First Drive

2016 Mercedes C 250 d Cabriolet review

The all-new Mercedes-Benz C 250 d offers roof-down motoring and four seats. It's practical then, but is it a better buy than a BMW 4 Series Convertible?

Words ByJohn Howell

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If you’ve been bowled over by the swooping lines of the Mercedes C-Class CoupΓ©, but it’s open-topped motoring that really floats your boat, then you’re in luck.

In August, ready for the heat of summer (we hope) you'll have the option of this Mercedes C 250 d Cabriolet, which is the more powerful of the two diesels on offer in the all-new C-Class Cabriolet range. Joining them will also be a range of petrol-engined cars, from the C 200 through to the riotously quick C 63 S.

The C 250 d is expected to be a popular choice, because it can whisk you from 0-62mph in a sprightly 7.2sec, yet offers private and company car buyers sensible running costs, with claimed average fuel economy of 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of just 121g/km – both better than you’ll get from the rival BMW 420d Convertible.

A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard, and you can opt for rear or four-wheel drive. As with the C-Class CoupΓ©, there’s the simplicity of just two trims: the entry-level Sport, or the higher AMG Line.

What’s the 2016 Mercedes C 250 d Cabriolet like to drive?

The 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t particularly charismatic, and the clatter it makes when driven hard feels somewhat at odds with the Cabriolet’s suave style. It quietens down when you're cruising, though, and you feel no discernible vibration through the controls.

It picks up from 1500rpm and pulls solidly, rather than vigorously, through to 4000rpm, just shy of the engine’s limiter. It’s still got more outright pace than a 420d Convertible, yet its true talent lies in a healthy breadth of mid-range shove. This equips it with relaxing real-world pace, aided by the smooth automatic gearbox that makes a habit of choosing the right gear.

Beyond the engine’s thrum, the C-Class Cabriolet is a refined cross-country cruiser. There’s very little shimmy through the chassis, and the ride is reasonable even on the standard mechanical springs and dampers. The suspension is noisy at times, though.

If our experience of the CoupΓ© is anything to go by, we’d still recommend the optional air suspension. It gives you a really smooth ride, which should make the C-Class more comfortable than the stiffly sprung 4 Series.

Roof up, there’s very little road or wind noise at speed. You can lower the hood in 20sec at speeds of up to 31mph, leaving you to enjoy your open-air motoring without getting battered by crosswinds; at least in the front, that is. The rear passengers get more of a ruffling, although the standard Aircap wind-deflector system does help.

It handles pretty well, too. Despite the Cabriolet’s added weight over the CoupΓ©, you can still hustle it through turns, where it offers plenty of grip. That said, when you really push it, the body leans a fair bit, and the steering’s sudden weight build-up as you add on lock feels unnatural. Driving in a more relaxed fashion suits the C-Class Cabriolet’s laid-back style.

What’s the 2016 Mercedes C 250 d Cabriolet like inside?

Front-seat space is excellent, even for the tallest of folk, and the driver is treated to an excellent driving position, with plenty of adjustment to seat and steering wheel. For the two rear passengers it’s less appealing. With the hood up, head room is tight for those above average height, and the lack of leg room and upright seat-backs make the back of a 4 Series Convertible more appealing for anyone other than children.

With the roof up the Mercedes has a bigger boot than a 4 Series, with enough space for a couple of mid-sized suitcases. You can also drop the rear seatbacks to gain extra length, although the shallow boot opening prevents you getting bulky items in. If you retract the roof it severely restricts the boot’s height and robs it of space, immediately rendering it far less practical.

Mercedes has done a fabulous job with the interior ambience, though. The mix of materials includes soft-touch plastics, brushed aluminium and matt-finish wood veneer depending on which specification you choose. Visually it’s much more interesting than the more functional-looking 4 Series.

Everything is easy to reach and you get a 7.0in screen and sat-nav as standard. However, neither the standard infotainment nor even the expensive Comand upgrade systems are as intuitive as BMW’s iDrive.

The C-Class Cabriolet is also slightly more expensive to buy than the BMW, but you get more toys, including LED headlamps, emergency city braking and tiredness monitoring on all versions.

Should I buy one?

This C 250 d offers a great blend of reasonable performance and running costs, with a refined and relaxed driving experience. It's a combination that arguably gives it a broader appeal than the BMW 4 Series, albeit for a slightly higher purchase price.

We haven’t mentioned the Audi A5 Convertible in this review, because that current model feels off the pace in this company. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that an all-new version is imminent, so you might want to delay your purchase until you can sample that. If not, then the C-Class Cabriolet should brighten-up your summer, whatever the weather.


What Car? says...

Rated 4 out of 5


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Rivals:

Audi A5 Convertible

BMW 4 Series Convertible


Mercedes C 250 d Cabriolet

Engine size 2.1-litre, diesel

Price from Β£40,565

Power 201bhp

Torque 369lb ft

0-62mph 7.2sec

Top speed 153mph

Fuel economy (official combined) 61.4mpg

CO2/BIK band 121g/km/23%