Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet review
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet looks great and its eye-catching cabin feels more special than most posh convertibles, but it’s neither as sporty nor as practical as some alternatives
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The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is an elegant four-seat convertible with a high-tech cabin and a range of fairly economical engines. If you fancy something a little easier to live with every day, it’s also available as a swoopy coupe, a five-seat saloon and a practical estate.
To keep it looking and feeling fresh, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet was updated in 2018 with two new engines, restyled bumpers and an overhauled infotainment system. The latter now comes with a 10.3-inch display as standard instead of the old car’s 8.4-inch unit, and you can even get a 12.3-inch digital screen in place of conventional analogue dials – just like in the Audi A5 Cabriolet.
Unfortunately, the Mercedes convertible doesn’t feel quite as well built as the rock-solid Audi inside, but it comes with plenty of metal switches and glossy trims to make it look just as upmarket. Less fancy, however, are the man-made leather seats you get as standard, but at least they come with loads of adjustment to help you get comfy.
Things are much cosier in the back, but there’s still just enough space for two tall adults – on short journeys at least – and the front seats slide forward electrically to help them climb in easily.
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet boot is the same size as in the BMW 4 Series Convertible, but it’s slightly smaller than the loadbay you get in an A5 Cabriolet. Unlike in most convertibles, you can fold the Mercedes’ back seats down if you ever need to carry very long luggage.
Stylish, comfortable and even surprisingly spacious, the C-Class Cabriolet pretty much does it all – well, apart from being outright fun to drive…
You probably won’t be brimming the C-Class Cabriolet’s boot all that often, so more important than boot space is what it’s like to drive. Avoid sporty AMG-Line models – or spend extra for the optional air suspension – and the C-Class Cabriolet irons out bumps and potholes impressively well.
Even entry-level petrol models make decent long-distance cruisers, but for regular long drives you’ll want to pick a C220d diesel model, which’ll prove more fuel efficient. If it’s a sporty convertible you’re after, one of the faster AMG-tuned C43 petrol models will be worth considering.
Whichever model you go for, you get a silky-smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard, alongside plenty of active safety kit including cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
Add to this a reassuring five-star safety rating awarded to the C-Class Cabriolet by Euro NCAP in 2017, and you’ve got one of the safest soft-tops on sale and a tempting alternative to the likes of the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Audi A5 Cabriolet.
Unlike in some convertibles, there’s space in the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet’s back seats for two adults with the roof up. Sadly, bootspace is more limited than in similar-size soft tops
You’ll probably never call upon the C-Class Cabriolet to haul a load of 2x4s back from B&Q, but it’s still good to know you can flip the seats down to carry long items if you ever need to
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is just as spacious inside as the C-Class Coupe, so you’ll have no trouble getting comfortable in the front if you’re over six-feet tall. Both front seats come with electric height adjustment and adjustable lumbar support so you’ll have no trouble finding your ideal seating position and you shouldn’t be bothered by backache on long drives.
Unfortunately, climbing in the back seats isn’t a particularly graceful manoeuvre – especially with the roof up. The front seats slide forward electrically to give your passengers a bigger gap to squeeze through, but tall adults will have to stoop down uncomfortably to avoid hitting their head on the Mercedes’ sloping fabric roof.
Once your passengers have squeezed their way in, however, space in the C-Class Cabriolet’s back seats is actually pretty good – for a convertible, anyway. There’s enough legroom for six-footers to get comfy and only very tall passengers will find their heads brushing against the fabric roof.
Just like the C-Class Coupe, there are only two seats in the back so there’s plenty of shoulder and elbow room to go round and it’s even relatively easy to fit a child seat. The standard Isofix anchor points are clearly marked and – with the roof down – it’s a doddle to lift in and secure the seat.
The dark roof fabric lining you get in AMG-Line cars makes them feel a little more cramped in the back than other versions, but you can quickly solve this by putting the roof down. The fabric folds extend forwards over the rear headrests as it goes, however, so your taller passengers will have to lean forwards slightly to avoid it brushing against their heads.
The C-Class Cabriolet’s front doors have large enough pockets to hold a 1.5-litre water bottle and there’s space under the folding central armrest for a third bottle. You get two cupholders tucked neatly under a folding cover in the centre console alongside a 12V socket, a USB port and a tray to put your phone it.
Unfortunately, the glovebox isn’t particularly roomy and most of the available space is taken up by the bulky owner’s manual. The two rear-seat cupholders aren’t particularly deep, either, and there aren’t any extra storage bins for passengers in the back.
