2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet First Drive

More Safety, Style and Serenity

If Mercedes-Benz isn't sitting at the top of the four-seat convertible tree by now, it has no excuses. It's been at it for more than 100 years and its latest offering shows how far it has taken the idea. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet is cleaner-looking, more comfortable and far safer than ever before.

Current owners of the E-Class convertible weren't exactly complaining about any of those areas, but Mercedes recently finished the midcycle upgrade of the E-Class sedan and is about to deliver an all-new Mercedes S-Class. And with all the technology from both of those exercises at its disposal, Mercedes figured it could make its popular midsize convertible that much better.

Another Evolution of the E-Class
On the outside, this new convertible wears the smoother grille and air intakes of the E-Class sedan along with the optional LED head- and taillights. Under the hood the engines remain the same, while the cabin has been updated with new materials throughout.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet

The mechanical bits still consist of a multilink suspension front and rear, a seven-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. In the top-of-the-line E550, power comes from a twin-turbo, 4.7-liter V8 that delivers an absolutely fuss-free 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.

Mercedes is most proud of this convertible's new safety electronics featuring the company's new Stereo Multipurpose Camera, which fits near the rearview mirror and feeds its 3D data into the stream of other sensor information delivered to the car's all-calculating computer. Together with the rest of the car's substantial number of safety devices, it makes for an unrivaled technological net of protection.

Back to the Guts
Endless safety systems are comforting, but it's the effortless power of the V8 that will satisfy day in and day out. There is no point in its range where the V8 falters. It's never caught out doing something harsh, or even overly soft for that matter. It's just plain strong, as its peak torque arrives at just 1,600 rpm and remains at that level until 4,750 rpm, then the power peak arrives at 5,000 rpm and stays there until 5,750 rpm.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet

Effectively, it means the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet can deliver huge strength whenever you need it. All it takes is a gentle prod on the gas and it responds instantly. Mercedes says it will hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds (0.1 second slower than the near-identical E550 Coupe) and go on to hit a limited top speed of 155 mph, but that's not the whole story.

Its midrange strength is phenomenal and makes you wonder if anybody really needs an AMG. Mercedes-Benz felt the same way apparently, because there won't be an AMG version of the E-Class Cabrio anytime soon.

Stable and Quiet
Despite Mercedes trumpeting the car's newly refined handling, the ride is still very traditional in its feel, with plenty of grip and overall stability. The only problem is a lack of involvement. You might always step out of it feeling fresh from the quiet cabin and the quality seats, but you won't come out buzzing from the experience.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet

Mercedes clearly doesn't see an issue there, as most of the upgrades to the cabin target general comfort, not driver interaction. The roof has seven layers of cloth and tucks away (at up to 30 mph) inside a still spacious trunk. Nearly every surface has been given a new look or feel even if the general layout hasn't changed much. It's a surprisingly effective makeover for an interior that wasn't exactly dated to begin with.

One new feature for this year is that the unsightly-but-effective AirCap wind deflector can now be switched to an automatic mode. When engaged, it will lift from its casing across the top of the windshield by itself at 30 mph and retract at 11 mph for the sole reason of making it less unattractive at café-crawling speeds. Hardly a groundbreaking new feature, but a small detail that further solidifies the E550 as one of the most serene convertibles on the road.

Safety Technology
Active safety plays a key role in the upgrades to the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet, chief among them the Stereo Multipurpose Camera. This upgrade gives the car the ability to see risks its driver has ignored, miscalculated or been distracted from.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet

The 3D map the camera generates covers 165 feet in front and to the sides of the car. Data from its radar cruise control that extends out to 1,640 feet is also added to the information stream, and Benz admits it is only scratching the surface of how to use this information.

From here, it's all just software coding to brake the car to a stop before a collision, to use its electrohydraulic steering to veer around a problem or a combination of both. With the engine, gearbox, brakes, skid control systems, airbag and seatbelt systems and steering all managed by computer, Benz believes the stereo multipurpose camera was the missing link in a massive reduction in crashes, large and small.

More on the Way
If the price of the E550 Cabriolet puts it out of range, you'll have another option before too long. Mercedes has a smaller twin-turbo V6 on the way that will deliver 328 hp and considerably better mileage, along with a slightly lower price. The E400 isn't going to be considered a direct replacement for the E550, just a more fuel-efficient alternative.

Regardless of what price range you're considering, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet remains one of the best luxury convertibles available. Mercedes didn't change much here because it didn't need to. This car is luxurious where it should be, powerful when it needs to be and overly protective all the way. There's trunk space and backseats, too.

It's a convertible from a company that knows what a convertible should be, which is exactly what we would expect after 100 years or so of development.

Year Make Model: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 2dr Convertible RWD (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)
Configuration: Longitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine type: Twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V8, gasoline with auto stop-start
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,663/285
Block/head material: Aluminum/aluminum
Valvetrain: Double overhead camshaft
Compression ratio (x:1): 10.5
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 402 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 443 @ 1,600
Fuel type: Premium unleaded (required)
Transmission type: Seven-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1): I=4.38, II=2.86, III=1.92, IV=1.37, V=1.0, VI=0.82, VII=0.73
Final-drive ratio (x:1): 2.47
Suspension, front: Independent multilink, coil springs
Suspension, rear: Independent multilink, coil springs
Steering type: Electric speed-proportional power steering
Tire type: All-season front and rear
Tire size, front: 245/40R18
Tire size, rear: 245/40R18
Wheel size: 18-by-8.5 inches front and rear
Wheel material: Alloy
Brakes, front: Ventilated disc
Brakes, rear: Ventilated disc
0-60 mph, mfr. claim (sec.): 4.9 (0-62)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.): 21.1
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.): 4,287
Length (in.): 186.9
Width (in.): 70.3
Height (in.): 55.0
Wheelbase (in.): 108.7
Track, front (in.): 60.6
Track, rear (in.): 60.4
Turning circle (ft.): 36.7
Free scheduled maintenance: 1 year/3,000 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.