2011 Mercedes Benz E350 Cabriolet
30th Jun 2011 7:00 am
We drive Merc's open-top GT
Buying a convertible in India is like buying a speed boat in Rajasthan. Hot, dusty and humid conditions make them barely useable and they are a perfect recipe for sunstroke. That is why it is extremely rare to spot a convertible. But it’s the exclusivity of convertibles that makes them desirable and when the weather is right there’s no denying the special charm of driving with stars above you and wind in your hair.
One such rare car on sale in India is Merc’s E-class Cabriolet. A mere glance is enough to know that Mercedes has done a good job with the design. It looks good, especially with the hood down, and there is plenty of exotic appeal as well. The soft-top doesn’t take much away from the design and the Cabriolet looks good even with the roof up.
The E-Cabriolet is powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 engine from the coupé version of the car. It puts out an impressive 272bhp and 36.1kgm of torque. But considering that the Cabriolet is 120kg heavier than the E-class, more power would have been welcome. Still, the car is quick to respond from standstill and there is lots of torque available. However, if you’re looking for sports car performance, you are in for a disappointment. This car actually does a good job as a grand tourer. When you are cruising at high speeds, this Merc is good at covering pace at a good rate. But it’s when you try to go fast or overtake on a two-lane road that you realise it takes time to gain momentum. It is primarily the gearbox’s fault as the slow ’box takes its own sweet time to downshift. The key to enjoying this car though is to drive it at considerably less than 100 percent. In terms of outright performance, the Cabriolet takes 7.90sec to reach 100kph and has a limited top speed of 250kph. In-gear acceleration times are decent too but nothing spectacular.
As the E-Cabrio sits on a stiff suspension setup, it handles well. The car is eager to turn in corners and inspires a lot of confidence. The accurate steering is direct and the E-Cabriolet is quite nice over a ghat road. The flip side is the extremely harsh ride and the E-Cabriolet crashes over sharp surfaces, which can be a bit jarring at times. It levels up well as you go faster but, as with most convertibles, there is a fair amount of scuttle shake and you can feel tremors through the body every time you hit a bad patch.
The E-Cabriolet costs Rs 66.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). At this price and for this kind of car, desirability and sex appeal are everything and that’s where the E-Cabriolet excels. It will stand out of the crowd in most parking lots and has the desirability quotient only a few cars can match. Yes, the ride could have been better, the build quality is not up to Mercedes standards, and it could have had more power. Also, if you are looking for sports car performance, look elsewhere. The E-Cabrio is for someone who wants an open-top GT that seats four, is reasonably nice to drive and comes with all the modern safety features you expect in a luxury car today.