Mercedes C 300 Cabriolet: Top-down excitement
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The C300 Cabriolet is the latest addition to the now four-model strong Mercedes convertible line-up in India. At Rs60 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s also the most affordable Mercedes-Benz convertible you can buy. Quite obviously, the C300 Cabriolet is the convertible version of the C-Class sedan with which it shares its underpinnings.
Mercedes designers have done a splendid job of translating the C sedan’s style on to a convertible form. The front-end is classy and the wedge-shaped tail (ala the S-Class Cabriolet) is nicely done. However, wider tyres and perhaps larger wheels would have surely added to the overall sportiness of the profile.
There’s also some scope for customization with four body colours as well as four colours for the fabric roof on offer. The roof can fold or unfold in 20 seconds, while driving along at speeds of up to 50 kmph.
From the driver’s seat and with the roof up, the Cabriolet feels just like the C-Class sedan. There is a level of richness to the cabin that makes it feel really special. The shapely front seats are large and comfy, and offer full electric adjustment. However, rear-seat passengers don’t have it quite as nice. Sure, the large doors open wide and the front seats slide forward electrically. But the backrest is way too upright and there’s not much headroom with the roof in place. Fold the roof and the already limited boot space shrinks even further. Then again, practicality is not top priority when buying a convertible.
The C300 comes with quite a lot of standard equipment. On board is a Burmester surround-sound system, front seats with memory, park-assist (it will locate and steer the car into a parking automatically), LED headlights and navigation. The Cabriolet also runs Merc’s latest infotainment system, which also gets a faster processor and a larger display.
The C300 uses a 245 hp 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, the same as on the GLC300 SUV. This will do the 0-100 kmph dash in a claimed 6.4 seconds and can reach a top speed of 250 kmph. The engine is strong all the way till the redline before the nine-speed gearbox intervenes and upshifts, at around 6500 rpm. It’s also got a nice soundtrack to go along. No, you don’t get pops or crackles like you do in a sports car, but it’s got a very natural-sounding rumble. Again, if you crave a convertible with a larger engine, Merc will sell you the V6 E Cabriolet or the V8 S Cabriolet.
Merc’s 9G-Tronic gearbox is responsive to manual inputs via the steering-mounted paddles-shifters. Five drive modes (including a customizable “Individual” setting) alter engine, gearbox and steering characteristics. Sport and Sport+ prep the engine for best performance, while Eco and Comfort tone things down. Even in the sportier settings, don’t expect the C Cabriolet to drive like a sports car. For that, you should be looking at the AMG SLC43.
What helps the C Cabriolet’s positioning as a luxury convertible is its ride quality. The suspension absorbs the rough stuff quite well and it’s only when you drive over a bad patch of road at speed that you feel the absence of a solid roof.
The multilayer fabric roof does a good job of minimizing noise levels in the cabin and there’s no undue wind noise creeping into the cabin on the move. But what’s even more admirable is how well-contained wind buffeting is with the roof down. The Cabriolet gets what Mercedes calls Aircap, which uses an extendable spoiler atop the windscreen and a screen behind the rear seats to reduce turbulence in the cabin.
The C300 Cabriolet’s Rs60 lakh price tag puts it between the Audi A3 Convertible and the ageing Merc E400 Cabriolet, and is a fair proposition. The C300 is refined and comfortable enough for everyday use. Yet, it is also one that offers all the romance of open-top motoring when the opportunity arises.