2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet Review

More fashion accessory than car, for those who prefer the former

2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet Review

Women of a certain age flock to convertible ‘Benzes like crows to a torn trash bag. They are used almost exclusively as fashion accessories, designed with flashier trims and color options to better match the owner’s wardrobe. Reds, blues, browns and bright whites are more popular here than on the coupes where more sober blacks, grays and silvers dominate. The latest Mercedes E350 is no different, also offering four distinct shades for the four-layer soft-top.


1. Introduced on the E350 Cabriolet is Mercedes’ AIRCAP system, a wind blocker that extends from the top of the windscreen to direct air around the open cabin.

2. Powered by a 302 hp 3.5L V6 it can hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and gets 18/28 mpg.

3. With a starting price of $57,720 it’s possible to spec one out to just over $70,000.


Thankfully, the E Coupe’s sharp lines are neatly preserved in transformation to Cabriolet due to that cloth roof. Having to engineer space for a folding-metal hard top without stretching panels out of proportion is difficult and expensive; best to leave them to Benz’ two-seaters. Even though it wears the ‘E-Class’ badge, the Cabriolet is actually based on the smaller C-Class mechanicals, which means it’s a more compact footprint than the regular E sedans and wagons.

In an effort to preserve expensive coiffures from being mussed, the Mercedes E350 uses the company’s AIRCAP system, which essentially extends the windshield header out into the wind, directing airflow over the cabin. To a certain extent it works fairly well, keeping turbulence down without resorting to a giant ‘breeze-blocker’ near the rear seats. But realistically, the number of owners who will actually use the convertible as a convertible is about the same as the percentage of luxury SUV owners who go off road.

2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet aircap


2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet v6 engine

Like the Coupe, the E350 Cabriolet uses the familiar 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 that’s good for 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. With the standard seven-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels, it’ll hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, although it’s a pretty smooth ride getting there. Since modern direct-injection engines have a ‘dieselly’ idle and aren’t terribly rev-happy, the V6 doesn’t produce the kind of top-down brio normally expected with high-end drop-tops. No big rushes through to redline – just refined acceleration.

At nearly 3,900 lbs., the Cabrio is no lightweight; the conversion adds about 300 lb. worth of motors, sensors, stiffening and more. Given those changes, it’s no real surprise that the E350 Cabriolet is slightly thirstier than the Coupe, returning 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.

The E350 Cabriolet will never be a performance machine despite the available sport package that stiffens the adjustable suspension, adds 18-inch AMG wheels and perforated front brake discs. It would be a serious waste of $1,300 – although those wheels do look tempting. Better to accept the compliance of the standard suspension and learn to cruise. The steering isn’t tuned for especially quick reactions, and the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles trade rapidity for slurry-smooth changes, especially when downshifting.

2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet hard turn

One neat feature exclusive to the Cabriolet – and other ‘Benz roadsters – is the AirScarf seats. They have vents that blow cold or warm air around passengers’ necks to theoretically extend the top-down season by a few weeks. Combined with optional heated and ventilated seats, the E350 becomes a more comfortable four-season ride.


2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet interior

A starting price of $57,720 is a pretty hefty chunk to drop before piling on the options. Chances are nearly everyone will spend the extra $4,000 for the first Premium package, which includes a harman/kardon audio system, navigation, a 10GB hard drive, iPod connectivity, a rear-view camera, heated seats and AirScarf. An extra $2,500 brings bi-Xenon active headlights with high-beam assist, LED turn signals, headlamp washers, keyless ignition and super-comfy active ventilated front seats.

The Lane Tracking package includes blind-spot warnings and lane monitoring for $850 and seems much more reasonable than the $2,900 Driver Assistance package that makes both of those systems ‘active’ to automatically direct the car away from danger. Also included is radar-based cruise control. À la carte options like parking assist, upgraded leather, rear-side airbags and more can bring a loaded E350 Cabriolet to around $71,000.

Gripes? The aging COMAND system that operates the toys is clunky and awkward. Also, because the car is positioned as an ‘E’, it doesn’t really have any competitors price-wise. A loaded 335i Convertible doesn’t get much higher than the mid-$60s, while moving up to a 6 Series runs $81,000. Same with the A5 Convertible. The G37 Convertible. The IS 350 C.

2012 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet fast


So the E Cabrio buyer isn’t looking for a deal. Not when better-performing options are available for less dough. No, to those privileged few, the three-pointed star on the front grille and the fact that the leather and interior trim perfectly matches a four-figure handbag is what really matters.

Related Reading
Audi A5 Cabriolet Review
2011 Mercedes E550 Cabriolet Review
2010 Mercedes E350 Coupe Review
2011 Infiniti G37 Convertible Review
2011 Lexus IS350C Review

  • Bob_BBA70

    Who pee’d in this guy oatmeal . I own this car. It’s so much more than he says I haven’t the time to take this dope on point by point. Sorry buddy, that you can’t afford one. That’s pretty much this guys problem.

    Oh, and who races any of theses cars. Critiquing them like anyone is going to take them to track day is just a moron. There high class cruisers and boy they sure deliver.

  • Test

    Shite review, typical American nonsense. Fantastic motor ignore the yanks comments.

  • Heliger Stanislaus

    He’s Canadian.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OZYFWAAQGRMWOGWZNEVUHYIXOM shut up

    This guy clearly has no real time in this car for one thing he states the AirScarfs “theoretically extend the top-down season by a few weeks”, they actually make the car comfortable with the top down year round. Last winter after I had the car less than a week  I drove in below freezing weather with the top down and was surprised to find that I was actually getting too hot so I had to turn them down. He goes on to try to compare this car to a BMW 3 series, that would be like comparing a Porsche to a VW the BMW is not in the same league (I am speaking from experience I’ve had BMWs)   

  • Joe

    I own this vehicle.  I think the electronics are fantastic.  Controlling everything from the dial is useful and safe.  I agree with the comment with the airscarf.  It can be in the 40’s and it really heats up your neck.  I think it is rediculous that a negative is that it is “on it’s own pricing island”.  Who gives a damn if it has 50 competators or none. 

  • E350#1

    I just got this car.. and it rocks..bitchessss!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DANIELLO.PRIVADO Daniel Alfredo Ojeda

    just got a brand new Obsidian Black/ Red Soft top/ Red Interior and it’s a beautiful car! II got it from 68 to 62k. My only down was that the 2014 is coming in August and it changes a little bit but I still like more 2013 than 2014 model!

    This car is BEAUTIFUL

  • http://www.facebook.com/DANIELLO.PRIVADO Daniel Alfredo Ojeda

    I just installed the spring booster! WHAT A REAT PRODUCT!!! I FEEL ITS A SL500!

  • Ron

    I’ve my 2012 since December and it is a great ride ,comfortable, fast .average 31 mpg ,perfect workmanship ;feels good to drive it. Plus gets lots of compliments..

  • playadamas

    They really should ask owners to write reviews instead! I drive with the top down more than 80% of the time (2013 model, in S. California). I use the Aircap 100% of the time with the top down. I agree with one of the comments, that the Airscarf is more than warm enough in the coldest of nights. Instead of complaining, though, let’s be thankful that we can own one of these and wish the less fortunate ones better luck.

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