The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (that’s a convertible for those of you yokels out there) has always been a bit of a rare bird. Unlike most drop tops that are two-seaters, or two-seaters with a notional back seat (like Mustang or Camaro), the E-Class Cabriolet is a full on four-seater. Although it only has two doors, the back seat can actually accommodate two adults comfortably.
The E-Class Cabriolet debuted recently at the New York International Auto Show, just in time for spring, which means top-down convertible driving weather.
The all-fabric cloth-top is a huge expanse of fabric, seemingly sourced from an America’s Cup yacht when viewed from a distance. Up close, however, you can see this is some very fine material indeed. Buyers of the new E-Class Cabriolet get their choice of four colors for the top: dark brown, dark blue, red, or black. The top is fully automatic, of course, because there’s no way Mercedes-Benz would expect you to do the work on your own. The top has so many square feet that wrestling the thing up and down, if it were a manual, would resemble a scene from The Three Stooges.
Mercedes-Benz calls it an “acoustic soft top” because it features sophisticated insulation that reduces wind and road noise when the top is raised. A side benefit is how the soft-top is robust enough in terms of heat loss, meaning climate control and passenger comfort are not a problem so the Cabriolet is suitable for year-round use. Mercedes-Benz points out that up or down, the trunk is still usable. They say there’s enough space to store luggage for a weekend getaway, and the 50:50 folding rear seats provide a pass-through loading area for hauling longer stuff.
Compared to the previous version, the new E-Class Cabriolet has a longer wheelbase and a wider track. This larger footprint benefits rear seat passengers in particular. The rear seats are not a bench affair, but like the front seats are “sportily sculpted” for “individual-seat character.” Yeah, seriously, they said “sportily sculpted.” Oh, and the front seats have those automatic belt presenters that Mercedes-Benz has used for decades now, so you don’t have to contort yourself to reach the seatbelts.
Air In There
Now, about that option of top down driving even on colder days. Look, as a long time convertible owner, I am a big proponent of this in general. It’s a really nice feeling to take a little two-seater out for an early morning drive on a crisp fall day . . . but this is not a little two-seater. No, the E-Class Cabriolet is somewhere between taxi and tank sized from my perspective, not to mention that keeping back seat passengers from ending up like Creamsicles is a concern.
Mercedes-Benz, ever the thorough German engineering company, has sought to alleviate this.
First is this thingo called AIRSCARF, which is a neck-level heating system. Mercedes-Benz says it makes top-down driving enjoyable even at low temperatures by circulating warm air around the neck area in cooler weather. Actually it’s just a heater vent in the upper seat-back/headrest area to blast warm air onto your neck. People say it works quite well, although I would have to say it is not nearly as jaunty as my preferred method of a warm jacket, scarf, and appropriate hat, but that’s just me.
The AIRCAP system is an electric wind deflector unobtrusively incorporated into the roof frame and an electric wind blocker behind the rear seats. The driver hits a button, and the AIRCAP system deploys to reduce interior turbulence for the passengers.
There are also a number of additional features aimed at making the E-Class Cabriolet work in all seasons and weather conditions. The leather is something Mercedes-Benz dubs “heat-reflecting leather” to keep you cooler in direct sunlight. There’s this tech gizmo called (in all caps too) MAGIC VISION CONTROL. No, seriously, they call it MAGIC VISION CONTROL, and unlike what I first thought, it is not something that came free with every Grateful Dead concert ticket, circa 1973. No indeed, the MAGIC VISION CONTROL is an “intelligent and highly efficient wash/wipe system for the windscreen.” Essentially, when the outside temperature falls below a certain number of degrees, the windshield wiper/washer bits are heated to prevent snow or ice from sticking in winter.
Lineup & Availability
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet joins a pretty wide range of convertibles already in the lineup, including the smart fortwo cabriolet, smart electric drive cabriolet, C-Class Cabriolet, S-Class Cabriolet, SLC, SL, and AMG GT Roadsters. There is also the ultra-exclusive, full-boat, luxo-battle-cruiser, Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet. The 2018 E-Class Cabriolet will go on sale in the United States later this year.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.