Sunday 25 September 2016

Merc cabrio that keeps the wind out of your hair

New C-Class drop-top has a few tricks up its stylish sleeve, writes John Galvin

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

While the new Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is based on the existing Coupé, it has a few tricks up its sleeve.

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We recently drove the first convertible based on the C-Class in Trieste, Italy.

We've already seen Airscarf on other Mercedes drop-tops - warm air fed to the back of the driver and passenger seats to keep you toasty even in cooler weather.

A further innovation is Aircap, a flap that rises above the windscreen to push air away from the passenger compartment.

The second part of this system is a screen which rises behind the rear passenger seat and is designed to cut turbulence.

We couldn't detect a huge difference when the Aircap was deployed, but no matter, the C-Class is still one of the more refined cabriolets on the road.

Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

There was little wind buffeting and conversation was easy even at higher speeds.

Among a full range of engines are AMG variants but initially, at least, we'll get the C180 and C200 petrols and the C220 diesel.

The nearest match at the launch was a C250 diesel so we tried that.

With 204bhp to call on, it was a spritely enough performer with a 0-100kmh time of 7.2 seconds. Particularly with the top down though, the engine can sound a bit gruff at higher revs.

Our test route was a challenging mix of narrow, winding roads and even on the more uneven surfaces, the cabriolet was composed and comfortable.

I found the chassis to be a little soft until I selected Sport mode, which tightens up the steering, firms up the dampers and changes the maps for the 9spd automatic.

Driven this way, the C-Class is a much more dynamic proposition while retaining a decent ride. At no point did the car feel any less solid than its Coupé sibling.

It's 150kg heavier and a lot of that weight goes into bracing the chassis.

The roof itself is particularly neat and folds cleanly down in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 50kmh. A triple layer acoustic hood can be specified which greatly reduces noise when the roof is raised. The interior itself is lifted straight from the saloon, resulting in a classy, understated look which is enhanced by the use of heat-reflecting leather and aluminium trim.

The seats are set low down in the car, encouraging a sporting driving position and keeping your head well out of the airstream.

The seats themselves are deep buckets and have both heating and ventilation. Automatic seatbelt extenders are also standard.

There's a surprising amount of space in the back and while there isn't acres of legroom, there's certainly enough to accommodate two adults on short journeys.

Headroom at the rear is at a premium but front seat passengers fare well with the roof up.

The boot is a reasonable 360 litres although that drops to 285 litres with the roof down.

Both rear seats fold down to increase flexibility and there's a through-loading facility.

We're told that prices will start in the early €50,000s when the car arrives in Ireland in September.

A classy Mercedes drop-top at a more affordable price point?

What's not to like?

Irish Independent

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