The E 400 offers every bit of opulence that the Germans are known for, with impressive quality
Regardless of configuration (and believe me, there are many!), the current Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a benchmark. It’s an exemplary car in every way, with elegant styling, a great connectivity suite, and build quality second to none. It also stems from one of the most prestigious brands in the automotive landscape, and in the case of this particular vehicle, one that produces the most diverse lineups of convertibles. Sitting somewhat in a segment all on its own, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet is a stylish and alluring soft-top with plenty of appeal.
The previous-generation E-Class Cabriolet was based on the architecture of the C-Class, which did not have a soft-top version (it does now). The current model, new for the 2018 model year, shares its platform with the E-Class (reviewed here) sedan and coupé; an excellent chassis. As a result of this platform shift, this car is a whole five inches longer and nearly three inches wider than its predecessor. It’s a car that drives far smaller than its size would suggest, but the rear seats are actually usable within reason for regular-sized adults.
Canadians only receive one powertrain configuration with the open-top E-Class, and that’s the “400” engine. A buttery smooth twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 lives under the long hood, and churns out 329 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 354 lb-ft. of torque at only 1,600RPM. An in-house 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission silently and imperceptibly shifts; the perfect complement gearbox for this engine. The four-cylinder motor available in the E 300 sedan (reviewed here) is good, but the convertible benefits from effortless power and the smoothness of this V6 is most excellent.
The E 400 Cabriolet only comes in 4MATIC all-wheel-drive form, and packs the same adaptive damping system and Agility Control air springs we tested in the E 400 Coupe (reviewed here). As with almost everything else coming from Mercedes-Benz these days, ride quality is among the best in the industry, with seamless absorption of all road imperfections and unmatched ride comfort on longer stretches.
The E 400 is capable of firming up in its Sport and Sport+ settings, where more of the road is communicated to the driver’s seat, but the steering still remains relatively light. It may feel a bit too electric, but the convertible’s handling really is quite precise. Adjusting the drive mode settings will toggle throttle response, transmission shift points, suspension, and steering weight.
Rated for and requiring 91-octane premium fuel only, the E 400 Cabriolet is rated at 12.0L/100km city, 9.2L/100km highway, and a combined average of 10.8L/100km. Our test consisted of mixed driving and we observed numbers nearly identical to the official ratings. One longer highway run did see a 60km average of 8.7L/100km, which surpasses the highway estimate.
Features unique to the E-Class Cabriolet include the “Aircap”, which raises a spoiler atop the windshield electronically, in conjunction with a wind deflector behind the rear seats. It’s not the prettiest setup when activated, but reduces wind as well as noise when traveling at all speeds. The Airscarf is a system which projects warm air from a vent directly below the front headrests right onto the necks of the driver and passenger. These two features, when enabled, make for a spectacular cruising experience on almost any spring, summer, or fall night. The Cabriolet’s agreeable driving dynamics come together with the scrumptious comfort to make for a wonderful open-air drive.
While the SLC and SL convertibles feature power-retracting hardtop mechanisms, the C, E, and S-Class Cabriolets offer multi-layer powered soft-tops. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because a good soft-top saves weight and in the case of this E 400, isolates from outside noise and weather just as well as a hardtop would. Opening the top is also an event worth watching – a hard tonneau opens and the top slides behind the rear seats. The operation takes just 20 seconds and can be done at speeds of up to 50km/h.
The interior overall is just a brilliant place to spend time. Materials as well as fit/finish are all top notch, exhibiting S-Class (reviewed here) levels of quality. The seats are very comfortable and in the case of this tester, heated, ventilated, and offer a very good massage feature. The steering wheel has two touchpads to control infotainment as well as configure the highly customizable digital instrument cluster, and the Burmester audio system reproduces all genres of music tested with clarity. The lack of a B-pillar is only further appreciated with the addition of a universal window button, which will open and close all four windows at the same time.
A package that every E-Class buyer should opt for is the Intelligent Drive Package, which costs $2,700. It’s an active safety suite that I hesitantly call semi-autonomous thanks to its immense capability. This adaptive cruise system will keep the vehicle going, maintain the lane even around soft curves, and even change lanes when safe to do so, all without any steering or pedal intervention. It’s the next step towards autonomous driving, but obviously still requires the driver’s full attention. Of all the similar suites out there from the likes of Volvo and Cadillac, I personally prefer the Mercedes-Benz application.
Slotted above both the SLC as well as the C-Class Cabriolet, the E 400 isn’t exactly cheap. Starting at a base price of $80,300, our vehicle had the common options added on, including the Premium Package ($4,800), Intelligent Drive Package ($2,700), Technology Package ($2,600), and the Sport Package ($2,700). This car was effectively fully loaded, and came in at $93,100 as tested. Pricey as it may sound, the E 400 still offers plenty of luxury at approximately half the cost of a similarly equipped S 560 Cabriolet.
When we said it sits in a segment almost on its own, the E 400 Cabriolet has a bit of an advantage. Cars that cost similar money when loaded up include the BMW 4-series Cabriolet and the Audi A5 Cabriolet – these are both smaller cars physically, especially when you consider interior space. Neither the BMW 5-series (reviewed here) or Audi A6 offer two-door coupé or cabriolet variants, which means in terms of real competitors, the soft-top E-Class has none.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet is one of the best luxury convertibles out there. It offers every bit of opulence that the Germans are known for, with impressive quality and one of the best all-around powertrains Mercedes-Benz offers. This is a car that will excite buyers within every age group, and would make for a fantastic cruiser for any occasion.