New Level 1
The C-Class Cabriolet is the new entry level to top-down Mercedes-Benz motoring. It’s the first-ever C-Class cab, unless you count the CLK, which we don’t because it was expensive and niche. This one will surely have more mainstream appeal and is a good example of the German marque’s push into more “accessible” luxury markets.
2 + 2 + 2
There are only two doors here and they open to a two-plus-two cabin with a host of neat features to ensure easy access to the back seat. The automatic seatbelt helper for the front seat moves back into what would be the C-pillar, and a one-pull lever on the top shoulder of the front seat moves it forward to give access. At 5’6” I could sit behind myself, but you might find passengers wanting to swap seats on longer road trips as leg room is only adequate.
A 360-degree around-view camera is standard, helping park the surprisingly large C 300 easily and quickly. Of course, when the roof is down you have your own 360-degree camera, but I was still grateful for the help.
There are four available models in Canada: the Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic, Mercedes-Benz C 43 4Matic, and the Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S. The C 300 is the cruisier of the quartet, built for relaxed and comfortable motoring. It suffers a little from bump-steer and is less agile than its siblings. The C 43 4Matic ramps things up a bit with firmer suspension, bigger brakes and a rortier engine.
The Mercedes-AMG models get different suspension geometry with re-configured hardpoints in the chassis for mounting a more robust and far more sporty suspension. The big-daddy C 63 S is downright violent in its application of grunt to the road, which is thoroughly enjoyable. But if you want a car this racy, why not go for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe for the lower weight and extra rigidity?
50 km/h / 20 Seconds
The fabric top can be opened or closed in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h – but you must be fully stopped to start the process. It’s available in four colours: black, blue, brown and red. There is an acoustic soft-top available to further reduce wind and road noise at speed.
If you count the paddle shifters there are six separate stalks protruding from the steering wheel of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class cabriolet. Where the one on the right would control the windscreen wipers in most cars it controls the gearbox in Mercedes products. So naturally, as soon as it rained I put the car in neutral… whoops. To hit the wipers you need to twist the end of the indicator stalk, but not the end of the Distronic control stalk which takes care of cruise control, lane departure and will even drive your car for you in some conditions – but only for 30 seconds, then the car yells at you to stop being an idiot and take hold of the wheel. The final short stalk moves the wheel up, down, forward and back for your convenience. The two paddles are for pretending you’re a Formula 1 driver.
7 Centimetres and 7 Inches
A vivid, high-definition head-up display provides navigation, tachometer, speed and driving-aid graphics right in the line of sight for the driver. It is a seven-centimetre high and 21-centimetre wide graphic.
The HUD is high-quality but the adjustment controls are buried deep within the instrument cluster menu – controlled by the steering wheel. It’s far too cumbersome to adjust the height of the display and needs a dial. Once set, though, the HUD is invaluable and completely removes the driver’s need to glance at either the twin-dial and TFT instrument cluster or the standard 7.0-inch main COMAND screen. An upgraded 8.4-inch COMAND screen is available on nav-equipped models.
The best of the crop of engines are the Mercedes-AMG 32V Biturbo V8s starting with 469 hp at 5,500 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. Move up to the S and get 503 hp plus 516 lb-ft of torque from the angry-sounding V8s. Typically, Mercedes tunes their engines with a soft throttle response and they tell me this is to make the cars easier to drive. Enjoyable as they are, I’d like to see sharper tip-in from the two big engines.
The C 43 AMG gets 362 hp and 384 lb-ft out of its biturbo V6, leaving the C 300 4Matic with a turbocharged inline-four good for 241 hp and 273 lb-ft. Canada won’t see the diesel variants that the Europeans and Australians are getting. There is an optional performance exhaust available for the 63 and 43 models.
Mercedes-Benz’s new 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic is put to use in the C 300 and C 43 4Matic cabriolets with the tried and tested AMG Speedshift seven-speed multi-clutch transmission powering the rear wheels only (because skids) in the C 63 and C 63 S. The transmissions both rifle off rapid changes but the rorty snort of the exhaust when the C 63 is shuffling cogs will make you smile so big you eat a small bird.
The standard C 63 wheel is a 10-spoke 18-inch alloy, the C63 S is a 19-inch “twin-five spoke” (aka 10-spoke) wheel. You can go all the way to 20-inches in 63 S trim and up to 19 in ‘base’ 63 editions.
The C 300 gets elegant 18-inch twin five-spokes or 19-inch bi-colour wheels with a similar option set available for C 43s.
11 Other Quick Notes
For all-weather top down motoring, the Mercedes-Benz Airscarf system blows warm air onto your neck via vents in the seat.
An electrically powered louvre and air separator lift up when requested by a button on the console. This prevents wind buffeting and decreases cabin noise at speed.
The drop-top eats up 75 L of storage space in the 360 L trunk.
A drop-down luggage separator prevents the roof crushing your Louis Vuitton tote.
Curb weight is a svelte 1,795 kg for the C 300, climbing to 1,955 in the C 63 S.
That’s up from 1,630 kg and 1,800 kg in the coupe equivalents.
Weight is split 53:47 front to rear.
The hyper-comfortable AMG Sport seats come standard in Artico but can be set in Nappa leather with black, red or white accents.
Carbon-ceramic brakes with gold calipers are available for the C 63 S for those wanting extra street cred, lower weight and better stopping power.
Blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, Pre-Safe collision protection and Collision Prevention Assist Plus are standard on all models.
Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane-Keeping Assist and Distronic Plus with Steering Assist are available in the Intelligent Drive Package right from the base C 300 4Matic trim.