Mercedes Benz E400 Cabriolet 2018
Drop tops are far too rare, and good ones are even rarer. The Mercedes Benz E400 is one such pearler.
Who doesn’t want to recapture the glamour of the 50’s? Some say Australia provides the perfect foil for open-air motoring, others say you get burnt to a crisp. Of course, a retractable roof lets you do both.
If your pockets permit, spending a few extra shekels scores not only a premium finish, cutting edge tech, and built-in kudos, but immense satisfaction too.
There is nothing subtle about the Mercedes Benz E400 Cabriolet. It screams “look at me, please”.
There are lashings of shiny bits, along with 20” AMG alloys, and the ability to match or contrast your body and roof. It adds a touch of verisimilitude to a road experience from the halcyon days of motoring
The stylish design starts up front with an adaptive LED array which lights just the right
amount of road without dazzling oncoming punters. LED tail lights literally glitter from within.
The beauty of ragtops is that they take less space in the boot. It allows for a slender rump and makes the silhouette as svelte as a super-model. Loving metal folding roofs as I do, they give rear ends a matronly make over, and not in a good way.
The fabric roof is fully automatic and can be operated from the fob. Its multi-layer construction makes the cabin whisper quiet. Only the heaviest of rain makes more than a comforting patter overhead.
Contrary to popular belief, modern convertibles are not the leaking sieves of old. It folds away into a tray in the boot which in turn can be folded away at the touch of a button. When the roof is deployed, the boot makes god use of space.
Chrome on the body and bumper have an old world feel. Chrome highlights extend to the door handles and auto fold mirrors. The indicator repeaters in the mirror look great and add an extra layer of visibility to other road users.
If you don’t want to use the fob to open your roof, you can leave it secreted about your person. Just grab the door handle and the car will recognize you, unlock the doors, and unfold the mirrors.
The doors are extremely heavy and are full of the reinforcing that helps stop intrusions during an unfortunate incident.
Once seated, the cabin can only be described as spectacular. It is lavish to the point of being overdone. It wants to hug you, the bring you a drink after making you dinner. You feel like you’re being served by a uniformed butler in a posh country pile. You expect powder-wigged flunkies to appear at any moment.
The effect is quite intoxicating.
Then there is the tech. Remember the time you had to wait for years for the good gear on the top Mercs to filter down the range? Not anymore.
Tech, convenience, and comfort, have been lavished on the impeccable interior.
Seats and steering wheel adjust at the touch of a button. In true MB Style, the seat buttons are on the doors, along with the heating and Air Scarf buttons. The AirCap at the top of the windscreen pairs with a diffuser between the rear seats, and can be deployed when the roof is down, with a button, of course.
Twin 12.3” LCD screens make the cockpit look like something from a Boeing Dreamliner. They have replaced driver and infotainment systems with a single seamless panel extending from driver right over to the centre console.
Controls are a combination of touch/scrolling and buttons on the steering wheel, and the odd-looking command system between the front seats. There is a trackpad, a dial that doubles as a joystick, and an impressive array of buttons
It looks confronting at first, but the layout is both logical and sensible once you’re used to it. Sadly, neither LCD is a touch screen so the Apple CarPlay is a trifle awkward. You must use either voice of the command wheel on a system designed for a smartphone touch screen.
The menus are extensive to say the least. Most of them you’ll never bother with once set. From time to time you would want to wander through the menus in case there is a nifty feature you’ve not seen before. Modern cars are like that
There are more cool extras like a cooled glove box, and a place to store your key just in case it makes a nasty line in your pocket.
Entry to the back seats is as easy as tilting the front seat forward, then letting the powered operation take over to slide the whole thing forward.
Cars like the E400 are aimed at a specific buyer, and it isn’t the type who likes to drive like they’re being chased by the Feds.
- 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels
- AIR BODY CONTROL Air Suspension
- AIRCAP & AIRSCARF
- Black Ash Open-Pore Wood Trim
- DAB+ digital radio
- Analogue clock
- Fully automated boot separator
- Driving Assistance package Plus comprising DRIVE PILOT, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and also PRE-SAFE® PLUS
- Traffic Sign Assist
- 360° camera with dynamic guidelines
- Roll-over protection developed specifically for the Cabriolet design
The features list reads like War and Peace but suffice to say every conceivable luxury and convenience is included.
