2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet Review

The soft-top Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet gets the same updates as the sedan but with a bit more of a cruiser vibe.

With spring on the horizon, there’s a new large convertible available to make the most of brighter days and warmer weather – don’t even mention just how welcome summer will be, either. For this fit cabriolet, Mercedes has applied the same updates as to the sedan and wagon models, boosting the technology and enhancing the style in a sector of the market where these two elements are key factors.

The looks are a little sharper and fresher, with smarter detailing and a new front grille and headlights, but the E-Class Cabriolet’s elegant proportions haven’t been altered. This means that – roof up or roof down – it’s a striking-looking car that features the lines that many big convertible buyers want.

The roof operates electronically and takes 20 seconds to raise or lower on the move at low speed. Refinement with it up is good, and the hood helps keep wind noise to a minimum. There is just a touch more wind whistle than in the Coupé, but it’s barely noticeable, especially with our car’s standard-fit Burmester stereo drowning this out. With the roof down, turbulence is kept at bay, too, and you can lift the wind deflector to make things a little more civilised – which is very much the point of this car.

The E300 is a convertible to cruise in rather than race around in. The fact that it’s so pleasant with the roof down reinforces this – although removing the soft-top reveals a little more wobble in the structure, which further deters you from driving this big four-seat drop-top too hard.

At 1855kg, the E-Class Cabriolet is a weighty car that doesn’t respond too well to this driving style anyway, but it offers secure handling and enough grip to fulfil its brief.

Thanks to our car’s 20-inch alloy wheels, big potholes cause the body to shimmy and shake too, and there’s also a little bit of high-frequency wobble on smoother roads. However, at higher speeds on these roads the E-Class is fairly composed and offers enough comfort to fit the bill as a relaxed cruiser.

The petrol engine doesn’t like overly enthusiastic use either, because it sounds a little coarse at higher revs. It’s better to leave the automatic box to do its thing, shifting up early and relying on the engine’s 370Nm of torque to whisk you around in relative serenity. If you need maximum performance, it’s adequate rather than plentiful, with a 0-100kph  time of 6.6 seconds.

The E300 is a mild hybrid, with a belt starter-generator that adds a small boost of torque at low revs. However, the effects are more noticeable when lifting off the throttle, because the compact battery allows the engine to cut out at higher speeds when slowing down.

This stop-start system helps improve efficiency to a claimed 6.92L/100km and 189g/km CO2, but it also helps smooth out the engine’s restart procedure, offering another gentle boost to refinement.

Given the focus on style and a relaxed approach, the E300’s interior is spot on. Quality is good, the switchgear is solid, and the finish and trim quality are high. The infotainment is top notch too, with a pair of 12.3-inch screens that offer what have to be the clearest graphics in the class.The set-up responds quickly, offers touchscreen and touchpad input, and plenty of features, with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and plenty of connected tech.

Practicality takes a back seat, though, because while Mercedes claims there’s similar headroom to the E-Class Coupé, the smaller and more upright rear seats impact the space. Legroom is a little limited too.

Also, the void that the roof folds into eats into boot space, so there’s only 310 litres on offer when it’s down – but this rises to 385 litres when it’s up. Still, you’re only likely to carry children in the rear seats, so there’s room for two weekend bags.

The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is a big, elegant soft-top that offers bags of style, enough quality and some great tech. The updates have helped further boost its appeal, and this more affordable E300 model has just enough power given that it focuses on a relaxed drive. Factor in infotainment at the sharp end of the class, enough practicality, and more-than-respectable refinement with the roof up or down, and this is a commendable large convertible.

Sean Carson

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