Centurion - The sexiest member of the Mercedes-Benz midweight family, the E-Class Cabriolet, has arrived in South Africa, with all the features its sedan and coupé siblings, plus a classic fabric soft-top for that Rodeo Drive feeling.

It’s available now in South Africa in a three-model lineup - E220d, E300 and E400 4Matic - at prices ranging from a little more than R900 000 to well over R1.1 million, with AirCap electric draught stop and AirScarf neck-level heating as an option on the E220d and standard on the two petrol variants, to encourage you to drive topless even on chilly Highveld spring mornings.

The fully acoustic multi-layered soft top - derived from S-Class Cabriolet - is available in your choice of dark brown, dark blue, dark red or black, and can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at up to 50 km/h. When it’s down, it folds away into the boot, behind an automatically operated boot separator that reduces boot capacity from 385 litres to a still-practical 310.

With the roof down, a trim line in anodised aluminium is formed by the A-pillar frame trim, the windscreen surround, shoulder-line trim strip and the wide trim finish around the soft-top compartment, accentuating ‘barchetta’ (little boat) look of the archetypal European convertible.

The interior is based on a bridge-like dashboard resting against trim elements that flow into the doors. The standard instrumentation combines two round dials and an 18cm colour and a 21cm central display, in a single high-gloss frame - or you can opt for two 31cm displays that look like they’re floating under a shared glass cover, with three display styles - Classic, Sport and Progressive - to choose from.

The four individual - and individually heatable - sports seats have integrated head restraints and seat-belt extenders for the front seats, with standard trim on blue and beige - or your choice in one of five shades of heat-reflecting leather.

The bodyshell design is derived from that of the coupé, using mostly die-cast aluminium and sheet steel components (with additional stiffening at the front end and on the floor) and aluminium front wings, bonnet and boot lid. Two roll-over braces are hidden behind the rear seats; if the car tips beyond 90 degrees, explosive charges shoot them out to form a survival space together with the A pillar.

Motorvation

The E-Class Cabriolet is available at launch in South Africa with a choice of one diesel and two petrol engines, each with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.

The entry-level E220d has a 1950cc turbodiesel four rated at 143kW and 400Nm, from 1600-2800rpm; the E300 wields a quoted 180kW and 370Nm from its 1991cc turbopetrol four, while the E400 4Matic’s 2996cc turbopetrol six boasts 245kW and 480Nm.

Amplitude-dependent suspension, set 15mm lower than that of the sedan with selectable Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, is standard; three stage multi-chamber air suspension with electronically controlled adaptive damping, selectable for Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, is an option.

PRICES:

E220d CabrioletR919 500
E300 CabrioletR955 500
E400 4Matic CabrioletR1 135 500