First Drive: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet

First Drive: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet

We know that crossovers and SUVs are where the action lies at the moment, but looking at the two-door version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, you hope formats like the coupé stay just a while longer.

We spent a fortnight with the convertible and fixed-top models. I opted for the latter while colleague Bruce Fraser took the opportunity to let some sun shine in.

Whereas the hard-top came in E300 specification, wielding a 1991cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an output of 180kW and 370Nm, the soft-top was the E220d with a 1950cc four-cylinder turbo diesel engine good for 143kW and 400Nm.

We have expressed (warranted) criticism about the interior quality of more than a few contemporary Mercedes-Benz products. But that does not seem to apply to its higher-tier offerings, where the manufacturer appears to be more liberal with the upscale textures and trims.

Minor details evoke awe in the two-door E-Class: if there are more interesting air ventilation slots in a modern car I have yet to see them. Wearing a special matte white paint and bigger alloys, our coupé tester expressed the sportier side of the range. The dark grey cabriolet, with its contrasting red ragtop, was a more traditional sophisticate.

It was hard to discern which got more stares, but both were accepted with undeniable reverence wherever they parked.

The ride is equipped with air suspension, which is as cosseting as expected. The assistance of pneumatics certainly mitigated most of the consequences of low-profile rubber and larger wheel diameters.

Despite the luxury of the ride, our ears pricked up at the playful note engineered into the engine acoustics. It is uncharacteristically playful for what is meant to be a stately, dignified form of transport for those who are self-assured and successful.

Indeed, life is pretty good should you have the wherewithal to accommodate either of these E-Class models in your garage. But Mercedes-Benz is also ahead of the curve by being one of the only players in the niche. Audi does not have a similarly sized coupé or convertible. And the BMW 6-Series is just a bit old.

In this context, company representatives can have a field day with that “The best or nothing” tagline.

Pricing for the coupé starts at R708 300 and the cabriolet at R919 500. – Brenwin Naidu