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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - E-class - Cabriolet

First look: Benz flips E-class Coupe’s wig

Air apparent: The slinky Mercedes-Benz E-class Cabriolet is the fourth and final model in the Benz mid-size range.

New Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet emerges as final member of redesigned E-class family

16 Dec 2009

MERCEDES-BENZ revealed its new E-class Cabriolet on the same day the German luxury brand completed its new W212-series E-class four-door range in Australia by releasing the E63 AMG sedan.

Based on the two-door C207-series E-class Coupe, the new Mercedes Cabriolet will replace the current CLK Cabriolet in Australia next May, just as the E-Coupe succeeded the CLK Coupe here in August, when it arrived simultaneously with the new E-class sedan.

Officially, Mercedes says it will not produce AMG versions of the E-class Coupe and Cabriolet, which share 40 per cent of their components with the C-class, meaning there will be no direct replacements for the CLK Coupe or Cabriolet.

Lack of demand and the popularity of its C63 AMG Estate (24 of which have been sold here, while just one W211-generation E63 Estate hit Australian roads) will also thwart a local release for the E63 AMG version of the new E-class Estate, garden variety versions of which go on sale here in March.

For now, the Cabriolet – the fourth member of the angular new E-class model range – will be available in Europe with the same engine line-up as the coupe, including the 125kW E220 CDI, 150kW E250 CDI and 170kW E350 CDI diesels, and the 135kW E200 CGI, 150kW E250 CGI, 215kW E350 CGI and 285kW E500 petrol versions.

4 center imageIn Australia, the E-Class Cabriolet range is likely to reflect that of the E-class Coupe, meaning the entry-level CLK 200K Cabriolet’s supercharged 1.8-litre petrol four is likely to be replaced by the 1.8-litre ‘250 CGI’ engine and the CLK500 Cabriolet’s 5.5-litre V8 should carryover to the E500 Cabriolet.

In between, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific could offer the soft-top E350 petrol V6 and E250 CDI 2.1-litre diesel, the latter representing the first diesel-powered cabriolet from Mercedes in Australia.

While the current CLK Cabriolet range opens at $103,669 for the CLK200K, the base E250 CGI Cabriolet will also come at a premium over the E250 CGI Coupe ($94,500).

The E-class Cabriolet, which will make its global debut at the Detroit motor show on January 11 (the same date the car goes on sale in Europe), shares the same basic dimensions as the coupe, including a 4698mm length and 1786mm width.

But because of its electrically folding fabric roof, which continues a CLK Cabriolet (and Audi A5 Cabriolet) hallmark but eschews the folding hard-top systems featured by the compact SLK and large SL roadsters (as well as direct rivals like the BMW 3 Series Convertible and Lexus IS250C), it is slightly higher at 1402mm.

Though the topless E-class is still heavier than its two-door Coupe sibling, it is lighter than the soft-top CLK, with kerb weights starting at 1645kg for the E250 CGI – 30kg less than the equivalent CLK but 70kg more than the E250 CGI Coupe.

However, Mercedes-Benz claims the new soft-top brings a number of significant new advances in terms of refinement and aerodynamics. With the roof in place, Benz says the E-Cabriolet is the quietest model in its class, allowing “a perfectly normal phone conversation in hands-free mode even when travelling at a speed of over 200km/h”.

While that’s important, the new soft-top design is also claimed to make the E-class Cabriolet the most aerodynamic convertible in its class – although at 0.28Cd its aerodynamic drag coefficient is 0.4 points less slippery than that of the E-class Coupe, which is said to be the world’s most aerodynamic production car.

With the top closed, boot space is 390 litres, which reduces to 300 litres with the roof stowed.

Apart from featuring an improved iteration of the brand’s pioneering ‘Airscarf’ neck-heating system from the SLK and SL, the latest four-seater convertible from Mercedes also features a new kind of wind deflector called AirCap, which is designed to cut turbulence and retain warm air in the cabin.

The draft-reducing AirCap system consists of a switchable six-inch deflector on the top of the windscreen that directs airflow 200mm over the top of the car. Operating at up to 250km/h, the system aims to make the cabriolet more usable in cold climates with the top down – but it does increase the Cd figure and fuel consumption.

Like similar systems, the standard acoustic soft-top can be operated at speeds of up to 40km/h and opens/closes in 20 seconds. Unlike most, it features a through-loading system as standard, plus a manual ‘Easy-Entry’ system for rear-seat passengers.

Also exclusive to the Benz cabrio, which features specific chassis reinforcement measures including a unique windscreen frame and ‘plug-in’ B-pillars, are two 35mm-diameter pop-up rollover cars behind the rear head restraints and, in a first for Mercedes, new 700x500mm head airbags housed in the doors.

A total of seven airbags will be standard, also including twin front, twin front-side and a driver’s knee airbag, while rear-side airbags will be optional in Europe. Also standard are seatbelt tensioners and force-limiters for all four occupants.

Overseas, E-class cabriolet options will include the Attention Assist drowsiness detection, Pre-Safe anticipatory occupant protection, Active Bonnet pedestrian safety, Distronic Plus radar cruise control and Intelligent Light systems.

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