Saturday 10 December 2016

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet: It's just drop-head gorgeous

Taking advantage of the last rays of sunshine, Campbell Spray found a thing of beauty in a Mercedes Cabriolet

Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30

Destined to be a classic: The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet gives smiles and sunshine
Destined to be a classic: The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet gives smiles and sunshine

A few weeks ago, looking forward to the day the clocks were going back, wasn't likely to be the most auspicious time to test a convertible. In fact I was on the point of changing the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet to something a bit more ordinary for the Bank Holiday weekend. But gosh, I'm pleased I didn't.

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Fresh from seeing my colleague and friend, photographic editor David Conachy, storm through Stoneybatter on his way to finishing his first marathon in 3 hours 48 minutes, I was with my partner and dog Sam for a drive around north Kildare.

And the great thing about the unseasonal warmth of last Sunday was that there wasn't a complaint from woman or dog when I suggested that the top came down.

It also says something about how the economy has turned for some that we got smiles and admiring glances rather than the vulgar abuse that was the norm a few years back. Yet all wasn't sweetness and light, on our return as the early dusk was settling in, we saw some marauding teenagers who were throwing things at passers-by and I worried for our soft roof.

Luckily we escaped unscathed with just our pulses racing. A cyclist and a dog-walker weren't so lucky.

The Cabriolet is the first convertible model produced in C-Class form and, as much as I don't like to go along with marketing speak, I can only agree with Mercedes's Ciaran Allen that it really does "ooze appeal from every curve and contour". It looks so impressive that perfect strangers came up to us in a car park and poked their heads in for a look. The Polar White body colour with Cranberry Red leather inside and black ash fascia didn't disappoint them.

However, I was most impressed with how effortless and quietly the car cruised, much of this was down to the nine-gear automatic transmission. The 220d Cabriolet AMG with 170bhp I was testing comes very well-equipped which is as it should be when a price of €62,310 is involved. The only optional extra was an Air Cap at €192 which rises from behind the rear-seats to deflect the wind when the soft-top is down. Driving open-top also restricts the luggage space quite dramatically. You wouldn't want to be packing for a long holiday.

And, while the two rear seats are very cosy, you need to be nimble and pint-sized to feel really comfortable there.

With the roof down I would feel a bit claustrophobic too. But with those caveats this Mercedes is a real thing of beauty and is destined to be a classic. In that regard I would rather go for a petrol model, as diesels are going to face very big restrictions in the future.

With its precise handling and lovely looks, the car gave me a really good feeling and lot of smiles in preparation for the dark evenings ahead. The roof will go down in seconds even at speeds up to 50kmh, so there is no excuse to grab every bit of sunshine.

It was a shame that the Cabriolet was replaced at Spray Towers by its very ugly sister the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, which has taken a possible thing of beauty, pumped it full of steroids, added pointless metal running boards and given the world a cross between a tank and elephantine chariot.

I'll be embarrassed going out in it today, yet I trust it won't totally obliterate the happy memories of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday Independent

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