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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet 2018 review: E 400

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Mercedes-Benz- claims to have mastered the soft-top formula with the E400 4Matic, a car it says offers all the perks of open-air motoring without any of the dynamic or practical downsides. Let's see.
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It is hard to immediately think of a country more suited to the convertible life than Australia. Even our coldest states (you know who you are…) are blessed with more warming sun than almost anywhere else on the civilised parts of the planet, so you’d think we’d be swanning about in dropped-top bliss almost year round.

But it’s actually in the UK (despite being cold, grey and almost always underwater) that convertibles really fly out of dealerships, with sun-starved Brits buying more than anyone else in the world. Weird, right?

Still, here they remain something of an oddity, sold in small numbers to drop-top diehards. At least partly because the convertibles of old were almost always slightly worse than their hardtop equivalents. 

But Mercedes - which makes more convertibles than most - claims to have mastered the soft-top formula with the E400 4Matic, a car it says offers all the perks of open-air motoring without any of the dynamic or practical downsides. 

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2018: E300
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price fromNo recent listings

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Elegance. That's the word that springs to mind when you first clamp eyes on the E400 Cabriolet. While the Coupe version has a crouched-over sportiness about its exterior design, the convertible is all about big and boat-like proportions, especially with the fabric roof opened.

Like nearly all drop-tops, the E400 looks best with the cabin open to the elements, and the side profile especially paints a picture of well-heeled wafting, with only the AMG alloys and body styling hinting at the performance on offer under the bonnet.

  • Mercedes - which makes more convertibles than most - claims to have mastered the soft-top formula with the E400 4Matic. Mercedes - which makes more convertibles than most - claims to have mastered the soft-top formula with the E400 4Matic.
  • Mercedes says that the E400 Cabriolet offers all the perks of open-air motoring without any of the dynamic or practical downsides. Mercedes says that the E400 Cabriolet offers all the perks of open-air motoring without any of the dynamic or practical downsides.

Inside, expect perfectly executed modern luxury, with soft leather seats, touchpoints that melt under the fingers and a sprinkling of woodgrain trim. All of which feel like old-world luxury, nicely juxtaposed by the huge twin-screen display that dominates the dash.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

It's a two-door, four-seat convertible, so practicality isn't at the very top of its list of strengths.

That said, life is peachy for upfront riders, both of whom will travel in spacious luxury. There are two cupholders hidden beneath a woodgrain cover underneath the climate controls - also home to a power outlet - as well as a clever double-hinged central storage bin that can be opened by either the passenger or driver, and which opens to reveal two USB points.

The E400 Cabriolet arrives with 20-inch AMG alloys. The E400 Cabriolet arrives with 20-inch AMG alloys.

There's room in the doors for bottles, too, and the entertainment system can be controlled via a touchpad controller mounted above the traditional click wheel - although, to be honest, using it is harder and more time consuming than simply pretending it doesn't exist.

Climbing into the back (and we mean climb - there are no rear doors) is made easier by the fact you can fold and slide the front seats automatically by pulling a lever mounted near the headrest. Once there, though, you'll find space is a little tighter, and you feel weirdly cocooned, owing to the huge raised tunnel that runs through the middle of the cabin, and the low roof line.

There are two cupholders that live in the space where the middle seat would normally go, and there's a little bottle-holder cubby to the left of both backseat riders. There are air vents back there, too, but no temperature controls.

The front doors are huge and really very heavy, requiring considerable heft to open them.

The boot space is predictably a little limited, with 385 litres on offer. There's also a little flip-down separator, which shows you how much room the roof will need to come down, reducing boot space to 310 litres. Speaking of which, the soft-top can be lowered in just 20 seconds, and at speeds up to 50km/h.

One practicality quirk, though. The front (and only) doors are huge and really very heavy, requiring considerable heft to open them, especially if you're parked on a slight angle. Honestly, I was reduced to kind of pushing them open with my foot at times.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

At $157,400, the Cabriolet is the most expensive model in the E400 family, and is roughly $20k more than the sedan and $10k more than the coupe variants.

That money buys you a comprehensively kitted-out ride - as it really should - with the E400 Cabriolet arriving with 20-inch AMG alloys, LED headlights (made up of 84 LEDs) with high-beam assist, proximity unlocking with push-button start, air suspension and Merc's AIRCAP - a lip above the windscreen that's designed to push air up and over the cabin when the roof is down.

  • You'll nab heated front seats, power windows front and back and an automatic belt feeder, which saves you reaching over your shoulder to get to your seatbelt. You'll nab heated front seats, power windows front and back and an automatic belt feeder, which saves you reaching over your shoulder to get to your seatbelt.
  • There are air vents back there, but no temperature controls. There are air vents back there, but no temperature controls.

