The E-class cabriolet doesn’t feature a folding hardtop, using instead a traditional cloth roof that’s nearly an inch thick. The top is sealed well and seemed to be nearly as quiet at highway speeds as a metal roof. It takes about 20 seconds to furl and unfurl, with another five seconds added for all four windows to chug up or down. One benefit of the cloth top is that it allows for decent trunk space: 11 cubic feet with the top down and 14 with it up. That’s a great deal more commodious than the trunks of folding-hardtop convertibles when their tops are lowered.
The E-class cabriolet isn’t as enjoyable to drive as a BMW 3-series or even an Audi A5, but it’s more comfortable for four people than either of those cars. It’s built like a bank vault and is a serene cruiser that will make a statement at a valet stand or the shopping mall. After all, not all cars have to be barnstorming racers—wait, did we really just say that?
Neither car will set an enthusiast’s pulse racing, but the E350 and the E550 are highly competent vehicles. We couldn’t detect any cowl shake over bumpy roads, and these convertibles provide a satisfying ride on the highway, particularly in more-relaxed E350 form. The V-8’s growl under hard acceleration is seductive—as is its pace—but we felt the V-6 was better suited to the car’s overall demeanor. Through the twisties on the island of Mallorca, the car was capable, but the steering is slow on-center and isn’t particularly talkative; the car is tuned for comfort rather than hauling the mail.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
BASE PRICE: $57,000–$67,000
ENGINE TYPES: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection; DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 214 cu in, 3498 cc (V-6)/332 cu in, 5461 cc (V-8)
Power (SAE net): 268 bhp @ 6000 rpm (V-6)/382 hp @ 6000 rpm (V-8)
Torque (SAE net): 258 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm (V-6)/391 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm (V-8)
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Wheelbase: 106.9 in Length: 185.0 in
Width: 70.3 in Height: 55.2 in
Curb weight (C/D est): 3900–4100 lb
PERFORMANCE (MFR’S EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 5.1–6.3 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph
FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 15–17/22–25 mpg