With the C-Class Cabriolet chasing the folding hardtop BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 Cabriolet this all-new E-Class version is free to cut back and offer a more mature approach, the pricing undercutting the sportier BMW 6 Series equivalent by some margin. In character, it’s more junior S-Class Cabriolet, certainly in appearance where the extra length, wheelbase and width over the outgoing model give it a much more elegant look. Same on the inside too, the Cabriolet taking the E-Class Coupe’s luxurious feel and throwing in some cabrio-specific toys to encourage you to drop the roof at every opportunity.
These include the Aircap draught excluder that emerges from the windscreen rail to reduce buffeting for rear-seat passengers, standard fit Airscarf to blow hot air down your neck and the option of heated armrests should you so desire. And where others have adopted folding hardtops Mercedes is sufficiently proud of its traditions as to make the fabric roof a styling feature, raised or folded. It feels as refined as a coupe when in place and is available in a classy range of black, navy blue or brown as a stylish contrast to the paintwork.
Dropping the pillarless side windows is a nice halfway house or, at speeds of up to 30mph, you can fold the whole thing away and get the old wind in the hair feel. Just not so much as to be intrusive, to the point where it’s perfectly possible to hold a normal conversation with your passengers even with the roof down at motorway cruising speeds.
There are four models to choose from, starting with the four-cylinder diesel and petrol for around £45,000. The stretch to the V6 diesel and petrol versions is a hefty £10,000, offset by the six-cylinder cars offering 4Matic all-wheel drive and desirable options like air suspension and Comand Online system as standard. All versions drive through an automatic gearbox, the E400’s 328bhp offering suitably silky refinement and mid-range pulling power required to make sense of the near two-tonne kerb weight.