This the way to go topless in style
CONVERTIBLES are meant to be affable, if not affordable. The Mercedes-Benz E250 cabriolet befriends all who enter with ease of operation, great looks and a genuine desire not to ruffle your feathers.
If buyers want street cred, buy the coupe. The cabrio caters to those who want to look and feel cool.
The soft-top Merc owns this section of the market simply by virtue of being the only midsized luxury cruiser to compete there. Audi’s A5 and the BMW 3 Series convertibles are smaller and so miss out of the rear space afforded to Benz buyers. They also use more fuel.
An E250 is $106,400 and comes loaded with a seven-inch screen, reversing camera, heated and cooled front seats, tyre pressure monitors and leather interior. Audi’s turbo 2.0-litre A5 $88,900, though it does come with quattro allwheel drive and the outgoing Beemer is $94,350.
Ruffling one’s coiffure isn’t considered good form in any Benz, so it doesn’t happen. An “AirCap” wind deflector all but eliminates in-cabin breezes with the top down and also ensures the conversations are conducted at a civilised decibel level.
The Airscarf neck-warmers combine to add much-needed versatility to the E250 and mean the car can be snugly used on a cool autumn or winter day. The system expels warm air through vents in the headrests to create a virtual scarf for front seat occupants.
The E-Class platform has been a winner for Benz since it launched. Sales this year are up more than 30 per cent and it isn’t hard to see why.
The front-end styling on the Merc is angular and aggressive, accentuated by the sweptback LED headlamps and chrome bling around the bumper.
Drop the soft-top into the dedicated space in the boot — a process that takes around 20 seconds — and the looks improve again. Boot space isn’t voluminous at 390 litres but there’s enough room for a couple of bags for a weekend away. There’s also enough rear room to take two adults on an extended trip without compromising leg or head room.
Active safety systems are standard fit on the E250. The list extends from adaptive headlamps and cruise control to blind spot and lane departure warnings.
The E-Class structure is a five-star proposition and while the convertible misses out on full-length curtain airbags (hard to fit when there isn’t a Bpillar) it feels every bit as solid on the road.
It takes seriously lumpy roads to unsettle the Merc and remind more astute drivers they’re in a soft-top.
Throwing it into a series of tight turns has a similar effect as the body subtly flexes to remind the operator torsional rigidity isn’t on a par with the coupe.
That isn’t this cruiser’s remit — it’s been built to parade on promenades and waft along country roads. The fourcylinder engine is still capable of a decent turn of pace when required with a 0-100km/h time of 7.5 seconds and the sevenspeed auto shifts are barely perceptible.
The feel-good factor rates just as highly. It is a car for extroverts who like to admire the scenery while being admired in turn.
Cabriolets are the auto equivalent of a pectoral or breast augmentation. They’re designed to draw the eye and the E250 fills that brief with the top up or down. And, if you can afford the price of admission, achieving that look is painless.
Mutually inclusive: Mercedes-Benz’s E250
cabriolet is a car for extroverts who like to admire the scenery while
being admired in turn