A cloudy day, a bit of fog and fresh morning. It’s just not another day at AutoColumn as we have something special for review to experience this perfect climate. Usually, the cars we review are independent of the climate outside the cabin with windows rolled up as I prefer to concentrate more on how car is behaving than peeking out from the window. This time not only do I have the option to roll down the windows to experience the beautiful weather, we also have something that rolls down the roof and gives the awesome experience of luxury, sport at the same time. Here is the 2015 Mercedes Benz E 400 Cabriolet.
We told first back in 2014 that Mercedes Benz is planning to launch E400 in India as the car had arrived for homologation puropses. Since then we were really curious about this face-lifted E 400 cabriolet and were lucky enough to get our hands on it. Without any delay, lets get straight to the review.
The E-400 cabriolet is a convertible soft-top variant of a regular E class. Though it is derived from the E-class, externally this is not just another E class. You can very easily differentiate it from the regular E350 sedan. It looks much more broader because of the revamped bumpers and air vents. You get a big radiator grill with the Mercedes-Benz three pointed star logo sitting at centre. All new LED headlights come in a single housing unit. The ones on E400 are called an Intelligent Light System and why not? All you have to do is turn on auto mode and forget about it.
It not only adjusts the lighting to enable the driver perfect visibility in different driving situations, but gives variable light distribution on country roads and motorways. These headlights are capable of curve illumination, which follows the steering movements. The next thing you observe is obviously the all-season fabric soft top. It takes exactly 20 seconds for all the Electro-Mech magic to drop that beautiful soft top and convert the convertible into well … A convertible. The tail looks a bit longer. On paper the E400 is larger than a C class, but not in reality. The soft top mechanism occupies some space in the boot. The tail light housing is similar to that of a regular E class LED. Having said so, the overall E400 looks proportionate and beautiful.
I’m six feet tall and getting inside the car was a bit tricky. You sit lower. And after raising the seat height to maximum my head was kissing the top. So I conclude, the headroom is not adequate. But once you completely settle yourself, the overall driving position is quite comfortable. The legroom and the thigh support are good. There are seat side bolts. The adjunct switches on your left feel a bit aftermarket when comparing it to other switches inside the car.
The interior is derived from the new design philosophy of the upcoming Mercedes cars.When it comes to luxury, no one can match the class of Mercedes. The cabin is made of hand-polished Burl Walnut, Black Ash or Linden wood trim. The seats are specially tailored with high quality leather. The dashboard is very attractive. However, the instrument cluster and center console is a lot like the regular E class. The 7 inch TFT screen fits in the center with Mercedes COMAND online. COMAND online is a newly introduced app from Mercedes-Benz. It lets you access your phone, internet and apps without touching it. Besides that, you get 10 GB of inbuilt hard-disc space, navigation system, DVD, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. It has always been complicated to use for drivers for the first time. Yes! Even the touch pad one.
Just like most of the Mercedes cars, the E400 is also equipped with a Harman Kardon system having 14 speakers and they are the best in class, hands down! Safety is a big concern when it comes to convertibles and Mercedes-Benz taken care of it. The E400 comes equipped with 9 air bags, the slanting A pillar comes with extra tubing and if that’s not enough at the rear you have a roll over bar which pop up in the fraction of a second in case the car rolls.
Other features include the ATTENTION ASSIST (while driving, attention assist draws up an individual profile of the driver’s driving style, which is constantly compared with the latest feedback from the sensors. It monitors steering movements and steering speeds and in fatigue situations an audible and visible prompt is given.) Another superb feature is the rear view camera. It is so far the best and the most intelligent system in a luxury car. You get a bird’s eye view of the space directly behind your car.
The lever situated behind the electrically operable seats easily moves the seats forward for you to access the back row comfortably. However, the rear seats are very cramped up. Even after lending lots of space to the soft top mechanism, you still get around 390 liters of boot space, which is quite adequate.
It was raining heavily the whole day I was driving this car. That includes the Lonavla-Pune express highway run, then maneuvering through Pune’s crowded traffic to the Solpaur highway. The disadvantage of the rain was that I couldn’t push this car hard on the highway. But, I could certainly test the handling and the how the fabric soft top fairs. Talking about the soft top fabric, I must mention it is very very tough! It appears as a fabric, but its as safe as metal. With thick sound insulation, there’s negligible wind noise inside the cabin. Also, a spoiler rises from the windshield frame when the top is down, further reducing turbulence and the noise that would otherwise accompany it.
The E400 is powered by a 3 liter V6 twin-turbo motor that churns out 333 bhp of horsepower and 480 Nm of torque at 1800 RPM. The power plant is mated to 7 speed G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. You can hit 100 kmph from rest in a mere 5.3 seconds. The top speed is restricted to 250 kmph. You get different driving modes like ECO, Sport and manual to suit your driving moods. It manipulates the gear shifting precisely to extract more economy in ECO mode and more power in Sports mode.
The E400 comes equipped with Mercedes AGILITY CONTROL suspensions, which automatically adjust each shock absorber as per terrain and driving dynamics. When you push the car harder on corners each shock absorber automatically firms up more stronger body motion. Similarly, it reduces the damping for a smoother and more comfortable ride. So technically, I can’t complain that the suspension set up is too soft or hard for Indian set up.
Now the fun part- how it feels to drive E400! The V6 twin turbo motor growls when you floor the pedal, but the power delivery is very linear and smooth. The turbo lag is felt at initial RPM’s, especially when you tend to push it harder. What I loved the most about this motor, is how you can drive it calmly like an executive car and with a tap on the pedal you can convert it into a sports car! The 7 speed G-TRONIC plus dual clutch transmission system and the gearshifts are very precise as per the driving mode. There are no late/early shifts. Overall, it’s a fun car to drive.
There aren’t many convertibles available in Indian market. You either have to buy a high end convertible sports car or an ultra luxurious convertible car. The E400 fills this gap perfectly, as it gives you the best of both worlds. All the executive features with no compromise on the performance. E400 is priced at 78.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). That might sound like a way too much of moolah, but you can enjoy a countryside holiday as well as a track day in the same machine.
Special thanks to Awesome Imagery : Anis Shaikh