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CAR (UK) - - First Drives - STEVE MOODY

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ONVERTIBLES are a frip­pery, for the vain, im­prac­ti­cal and mela­nom­i­cally ig­no­rant, right? Not this EClass Cabri­o­let. It’s as keen as a Love Is­land bimbo to get its el­e­gantly shaped fab­ric top o€, tak­ing only 20 sec­onds, but con­cealed be­yond the sleek looks and fast dis­ap­pear­ing, snugly …it­ting multi-layer hood is a use­ful, if pricey, car.

This new model is no­tably longer, by 123mm, and wider, by 74mm, than the pre­vi­ous one, mean­ing it has space for real life-sized peo­ple in the back (two, not three). They won’t be bu€eted by the wind thanks to a large func­tional-look­ing …lyscreen that whirrs from the boot, which at 385 litres o€ers more lug­gage space than most fam­ily hatch­backs. It rides 15mm lower than the EClass sa­loon.

It drives sen­si­bly. The 2.0-litre 190bhp diesel ver­sion is re­mark­ably quiet and rat­tle free, even when sam­pled while open to the el­e­ments. There’s also a 255bhp E350 diesel and a 242bhp E300 petrol, but we went in search of dev­ilry in the shape of 326bhp 400 4Matic 3.0-litre biturbo V6 petrol.

Along with the E300, it’s the …irst EClass Cabrio avail­able with all-wheel drive. That ad­di­tion seems far from nec­es­sary, but works well, as it does through­out the rest of the now fully re­freshed EClass line-up.

On the road it o€ers per­fectly re­spectable, fast-ish, revvy per­for­mance with a tidily pruned ex­haust note. Its nine-speed gear­box is au­toonly, even in Sport Plus mode. That pow­er­train is al­lied to solid, un­spec­tac­u­lar han­dling in what feels like a heavy yet sti€ car, beau­ti­fully built, that per­fectly mar­ries a sunny dis­po­si­tion with stern work ethic.

Choice of four en­gines, and rear- or all-wheel drive, but all have the same two-door body

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