Inside, you'll find leather seats, dual-zone climate control and the clever 'AirScarf' system, which pumps hot air onto your neck when the roof is down (and it's cold out). You'll also nab heated front seats, power windows front and back and an automatic belt feeder, which saves you reaching over your shoulder to get to your seatbelt. So exhausting.

On the tech front, expect a killer 590W, 13-speaker Burmester stereo, controlled by the seriously impressive widescreen cockpit; two 12.3-inch screens that spill from about the centre of the dash all the way to the driver's binnacle, and control everything from navigation to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's a whole bunch of safety stuff, including semi-autonomous technology, but we'll drill down on that under the Safety sub-heading.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

It's a fabulous engine, this twin-turbocharged V6 - even if it doesn't feel quite so lively in Cabriolet form as it does in the hardtop equivalents.

The torque from the V6 serves up effortless, unobtrusive acceleration. The torque from the V6 serves up effortless, unobtrusive acceleration.

The 3.0-litre unit produces 245kW/480Nm, sending it to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission, linked to the standard 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mercedes claims 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle (but you can expect to be pushing nine litres in real-world conditions), with emissions pegged at 170g per kilometre of CO2.

The 66-litre tank will only accepts 95RON fuel.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Sure, the E400 Cabriolet can drive itself, but we’re equally pleased to note that it’s still a lot more fun handling the steering duties yourself.

The ride on offer from the standard air suspension is outstanding, cosseting the cabin from all but the very worst road imperfections. The ride on offer from the standard air suspension is outstanding, cosseting the cabin from all but the very worst road imperfections.

And that is mostly due to that fabulous engine; quiet and effortless at city speeds, rorty and enthusiastic at pace, and genuinely angry with the drive setting switched to their most hardcore Sport+ mode.

We’ve already spent time in the sedan version, and while this Cabriolet is heavier (1935kg vs 1820kg) and slightly slower to 100km/h (5.5sec vs 5.2sec) it doesn’t immediately feel it behind the wheel, with a similar and satisfying lurch into the future when you plant your foot.

But hard charging is not what this car is about, and the E 400 is at its peachy best when rolling about the city or the ‘burbs with the top down, and the warm summer air washing through the cabin.

In its normal drive settings, the steering is light but engaged, and the ride on offer from the standard air suspension is outstanding, cosseting the cabin from all but the very worst road imperfections, while the torque from the V6 serves up effortless, unobtrusive acceleration.

  • The boot space is predictably a little limited, with 385 litres on offer. The boot space is predictably a little limited, with 385 litres on offer.
  • There's also a little flip-down separator, reducing boot space to 310 litres. There's also a little flip-down separator, reducing boot space to 310 litres.

With the roof up, Merc’s designers have done a stellar job of hiding the fact this thing is a convertible at all. It’s a solid-feeling cabin with the fabric roof fastened, and the cabin is quiet and free from wind noise.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

There are few cars on the road as overloaded with safety technology as the E400 Cabriolet.

The standard stuff is all there, of course. There's a 360-degree parking camera, as well as nine airbags (dual front, dual pelvic/thorax for front-seat passengers, dual sidebags for rear passengers, dual head bags in the doors and a knee airbag for the driver), rollover protection and tyre-pressure monitoring, as well as braking and traction aids.

But the E400 adds some really clever technology, including Merc's Driving Assistance Package Plus, which adds active lane keeping, blind-spot assist, cross-traffic alert and evasive steering assist.

It's this suite of systems that allows the E400 to navigate freeways autonomously, including changing lanes on demand. At the moment, the system will warn you to keep your hands on the wheel every so often, but you can sense a time when that will no longer be required. And that time is soon.

The E-Class range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when crash tested in 2016.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Expect the usual three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with service intervals pegged at 12 months or 25,000km. Mercedes' capped-price servicing scheme limits maintenance costs to $2280 for the first three years of ownership.

Verdict

A convertible that doesn't feel like one when the roof is in place is no easy task to build, but it's one Merc's engineers have pulled off with the E400 4Matic Cabriolet. Effortless power, a tonne of technology and a comfy, leather-wrapped cabin all make Merc's drop-top E-Class a strong proposition.

Would you have a convertible in Australia, or is it just too hot most of the time? Let us know in the comments section.

Pricing guides

$110,249
Based on 42 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$68,800
Highest Price
$209,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
E300 2.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO No recent listings 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2018 E300 Pricing and Specs
E400 4Matic 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO No recent listings 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2018 E400 4Matic Pricing and Specs
E53 4Matic+ EQ (hybrid) 3.0L, Hyb/PULP, 9 SP AUTO $105,200 – 132,990 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2018 E53 4Matic+ EQ (hybrid) Pricing and Specs
E300 2.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO No recent listings 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2018 E300 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design8
Practicality6
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$68,800

Lowest price, based on 38 car listings in the last 6 months

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