North­ern ex­po­sure

This the way to go top­less in style

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VER­DICT

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

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