2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Cabriolet drives a second wind

When the days were really short last winter, and the pre-vaccine despair had set in, I got some welcome relief in the form of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Cabriolet. Call it naturopathy, but in the dark days before Pfizer and Moderna became vernacular, the Cabriolet came to play here in the Gulf of Mexico’s backyard, just in time for the lyrical 70-degree days that flagrantly defy winter.

The Cabriolet came just in time to give me a social-distancing second wind, and a second shot at the aborted summer of 2020. Here’s where it cured my seasonal blues—and where needed its own remedies.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Hit: Mild-hybrid, served up purely smooth. 

A 362-hp mild-hybrid 3.0-liter turbo-6 and effortless 9-speed automatic powered this all-wheel-drive Cabriolet. I wasn’t convinced that the changeover in powertrains would do much for the E-Class, but the new inline engine family spreads torque as smoothly as speculoos, and its mild-hybrid system gives it effortless low-end power and excellent gas mileage for its size.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Miss: Back seat space is slim. 

We’d spend days in the Cabrio’s multi-adjustable cooled front seats; they’re fabulous. The back seat, not so much. Two adults slipped into the back seat of the Cabriolet, but neither wanted a repeat performance. Medium-size passengers will do fine for short sunset runs down the shore road, but for the three-hour round-trip to Costco, you’ll want to borrow a friend’s SUV.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Hit: The look.

The mid-size Mercedes convertible and coupe have polished their shapes to near-perfection. (We’ve driven the Benz E450 Coupe up north; it looks good even in salt spray.) The E450 Cab fits in at the BBQ stand and the show-off spot in front of the club. Where it fits in best is the empty gulf-front drive where the only things keeping pace are rare birds and a gentle breeze. With a diamond-flecked grille, sharp LED eyebrows, and stylish AMG Line wheels, the E450 Cabriolet profiles in the only good and acceptable way.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Miss: Touchpads on steering wheel and screens on the dash.

Haters live among us and they say the E450’s touchscreens and steering-wheel touchpads are misses. They either too small or too inexpensive-looking or too sensitive or something else we heard but didn’t absorb. Sure, they may be flawed—but flaws aren’t always fatal. In my Cabriolet tester’s case, the Insignia-esque look of the displays was offset with open-pore wood and red-and-black leather.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (E450 4Matic)

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (E450 4Matic)

Hit: “Hey, Mercedes.”

 The E450 doesn’t mind being a hollaback girl. Say “Hey, Mercedes” and it responds to a wealth of natural language commands that can change audio functions, find your favorite podcast, choose a new route around paralytic hurricane-induced traffic, and find a coffee spot with patio seating.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Hit: Top-down details.

The power-folding roof can go away in under 20 seconds and at speeds of up to 30 mph, but the E450 Cabriolet also has sun-reflecting leather, the Airscarf neck-warming vents, and a wind deflector, all standard.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Hit: In touch with safety.

The E450 Cabrio gets standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and automatic parking assistance. This one came also with a Driver Assistance Package with adaptive cruise control that reduces the speed for curves, traffic sign recognition that adjusts cruise control speed, active lane control, and automatic lane changes at the tap of the turn-signal stalk. The Benz systems have been some of the best since their introduction and their fluid and precise supplemental behavior lets drivers take a second away from the controls.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 cabriolet

Hit: It’s well stocked.

The E450 comes standard with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, spectacular Burmester sound, and 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. Spend up to the AMG Line trim if you want, but don’t miss out on the cooled multi-contour front seats or the high-wattage low-gloss wood trim. 

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic Cabriolet

Base price: $75,500, including destination

Price as tested: $86,320 including an AMG Line styling package, advanced safety gear, a head-up display, and cooled multi-contour front seats

Drivetrain: 362-hp mild-hybrid 3.0-liter turbo-6, 9-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined

The hits: Exceptional front-seat comfort, powertrain smoothness, top-down driving, sterling audio and voice recognition

The misses: Slim back-seat leg room, steering-wheel touchpad sensitivity

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