by Morgan Carter
Life is good when you're the only competitor in a segment, as is the case with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible occupying the luxury midsize convertible segment in complete and utter isolation. But even if it did have competition, it would most likely blow them out of the water. This is all thanks to its capable bi-turbo V6 engine, developing 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, along with its opulently appointed cabin. While it's not a sports car, the convertible can handle itself when pushed, and its ride quality is excellent, especially with the optional air suspension. However, the convertible is the most expensive of the standard E-Class models, with a $71,400 price tag, and it doesn't deliver the best fuel economy. But for those aiming at the luxury segment, these are hardly relevant factors, and the pros far outweigh the cons.
Minor updates are in store for the 2020 E-Class Cabrio. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is now a standard feature, along with a parking damage detector. The previously optional Keyless-Go Comfort is now installed as standard, comprising hands-free access, keyless-go, and an electronic trunk closer. The color palette has been expanded, inside and out, with Brilliant Blue paint now available, along with Classic Red/Black and Deep White/Black interior color schemes in either leather or Nappa leather on AMG-Line models. Additional newly standard features include blind-spot assist, heated front seats, a wireless charger, SiriusXM, and a 13-speaker Burmester Surround Sound System.
The convertible bears the same striking, handsome exterior as every model in the E-Class range. The dual power-bulge hood is angular, mirroring the curves of the sleek profile, and most of the front fascia is taken up by the large diamond grille, with the full LED headlights taking up the remaining space. These match the LED taillights and daytime running lights. The roof matches the styling of the standard E-Class rather than the Coupe, but it is a soft-top with power-folding functions. The standard wheels are 18-inch alloys, but 19-inch and 20-inch variants are available as part of the various AMG styling packages, which also alter the exterior appearance to be sportier.
The E-Class Convertible shares the same platform as the rest of the class, so it's not surprising that its dimensions are mostly identical. The front and rear axles stand 113.1 inches apart, with an overall length of 190 inches. With the roof up, the vehicle has a height of just 56.2 inches, while it remains quite broad at 73.2 inches without mirrors - matching the broad hips of the coupe. It also weighs a bit more than the rest of the E-Class brethren, starting at 4,189 lbs and maxing out at 4,332 lbs. By comparison, the E-Class Coupe has a weight range of 4,057 - 4,200 lbs.
The non-performance E-Class models are powered by a 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 engine that develops 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. On the E450, this is directed to the rear wheels, while the E450 4Matic comes with an all-wheel drivetrain. A 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission smoothly rows the gears for both models.
Regardless of the drivetrain, the convertible is capable of making the 0-60 mph sprint in a brisk 5.1 seconds. This is impressive given the extra weight of the vehicle over the standard and coupe models, which only shave off a tenth of a second. Power delivery is generally smooth, and the transmission flawless, but the V6 lacks the smoothness and punch of the newer inline-six found in other Mercedes variants. Still, it's hard to criticize the powertrain as its faults are few.
While by no means a sports car, the E-Class Convertible is far from clumsy on the road. Four handling modes are provided to deliver varying levels of performance. Eco and Comfort give the steering moderate levels of weight, keeping the vehicle steady over long drives, although it is still light enough to maneuver around town with dexterity. Input responses can be improved by shifting to Sport or Sport+, however, allowing drivers to push the convertible's boundaries with greater confidence.
The car handles quite well, even at speeds, although it does lean into turns a bit. But, once you learn its mannerisms, you will find that there is still room to play. The lowered suspension and selective damping give great levels of control without sacrificing comfort. If you want to optimize comfort, though, then the available air suspension is the way to go.
While wind and road noise are constant companions with the top down, they can be muted with the press of a button - the soft-top boasting some of the best insulative properties we've encountered in a convertible at any price point. The feeling of the wind in your hair and the growl of the turbocharged V6 engine is worth the price, though.
The E-Class Convertible only offers the mid-power bi-turbo V6 engine, so it can't match the higher fuel economy of the turbo inline-four that comes standard on the sedan model. Equipped with the rear-wheel drivetrain, the convertible gets fuel economy estimates of 20/27/23 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. This drops slightly to 19/26/22 mpg when you trade out for the all-wheel drivetrain. The fuel tank can store up to 17.4 gallons of premium gasoline, which is enough to carry the car across 400 miles before demanding you stop at a gas station.
The interior is where the E-Class truly shines, despite offering only modest amounts of head- and legroom for up to four passengers. The former isn't an issue, once you lower the soft-top roof, and the latter is only really a problem for those in the rear. But this is a car that focuses on pleasure and comfort for those in the front, with power-adjustable heated front sport seats with lumbar and memory functions. The cabin is as plush as you could ever hope to see on a luxury vehicle, rivaling the interior of the larger, more expensive S-Class. Leather upholstery comes standard, with Nappa leather or designo Nappa leather available as part of the optional packages. The materials are top-notch, and construction leaves nothing to be desired. The dash and door panels are lined in topstitched, soft-touch MB-Tex, and a variety of wood trims are available, along with designo Piano Black Lacquer.
As well-appointed as the interior may be, the trunk is far from impressive. Where the standard E-Class sedan offers 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space in its trunk, the convertible only supplies 9.5 cubic feet. This isn't too bad considering the amount of space taken up by the roof mechanism, being only half a cube less than what the coupe provides. However, lower the roof, and this space quickly shrinks to barely usable levels. A few basic errands can be run with the top up, but even short shopping trips will stress the trunk's capacity. The rear seats can be folded in a 50/50 split, albeit not totally flat, to open up the rear seats for extra cargo or larger items, but the pass-through is narrower than is ideal.
Small-item storage is far more impressive, with broad door pockets lined with velvety material to safely store more delicate items. The glove compartment is adequately sized, but the center armrest storage bin is enormous. Two cupholders are provided to each row of seats, hidden beneath a sliding panel up front, and within the center fold-down armrest in the rear.
