TOPLESSNESS

Knows No Hierarchy

The strong-selling C-class saloon is great, if not quite one-dimensional. But the C-class cabriolet on the other hand, is one attractive piece of sheetmetal that prefers the sunny side of life. Still, could this be a wiser choice over the coupe? I personally think so, and best of all, its so niche that it could even drive a Bentley owner into a fit of jealousy.

Words by KEEGAN DORAI | Photography by Aaron Lee

hate it when people commonly associate convertibles or cabriolets being the preferred choice of hairdressers and hipsters. Yes, we all know its very ‘lifestyle-ish’ and in your face when you drive one with the top down at a certain area. Looking down at commoners and their miserable econoboxes while you cruise pass them with the biggest grin on your face. Except that you shouldn’t do it in Klang or else you might drive back without your head.

But maintaining one could be a tedious task in the long run. It requires additional care over any conventional-bodied vehicles. That soft top is prone to discolouring once if a crow decides to take a poo on it, and all those mechanicals, gears and stuffs within that makes it function. Once opened in order to be mended, it looks like a place where you’ll try to unravel the mystery of the universe.

Still, lets forget all of those foibles. All because it doesn't make any sense. Ownership comes in second cause buying one is the ultimate goal. I mean, why be bogged down by all of those bothersome duds when you know convertibles are best parked in a garage, and not exposed to any outer elements. Would you leave your swanky open-top in the…open? Definitely not. So if you don’t have a covered parking, forget about buying one.

And this is why I am here to check out Stuttgart’s all-new and stylish C250 cabrio. Yes, it makes its four-door cousin look rather dull, and its coupe counterpart pretty redundant. But why redundant? Cause its rather dreary to drive, claustrophobic, and unbelievably average. Spare for that star-studded interior and the rocket-like AMG variant where it will make babies cry.

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As a whole, the C-class range is triumphant when overall packaging is measured. Coming in second as the BMW 3-series still leads the pack by being the most fun to hoon around. And driving the C250 cabrio does reinforce that claim fairly enough. Strangely, the 4-series convertible feels better when it comes to some sporty, top-down motoring. There’s nothing much to rave about its fun factor if you’re looking for some serious liveliness.

Like all convertibles, they lack a proper roof. So due to that, structure rigidity is compromised when it comes to drive dynamics. Inevitably, the C250 flexes a lot in corners — and it leans in a very wobbly way — feeling rather disjointed if you turn in at a corner above normal speeds. And let’s not disregard that steering response where it felt like it was borrowed off straight from a Nascar arcade machine. Artificial and hyperactive is the word.

Unfortunately, practicality is another parting aspect. Imagine this; its a nice day and you’re outside a furniture shop, looking at that armchair you bought for the old folks back home that won’t fit in the boot. What are you going to do about that?

On the contrary, I’ve managed to fit two pomelos I’ve got for Chinese New Year, and a backpack, probably there’s still some room left for a cabin-sized luggage, and a couple of grocery carryalls. So forget about bringing along that gaudy Louis Vuitton paraphernalia set along.

And how about the rear seats? Comfy enough if the journey is short, but it won’t really please your mates even though the roof is not in place. Its quite hard to find a point to get yourself comfortable at the back so just leave that spot to the juniors when you want to take them out on a sunny Sunday morning cruise.

Finally, the performance. Yes it has a reputable 211bhp coupled with a zesty 350Nm figure. Yes it performs well enough — but sadly all source of power is delivered through a confusing 9-speed automatic cog. Somehow, there’s no sense of connection when you're driving it at low speeds. It hunts between gears, which in return, ruins a possibly pleasant in-town cruising experience.

All in all, it serves its purpose extremely well on a highway drive. It glides effortlessly, and that canvas top is so well built that wind-noise is so low that even a decibel meter will find it hard to pick up a whiff. Impressive feat for a convertible. However, you still can get some droning if you go inside a tunnel but that’s pretty much it. And oh, speaking about a claustrophobic ambience, this car excels way better than its coupe counterpart.

Its the same when you’re at a traffic light stop, waiting alongside a millionaire driving his Bentley. He will definitely bat an eye to you as you lift off when the light turns green with the top down. Fabulous isn’t it? Driving a convertible doesn't only make you feel special, but also puts you in a memorable occasion.

So if you’re that sort of fellow who wants something remarkable enough without the need for something rather responsive, fun to steer and something a little more bespoke, then the C250 cabrio will just simply fit in. Just remember, you do need a spare change of RM388,888 for one, and possibly a more practical, second four-wheeled company to bring home that armchair you left behind at the furniture store.

Mercedes-Benz C250 Cabriolet

Engine inline-4, 1991cc, turbocharged
Power 211bhp at 5500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1200-4000rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Weight 1665kg
Power-to-weight N/A
Price RM388,888
evo rating
★★★

Being a convertible that uses a totally different roof structure, interior headroom is absolutely wonderful. To make all occasions even more jovial, those seats are very well padded. Easing you comfortably enough to keep you driving on for miles, and miles, and miles. If you’re looking for a boulevardier with some easy peasy driving and wind in your hair, the C250 cabrio does the job well.

And this is why I absolutely love it. That folding roof that makes you pant and whimper while it folds in or out artfully, that rare sunny top occasion while you stroll down that favourite route, and finally, a well-built interior that musters all of the right sensations. Come to think of it, this is no car that you want to play alongside a hot-hatch that is driven by a lunatic with a penchant for tailgating Myvis. Instead, you should just ignore that bloke and be a tasteful, polished gentlemen.