by Gerhard Horn
The 2022 C-Class Sedan recently made its debut, but the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible and Coupe models based on the previous generation will soldier on for at least another year or two. Thankfully, the convertible variant has aged rather well and it remains a more rounded product than the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series since Mercedes decided to give it a more comfort-biased setup. Beneath the power-retractable soft-top, you'll find a beautifully crafted interior that offers plenty of standard features. Its competitors from Audi and BMW may be more fun to drive, but as a luxury top-down cruiser, the C-Class convertible is a tough act to beat. In non-AMG guise, as we review here, a 2.0-liter turbo four-pot generates 255 horsepower, with either rear- or all-wheel drive available. Catering to those who want comfort and luxury without excessive pace, the C Convertible hits the sweet spot.
Like the coupe, the convertible now comes as standard with the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which used to be an optional extra. It's unlikely Mercedes-Benz will make any more significant updates this late in the car's lifecycle.
See trim levels and configurations:
The W205 C-Class was a handsome vehicle, and we're pleased its design will continue to live on in coupe and convertible guise for a while longer. It's still a beautiful thing, so kudos to Mercedes for the W205's timeless design. The 2-door convertible rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and comes as standard with LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. A fabric soft-top is power-retractable and available in either Black, Dark Blue, or Red.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible has an overall length of 184.5 inches, housing a 111.8-inch wheelbase. It's 55.5 inches tall, but the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system adds another 0.3 inches. Overall width with the mirrors included is 79.4 inches. The standard rear-wheel-drive C300 weighs 3,869 pounds, while the 4Matic weighs 4,012 lbs. In terms of competitive segment, its dimensions place the Mercedes-Benz C-Class as a compact convertible.
The 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine delivers 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that sends power either to the rear wheels or the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Mercedes claims a 0-60 mph sprint time of 6.1 seconds for the RWD model and 6.2 for the AWD. Usually, the AWD model tends to be quicker off the line, but in this case, the weight difference is just too much to overcome.
Turbo lag is so minimal that you don't notice it. Once it's at speed and boosting properly, throttle responses are immediate. The nine-speed gearbox allows you to make the most of the engine. With so many ratios, it can be deceptively brisk when you want it to be, but it will happily sit just above tick over at freeway speeds. The AMG models, which we review separately, are more suited to brisk driving, while this model is best for cruising and showboating.
Mercedes did a good job separating its regular models from their more ferocious AMG counterparts. If you want a comfortable, compliant ride, you get the standard car. The C-Class C300 is an excellent example of this philosophy. It irons out undulations, and only large bumps are noticeable. Sport and Sport+ modes are still included, and both settings tighten up the suspension but rather than providing a sportier experience, it just makes the car more uncomfortable. Even in these modes, the convertible remains biased toward comfort. You can add a sportier suspension setup, but this just muddies the gap between this car and the C43. Its German rivals are sportier, covering that part of the segment quite well. That does not make the C-Class Convertible a lousy vehicle, however. It's composed on twisty roads, but it doesn't engage. Some people buy convertibles simply for the million-mile headroom with an open top, and that's who this car is aimed at.
The Mercedes C-Class Convertible is not as frugal as the sedan it's based on, with weight being the main culprit. Spec-for-spec, the convertible is roughly 400 lbs heavier than the sedan. The EPA claims mileage of 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined for the RWD and 22/30/25 mpg for the AWD. The Audi A5 comes standard with quattro AWD, yet it manages to match the RWD Merc's consumption figures. The all-new BMW 4 Series Convertible's figures are better than both aforementioned rivals at 24/33/27 mpg in RWD guise. Both C-Class models have a 17.4-gallon tank, suitable for between 435 and 452 miles between refills.
With such a strong focus on comfort, the interior has to be something special. Thankfully, Mercedes delivers luxury in spades. You get swanky simulated leather seats and soft-touch materials on every surface you could touch. Mercedes claims there is enough room for four adults, but the rear passengers will get cranky when you raise the roof. The front legroom is rated at 42 inches, while rear passengers only get 32 inches. The headroom is infinite with the top down, but once it's up, front passengers get 38.8 inches of headroom, while rear passengers get 35.6 inches. As the C-Class Convertible is strictly a two-door machine, ingress and egress to and from the rear seats is tricky.
Convertibles traditionally don't fare well in this department, and the C-Class is no exception. With the rear seats and soft-top up, you get 8.8 cubic feet - a cost of a little less than four cubes shy of the space in the C-Class Sedan. The rear seats can be folded down in a 50/50 split to free up additional space. Cabin storage consists of four cupholders, front door pockets, and a center armrest storage bin.
