The Mercedes C300 Cabrio Is the Best Kind of Fair-Weather Friend
A stylish and capable droptop for living luxe in the not-so-fast lane.
GARDENA, California—While Mercedes will pare a few convertibles from its lineup in the medium term, the company's current roster is unparalleled, with our subject vehicle, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 cabriolet, slotting below its larger E- and S-class siblings. Mercedes also sells SL and AMG GT drop-tops—and there may be some SLCs on dealer lots yet—but the stylish C appeals in having most of the latest high-tech goodies found in a wieldy, luxurious, and more affordable package.
The C300 cabriolet starts at $52,845—add $2000 for 4Matic all-wheel drive—but our rear-wheel-drive weekender checked a lot of boxes. It had features like active lane-change assist at freeway speeds, which will switch lanes for you if the steering assist is active merely by using the blinker; blind-spot detection; brake assist; and even more as part of the $1,700 Driver's Assistance package. Other items included special Diamond White Metallic paint and sumptuous, oh-so-soft porcelain leather upholstery (a must in hotter climates) for $1,515, a Premium package with a booming $1,650 Burmester audio system that's perfect for listening to everything from Cardi B to Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Multimedia package with voice control for $2,200, and a few other smaller goodies that brought the total to $69,000. A C-heap-class it isn't, but if you can stand living without some of the features, it can be a decent luxury value.
The C300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that now produces 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. As in the rest of the C-class range, the engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. There are paddle shifters to play with, and as is the case with practically every vehicle these days, the chassis offers multiple drive modes including Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.
Sport+ is the most engaging, but everyone will leave their C300 cabriolet in Comfort mode, which is fine because the aim of this four-seater is comfort, not speed. Of course, Mercedes offers two additional C cab variants—didn't we tell you its drop-top lineup was unparalleled?— with a little more pizazz in the twin-turbo V-6-powered C43 and twin-turbo V-8-stuffed C63.
Compared to the C43 and C63—the former tuned using AMG expertise, the latter fully crafted by Mercedes' tuning arm—the driving experience in the C300 is definitely more sedate. The ride is more cosseting, and its overall demeanor encourages you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery. The AMG-fettled Cs are blessed with surfeits of power (385 in the C43, as much as 503 in the C63) that might make you doubt the C300's 255 horses are up to the task, but after a whiff of turbo lag, the four-cylinder has enough steam to squirt you past slowpokes and into holes in traffic.
The car's steering feels weighty and accurate, but it's not so heavy that curbside crawling is a chore. There's good on-center feel and straight-line cruising requires few if any corrections—always nice when you're out for a leisurely drive.
The optional, fully digital 12.3-inch display as fitted to our car does away with physical gauges, but it's easy to read and customizing it and accessing infotainment functions via the steering-wheel-mounted controls is very intuitive. The 10.3-inch central infotainment screen and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are now standard, but if you want to play with Mercedes' new MBUX system and its digital assistant, you'll have to wait until the next-generation model.
Looks-wise, the front and rear bumpers were subtly reshaped for 2019, as were the LED-lit head- and taillights. But it's not as if the C-class needed much of a buffing, given how great it looked upon its launch, and it will still impress your neighbors. The lightly updated interior still feels top shelf, and the seats are comfortable and accommodating for occupants of all sizes. And Mercedes' Airscarf seat-mounted, neck-level heaters and standard heated front seats will help keep you and yours toasty on cool evenings.
The Aircap wind-deflector atop the windshield header looks goofy in operation but does a commendable job quelling turbulence in the cabin when the roof is lowered. That task takes about 20 seconds via a button in the cabin at speeds of up to 31 mph, and you can also operate it remotely via the key fob when stopped. The rear seats fold in a 50/50 split, too, which is handy since trunk space is compromised by the top mechanism.
It rained for days while we had the C300, a rare occurrence in Southern California, and the top mostly stayed up. Still, the cabin felt spacious and quiet as we motored around town in the wet stuff. But even if it wasn't exactly the sun-drenched experience we were seeking, the C300 proves that very little can beat a convertible on a sunny—or rainy—day.
|2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolet Specifications|
|PRICE||$52,845/$69,000 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4; 255 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 273 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/29 mpg|
|L x W x H||184.5 x 79.4 x 55.3 in|
|WEIGHT||3,810 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||5.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph|