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Cabrios make the best en­trance

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - SIBONELO MYENI

THE Mercedes E-Coupe cabriolet and BMW 2-Se­ries con­vert­ible are de­signed to show off drop-dead gor­geous looks for their own­ers, but what more do they of­fer?

We tested both in E220d and M240i spec re­spec­tively. These two are not di­rect ri­vals but as the old Merc ad said, cars like this still rep­re­sent the most ex­cit­ing way to blowdry your hair.

The E-Cabriolet is the newer of the two in terms of de­sign and it stuns wher­ever you drive it.

In AMG line ex­te­rior spec, chrome strip run­ning along the shoul­der line, five-spoke 19-inch wheels, di­a­mond grille, power domes on the bon­net and multi-beam LED head­lights with dou­ble-line LED day­time lights, it looks ab­so­lutely stun­ning.

Wher­ever this car goes, thumbs up, waves and x-rated smiles are the norm from peo­ple.

Drop the top and it’s just too much for any­one this side of a celebrity, made worse by the abil­ity to open/ close the top on the move.

The in­side is spa­cious, car­ry­ing five adults in rel­a­tive com­fort — some­thing not many cabri­o­lets can achieve. The HD wide screens for the in­fo­tain­ment and in­stru­ment clus­ter drew the most at­ten­tion from pas­sen­gers and on­look­ers.

The op­tional Cabriolet Com­fort pack­age is a must as it al­lows no­tice­ably less wind in­side the cabin with the top down whilst it en­dows the leather seats with neck warm­ers in case you feel the need to drop in chilly weather.

The M240i doesn’t draw as many en­vi­ous glances due to it be­ing on the mar­ket for a while now even though it re­ceived a mild up­date last year. With M-Per­for­mance parts (19inch wheels, side sills ex­ten­sions), the 2-Se­ries trans­forms into a wannabee full-M look.

The 2-Se­ries con­vert­ible can drop its top on the move but due to its com­pact size, rear seat pas­sen­gers need to be fore­warned when do­ing so as the soft top touches their heads.

The 2-Se­ries is a strict four-seater with rear pas­sen­gers lim­ited in leg room but com­pared to its ri­val, A3 cabrio, it’s above av­er­age.

The in­te­rior lay­out is classy with a qual­ity fit and fin­ish but it’s start­ing to show its age es­pe­cially when you take into ac­count lat­est space age in­te­rior of­fer­ings from BMW (5, 6 & 7). The 143 kW/400 Nm two-litre turbo-diesel in the E220d is re­fined and ex­cels on fuel ef­fi­ciency, achiev­ing an ex­cel­lent 5,7l/100 km dur­ing our test week.

Mated to a nine-speed au­to­matic, it’s an ef­fort­less cruiser but the gear­box can be lethar­gic when pushed, of­ten chang­ing down gears too late.

Sur­pris­ingly, the re­fined diesel en­gine is well matched to the drop-top char­ac­ter of the E-Cabrio.

The damp­ing of the sus­pen­sion is class lead­ing in our books, with the E-Cabrio soak­ing up bumps with min­i­mal body shake. In dy­namic driv­ing it brings a fun fac­tor most peo­ple would ex­pect from the blue pro­pel­ler ri­val, with­out com­pro­mis­ing ride com­fort. Noise in­su­la­tion is the best I have ex­pe­ri­enced in a soft top.

The 250 kW/500 Nm 3.0-litre six­cylin­der turbo in the M240i is a clas­sic per­for­mance en­gine with deep bass sound, melodic en­gine sound when pushed hard. Linked to the bril­liant eight-speed au­to­matic, shift times are dual-clutch like quick when in Sport mode. Shift changes are ac­com­pa­nied by a “Vrrr Ph­haa” with bursts of sound on the over­run … this en­gine is just EPIC, its 11,6l/100 km less so but worth ev­ery fuel drop.

The ride is a bit too hard, wors­en­ing body shake over bumps but give it beans on your favourite twisty road and you will smile for days.

These cars are for peo­ple who con­sider style, mak­ing an en­trance at social gath­er­ings as pri­or­ity in their car pur­chase. The pric­ing of R920 000 for the E220d is mislead­ing as you will have to spend over R1 mil­lion to fully en­joy own­er­ship. Worth ev­ery penny spent on our cur­rent favourite con­vert­ible.

The M240i Con­vert­ible at R785 000 needs more ran­del­las to spec it to lev­els where it’s a pocket M-ju­nior 2-Se­ries. Add the M-Per­for­mance de­sign bits and you are sure to be the talk of your social cir­cles.

• Catch Sibonelo Myeni live on Ukhozi FM, each Thurs­day from 7.45 am.

PHOTO: SIBONELO MYENI

E220d and M240i spec cabri­o­lets will both get you thumbs up, waves and x-rated smiles from the peo­ple you pass.

PHOTO: SIBONELO MYENI

The 2-Se­ries is a strict four-seater with rear pas­sen­gers lim­ited in leg room but com­pared to its ri­val A3 cabrio, it’s above av­er­age.

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