Probably the best four-seat drop-top for the money
Competing with convertible versions of the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5, the four-seat Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is available in two mainstream formats.
For ultimate power, there are AMG versions with either a 3.0-litre V6 engine (C 43) or a 4.0-litre V8 (C 63). Outside the AMG offerings, your engine choice is between two 2.0-litre petrols (the C 200 and C 300) and two 2.1-litre diesels (the C 220 d and C 250 d).
Even the basic C 220 d feels quite nippy, but the more powerful C 250 d is better still. Neither are especially refined by the class standards but we’d still pick them over the hardly quicker and a lot thirstier C 200 and C 300 petrols. The nine-speed auto gearbox works very well in all variants. The diesels boast low (and therefore business-friendly) CO2 emissions but are more expensive to buy than the petrols.
The C-Clas Cabriolet costs about the same as the BMW 4 Series equivalent but the Merc’s package of standard equipment is more comprehensive. It includes climate control, heated electric front seats, a reversing camera, DAB radio, sat-nav, adjustable ambient lighting, LED headlights, a wind deflector and an Airscarf (of which more later).
There’s 120kg worth of additional body strengthening in the Cabriolet to stiffen it up but, although it’s not quite as ‘tight’ as the Coupé, the extra weight hasn’t really affected the way the car drives. It feels stable and poised in bends, especially with the sports suspension and more direct steering you get in AMG Line spec, along with more aggressive looks, bigger wheels and a sportier cabin.
You’ll get some body lean in fast corners, but mid-corner bumps don’t unsettle the car.
The Cabriolet is equally happy in urban environments. With Comfort mode selected, the steering is easy but still accurate and the suspension smothers most road irregularities. Very bad roads will allow the occasional thump to find its way through to your seat, but we know from testing the Coupé that the £895 option of air suspension will improve matters in that department.
Inside, all the controls are within easy reach and you get a 7.0in screen with sat-nav as standard. Although BMW’s iDrive beats both the Mercedes’ standard 7.0in-screen infotainment system and even the expensive Comand upgrade, the C-Class’s optional 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system is one of the best you can buy
Generous use of gloss aluminium and man-made leather gives the C-Class Cabriolet a more special feel than the 4 Series Convertible. Space up front is equally generous and there’s lots of adjustment available to the driver. There’s not much head or leg room for adult rear passengers when the hood is up though: the BMW claws back some ground here.
Put the Mercedes roof up and its boot will be bigger than the 4’s, accommodating a couple of mid-sized suitcases. Lowering the rear seatbacks adds boot length, but the boot opening itself is quite shallow and awkward to use. Lowering the roof badly restricts boot space but impresses passengers in terms of how little wind buffeting there is. It’s just as impressive when it’s up, blocking unwanted road and (apart from around the door mirrors ) wind noise and, with it up, the fabric lining does a great job of shutting out noise.
Mercedes’ clever Airscarf system is standard on all Cabriolets. With warm air blowing onto your neck from vents below the headrests and standard heated seats, this is a car you can use top-down in all temperatures.