by Gerhard Horn
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is sitting pretty in its own little segment of one. There is nothing else out there quite like it, and even if there was, it would give them a good run for their money. We had quite a soft spot for this car because, ever since it had a silky smooth twin-turbo V6 that sounded quite special with the roof down. Making a V6 sound good is not easy and we love that Mercedes made an effort. But that powertrain has been gone since last year and in its place, we find a turbocharged inline-six with EQ Boost. Does that mean you now have to listen to the sound of volts with the roof down? Nope, not at all. If anything, this 362-horsepower engine sounds even better. It sounds like a BMW. But besides its updated power plant, the E-Class convertible continues to offer a stunning cabin, a smooth ride, and classy styling.
Last year's new drivetrain made quite the splash but this year's changes leave barely a ripple on the pond. The 2021 models continue basically unchanged into the new year, save for Adaptive Highbeam Assist that was previously half of the $900 Exterior Lighting Package now being standard equipment. The other half of the package - the LED Intelligent Light System with the ultra-wide high beams - remains available as a standalone option. New paint colors - among which Starling Blue Metallic and Manufaktur Moonlight White - have been added to the palette. Prices have increased a little too.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is a handsome vehicle, although we're not quite sure why it exists. It essentially competes in a segment of one, as all of its German rivals have cabriolets based on either compact luxury sedans or high-end standalone offerings. This is likely why Mercedes will combine the C-Class Cabriolet and E-Class Cabriolet into one standalone model in the near future. That being said, the E-Class Cabriolet oozes elegance. It does not attempt to appear sporty, with 18-inch alloys with a high-profile tire being standard fitment. You can go for the 19- or 20-inch AMG wheels with black inserts if you want, but we wouldn't recommend it. The larger alloys completely spoil the serene driving experience.
The elegant, power-operated soft top can be had in one of four colors, and the exterior can be tweaked with chrome or Gloss Black accents if you wish to add additional packages. As expected, all-LED exterior lighting is standard. This car would look epic with Cate Blanchett behind the wheel. She's just about the most elegant person on the planet, making her the perfect match for the most dignified cabriolet in existence.
The E-Class cabrio's overall length is 190.4 inches. With mirrors included, width is 80.9 inches. It stands pretty tall for a cabriolet, measuring in at 56.6 inches. All of this is stretched over a 113.1-inch wheelbase.
The standard E450 with rear-wheel drive weighs 4,332 pounds, while the 4MATIC model tips the scales at 4,453 lbs.
The recently added new engine was the most significant update for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet. Mercedes is slowly replacing its older 3.0L twin-turbo V6 with the new turbocharged inline-six with EQ Boost. The older V6 was a good engine, but it started feeling outdated against the newer twin-turbo offerings in other European rivals. We find it amusing that Mercedes turned to an engine layout commonly associated with BMW, but the benefits are clear. The old engine produced 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, while the new car makes… precisely the same.
It's not so much about the power, but more about the delivery. Thanks to the mild-hybrid assistance, the maximum torque is delivered from just 1,600 rpm. The 48-volt hybrid system does an admirable job of filling the power gaps, and the engine never feels strained. We also prefer the new engine's soundtrack. It's a gentle thrum at lower speeds and more than happy to get vocal if you mash the throttle into the carpet. The engine is paired with a sweet-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission that does its job without fuss. The smooth-shifting auto perfectly suits the car's personality.
The Mercedes-Benz E450 Cabriolet is available with RWD, but a 4Matic all-wheel-drive model is available as well. In RWD form, the E450 cabriolet can sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The low-down torque works well with the AWD system, providing both epic grip and grunt from a standing start. That's why the E450 4MATIC has a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.9 seconds. The turbocharged inline-six is a fine engine, providing a nice vocal range. We like the snarl along with the snaps, pops, and bangs on the overrun, even if they are artificial. We suspect Mercedes-AMG has big plans for this engine and we can't wait to experience it once it reaches peak potential.
The second clue that this is not a sporty car is the fact that it's roofless. Once you remove a car's roof, it negatively impacts structural rigidity. Manufacturers try their best to counteract this with strengthening beams, but it will always remain a constant, much like turbo lag. The third clue is the lack of a "+" behind the 4Matic system's name. That plus means the AWD system is AMG enhanced, and capable of sending 100% of the power to the rear. In most cases it does, resulting in a car that feels RWD.
