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2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet

There’s nothing quite like moving down a major thoroughfare flipping your folding roof, all while moving under 30 mph. Yes, you’re cruising like a boss, driving the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet. But how about when it’s nearly 40-degrees outside. That’s just pure genius!

That genius displays itself through the Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet’s amazing AirScarf that huffs warm air down the back of our necks, while the heated seats massage our backsides to the consistency of jello. Life behind the wheel of this Merc is good.

2018-mercedes-benz-e400-4matic-cabrio-24
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

While everyone else is reveling in how the market for Sports and Crossover Utility Vehicles has launched into the stratosphere (Mercedes-Benz included), company officials made sure we were aware that the brand is here to celebrate the car, specifically this topless four-seater.

The New E-Cabriolet: Beauty and Brains.

Based on the E-Class sedan platform, the new 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet starts with strong bones and follows the lead of the E-Sedan, which Mercedes claims is the most advanced car ever. This seventh generation E-Class, as overseen by Chief Designer Gorden Wagener, follows his edict that if you build a house right, you don’t need to add many lines of character to it. Such righteousness has given way to the Coupe, Station Wagon, Sedan and now, this Cabriolet.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Much swoopier than others, the new E-Cabrio begins with the by-now familiar Mercedes-Benz star in the diamond-studded grille, which is divided by a single lamella wing stretching from side to side for a wider look. A newly designed badge rests at the front of the power-domed aluminum hood, which heralds the arrival of the E400’s new Sensual Purity design language. Overall, it’s a look of maturity, as seen through the restraint displayed by a lack of sharp edges, harsh lines and other character features likely found on some of its now more garish competition. At least that’s what they would like you to think. Among the E400 Coupe’s competitors is the BMW 6-Series cabriolet and the Audi A5 Cabriolet.

Extending along the flanks, it is evident that less is more. Abandoning the folded look has yielded a more muscular side appearance that traces up to the shoulders over the standard 18-inch or available 19-inch rear wheels. This leads all the way to the LED-encrusted taillamps at the rear with a new lower appearance thanks to the below bumper mounting of the rear license plate. When locking or unlocking the car, the taillamp sequence welcomes you, flashing from center outward when the E400 is open and outward – inward when it is secured.

A full-fledged four seater.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

Based on the new Mercedes-Benz E-Series Sedan platform, the entire car is now almost five-inches longer. Of that, almost 4.4-inches went into stretching the wheelbase for increased space, not to mention road stability. The stretched wheelbase places almost two more inches into rear seat legroom. The width is increased by almost 3-inches. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet is a four-seater with an actually usable rear seating area, which actually accommodates two adults.

Leather is standard, both on the seating surfaces, the doors and dashboard with single-needle tailoring. Newly designed matte-finished turbine HVAC vents recall the intakes of jet aircraft engines and are nestled across the large expanse of wood inlay that looks like it came from its S-Class big brother.

Tech Talking.

The heart of the E-Coupe’s technology suite resides with the standard 12.3-inch display that controls the Mercedes COMAND system. It’s from here that driver and passenger can operate the audio, navigation, telecomm and vehicle settings, not to mention engaging a full massage to tingle from top to bottom during a blast up the ‘Bahn.

If you want a digital display wall, opt for the available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Together with the 12.3-inch central display, it provides more than 24-inches of visual stimulation that operates virtually every aspect of the car and features configurable speedo- and tachometer, as well as cellular, vehicular and navigational displays in the central part of the gauge binnacle. Steering wheel-mounted touch control buttons allow the driver to operate both screens while maintaining complete control of the wheel.

Further down the center console, resides the dynamic select control switch, which offers varying styles of Throttle, Steering and Transmission inputs. Comfort, Sport, Sport+ ECO are all here, as well as Individual, which lets you select settings according to your tastes.

Safety first, last and always.

As always, Mercedes takes nothing for granted in the abilities of their own customers and those of other drivers. Our E400 Cabriolet was equipped with the standard Pre-Safe and Pre-Safe Sound features that adjust seat position, close windows and pre-tension seatbelts, as well as introduce a form of “white noise,” to engage the “Stapedius Reflex” that helps preserve occupant’s hearing when sensors determine a shunt is imminent.

Going further, our sampler included other new safety features as part of the Premium 3 Package ($9,350). They included Active Parking Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Active Distance Assist (Distronic), Active Steering Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Pre-Safe Plus with Rear Collision Protection.

