Once or twice a year, the ubiquitous layer of clouds that envelop the UK part to allow the sun’s rays to pour down from the heavens. During those two or three fleeting weeks, what better way to enjoy yourself than to take your prized convertible for a spin and revel in some top-down fun in the sun. These days, we take it pretty much for granted that soft tops come in all shapes and sizes and cater for absolutely all needs. From the old-school pocket rocket MX-5 roadster to the sheer grandeur of the Rolls Royce Dawn, there really is a convertible for everyone. Last year, Mercedes’ sixth generation S-Class became the first of its bloodline to get the chop and go topless. In doing so, it took much of its inspiration from the existing E-Class Cabriolet, a car that’s been helping us sun the back of our necks in various guises since 1992.
Now, the ranks of the current E-Class dynasty are being swelled with the unveiling of an all-new version of the historic premium convertible. This is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet.
Renewed entirely within the space of one year, the updated version of the mid-size soft-top is most closely related to its Coupé sibling. Certainly, the low slung, sporty stance is a common denominator between the two derivatives and like the Coupé, the new convertible sports a low-positioned diamond grille flanked by LED headlamps. Now longer, broader and with a wider track, the 2017 E-Class Cabriolet also gains retractable side windows, new tail lights plus beefier bumpers, side skirts and larger wheels in AMG-line spec.
More significantly, at least from a driving point of view, the drop-top’s suspension is 15 millimetres lower than that of the Saloon variant, putting the onus on stickability in the corners and limiting body roll at higher speeds. Optionally available is Mercedes’ multi-air chamber suspension. Derived from the fifth generation E-Class saloon that broke cover last year, this intelligent system comes equipped with and one customizable and a further four pre-set ride settings; “Comfort”, “ECO”, “Sport”, “Sport +” and “Individual”.
Whilst the underpinnings of the new E-Class hail from its hard-top sibling, the soft-top itself is effectively a compact version of the fabric roof from the S-Class Cabriolet. As with the flagship limo, the lid can be fully opened and closed in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. Once surplus to requirements, it folds down neatly into a compartment in the boot. Often the Achilles heal of any convertibles, luggage space is down on that of the Cabriolet’s E-Class stable mates. That said, you’ll still have 310 litres in which to stow your shopping – and that’s with the roof down. What’s more, the E-Class’ rear seat backrests will now split and fold down flat when required for an extra dose of practicality.
In the front, meanwhile, you’ll find yourself sinking into sports seats with side bolsters, head restraints and Merc’s newly developed Airscarf neck-level heating as an optional extra. Nine different trim options can be specified in the cabin, which also boasts two optional high-resolution 12.3-inch displays or the standard issue 7-inch instrument cluster and 8.4-inch central display. Multimedia and infotainment settings are accessed either through touch controls in the steering wheel, a pad that recognises handwriting in the centre console, voice control or plain old-fashioned knobs and buttons. Plump for the AMG-line variant and Merc will throw in an AMG leather sports steering wheel for good measure.
At launch, the new E-Class Cabriolet will hit showrooms with an as-yet unspecified line-up of petrol and diesel powertrains. We surmise that this will include a selection of the four-cylinder diesel and inline six-cylinder petrol engines phased in across the new generation E-Class stable. Further engines will arrive in due course but what we do know is that each one will be mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Look out also for the E-Class Cabriolet 4MATIC, the first of its kind to be equipped with permanent all-wheel drive.
Although we’re still waiting on details of exact UK specification, expect the new Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet to be with us in time for summer 2017, whenever exactly that is.