Anyone who's been following Mercedes lately will know the brand has developed a very clear formula. Having launched the mass-market sedan, it'll follow with a coupe and then, finally, a convertible. The E-Class is available in sedan, wagon and coupe form, but well-to-do fans of drop-top motoring were being (tragically) overlooked. Until now, that is, because the Geneva Motor Show will play host to the launch of the E-Class Cabriolet.
Like the S-Class sitting above it in the range, the E-Class Cabriolet is designed to bring a touch of yacht-style luxury to dry land. With the roof dropped, the interior trim continues around to the rear deck to create an expensive, luxurious look, while the roof-up silhouette mimics that of the coupe. Mercedes says the soft top borrows heavily from the S-Class, and can be opened or closed at speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph). Not only is that useful in a sudden downpour, it's a great way to show off while you crawl through traffic.
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Although the standard E-Class interior was already an impressive piece of design, the drop-top takes things even further with a range of new trim options. The standard instrument binnacle can be replaced with a crystal-clear dual-screen setup, merged between a glass cover to make the two separate screens look like one cohesive unit. All four seats can be fitted with the clever neck-warming airscarf system, and a standard-fit aircap draft stopper cuts down on buffeting at speed.
Compared to the sedan, the Cabriolet sits 1.5 cm (0.59 in) lower for a sportier look, and the front and rear floor structures have been stiffened up to cut down on the body flex often associated with lopping the roof off a car. Aluminum has been used for the front wings, bonnet and boot, which should mean the drop-top isn't too much heavier than the sportier coupe. Sure, it probably won't handle quite as well as its hardtop brethren, but that isn't really the point with boulevard cruisers like this anyway.
The car sits on multi-chamber air suspension, and drivers are able to switch the dampers through three separate stiffness settings. Each wheel can be controlled individually, and it will automatically stiffen or slacken things up as it detects rough conditions.
At launch, power will come from a twin-turbo petrol V6 making 329 hp (245 kW) of power and 480 Nm of torque. It'll be hooked up to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and 4MATIC all-wheel drive is on the options list. More engines will join after launch, but Mercedes hasn't released which of its four-cylinder powertrains will be offered.
As you'd expect, the full range of active safety features from the sedan have made the leap to the Cabriolet. Along with auto-emergency braking and active cruise control, which can move with traffic and keep in its lane up to 210 km/h (130 mph), the car can help the driver steer around obstacles. Even the windscreen washers have been redesigned to minimize the amount of time where the driver is unsighted, gently spraying water out of the blades ahead rather than blasting the screen with jets mounted on the bonnet.
The E-Class Cabriolet will launch at the Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off next week. No pricing information has been released yet.