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2018 Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet Review By CarAdvice

Caradvice.com reports that never before has a luxury soft-top made more sense than with theย Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet.

It looks like a million bucks, boasts a seriously impressive cabin, can transport four large adults in unbridled comfort and costs less than $125,000 plus on-roads.

Itโ€™s also a far cry from itsย C-Class-based predecessor, which up against itsย E-Classย siblings โ€“ the coupe and wagon โ€“ was measurably smaller and thus far less practical when it came to family ride-sharing.

But this new version is different. Bigger, safer and way more impressive. And, to the untrained eye, looks dangerously close to the companyโ€™s flagshipย S-Class. Either way, the E-Class โ€˜Cabโ€™ is a substantial Benz rag top with genuine high-end cachet and stunning visual appeal.

Some of that is down to its roof โ€“ a sophisticated, multi-layered unit that can be lowered or erected in around 20 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h via the usual folding theatrics. Even with the roof in place, it still looks great, but once neatly tucked away behind the rear seats it morphs into a real head-tuner.

Itโ€™s also the one thing that sets it apart from similarly priced rivals likeย BMWโ€™s 4 Series Convertible, a noticeably smaller vehicle that instead employs a folding metal hardtop.

However, along with its sweet styling and competitive pricing comes something of a compromise with the E300. At least, thatโ€™s what some might call it, while other more prudent buyers might just call it the perfect package.

Whereas theย E400ย is powered by a silky-smooth 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine making 245kW and 480Nm of torque, the E300 downsizes to 2.0-litre in-line turbo-four petrol power with 180kW and 370Nm of torque on tap.

I know what youโ€™re thinking โ€“ is that all it’s got?

Hereโ€™s a big, bold cabriolet tipping the scales at nearly 1800kg and packing a small-displacement four-pot motor โ€“ the same engine that you get in the smaller, lighter C-Class equivalent.

But in all honesty, thereโ€™s absolutely no cause for alarm, even for those sun-lovers who also fancy a bit of go under their right foot when they need to punch it. Itโ€™s got more than enough go to move this graceful Benz along at a decent clip, and thereโ€™s no real lack of punch off the line either, just quietly.

In fact, dial up either Sport or Sport Plus mode, give the throttle a good prod (as we did on occasion) and thereโ€™s no argument from us with regard to Benzโ€™s claim of a 6.5-second sprint time from 0โ€“100km/h. Iโ€™d even call it spirited, and there isnโ€™t much lag either. As four-cylinder petrol engines go, this is very good.

Just donโ€™t expect a lot of noise, though โ€“ at least, not like the rorty snarl of a hot hatch packing similar firepower. The E300 Cab is a little uninspiring in that regard, at least to this reviewer.

But it does handle well despite the unavoidable body wobble that seems to go hand-in-hand with most drop tops, even one of this build quality. Itโ€™s not too bad, though, so you can hustle the E300 along your favourite B-road in this open-top Benz and it still feels nicely balanced, composed and somewhat rewarding.

Thereโ€™s good grip from the 275/30-series Goodyear Eagles down back (245/35 โ€“ rear) too, particularly in the wet, despite their low profile.

For most, though, outright performance wonโ€™t be much of a consideration in the buying process. Dynamic corner-carving isnโ€™t likely to feature high on the list of purchase triggers either โ€“ at least not for those buyers looking at a stylish cabriolet with a three-pointed star up front. Still, itโ€™s nice to know itโ€™s got some legs all the same.

And any assertions that the soft top might fail to properly isolate the ruckus outside would normally be spot-on. Just not with the E-Class. In fact, youโ€™re more than likely to drive around for a day or two before finally realising youโ€™re actually in a cabriolet. Itโ€™s just so damn quiet, you tend to forget about it โ€“ completely

Impressive, too, is the wind-free effect when the roof is lowered. Conversations can be had even at high speed, and full-grown men (and women) wonโ€™t need to wear those silly-looking caps to prevent a bad hair day.

It also comes with a built-in wind-deflector dubbed โ€˜AirCapโ€™ that comprises a couple of wind deflectors that automatically emerge from behind the rear seats and the windscreen frame โ€“ supposedly to reduce turbulence inside the cabin.

When we finally did give it a crack on the motorway, we honestly couldnโ€™t detect much of an improvement. That said, while thereโ€™s still plenty of wind swirl inside the cabin at 100km/h plus, you can still hold down a conversation without resorting to yelling at the person sitting next to you. Thatโ€™s pretty impressive.

The ride, too, is very well damped (at least in the most relaxed setting) thanks to the E300โ€™s adjustable suspension system thatโ€™s able to soften and isolate the effect of large bumps and uneven surfaces, except for the occasional jarring from a sharp-edged pothole.

At least, thatโ€™s in the softest ride setting. Scroll through to Sport and Sport Plus, and the ride becomes noticeably less compliant, while body roll is kept in check in the cornering department. Itโ€™s a good system because it allows plenty of breadth between the various settings.

Itโ€™s also a great accompaniment to the first-class comfort of the cabin. Some of that comes down to the sheer volume of space, as well as the contours, cushioning and bolster of the seats โ€“ front and rear. Really tall folks will struggle with head room in the back (roof up), but at least thereโ€™s enough room below the front pews to slide your feet under.

Thereโ€™s also a pair of Benzโ€™s now-trademark aircraft-inspired air vents for rear-seat passengers, as well as additional fans in the back of the front-seat headrests to cool you down on those hotter days. Thereโ€™s no centre armrest, though, so that could be a bit of a pain.

Plenty of rear-seat storage, too, with two cup holders, side bins and map pockets of a decent size. And up front, thereโ€™s loads of room for multiple phones, wallets and sunnies.

The highlight, though, is the veritable digital screen wall that stretches two-thirds of the dash. Itโ€™s enormous, and almost overwhelming when you first see it, but it also offers crystal-clear definition and colour.

We also love the blend of real metal accents and wood across the dash and door trim โ€“ it feels good to the touch, while adding a touch of class, but without looking overly bling.

For those that love their music, the German-made Burmester audio system sits at the top of the pile โ€“ not only for its crystal-clear clarity and broad range of notes, but equally for the craftsmanship of the metal speaker grilles, which are simply stunning.

Thereโ€™s also a vast array of the usual gadgetry and creature comforts on board, as well as the latest in active safety tech.

Sure, the twin-turbo V6 is an ideal match for the E400 Cabriolet, with its effortless power and refined power delivery, but itโ€™s also tens of thousands more than the turbo-four tested here.

Weโ€™d argue the E300 hits the sweet spot when it comes to family-sized open-air motoring in a luxury coupe better than anything in its class.

 

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