The cushioning forays
Mercedes is on a bit of a roll. Recent sales statistics show that the once old and stodgy brand is selling its revived and desperately fashionable products like hot cakes. I’ll immediately admit that I’m not a huge fan of this decidedly successful transformation, chiefly because I have a garage full of old, stodgy Mercs.
Any Mercedes employee or modern petrol-head will dismiss the history lesson and wax lyrical about this newfound popularity due to the daring new forms of modern Benzes. OK, OK, even I will admit that they look striking, and that especially goes for this dark blue E400 Cabrio I tested recently.
To get a bit technical, its official title is E400 Cabriolet 4Matic, which means that it’s a drop-top, mid-size, four-seater Mercedes with a turbo-petrol, all-wheel-drive, nine-speed automatic drive train. The 400 is the beefiest convertible in this range and is only shipped with M-B’s 4Matic intelligent AWD system.
The same goes for sedan versions or the dee-licious AMG E43 variant, all of which use some form of this 3-litre V6 engine. In this application it produces maximums of 245kW (333hp) or 480Nm which means that it’s good for the obligatory limited top speed of 250km/h and 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds.
Although it doesn’t feel that fast – certainly not as lively as its naughty AMG cousin – this press car still shot past 100km/h in a GPS-verified 5.82 seconds at sea level. It also couldn’t replicate the E43’s chilling trumpet noises and I felt that the “Sport” or “Sport+” drive modes made no real improvements; quite the opposite.
In these agitated states of response, gear changes were rudely abrupt and the car’s otherwise cushioning ride became wooden and uncomfortable. Hence I kept the car in “Comfort” and even tried its “Eco” setting from time to time; also with little success. Turbos like a drink, don’t they? Merc claims an average of 8.6, I got 11.9L/100km.
Of course I put my foot down occasionally but that’s not the point of this vehicle. The ‘400 convertible is made for cruising and that’s mostly what I did. My ghastly consumption is probably down to torque forays in the lower rev range where, thanks to nine well-spaced gears, you’ll always find pleasing forward surge.
Other pleasant items are the sturdy fabric top which operates up to 60km/h, a master switch for all four windows, two reasonably capable wind deflectors and semi-usable rear seats. Their back-rests even fold for extra cargo carrying capacity or you could just leave the roof down to transport, say, a 450SLC boot lid.
Trunk space improves from 310 to 385L with the roof in place and there’s a button to raise or lower the roof’s protector. This car’s boot lid had a swipey-footy sensor (which obviously never worked when it should) but no fully electric opener. Also, it was difficult to close unless you slammed it. Hard.
Other negatives I noted were too many digital display options from the two gigantic cockpit screens and slight seating discomfort due to the positioning of the front headrests. The parking sensors on this car’s nose also loved yelling at big pavements and steep driveways – which is probably a good thing.
Prices start at R1,155,000 without options and there are lesser models available at R970,000 (E300) and R930,000 (E220d). The only true four-seater rival, BMW’s 6-Series convertible, starts at R1,33 million while other options – Bentley, Maserati or Rolls-Royce – are modestly marked P.O.A.
In closing, I enjoyed the E400 Cabrio despite not being a huge convertible fan. The motor is a gem, albeit slightly thirsty, while the E-Class platform is accomplished and jammed full of goodies. As with all modern Mercs, I strongly advise against any AMG / Sport items unless you enjoy being uncomfortable.
Each E400 Cabriolet is sold with a two-year unlimited-km warranty and six-year / 100,000km service plan. Roll on, Mercedes sales statistics.
0-10km/h: 0,30 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,72 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,18 seconds
0-40km/h: 1,64 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,17 seconds
0-60km/h: 2,82 seconds
0-70km/h: 3,46 seconds
0-80km/h: 4,15 seconds
0-90km/h: 4,95 seconds
0-100km/h: 5,82 seconds
0-110km/h: 6,77 seconds
0-120km/h: 7,82 seconds
0-130km/h: 9,03 seconds
0-140km/h: 10,38 seconds
0-150km/h: 11,78 seconds
0-160km/h: 13,29 seconds
0-100m: 6,02 seconds @ 102,12km/h
0-200m: 9,09 seconds @ 130,44km/h
0-300m: 11,66 seconds @ 149,09km/h
0-400m: 13,96 seconds @ 164,15km/h
100-0km/h: 2,66 seconds @ 34,68 meters (once-off)
0-10mph: 0,57 seconds
0-20mph: 1,28 seconds
0-30mph: 2,06 seconds
0-40mph: 3,10 seconds
0-50mph: 4,18 seconds
0-60mph: 5,51 seconds
0-70mph: 7,04 seconds
0-80mph: 8,86 seconds
0-90mph: 11,05 seconds
0-100mph: 13,44 seconds
1/4 mile: 14,01 seconds @ 102,17 mph
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,70G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box