The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4Matic Cabriolet isn’t scheduled to arrive in America until later this year, but it already looks like a future classic. Sources in Stuttgart have confirmed what Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Nicholas Speeks told American dealers in June: The convertible E-Class will be axed in the next three or four years—along with its coupe cousin and two-door versions of the S- and C-Class—as Daimler moves to trim its current 45-model lineup. The beancounters have looked at the sales trends and concluded the world has fallen out of love with sedan-based convertibles.
The Mercedes-Benz E 450 4Matic Cabriolet shares its 362-hp, 369-lb-ft mild hybrid I-6 powertrain, nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system with the 2021 E 450 4Matic sedan. It also shares the new, more aggressive grille and front bumper that were part of the sedan’s 2021 model year makeover. But that’s all. As a “sporty” Mercedes, the Cabriolet already had the double humps in the hood that are now featured on the sedan. And the Cabriolet’s relatively low sales precluded any major investment in restyling the rear end. Cleverly, the redesigned 2021 E 450 sedan’s elongated taillight graphic now means the two cars look similar from the rear, anyway.
It’s the same story inside. The 2021 E 450 4Matic Cabriolet gets the upgrade to MBUX, with the instrument and infotainment displays on a pair of co-located 12.3-inch touchscreens and the new steering wheel with touch-control buttons on the spokes. But it doesn’t get the new touchpad on the center console as there’s not enough real estate to package it along with the switches to raise and lower the folding soft top.
With the 362-hp, 369-lb-ft turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 aided and abetted by the 48-volt integrated starter-generator that can deliver up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, the E 450 4Matic Cabriolet displays the same silken pace on the road as the E 450 sedan. If anything, it seems even more silken, especially with the roof down; squeeze the gas, and the Cabrio whooshes away with little more than a rustle of wind over the windshield header.
Our tester was fitted with the optional air suspension and 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/35 Pirelli P Zero summer tires. Despite the lower-profile rubber, the Cabriolet rode better over the rougher sections of the drive route than the air-sprung sedan we drove earlier in the day (which was on 245/45 Pirelli Cinturato P7 summer tires on 18-inch rims). That’s partly because the soft-top E-Class weighs almost 200 pounds more than the sedan, and partly because the suspension is slightly more softly calibrated to compensate for the lack of a roof.
Even so, the Cabriolet felt remarkably tight in the body and could be hustled quickly through the twisty bits. With the multi-layered soft top raised, it is almost as quiet as a coupe, even at freeway speeds.
Although it’s equipped with the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz safety and infotainment technology, the E 450 4Matic Cabriolet paradoxically drips with a beguiling old-school charm. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, convertibles that would accommodate four (or even more) weren’t uncommon in the U.S.—hell, you could order one from your friendly local Chevy dealer. But in the 21st century a softtop that can genuinely carry four adults in comfort is a rare beast, and the E 450 4Matic Cabriolet is one of the very few.
Mercedes-Benz USA has yet to confirm details, but expect a base price north of $75,000. No, it’s not cheap. But if the rumors of the E-Class Cabrio’s demise are correct, console yourself with the fact that you’re investing in a future classic. Four-seat, softtop Mercedes-Benzes have long been regarded as more desirable than either their coupe or sedan cousins. And the 2021 E 450 4Matic Cabriolet is one of the better ones. We’ll miss it when it’s gone.
|SPECIFICATIONS||2020 Mercedes-Benz E 450 Cabriolet|
|BASE PRICE||$73,000-$76,000 (MT est)|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||3.0L/362-hp/369-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6, plus 21-hp/184-lb-ft electric motor; 362 hp/369 lb-ft combined|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,600 lb (MT est)|
|L x W x H||190.4 x 73.1 x 56.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.7-5.0 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||21/28/24 mpg (MT est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||169/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.82 lb/mile|
|ON SALE||Late 2020|
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