Mercedes-Benz C-class Cabriolet: Tear the roof off this Benz
Enjoy our diverse weather, no matter the season - but it's safety first with the latest Mercedes, finds Martin Brennan
Summer weather is here and we all dream of open-air driving, the roof down and the great outdoors rushing by as we sit comfortably behind the wheel. But what about the rest of the year when colder weather normally dampens the enthusiasm and it is time to put the roof up again. Fear not, Mercedes Benz has an answer, several of them actually, that will allow year-round open-top driving pleasure.
The new C-Class cabriolet is a drop-top car for all seasons. Thanks to devices such as Aircap, a deflector bar integrated into the top of the windscreen area that shoots up, forcing cold air to swirl overhead and even taking light rain with it if travelling at speed. Then there is Airscarf which forces out hot air behind the driver and front seat passenger's neck and is coupled with a wind blocker screen that rises from behind the rear seat passenger's compartment.
An additional option is a climate control system that senses when the roof is down and floods the cabin area with hot air, concentrating on the driver's hands and steering wheel area.
But extending the open-top driving season can be costly. No price yet for the first time cabriolet in the C-Class range when it arrives here in September, but in standard trim levels expect well in excess of €50,000 and the expectation is that most of the 50-a-year purchasers will spend an extra €10,000 to avail of a variety of safety and luxury upgrades. There is also a high performance AMG option with a fully kitted out price that may be in the region of €100,000.
Cosy, and safe too with a litany of safety devices. A specially designed rollover safety feature shoots protective bars up from behind the rear seats to provide a survival space together with the A pillars.
The Mercedes Benz Intelligent Drive Concept incorporates Attention Assist which warns drivers of their inattentiveness and drowsiness, Collision Prevention Assist Plus gives visual and audible collision warnings, Adaptive Brake Assist increases pedal pressure in emergency braking while autonomous braking comes into play at speeds of up to 190km/h to reduce the severity of collisions, or in best case senario avoids a collision.
There is also Steering Assist to boost braking if there is a danger from crossing traffic, Lane Assist applies brakes on offending side of the car that strays out of its lane, Parking Assist for driver-free parking and knee, thorax/pelvic and window airbags.
With the top up the cabrio resembles the coupe and comes with a choice of C180, C200 and C220D tried and trusted engines under the bonnet. The AMG option uses a 3-litre V6 362bhp, giving a 0-100km in 4.7 seconds with speed limited to 228km/h (155mph). A slick 9-speed automatic transmission will be the popular choice in all models and drivers can choose suspension settings ranging from Comfort to Sport+ for the more enthusiastic driver. There is also the option of a sophisticated Airmatic suspension for an even more comfortable travel. Boot space is compromised when the roof is down, 360 litres down to 285 litres, but there is a 50/50 folding rear seat split which allows for the all-important golf clubs. Removing the roof takes 20 seconds and can be operated at up to 50km/h. A stylish model with good economy, but this will take second place to the pleasure of putting the car through its paces.