by Morgan Carter
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in a variety of forms, but perhaps the one that best embodies its amalgamation of sporty aspirations with opulent luxury is that of the Cabriolet. It may get the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the rest of the range, with only 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque at its disposal, but the C-Class Convertible can keep up with the competition pretty well, falling just a few fractions of a second short of the Audi A5 and BMW 4 series in terms of quickness, at least in their highest performance guises. Below the power-retractable soft-top rests an interior that rivals far more expensive Mercs, with plenty of standard and available features to meet every need. Its established German rivals may be more fun to drive, but the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is hard to beat as a well-rounded luxury sports convertible.
The new year brings with it quite a few changes inside the cabin of the C-Class, although the mechanics and styling remain unchanged. The exterior mirrors now come with power-folding as standard, along with AIRCAP, Keyless-GO, and a semi-automatic trunk separator. The Premium Package has been deleted as its features are now standard across the range, including a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, SiriusXM, and 64-color ambient lighting with illuminated door sills.
The C-Class Cabriolet bears the same sporty styling as the rest of the range, riding on 18-inch alloy wheels with full LED exterior lighting and LED daytime running lights. What sets it apart, though, is the all-season power soft top, available in Black, Dark Blue, Dark Brown, or Red to match or contrast your paint choices. The usual diamond-block grille is also slightly different on the convertible, as it sports only a single horizontal bar supporting the Mercedes logo, as opposed to two. Overall, it has a sleek and handsome exterior.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class occupies a slot between the smaller A-Class and larger E-Class, but it's not a small vehicle with a length of 184.45 inches and a pretty long 111.8-inch wheelbase. It stands a tad shorter than the standard sedan thanks to its soft-top roof, with an overall height of 55.5 inches. A width of 71.3 inches, excluding mirrors, means the convertible can be a little tricky to park at times. The rear-wheel-drive model weighs in at 3,869 lbs, while the all-wheel-drive C300 4Matic adds a few pounds, bringing the maximum up to 4,012 lbs.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the C-Class Convertible carries over unchanged from last year, still boasting outputs of 255 hp and 273 lb-ft. This comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that directs power to the rear wheels, or all four, depending on the model you purchase. With either drivetrain, the Merc performs flawlessly, accelerating smoothly up to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds with rear-wheel drive and 6.2 seconds with all-wheel drive. There is no real noticeable turbo-lag, with quick throttle responses that really immerse one in the driving experience. This gives the C-Class Convertible a certain degree of sporty appeal, but it can't quite match the athleticism of the Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series. Each of these rivals also offers engines that sound far more aggressive and pleasant than the Merc's, which can sound stressed when pushed. Under more moderate driving conditions, it remains cool, calm and collected.
Mercedes is renowned for the superior ride comfort and luxury provided by its cars, and the C-Class convertible is no exception. It delivers a ride that only the most pedantic could complain about, with the suspension easily swallowing up road imperfections thanks to the selective damping system. Only the largest of bumps are really noticeable, and you should be avoiding those anyway. Sport and Sport+ mode does tighten up the suspension a bit, which has a negative impact on comfort. However, this also makes throttle responses quicker, and helps improve the already capable handling dynamics. Opting for the available sport suspension helps the convertible feel a bit more athletic, but, even so, it can't quite match the performance of the sportier Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series. But that's not to say the Mercedes isn't capable, with the ability to take on twisty bends without losing its composure, although the other German luxury sports cars offer a higher degree of driver engagement.
The C-Class Convertible doesn't fare as well as its standard sedan counterpart when it comes to fuel economy, but it still offers decent mileage figures for the segment. Regardless of whether you opt for the rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive model, the manufacturer claims that the convertible can manage 21/29/24 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. The Audi A5 cabrio claims figures of 23/31/26 mpg. The C-Class Convertible gets the same 17.4-gallon gas tank size as the sedan, allowing it to cover about 417 miles between gas station stops.
