Cars like this may inspire us to work hard enough to own one. It is one of those rare cars which leave me nothing to grumble about. Nothing much anyway. At times, when driving slowly, there was a faint squeak from a nearside wheel. If it was a pushbike I’d have had the oil spray out.
The car is the Mercedes-Benz E-class convertible. It is part of the very successful E range of saloon, coupe and estate models.
Current models, in sporty AMG Line Edition specification, open with the rear-wheel-drive 194hp 220 diesel at £45,865, or £47,465 with 4Matic 4x4 drive. Petrol engined models are the 370hp E300 4Matic at £46,730 and the 333hp E400 4Matic at £55,715 – now being replaced by the E450 from the CLS with a straight-six 3-litre petrol turbo engine giving 367hp. Finally, the AMG E53 4Matic+ with 435hp at £69,850. Its 0-62mph time is 4.4 seconds. All use a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Purchasing deals start at £10,964 down then £519 a month for 48 months at 10,000 miles a year for the E220d. On the way, an E400 diesel.
The performance is never less than brisk, with a sub-eight second 0-62mph time for the E220d models. Economy is good, considering what’s on offer. The rear drive 220d records 57.7mpg and 126g of CO2 per km. The MPG results then cascade down while CO2 rises.
The format is a two-door body of steel and aluminium, with four seats under a well insulated, all-seasons fabric roof which can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 30mph. The process takes about 20 seconds. The structure is enhanced for crash safety, with rear neck protectors activated if the car is about to roll over.
The 385 litre boot loses 75 litres when the roof is folded down – demarcated by a retracting cover. The rear seats can be folded forward to load through into the car.
Tested here is the E400, on its last press booking before being replaced by the E450. The engine is a twin turbo three-litre V6, a fabulous thing though likely to use up to twice as much fuel as the 220d.
In my hands it returned a best of 25.6mpg on a long drive and the low 20s on a 40-mile loop into the hills above Ribblesdale to have its picture taken. None of this was “exploring” its dynamic performance for very long. A few satisfying bursts and some intricate bends were enough. The car runs slightly lower than the saloon, helping its handling.
The 19-inch AMG wheels carry 245/40 tyres at the front, 275/35 at the back. You may expect lots of noise and road thump but the ride is calm and quiet – much better than cheaper cars with more tyre depth and touring suspension settings. But they don’t have air suspension, and the cabrio does. This new cabriolet arrived last year on the latest E-Class platform. It is longer and wider than the previous model on a longer/wider wheelbase and track and slightly higher.
It has lashings of clever and helpful German technology to keep you happy and safe. An example: the water supply to the windscreen wipers is delivered along the blades on a just-in-time basis to improve the job. Better still, when the roof is down the water delivery is reduced so there is no spare water to come over the screen top and into the car. It’s the sort of detail which would impress your pals in the 19th Hole.
Happily there was no need for screen washing nor much hood-up driving. We did raise the roof to hear the radio more clearly on the motorway: the car is not that quiet.
There’s lots of stuff drivers of the larger models take for granted – like the column change for the gears: up for reverse, down for forward, press in for park.
Verdict: Great stuff.