Car Name: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet
Brand Name: Mecedes-Benz
This past year, Mercedes-Benz released its new E-class sedan and coupe, and now the 2011 E-class convertible has been unveiled, replacing the CLK droptop in the Mercedes lineup just as the E coupe replaced the fixed-roof CLK. The E-class sedan has long been one of the bread-and-butter cars for M-B, and the E lineup as a whole should be guaranteed bestselling-Benz status given its four-model breadth: E-class sedan, E-class coupe, E-class convertible, and the forthcoming E-class wagon.
Despite its new name, this cab follows the formula of CLKs past, being as it is based on a mix of E- and C-class mechanicals. Chopping the top off the coupe required reinforcements baked into the pillars and bulkheads to resist chassis flex. M-B claims the convertible gains roughly 150 pounds in the transformation, but we expect the real-world difference to be closer to 250 pounds. The E convertible carries over some nice features from the coupe such as a pass-through in the rear center armrest for skis, a nice touch lacking on many convertibles, and because M-B designed the current E platform with the droptop in mind, trunk space goes surprisingly uncompromised by the seven-layer softtop.
As you�d expect, the styling is similar to the coupe�s. Even the raked rear window carries over to the cabriolet, surprising, since such elements usually are left behind in the transition from coupe to convertible. The new E�s aggressive, boxed-off fender flares remain at the rear, as does the massive three-pointed star in the grille. The car is pretty handsome top-up or top-down, although we note that it resembles a Toyota Camry Solara from the front-three-quarter view.
Sadly, we only get the two gas engines found in the E-class sedan and coupe: a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 for the E350 and a 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 for the E550. Europeans get their choice of six diesels, too, one of which is scheduled to hit American shores in the E-class sedan in June; it won�t make it into U.S.-spec droptops. An unblinking German stare was the only response when we asked about an E63 cabriolet�do you think that�s a good sign? (Nah, us either.)
The E-class coupe carries what Mercedes claims is the lowest drag coefficient of any production car, ever: 0.24. The convertible slips by at a slightly worse 0.28 with the top up. Drag increases to 0.33 with the top down. The most fascinating bit of tech debuting in the E convertible is a wind deflector Mercedes has dubbed Aircap. The system will be standard on U.S.-bound E-class cabs. Going beyond the typical large piece of mesh behind the front seats, the Aircap involves a deployable spoiler that lives on the top of the windshield frame; it raises 2.4 inches above the header and redirects air higher and further back over the cabin than it would normally flow. If it sounds simple, think again: There are a total of 211 parts in the thing.
We have yet to drive the E convertible, but M-B did set us up in its wind tunnel in Stuttgart-Untert�rkheim to experience Aircap for ourselves. We were subjected to �speeds� of 50, 62, 75, and 87 mph in both the front and back seat. The effect could be felt at all the speeds, and it is convincing. In the back seat with Aircap deployed, wind hits the top of your head rather then the middle of your forehead. In the front seat, Aircap basically eliminates wind buffeting. Don�t be surprised if you see this on all Benz convertibles to come.
But there is a price to pay for not feeling the wind in your hair (but isn�t that the point of convertibles?). The low drag coefficient rises to 0.38 with your jaunty little Aircap in place. That, believe it or not, is essentially the same as that of a 2004 Dodge Durango (0.39). Official fuel-economy numbers haven�t been disclosed, but expect them to be 1 or 2 mpg worse than those of the coupe, which stand at 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for the V-6 and 15/23 for the V-8.
TopClass Backside View?
Fast Track View
TopClass Backside View?