It is almost impossible to convey the ambience properly, but a few highlights are: infinitely variable coloured mood lighting, quilted leather, and the little wasp-breaths of air that warm your neck from behind your headrest on cool days.
The Burmester® surround sound system with 13 speakers, 9-channel DSP amplifier & 590watt output rates a special mention. In a cabin that would embarrass a luxury yacht, the audio system is a thing to behold. The sound is so rich and deep that you feel you’ve received a personal invitation for a live performance
- Engine: 3.0L, Bi-turbo, V6, direct injection, ECO Start/Stop
- Transmission: 9 speed G-tronic
- Drive Wheels: 4MATIC AWD
- Economy: 8.7L/100k
- CO2: 195g/km
- Fuel: 95 RON
AIR BODY CONTROL Air Suspension provides a magic carpet ride. Even in the sportiest of the drive modes, the ride is superb. Ultra-low profile tyres have a bit of a hum on some road surfaces and clunk over pot holes, but who cares?
You lope along completely disconnected from the outside world, even when going topless.
The system is on guard and will assist with lane control, and speed control, and will try to avoid accidents that you don’t see coming.
Steering is very light most of the time, which is just the way I like it. The notion that any modern car with electric steering has road feel is a nonsense. The system simulates road feel with good calibration, so you simply have to know the car will go where you point it.
Seating for 4 is promised but back seats, as always, might not be for the very tallest of us. There is plenty of leg and toe room as long as the seats are set higher up in front.
We took some challenging roads with tight rutted corners in very wet weather, but the E400 was not bothered. Wind noise was almost undetectable roof-up, and as expected roof-down. The wind deflectors helped somewhat, but if you don’t want drafts, where a coat.
The E400 is claimed to have a 5.2second 0-100, and it certainly feels every bit of it. Although this is one of Mercedes’ older engines, it still feels lusty and urgent, even in “gentlemen” mode. Power is delivered smoothly right from down low.
It was at home on suspect country roads, smooth straight highways, and charismatic city lanes, but I was in no hurry to get anywhere. The Mercedes asks you politely before it does anything untoward. The lane control system seems to have improved over the years but does wander in the lane from time to time.
The system will disengage without warning too. We are not yet at the stage where any driver willingly turns over control fully to a machine, but that time is very near.
The brakes have good gradual feel, without that dreadful face-to-windscreen feel that her AMG sisters have.
Hard edged sports cars are great for the occasional thrash, but it is so wearing on the nerves.
Extensive active and passive safety including: AEB front and rear, 9 airbags, active lane control, 360 camera, ASR, ASSYST, crash response lighting, ABS, BAS, roll-over protection, ESP, run-flat tyres.
Extensive safety both active and passive, clever folding remote-controlled roof, top notch comfort, crammed with tech, Aircap and Airscarf
No So Good Bits
Awkward Apple CarPlay interface, ride can wallow, price
The supple ride was right up my alley, and the silky 9 speed auto was as silky as a Bublé ballad. You probably won’t use most of the tech, but that dash board will take some beating. I’d like to be able to tailor it further though.
It is a grand touring, boulevard cruiser, and that is fine by me. As quick as AMG models are, they cost many more farthings, and ruin your ride, and probably your back as well. You could cover huge distances as easily as going to the sops.
Buyers of cars like these will no doubt have one of those fangled SUV things for heavier duty work like towing the horses to polo. I’d more happily meet them there in the convertible thanks very much.
You get to a stage in life where getting there is more important than going around corners at warp 10. Smelling the fresh air and hearing whip birds calling might sound corny, until you try it. The aloof drive is for those who like to arrive refreshed and relaxed.
Competitors like the BMW 6 series, and Audi A5 are also worthy of a mention.
I wouldn’t want to have to pick between them, but I’ll admit to having quite a fancy for the air suspension and the road feel of the E400, and it would be my pick.
I’ll always go for the drop-top. It looks great, is very comfortable, and feels properly luxurious.
- Price: $157,500
- Engine: 3.0L, Bi-turbo, V6, direct injection, ECO Start/Stop, 4MATIC AWD
- Transmission: 9 speed G-tronic
- Economy: 8.7L/100k
- CO2: 195g/km