2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 CabrioletPosted on November 1st, 2010
Sexy drop top with stand-out performance
By Nina Russin
In my next life, I’d like to come back as a Mercedes-Benz E350 cabriolet. Everybody would love me. Performance buffs would appreciate my 268-horsepower aluminum V-6 engine which accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 6.7 seconds. Dip your foot into my throttle and I’ll launch you like a hurricane.
My aerodynamic profile and available 18-inch AMG alloy wheels will make heads swivel. Available adaptive headlamps swivel as well, to better light corners in dark suburban streets.
Most important, my owners will love me for the way I pamper and protect them, with standard safety features including eleven airbags and pre-safe: a progressive system that warns the driver, adjusts seatbelts and applies the brakes to mitigate rear-end collisions.
Standard convenience features including a fully-automatic power folding top which deploys in twenty seconds, fourteen-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate controls and surround-sound audio system with Bluetooth interface make the driver the master of his universe.
Mercedes-Benz’s AIRCAP system reduces air turbulence when the top is deployed. Optional air outlets near the headrests blow warm air onto the occupants’ necks in cold weather.
This is not to suggest that I, the sexy cabriolet, am without limits. My cargo area is small. It will hold the weekly groceries and one moderate-sized suitcase. It might also hold a golf bag, but certainly not a bicycle. Owners who want to haul big gear will need to do so in another vehicle, such as my sibling, the GLK.
Also, I am rather costly: base MSRP is $56,850.
I am none-the-less a great value. Unlike many cabriolets, I am a four-season car, thanks to my four-layer insulated top and heated front seats. My structure is as rigid an any sedan or coupe on the road. With my soft top in place, the interior is also as quiet.
The perfect convertible day
October is the ideal time of year to enjoy open-air driving in the Southwest. On the day I took to the wheel of the 2011 E350 cabriolet, the sky was cloudless and the temperature in the mid 70s. It was the stuff daydreams are made of; hence the fantasy I opened this story with.
The aluminum V-6 engine under the hood of the test car is one of two available blocks: buyers wanting more power can opt for a 382-horsepower V-8. Both come with a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. Not only does the gearbox essentially eliminate shift shock; large overdrive gears also enhance fuel economy.
A premium package adds navigation with real-time weather and traffic updates, satellite radio, a rearview camera and the AIRSCARF system which blows warm air around the passengers’ necks in cold weather.
Optional diamond white paint costs $1515, bringing the price as tested to $63,240.
Automatic top retracts in 20 seconds.
A latch on the center console retracts the top and windows. The top deploys into the trunk, eliminating the need for a boot. A small windscreen in back of the second-row seats limits turbulence in the passenger compartment.
The aluminum V-6 is remarkably powerful, achieving peak torque at speeds as low as 2400 rpm. As a result, it accelerates extremely hard off the line and into high-speed traffic.
I began the test drive with the radio off, since I wanted to listen for cowl shake. There is none. Visibility around a convertible’s perimeter is always excellent with the top deployed. In the case of the E350, it’s pretty good with the top in place as well, thanks to a relatively large rear glass. Glass, unlike plastic, doesn’t yellow over time, ensuring good rear visibility through the life of the vehicle.
A speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system provides more assist at low speeds, while maintaining heavier steering effort on the highway. Agility control suspension automatically adjusts shock damping according to speed and driving conditions, giving the cabriolet exceptional handling and response on challenging roads.
The E350 handled the pitchy hills and decreasing radius turns on the Bush highway east of Phoenix with aplomb. The chassis remained flat throughout, thanks to stabilizer bars on both axles. Large disc brakes stopped the convertible on a dime.
A 35.3-foot turning radius makes U-turns easy on wider surface roads. The optional rearview camera enhances visibility with the top in place: it adds a measure of safety when pulling out of vertical parking slots.
The cabriolet’s low center of gravity enhances high-speed performance. Ground clearance is a scant three inches. For this reason, I’d recommend against traveling on anything but paved roads. Buyers living in areas which see a lot of snow should consider a second vehicle for the winter.
No car manufacturer sweats the details more than Mercedes-Benz. Seemingly minor interior enhancements contribute to an extraordinary driving experience.
For example, the windows lower slightly when the driver shuts the door, to eliminate resistance from the air seal. Seatbelt anchors pivot forward, so the front driver and passenger don’t have to fish for the belts behind their shoulders.
The seats are hard and heavily bolstered, which by itself would make long drives uncomfortable. However, fourteen-way driver’s seat adjustments and three-stage seat heaters work together to minimize fatigue. A standard dead pedal keeps the legs in the optimum position for extended periods.
A power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view. Redundant audio and Bluetooth controls minimize driver distraction.
A mouse device on the center console controls the optional navigation and audio functions. Its location is easy to reach from either front seating position.
While most cabriolets don’t have an abundance of room in the second row, the E350 is above average. A metal lever on the front seatbacks slides them forward to make access and egress easier. Designers located the seatbelt anchors to stay out of the way.
The seats have enough legroom for small-to-average sized adults. Vents behind the center console circulate air in back when the top is up. A console between the seats provides second-row passengers with two cupholders. There is also a fold-down armrest.
Mercedes-Benz stays true to its tradition of segment-leading safety with eleven standard airbags, an automatic pop-up rollover bar, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, the pre-safe collision feature and drowsy driver alert. The standard four-year/50,000 mile factory warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
The sexy E350 cabriolet is rolling into Mercedes-Benz dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A stylish, exceptionally safe cabriolet with seating for up to four passengers. The E350 cabriolet is as solid as a hardtop car, with exceptional handling and response.
Model: E350 Cabriolet
Base price: $56,850
As tested: $63,240
Horsepower: 268 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 2400-5000 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.7 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/highway
One response to “2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet”
This was a great post – I found it to be very well written. It was extremely intriguing..
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