Some fun in the sun

K Shivraj
Saturday, 24 June 2017

With a blend of sporty and classy looks, and state-of-the-art equipment, performance, refinement and ride, the Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolet offers a great wind-in-the-hair driving experience.

Adding to the Mercedes convertible line-up in India, the C300 Cabriolet is an affordable cabriolet with a three-pointed star. In what could be described as a convertible version of the C-Class sedan, the C300 Cabriolet shares not just the platform but also measures the same as the C-Class sedan in length and width. 

The wheelbase, at 2840mm is also common. The front appearance looks classy with that diamond grille and sweeping head lamps. Walk over, and from the three-fourth angle the car looks quite handsome. A sharp shoulder-line travels to the rear, and disappears into the wedge-shaped tail that seems to have been inspired by the S-Class Cabriolet. There is a diffuser and twin visible tailpipe trim elements. 

Roof unfolds in 20 secs
Offering a choice of four body colours and four fabric roof colours, the C300 Cabriolet rides on 17-inch dia wheels. Seeking a blend of sporty and classy looks, the car has its (wash proof, dirt-repellent and weather-resistant) roof fold which can unfold itself in 20 seconds. The fabric roof raises or lowers itself at speeds up to 50kmph; there’s no need to pull over and operate it. Get behind the wheel and a sense of familiarity will grow. 

The dash is identical to that of the C-Class sedan. The cabin is well put together and endows a rich and classy feel. The well-shaped front seats are large, and are fully electrically adjustable. ‘Belt feeders’ extend the seat belts towards the occupants making it easier to access them. To ensure easy access to the rear, the large doors open wide and the front seats slide forward electrically. However, the back rest is a bit upright. With the roof in place, there’s a chance that those at the rear may find the headroom tight. When folded down, the roof eats into the boot space. But then, this car is not about outright practicality. For those who want it, there’s the C-Class sedan. 

Well equipped with a Burmester surround-sound system, three-colour ambient lighting choice, front seats with memory, park-assist, LED headlights and satellite navigation, the car is powered by a 251bhp, 2-litre petrol engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Performance is good with the capability to do the sprint from 0 to 100kmph in under 7 seconds. Claimed to reach a top speed of 250kmph, the C300 Cabriolet with the roof down could have wind and turbulence shake things up a bit. To ensure this does not happen, the car is equipped with ‘Aircap’, which pops a louvre on the windscreen. A draught stop positioned behind the rear head restraints extends upwards as well. 

Exerting a strong pull from lower down the range, the most thrust can be had in the upper reaches and before the transmission intervenes and upshifts. Putting out an interesting exhaust note, the car is at home in the city, and on the highway, it does good speeds. The 9G-Tronic transmission allows manual over-ride but often only when the shifts are timed right. 

Five drive modes are on offer, and alter the engine, gearbox and steering characteristics. Sport and Sport Plus modes have the engine revving in the mid-range; the steering also weighs up well. However, response is a bit subdued in the Eco and Comfort mode. 

Comfortable but not sporty
Push the car down a winding road and it will be clear at once that this is not a sports car. The steering weighs up well, but there is an amount of roll. Ride is where the C300 Cabriolet excels; it excels in refinement too. It does not take long to acknowledge that this car is tuned to be comfortable than sporty. The monocoque does not feel loose except for a bad patch that is encountered with little time or distance to slow down. But then, it is almost negligible. The multi-layer fabric roof with sound insulating material also contributes to its refinement. 

At Rs 60 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, the C300 Cabriolet is costlier than the Audi A3 Cabriolet but cheaper than the E400 Cabriolet. For that money, the appearance that the car offers, the equipment, the performance, refinement and ride comfort make the C300 Cabriolet an attractive proposition for wind-in-the-hair driving. There is a certain niche about this car, no doubt. 

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