Topless Merc great

on all fronts

Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, front
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, front
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, front
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, side
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, interior
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, rear
Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, interior

I DON'T often get the chance to drive Mercedes cars but the last one I got my hands on was a cracker.

I have a big thing for good driving cars with an opening roof and that stems from the days when I owned small, elderly British sports cars and only put the hood up when it was simply too cold or too wet.

I once drove from Cornwall to London in my venerable MG B very early in the morning and despite rain for more than half the way, I didn't have to put the hood up until I reached the outskirts of the city.

If you can keep the speed above about 40 miles an hour in an open car, you don't get wet.

When I tried the Mercedes C-class Cabriolet, the weather was cold and sunny - and the roof was down.

It's a traditional convertible with a top quality fabric roof that insulates against just about everything - including wind noise - when up and leaves the car looking almost as good as its coupe brother.

But putting it down takes just a few seconds and, with the electric rear wind deflector in place and the heater turned up, the cockpit is as warm as toast even on cold days.

Power came from the Mercedes venerable 2.1-litre four cylinder turbo diesel, using the ubiquitous nine-speed automatic gearbox to drive all four wheels through the company's 4-MATIC all wheel drive system.

The engine is amazingly quiet and smooth, even with the roof down, and boasts enough power for zero to 60 miles an hour in under eight seconds, plus a top speed of 140 miles an hour.

It's no slouch then and the impressive abilities don't stop there - this is a lovely car to drive in any situation.

The automatic gearbox has Normal, Dynamic, Sport and Sport plus settings, but I found that Normal worked so well, I didn't bother with the rest, which seemed to make minimal difference.

The road holding is fantastic - even when pushed very hard - and the handling, with reasonably informative steering and predictable responses from the excellent chassis, is also very good.

The permanent four-wheel-drive system no doubt helps with the road holding and it doesn't seem to affect economy too much, with 44mpg showing on the trip computer while I had it.

But of course, the extra plus is that it will keep going in the worst of winter's ice and snow, when others would flounder - or never get out of the drive.

On top of all that the ride is brilliant, compliant and soothing even over some of the roughest roads I've found in a long time.

With the driver's seat a little further forward than I would normally like, it has space for four adults and a reasonably sized boot.

AMG Line trim brings sat nav, electric adjust heated seats and steering wheel, loads of safety electronics, remote stereo controls, leather, climate, cruise, folding rear seats, parking sensors and traction control.

FAST FACTS

Price: £43,550

Mechanical: 167bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 140mph

0-62mph: 8 seconds

Combined MPG: 54

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 134g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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