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet has the smallest boot of any model of C-Class on sale, but there’s still just enough space for you to carry a couple of small suitcases or a large baby buggy – with the roof up at least. Its 370-litre capacity is the same size as a BMW 4 Series Convertible’s boot and only very slightly smaller than what you get in an Audi A5 Cabriolet.
Thankfully, the boot opening is pretty wide so there’s enough room for you to hoist in a wide suitcase, and you even get a handy divider to make sure you leave enough space to fold the roof down. If you’re certain you’ll leave the roof up, you can fold this away to maximise the Mercedes’ carrying capacity.
If you need to carry very long luggage, you can flip the back seats down in a two-way (50:50) split – something you can’t do in many other convertibles. You also get a smattering of tether points, a netted cubby and enough space under the floor to tuck a small soft bag. There’s also a folding plastic crate that’ll prove useful if you’ve got plenty of small items to carry.
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is very comfortable and almost as quiet on the motorway as the Coupe, but it doesn’t feel as nimble on a twisty back road as most alternatives
The C-Class Cabriolet doesn’t feel particularly sporty to drive, but it’s all the better for it. Few other four-seat convertibles feel as relaxing to drive on a gentle top-down cruise
The most affordable C-Class Cabriolet comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that’s boosted by a mild-hybrid system to deliver decent performance and reduced fuel economy. Mercedes claims it’ll return 44.1mpg, but you can expect to see a figure in the high thirties in normal driving conditions. This engine’s your best bet if you do lots of city driving, but it’s even impressively quiet at motorway speeds.
Speaking of motorways, if you lots of very long drives you’ll be better off with a C220d diesel model. This 194hp engine gives the C-Class Cabriolet enough poke to breeze past slow-moving traffic and it produces little more than a faint hum at 70mph. Mercedes claims it’ll return more than 56mpg, but 50mpg is a more achievable everyday figure.
Unlike the C-Class saloon, you can’t get the C-Class Cabriolet in C300 petrol car, so if you’re after a sporty soft-top, your only option is to go for the twin-turbo V6 AMG C43 model with 390hp. This’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds – thanks to its grippy 4Matic four-wheel-drive system – but will struggle to return more than 25mpg.
Whichever engine you pick, you get a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard that changes gears smoothly when you accelerate and doesn’t jerk at low speeds. It doesn’t respond to the paddles on the steering wheel quite as quickly as the automatic gearboxes you get in the A5 Cabriolet and 4 Series Convertible, but it’s still a significant improvement over the old C-Class Cabriolet’s seven-speed unit.
With the roof up, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet feels just as relaxing to drive as the Coupe. The standard suspension irons out bumps impressively well and the optional air suspension softens the thud of even the most cavernous potholes.
AMG-Line versions feel a little firmer, but whichever trim you choose, you won’t hear much tyre noise at motorway speeds. In fact, the fabric roof does such a good job muting wind noise on the motorway that it’s barely any louder than the C-Class Coupe at 70mph.
Go for a Sport model, and the comfort-oriented suspension means the C-Class Cabriolet isn’t quite as much fun to drive on a tight twisty road as the BMW 4 Series Convertible, but it feels right at home at a relaxing cruise.
If you fancy taking advantage of an unexpected sunny spell, you can lower the roof in just 15 seconds at up to 31mph. Of course, you’ll hear more wind noise with it tucked away, but the combination of a wind barrier behind the front seats and Mercedes’ special Wind Cap spoiler on the windscreen means you’re well protected from unpleasant gusts – even on the motorway.
With the roof down, you get fantastic visibility to help you spot approaching traffic, but the rather small rear window and thick roof sections behind the passenger seats produce some significant blind spots with the roof up. Thankfully, the C-Class Cabriolet comes with a reversing camera as standard to help make it reasonably easy to park. You even get a self-parking system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel spaces automatically.
Also standard are cruise control and automatic emergency braking, but you have to pay extra for the Driver Assistance Pack if you fancy all the high-tech bells and whistles. This upgrade brings with it blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways – so long as you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
All this high-tech kit helped the C-Class Cabriolet earn an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in the strict 2017 crash tests. As a result, it’s one of the safest soft-tops on sale.
The C-Class Cabriolet’s interior feels slightly more special than you’ll find in most alternatives, but some tech – including the flashy digital driver’s display – costs extra