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Driven: Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet ‘hard to beat’

Laying it down: Every C-Class Cabriolet in Australia is fitted standard with a multi-layer roof, which is optional in most markets overseas.

All-new Mercedes C-Class Cabrio overtakes BMW 4 Series in premium sportscar segment


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26 Oct 2016

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific has described the inaugural C-Class Cabriolet as the lynchpin in its quest to dominate the premium sportscar segment for buyers spending more than $80,000, bolstering its two-door range alongside the coupe to steal sales leadership from BMW’s 4 Series.

Whereas the C-Class Coupe on its own was running a close second to BMW’s 4 Series Coupe and Convertible range, the addition of the all-new C-Class Cabriolet has already taken the C-Class two-door duo to segment leadership as first deliveries arrive in the marketplace.

The C Cab launch range includes the C200 – priced from $85,900 plus on-road costs – and the C300 from $99,900, with the range to be bolstered by the $119,900 C43 AMG either late this year or early in 2017, plus the $179,900 C63 AMG which is further afield.

Mercedes-Benz Aust/Pac public relations, product and corporate communications senior manager David McCarthy said international supply constraints had delayed the introduction of the Mercedes-AMG variants.

When the full range reaches showrooms, Mr McCarthy anticipates that C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet sales will soar by 1000 units annually, more than 50 per cent growth compared with last year’s 1409 haul for the hard-top-only range.

“I think when the full range of those are on sale you’d have to be looking at a couple of hundred per month at minimum,” he said.

Sales of 2400 units for the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet would exceed each of the previous two years of BMW 4 Series volume, which led the $80K-plus sportscar segment with 2201 sales in 2014 and 1921 last year.

To the end of September, Mercedes has posted 1560 C-Class Coupe/Cabrio sales, compared to 1263 from the 4 Series combo.

“It (C-Class) is going to be hard to beat,” Mr McCarthy said. “Competitors have cars to go up against it, but the model range really works in its favour.”

The headline act for the C Cabriolet is the debut of a nine-speed automatic transmission into regular model grades for the first time. Where sedan, estate and coupe versions of the C200 and C300 retain (for now) a seven-speed automatic, both grades of cabriolet arrive with the new 9G-Tronic unit.

As with other C-Class entry models, the C200 Cabriolet uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 135kW of power at 5500rpm and 300Nm of torque between 1200rpm and 4000rpm.

Compared with the $20,000-cheaper hard-top version, however, the extra ratios must compensate for a 140kg increase in kerb weight for the soft-top, which tips the scales at 1665kg.

Claimed 8.2-second 0-100km/h acceleration is nine-tenths slower, while combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.8 litres per 100km is 0.8L/100km thirstier.

The C300 Cabriolet is heavier again at 1690kg – a 125kg increase on the $16,000-cheaper C300 Coupe – but includes a higher-output version of the base engine, with 180kW at 5500rpm and 370Nm from 1300-4000rpm.

Comparing hard- to soft-top, the latter’s 6.4s 0-100km/h acceleration is four-tenths slower while its 7.2L/100km mileage is 0.6L/100km less thrifty.

Mercedes-Benz Aust/Pac has selected as standard a multi-layer roof for every C-Class Cabriolet, which is optional in most markets overseas.

The S-Class Cabriolet-derived design has been constructed of magnesium, aluminium and steel, draped in four no-cost fabric colours (dark brown, dark blue, dark red and black) and it can close or open in 20 seconds at up to 50km/h, even via the remote keyfob.

When closed, the roof permits 360 litres of boot space compared with 285L with the roof open, which is considerably down from the C-Class Coupe’s 400L volume.

The two-pew rear seat also has a 50:50 split-fold function with electrically raised wind deflector and hidden rollover deployment bars above it.

Other equipment on the C200 Cabriolet extends to 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with adaptive high-beam, ‘active bonnet’, blind-spot monitor, collision warning alert with autonomous emergency braking, electrically folding and heated door mirrors, and 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors and automatic parking assistance.

Inside, there is a 7.0-inch colour display with Bluetooth streaming, Garmin Map Pilot sat-nav and digital radio, along with leather-trimmed and memory-set electrically adjustable sports seats, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, push-button start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

A Comand Package has been reserved as a $2990 option, featuring a 21.3cm colour display, integrated sat-nav with 10GB hard-disc drive, internet and voice control connectivity, and a 13-speaker 590W Burmester sound system.

Likewise, a Warmth Comfort Package has been placed as a $1900 option, featuring heated front seats and the AirScarf neck-level warming function.

Both packages have been included as standard for the C300 Cabriolet, which further includes 19-inch alloy wheels, full keyless entry system as well as a Driver Assistance Plus package – designed to bundle adaptive cruise control with ‘stop and go’ function, automatic lane-keep assistance, active blind-spot assistance and pedestrian and cross-traffic recognition functions.

Sports suspension has been made standard on both C200 Cabriolet and C300 Cabriolet, with Airmatic adaptive air suspension a $2990 extra on both.

The 270kW/520Nm Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet and 375kW/700Nm Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet further add AMG-tuned adaptive suspension.

Mr McCarthy nominated the entry sports model as a potential surprise performer in the market when it arrives.

“The 200 is there for a reason, it’s to provide a price position,” he said when asked of a potential sales split between the C-Class Cabriolet model grades.

“I think 300 will be pretty popular but I wouldn’t underestimate 43. I think that is going to do very well. C43 is not going to outsell C300, but I think it could surprise”.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet pricing*
C200 (a)$85,900
C300 (a)$99,900
C43 AMG (a)$119,900
C63 AMG (a)$179,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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