If luxury and refinement are required in a convertible, look no further than this classy German soft-top says Peter Carroll.
People who drive convertibles are generally prepared to take a bit of rough with the smooth writes motoring editor Peter Carroll.
Draughts, tousled hair and wind noise – all are part of the joys of top-down motoring.
But softer soft-top types who insist on retaining their creature comforts might do well to consider the latest E-Class Cabriolet from Mercedes-Benz.
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It’s an elegant, comfortable, and above all, refined vehicle that cossets the driver from the moment the door shuts.
When this happens the seat belt extends out, taking the strain out of belting up.
If you’re driving at night the car automatically dips its headlights for you when it senses another car approaching.
If you need to slide the front seats forwards to let passengers to the back they automatically glide to their original position.
It’s that kind of car – and touches like this contibute to the Merc’s air of class and distinction.
As do the smart, more sculpted exterior and improved cabin with its welcoming leather seats.
With the top up, the E-Class is so quiet you’d think you were driving a coupe.
That’s because Mercedes has developed a softtop roof which is both quieter and warmer due to its insulating properties.
The roof can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds and its durability is based on 20,000 openings – or the equivalent
of being opened and closed every day for 25 years.
With the roof down there are generally two things a driver needs to boost comfort levels in a convertible: heat and a wind deflector.
Mercedes has installed an ‘Aircap’ system instead of a standard deflector which features a draught stop between the rear seats and an extended motorised net built into the top of the windscreen frame to lift the airflow over both front and rear seats.
Many convertibles can stave off buffeting for front seat occupants, but it’s unusual to find a car that offers this for rear
Meanwhile, the Airscarf heating system, familiar from the SLK and SL-Class, is also available as an option.
It directs hot air to your shoulders when driving with the roof down.
More coldblooded drivers can keep it on, even with the top up.
The test car was a E 250 CDI Blue Efficiency which lived up to its name by recording close to 50mpg on a run.
Expect high 30s round town.
There’s plenty of power from the 2.2 litre diesel – enough to reach 60mph in under eight seconds.
Ride quality is excellent and the speed sensitive steering is smooth and direct.
As ever with Mercedes safety is a priority and the E-Class Cabriolet features roll-over protection, reinforced A-pillars, and robust plug-in B-pillars.
It is also the first Mercedes cabriolet to feature ‘headbags’ which are stored in door panelling in the beltline area.
The car costs £35,465 in SE form and offers the following as standard: 17-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, heated front seats, leather interior, Bluetooth, a Nappa leather steering wheel and Aircap.
Go for the Sport option at £37,490 and you get features like 18-inch alloys, along with ‘intelligent’ lights and AMG styling touches, steering wheel and mats.
Opt for automatic transmission – as 97 per cent of Cabriolet buyers do – metallic paint and sat nav and these will add another £3,000 to the bill.
So we’re looking at £40,000 then, but it’s not an unreasonable amount given the high quality of the E-Class Cabriolet.
In fact, there’s barely any 'rough’ on offer here.