Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Muscle-Bound Elegance

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Muscle-Bound Elegance

Article excerpt

VERDICT

Often the joy of open-top driving is a two-person experience. Not in the 4.8m long frame of the E400 Cabriolet. Smooth, classy and featuring the magnificent dual large screen set-up standard across the E-Class range, its reasonable boot size and strong twin turbo six-cylinder engine means there are few compromises for the benefits of being able to lift the lid.

Outstanding cabin serenity with the roof on or off means the E400 is a fine accomplice for all occasions.

Disparaging remarks are often directed at convertible drivers.

For some reason, if you're a male behind the wheel of a drop top people either think you're suffering a mid-life crisis or over the top in flexing your financial muscle.

In this case, I'm neither.

What about if you want the joys of European open-air travel with the family? The Mercedes-Benz E-Class fills an interesting niche of a convertible with four-seat accommodation - and they are four genuine chairs with reasonable back seat space.

Prices start from $123,500 plus on-roads for the turbocharged four-cylinder and top out at the E400 that's $157,500.

Mainstream brands have begun ditching drop-tops due to declining interest in search of practicality, yet this E400 managed to rekindle the romance of fresh-air driving combined with daily common sense.

VALUE

Special standard features for in-cabin serenity include the draft-stopping Aircap system, along with Airscarf, which blows warm air onto your neck. The latter is brilliant even in the coldest conditions - we've driven Mercedes convertibles on the snow as part of their driver education sessions and passengers still stay toasty.

It comes packed with good kit, among the highlights are air suspension, 10-inch AMG alloys, heated front seats, leather trim, full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration with satnav and digital radio, along with a sports exhaust, head-up driver display and the awesome 590-watt 13-speaker Burmester sound system.

Like the sedan and wagon derivatives, the Cabriolet gets Mercedes' dual colour screens. While there is a central dial to scroll and navigate through the central screen, the driver has two steering wheel thumb-tip controls to make selections and change information on both displays.

Beautiful materials live up to luxury expectations with the black ash wood trim, aluminium and sporting pedals all looking and feeling like the top echelon.

External hues include white, black, sliver, grey, green, blue and red. Roof colours include black, dark red, blue and brown.

Services start at $456 for the first visit, then rise to $912 for both the second and third maintenance trips.

DRIVING

Roof-down refinement is sublime. Really, it's got to be the best we've sampled in more than a decade. …

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