Along with sedans and hatchbacks, convertibles are a dying breed. Or are they? Look around the next time you’re out for a drive, there is a surprising amount out in the wild. Sure they’re not all new convertibles, with Jap-import MX-5s littering the roads, but they’re there, loitering in the background waiting for that sunny day.
That does say that New Zealanders still love convertibles. BMW believes we love them so much they have 6 convertibles for sale, MINI has 2, and Mercedes-Benz has 3. There’s more if you think about it; The MX-5, the stunning Lexus LC500, the Porsche 911. These are options, even if some of them cost a house deposit (out of Auckland) to buy.
What about the Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet? Is there still a place for a medium-sized luxury convertible on New Zealand roads? DriveLife drove one for 1,200km to find out.
What We Like and Dislike About The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|Engine performance, smoothness, sound|
Total quality of finish
Metal road capability
|Haptic steering wheel controls|
No heads-up display as standard
What’s In The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E Class Range?
You get to pick from three models of E Class; E 200 Coupe, E 350 Coupe and E 350 Cabriolet (tested).
The E 200 is fitted with a 2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol motor and has outputs of 145kW of power and 230Nm of torque. Both E 350 models are also 2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol-turbo, but power and torque are up to 220kW/400Nm.
All models are fitted with a 9-speed automatic transmission. 0-100 in the E200 takes 7.5 seconds, the E 350 Coupe at 5.9 seconds, and the heavier E 350 Cabriolet at 6.1 seconds. All models are rear-wheel-drive.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E Class – Base Pricing
E200 Coupe: $111,800
E 350 Coupe: $140,000
E 350 Cabriolet: $151,500
2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet Standard Equipment Highlights
- AMG Line Interior
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror
- Automatic belt feeder for front seats
- Heated front seats
- LED interior lighting with 64 colour ambient settings
- Illuminated door sills
- Leather upholstery
- Memory front seats with electric 4-way lumbar adjust
- Open-pore black ash wood trim
- Dual-zone AC
- Rear USB ports
- 19” alloy wheels
- Agility Control suspension with selective damping and height control
- Privacy glass
- Electric adjust, fold and heated mirrors with auto-dimming
- Kelyess entry and start
- LED headlamps and taillamps
- Parking Package with Active Parking Assist
- Dual 12.3” displays
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability
- Wireless phone charging
- Mercedes-me Connect system
- 360 degree camera system
- Hill Start Assist
- Electric park brake with auto hold
- Driving Assistance Package with rear-cross traffic alert, Active Lane Change Assist, Active blind spot assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Route-Based Speed Adaptation
- Traffic Sign Assist
- Speed Limiter
E 350 Coupe or Cabriolet Additional Equipment
- AIRCAP auto-draught stop system (Cabriolet only)
- AIRSCARF neck-level heating for front seats (Cabriolet only)
- 20” AMG alloy wheels
- Adaptive high-beam assist
- AIRBODY CONTROL Air Suspension
- Automatic soft top (Cabriolet only)
- Metallic paintwork
Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment
- Intelligent Lighting System $2,007
- Vision Package $3,400
The Intelligent Lighting System is the LED Intelligent Light System that increases road visibility to support drivers. The system includes adaptive headlamps that can optimally adjust to the driving situation. Highbeam Assist helps to avoid dazzling oncoming vehicles, while an active light function moves the headlamps with the bend to significantly improve illumination of the road surface when cornering.
The Vision Package includes a panoramic sunroof with roller sunblind and heat-insulating glass (Coupe only), a heads-up display, and a 13-speaker 590-watt Burmester surround sound system.
Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $156,907.
Because Mercedes-Benz, there are a large number of option packages and roof/upholstery options. Interior options include Saddle brown leather, Macchiato Beige/Yacht Blue leather, Macchiato Beige/Magma Grey leather, or Classic red/black leather. For the Cabriolet, you can pick from 4 no-cost options for your soft-top. These are black, dark brown, dark blue, or dark red.
There’s also a good number of paint options, 11 in total. Other than white, most colours will cost you from $900 to $3,800 although metallic paints do not cost extra on the E 350 models. Our test car was finished in Rubellite Red Metallic (Ruby Red).
