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by Tony West and Daryl Payne
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class emerges for 2014/2015 with a cool new design and elevated performance technology. The 2014 E550 Cabriolet doesn’t just have the luxury and first-class comfort of a premium coupe; it’s now got a more vibrant powertrain and one of the coolest convertibles I’ve seen.
The 2014 E550 Cabriolet is like point guard Chris Paul- powerful, fast-small, but with incredible athleticism. The premium interior compensate for the smaller rear . And the E550 Cabriolet offers a ton of new performance and safety technology. We reviewed the E550 Cabriolet a sunny week in July, and the E550 Cabriolet proved to be a worthwhile stunner for $61k.
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Fresh Design Appeals to Many
The E550 Cabriolet attracted legions of fans young & old, across genders and ethnicities thanks to an innovative new design. The new more V-shaped front bumper with large air intakes accentuates the whip’s athletic character. The proportions with a long hood, extended side line, flat roof, and powerful rear end are reminiscent of a classic AMG. The stylish aerodynamically enhancing design gives the coupe better performance than most mid-size whips. The rear fenders are also refined with more muscle and a rear spoiler is available.
Partial LED technology is standard for the headlights which are redesigned to contain all the elements within one lens. Full LED lighting is available for the headlights and taillights too. The taillights have also been remastered and chrome now accents the grill, the rear bumper, and the tonneau. Eighteen inch alloy wheels are standard.
The E550 Cabriolet has a side profile that makes it seem more spacious than it is. The E550 Cabriolet is about 15 feet long and a 9 feet wheelbase. Yet the convertible has very little legroom in the rear. And the trunk is tiny. The E550 Cabriolet is made more for an affluent driver and one lucky passenger.
The 2014 E550 Cabriolet offers a more spirited performance than previous models with its lower slimmer stance and front and rear hood lines.
I loved the new styling of the E550 Cabriolet as did most who saw it. Motorsports Correspondent Darryl thinks the E550 Cabriolet is still too curvaceous for a manly man. But everyone agrees the convertible is the most convenient and innovative function of this drop-top.
There are many convertibles on the market, but few mid-size lux coupes have a convertible top like the one on the E550 Cabriolet.
The soft top is made with high grade insulation giving the highest noise reduction and lowest noise level of any vehicle in its segment. The soft top ensures little wind noise penetrates the interior even at high speeds. Thanks to the sturdy soft top, It feels like I’m in a hard top. When I pull the easy -to-use lever at the center armrest, the top is lowered in less than 20 seconds.
The E550 garnered the nickname “transformer” because the convertible is truly stuntastic. The top can be retracted at speeds less than 25 mph. While a typical soft top will simply fold into the trunk; when the lever is pulled, in the E550 Cabriolet, the rear windows let down, the back window pops open revealing a special compartment; then the top gently folds down into its housing and its doors close. With all the mechanics in motion, the E550 Cabriolet really does look like it’s transforming into a jet. And spectators drooled.
Athletic Powertrain the Epitome of Comfort
The stealth exterior design enhances the performance of this sprinty coupe. Top up or down, the E550 Cabriolet will outperform the CTS with first-class comfort. Drivers get to 60 mph faster than many other mid-sized convertibles and, thanks to start/stop technology, save fuel at the same time.
The E550 Cabriolet has a standard 4.6 liter V8 biturbo engine with 402 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque- impressive. The biturbo engine has direct injection and 0-60 mph time of just 4.6 seconds. The E550 Coupe is also available in the U.S. with 4 Matic All-Wheel-Drive. The electronically controlled system displays an impressive level of traction on any terrain while partnering with safety features to delivering outstanding driveline refinement.
The E550 Convertible leaves other cars in its dust with a tap of the pedal. Acceleration is sharp, controlled, and commands the road with uncompromised stealth thanks to Agility Control suspension damping that adapts quickly to varying road surfaces. Agility Control suspension is also available with a selective damping system. The advance Agility package offers electronic damping control along with a program for selecting sportier acceleration and transmission shift points. Cornering is excellent with standard Agility Control. The torque delivery is precise and steering is fluid and responsive with standard electromechanical direct steer system.
The E550’s biturbo V8 is matched to a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The convertible offers an exhilarating ride thanks to its by petite body. In manual “M” mode the trans will switch back to automatic after inactivity. Sport mode is more like track mode with powerful torque delivery and adjustable damping.
