Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - E-class - E250 CGI Cabriolet
Ride comfort, noise suppression, smooth transmission, steering feel, sharp looks, generous equipment list
Room for improvement
Tight boot space, turbo lag, roof operation not particularly fast
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27 Feb 2013
Price and equipment
THE E250 tested here is the entry variant to the range, but will still set you back $107,850 plus on-road costs, more than major luxury four-seat cabriolet rivals such as the BMW 325i ($94,700) and Audi 2.0 TFSI quattro ($96,400).
Unlike some Benz models of the (now) distant past, the E250 comes well-equipped, with features including cruise control with speed limiter, memory seats, Nappa leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera and a seven-inch screen with navigation, voice control, a 10 GB hard-drive and Bluetooth/auxiliary/iPod integration.
Outside are 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights and xenon headlights with high-beam assist. Also fitted is Benz’s button-operated AIRCAP system, which raises a wind-stopper over the windscreen and a buffeter between the rear seats. It works, too, noticeably reducing both turbulence and noise and speed.
Our test car also came with the optional $2200 Harman Kardon premium sound system, which we consider money well spent.
THE E250 is a cruiser, not a bruiser, and nothing makes this clearer than the electrified memory seats, which are wide and soft rather than firm and racecar grippy.
Soft-touch leather padding abounds, and the uncluttered fascia (itself a design feat considering the number of buttons used) feels both well made and tactile.
The use of a regular gearshifter rather than the horrible and bewildering column-shifter on several recent Benz models helps ergonomics, as does the automatic seatbelt-feeder for front seat occupants – no need to gracelessly turn and stretch for the belt in here – and seat buttons on the doors rather than tucked further down.
Less ergonomic is the foot-operate park brake, which impinges on foot room, and frontal visibility can be limited for taller drivers.
The instrument panel behind the steering wheel is an intricate work of art, thankfully fitted with a digital speedo, and the dial on the transmission tunnel (a la BMW’s pioneering iDrive system) is far easier to use at speed than a fumbly touchscreen, which can fall prone to shaky hands and operation lag.
The navigation system works well and swiftly finds its target, although having to input destinations by letter via the aforementioned dial can be cumbersome. The fabric roof is operated by a switch, located under a soft leather case next to the centre console.
The rear seats are comfortable and thanks to the AIRCAP relatively free of bluster, but tall occupants need not apply. And even if you did squeeze four adults in, the 390-litre boot only spacious enough for more than small amounts of luggage.
A fabric roof takes up less space than folding metal ones as fitted to the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G and Lexus IS C, but the E cabrio is compromised nonetheless.
On that note, the roof operation is not the quickest around – Benz claims 20 seconds, we made it 25s – but can at least be operated at up to 40km/h for maximum impact on the denizens of your local cappuccino strip.
Engine and transmission
CONFUSINGLY, the E250 features not a 2.5-litre engine as the name suggests, but a 1.8-litre turbo petrol with ‘equivalent’ output.
Don’t let the smaller capacity fool you though, because the 150kW/310Nm unit punches above its weight, with a torque curve that provides maximum grunt between 2000 and 4300 rpm and a clever seven-speed automatic that knows how to use it.
A zero to 100km/h sprint time of 7.8 seconds is far from leisurely.
Mercedes-Benz has done well to keep noise suppression down and refinement up, and claimed fuel economy of 7.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle (we found that achievable with care) is excellent.
But there is a little more of the dreaded turbo lag than some other small-capacity, force-inducted engines of this type. On occasion, we experienced a full-second delay between planting the throttle and feeling the boost.
Ride and handling
THE Benz is calibrated for comfort, but makes a good fist of being a dynamic sportster when called upon.
The bodyshell is stiff, with little in the way of flex or shudder – the Benz felt solid as a rock.
Turn-in is sharp and the steering has decent feel and feedback – although we did feel some kickback over corrugations – and the rear-drive configuration even allows for a little flick of the tail.
The ride veers on cushy, and as befits a car of this type the Benz swallows up pot-holes and corrugations with minimum fuss. Mercedes has chosen a good compromise here between sportiness and suppleness.
Safety and servicing
STANDARD equipment on the E Cabrio range includes adaptive brakes with drying function, attention assist, fatigue warning, brake assist, brake pad wear indicator, pop-up roll-bars, neck restraints and seven airbags.
Mercedes have one year/25,000km service intervals on all four-cylinder vehicles, a three year warranty and three years of roadside assistance.
AS A COMFORTABLE and desirable four-seat boulevard cruiser, the E250 still has plenty of bite.
It costs more than rivals from BMW and Audi, but Mercedes has made good compromise between comfort and dynamism.
Throw in sharp and distinctive looks and that three-pointed star on the bonnet, and it’s easy to understand why it continues to be a strong seller.
1. BMW 325i: From $94,700 plus ORC. Has the dynamic edge, with superbly balanced handling and a punchy powertrain. Options are expensive, but the Beemer is a tempting proposition.
, 2. Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro: From $96,400 plus on-road costs. Roomy and understated four-seat soft-top with all-wheel-drive grip and a punchy little turbo four-cylinder engine.
, 3. Lexus IS250C: From $76,300 plus ORC. Classy Japanese contender has a quick folding metal roof – good for car park gawkers – and a refined character, although interior packaging isn’t the best.
Make and model: Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet
, Engine type: 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
, Layout: Front-mounted, rear-wheel drive
, Power: 150kW at 5500rpm
, Torque: 310Nm between 2300 and 4300rpm
, Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
, 0-100km: 7.8s
, Fuel consumption: 7.1L/100km combined cycle
, Dimensions: 4698mm long, 2015mm wide, 1398mm high and 2760mm wheelbase
, Weight: 1725kg
, Suspension: Front MacPherson strut with three-link, rear Multi-link
, Steering: Electric
, Price: $107,850 plus ORC
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