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2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet Preview

2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2010
2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class CabrioletCritical Knowledge:
  • Based on the E-Class Coupe
  • Power-operated soft convertible roof
  • Standard 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • Available 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 engine
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • New innovative convertible comfort features
  • New head air bags for convertible safety
  • Arrives in May of 2010
Introduction
Production of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class, coupe and convertible, ended in 2009. An all-new 2010 E-Class coupe was added to the lineup early in 2009 as a replacement and, as expected, the CLK-Class convertible also has a successor that is called the E-Class Cabriolet. Like its predecessor, the all-new E-Class Cabriolet features a classic insulated fabric soft top-preserving both passenger room and luggage space when compared to a power retractable hard top-for what Mercedes calls a true "four seasons" convertible. The new model arrives in showrooms in May of 2010.

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2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class CabrioletDesign
Mercedes says the convertible folding soft top on the new 2011 E-Class Cabriolet features superior sound-dampening qualities, keeping the cabin much quieter than traditional soft-top convertibles. With a total thickness of nearly one inch, Mercedes says the top offers excellent thermal insulation for use during winter. They add that the E-Class Cabriolet has one of the quietest interiors in the segment of 4-seat premium convertibles, even claiming that it is possible to have a perfectly normal phone conversation in hands-free mode when traveling at Autobahn speeds of 125 mph.

The power-operated, fully automatic top may be opened and closed in 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 25 mph, says Mercedes. When stowed, it is hidden in a special compartment behind the rear panel, separated from the trunk area by a retractable cover. When the roof is closed, the cover may be slid out of the way to bring total trunk capacity to 13.8 cubic feet, according to the manufacturer.

Model Lineup
The all-new E-Class Cabriolet will be offered in two models: E350 Cabriolet and E550 Cabriolet. The E350 Cabriolet is offered with a V-6 powerplant, while the E550 Cabriolet features a more powerful V-8 engine. Both convertible models share the same platform and chassis and are rear-wheel drive.

Passengers in the cabin of the E-Class Cabriolet will enjoy the standard leather upholstery with real wood trim, a full range of standard power accessories, and intelligent multi-zone climate control. The standard audio package includes an AM/FM/CD receiver with 8 speakers and a Bluetooth interface for phone connectivity.

Hardware
The 2011 E-Class Cabriolet is offered with two engine choices: V-6 or V-8. The E350 Cabriolet is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 268 horsepower. The range-topping E550 boasts a 5.5-liter V-8 engine rated at 382 horsepower. Both are mated to a standard 7-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class CabrioletSafety
As expected, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet offers a comprehensive safety package-one tailored towards convertibles. In addition to the use of high-strength steel alloys during manufacturing and Mercedes' PRE-SAFE preventative occupant protection system, the new E-Class Cabriolet is fitted with seven air bags. "Headbags," which appear on a Mercedes-Benz convertible for the first time, are housed in the door paneling in the beltline area. When deployed, they cover a large area (2.3' x 1.6') with an air volume of about 17 liters when inflated, according to Mercedes.

Compared to the E-Class Coupe, the E-Class Cabriolet features additionally reinforced A-pillars and sturdy plug-in B-pillars (they "plug-in" when the doors are shut), says Mercedes. The roll-over protection system includes two bars (each 1.4" in diameter) that are housed in the rear head restraints behind the rear seatbacks. When a tilting sensor determines the vehicle is about to roll, pre-tensioned springs are activated by pyrotechnic charges. Within a fraction of a second, the high-strength steel bars are locked up and in place for passenger protection.

In addition to the standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control and brake assist, the E-Class Cabriolet offers Attention Assist (observing the driver for signs of drowsiness behind the wheel) and adaptive Highbeam Assist (automatically controlling the intensity of the vehicle's headlamps).

Technology
According to Mercedes, improving passenger comfort during top-down driving was a priority on the new convertible. To achieve this goal, the all-new E-Class Cabriolet is fitted with two "occupant comfort and well-being" innovations, the automaker says. The first, "Airscarf," functions like an invisible scarf blowing heated air on the occupants' head and neck areas. Ducting is integrated into the backrests of the front seats to allow preheated air to pass through outlets on the head restraints. While this isn't the first application of Airscarf (it was introduced on the 2004 SL-Class), it has been modified for use on the E-Class Cabriolet with adjustable outlet nozzles designed to deflect the air up to 36 degrees upwards or downwards. The second innovation is called "Aircap." Aircap is a push-button activated wind deflector on the windshield frame and a draft-stop net between the rear seats (a variant was first introduced in the 1989 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class). When deployed, a small deflector raises about 2.5 inches on the windscreen frame to push the air up and over the cabin. Any air spilling back over the windshield is further deflected by the draft-stop net between the rear seats. Not only does the system improve passenger comfort, but it reduces the interior noise level to ease conversation, says Mercedes.

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