In the E-Class cabrio, the AWD system is merely there to enhance grip in slippery conditions. There's no drift mode, or adaptive stability control system. It exists purely so you can push on at a relatively speedy pace without getting into trouble. The E-Class gets Dynamic Select as standard. The four available modes are Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. It's nice to have, but, honestly, Mercedes should have stopped at Comfort and Sport. Comfort is perfect for most top-down driving situations. The adaptive damping is in its softest setting and the car just glides elegantly towards your destination. There's nothing to distract from that wind-in-the-hair feeling, speeding along as you listen to the soothing sounds of Kylie Minogue. In Sport, the engine is a bit more vocal and the damping is a bit stiffer. It's still far from a sports car, and body lean/flex is still noticeable. There's some fun to be had, but nowhere near drop-top Porsche 911 levels of fun. It can hustle in the same way that an obese criminal can run away from the police. It only gets away with it for so long.
The inline-six is more efficient than the older twin-turbo V6. According to the EPA, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class cabriolet in RWD guise achieves gas mileage figures of 23/30/25 mpg city/highway/ combined. The AWD model loses a single mile per gallon on the highway, but both models get the same 25 mpg rating on the combined cycle.
Thanks to a 17.4-gallon tank, both models can cruise for around 435 miles between refills.
The older engine in RWD guise came with 20/27/23 mpg estimates. That's not a massive difference in the bigger scheme of things, but according to the EPA, you save $200 on fuel costs annually. You can spend that money on some Cuban cigars. Nothing goes better with an open top than a fedora and a Cuban.
The E-Class is a size up from most cabriolets, which means it can actually take four people on a topless adventure. It's more accommodating in the front, offering 41.8 inches of legroom and 37.8 inches of headroom. The rear seats are tricky to access, but once your adult passengers are in there they'll be comfortable. Snug, but unworried. With the top up, rear passengers get 34.1 inches of legroom and 36.4 inches of headroom. That's perfectly adequate, bordering on impressive considering the limitations of the body style.
Leather is standard and can be upgraded to the finest Nappa if you want the most in luxury. The front seats are heated, but ventilation is available optionally. And, with both AIRSCARF and AIRCAP for neck-level heating and wind deflection, occupants will be quite comfy with the top down all year long.
With the roof up, the E-Class drop-top has 9.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Drop it down, and there's almost no space left. Even daily errands would require careful planning. The rear seats can be folded flat in a 50/50 split, but the size of the gap between the trunk and the rear seats is hardly big enough to be useful. We reckon most owners will likely chuck whatever items they want to carry along in the rear seats.
Interior storage is ample. Front passengers get two cupholders hidden beneath a sliding cover ahead of the shifter, while rear passengers get integrated cupholders between the two seats. The front door pockets are large and can easily carry multiple small items, and the glovebox is usefully sized, too.
Mercedes ensures you can use the E-Class Cabriolet even when it's cold outside. It comes as standard with AIRCAP, power-adjustable front seats with seat heating, the AIRSCARF neck heating system, and dual-zone climate control. Other niceties include remote start, an electric trunk partition, power side mirrors, keyless go, hands-free access, illuminated entry, illuminated interior vents, a 64-color ambient lighting system, and the power-retractable soft top. You can add to the luxury by selecting a few items from the options list. Highlights include massaging and ventilation for the seats, a heated steering wheel, heated front armrests, and soft-closing doors.
The driver assistance suite comprises Adaptive Highbeam Assist, blind-spot assist, active brake assist, attention assist, crosswind assist, active parking assistance, a surround-view camera system, and rear cross-traffic alert. You can add to your cabrio with adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, lane keep and lane change assist, congestion emergency braking, a head-up display, and route-based speed adaptation, to name just a few.
Mercedes has maintained its dual screen setup - a 12.3-inch digital driver's display and a 12.3-inch central touchscreen - but the latest MBUX system replaces the older COMAND interface and is a huge improvement. You can also control the various features via the touchpad, touch control buttons on the steering wheel, or by talking to the car - saying "Hey, Mercedes" activates the assistant.
As standard, the infotainment package comes with online navigation with live traffic, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and SiriusXM. There are USB charging ports for front and rear passengers, and a single wireless charger in the front. A 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system is standard. On the options list, you'll find in-car Wi-Fi and augmented video for an even more immersive navigation experience.
As a range, the E-Class does not have the best reputation for reliability in the USA. The 2019 model was recalled 14 times, while the 2020 and 2021 models were both recalled nine times. The 2021 wave of new recalls included an inaccurate location being sent out for emergency services by the eCall system following a crash, as well as various problems with the seats, headrests, and crash sensors, as well as a rearview camera that may not display an image. A malfunctioning seat-belt locking retractor plagues both 2021 and 2022 models and is the only 2022 recall that have been listed thus far at the time of writing. These issues are disappointing and it seems like Mercedes has yet to work out the quality niggles in the current E-Class generation.
