Throughout the decades, Mercedes-Benz has managed to balance old with new when developing future car models. With a rich history, it’s no surprise they want to keep things familiar for buyers who may have grown up with a Mercedes in the garage, yet they continue to add modernity and technology to capture the hearts of next-generation aficionados. A perfect testament to that is the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (or convertible if you want to be less French about it), the latest variant in the ninth-generation E-Class line. The cabin retains the feel of former cabriolets, but it’s been updated with better materials, a sophisticated instrument panel and some seriously cool technology. The drop-top also adopts the new E-Class body style with LED fog lights and aggressive lines. But the real story with a convertible is always about the top. Deployment speed is just 20 seconds, and you can open or close it while cruising along at 25 mph. Improved aerodynamics and advanced systems that reduce air turbulence within the cabin keep the focus on the fun, rather than the noise, which practically guarantees the cabriolet will follow the successful path blazed by generations before it.
What's to Like
It seems the E-Class Cabrio has managed to fuse the best of both worlds. It has the quietness and effortless drive qualities found in the sedan and the fun-in-the-sun retractable roof. The top caters to the impatient drivers out there by deploying in just 20 seconds at up to 25 mph. Packages are laid out well, so you’ll be able to get your favorite options without too many ticks on the order form.
What's Not to Like
The Aircap’s front spoiler and rear wind deflector do reduce turbulence inside the cabin, but at what cost? It visually breaks up the front-end’s lines and it has a nasty habit of catching bugs. Some will find a soft top a little disappointing, especially considering the attractiveness of the hard tops on Mercedes’ two-seaters. Rear-end styling, like the sedan and coupe, falls short of Mercedes-Benz standards.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The problem with so many convertibles is that performance is compromised by the lack of a B-pillar and roof. Without the stability generated from those vital build elements, the drive goes all silly putty on you. Leave it to Mercedes to add plug-in B-pillars to the side of the car, resulting in a consistent drive that’s no less capable than the sedan or exciting as the coupe. The E550 is the star of the show, with its V-8 engine generating a deep rumble as you pass stragglers on the road. However, the E350’s V-6 digs deep to deliver plenty of power for the less performance-driven buy...