Despite the C-Class being in its fourth generation (fifth if you include its predecessor, the 190), it has never before been offered in Cabriolet guise. Sure there’s been a multitude of different bodystyles, including saloon, estate and coupe, but it’s the first time that Mercedes-Benz has had a similarly-sized competitor to the Audi A5 Cabriolet and BMW 4 Series Convertible. And with the former in its twilight years, bosses of the German firm are hoping to capitalise on this with a smart looking alternative. The cabins of all recent Mercedes-Benz models have been sensational, and this C-Class Cabriolet is no different, with an expensive look and feel that wouldn’t be out of place in a car costing double the price.
The blend of lavish materials, including real wood trim, metal appliques and the optional red leather upholstery, really deliver when it comes to the wow factor. Up front, the interior is carried over from the executive saloon, including logically arranged controls and lots of storage for oddments, including a big central bin, a generous glovebox and large door pockets.
Only the electric park brake switch that is a stretch to reach muddies the waters, and we wish that the infotainment screen had touch functionality. The location of the electric seat controls on the door cards are a joy, with chairs that hug your frame nicely, while head and legroom up front is excellent. Space in the back is more restricted though, and best reserved for children or small adults. Access to the rear is made awkward by long doors, especially when getting in and out in tight parking spaces. Wind-in-the-hair motoring is easy to achieve at the touch of a button, with the roof lowering in just 24 seconds – you can even do so at speeds of up to 30mph. Boot space is limited, but similar in size to rivals. It’s oddly shaped, though, and accommodates squashy holdalls better than more rigid suitcases. The long-running 2.1-litre turbo diesel engine delivers good performance off the line, with a broad spread of torque, but does so in a noisy fashion.
In open top guise you’re always aware of the source of power, while with the roof up, it becomes more of a background track, drowned out by the sound of the tyres and road noise that is transmitted into the car. Gear changes are smooth and effortless, and if you want to get more involved, there’s the opportunity to do so using the steering wheel mounted paddle shift controls.
Set up more for comfort than outright agility, the C-Class Cabriolet isn’t enormously engaging to drive. Steering response is good though, and body control fine through the bends, it’s just that it won’t set your heart racing in the same way that a BMW 4 Series will. Our car came with the standard setup of 18-inch alloy wheels and agility control suspension, delivering comfort levels that are good, dialling out all but the worst of the bumps, and delivering a decent ride over imperfections and potholes.