If you have deep pockets, and are looking to buy something tasteful and individualistic that is in a class of its own, here is what you should consider: the Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet. Of course, you have to be rich enough to have other cars in your garage, because this is more of a night car, meant to be taken to one of those tuxedo parties. But, if you are searching for something regal, then owning this old-fashioned muscle is bound to bring you great joy for years to come.
I recently spent a day with this two-door, four-seat, open-air cruiser, and came away suitably impressed. First things first: the Mercedes E400 Cabriolet does not scream opulence, nor do the words ‘sexy’ or ‘stylish’ define it. If you want something flashy, get yourself a Ferrari.
The E400 Cabriolet is all about understated beauty and quiet elegance. It lets people know, at first glance, about the kind of life you have grown up enjoying. Simply put, this car is majestic and has oodles of composure.
On the outside, you will notice its rather introverted styling, which is evident in the way fenders and doors have been designed. Out front, it exhibits a stunningly sculpted design, with a single louvre radiator grille that has the Mercedes-Benz star set within it. The LED intelligent light system also blends in with the design.
The car I drove came with an aesthetically pleasing, electric-powered, chocolate-brown soft-top. (It is also available in red, black and blue.) As the windows rolled up, I found myself cocooned in its rich interiors. I had fun lowering and raising the fabric roof with the mere pressing of a button, which is located inside a beautiful leather compartment. While the soft-top was conspicuous, it was also quiet, as the boot opened and it folded and settled inside.
But, thinking on the practical side, I must admit that I kept wondering if the soft-top mechanism would fail, leaving me with a dysfunctional hood and turning the car into an open invitation to not just the rain gods, but also rodents in the car park. Also, the open car made me wary of beggars at every traffic signal.
Inside, I found myself lounging in premium leather upholstery. The car’s seemingly large dashboard had a decently sized glove compartment, but it was useless trying to keep anything atop it. But its nappa leather finish with contrast stitching spelt class. So did the unique, two-tone colour scheme inside the car. Access to the rear seats, which were sporty, individual seats, was easy, unlike it can sometimes be in coupes. The seats also had great thigh and lumbar support.
The car’s COMAND Online infotainment system boasted cloud-based MB Apps, which lets you log on to Facebook and other social networking sites and perform many more internet related tasks from the comfort of your dash. A very elegant watch with the Mercedes-Benz logo on the dial ticked dutifully, as a 14-speaker Harman Kardon system tricked me into believing that Sting was performing live for me.
The Mercedes E400 Cabriolet is a thirsty car, thanks to the 2,996cc, V6 petrol engine (and a 7G-Tronic Plus transmission) that powers it. The maximum engine output is 333hp@5,250-6,000rpm and the max torque is 480Nm@1,600-4,000 rpm. The power delivery is smooth and linear, and the car is redlined at 6,200rpm. The stalks are sturdy and unobtrusive, and the white sporty dials are non-distracting and easy to read.
The Mercedes E400 Cabriolet rides on 235/45 R17 tyres. Perhaps, it was the reason why we did not have to worry about the ride quality, which was sturdy and smooth throughout. The car is so surefooted that, even as it tackled corners at 130kmph, I did not feel the slightest anxiety. The E400 Cabriolet’s body, made of high-tensile steel, is designed to provide optimum safety. Considering that the car comes with nine airbags and features such as Attention Assist, you know safety is not an issue with this Mercedes model.
But, here in India, you will have to worry about one thing: the low ground clearance of the car. Slam the brakes too hard on spotting a speed-breaker, and you are bound to scrape the underbelly of the car. And, for some reason, the car I drove felt quite sluggish initially—I had to use all my might on the right foot to take the car from zero to 100kmph.
But, remarkably, once you are inside the car, the noise of the wind and the road do not really bother you, thanks to the deflector that rises from the windshield frame after you hit 40kmph. It helps keep wind noise out, even when the hood is down.
So, if you are driven by the ‘need for speed’ feeling, do yourself a favour: go get yourself the Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet, and enjoy stylish motoring for years. And oh, before you hit the road, do not forget that Hermes headscarf for your locks!
Kerb weight: 1,845kg
Acceleration from 0-100: 5.3 seconds
Fuel tank capacity: 66 litres
Turning diameter: 11.15m
Price: Rs78.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)