For a full list of specs and options available for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet jump on over to the Mercedes-Benz New Zealand website.
How Does The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet Compare To Its Competition?
While it seems the all-wheel-drive BMW M4 Convertible might be nipping at the ankles of the E 350 Cabriolet here, they are likely completely different buyers.
|Lexus LC500 Convertible||5.0-litre V8 petrol||351/540||4||5.0||14.2||NA||$234,000|
|Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet||2.0-litre, turbo-petrol||220/400||4||6.1||7.8||385||$151,500|
|BMW M4 xDrive Convertible||3.0-litre, 6-cylinder petrol||275/500||4||4.9||8.2||385||$144,900|
First Impressions Of The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet
My mind was blown from the outset; after two years of silver or grey Mercedes-Benz test cars, our E 350 Cabriolet was finished in Ruby Red, and looked stunning. I constantly got comments from people – including people just walking past the car – on the colour. At times it looks purple or even brown, but in the right light, that Ruby Red pops right out and smacks you in the face.
2021 brings a fresh look to the E Class, and all of the changes are welcome. It simply looks a lot more modern and fresh, bordering on sexy. At the beginning of my test, I felt the side-on view of the car made it look very heavy and slab-sided, but after a few days, it grew on me.
The new model has some stunning rims; simple but they catch your eye and draw you into the car.
Then you put the top down. At that point, it changes the entire look of the E 350 Cabriolet – especially when you have all the windows down. It’s surely a good-looking large convertible. Mercedes-Benz has nailed the design and its changes for the 2021 E 350 Cabriolet.
What’s The Interior Like In 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet?
Opening the long doors on the E 350 Cabriolet – and they can open out almost horizontal to the car – shows a typical Mercedes-Benz interior; superb quality of finish, and lots of black. While there are other options of interior colours, our test cars only ever seem to come in black and it’s a bit of a shame; it can make the interior of the E 350 Cabriolet feel dark when the top is up.
Continuing the black theme inside is open-pore black ash wood trim, but thankfully there is at least the option of light brown trim in its place.
Sitting in the car, there’s the same steering wheel with haptic controls that we had on the 450 S Class recently. More on the steering wheel later. The door pockets on the E 350 Cabriolet are large and go right back into the rear of the door. I know this as I stuck my wallet in there one day, and then ‘lost’ it, and had to return to my hotel, searching for my lost wallet. I felt like a dick later when it slid forward into view all on its own. Still on the door pockets, I’d really love to see them felt-lined. We get that on many Audi & Skoda models, and it not only looks classier, but felt-lined door pockets also stop things – especially drink bottles – from rattling about in the door, adding noise to what is essentially a silent drive.
The E 350 Cabriolet is strictly a four-seater, but there is plenty of room for those four. Rear legroom is outstanding for a two-door car, and even a 6-foot tall passenger still had plenty of space back there. There’s a classy alloy lever at the top of the front seats to flip them forward, and then they move forward electrically on their own to allow rear-seat passengers access. I’m on the fence about this system; I’ve seen it on other cars – my own Dodge Challenger had these – but it does seem to take a while for the seat to get forward enough. Still, it looks pretty cool.
Boot space is not so outstanding. Understandably with an electric hardtop, boot space is at a premium, at 385 litres. It’s fairly shallow, so don’t expect to fit any pot plants in there. The boot lid isn’t electric either, which was surprising at over $150K. It is nicely counterweighted though, so will pop open all on its own.
Front-seat passengers get a single USB-C port up front, along with a 12-volt socket, and like so many other Mercedes-Benz cars, there’s a wireless charging pad for your phone just to the left of these. There are another two USB-C ports in the centre cubby as well. Rear-seat passengers also get two USB-C ports, along with two air vents.
Speaking of air vents, as usual, you get one at each end of the dash and four in the centre of the car, but we don’t often give these simple items enough credit. I might have got used to them now, but passengers all remarked on the stunning design of the bullet air vents. A matter of taking them for granted, but admittedly, they do look superb.
There’s not a lot more to say about the interior of this car, other than the standard of build quality is as outstanding as other Mercedes-Benz models.
What’s The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet Like To Drive?