As standard, the C-Class convertible comes with power-adjustable leather seats with driver-seat memory. The seats are also heated and feature neck heating when you want to drive with the roof down when it's cool. Other features include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention assist, and Pre-Safe forward collision avoidance. The options list also has some excellent features, including designo Nappa leather, surround-view camera, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Mercedes chose not to update the infotainment system to its new MBUX interface, saving that for the all-new C-Class due in the near future, and what a pity. Instead, you get a 10.25-inch media display screen that you control via a dash-mounted touchpad or controls on the steering wheel. This older COMAND system is frustrating compared to what's offered in other Benz models. It comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, SiriusXM, and Bluetooth connectivity. Two USB ports are standard, but a wireless charging pad is available on the options list. A 13-speaker Burmester sound system has a 590-watt power output, with no optional system available.
The C-Class cabriolet has not been recalled in 2021 so far. It has had its fair share of trouble so far in the last few years, though. 13 Recalls were issued in 2019, ranging from the emergency call system not being functional, to an unsecured battery, to active brake assist not engaging. It's worth noting that the C-Class Cabrio falls under the wider C-Class range. In 2020 it was recalled six times, primarily for the same issues identified in 2019. The J.D. Power Survey does not rate the convertible as a separate model, but the C-Class as a range scored an impressive rating of 80 out of a possible 100 points.
Mercedes-Benz offers a standard 48-month/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
There is no C-Class Convertible review from either the NHTSA or IIHS. However, the C-Class Sedan has impressive safety and was named a 2021 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. This award only applies to cars equipped with the optional front crash prevention and LED headlights, both of which are standard on the convertible. The C-Class Convertible comes standard with ABS, stability and traction control, forward collision avoidance, a rearview camera, and ten airbags.
The Mercedes C-Class convertible is not as sporty as the Audi A5 or the BMW 4 Series, we're not entirely convinced that it matters. If a thrilling driving experience is your main concern, buy a car designed to be a sporty drop-top from the start. Examples include the BMW Z4, Audi TT, and even the Mazda Miata. The convertibles from BMW and Audi may be sportier, but a sedan-based convertible will never be as engaging as a car that was designed to be drop-top from the very first time a designer put pencil to paper.
Cars like these are purchased to be all-rounders, and the C-Class Cabriolet does that very well. It can handle the daily grind with ease, but when the weather is right, and you're just in the mood for a drive, it will thrill you. Not by being overly sporty, but rather as a comfortable cruiser that allows for wind-in-the-hair relaxed cruising.
There are only two models available, and the only difference between them is rear-wheel drive versus four-wheel drive. A new Mercedes C-Class Convertible carries a base price of $54,700 for the C300, while the C300 4Matic Cabriolet has an MSRP of $56,700. These prices exclude the $1,050 destination charge. That makes it expensive compared to the Audi A5 45 TFSI quattro, which has an MSRP of $50,400. The all-new BMW 430i convertible is closer in price, coming in at $53,400.
The deciding factor here is whether you live in a US state with a harsher climate. If so, get the added security provided by the all-wheel-drive C300 4Matic. If not, the standard C300 should do just fine. Both models are comprehensively equipped with safety items like blind-spot monitoring, forward collision avoidance, and a rearview camera. The luxury items are lovely, too, with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, a premium sound system, and seat/neck heating.
Be wary of the options list, however. Add a few basic options, and the price will quickly climb to over $60,000.
The Audi A5 convertible is also a superb all-rounder. Despite its weaker 248 hp/273 lb-ft outputs from its own 2.0L engine, it's marginally quicker than the C-Class. All-wheel drive is standard on the A5, and it boasts impressive handling dynamics. It does the quiet and comfortable cruising thing as well, but not as well as the Mercedes. The base model is more affordable, but the high-end model is closer to $60,000. At that price, it is lavishly equipped with more driver assistance features and a better sound system than you get in the Merc. When it comes to these two, we reckon it boils down to styling preferences. The Mercedes is more svelte, while the Audi with its more assertive grille and angry headlights looks more aggressive.
We haven't tested the all-new BMW 4 Series Convertible in the USA yet, but the previous model was already a perennial thorn in the Merc's side. The looks of the new Bimmer may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the rest of the package seems good. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 255 hp, precisely the same as in the Mercedes. BMW claims it can sprint to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, making it quicker.
If BMW sticks to tradition, the 4 Series will be a more engaging car to drive, while the Mercedes will remain the more comfortable option. Since we're fans of engaging vehicles, we'd wait to see what the new 4 Series Convertible is like before putting down a deposit on either car.
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