By Shari Prymak
Those who are in the market for a convertible certainly have no shortage of options, particularly when it comes to sports cars or performance-based cars in general. Not everyone, however, wants a loud, firm sports car that rattles your fillings loose and melts your eardrums. Some just want a big, comfortable cruiser that lets you throw the roof down and enjoy the elements in laidback luxury. To them may I present the 2018 Mercedes E400 4MATIC Cabriolet.
The E-Class is the Goldilocks model positioned neatly between the smaller, less expensive C-Class and the larger, flagship S-Class in the Mercedes lineup. Like those models, it is available as a sedan, coupe, and, in this case, a drop-top cabriolet. It’s an elegant, handsome design, but not exactly breathtaking or distinctive. Sit an E-Class next to its C-Class showroom mate, for example, and one would likely be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two at first glance. Fortunately, the AMG garnishes, which include sporty front and rear fascias and stylish 19 inch wheels, do snazz things up quite a bit. My favorite detail though would be the stunning taillights, which look like tiny crystals when illuminated.
Opening the long, heavy doors reveals what is easily one of the most richly appointed interiors in the convertible game. Crystal sharp display screens, beautiful open-pore wood trim, and neatly-stitched soft leather all executed with stunning effect. The infotainment system has a higher than average learning curve that’s admittedly a bit distracting to use on the move, but there’s no arguing with its depth of features or the appeal of its graphics. The front seats are incredibly comfortable, offering a wide range of adjustments and even soothing massage settings. In addition to being heated and ventilated, the cabriolet’s seats also include air scarfs which blow warm air through a headrest vent, perfect for cool days with the roof down.
Powering the roof up or down is accomplished in about 20 seconds and can be done by remote or while on the move at speeds up to 60km/h. With the roof down, noise and wind turbulence are surprisingly well supressed making listening to music or carrying a conversation with passengers entirely possible even at freeway speeds. This is helped by the addition of retractable wind deflectors located on the top of the windshield frame and behind the rear seats. The air suspension helps keep body movements in check for the most part while offering a smooth ride perfect for melting away the miles. The body is also largely free of any cowl shake that traditionally plagues most convertibles to some degree.
The E400 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 engine producing 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. Different drive modes, including Sport and Sport+, are available to sharpen responses and shorten shift times, but I found it best just to leave things in Comfort mode and just kick back. Power is both smooth and effortless with plenty of forward shove for a big convertible. In terms of fuel economy, I averaged 12.5L/100km over a mixture of both city and highway driving, which is pretty respectable as well.
Pricing for the E400 4MATIC Cabriolet starts at $80,300, putting it far closer in price to the smaller C-Class Cabriolet ($57,200 to start) than the larger S-Class Cabriolet, which starts at $166,600. With the Premium Package, which includes the 12.3 instrument cluster display, Burmester surround sound system, and other lavish features, multi-contour massaging seats, a head-up display, and an Intelligent Drive Package, which includes semi-autonomous active safety technology such as active and evasive steering assist, the total for my tester came to $95,190.
The Mercedes lineup has no shortage of choice when it comes to convertibles, or any type of premium ride for that matter. The E400 Cabriolet, however, seems to hit a sweet spot in the lineup by offering proper comfort, four-seater practicality, and a convincing luxury drop-top experience at a price point well below that of the similarly-minded S-Class Cabriolet or SL Roadster. If the goal is to move about in soothing open-air refinement, this one is definitely worth a spin.