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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - C-Class - Cabriolet

Our Opinion

We like
Impressive roof mechanism and rigidity, roomy rear-seat and boot volume for its genre, willing base engine leaves chassis unstressed
Room for improvement
Standard sports suspension lacks loping ability, dynamic sharpness of BMW 4 Series Convertible missing, expensive for its performance

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Mercedes-Benz logo27 Oct 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

LIGHT deserves to be let into the C-Class Cabriolet cabin in the same way that it successfully manages to interplay with the curvaceous exterior lines of its C-Class Coupe sibling.

With a convincing array of trim tones and textures for the leather and dashboard fascia, this medium Mercedes-Benz would feel right at home beneath the shimmer of a coastal Cote D'Azur cliff-face with driver and passenger smug in the knowledge that the C200 Cabriolet (as we are testing) is not an overly expensive vehicle relative to, say, an S-Class Cabriolet.

From afar, passers-by will not notice that the lower console is scratchy, the centre console bin lid feels plasticky and the door handles are hard with a thin coating of leather draped over them. There is a veneer of exotic luxury to this S-Class-like cabin that translates well with the roof down.

Unlike an ostensibly sportier roadster that demands two-seat compromises, the four-seat C-Class Cabriolet makes good on exterior dimensions that mirror its hard-top sibling. The back seat stands typically upright but legroom behind the front seats is decent. Entry and egress are made easier by the fabric roof that can be lowered or raised when occupants are outside the vehicle, via the keyfob.

Boot space, likewise, is hardly reduced on the switch from overhead metal to folding fabric. With the roof up, the volume difference is just 40 litres – 360L versus 400L.

The soft-top also does well in translating coupe-like body rigidity and refinement. Only the largest bumps cause the A-pillars to shimmer slightly, while Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific’s selection of a multi-layer roof for our market – it is optional overseas – proved a wise one because road and wind roar are decently mute.

Perhaps the strong body rigidity is even more impressive given the standard fixed sports suspension struggles to feel calm and settled when riding on the C200’s 18-inch wheels with run-flat tyres. From the driver’s seat, it always feels nicely tied down, but passengers can more often be reminded of small bumps and lumps on the road.

Where the C200 Cabriolet scores is with the sweetness of its engine. With the roof down the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder sounds charming, with roof up it can focus the ear on a slight graininess when extended. Either way it is an especially willing unit that spins quickly to redline and teams superbly with the adept and intelligent nine-speed automatic.

That it only has 135kW and 300Nm to shift a 1665kg vehicle rarely works against it, and the 8.2-second 0-100km/h claim feels about right. It also leaves the steering and chassis feeling unstressed, and that is a good thing because unless an AMG badge is applied, this Mercedes-Benz does not possess the most focused dynamics around.

Where a BMW 4 Series Convertible tempts its driver to navigate enthusiastically through a set of bends while always feeling agile and connected, the Mercedes-Benz prefers to adopt middling pace at which point it feels decently solid and can be entertaining. It is also at this pace where the nicely incisive steering can best be enjoyed.

Benz also has the finest set of driver assistance aids around, which gels well with the personality of a sophisticated cruiser. Impressively, LED headlights with adaptive high-beams that can detect forward and oncoming traffic to then delete only the portion of light affecting traffic, is standard. Likewise, automatic parking assistance and collision warning systems.

Less fantastic on a drop-top approaching six figures is the optional availability of heated seats with Benz’s fantastic AirScarf neck warmers, while the standard 7.0-inch screen with aftermarket-looking Garmin Map Pilot navigation is also inferior to the larger Benz Comand unit with internet connectivity and voice control that are also extras.

Adding the above equipment raises the price by $4890 and towards the $99,900, before on-roads, C300 Cabriolet with a 180kW/370Nm version of the same petrol engine and the above equipment as standard.

Then again, with four soft-top colours, five leather hues and six exterior paint-jobs as no-cost selections, a well-optioned C200 Cabriolet can definitely look and feel expensive, even if the performance and equipment do not make the same jump. For $85,000-plus a buyer is ultimately giving up more than just overhead steel in the quest to go topless.

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