Of the most interesting, were the Active Lane Change Assist which determined, after engaging the turn indicator for two seconds, if it was safe to overtake a slower moving vehicle. It would then take care of the steering movements to complete the overtaking.

Then there was the Evasive Steering Assist, which hurried us out of the way of a car that did not see us in his blind spot when changing lanes. The system works by adding steering wheel torque when we tried to wrench ourselves out of the way of this meathead. All of this gave us a new appreciation for the ghost in the machine.

The Powerplant:

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet

The heart of the new E400 Coupe is a singular 3.0-liter Biturbo (twin-turbo) V6 engine that produces 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. The latest generation of this engine is now mated to an all new 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission with a zero to 60 mph time of 5.5-seconds for the rear wheel drive version, and a 0-to-60 time of 5.2-seconds with the all-wheel-drive 4Matic. That’s a one-second improvement over the previous generation. Top speed is an electronically limited 130 mph.

We also experienced the available Air Body Control that provides roll, pitch and heave stabilization as well as a constant ride-height adjustment, regardless of load. On bad roads, it can raise the ride height, and then hunker back down automatically when road conditions improve.

Behind the wheel.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe is a technological tour de force, filled with driver enhancements and safety features that surprisingly do nothing to take away from driving enjoyment. Starting from zero, we found an eager stable of 329 horses ready to prance from the 3.0-liter Biturbo V6. Steering through South Florida streets found us wheeling it in rapid fashion to get around the excessively slow snow birding drivers, which was done with ease thanks to the variable torque of the electromechanical rack and pinion system.

Power delivery was linear, smoothly – and calmly-climbing through the nine cog gearbox, with nary a misstep or hunting for the proper gear. Overtaking required nothing more than a stomp on the skinny pedal, which was met with a drop in gearing and a nicely transmitted growl from the exhaust manifold underhood.

We experienced the E400’s ride in a combination of comfort and sport modes, which truth be told, provided a similar feel regardless of setting. Neither too soft nor too harsh, it, along with the massaging front seats, provided a relaxing and satisfying excursion through Palm Beach.

We’ll go out on a limb and say that regardless of the fact that SUVs are dominating the marketplace, the Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe is a very desirable and capable extension of the E-Class lineup.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet

Base MSRP: $68,800 (4Matic) As tested: $87,215.

Iridium Silver Metallic, $720; Natural Grain Light Wood, $150; Premium 3 Package, $9,350; AMG line body styling, wheels and interior trim, $2,500; Destination fee $995.

Type: two-door, four passenger convertible

Drive: 4Matic AWD

Engine: 3.0-liter Biturbo V6

Horsepower: 329@5,200-6,000

Torque: 354 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,000

Transmission: 9G-Tronic Automatic Transmission

Shift: Wheel-Mounted Paddle Shift levers

Suspension: F+R Multi-link suspension coil springs with variable damping.

Wheelbase: 113.1-inches

Length: 190-inches

Width: 80.9-inches

Height: 56.3-inches

Track: 63.4-inches

Ground Clearance: 3.7-inches (Max Load)

 

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Smart fortwo electric cabrio first drive

Smart fortwo electric cabrio first drive

Too much fun? That’s what we were asking after driving the 2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabriolet in San Diego . We had been here before with the first generation gas-powered smart that had us of the opinion that it wasn’t very smart at all. Powered by an engine that made it feel like a motorcycle with a body, its rather crude gearbox had us lurching back and forth throughout the town.

What a difference a generation makes.

 A Smart decision. Mercedes-Benz, US importer of the smart fortwo, has made a very smart decision, which they can take to the “smart marketing bank” if they are smart about it. Clever, huh? They realized (or listened to all of us auto scribes) when we told them the gasoline-powered smart fortwo wasn’t a very good car, or a motorcycle, for that matter.

2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio
2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio

As a result, they finally agreed, and have, with the 2018 model year, to go totally electric. That puts them in the same category as Tesla. For 2018 they will offer the smart fortwo coupe and cabriolet. We were invited by smart’s parent company, Mercedes-Benz USA, to travel to San Diego for a chance to try this new one out. Not exactly as they say on television, batteries are included.

