Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

Mercedes Benz India Limited {MBIL} are been credited as one of the first to come in India and establish a name for themselves as a premium luxury car maker. While its position as the numero uno may have been toppled over by the so called late comers like the Audis and BMWS, it still is considered as one of the best in what it does. If you want to announce to the world that you have arrived in life, buying a Mercedes is the best bet. The entry to the 3 pointed star club is a real privilege. Earlier memories of my childhood are clouded with pictures of Mercedes cars moving around and announcing that they bring with them a sense of opulence and wealth. So when I first saw the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet, in a gleaming blue standing there and begging me to drive it, I was more than consenting. It was as if I was invited for a free raunchy session with Pamela Anderson and get to make my own video as well. So here comes the video oops vide description of my tryst with the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet.

Looks

A cabriolet design actually wouldn’t work in India given our ever so changing climate conditions. But then you would argue that even super cars don’t work in India given the roads or the lack of it, so why is the Buggati Veyron Grand Sport in India? Forget all these useless discussions because the only way a company can stay in contention is by staying ahead or at par with the competition. Earlier Mercedes products were considered stately and this was the main reason for the brands demise in lieu of the fresher and better looking models from the competition.

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet looks similar to the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class launched in India. The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet has the AMG type grille at the front complemented by the big 3 point star right in the middle of the grille. It is flanked by the two head lamp slots. One which houses the parking lamps and the other, the main beam. Both are HID kits and make daylight of the night driving. The air dams are a subtle affair with it getting bifurcated by two horizontal slats. In placed of the fog lamps are inverted golf club type LED lamps. The bonnet is steep however the windscreen is small as can be expected from a cabriolet design.

The side profile doesn’t have huge flared wheel arches as expected however it does have 17 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels. The outside rear view mirrors are anything but good looking. They however do their job well. There are two lines running across the side and both terminate at the rear wheel. The rear wheel arch is flared more than front one.

The rear end features a rather stubby boot. It has longish horizontally staked tail lamps which are bifurcated by the boot lip. The LED stop lamp is mounted atop the boot lip. Jutting out from the rear bumper are two oblong tail pipes.

Interiors

Typical Mercedes-Benz interiors greet you when you open the door of the low slung Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The first thing that you notice is the Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control {do you need one in an open top?}, leather upholstery, COMAND electronics interface and the three spoke steering wheel with all the controls on it. Speaking of the steering wheel, it is dark like the rest of the cabin and is contoured in the right places. The seats are also very good and provide just the right amount of bolstering for every occupant. A novelty gimmick in the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is that the moment you sit in the seats, the seat belts automatically extend towards you. Once you wear them, they just fit you snugly.

To access the rear seats, one has to just push a small button near the front seats. The front head rests would automatically fold and the seats would automatically whirr ahead. Spooky, isn’t it? But then that is the charm of owning a Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The soft top roof is a party trick and it would retract into its hood within 21 seconds. Getting it back on your head would take it 26 seconds. The rear seats are practically useless and a sub 4 lakhs Maruti Suzuki A-star or better still the Rs.2 lakhs Tata Nano has more space. It is befitting kids or those of you who are vertically challenged.

The dashboard is made of non reflective surface coating. It however feels soft to touch and the build quality is impeccable as well. The Mercedes-Benz E class feels a tad bigger than the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. It has the MB-Tex premium vinyl soft top. It seems not too well made and this is surprising coming from Mercedes-Benz family. However what it still does well is isolate you from the engine noise. I have a doubt that there might be a leak or two during monsoons.

The boot is miserable and it is obviously due to the roof retracting into it and all that gimmick. It is now comparable to that of the Tata Nano. For the record, the boot of the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is only 120 liters.

Handling and ride quality

Mercedes-Benz have always known to be having a fairly good ride and handling package in all their cars. The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is no different however due its body form, handling takes precedence over ride quality. The car would do your bidding across hairpin bends however it would definitely make you aware of what is going on while it is doing it. The steering is strictly okay and not fitting a sports car or one with sporty intentions. It is moderately light in city speeds but doesn’t offer good feedback at higher speeds. It is not as sporty as say, the BMW 5 series coupe or the Audi A6 Avantgarde.

Ride quality is typically stiff and unlike any Mercedes-Benz car that you may have experienced. It is however better than its German competition. The ride would jut over sharp bumps and smother the not so sharp ones.

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is quite a quiet car. Even though it has a soft top, it doesn’t let noise filter through even at high speeds. You can hear that sports car burble but not so much as to disturb your conversation inside the car.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 petrol engine producing 272 Bhp @ 6000 rpm and about 355 Nm of torque @ 2400 rpm. This might not be sports car power figures however it does propel the 1765 kg car from 0-100 kmph in 6.8 seconds. It reaches a top speed of 225 kmph {restricted}, one which I couldn’t verify on the short drive. There is an AMG slated version putting out 518 Bhp which is doing the rounds of the international market and is rumored to make it to India some time next year. The gearbox is the seven-speed automatic transmission as the bog standard. It doesn’t have paddle shifts and this is a huge glaring omission. Without paddle shifts, the car does feel strained. The gearbox in itself is smooth and does make easy work of driving this big car around.

Braking is achieved via 4 wheel disc brakes coupled with ABS, traction control, Electronic Stability Program {ESP} and Electronic Brake Distribution {EBD} for good measure. There is also a special Driver Assistance Package available which brings in a lane departure warning/correction system, blind-spot warning system and PreSafe braking.

Safety is also taken care with the rigid body shell, designed to take care of dispersing energy in the event of a crash. It is supported by the usual 3 point ELR seat belts, anti whiplashes, PreSafe {this one anticipates a crash and secures the occupants accordingly}, Attention Assist {detects drowsy driver behavior and warns with a gentle nudge on the steering wheel} and 6 air bags.

Fuel efficiency, should you want to know, is 6.2 kmpl in the city and 10.4 kmpl on the highway. This is ARAI certified figures.

Verdict

Even though you would have crores to spare, a Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet isn’t a sensible buy. But then, it isn’t made for the sane person. It is only for those who want exclusivity and wouldn’t care more about all the pan stains, occasional pigeon poop and all. I don’t know if you would ever get to even drive open top given the Indian climate. But, if you ever buy one, you would be the envy of everyone in and around your locality and friends circle. If you are single and very rich, then this should be your choice of drive. Given its price tag of 64,50,000 { Delhi ex-showroom }, you are definitely gonna be exclusive and may be even get one of those dreaded phone calls.

Technical specifications of the Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

Engine stats

Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 272 Bhp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 355 Nm
Max Torque: 2400 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 34.9 ft.

Exterior

Length: 186 in.
Width: 70.5 in.
Height: 54.9 in.
Wheel Base: 106.7 in.
Ground Clearance: 5 in.
Kerb Weight: 1765 kgs

Interior

Front Head Room: 37.8 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 53.1 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 46.9 in.
Front Leg Room: 43 in.
Rear Leg Room: 30.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 120 liters
Maximum Seating: 4
Transmissions : 7 speed automatic with manual override.
Front tyres/wheels: 245 / 40 R 17
Fuel and consumption combined: 7.6 kmpl
Rear tyres/wheels: 265 / 35 R 17

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