The interior isn't just pretty; it's well-appointed with a plethora of comfort and convenience features. The seats are upholstered in leather as standard, with power sport front seats that offer heating, lumbar, and memory settings. Dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster all make up the base feature offering. The safety suite comprises blind-spot assist, forward collision avoidance, attention assist, Pre-Safe, a rearview camera, and Mercedes' new Car-to-X Communication. A number of upgrades are available, including active blind-spot assist, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, parking assist, and a surround-view camera. Comfort can be improved with multi-contour ventilated front seats with massage functions and premium leather upholstery. An available head-up display makes accessing the myriad features significantly easier. Unique to the convertible is Mercedes' Airscarf neck-level heating system - a true joy to use on top-down jaunts when the weather outside is frightful.
The infotainment suite is comprehensive, to say the least, but it can be a bit finicky to operate when on the move. Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, SiriusXM, and navigation are all displayed on the signature 12.3-inch high-resolution central display. The COMAND interface is accessed via a touchpad on the center console, or a rotary controller, with steering-wheel inputs as standard, too. Not to be outdone, the premium Burmester Surround Sound System comprises 13 speakers with a nine-channel amplifier, bolstered by the FrontBass system. This suite can also be upgraded with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Two dual-USB ports and a wireless charging pad are provided within the center armrest bin.
J.D. Power scores the Merc convertible at 80 out of 100 for dependability. While 2020 proves to be recall-free for the E-class, multiple recalls were issued for the prior year, although only two recalls from 2019 are applicable to the convertible model. These recalls were for failure of the steering rack locknut, and lack of engagement by the active brake assist. Mercedes-Benz offers a standard warranty period of 50,000 miles/48 months for the powertrain, roadside assistance, and bumper-to-bumper.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has rated the convertible for crash-test safety, but convertible vehicles seldom boast safety records as impressive as their coupe and sedan counterparts. Still, with standard features that include ABS, EBD, stability and traction control, and nine airbags (dual front, driver knee, front side, rear side, and side curtain), standards are high for the E-Class Cabrio. Advanced driver assistance features comprise forward collision alert, blind-spot assist, attention assist, a rearview camera, Pre-Safe collision mitigation, the new Car-to-X communication system. This suite can be upgraded with adaptive high beam assist, a head-up display, active blind-spot assist, lane keeping assist, lane change alert, parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera, and Pre-Safe Plus.
With no direct segment rivals, one would think that it might be hard to judge the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible. However, it would be impossible to consider it anything but a great vehicle.
It comes equipped with a more than capable bi-turbo engine that sounds as good as it feels, and plenty of advanced safety features to help you maneuver busy town streets or even winding hillside roads. It's not a sports car, however, so don't push it too hard. But don't be afraid to play with it either, as it is surprisingly capable.
It isn't that great of a daily driver, though, with a pretty small cargo hold, which shrinks even more when you lower the soft-top roof, and only moderately functional rear seats. But, if it's just you and your better half, fold down the rear seats, dump your luggage in the back, and cruise down the open road with the wind in your hair while on your way to a romantic getaway. We'd understand if you're tempted to simply stay inside your Merc, though, with its luxurious cabin and well-rounded infotainment suite. And, while the E-Class Convertible certainly isn't cheap, its nearest competitors on the market are far more expensive. If you're looking for a stylish cruiser with a reasonable price tag, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible definitely deserves a spot on your shortlist.
The E-Class Convertible is the most expensive E-Class configuration available in non-AMG guise, with the base-level E450 starting at $71,400. Buyers in areas with poor weather or road conditions may want to opt for the better handling four-wheel-drive version. Getting behind the wheel of the E450 4Matic will cost you $73,900. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Mercedes-Benz's $995 destination fee.
There isn't much of a price difference between the two available models, so it will really come down to whether or not you actually need all-wheel-drive. If you live in an area that is prone to bad weather, then the extra $2,500 might be worth it. Regardless of the model you choose, though, we do recommend opting for the Driver Assistance Package ($2,250), which comes with most of the advanced safety features you could want in a modern car. Throwing on the Parking Assistant Package ($1,290) might seem like overkill, but would you really want to risk scratching your baby?
Mercedes' C-Class Convertible is a smaller model than the E-Class, and it competes in a much more robust market. With its smaller size comes a lower price tag of $53,950 for the entry-level C300, and a proportionally weaker engine, namely a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four developing 255 hp and 273 lb-ft. It isn't as quick as its big brother, but it retains the same competence on the road. It gets plenty of features, but not as many as the E-Class, and it can't even option some of them, such as Car-to-X communication. The interior is luxuriously appointed, but it doesn't quite compete with the opulence of the E-Class, and the trunk offers even less space - albeit only 0.7 cubic feet less. The C-Class is certainly a great car, but it only wins out over the E-Class if you can't afford the latter.
The BMW 8 Series Convertible is classified as a larger and more expensive vehicle than the E-Class, so they are not direct competitors. However, they are similarly powered, with the BMW getting a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder that develops 335 hp and 368 lb-ft in 840i guise. The 8 Series does get a few more bells and whistles though, with standard Vernasca leather upholstery, highly adjustable front sport seats, and a comprehensive infotainment suite. It also offers a pretty spacious 12.4-cubic-foot trunk, although its rear seats suffer as much as any other convertible's. Where it definitely beats the Merc is handling, with a degree of agility that you wouldn't expect from such a large vehicle. However, all this comes at a high cost, with the entry-level 840i asking $97,400. If you can afford it, the BMW could very well be the better choice for driving enthusiasts, but the Mercedes E-Class Convertible manages to hold its own, even against this goliath.