Test Drive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet

Late summer is my favourite time of year to drive a convertible. Any convertible, whether it’s a new era muscle car, floating boat from the 60’s, or super sports car from an Italian automaker in the 21st Century. When the temperature outside is 24° C and sunny, open air driving is the best. So this week’s test of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet is what I would call picture perfect.

Featured in Tenorite Grey metallic with Alpaca Grey leather upholstery, power comes in the form of a 3.0-litre V6 gasoline-powered engine. Matched to a 7-speed G-TRONIC automatic transmission, it delivers 328 horsepower at 5,200-6,000 rpm and 354 lb-ft of torque at 1,200-4,000 rpm. This is good for an electronically limited top speed of 210 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of approximately 5.3 seconds.

Designed as a rear-wheel drive coupe with seating four up to 4 adults, it feels connected to the road in a way that is both sublime and somewhat racy. Not to say this could ever be confused for an exotic sports car with a fold-down black soft-top roof. It’s not meant to be. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet is in my mind the purest form of luxury car cruising with just a touch of nasty when the mood strikes.

Standard equipment includes 18” alloy wheels with 235/40R 18” front and 255/35R 18” rear all-season tires. Wheels are AMG 5-twin spoke design that looks exceptional when everything is taken into account. The overall visual appeal reflects the classic lines you expect from a Mercedes-Benz cabriolet.

A 3-spoke, or is it four, sport steering wheel is nicely weighted. It feels good in my hands whether driving at highway velocity with the top down, or challenging my favourite corner in Niagara’s wine country. A total of 12 buttons on the multi-function steering wheel allow for easy adjustment and paddle-shifters make short work of gear changes when not driving in “D” and letting the car sort out the best shift points. Agility control suspension and Dynamic Handling are added features you appreciate, especially at higher speeds.

Outside, the shape is fluid and easy on the eyes. There is a lot going on when it comes to aerodynamics, but Mercedes-Benz doesn’t flood a sleek exterior with so many add-ons that is tempers a clean, sharp look.

Inside, black numbers on a white round background make short work of reading your speed, rpm and fuel, engine temperature and more. Dark Ash wood trim is both elegant and functional. I prefer this look to piano black as it looks natural and doesn’t cast a glare when the sun shines directly on it. Brushed metal accents are also a welcome change from blinding chrome.

Seats are comfortable and simple to adjust on the door. Mercedes-Benz is famous for their mini-version of a seat to allow for quick changes in seating position. Personally, I still favour buttons on the side of a seat, but you can’t argue how well this works. I am also not a fan of the steering wheel mounted gear lever, but this too is easy to work with and just a matter of personal preference.

The AIRSCARF system is welcome relief on the neck when it gets a little cool outside. The power fold-down roof is a multi-step process and somewhat slow when compared to other systems. You also have to hold the button up or down continuously depending on whether you are opening or closing the roof. Given the intricacy of the roof structure, plan ahead when sitting at a stoplight.

Your appreciation of this system will increase dramatically when you realize how quiet it is inside with the roof closed. The back seat is surprisingly well suited for small to medium-sized passengers and there is even a useable trunk with the soft top having no appreciable impact on storage.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet is an excellent option when considering a luxury convertible. It is refined, safe, fun and stylish. If you happen to be looking for a $70,000+ convertible, I would be hard pressed to suggest a better option.

2016 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Cabriolet
Trim level: Sport and Premium Package
Price as tested (before taxes): $79,200.00
Freight: $1,995.00
Configuration: front-engine, rear wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L 6-cylinder/ 7-speed automatic
Power/torque: 328 hp/ 354 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (66.0L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 10.6, hwy: 7.1 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 9.3 L/100 km (950 km)
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi S5 Convertible, BMW 3-Series Cabriolet, Camaro ZL1, Infiniti Q60 IPL Convertible

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