While it may not be as athletic as some of its competition, the Merc C-Class is certainly swankier inside. Plush leather upholsters the seats while the dash and door panels are overlaid with soft-touch materials. There is enough space for four passengers, but those in the back may find it a bit cramped, with terrible legroom and only moderate headroom. The convertible is certainly much better suited to be driven, with plenty of legroom and enough headroom for most adults, thanks to the low seat placement. The center stack is large but sleekly designed, with the controls all within easy reach of the driver. The front seats are power-adjustable and offer heating both for the body and the neck. Visibility is great, especially with the roof down, but getting in the back can be a bit tricky since there are only two doors. Overall, the C-Class is very much like its larger sibling, the S-Class, just a bit smaller.
As is usually the case when it comes to convertibles, the Cabriolet doesn't present buyers with all that much space. With the rear seats in place and the soft-top up, there is 12.6 cubic feet of storage capacity supplied, although this drops to 8.8 cubic feet with the partition raised. This should be enough for a handful of grocery bags or a few carry-ons. The trunk has an automatic partition for when the roof is folded down, dividing the available area nearly in half. If you need a bit more space, the rear seats can be folded down in a 50/50-split, freeing up the cramped rear of the cabin for a few extra bags.
There are a few nooks and crannies to store smaller items around the cabin, with concealed front cupholders, a pair of cupholders in the back, and a glove compartment. The front doors offer pockets, but they aren't particularly large. The only place that can store larger items with ease is the center armrest cubby.
Earning its title as a luxury cruiser, the C-Class Convertible comes flush with features, with even more available as part of packages or standalone options. Right off the bat, you get leather-appointed seats that offer power-adjustability and driver-seat memory, along with heating and Airscarf neck-warmers. Dual-zone climate control keeps the cabin cool when the roof is up, or you can just flip a switch and it retracts automatically into the trunk partition. Once the roof is down, the AIRCAP system helps to block excess wind flow. Cruise control and keyless entry/ignition cover the convenience front, while blind-spot assist, driver attention assist, and Pre-Safe forward collision avoidance keep you and your luxury convertible safe. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is available, along with a head-up display to make accessing features and vehicle information easier. A surround-view camera, front and rear cross-traffic alert, and Car-to-X communication can be added to improve safety, while the available ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and designo Nappa leather provide premium levels of luxury.
At the heart of the infotainment suite is an well-sized 10.25-inch media display screen with a dash-mounted touchpad controller and steering-wheel-mounted controls. From this set-up, you can access Bluetooth functionality, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, and SiriusXM with a six-month trial subscription. All audio is played back through the now-standard 13-speaker Burmester premium surround sound system. Dual USB ports are provided to charge your smart devices, while a wireless charging pad can be optioned. Other available features include a COMAND navigation system with enhanced voice control, TomTom live traffic, and in-car Wi-Fi with TuneIn Radio functionality.
For the new year, J.D. Power rates the C-Class Convertible's dependability at 85 out 100, a score worthy of a Mercedes. Not recalls have been issued for 2020, but the vehicle was recalled several times in 2019. Some of the reasons included failure to engage active brake assist, failure to disengage the parking brake, and failure of the steering rack locknut. The 2018 variant suffered even more recalls, although this seems to have been mitigated slightly with the new design for 2019.
Mercedes-Benz offers a pretty standard warranty plan that covers bumper-to-bumper issues and the powertrain for 50,000 miles/48 months.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has rated the convertible variant of the C-Class for crash-test safety. However, the C-Class Sedan received a spread of Good ratings from the IIHS for crashworthiness, as well as the 2019 Top Safety Pick+ award. However, convertibles are seldom quite as safe as their sedan counterparts. The C-Class comes standard with ABS, traction and stability control, active brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention assist, Pre-Safe forward collision avoidance, a rearview camera, and ten airbags: dual front, front knee, front side, rear side, and side curtain. Available as part of the package options are rear cross-traffic alert, front cross-traffic alert, active parking assist, a surround-view camera, Pre-Safe Plus, lane keeping systems, and Car-to-X communication.
