2018 Meercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet
2018 Meercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

ONE CAR, TWO OPINIONS: Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

FEW cars have the grace and pace of a Mercedes Cabriolet, not least when it's the large E400 soft-top. Niche enough to have no real rival on the Australian market bar the $200,000 BMW 640i convertible, the all-wheel drive E400 Cabriolet is for the sun-loving image-conscious types with a penchant for class.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

IAIN: There aren't many positives to turning 40 but at least it's now socially acceptable for me to drive a Mercedes E-Class. And why not the flagship E400 Cabriolet all-wheel drive?

JULES: It looks like you're having a rich man's midlife crisis.

IAIN: Don't be silly, that'd mean a Porsche. A Mercedes E400 Cabriolet is far less predictable and this V6 four-seater oozes class.

Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet: No real rival in Australia
Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet: No real rival in Australia

JULES: It has a rear end to die for and what girl doesn't like having a roof that folds at the touch of a button so she can show the world her tan and RayBans?

IAIN: You really have to make it to own one of these. It's $157,500 before on-roads.

JULES: That'll help it remain exclusive then. Couldn't I get a ballistic Mercedes-AMG for that money?

IAIN: You could get a smaller AMG C43 drop-top for $120K or a hardtop AMG E43 for $160K.

JULES: Who buys the E400 Cabrio then?

IAIN: Few. Sales will be in the dozens each year. But that exclusivity would be a motivating factor to own one. You can get an E300 Cabrio for $35K less but it's rear-drive and has only a four-cylinder. Similar style and kit, so a smarter buy if you plan to just cruise.

 

THE LIVING SPACE

JULES: I've not been in a top-spec Mercedes for a few years … just wow. Twin colour widescreens for the dashboard, black ash timber trim and simply beautiful aviation-style air vents. I'm in love.

Twin colour screens: Cabrio has panoramic views, inside and out
Twin colour screens: Cabrio has panoramic views, inside and out

IAIN: It does take getting used to. Unconventionally, Mercedes has the gear shifter on a stalk by the steering wheel, electric seat controls on the door and a touchpad as well as a rotary dial for the multimedia.

JULES: Certainly lots to learn. But you can do so in sporty leather seats and with the incredible 13-speaker Burmester audio pumping. I reckon E400 owners will be more Beethoven than Bieber.

IAIN: Let's hope so. Those speakers are a bit blingy but my favourite touch is the Airscarf, where you enjoy a swirl of neck-level hot air from the head restraints. It's possible to drive top-down in subzero temperatures. Really.

 

THE COMMUTE

JULES: I prefer how it looks with the roof down but it's impressively insulated with the soft-top in place too.

IAIN: Merc calls it an acoustic soft-top and it minimises wind and driving noise very well. Feels a lot more claustrophobic with it up.

Acoustic soft-top: Minimises noise and takes 20 seconds to operate
Acoustic soft-top: Minimises noise and takes 20 seconds to operate

JULES: It takes 20 seconds to fully open and close. It's nice to watch - people look on jealously - but I remember taking a Mazda MX-5 soft-top down manually in two seconds.

IAIN: The E400's a bit big for that. Anyway, I could get used to commuting like this. Half an hour of sun on the face while enjoying heated seats and the Airscarf. Bliss.

 

THE SHOPPING

JULES: Pure Uptown Girl this. But it's more Tiffany's than Woolies for the weekly shop.

IAIN: Boot space is just 310L with the roof down. Not terrible but this is a large E-Class with no spare wheel.

JULES: Fine. I'll sling the haute couture bags on the back seats. Problem solved.

 

SUNDAY RUN

JULES: With all-wheel drive, leather-trimmed comfort and an eager twin-turbo V6, I'd suggest a quick weekend away to the Thredbo chalet.

IAIN: You're paying a lot more over the E300 for all-wheel drive and a V6 but if posing along snow-covered roads safely is your thing, what a great tool the E400 would be.

Who needs an AMG? The Cabrio’s rear end is “to die for”, says Jules
Who needs an AMG? The Cabrio’s rear end is “to die for”, says Jules

JULES: I'm a big fan of the Dynamic Select drive modes. Sport+ means rapid throttle response - who needs an AMG?

IAIN: Hits 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, despite being two tonnes with a driver on board. Don't push too hard in the turns and you won't notice the considerable mass. Its air suspension soaks up the bumps brilliantly.

JULES: Yep, it's a cruiser rather than track hero. And all the clever anti-buffeting aids mean you can sit at 100km/h and still have a chat.

IAIN: The V6 mated to Merc's nine-speed auto is a refined combo. Despite the expense, it suits the elegant nature of this rapid cruiser.

 

THE FAMILY

JULES: First thing, the doors are ludicrously heavy. I felt I needed staff to assist at times.

IAIN: Doormen at The Ritz would happily oblige. Small kids are less useful.

JULES: I like how drop-top motoring can be a family event here. Two child seats could squeeze in and the kids, obviously, loved the roof off. They were far more wind buffeted in the back, though.

Family friendly: It’s a genuine four-seater, with ample active safety gear
Family friendly: It’s a genuine four-seater, with ample active safety gear

IAIN: If you drive fast enough you couldn't hear them complain.

JULES: The safety's a big win. Nine airbags are great and I needed the 360-degree camera as there are so many blind spots when parking.

IAIN: And endless active safety systems. I'm a convert to the semi-autonomous features. Radar cruise control and lane keep assist at this level show how close we are to driverless cars.

 

THE VERDICT

JULES: Look, it's a huge amount of money but you feel special driving the E400 Cabrio. A cliche but this is pure class.

IAIN: Agreed. It has all the performance you need in a big Cabrio. Save yourself $35K and get the E300 Cabrio, with the same good looks and similar spec.

 

MERCEDES-BENZ E400 4MATIC CABRIOLET

No title, From: Supplied
No title, From: Supplied

PRICE $157,500 plus on-roads (Expensive)

WARRANTY/SERVICING 3 years/unlimited km (average), $2680 for 3 years/75,000km (pricey)

ENGINE 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo, 245kW/480Nm (abundant)

TRANSMISSION 9-speed auto; AWD (high-spec)

SAFETY 5 stars, 9 airbags, 360-degree camera, rollover protection, active brake assist, evasive steering assist, blind spot assist, lane keep assist, cross-traffic alert (excellent)

THIRST 8.7L/100km (not bad)

SPARE None, inflation kit (poor)

BOOT 310L-385L (fair)



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