Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet Review

By Jonathan Spira on 20 August 2010
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Summer is in full swing and that means one thing: convertible season is upon us.  While a convertible can be any ol’ drop top, a cabriolet has a specific definition, namely a convertible that seats at least four.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet, which comes as an E350 and an E550, is such a vehicle.  Going against the trend of a power-operated retractable hardtop convertible, this is a true ragtop and it looked beautiful.  Our gun-metal grey cabrio arrived with a beautiful blue cloth roof and it was a sight to be hold.

Before I go any further, I should explain that this is no ordinary convertible or cabriolet.  The E-Class Cabriolet comes with the Mercedes-Benz Aircap system, an innovation that significantly reduces noise, air turbulence, and drafts when the top is down.  It’s so good that I hope Mercedes hasn’t patented it, since every auto maker that makes drop tops should copy it straight away.

How Aircap works is simple.  A six centimeter wind deflector is extended out of the windshield’s frame and an air dam with headrest extensions rises behind the rear seats.  This elevates the airflow and reduces air movement within the cabin.  For cooler days, the heat coming from the car’s heating system remains in the cabin and, on warmer days, the air conditioning keeps the cabin comfortable.    The system works as well for passengers in the rear seats as for those in the front.

The Aircap system also lowers the amount of wind noise in the cabin, making it possible to hold conversations with one’s passengers, a neat trick in a convertible. According to Mercedes-Benz, Aircap can be activated at speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph) and can remain on when the vehicle is at maximum speed.

When combined with the Airscarf system, which blows heated air on the necks of front seat passengers to keep them warm, driving with the top down suddenly becomes a year-round option.   One thought: the next version of Airscarf should have a setting that would allow it to blow cool air – but not so much as to cause a neck ache.  This would have come in handy during my time with the Cabrio as outside temperatures hovered around 37°C (99°F).  Click here to continue to Page 2.

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