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Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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Mercedes Benz E-class Cabrio driven
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Road Test

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio

Driven August 2013

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Audi and BMW are in the middle of a power war with their big, hard-riding convertibles, so it'd be entirely justifiable for Mercedes-Benz to follow suit with its facelifted E-Class cabrio. But, thankfully, this is very much a traditional Merc - big, comfy and built for people with largely theoretical hair.

Yep, this is Merc doing what it's good at, and it really does it well. The ride's better than anything else out there, power is ample (even on the baby engines) and it's stuffed with the sort of beige luggjury that'll appeal to die-hard Benz enthusiasts. It's not the most dynamic of things - that's what the SL is for - but for top-down posery, this is one hell of a smooth operator.

But M-B's got its eyes on the new, tech-savvy old person, so it's tipped in its flagship offerings, too. There's autonomous steering correction if you wander out of your lane, cameras that detect pedestrians and oncoming traffic then brake for you, and it can even read road signs. Most of which is optional, but you do get Collision Prevention Assist as standard.

The engines are good too. Diesel-wise there's a 2.1-litre E220CDI that fits under the 130g/km threshold (no road tax for the first year), the same engine in a higher state of tune (E250CDI with 201bhp) and a 248bhp 3.0 V6. Same with the petrols - there's a 181bhp lean-burn 2.0 four-pot turbo and a twin-turbo 328bhp 3.0 V6 that replaces the old E500 V8.

The drop down to six cylinders from the V8 means 59bhp less, but you probably won't notice the 0.3sec difference in the 0-62mph time. You may, however, spot the 9.9mpg improvement at the pumps.

One downside is that the V6 is only available in AMG trim, which includes ruinous dynamic suspension. The standard car rides stably out of the box, and while it's not terribly precise through corners, no amount of spine-grinding damper settings can transform it into a Nordschleife warrior.

Same goes for the gearbox. Auto transmissions made up 95 per cent of sales for the outgoing model, and you can see why. The seven-speeder slurs through ratios with the soft dim-wittedness you'd want from a big cruiser, but the six-speed manual is elastic, horrid and completely unnecessary.

But acknowledge that this cabrio is not destined for Planet Stig, rather for real people driving on real roads, and it's an incredibly good car.

THE NUMBERS

2996cc, 6cyl petrol, RWD, 328bhp, 354lb ft 35.8mpg, 185g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 5.3secs, 155mph 1845kg £49,635

THE VERDICT
Old-school Benz for old-school folk. It's not sporty, but there's no more refined convertible for the money.

Matt Jones

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