Hello Kitty Car. Appearing as though it would be found in Hello Kitty’s garage, the smart fortwo electric drive cabriolet even looks like the famous feline from the front. It’s a two seater with a smallish trunk, 96-cell lithium batteries under the seats, and a roof that pops off making it into a cabriolet.

Power for the fortwo comes from a three-phase synchronous motor and storage for 17.6 kWh of battery capacity. The electric motor and batteries combine to produce slots 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque. That energy is delivered to the rear wheel drive system through a single-staged transmission. Mercedes says it’s good for a 0-60 mph jaunt in 11.7-seconds. Top speed is 81 mph, which is more than sufficient for the around-town excursions the cabrio is likely to be used on. The perfect vehicle for putzing around in the city, it has a turning radius of 22.8 feet, which is typically good enough to make a u-turn in the middle of a street.

Even though battery cells are rather weighted due to their density, the smart fortwo electric drive cabrio tips the scales at 2,383 pounds. Smart says the fortwo is good for roughly 57 miles on a full charge around town. It carries a fuel economy rating of 112 city / 91 highway /102 combined Miles Per Gallon equivalent (MPGe). It runs so quietly that at anything under 18 mph, a sound generator lets others know that a vehicle is in their proximity.

The smart fortwo cabrio is included with a 120 V home charging cord that takes 16.5 hours to reach a 100-percent charge. Charging on a 240 V supercharger completes the task in as little as three hours.

The smart fortwo electric cabrio stands alone in its class because the others in the class, including the Fiat 500e, Nissan’s Leaf and Volkswagen’s eGolf are not offered in droptop versions.

2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio
2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio

By Design. The 2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabriolet is quite innovative and capable of being three cars in one. A coupe with the roof and rear fully closed, a convertible with roof and rear panels open, and a cabriolet with the roof and rear open, and the side roof bars removed. Mind you, you must plan according to the weather because if you have removed the roof bars, you won’t be able to reinstall the roof until the bars have been reinstalled first. Watch out for rainy days.

Seating was comfortable for two in the fortwo, belying its small size, which could actually accommodate two burly men inside.

Inside, the smart fortwo cabrio is equipped with a wide variety of options. A smart Media-System with 7-inch color touchscreen offers navigation, with charging station locations, a graphic representation of how far you can drive with the current battery charge, and live traffic information.

Other options include a climate package, lighting package and smart Media-System with JBL audio and removable sub-woofer.

Drivetime. Behind the wheel of the smart fortwo electric drive cabrio, was a car that was totally transformed from our last time in it. Peppy acceleration was the order of the day and did manage to shock a few owners of regular internal combustion engine powered cars. Especially, the woman behind the wheel of her Cadillac CTS, which we trounced off the line during a stop light drag race in suburban San Diego. She wasn’t having any of it, and quickly passed us but it was certainly fun to see the shock on her face.

2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio
2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabrio

Having the batteries stored under the seats help to lower the center of gravity, and enabled us to cut into corners nicely. But care must be taken when rolling over a railroad crossing grade, or one of these so-called sleeping policeman that are used to calm traffic speeds. Approaching too aggressively causes the rear torsion bar suspension to bottom out which in turn causes quite a jarring inside the smart’s interior.

Regenerative braking came into play throughout our driver around Extreme southern California. We could have sworn by the end of our time behind the wheel that we had exceeded the expected 57 miles available to us from a full battery charge. Instead of living on borrowed battery time, we observed was enough battery power remaining to run an additional 27 miles.

That’s pretty smart, too.

Story by Mark Elias. Photos courtesy of smart/Capital Sunset.

2018 smart fortwo electric drive cabriolet

Base MSRP: $28,100     As tested: $32,630

Includes: Prime Package: $1,000; Climate Package, $200; smart Media-System with JBL Sound, $1,780; Destination fee, $750.

Key Specs

Motor:                                         three-phase synchronous motor

Batteries:                                    96-cell Lithium-ion pack

Power:                                         80-hp

Torque:                                        118 lb-ft

Acceleration:                              0-60 mph in 11.7 seconds

Top Speed:                                  81 mph

Drive Type                                  single-staged

Unladen Weight:                       2,383-pounds

Length:                                        106.1-inches

Width:                                           65.5-inches

Height:                                         61.1-inches

Wheelbase:                                  73.7-inches

Charging 120V                            16.5-hours

Charging 240V                              3-hours

City:                                                112

Highway:                                        94

Combined:                                     102

 

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