MERCEDES-BENZ has a new entry-level convertible. Meet the first ever C-Class Cabriolet.
Revealed on the eve of the Geneva motor show, Benz has done more than simply rip the roof off its C-Class coupe.
The biggest change is a new 9-speed automatic gearbox (the sedans make do with a 7-speeder). And there’s confirmation of a faster AMG version, dubbed C43 Cabriolet.
Like the C43 Coupe we saw last week, the C43 Cabriolet is all-wheel drive and powered by Merc’s excellent 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, tuned to produce 270kW/520Nm.
As for that new cloth roof, Benz says its multi-layer design is based on the S-Class Cabriolet. It comes in the choice of black, brown, blue or red.
It’s operated via a silver switch in the centre console, and can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 50km/h. The whole process takes 20 seconds.
Engine wise, regular versions of the C-Class Cabrio will be offered with the same suite of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines as the Coupe. Mercedes Australia is yet to decide on the local line-up, though it’ll likely comprise C200 and C300, plus the C43.
The C-Class Cabrio rides on the same 2840mm wheelbase as the coupe and sedan, and its exterior dimensions are identical, though the roofline is 33mm lower. Steel suspension with variable dampers is standard, and the Cabrio’s ride height is also 15mm lower than the sedan, and the same as the coupe.
Benz’s Airmatic air suspension set-up is also available, and if the sedan’s form is anything to go by it’s an option worth ticking. Airmatic also adds Dynamic Select with five transmission modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual.
Inside, the Cabrio’s interior mirrors that of the sedan, and can be optioned with Merc’s Airscarf neck-heating system. There’s also a wind deflector system called Aircap that reduces wind noise and turbulence.
To separate them from the regular Cabrio range, C43 variants sport styling tweaks and bigger 18-inch wheels that house larger brakes. There’s also a rear-biased four-wheel-drive system as standard, which splits torque 31 percent front and 69 percent rear, and firmer AMG tuned suspension with three-stage adaptive dampers.
Open top motoring isn’t without its compromises, though. The Cabrio can only seat four, like the coupe, not five like the sedan. Needing space for that folding soft-top means its boot is smaller too: boot space is rated as 360 litres with the roof up, and 285 litres with it down. Sedan versions boast a far more commodious 480 litres.
The Cabrio is also heavier, which has a negative effect on fuel consumption and acceleration, with the C43’s 0-100km/h sprint of 4.8sec a tenth slower than the hardtop coupe.
As for pricing, expect the C-Class Cabriolet to command a premium of about $5000 over its sedan equivalents, which start at $60,900 for the C200, and $2-3K more than the C-class Coupe models due in Australia in April.
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