What's the used Mercedes E-Class sports like?
If what you want is a four-seat convertible of rare elegance and subtle suavity you should certainly have this generation of Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet at the top of your shortlist.
Not surprisingly, it shares a lot of its underpinnings with the closed-top Coupe version, which in turn leans heavily on the E-Class executive saloon for its mechanical inspiration. It’s plush and solidly constructed and sits between the firm’s C-Class Cabriolet and the huge S-Class Cabrio. It is also a large car, this E-Class, with a noticeable increase in size over the car it replaced.
There have been four engine options so far, all turbocharged: two 2.0-litre four-cylinders, a 191bhp diesel and a 242bhp petrol, badged E220 d and E300 respectively; and two 3.0-litre V6s, a 254bhp diesel and a 328bhp petrol, known in turn as the E350 d and E400. The two latter engines came as standard from new with four-wheel drive.
In theory, there are three trim levels: AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus, with corresponding increases in opulence and kit as you go up the price scale. It’s well equipped in standard mode, though, and features 19in alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, cruise control, LED headlights, a DAB radio and Bluetooth. You’ll need to seek out one of the plusher trims for an upgraded infotainment system. Entry-level cars models come with an 8.4in colour screen, with sat-nav as standard. With a rotary controller, the system is pretty simple to navigate. However, upgrading to the 12.3in screen with the Comand Online infotainment system brings more advanced sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, as well as a wi-fi hotspot.
On paper, the 191bhp 220 d looks a little underpowered, but in fact it gets by very well. Indeed the relaxed pace of the diesel engine feels suitable in a top-down cruiser. The E300 doesn’t feel a whole lot slower than the range-topping E400, to be honest, and nor does the 350 d. Mash your right foot into the carpet and it completes the run from 0-62mph in just 6.4sec, and with Sport Plus mode selected, throttle response is sharp, gearshifts are slick and you’re even treated to the odd artificial parp when changing up. It is rather a gruff-sounding engine, though, and it doesn’t have the low-down shove of the 220 d. The E400 is quick, but it doesn’t particularly feel it. It delivers its big hit of power and torque in a more subtle and less overt manner, picking up its skirts and heading for the horizon with very little fuss.
There were two types of suspension available from new: a standard steel-sprung system and the optional air suspension system. The air option gives a beautifully floaty ride that’s only ever troubled by the roughest of road surfaces, even when fitted with large wheels.
One of the advantages of this system is that you can stiffen up the suspension and adjust the steering, throttle and gearbox response at the touch of a button. You get to choose between four pre-set modes, but can also mix and match settings with an Individual mode.
However, in its stiffest and sharpest setting the E-Class feels quite big and heavy, and a little uncomfortable if you try pushing it hard through a set of challenging bends. It’s better, in fact, to leave the E-Class Cabriolet in Comfort mode. In the E400 you get more traction thanks to the four-wheel-drive system.
Inside is a lovely and stylish interior. A huge tranche of wood or metal, depending on the original choice of options, spans the width of the dashboard and extends along the doors. Above and below this sit high-quality plastics and glossy switches that operate with satisfying smoothness, and the whole thing is put together with the sort of class and solidity you’d expect. The seats are all comfortable, and the driver’s offers plenty of electrical adjustment, as does the steering wheel, so finding the right driving position is an easy affair.
There’s plenty of space up front, but rear-seat passengers are a little limited for leg room. There’s less space in the boot with the roof down, but it can hold a reasonable amount of luggage - enough for a weekend away for two, maybe, if not for a family for a week.
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