Friday, March 5, 2010

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 CGI BlueEfficiency, E550 Convertible

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 CGIthe A208 CLK-Class convertible of 1996 to 2002—this was a masculine-looking car. Today’s recently discontinued generation A209 CLK convertible was more leaning toward the feminine side with nearly 65 percent of purchases having been made by the fairer sex worldwide. With this new A212-generation convertible E-Class (the CLK name exists no more, soon to be followed by the death of the CL name as it becomes the S-Class coupe), Stuttgart wants again to toughen up the image a little for the street version. But not too much.

That is sooo sexist, we know, but it is a real hurdle in discussions with Mercedes experts that cannot be avoided. It’s always strange to us, too, why any premium brand with powerful technology under the hood and racing in its veins sort of shrugs almost in embarrassment at the fact that women buy a majority of this or that model. Do women taint the manly engineer-racer image that much? Does it hurt business? We are left to wonder.

At any rate, we just tested the latest ragtop E-Class in relatively sunny conditions on the mostly German and British Spanish island of Majorca, and she holds up well to those small fairy-tale roads. The 2011 E-Class convertible is still and unavoidably a softer lifestyle purchase, yes, but it’s one a middle-management, manly man can still make without too much concern for his image, even if construction crews might still whistle and call you Cupcake as you pass.

Okay, now that was just plain mean, because we enjoyed the hell out of the open-car lifestyle for these two days and 150 or so miles. We’re not ever going to be 100 percent on-board with the current-look Mercedes edgy face and the rear fender flair action, but we’ll go so far as standing firm at 86.3 percent there, so not too shabby. With this convertible in particular, the straight-on rear view looks a touch chunky in stacked Ferrari California style, which is odd since the top is cloth. But Mercedes wanted people to have semi-decent luggage space with the top open or closed, the cubic feet while open being an awkwardly engineered 10.6 cubic feet. When she’s closed and the plastic roof hamper moves up a touch, it’s a much more useful 13.8 cu. ft. configuration.

And we do, yes, we do prefer thick cloth tops by a slim margin over folding hard tops here at Winding Road. Tempers flair during these debates, but the softies rule.

The versions coming to North America of this body style that completes the W212 E-Class family will be only the 268-horsepower E350 V-6 (tested here as the Euro 288-hp E350 CGI BlueEfficiency) and 382-horsepower E500 V-8. Mark your calendars for mid-May 2010, just in time for summer. Advise your loan officers that you’re looking at around $57,000 base for the E350 and $68K for the E550. Our favorite version of all the engines offered worldwide was for once not the 228-horsepower/398-pound-foot 350 CDI BlueEfficiency (read: the Euro raft of tech touches to save fuel and lower emissions, but non-urea-enhanced as with our BlueTEC with 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet that we still get in the current R-, ML-, and GL-Class, and should be getting in the new E-Class sedan.).

No comments:

Post a Comment