Those who've been waiting won't be disappointed. The changes aren't massive, but the exterior revamp, new interior design and color combinations, and Intelligent Drive features raise the finesse quotient when it comes to top-down motoring.
- The face has been worked into the E-Class pattern, with optional LED high-beams available to join the standard LED low-beam and DRLs. They ride above chiselled air intakes and a lower spoiler with a sculpted frontpiece that gets a chrome lip on the upper-tier E550. In keeping with the idea of adding more dash to the convertible version of a sedan, the E-Class coupe and cabriolet retain the pontoon cue at the rear quarter that the sedan relinquished. The touch of class above comes with the gently ascending shoulder highlighted with a chrome strip encircling the cabin - and if you went for the coupe, the side windows fully retract and the B-pillar is omitted.
- US models come standard on 18-inch wheels, but some spendy 19-inchers can be had. Yet another silver hue, this one called aragonite silver, was specially developed for the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet... but we don't get it.
- In the cabin, the center console is now free for storage, cupholders and the COMAND infotainment controls because the gear selector stalk lives behind the new three-spoke steering wheel – with a wider range of tilt/telescopic movement – along with a set of shift paddles. Also behind the wheel, the gauge cluster instruments have white backs surrounding their individual info screens.
- The car in the photographs is Deep Sea Blue with Silk Beige trim, but there are also choices such as Silk Beige with Espresso Brown trim, and Bengal Red or Espresso Brown with Black trim. That trim comes in either a man-made leather called Artico or genuine Nappa leather. We spent time in an Espresso Brown sample, and found it rather sexy.
- This year the Aircap system gets automatic operation so that it rises at 25 miles per hour and retracts at 10 mph. There's still a button to control its operation or turn it off completely if you're not a fan of the look. The rear head restraints and wind-stop between them automatically rise if the rear seat belts are buckled. The two individual rear seats are comfortable, although legroom for four full-sized adults will take some negotiating and compromise.
- The E-Class convertible gets all of the Intelligent Drive features that Mercedes has been touting the past year, with Collision Prevention Assist and the redesigned Attention Assist standard. The waker-upper system detects drowsiness and inattentiveness across a wider speed range, from 35 miles per hour to 120 mph, its sensitivity can be adjusted and a dash screen can inform you how long its been since the last break. Items like the Surround View Camera and Parking Assist Package – which can park the car for you in parallel or perpendicular spots on either side of the street, and pull it out if it was parked automatically – are optional.
- The six-speed manual transmission cannot get a visa to come to America, so we get the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission, administered via the shift stalk or those paddles. The new feature is Momentary M mode, which returns the transmission to automatic operation after a certain amount of time.
- With 408 horsepower in the corral, it's possible that some buyers might actually want to drive. The standard Agility Control suspension on the E350 includes adaptive damping, whereas the E550 gets the Dynamic Handling Suspension as standard, with electric damping control changeable via a button in the cabin and extra buttons for both Sport and permanent M-mode operation. Add the $1,490 Sport Package to the E350 and you, too, can get full Manual mode, but you'll still go without the driver-selectable damping.
- Right now we have the E350 and E550 Coupe and Cabiolet, but coming later this year as a 2015 model will be a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 called the E400. Instead of the current V6's 302 hp, the E400 will have somewhere around 333 hp that arrives slightly earlier in the rev range, and more torque that picks up much earlier in the rev range. In the two-door lineup, the E400 will replace the E350 Coupe and Cabiolet, but the more powerful E550 Coupe and Cabriolet will remain in the line-up. The switcheroos will be a bit different on the sedan side.
- Once the E350 graduated from from 278 hp to 302 hp, both engines became fun to drive. Before that, the 3.5-liter V6 was just underpowered enough to make it not worth the effort, and such effort didn't make sense when, at worst, you could simply enjoy passing the miles and the day in a fine-riding convertible Mercedes. There is merely $5,100 between the cost of the V6 and the V8, making the E550 a no-brainer to our enthusiast hearts – those five stacks of Benjamins get you a lot of engine and suspension as justification. But if the V6 was really all you needed, it's a solid choice - or if you wanted to apply that difference to, say, that $4,800 set of 19-inch AMG wheels, that wouldn't be an outrageous move anymore. In either guise it's sturdy as a vault, it'll run on the Autobahn as a Mercedes should, the E350 doesn't fear enthusiastic driving and the E550 will welcome it, and top up or down the noise and airflow in the cabin remains tidy. In cold weather, the Airscarf does good work and you can get a heated steering wheel. The most telling thing about our drive was that our co-driver asked us if he could have more time behind the wheel. That's a question we've never had before in an E-Class of any kind that didn't involve the letters "AMG."
- Speaking of which, even though we've recently been told by Mercedes that there won't ever be an AMG model of the Coupe and Cabriolet, an exec who went off the reservation already said, "yes it was a mistake" not to build one and, "Next time we won't make the same mistake." So we're still waiting on it. We forgive you in advance for the delay, Mercedes. Just get it done.