There has always been something about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class that exudes excellence. Perhaps it’s the soft, supple chassis that isolates any bumps in the road the car might encounter, or the indescribable amount of history and heritage that circles around the three-pointed star on the hood. Regardless, the E-Class is one of the most identifiable cars on the road, and comes with the image associated with luxury of this caliber. We had the opportunity to test a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet and see what living with one is all about.
Two-door E-Class models were previously sold as the CLK-Class, but any Mercedes-Benz aficionado would prefer the current naming scheme. After all, it’s historically correct. The current E350 Cabriolet is a looker from almost every angle. Our tester was equipped with the AMG appearance package and comes with a stunning front lip that adds a great look to the car. The taillights are LEDs, and they’re gorgeous on every E-Class model. The lines of the Cabriolet are clean and timeless without being too over-the-top. The car does look like it sits a bit too tall and narrow when looking at it directly from the front.
In typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, the interior is simplistic yet incredibly elegant. Our particular E350’s interior was upholstered in beautiful two-tone mocha and off-white leathers. The steering wheel and dashboard were a lovely darker shade of brown and are extremely easy on the eyes. The seats, door panels, and other interior trim are a very inoffensive shade of tan that doesn’t look bland at all. This interior compliments the Cavansite Blue Metallic exterior in the best possible way. To add to the impeccable colour scheme, the convertible top of the E350 was also blue – this car is just striking.
How does it drive? Well, if you’re comparing it to the likes of the Audi S5 Cabriolet or the BMW 4-series Cabriolet, there’s one distinct difference. Whereas those cars are comfortable and luxurious while trying their best not to compromise on the respective brands’ sporty nature, the Mercedes-Benz E350 doesn’t hide the fact that it’s purely a luxury cruiser. The 3.5L V6 puts out 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Coupé and sedan versions of the E-Class are available with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, but the Cabriolet driven here makes do with the tried and tested rear-wheel-drive.
Our editor-in-chief’s parents own a previous-generation E350 sedan, and while it’s a serene car in every sense of the word, it feels rather lazy and heavy. When accelerating from a start or doing a pass at highway speeds, the Cabriolet feels like it has considerably more than 302 horsepower. It moves like a bat out of hell and doesn’t lack confidence for even a single second. The transmission is a 7-speed automatic that shifts with poise and accuracy. It’s not dual-clutch levels of quick, but it does the job exceptionally well and we didn’t find ourselves ever needing to use the paddle shifters.
Fuel economy has never really been a huge strength of the E-Class (save for Bluetec models). Efficiency is improved via the “Eco” button on the dashboard. This feature adjusts transmission shift points, throttle response, and a few other factors to ensure at least some savings for the driver. We averaged 10.2L/100km in combined driving on premium fuel, and as low as 7.6L/100km on the highway. Depending on how eager your right foot is, city fuel numbers can rocket as high as 13.4L/100km.
Mercedes-Benz’ COMAND infotainment system is an older concept that has been tried and tested to perfection. Menus and playlists are browsed using a central controller located just ahead of the center console. Browsing iPod playlists and albums is effortless and surprisingly quick, and the display is high quality. One complaint is that much like current models from Audi, Mercedes-Benz requires use of their proprietary cable (supplied) to play auxiliary devices. This can only be bypassed if you’re willing to play your music via Bluetooth.
We’re very fortunate in the sense that we have recently driven the droptop versions of both the BMW 4-series as well as the Audi S5 Cabriolet. This Mercedes-Benz has an incredibly slick top mechanism. It can be operated at up to 40 km/h, and does the job in about 30 seconds. The switches for the top are hidden in a compartment on the center armrest. There’s also the “AIRSCARF” ventilation system that’s built into the front headrests. Previously only available on SL and SLK models, it provides heat at the neck level to ensure comfortable top down cruising even on chilly autumn evenings. It’s noteworthy that the BMW has a very similar feature.
There wasn’t much not to like about the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The car just screams opulence no matter where it goes. Whether it’s parked in front of Toronto’s famous Thompson Hotel on a Saturday night, or in the parking lot of the local grocery store; the E-Class makes a statement of sophistication without being arrogant. As previously stated, it doesn’t really provide any level of sportiness, but if that’s what you’re after, you’re likely not shopping for this car to begin with. For what it’s meant for, the E350 does a superb job and is one of a kind.