The C drops its top and, as you’d expect, turns many heads.
We’ve never really been a huge fan of convertibles. They’re heavier than their tin-top counterparts and less practical – not to mention more expensive. And, of course, there are various reasons why you’ll mostly drive it with the top up – the fact that most of our cities are heavily polluted isn’t conducive to that wind-in-the-hair experience. So why, then, would you buy a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet? Well, as it turns out there are plenty of reasons.
The most important reason to consider the C300 over the tin-top version is the sheer joy of being behind the wheel with the top down. That wind-in-the-hair feeling is worth cherishing after all! And when you hit traffic, raising the roof is as easy as pressing a button. The C300’s canvas roof is extremely well insulation – so with the top up there’s hardly any noise at all that enters the cabin. And when you’re driving in the countryside with the roof down, the C-Class Convertible is sure to plaster a wide grin across your face. With the help of a spoiler at the top of the windscreen and a screen behind the rear seat, Mercedes has managed to keep wind buffeting to a minimum as well. So this is a convertible that remains virtually as refined as its tin-top sister.
In terms of design too, this convertible looks absolutely fab. Borrowing its design cues from the C-Class Coupe, the front end looks sharp with a large three-pointed star – while the rear end is smooth, with neatly integrated exhaust tips and horizontally stacked tail lamps. The interiorof the C Cabriolet, meanwhile, is identical to the standard car. The dashboard is washed in black with matte wood trim on the centre console. The front seats are wide, electrically adjustable and comfortable. The rear seat, however, isn’t quite as comfortable owing to a rather upright seat back. Space at the back is just about sufficient for short commutes. Equipment levels are identical too, except for the electrically adjustable steering wheel and dual stage airbags.
There’s more to the C300 than just being a convertible though. While the standard C-Class petrol makes do with 184bhp and 300Nm, the C300 Convertible produces 241bhp and 370Nm from the same 1,991cc inline four-cylinder unit. These figures result in a power-to-weight ratio of 138.5bhp/ton for the C-Class Convertible as compared with 119bhp/ton for its tin-top sibling. In fact, although the convertible weighs 195kgs more than the standard model, the additional power more than makes it up for the increased weight. As far as the numbers go, the C-Class convertible does the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.4 seconds and accelerates all the way up to 250km/h.
The C-Class convertible packs plenty of punch low down in the rev range and becomes more spirited as you climb closer to its red line. The engine produces a sweet melody while in its mid-range, but as the tacho needle scrambles further north it lets out a strained grunt. It’s clear that if it’s hard-core performance that you seek, you’ll have to look elsewhere – maybe the SLC 43? But the beauty of this powerplant is in the way its peak torque comes in as low as 1,300rpm – making it exceedingly easy to drive around town or on the highway. To make it more versatile, the C-Class convertible comes with five driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. These modes alter the characteristics of the car by adjusting the way the engine, gearbox and the steering behaves. Eco and Comfort, as the names rightly suggest, give the C300 a relaxed disposition. Shifting to Sport or Sport+ mode doesn’t make the C-Class convertible an athlete, but it feels more sprightly none the less.
Another plus for the C cabrio is its 9G-Tronic gearbox in place of the 7-speed unit on the sedan. The extra gears ensure that the engine speed is reduced, thereby ensuring better efficiency and reducing stress. The shifts are smooth and precise, even when you decide to take control by using the paddles.
The drop-top Merc loses some ground as far as handling is concerned, but in all fairness it isn’t crafted to attack corners. The steering is precise, but it could have been more direct – and the body roll doesn’t go unnoticed either. What the C300 loses out in terms of handling, it more than makes up for in ride quality. Sadly, unlike the global spec model, the C300 in India doesn’t come with air suspension. Despite that, however, it does manage to confront rough surfaces with a fair bit of poise.
Overall, the C300 has its downsides, just like any other convertible – the boot is extremely small and the rear seat isn’t the most comfortable. But that’s a small price to pay for the joy of open top motoring. Priced at Rs 60 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi) it might sound like an expensive proposition but for the extra moolah you even get a punchier engine and a better gearbox – and, of course, the wind in your hair.
So the C-Class convertible, then, is a machine that you buy with your heart. It’s the kind of car that makes you believe that money can in fact buy ‘happiness.’
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible
Engine: 1,991cc / turbocharged / in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: 9-speed AT / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 241bhp @5,500rpm
Torque: 370Nm @1,300rpm
Price: Rs 60 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: The C300 has enough swag to not have to bother about practicality.