With a four-cylinder engine, I was a bit apprehensive about driving the E 350 Cabriolet for over a week. I’d be covering over 1,200Km as part of a car event and felt like a nice, smooth Mercedes-Benz 6-cylinder would be the way to go. Within minutes of driving this car, fears were gone.
This turbo-petrol 2-litre is fantastic. It’s silky smooth, extremely quiet (unless you wind it out) and oh-so torquey. Driving about in eco mode is effortless. If this engine hasn’t won any awards, it should. A superb piece of engineering, especially when mated to that 9-speed automatic transmission.
The transmission itself is well matched to the engine and gives perfect gear changes every time, and at the right time. It often starts off in second gear – even on a steep hill.
Speaking of smooth, the ride is sublime. Sure, the E 350 Cabriolet is a heavy car at 1,985Kg, but the air suspension makes it a limousine-like experience on most roads. Since this model has air suspension, that means you have the ability to raise it up if needed. Did I need this? Yes, 100% I did, but more on that later.
Visibility out of the car with the top up is average. Big side windows help here, as does Active Blind Spot Assist, but as you’d expect that soft top (when up) cuts out of a lot of rear three-quarter visibility.
As mentioned, the car is surprisingly quiet inside for one having a canvas roof.
Like many Mercedes-Benz models, Drive modes are fairly standard; Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Individual. The car defaults to Comfort every time you start it up. Changing a mode will alter engine responsiveness, steering, traction control, and suspension settings. Running in Eco mode will see the engine turn itself off quite a bit while driving, including on a trailing throttle so it’s a perfect time to save gas and cut emissions. You barely feel the engine starting when it does kick back in.
A lot of this smoothness around the engine restarting and general performance is because the E 350 Cabriolet uses the 48-volt EQ Boost system. This aids in that smoothness, fuel economy, cutting emissions and performance. Definitely a worthwhile feature to have.
Raising and lowering the roof is extremely simple, and either can be done at up to 60km/h. It’s a single button to press or lift and that’s it – let the magic happen. It does stop school kids in their tracks if you do this at the lights or parked up, but it may not appease any introverts.
Next to the roof button, there is another one to raise or lower all windows in one go. I loved this button, especially when getting back to the car on a hot day. Hit the button, all windows drop and hot air is sucked out of the car. Brilliant.
With the top down, you have access to use another button to raise or lower the front and rear air deflectors, which Mercedes-Benz calls AIRCAP. They both help with buffeting, but the front one raises up above the windscreen a fair way so does add some wind noise to your travel.
The Cabriolet comes standard with the AIRSCARF system, so you can have warm air blowing onto your neck while the top is down. This is controlled by a button in front of the seat-heat button, and you can pick from 3 levels of heated air. Did it make a difference? Very much so. In fact, every time I dropped the top I automatically turned on the AIRSCARF, just to make it that much more pleasant. I shouldn’t admit this publicly, but sometimes I even turned it on when the top was up…it’s that good.
With the AIRSCARF and the heated seats, open-air travel is extremely comfortable, and even in the rain, all is well as long as you keep moving. It’s a very usable convertible in this respect.
This time with a Mercedes-Benz test car, I used the Mercedes Me app on my phone more. While it could do with some extra functionality, it’s simple to use, and I loved being able to drop the windows a little from my phone when it was hot outside. I’m not sure that all new Mercedes-Benz owners would use the app, but it’s worthwhile. In fact, if you walk away from the car and forget to lock it, the app will remind you it isn’t locked and ask you if you want to lock it. That’s a nice touch. This also worked on my Apple Watch, which was surprising.
As part of the car event I was on, I spent a week over in the Wairarapa doing a ‘Hub Tour’, where you are based at one point but spend days going off to do different things. On the first day, we headed up to Pōrangahau in Hawke’s Bay. On the way there, I managed to take a back road (mistake) which eventually turned to metal. You know that point on a metal road where you think, “well, I’ve come this far. No point turning back”? Onwards I went. The road went for 40 kilometres, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t the type of road this car was designed for.
It wasn’t just a metal road; it was a farmer’s metal road. The centre was raised up and slick clay – I raised the suspension on the E350 to clear it – and the corners were extremely rutted.
