If I were ten years older, moneyed and were stuck at crossroads in life, I would want to be in this, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, whistling my favourite tune in the serene silence of the muffled racket that was unfolding right in front of me. Now that I have started as if I were about to give away life lessons, let me focus on the job at hand – finding out how the new Mercedes C300 Cabriolet feels and drives.
There is only one trim of the C-Cabriolet and the one we got was dressed in white with a deep blue soft top. The car looks grand with its wide grille, three-part air-dam and twin-barrel LED headlamps up front. The three-pointed star is nested in the starry diamond grille with the bow-tie like thick horizontal slat giving it the sporty touch. If you look closely, the LED DRL strip actually connects the grille to the shoulder line that emanates front of the headlamps and runs across the length of the car to fuse into the tail lamp.
The profile is defined by a raked windshield, typical cabriolet soft top that dips on the deck-lid and flower-petal alloy wheels. The rounded tail section gets sporty twin end-cans and tail lamps resembling its big-brother – the S-Cabriolet. The Mercedes logo in the back hides the parking camera which pops out when you slot in reverse. The car looks taller than the coupe version, but it actually sits lower and as a result you have to crawl over speed humps no matter how innocent they look.
With the top down, the C-Cabriolet comes into its own. You can buy the car in four hues – white, black, blue and red with four options for the roof as well – black, brown, blue and red. The roof opens in 20 seconds and at speeds up to 50kmph and is electrically stacked underneath the deck-lid. That eats into the otherwise large boot and with the space-saver also in there, you would rather be slipping in backpacks into the remainder.
The interior, typically Mercedes, is clean and classy. The many buttons are laid out neatly on the brown ash wood centre console with the touch-panel plus rotary COMAND controller between front seats. The tablet screen for infotainment stands out from the black leather-clad dashboard. The three-slat round AC vents can be turned off with the rotary controller at the centre and look classy with their brushed aluminium finish. The C-Cabriolet gets an electrically adjustable steering column and a leather clad steering wheel with audio and telephone controls. The analogue speedometer and rev counter are separated by the typical Mercedes multi-function display that reads out all the vitals.
The seats are upholstered in bright white leather and there is a good amount of space for the front passengers. It does have two seats in the back that can be accessed by tumbling the front seats, but they are cramped especially for tall people. Add the extremely upright seatback and limited under-thigh support, the rear bench wouldn’t be comfortable over long hauls. On the other hand, the front seat space is more than enough for all sizes and the seats are really comfortable. They are electrically adjustable with four-way adjustment for the lumbar support and we could have done with more lateral support. Also, the white interior might be difficult to maintain in the dusty Indian environment and hence you have three more options – all-black, brown-black and red-black.
With the roof down and windows up, the wind just caresses your pate at high speed. The electrically deployable deflector on the top of the windshield and the baffle behind the second row make sure it continues to be so even with the windows down. The Burmester audio system sounds great and the music is clearly audible with the roof down as well.
It has nice thoughtful touches that makes it really special. For example, because the door is large, the seat-belt top mount has to sit way behind the front seat. So when you key in, you have probes coming out handing you the seat-belt. And in case it has retracted, you can get it come out at the press of a button. The classic watch on the console is a nice touch.
Underneath the long hood, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet has a 2.0-litre inline four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that fits snugly close to the firewall. The 245bhp motor has 370Nm of torque kicking in from as low as 1300rpm propelling the C-Cabriolet right from the word go. The engine revs cleanly to just over 5000rpm post which the power starts to taper. The torque converter gearbox makes full use of the power on tap, thanks to the nine ratios it has to play with.
The Mercedes hurtles to three-figures earnestly without drama, easing its way across the next ton. The C-Cabriolet is a classic grand tourer, meant to ease its way across land effortlessly. The suspension setup on the Mercedes makes sure the minor undulations of concrete roads, joints or unruffled surfaces of tarmac go unnoticed. It feels planted all along masking speed until you peek at the speedo. The engine response, steering response and suspension can be adjusted for all driving modes which include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Dynamic.
Even with the engine and suspension in sport mode, you could have the steering in comfort mode unless you want a heavier steering for a more secured feel. The C300 comes equipped with active suspension, which adjusts the dampers according to the way you are driving. Hence, even in Comfort mode the trick dampers keep the C300 flat around corners, minimising body roll and maintaining its composure. When pushed harder, the Pirelli 225 section rubber becomes vocal but has more grip to offer than it seems. Make no mistake - it’s not a drivers’ car but an enthusiastic convertible which has safe and predictable driving manners.
The C300 loves long corners as the direct steering helps it flow through easily. But when you encounter a tight one you suddenly feel its weight coming into play and its best to roll back a bit. The ventilated discs at all four corners equipped with ABS and EBD work well to cut the speed down quickly but the extra pounds are evident here as well. With traction control and other driving aids, staying safe isn’t difficult at all and in any other case, you have a cocoon of airbags to keep you secure.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||245bhp @ 5500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||370Nm @ 1300|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||59|
|Burmester Audio System||Yes|
|245bhp petrol engine||Yes|
|Two-Zone Automatic climate control||Yes|
|9-speed Automatic gearbox||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||245bhp @ 5500||177bhp @ 5100|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||370Nm @ 1300||250Nm @ 1250|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||59||50|
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is a gentleman's grand tourer that will take you around in luxury and style. In India, if you are looking for a drop-top toy, there aren’t many options this side of a crore rupees. At Rs 60 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, the C-Cabriolet doesn’t come cheap but neither does that kind of engineering. You have the Audi A3 Cabriolet, approximately Rs 13 lakh cheaper but it is a segment lower and misses the panache of the C- Cabriolet. The Mercedes SLC and BMW Z4 are two-seaters.
As I said, if I were ten years older, was loaded and wanted to buy a drop-top, the C300 Cabriolet would certainly be on my list.