Start/Stop technology contributes to a combined EPA of 20 mpg’s (17 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway.) It can be shut off with a button at the center stack. I enjoyed the efficiency, but it shuts the engine off too soon, and the coupe may roll back.
Safety Features Top-Notch Tech
The E550 Cabriolet has refined safety technology that works in tandem with its outstanding powertrain to keep passengers in max comfort at any speed and any road condition. Along with standard 4-wheel disc brakes, the E550 features standard electronic stability, a blind spot detector, adaptive brake technology, and brake assist. The Intelligent Drive system uses state of the art sensors to deliver comfort and safety.
As part of the Intelligent Drive system, the E550 Cabriolet uses sensors and outfitted cameras to produce a 3D view of the coupe, even providing an aerial view. The 360 degree view can display two views at once on a split screen and an overall range of 1,640 feet. Standard is a Collision Prevention system that uses the brake assist system to react quickly to an impending collision and even apply the brakes.
Optional is Brake Assist with Intersection Assist that detects crossing vehicles and pedestrians and can boost braking power. Also optional is Pre Save brake and Pre Safe plus that detects a rear collision and enacts occupant protection. Attention Assist is standard and can detect drowsiness across a wide speed range and provide stats about the driver’s lagging brake pattern.
Distronic Plus with steering assist will literally push the E550 back into its lane when swaying. The E550 Cabriolet also has optional active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist and active parking assist. The electronic traction system will brake individual wheels to prevent spinning.
Luxury Driver-Focused Cockpit
The E550 Cabriolet might as well be a two-seater because premium functionality and comfort is offered to driver and front passenger exclusively. The rear passengers barely get a vent. There’s 42 inches of front legroom and 30 inches of rear legroom that seems exaggerated. The two-toned leather trimmed cabin puts the driver in control of everyone’s comfort with controls at their fingertips. The interior features cool ambient lighting and chromed finished console switches. New interior color combinations bring a breath of fresh air to the interior.
Premium technology like the soft top release lever is what makes this a supreme convertible coupe. The driver has 3 gauges and the Driver Information Center (DIC) that can present audio, phone, and navigation info as well as the selected gear, rpm’s, ecometer, outside temp, oil life, trip, tire pressure monitoring system, drive assist, and temperature assist information. With the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel having audio, phone, and DIC controls, most of the other functions are controlled at the center stack- a blessing and a curse.
The center stack of the E550 Cabriolet has a button for nearly everything; from the camera, navigation, radio, and multiple seat and A/C buttons, to the Start/Stop function control and a phone keypad. Coincidently there is no “home” button, no “back” button, nor is there a button for Satellite Radio. Drivers are instead more distracted searching the many underused buttons for their controls. Sometimes it takes two buttons to execute a function. A full phone keypad seems outdated and there doesn’t need to be 6 buttons for seat heating and ventilation, which could’ve been combined with the seat adjusters on the door.
Drivers utilize a standard 7-inch high resolution color touch display as part of the Premium I package that features the Command System, Harmon Kardon Surround Sound System, in dash memory card slot, Bluetooth, Sirius XM Satellite radio with weather and traffic and a 6 disc CD/DVD changer. Standard is the mbrace2 infotainment system that adds Facebook, Yelp, and Google Local Search apps.
Additional premium comfort features make the E550 Cabriolet more comfortable than most drop-top coupes. The wonderful Airscarf will warm the front passengers’ necks with the top down. There is a cool adjuster for the driver and passenger’s thigh cushion. With the top down, the super effective Aircap extends automatically from the windshield and reduces interior wind noise. Because of the Aircap, I didn’t have to yell with the top down going over 100 mph!
The extendable wind deflector between the rear head restraints adjusts its position according to how many passengers are in the coupe.
Along with the Premium Package, the E550 offers a Lighting Package ($1,500) that includes Adaptive Highbeam Assist and active curve and corner illumination with full LED lighting. The Sports Package ($870) includes a 3 spoke sport steering wheel with aluminum pedals and multicontour front seats.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet has a MSRP of $67,000 in line with the Audi A5 and the Cadillac CTS. Fully loaded the whip sells for $82,000- too costly for a souped-up mid-size coupe. The E550 was a blast to drive, but probably would be nightmare to ride in back of. If Porsche didnt’ exist, the Mercedes-Benz E550 coupe could be one of the most exciting mid-size lux convertibles on the market.