According to Mercedes-Benz, the average buyer of the new E-Class cabriolet will be similar to the buyer of the old CLK. They will be male, over 50, and will most likely be golfers, as most Mercedes drivers are.
While these might not all be true, they do give out one valuable piece of information. Four-seat cabriolets are not going to be cool cars for young adults. They are too big and too expensive. All of this is truly a shame because the new E550 Cabriolet is very good. It looks aggressive, has plenty of room, and goes like stink. The exterior design is fabulous. A blocky feel that makes one think of precise engineering and longevity. It’s not too flashy, but it’s not understated either.
Admittedly, some people haven’t yet warmed up to the new headlights. Personally, we like them. The old E-Class was too old school, too retirement home. This new one is a great mixture of style and sophistication.
Hit the jump for the rest of the review.
The E550’s canvas roof looks quite good up, but it really looks marvelous down. Helping the wind blow through your hair is a 5.5-liter that delivers 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Step down a grade and the Mercedes E350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that has 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Both of the E-Class cabriolets use a seven-speed transmission and both are rear-wheel drive only. The less powerful E350 can hit 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, while the beefed up E550 will do it in an astonishing 5.1 seconds.
The motors in the E-Class cabriolet are both decent when it comes to fuel efficiency. The test E550 gets 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. Mash your foot down every once in a while and those numbers go out the window. The E350, with the help of two less cylinders, gets 17 in the city and 25 on the highway.
This provides a good question for buyers. Do you want decent fuel economy, or mash-your-head-in power. The E350 is the better choice here for a few reasons. One, the better mileage will help save at the pump, which you can then spend on Mercedes service costs. The second reason is the car itself. Massive amounts of power and insane amounts of lateral G forces aren’t what the E-Class cabriolets are for. If you really need that kind of power, buy the E63 AMG.
The new E-Class handles well too and it rides with the kind of smoothness that you would want from a large Mercedes. It’s not as smooth as the BMW 740Li, but it’s supple and absorbent. One can tell that this car is meant to ease the burden of travel. The Mercedes has a sport button, but that really is as useless as a mute button on a smoke alarm. When pressed, the E550 becomes more like an Audi or BMW, too hard and sporty for the car’s profile. If this is what the consumer is looking for then it would be best to stick with the normal smooth riding car.
Inside, Mercedes, like most of the German car companies, has packed the car full of toys. There’s the usual Mercedes AIRSCARF system that blows warm air onto the back of your neck via the front seat headrests. The car also comes with heated seats and a new thing called AIRCAP draft stop that pops a small spoiler out of the windshield header rail and raises a net between the rear seats headrests. As confusing as that may sound, the system isn’t that bad, in theory. The idea is that the AIRCAP keeps all four passengers from getting blown in the face with the air outside.
It’s a good idea, but it doesn’t really work. At highway speeds it looks awful and at lower speeds the system is noisy. Not to mention is catches bugs better than a bug zapper.
That being said, the E550 and the rest of the E-Class cabriolet range are very good. The Mercedes E550 feels good, drives well, but refuses to become hard like the other cars in the range. Our vote is to go with the E350 though. The Mercedes E350 is a better value for the money.