As with other Mercedes models, the E-Class Cabriolet is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranty.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has provided a safety review of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertible specifically. The 2022 E-Class sedan scored full marks in all three categories which the NHTSA did evaluate in its review, however. From the IIHS, the sedan's scores were so impressive, it was awarded a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with the optional forward collision avoidance systems. We don't think it's natural to assume the cabriolet deserves the same, however. Removing the top affects structural rigidity, not to mention the unavoidable damage caused by a rollover - although the drop-top E-Class does have pop-up rollbars and 11-way protection from nine airbags. This includes side airbags and curtain airbags for all occupants.
Both E450 models come standard with traction and stability control, rain-sensing wipers, advanced tire pressure monitoring, and LED lighting, with automatic high-beam assist. Mercedes also includes front collision warning with auto braking, attention assist, active parking assist, front/rear parking sensors, crosswind assist, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and Pre-Safe. A head-up display can be added on, and the Driver Assistance Package is available at a cost of $1,700 - it adds active adaptive cruise control, active steering and evasive steering, active blind-spot assist, lane keep and lane change assist, active brake assist and cross-traffic alert, congestion emergency braking, and route-based speed adaptation. That's a lot of driver assistance features.
Once you remove a car's roof, it loses structural integrity. Manufacturers try to get around this by adding strengthening, but it's really just par for the course. The general rule when it comes to drop-tops is to buy one that was designed to be a roadster from the beginning, such as a BMW Z4. That's if you want something sporty.
We like that Mercedes made very little effort to make the E-Class cabrio sporty. It's fast, but that's not the main selling point. We much prefer this car's more sedate side. In comfort mode, it glides along beautifully, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately, interest in this segment is dwindling. A coupe or drop-top used to be considered a statement of wealth and prosperity, but now everyone has migrated over to crossovers. The Benz is also on the expensive side, and it's tempting to purchase any one of Merc's multiple go-faster crossovers and SUVs for more or less the same price. But at least you get a whole load of tech, safety features, and luxuries for the price.
Basically, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertible is too niche. Mercedes knows this, which is why it's rumored that this model will be the last of its kind, with a singular model line on the way that will combine the C-Class and E-Class drop-tops. Until that happens, the current E-Class cabrio remains an utterly classy vehicle.
The price of the Mercedes-Benz E450 convertible starts at an MSRP of $73,250 for the base RWD model, while the 4MATIC retails for $75,750 - $1,300 more than last year in each case. These prices exclude the destination charge of $1,050. A long options list means that a fully loaded E450 4MATIC can cost over $95,000 including destination.
There are two models in the E-Class cabriolet lineup: E450 and E450 4MATIC. Both cars are powered by the same turbocharged inline-six with mild-hybrid assistance, delivering 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both also use a 9-speed automatic transmission. In the E450, the power is sent to the rear wheels, while the 4Matic comes standard with AWD.
Other than the drivetrain differences, the two cabriolet models are identical. You get dual-zone climate control, AIRSCARF, power-adjustable heated front seats, keyless entry, and a 64-color ambient lighting system. A dual 12.3-inch screen setup is standard, as is MBUX. A Burmester surround-sound system takes care of drowning out the exterior noise. Standard safety items include automatic high beams, front collision warning with auto braking, attention assist, active parking assist, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and nine airbags. Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether you need all-wheel drive or not and what packages you'd like to add.
The C-Class seems to just be a smaller version of the E-Class Cabriolet, despite both being 4-seater convertibles, but there are significant differences. There's a notable difference in quality between the two, firstly, and the E-Class boasts more interior tech. Step inside the C-Class cabrio and it's pretty apparent that it's based on a now-defunct model. Instead of the dual-screen setup, it still has the old iPad-like screen you control via a touchpad; there's so much more tech on board the E-Class, which helps to justify the nearly $18k difference in price between these two. And, the C-Class Cabriolet is only available with turbocharged four-cylinder power - unless you go for the sportier AMG C43. We don't mind the difference in performance, but a lovely soundtrack is undoubtedly one of the main reasons someone buys a cabriolet. The C-Class is an excellent alternative if you can't stretch the budget to an E - but if you can, go for the E-Class Cabriolet.
These two aren't natural rivals. It makes more sense to compare the BMW 8 Series Convertible to the S-Class Cabriolet. Still, there are some similarities between the two, like the six-cylinder powertrain. The 8's base engine isn't as powerful (335 hp), but its chassis is more engaging.
The Bimmer is also bigger and newer. That means more advanced interior technology and a bigger trunk, although the E450 actually has more rear legroom. You have to pay for all of this, however. A base RWD 8 Series drop-top costs $94,400, meaning that it costs as much as an E450 4Matic loaded up with every available option. The 8 Series is much nicer if you can afford it. We hope the new CLE, a combination of the C-Class and E-Class cabriolets, will be a better rival.