First Drive: Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet — A 'Topless' Affair

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Intrigued? Well, let me explain...

With the sun shining gloriously in a cloudless sky, it was just the perfect Sunday afternoon that was needed to drive the Mercedes-Benz E400 cabriolet. I first laid eyes on this beauty of a machine in Bangalore, and after a quick drive in the city, I was in love. So much so, that I decided on taking her out for a longer spin. I headed toward the sleepy town of Gudiyatham, located 31 km from the city of Vellore in Tamil Nadu. Although it may seem odd, Gudiyatham's quiet, serene and rather scenic landscape offered a brilliant background to the cabriolet. The town itself is quite drenched in Indian history. It is believed to be the home of India's first national flag, having been woven in this very town.

As some of us already know, open-top motoring is quite a lifestyle in itself, and not many can boast of this extravagance. The Mercedes-Benz E400 cabriolet is the convertible derivative of the E-Class sedan that is priced at INR 78.50 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), without any added options.

So, what do you get for this price?

Mercedes-Benz is upheld as the martyr of exquisite styling and performance, and the E-Class cabriolet falls nowhere short in this regard. From its elegant sporty cabin to the LED headlamps and dual chrome exhaust tips, the E400's craftsmanship is apparent. Thanks to the unique AIRCAP draught-stop system, the car occupants benefit with a technology that diverts the airflow above their heads, thus allowing a comfortable drive during open-top motoring. Noise level and air turbulence are also noticeably reduced.

Personally, the advanced instruments and controls, sleek metallic trim, hand polished wood, leather upholstery, central analog timepiece, and an electrically powered fabric top (not a folding hardtop) makes your 'topless' drive comfy and luxurious.

Purely from a performance point of view, the E400 is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 333 horsepower and 480 Nm of torque. The V6 engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission (7G-Tronic Plus), which allows the driver to select driving modes from economical to dynamic, as well as change gears manually via the DIRECT SELECT steering wheel gearshift paddles.

The E400's power delivery is smooth and linear. High speed cornering and straight-line stability is extremely efficient and offers impressive traction. However, the adaptive brakes and direct-steer system could have been more involving. The safety equipment on the E400 is rather sophisticated, from NECK-PRO head restraints to robust A-pillars, this cool cat provides all-round protection for the driver and front passenger. Simply put, the E400 makes you feel quite safe in her arms.

And the safety features don't end there. The E400 comes equipped with impressive and intelligent technology solutions including the Attention Assist, which triggers a visual and acoustic warning to the driver upon detecting signs of drowsiness behind the wheel.

Other standard safety features are an exhaustive list that includes the seat belt pre-tensioners — with two-stage belt force limiters, airbags — dual-stage, driver and front passenger, front sidebags, windowbags, pelvisbag, kneebag; cruise control with speed limiter (SPEEDTRONIC) and braking intervention, anti-lock brake system (ABS), brake assist (BAS), adaptive brake with HOLD function, adaptive brake light flashing, electronic stability program, brake pad wear indicator, and tyre pressure monitoring system.

Competition for the lovely Mercedes-Benz E400 cabriolet in India is the BMW Z4. Globally, the E400 cabriolet competes with the Audi S5 cabriolet and BMW 4-series convertible. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class cabriolet is impressive, to say the least. And, with the open-top trend slowly but steadily picking up speed in India, we ought to keep an eye out for this beauty and many like her, whom I suspect will follow soon enough.

So, if you weren't made for the four walls, want a good dose of the real Vitamin D, and prefer nature's free and inexpensive blow dry to the salon variety, the E400 cabriolet could just be your soulmate. Picture the liberating feeling of freedom, plus, the love for the open road.

The Striking Mercedes-Benz E400 cabriolet captured in pictures:

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