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Elegant Mercedes-Benz C-Class cabriolet even warms to the cold

PUBLISHED: 17:04 19 December 2016

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz

The first ever Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a soft-top for all seasons and one you’ll warm to whatever the weather. Motoring editor Andy Russell braves the elements and is cocooned in comfort.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

Going... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-BenzGoing... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Going... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-BenzGoing... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Imagine you’re cocooned in bed under the duvet, and can’t put off getting up in a cold bedroom. That was the feeling when I had the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. Every morning, if it wasn’t raining, it was coated in frost but I knew I’d have to drop the top to test it.

Not ideal weather, or time of year, for Mercedes to launch its first C-Class soft-top - the spiritual successor to its four-seater CLK rag-top – but if you can live with it in winter, you’ll love it in summer.

Gone... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-BenzGone... Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet goes up and down smoothly and quietly. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Blowing hot or cold?

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is tastefully finished. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is tastefully finished. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

I needn’t have worried. Taking advantage of a dry spell, with the highly-efficient heating cranked up, heated front seats and Airscarf swirling hot air round by neck from a slot in the seat back, I was toasty under my ‘virtual duvet’.

It’s easy to make the most of any break in the weather – flick one switch and the roof disappears quietly and smoothly under a flush-fitting panel - all very neat and tidy – in 24 seconds and at up to 30mph. Press another button and a little wind deflector rises on top of the front screen and a draught stopper behind the rear seats to minimise buffeting. Even at motorway speeds, it’s quiet enough to have a conversation.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet seats four but rear legroom is limited. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet seats four but rear legroom is limited. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Under the bonnet

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet boot will take a decent load of luggage. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet boot will take a decent load of luggage. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

My test car was fitted with the 2.1-litre turbo diesel engine, now available with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that’s much slicker and quicker shifting than the seven-speed transmission. With the extra, closer ratios, you hardly feel it changing and it feels more responsive when kicked down for acceleration or you can use flappy paddles behind the steering wheel.

I was also happy with 50mpg overall and 55mpg on a run.

Front wind deflector helps reduce buffeting on Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. Picture: Mercedes-BenzFront wind deflector helps reduce buffeting on Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

How it drives

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a pleasure to drive, roof up, roof down, whatever the weather. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

The extra weight of bracing to make up for no rigid roof means the cabriolet is not quite as agile as the coupe, saloon or estate but the ride quality is still top-notch.

Despite the Sport tag, it’s not really sporty but goes round corners competently with a flat stance and feels well planted with enough feel from the steering to be involving, especially if you make use of the adjustable drive modes.

Space and comfort

The C-Class Cabriolet is a genuine four-seater with adequate legroom and, even with the roof up, headroom in the back for average adults but six-footers might feel the squeeze on long journeys. You also need to be reasonably supple to get in and out of the back with the roof up.

As cabriolets go, it’s also got a decent boot, especially with the roof up and its storage compartment raised out of the way. I managed to stow a medium-sized suitcase at the back of the boot and four soft bags without clever packing… or brute force! Roof down, soft, squidgy bags are the best bet.

At the wheel

The C-Class is extremely comfortable, with good adjustment for the electrically-operated memory front seats and electric steering column. The downside is that on the left-hand side of the steering column there are now stalks for the indicator and headlight main beam, cruise control and speed limiter and a little one to adjust the steering wheel so it’s get a little busy.

The fascia looks classy and works well with a central controller between the front seats for most functions but I still find the large screen perched on the dashboard looks like an afterthought.

Final say

I like a soft-top cabriolet because, even with the roof up, I would want people to know I am driving one. The C-Class Cabriolet is the best open-top four-seater I have driven. Even when the weather’s bad, every cloud has a silver lining.

FACTBOX

Price: Mercedes-Benz C220d Sport Cabriolet automatic £40,425 (range from £36,545)

Engine: 2,143cc, 170hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 8.2 seconds; top speed 144mph

MPG: Urban 54.3; extra urban 65.7; combined 61.4

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 23%

Insurance group: 36 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,686mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,016mm; H 1,409mm

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