Now there’s no denying the fact that no other set of wheels make heads turn more than a convertible. Okay, on second thoughts, may be a nice vintage car may do the trick but purely in terms of design, an open top car is right up there. To convert a long bodied sedan into a convertible is no mean task and with something like an SLK having already come to India Mercedes has a tough act to follow with the E cabriolet. The car was launched earlier this year as a part of rapidly expanding Mercedes portfolio in India and this one truly stands out in the crowd.
You may well ask, why convert a successful luxury sedan into a convertible? Surely it can’t stop at just being looking sporty it has to act like one too. But the German car maker had other ideas. Though it is an open top version of the E class it is in fact built on the previous generation C-Class platform. This means this is one though it looks long isn’t exactly the same length as the E class but somewhat shorter. But yes the design cues do remind you of the E except of a few features like a single headlamp cluster as well as a new bumper. The large single slat grille is different from the two-slat one seen in the sedan. The charm of looking at a convertible is at its maximum from the rear profile and same is the case here. Rounding of an extremely attractive rear are the LED strips and a decent dose of chrome.
Cabriolets are notorious for being short of interior space especially on the second row. But due to its longer length the E 400 does provide decent leg room. But reaching that rear seat is a challenge you won’t really enjoy. Due to the big doors though access to the front seats is a breeze and these seats are comfortable as well as electrically adjustable. The dash once again reminds you of the E and the car boasts of all features you would expect from a mid-sized luxury sedan. These include climate control, rear AC vents, and rear parking sensors with 360 degree parking assist as well as paddle shifters. There’s also a seven-inch multimedia screen with Mercedes COMAND a 14-speaker Harman surround sound system that comes as standard. Despite being a convertible there’s still about 390 litres of usable boot space. The best part is that even with the roof down the E400still offers an impressive 300 litres.
Under the hood of the E400 is a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor. Power is massive by standards of a cabriolet as this one churns out 338 PS of peak power and 480Nm of peak torque which to the delight of an enthusiast kicks in as early as 1,600 rpm. Power delivery is linear and the engine is refined and even though this is a good fun car to drive do expect to win drag races in this one. In fact even in the sport mode gear changes can be faster that what they are here is where the paddle shifters help immensely. But having said all of that reaching the speed of 100 kmph is a mere 5.3 seconds deserves accolades.
Ride and handling
The good and bad about the E400 is its suspension and ground clearance respectively. The soft suspension is tuned very well to handle the punishing city roads and bumps are soaked in quite easily. The same punishing roads prove to be a nightmare when it comes to ground clearance. Like most cabriolets it is just not sufficient enough and one needs to be really careful over speed humps. Another problem is on the highways the suspension doesn’t get stiff enough (despite Agility control) for your liking. Now of course with the roof up (this is how the car is driven most of the times) the car is very well insulated and even with the roof down and the windows rolled out most of exterior disturbances are kept in check and the occupants of the car can converse well within themselves. All fears of E400 not handling well owing to its long length are taken care of well by a very efficient traction control mechanism.
Apart from other things this E cabriolet is an extremely safe car. It boasts of features like nine airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, Active Bonnet and Adaptive High Beam Assist. So then at a sticker price of Rs 78.5 lakh is the E400 worth it? Well yes and no!! Yes if you want oodles of style and driving fun and of course if you want to stand out in a crowd. The only deterrents are its length and price because we do have convertibles which beat this one both in looks and also cost much less.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.