As an entry-level luxury sports vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible is priced rather affordably for the segment, with a host of features suitable for a car of its stature. Aside from a potent, near-sporty 2.0T engine, the convertible gets a truly opulent interior that tries to match that of the top-of-the-line S-Class sedan. The cabriolet drives extremely well, too, but it can't quite match the sportiness of its German cousins, the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series. The Merc can hold its own, but it does better as a more well-rounded daily cruiser than a thrilling driver.
That's not to say it is a particularly practical vehicle, with only 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space on offer; but this is still more than most similarly sized convertibles. The interior is spacious enough, but the rear seats still aren't really suited to adults. But it's Mercedes' focus on maintaining a well-appointed interior that sets the C-Class apart. It gets full smartphone integration compatibility as standard, with a variety of driver-assistance features than many rivals expect you to pay extra for.
If you are looking for a stylish convertible that can double as an everyday driver, then the C-Class should definitely be near the top of your list. It's fun enough, but it won't get your heart racing. Still, sometimes you'd rather sit back and relax as the wind blows through your hair, and that's where the C-Class Cabriolet shines.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a $40k sedan, and styling it up as a convertible adds an extra $10k on top of that. Getting behind the wheel of the standard rear-wheel-drive C 300 will cost you $53,950, while swapping out the drivetrain for all-wheel-drive adds $2,000 to the bill. However, many desirable features and styling options are locked behind select packages or standalone options that can raise the overall price quite quickly. Don't be too surprised if your final quote exceeds $70k. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Mercedes' $995 destination charge.
There are only two models to choose from, with the only difference between the two being the drivetrain. The rear-wheel-drive C300 should suit most buyers, but those in harsher climates who may have to deal with slippery or rough road conditions will probably prefer the more grippy all-wheel-drive C300 4MATIC. Either way, you get safety features like blind-spot monitoring and forward collision avoidance, as well as a comprehensive infotainment suite with smartphone integration and a premium sound system. Tacking on the Driver Assistance Package and Parking Assistance Package may be a good idea for those who want to take every measure to keep their luxury convertible safe, or who just want a more relaxed driving experience. The AMG Line Package is available for those who want to jazz up their C-Class to look even sportier than it already is.
The Audi A5 is an eminently capable entry-level luxury convertible, perhaps even more so than the C-Class. Despite getting a slightly weaker turbo four-cylinder with 248 hp and 273 lb-ft, the Audi is marginally quicker to 60 mph and boasts truly impressive driving dynamics that will appeal to those who want a luxury convertible to enjoy the thrill of driving daringly with the wind blowing in their hair. But if you desire a more relaxed and comfortable driving experience, the Merc wins out, with a more refined interior, better standard features, and a velvety ride quality. The base A5 starts at $49,900, a bit below the entry-level C-Class, but the top of the three trims starts a bit higher at $59,600, although it gets more driver assistance features and a better sound system.
While the standard powertrain on the BMW 4 Series is a near-match for that under the hood of the Mercedes C-Class, the optional turbocharged six-cylinder, developing 320 hp and 330 lb-ft, places the BMW firmly in the lead as the powerhouse between the two convertibles. But even on a like for like comparison, the less powerful 430i Convertible is more than a match with an engine both frugal and potent and one of the best eight-speed automatic gearboxes in the business making the Bimmer the better car to drive. When it comes to spirited driving, the 4 Series is hard to compete with, as it handles twists and turns with a grace that is worthy of the prestigious brand and hefty price tag. It even supplies similar levels of passenger and cargo capacity, but the appointments are slightly less luxurious than those in the Mercedes. If you're looking for a thrill, the 4 Series Convertible is the obvious choice here, but the C-Class has strong appeal for those who want the best of both worlds.