2016 Mercedes-Benz E400 Convertible
3.0L V6 Bi-Turbo
329 HP @ 5,250 - 6,000
354 lb-ft @ 1,200 - 4,000
7G-Tronic Plus Automatic
11.1 (Average Tested)
Do you know what J.Lo, Sarah Jessica Parker and Demi Lovato have in common? Well, perhaps you are right, but I was going somewhere else with this; they all drive an E-Class Convertible. Easy to understand why, since fashion-aware celebrities like choosing such cars. Needless to say, curb appeal has to be at a certain level; these girls don’t mess about when it comes to image, and their cars are no exception.
Even though the firm never officially marketed the E-Class convertible as a replacement to the long running CLK convertible, the new drop-top E-Class is also derived from the C-Class’s platform. The reason behind this, is to keep the car smaller and nimbler compared to the E-Class sedan, while delivering driving dynamics that are able to impress those who seek a more exciting drive.
For 2016, there are numerous changes to the car, the most significant being the new 3.0L V6 Bi-Turbo engine for the E400 that replaces the naturally aspirated unit found in the outgoing E350. With no major stylistic updates, it is hard to recognize the new model unless you spot the E400 inscription. With the LED headlights complementing the LED daytime lights, the front end remains aggressive and very dynamic, setting the bar quite high. The rear curvy haunches pose proudly, just like J.Lo’s do. Top down or top up, sexy is the word; and we are talking about the car once again.
The E400 comes equipped quite well to begin with and prices start at $71,300. Our test vehicle that featured both the premium and sport packages as well as the climate comfort front seats was $79,200 before taxes and fees. Features worth mentioning are the Agility Control Suspension with Adaptive Damping, ECO start/stop, LED headlights, power folding mirrors, 14-way power front seats with memory, power steering column with memory, dual zone climate control, blind spot monitors, collision prevention assist, stability control, parktronic with active park assist, keyless entry, harman/kardon sound system, 18″ AMG sport wheels, active lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and an army of airbags.
Inside, it is almost identical to the E-Class sedan, but obviously the dimensions are tighter creating a more intimate fit. Quality and feel are also identical to the sedan meaning that only good materials have been used, but being the convertible, it surely could use a splash of excitement design-wise. It is just too conservative for a convertible that looks so nice on the outside. The absence of a solid roof however, does expose some minor issues over continuous bumps, as tiny rattles were produced from the passenger door panel; something totally foreign to the coupe and sedan. The seats are incredibly comfortable and come with a huge number of adjustments, some of which are analog switches that set the corresponding pressure points with extreme precision.
Roominess up front is great for a classy drop-top, the driving position is relaxed and there are enough practicality elements available, like cup holders and pockets for various items. Once you step inside, the seatbelt will be served to you by the polite seatbelt butler but at the same time the rest of the car is not as polite as it beeps at you for not wearing it already. Passengers in the rear seats will appreciate the ease of getting in and out, but if they are taller than Demi they will feel their knees push firmly against the back of the front seat, unless Demi is driving. The trunk is smaller than the coupe, even with the top up, but at 390 L it is acceptable for the class. Throwing the top back will take up another 90L but at least the safe loading areas are clearly marked.
The roof operation is quick and the folding mechanism is not over-complicated. The rear window is glass and comes with heating elements, so forget about long term fogging up and not being able to see through. Keeping your neck and upper back warm even when the weather is on the chilli side, the AIRSCARF system blows warm air towards you with enough flow to actually make a difference. Combined with the heated seats that are heated by ventilation instead of elements, this ride keeps you seriously warm in weather considered too cold for other convertibles. Also, the revolutionary AIRCAP spoiler system looks weird but works wonders, redirecting air flow away from the cabin at higher speeds. It is essentially a pop-up spoiler that deploys from the top of the windscreen and forces air away from turning back and into the cabin.
The AIRMATIC suspension comes with a mode button and it is possible to set it to sport or comfort. The sport setting is rather useless since this car doesn’t really like compromising ride quality for extra grip. It is still quite soft in sport mode, which means little to no gain in handling. It just feels like you are making it less comfortable, which brings me to comfort mode; it is absolutely fantastic. For its softness, it returns sharp dynamics that easily surpass the expectations or the desire to explore limits by potential owners. It is adequately sporty to cover the occasional hot flashes Sarah will be experiencing and the steering feels direct but not too connected. Where it really excels is providing a smooth comfortable ride. Bumps and road imperfections are filtered well enough to allow a smooth lipstick application on the go, and lets not kid our selves, that matters.
The new 3.0L V6 Bi-Turbo engine is a true gem. It pulls from down low, really shines mid-range and doesn’t run out of power near the rev-limiter. It also sounds good; with the roof down, the exhaust has a slightly throaty tone, making sprints sound exciting. Performance is really good and despite the weight we were able to hit 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds (vs the claimed 5.3). Fuel economy isn’t bad at all; we averaged 11.1lt/100km on a combined circle. The brakes were also very good, bringing the car to a complete stop from 100km/h in just 42m, while the pedal felt linear and inspired confidence.
Hitting the most important bits of prestigious drop top motoring, the E-Class Convertible will continue to sell like nose jobs. With plenty of technology and a brilliant new engine, there is very little to dislike, especially in a body that carries a bit of the old Mercedes-Benz aura.
Minor rattling coming from the door panels