2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet first drive review: a true E at last Page 2


A standard Dynamic Select system adjusts the dampers, air suspension, throttle, start/stop function, and shift points. It has Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+, and user-programmed Individual modes.

Since it was a beautiful day in France, I dropped the top, left the Drive Select in Comfort mode, and headed for the mountains by way of Annecy and Chamonix, France.

The E-Class isn’t the car it used to be. That’s both good and bad, depending on your perspective. Mercedes has injected a bit of sportiness into what has traditionally been a decidedly luxury-oriented car, and that’s where the effort to strengthen the chassis has paid off. While this car feels solid with the top down, its sheer size means it still has some cowl shake over broken pavement.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

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2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Enlarge Photo
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Enlarge Photo

That doesn't detract from the experience, though. The steering is light and direct, but not overly quick. The car turns in responsively and has a somewhat playful character. Comfort mode, however, dulls the senses, introducing a bit of throttle and shift lag and making the ride motions a tad unsettled.

Sport mode tidies up those issues without going too far. It makes the throttle and transmission more responsive, and ties down the suspension to create a sportier driving experience with surprisingly little body lean. Skip the Sport+ mode entirely; it’s way too aggressive for this cruiser.

In any mode, the ride is usually quite smooth, but the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires (245/35s up front, 275/30s out back) cause the suspension to send some unpleasant jolts into the cabin when driving over sharper bumps. The 20s may look cool, but stick with the base 18s or perhaps the optional 19s.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Enlarge Photo
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Enlarge Photo
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Enlarge Photo

All-weather convertible

Mercedes wants to make the E-Class Cabriolet a four-seasons convertible, and the brand keeps throwing equipment at the car to do just that. The top mechanism is almost enough in itself. It opens or closes in 20 seconds with the push of a button at speeds up to 31 mph. The soft top is layered and insulated to shut out the elements and the wind, and it does a great job of both.

Mercedes offers some features to make it palatable to put the top down even when the weather isn’t perfect. The AirScarf neck-level heating system warms the cabin with the top down in cooler temperatures, and the AirCap system routes wind over the car to reduce interior wind turbulence and allow normal conversation.

With a larger interior to deal with this time around, Mercedes’ engineers had to tweak AirCap to make it as effective as it was for the last-generation model. AirCap consists of a pop-up air deflector in the windshield header and a pop up wind blocker behind the rear seats. It is fairly effective on its own, but if you really want it to work—for instance, to keep a lady’s floppy hat from getting blown about—you have to roll up the windows, too. That’s a concession to aerodynamics, but I think driving a convertible with the top up is the automotive equivalent of wearing black socks with sandals. Nonetheless, that’s how I drove the E Cab—in deference to my passenger’s floppy hat.


 
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