By Bill McCarthy
The British just love getting their tops off. This is despite a climate that is, or certainly has been, unpredictable.
But it does seem we are getting more sunshine, with fewer, although heavier rainy days.
So cabin times comes around more often. There’s probably two types of enthusiast, those who love the wind in the hair, two seaters, with all the attendant noise and exposure to the elements. Then there’s those who still like the wind in the hair, but also love a bit of comfort, even luxury and Mercedes are really good at that one. Plump for options like Airscarf neck-level heating system and Aircap, which helps to redirect the air flow over the cabin. So there’s fresh without damage to your nether regions.
The E-Class is a fine example, a two-door, four seater with a soft top that has all the bells and whistles you would expect for a car approaching nearly £50k.
Standard kit includes Control suspension; Magic Vision Control wiper system; LED high performance headlights; reversing camera; heated front seats; and ambient lighting with a choice of 64 colours.
There are three three engine versions, including the two litre 194bhp version here.
It looks stunning, with longer wheelbase than previous models, thereby increasing interior room.
A standout vehicle, it has smooth flowing lines with a coupe style silhouette, with or without the roof down, while the large three-pointed star on the diamond grille, flanked by LED headlamps is instantly recognisable.
The interior too, is mightily impressive, even decadent with high quality trim and finish plus high-quality sculpted leather seats and swirled wood effect finish on the dash
The highlight is the two optional high-resolution 12.3-inch displays which merge beneath a shared glass cover to create a widescreen that appears to be floating where all the systems and controls are monitored.
The driver can choose from three different styles for the virtual instruments in the instrument cluster: “classic”, sport” and progressive”.
The whole system takes some working out via the multimedia system and other functions: touch controls in the steering wheel for finger-swipe control, a touchpad that recognises handwriting and the a controller in the centre console, which also performs touchscreen options.
Major functions like air quality, vehicle dynamics, sat nav, infotainment and connectivity are controlled this way.
Between the supportive seats is a wide centre console that is free of handbrake or gear controls. Gear selection is via a dainty little column-shift switch, the parking brake is a switch in the traditional Mercedes position down by your right knee, and the area between the seats is dominated by the solidly-made touchpad for media controls.
Once familiarised, this is intuitive and avoids the sticky-fingerprints-on-screen misery of touchscreen systems. It’s also one of the most pleasing tactile elements of the car, a solid lump of metal with a glassy, clicking surface like a high-end laptop.
A masterpiece of craftsmanship, even if the auto gear change is still on a steering wheel stalk!
But the star of the show has to be the fabric roof, which folds away in just 20 seconds and can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph. The acoustic fabric means that when in situ, the excellent soundproofing means passengers are well insulated from the outside noise of wind, tyres and general traffic noise.
At the press of a button, this system reduces the interior turbulence for the rear passengers, too.
Larger and more luxurious
On the road, the two litre diesel has plenty of grunt, producing 194bhp with an equally impressive 400 Nm of torque, which means power is on tap virtually all the time.
It propels the car to 60mph in just 7.7 seconds, while still delivering a claimed 53.3mpg and emissions of 141g/km. It is a refined power unit with little evidence of diesel clatter, even with the roof down and absent with the roof up.
Go fully auto, or select sport mode with the paddles for a more engaging drive. Handling is pretty good. The sleek shape means there is little wind noise, only the large tyres deliver unwelcome road noise.
It is a large car and the only real downside is manoeuvrability because of the huge doors, and limited rear view. There’s little you can do about the door, except find wide parkings spaces, but parking sensors and the 360 degree view camera, an option on this model, make it fairly painless.
This car also shows cabrios can be practical, with a long boot of 350 litres capacity, which is further enhanced the 50/50 folding rear seat backrests to allow through loading.
The all-new 50:50 folding rear seat backrests create a through-loading feature in the interior, boosting the E-Class Cabriolet’s everyday practicality.Generous centre-cubby storage with a divided, butterfly-door armrest and good sized doorbins provide room for clutter, though the cupholders are worryingly close to some expensive electronics. Standard equipment includes adaptive brake lights and active brake assist, cruise control with speed limiter and attention assist.
The optional Driving Assistance package can significantly reduce fatigue, with class-leading low-speed lane-keeping and adaptive cruise, evasive steering assist and automated overtaking with cruise control and blindspot detection.
Mercedes Benz E-Class E220d AMG Line
Mechanical: 194bhp, 1,950cc, four-cylinder, diesel-engine driving front wheels via 9-speed tiptonic automatic transmission
Max Speed: 152mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 41.5
Insurance Group: 45E
C02 emissions: 139g/km
Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles