Stuttgart, Germany - Mercedes-Benz has arguably kept the best for last with the final member of the new E-Class family; the cabriolet, making its world debut next week at the Geneva motor show is, in our eyes at least, the prettiest of them all.

With the fabric top up, the resemblance to the coupé is clear, but with it down the almost-perfect ‘barchetta’ waistline is key, emphasised by fully retractable side windows and anodised, polished aluminium trim around the cockpit.

The fully automatic multi-layered fabric roof comes in your choice of black, dark brown, dark blue or dark red. It can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at up to 50km, and when down it’s stored behind a retractable cover in the boot, reducing luggage space from 385 to 310 litres. The rear seatback is split 50:50, and either or both sections can fold down to allow through-loading of bulky items.

Comfort package

Options include Aircap, a retractable electric draught shield behind the rear seats combined with a deflector built into the roof frame, and Airscarf neck-level heating for the driver and front passenger, both included as part of the Cabriolet Comfort package, so you can enjoy top-down motoring even on chilly Highveld mornings - especially as all four individual seats are heatable!

The entry-level flight-deck layout combines two round dials and and an 18cm colour display with a 21cm center-stack screen - all in a single, sweeping ‘widescreen’ frame with glossy piano black trim. Or you can ask for the digital option, with two 31.2cm displays under a shared glass cover, giving the choice of three different high-resolution virtual instrument cluster styles - Classic, Sport and Progressive - depending on your mood.

The standard finish in blue and beige is highlighted by your choice of nine trim options, including two pale finishes in high-gloss open pore wood veneer; heat-reflecting leather is an option, in your choice of five colours.

Fabric roof can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at up to 50km/h.

You don’t have to reset the climate control, or save two sets of parameters for when you raise or lower the top - the climate control recognises the difference and seamlessly ups its game to compensate for the change in ambient conditions.

Even the optional Magic Vision Control, which sprays cleaning water from the wiper arms just ahead of the blade for windscreen washing without splashing, automatically adjusts when the top is down, spraying mostly on the downward stroke, so you can wash the windscreen at any speed, without the cleaning fluid blowing into the cockpit.

Running gear

No firm details are out yet, but we expect to see the same range of engines as the coupé (for Europe anyway, not all will come to South Africa) including a 140kW two-litre turbodiesel, a two-litre turbopetrol tuned for either 135 or 155kW and a 245kW three-litre biturbo petrol V6 - with the AMG E50 and E63 S Cabriolets to follow.

What we do know is that a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission will be standard across the range,

The cabriolet runs 15mm lower than the sedan, on your choice of steel suspension with amplitude-dependent damping or Dynamic Body Control that lets you choose from a wide range of adjustment options ranging from Comfort to Sport+. Also available as an option is Air Body Control multi-chamber air suspension with electronically controlled adaptive damping.

We’re waiting on a reply from Mercedes-Benz SA as to when the E-Class Cabriolet will be released in South Africa; as soon as we see it, so will you.

IOL Motoring

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