2013 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet review
* Revised E-Class Cabriolet driven in UK * New look; cleaner engines; more kit * On sale now, priced from £38,465...
The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet has been updated in line with the recent changes to the rest of the E-Class range.
The new look is immediately obvious, with single headlight lenses replacing the old car's 'quad' headlamps. There's also a sportier front grille, and new bumpers that glitter with some chrome trim.
However, the E-Class Cabriolet retains curved creases above its rear wheels; on the new E-Class saloon and estate models these have been replaced by straight lines.
A new engine range brings improved CO2 emissions and fuel economy. The old V8 petrol (E500) has been replaced with a twin-turbo V6 (E400), while the four-cylinder E200 petrol has been updated to make it more efficient.
As before, there are four-cylinder E220 and E250 CDI diesel engines, plus a six-cylinder E350. Both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes are available, although Mercedes expects 95% of buyers to go for an auto.
What's the 2013 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet like to drive?
Our favourite version of the outgoing model was the six-cylinder diesel in entry-level SE trim, because it blended an effortlessly smooth power delivery with a soft and smooth ride.
Unfortunately, this range-topping diesel (badged E350 Bluetec) is now available only in AMG Sport trim, which means you get adaptive sports suspension as standard.
This isn't a good thing; the stiffer set-up causes the car to shudder more over poor surfaces.
True, this suspension does have the advantage of reducing body roll through corners, but only marginally; the E-Class still isn't especially agile, so doesn't like being asked to change direction quickly.
Thankfully, SE suspension is still available on the entry-level E220 CDI diesel, and thanks to improvements to the refinement of this engine (it's now smoother and quieter) it's now much easier to recommend. Just make sure you choose an automatic gearbox; the standard manual transmission is decidedly notchy.
The new electronic steering system – which is designed to cut fuel consumption – is nicely weighted, though. Its lazy responses suit the car's relaxed demeanour, making it feel surefooted and composed at high speeds.
We also tried the E250 CDI and the new twin-turbo E400 petrol. The E250 CDI is flexible enough, but nowhere near as smooth as the six-cylinder engine and is only around £1700 cheaper.
The E400 is seriously strong, pulling smoothly from low revs and hitting 62mph in just 5.3 seconds. It sounds good, too, although the boomy exhaust note never totally fades away – even at a steady motorway cruise.
Fuel economy on this engine isn't great, either. Its figure of 35.8mpg might sound reasonable, but it's nowhere near the 47.9mpg of the E350 Bluetec, or the 58.9mpg of the E220 CDI auto.
What's the 2013 E-Class Cabriolet like inside?
Sitting in the back of a drop-top is often an unpleasant, blustery experience, but things are different in the E-Class; a clever contraption called Aircap allows rear passengers to arrive as unruffled as those in the front.
It's essentially a combination of a small flap on top of the windscreen and a deflector between the rear seats, which both raise to deflect air over the cabin. However, while you used to have to press a button to operate the system, it now activates automatically when your speed rises above 25mph.
The acoustic fabric hood takes a while to fold itself back up by modern standards (around 20 seconds), but it does a good job of shutting out unwanted noise. Some wind whistle from around the door mirrors is the only real complaint.
The Cabrio is listed as a member of the E-Class family, but the wheelbase is actually the same as that of a C-Class, so things are a little snug in the back. Four adults will fit, but there isn't a huge amount of space.
The boot isn't great, either – it's not that big and is awkwardly shaped.
On the plus side, the cabin is solid and nicely finished, and it looks a bit posher than before thanks to some updated interior trim. More expensive models get a leather-wrapped dashboard, which looks even smarter.
Unfortunately, the same old Mercedes quirks remain; the Comand infotainment system isn't as intuitive as Audi's MMI system or BMW's iDrive, while the parking brake is applied by pushing a pedal in the footwell, and then released by pulling an awkwardly placed handle.
More positively, the 2013 E-Class Cabriolet comes with much more equipment than before.
Entry-level SE trims gets you an online sat-nav system as standard, along with a DAB radio and an Active Parking Assist system.
AMG Sport trim adds a sportier bodykit, larger alloys, a dynamic handling package, leather seats and partial LED headlights
The range-topping AMG Sport Plus model gets even bigger wheels, AMG sports seats, an upgraded stereo and keyless start.
Should I buy one?
If you think open-air motoring is about the joy of the journey rather than the speed with which you can complete it, the E-Class Cabriolet is still a good buy.
It's a shame that Mercedes is no longer offering the best engine (the E350 Bluetec) with the best suspension set-up (SE), but improvements to the smoothness of the entry-level E220 CDI – the only version now available with SE suspension – make this version better than ever. In fact, it's our new favourite E-Class Cabriolet and merits a four-star rating.
What Car? says...
Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI Cabriolet auto
Engine size 2.1-litre diesel
Price from £39,985
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 8.7 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 58.9mpg
Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI Cabriolet
Engine size 2.1-litre diesel
Price from £44,100
Torque 369lb ft
0-62mph 7.7 seconds
Top speed 151mph
Fuel economy 57.7mpg
Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec Cabriolet
Engine size 3.0-litre diesel
Price from £45,840
Torque 457lb ft
0-62mph 6.7 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg
Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
Engine size 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol
Price from £49,635
Torque 354lb ft
0-62mph 5.3 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 35.8mpg