The car did brilliantly though, especially considering this was far from an autobahn. It rode well, the grip was fine even though I had no all-wheel drive, and it was relatively stress-free. I lost acceleration more than a few times on corners where I pushed the gas pedal too far, the rear wheels lost traction and traction control kicked in. So I switched the car to Individual drive mode and changed the traction control to Sport+ so it wouldn’t interfere. After that, it was a perfect drive, considering.
I did come across a huge herd of cows and bulls on the road, but thankfully they didn’t kick the body, although they did stare at me a lot. I expect they don’t get many $150K Mercedes-Benz cabriolets on that road. I really felt for the car while stuck on that metal road but the end result was it impressed me greatly, although it was now far from clean.
After what felt like forever, I got back to the main road and had to drive with some spirit to catch up with the rest of the party. The corners were a mix of long sweepers and tight bends, and the car did superbly. That E Class chassis is simply excellent. I didn’t feel the need for AWD on this road either, and it was bliss pushing the E 350 Cabriolet through the bends. The fact that I didn’t see another single car for twenty-five minutes just added to the experience.
On the way to Pōrangahau I briefly stopped at Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu for a photo. It’s not every day you get to visit the place with the longest place name in the world.
From there I rejoined the other cars and sat back with the top down and the sound system cranked up. As mentioned, our test car was fitted with the Vision Package that includes a 13-speaker Burmester audio system, and it’s top class. I can’t find a single complaint of that Burmester, as is often the case when we get cars with this sound system.
On the way back to Masterton, I tried out the Seat Kinetics in the E 350; it’s not a massaging seat, but instead uses the seat’s electric motors to move you about, to try and stave off aches and pains. I’ve never really tried Seat Kinetics in anger, but I must say it did actually make a difference, for both myself and my passenger. A massaging seat is still the way to go, but these are a good next option.
In fact, over my 1,200Km in the E 350 Cabriolet, the seats were a highlight every trip. With electric adjustment for everything including the headrest and cushion (for you taller drivers), seat comfort was never anything but perfect. Add in the AIRSCARF system and seat heating and there will be few complaints from front-seat passengers. The seat heater has three settings as is normal, but you can also adjust the heat to go only to your butt, or only your back, or both, using the main display screen. In fact, along with the 4-way electrically adjustable steering wheel, the position of everything can be placed perfectly.
Alas, the E 350 is not perfect. Like the S 450 we tested not long ago, it’s been fitted with Mercedes-Benz’s latest steering wheel with haptic controls. I’ve said it before but it has to be said again; Mercedes-Benz went from having one of the best steering wheel control systems out there to potentially one of the worst. Dragging your finger across a touch-button at slightly the wrong pressure will start making screen change, or stations change, or anything else that’s altered by touch. It just doesn’t work in a car. So many times I dragged my finger up or down trying to do something, over and over. Please Mercedes-Benz, give us the old steering wheel back.
Other not-so-great items include tyre noise from the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, but we’ve struck this on most cars with the same tyres, so it’s not model-specific. While our test car had a heads-up display (HUD), it’s not standard, even at $151,000. It’s a real shame as the current Mercedes-Benz HUD is just about one of the best in the business. You get three panels on the windscreen, and you can select what information you want on each of them. Popular selections include current speed, current speed limited, SatNav directions, audio track/station, fuel economy etc. With even the $30k Toyota Yaris ZR having a HUD as standard, it feels like a real slap in the face that you have to pay extra to get it on the E 350 Cabriolet.
Mercedes-Benz suggests the E 350 Cabriolet should use around 7.8L/100Km in Premium-grade fuel. Over my 1,200Km of driving, I managed 9.5L/100Km. Considering the weight of the car and its performance overall, I was more than happy with that result.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet – Specifications
|Vehicle Type||2-door Cabriolet|
|Price as Tested||$156,907|
|Engine||2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder with EQ Boost|
|Transmission||9G-TRONIC automatic transmission|
|Spare Wheel||Pump only|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1,913|
|Length x Width x Height|
|Fuel tank capacity,|
|Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.8|
Real-World Test – Combined – 9.5
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 year / unlimited kilometre factory-backed warranty|
3 year / unlimited kilometre service plan
3 years Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance
5-year perforation corrosion coverage
|Safety information||ANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link (last tested 2016)|
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NMW172
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