by Jared Rosenholtz
In a world where there are ever fewer convertible vehicles, most automakers no longer see the appeal of offering them anymore. While these other companies continue to divide up the crossover market into a million pieces, Mercedes-Benz has remained committed to the convertible by offering a staggering six of them in its lineup. In fact, the company's mid-size convertible just received a facelift for the 2021 model year.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is different from most other convertibles on the market. Whereas many other roofless cars automatically assume that the driver is Lewis Hamilton, the E-Class is designed for the type of person who enjoys a topless driving experience but still wants comfort. With this latest facelift, the E-Class Cabriolet looks like an even stronger luxury option.
You may have to squint to notice that the 2021 E-Class Cabriolet is a refresh from last year's model but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Mercedes did not need to fix what wasn't broken as last year's E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet already had attractive body lines to work with. This new 2021 model features flatter LED headlights that remind us of the GLE SUV, revised taillights, and a diamond grille that now comes standard.
Buyers can opt for an AMG Line trim package that adds chrome-plated dots into the grille but even this doesn't make the E-Class look too aggressive. Unless you opt for the E53 AMG variant, Mercedes has managed to keep the E-Class Cabriolet visually restrained, maintaining its appeal as a luxury vehicle.
The biggest upgrades for 2021 come in the cabin where the outgoing COMAND infotainment system has been replaced by the most up-to-date MBUX system. Two side-by-side 12.3-inch screens come standard with the right touchscreen unit handling infotainment and the left screen showing gauge cluster information. Like all recent Mercedes cars, both screens are highly configurable and come with multiple theme designs.
The 2021 E-Class also debuts a new steering wheel design for Mercedes which is available in multiple different styles. Here it is shown wrapped in beautiful white leather with a flat-bottom but a full round one is also available. The wheel features gloss black capacitive touch zones that control elements fo the gauge cluster and infotainment.
Last year's E-Class Cabriolet was powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 but for 2021, the E 450 packs a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six under the hood. This may sound like a downgrade with one fewer turbocharged but the inline-six produces identical power (362 horsepower) and torque (369 lb-ft) thanks to the help of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system with an integrated starter generator. The engine's EQ Boost system can provide an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft for a short period, helping to fill in the torque gaps during shifts and before the turbo is fully spooled.
Mercedes has not quoted a 0-60 mph time yet but says the E 450 can hit 130 mph when going flat out. A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission option but it can send power out to the rear wheels only or optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive. Those who need more oomph will want to opt for the E53 Cabriolet, which bumps the inline-six's output to 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque.
Since most convertibles attempt to be more sporty than luxurious, the 2021 Mercedes E 450 Cabriolet has very few (if any) direct competitors. Mercedes has not announced pricing yet but we assume it will be close to last year's MSRP of $71,400. This puts it in white space between smaller and less luxurious C-Class Cabriolet rivals like the Audi A5 Cabriolet and upcoming BMW 4 Series but well below the more expensive BMW 8 Series Convertible, which starts at $97,400 despite offering less power than the E 450. Just as it has been for the past several model years, the E-Class Cabriolet remains an oddity in the market.