cover that it’s a convertible. What’s not obvious is how many segments make up this mechanism. With one click and then holding button on the centre console while the car is running, it’s around 20 seconds until you’re sitting outside. During this time, the driver has the worst position to view the engineering masterpiece of the E300 Cabriolet roof.
On the road with the roof down – yes in 13 degrees – I was actually pretty comfy. I had the seat heating on, the heat from the dash vents and AIRSCARF neck-level heating system. The Airscarf is Mercedes-Benz headrest heating system, that blows warm air around your neck. It sounds a bit silly, but you would be surprised by how a little bit of warm air around your neck changes your perception of the overall outside temperature.
On top of these features there is also an Aircap system. The Aircap is a combination of two systems, the first being an air diffuser behind the rear seats that elevates to reduce buffeting within the cabin space. The second is a spoiler that raises up from the outside top of the windscreen. This acts much like a spoiler pushing the air up and over the passenger space creating the Aircap. From the outside it does look a bit stupid, much like sticking a spoiler on top of your windscreen. But it does work and you can’t see it from the driver’s position. With the combination of Aircap, Airscarf, heated seats and cabin heating, it becomes a rather cosy place. You almost forget that the roof is down at all.
The boot was okay at 385 litres, and a bit less with the roof down. There was a tray that would drop down to constrain the roof, which means you do not have to worry about the roof crushing anything. Once the roof is up, with the press of a button this tray folds away. I was surprised to see that there was no electric boot lid on a $130,000 vehicle.
The E300 drove like anyone should expect a E-Class to drive. It almost floated along, never in a rush to get anywhere, while making sure you are comfortable and enjoying the experience.
The comfort was thanks to the Air Body Control system, this system continuously adjusts the damping control and air suspension system to ensure the ride is comfortable while having a level of dynamic handling. This system also dampens at each wheel based on current driving situation, and can be set for more comfortable or sporty characteristics as required via the Agility Select menu.
I felt that the E300 was a cruiser, not a sports car – it has a sport mode which did firm up the vehicle and made some low revs available for a blast. It just didn’t feel right, anytime I was in sports mode. It felt like the car was trying to be something it wasn’t and once you were back in comfort mode, you felt all was right with the world again. I am not saying the sport setup was bad, just this it’s not what this car is about. That is open top cruising and enjoying the environment you are traveling through.
The 4-cylinder engine at first seemed small for a car of this size. I must say that this engine is a perfect combination for the E300. Never was I left feeling like I needed more power or that the delivery was jerky or uncontrollable. The 180kW and 370Nm produced from this engine were fed to the 9 speed 9G-TRONIC transmission like it was-conducted symphony orchestra. When I asked for power it was there, delivering exactly what was asked for, nothing more, nothing less.
The only area that could have been improved was the sound. In comfort mode it was nice, nothing garish or too loud, a nice hum coming from the exhaust. However, in sports mode, the noise changed from the nice hum to a more high pitched straining sound which did not suit or work for me at all.
During my time with the E-Class, I had the roof down once, which was disappointing. Regardless of this the car handled just like I expected an E-Class would. It was easy to drive, light on the steering wheel. Even though it was a big car, it never felt that big or was difficult to park.
I could see myself really enjoying this car during the summertime, but the fact is we live in Wellington, and we don’t get as many good days as we would like. I wonder what percentage of the time you would be left with the roof down.
The Competition – Large Performance 4 Door Sedans/Coupes
It’s a hard one to weigh up, as there are not a lot of convertibles left on the market these days, sub $200k I mean. There is nothing else on offer for the market at the class size of the E-Class. BMW and Audi both offer convertibles in smaller models. That’s pretty much all that’s on offer in that price range.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||0-100km/h, seconds||Fuel, L/100km||Boot Space, Litres||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet||2.0L i4 Turbo||180kW / 370Nm||6.6||7.4||385||$133,500|
|BMW 440i||2.0L i6 TwinPower Turbo||240kW / 450Nm||5.4||7.3||370||$128,750|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet||2.0L i4 TFSi||185kW / 370Nm||6.3||6.3||380||$107,400|
The pros and cons
What we think
I really enjoyed my time in the E300 Cabriolet, regardless of the unfortunate weather conditions i endured. It’s a comfy cruiser while being a pleasant environment to spend time in. And who can scoff at the having the latest in tech available from Mercedes-Benz on hand too?
Even in 13-degree Wellington winds, with the roof down, I was warm and snug thanks to the vast array of technology on offer. The roof itself is a piece of engineering artwork, so many moving parts, all swimming through the air from its clean hidden storage, to its fully cocooned closed roof.
It’s not a home run for me, but it’s pretty damn close. A more exciting engine noise might have helped it over the line of my personal preference. Regardless that its only real competition comes from Mercedes-Benz themselves, the SL Roadster and S-Class Cabriolet, both twice the price.
The offerings from BMW and Audi are not really on par with the E-Class. The E300 aims high and hits all the major marks as one of the go-to convertibles that combines the latest tech and height of luxury available on the market today.
Rating – Chevron rating (4.0 out of 5)
2018 Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet
|Vehicle Type||Luxury Convertible Coupe|
|Starting Price||$133,500 plus on-road costs|
|Engine||2.0-litrel inline 4 cylinder, Direct-injection turbocharged|
|Power Kw / Torque Nm||180kW/370Nm|
|0 – 100 kph, seconds||6.6|
|Spare Wheel||Space saver|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1780|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4826 x 1860 x 1428|
|Fuel Tank, litres||66|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.4L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 9.6L / 100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|ANCAP Rating||5 Stars|