Mercedes-Benz returns to the compact convertible class with this pretty C-Class Cabriolet. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Mercedes completes its C-Class model line-up with this attractive fabric drop-top version. There's 4MATIC 4WD for the first time in a Cabriolet Mercedes of this kind and this time round, two different sporting Mercedes-AMG versions. You'd like one.
Think of a Mercedes cabriolet and you tend to think in terms of needing a lottery win. You'll be picturing cars like the SL roadster or maybe the smaller SLC. If luxury is more your thing, then perhaps the models you have in mind are Cabriolet versions of the brand's E-Class and S-Class models. All are expensive. Slightly more accessible though, is the car we look at here, the C-Class Cabriolet. It's based on the C-Class Coupe and returns Mercedes to a segment it hasn't really been represented in since the days of the CLK Cabriolet. Key rivals include drop-top versions of Audi's A5 and BMW's 4 Series.
Six engines are available for this Cabriolet model, starting with a 184bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo unit in the C200 variant. The C300 variant uses the same powerplant but ups the tune to 245bhp. Next up is the 367bhp Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC. At the top of the range, the potent Mercedes-AMG C63 uses a 4.0-litre V6 biturbo engine, putting out either 476bhp - or 510bhp in top 'S' guise. If you want a diesel, the options start with the 2.1-litre 170bhp C220d, which can be ordered with 4MATIC 4WD. Or you can stretch to the C250d, which uses the same engine in a 204bhp state of tune. 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission can be ordered for all engine variants - and is standard with many of them. The suspension on the Cabriolet is 15 millimetres lower in comparison with the C-Class Saloon and this set-up can be ordered in former 'Sports' guise paired with the Sports Direct-Steer system for more agile handling. AIRMATIC air suspension is another option and if you go for this, you get as standard the 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes system that's option with steel-sprung variants.
Design and Build
With its top up, the profile of this two-door cabriolet resembles that of the CClass Coupe, with virtually identical basic dimensions. That means you get the same striking front end featuring a diamond radiator grille, LED High Performance headlamps and a long bonnet flowing into a high beltline. The tightly stretched soft top with its glass window transitions harmoniously into the distinctly styled rear end, which has a highly sporty look with its wide shoulders and flat LED tail lights. The fully automatic fabric soft top can be opened and closed using a matt chrome curved switch on the centre console. The process takes less than 20seconds up to a speed of up to 31mph. After opening, it folds down quietly and is stored in the soft-top compartment in the boot. Inside, the high-grade materials and build quality are everything you would expect from a Mercedes cabriolet. The sport seats use heat-reflecting leather and feature muscular side bolsters and organically integrated head restraints as well as optional AIRSCARF neck-level heating. Automatic belt extenders as standard help the occupants with buckling up. The rear pews are in the form of individual seats. Their backrests offer a through-loading feature, can be split 50:50 for high everyday practicality and can be completely folded down. This extends boot capacity which is 360-litres - or 285-litres with the roof open.
Market and Model
Think in terms of needing around at least £36,000 for your C-Class Cabriolet, or a little more, once you've allowed for a few well-chosen extras. That's just a starting point of course. Most models will be sold in the £40,000 to £50,000 bracket. Below the top 'Mercedes-AMG' models, there are two main trim levels - 'Sport' and 'AMG Line'. Both derivatives are well equipped. We particularly like the sensitive climate control system that adapts itself whether the car is being driven with the roof up or the roof down. A key option you really have to have on this car is the 'Cabriolet Comfort package'. This gives you two key features; the electric AIRCAP draught stop system that reduces the interior turbulence for rear passengers at the press of a button. And the AIRSCARF neck-level heating set-up for the driver and front passenger. Alternatively, there's also the option of a retrofitted manual folding draught stop behind the front seats. This noticeably stops draughts in the front seats. We'd also want to make sure that our car came fitted with the 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes system that allows the driver to choose their desired setting: sporty, comfortable or fuel-efficient.
Cost of Ownership
The powerful and efficient Euro6 four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines used across the Cabriolet line-up get an ECO start/stop function and look to be an efficient bunch. All units feature ecofriendly SCR technology (Selective Catalytic Reduction) for exhaust gas after-treatment. As a result, you can expect very low running costs for a car of this kind. Take the C220d variant. Its CO2 return is 116g/km in 2WD form, while a light right foot could see you recording over 60mpg on a regular basis. The C200 2.0-litre turbo petrol variant doesn't do too badly either. It manages 47.1mpg on the combined cycle. Even the top C63 AMG model doesn't do too badly considering its fearsome performance. It returns up to 31.7mpg on the combined cycle and between 208 and 218g/km of CO2. What else? Well maintenance costs will be kept down thanks to an ASSYST Plus service indicator on the dash that'll calculates precisely when a dealer visit might be needed. And residual values will be as high if not higher than anything else in the class.
I said at the beginning that you might not necessarily need a lottery win to own one of these but the important thing is that at the wheel - or on your driveway - this C-Class Cabriolet will make you feel as if your numbers have come up. Use it day-in and day-out and we think you'd start to wonder whether it would be really worth paying twice as much for a more exalted Mercedes drop-top, even if you had the funds to do so. Yes, you could get yourself an Audi A5 Cabriolet or a BMW 4 Series Convertible for a little less than you'd pay for one of these, but neither of those cars have quite the street cred that attaches itself to this C-Class. This is, in short, a very complete product.