MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS CABRIOLET

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Mercedes-Benz Australia has added to its line-up by introducing an open-top C-Class Cabriolet in both standard and AMG variants. Given the obvious love of the high-performance models – Australia is number one globally for AMG models as a percentage of overall sales – there’s a big emphasis on using Mercedes-AMG components in every Cabriolet coming here.

To make the convertible usable at short notice, its soft-top can be opened and closed in 20 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h. We prefer the use of a soft-top to a folding hardtop as even with the top up, which should be on as few occasions as possible, the soft-top cries out that this is a fun car.

Though the C-Class Cabriolet is still a two-plus-two, it comes pretty close to being a full four-seater, with enough room in the back for four adults without too much compromise on kneeroom with those in the front seats.

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The reduced width created by the folding soft-top mean the rear is strictly set out for two travellers, with a pair of individual seats.

A smart move in any convertible is heat-reflecting leather upholstery. The black ash wood trim contrasts nicely with the seats.

The rear backrests have a through-loading feature and can be split 50/50 or completely folded down. The resulting opening is still relatively narrow, check for yourself to see if it meets your needs.

Some space is lost with the roof open, but even with a pair of our aircraft cabin bags in the boot we were still able to have the top down. With the top up the roof stowage space can be opened up to take even more luggage.

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The lowest cost model, the $85,900 Mercedes C 200 Cabriolet has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with 135kW of power and 300Nm of torque. As mentioned, even it comes with the sporting looks of 18-inch AMG wheels, and suspension and body styling. It also has the added safety of LED intelligent headlights.

The C 200 provides Garmin Map Pilot navigation, DAB+ digital radio.

Moving up, the $99,900 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cabriolet also uses the 2.0-litre turbo engine, but it’s revised to produce 180 kW of power and 370 Nm of torque.

It has with 19-inch AMG alloys, a Burmeister surround sound system, Comand online navigation, heated Front Seats and an Airscarf neck-level heating system.

A really clever feature is the inbuilt Aircap air deflection system that runs a stream of air off the windscreen, thus pushing the onrushing air higher. This minimises air intrusion to the cockpit. On the previous Cabriolet the air deflection sat up and reduced the visual appeal of the car’s front when the roof was open.

During our test drives of a pair of Merc C-Class models, we felt there was less buffeting from the airstream than you get in a closed car with the windows down. With almost normal conversation being possible unless there was a lot of road noise coming in from coarse-chip surfaces and similar poor roads. That’s impressive.

Ride comfort is generally good, though some poor surfaces can cause a bit of an upset at times. European cars built for better roads than ours can experience this, it’s certainly not just the Mercs. There’s a little scuttle shake on the aforementioned roads, but that comes as no surprise when you consider the size of the cockpit opening needed to make space for four decent size seats.

Safety was high on the agenda right from the start of the open-top Merc convertibles. They have nine airbags, including window-bags integrated in the top edges of the front door panels, and side airbags for rear seat occupants.

A roll-over protection system consists of two cartridges that are hidden fully retracted behind the rear seats. If a roll-over is imminent, these cartridges are pyrotechnically fired and shoot out to provide a survival space. The strengthened the A-pillars play their part in maximising protection.

Mercedes-AMG C 43 and C 63 S versions of the Cabriolet will arrive in Australia early in 2017, we have had a look at them but yet to drive one. We will do so next week as Mercedes-Benz Australia has brought in a few early examples. We will do our introductory drive impressions report when we get behind their wheels.

The complete 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible range is:
C 200 Cabriolet: $85,900
C 300 Cabriolet: $99,900
AMG C 43 Cabriolet 4MATIC: $119,900
AMG C 63 S Cabriolet: $179,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

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