Detroit Auto Show: 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 29, 2010

After weeks of having only spyshots and tiny bits of information, an extensive gallery of the new E-Class Cabrio is now available to our great relief. The E-Class Cabrio is Mercedes' newest soft-top, which will go on sale in January.

It comes with a comprehensive line of engines. The five versions of the Cabrio are the following: E 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY(150 kW/204 hp), E 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY (170 kW/231 hp), E 250 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY (150 kW/204 hp), E 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY (215 kW/292 hp) and the E 500 (285 kW/388 hp).

The Cabrio's roof has an amazing quality of opening and closing fully automatically within 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 40 km/h.

The car's performances, as well as the passengers' comfort, are insured by the use of Mercedes' AIRCAP automatic draught-stop, a new system which is used to reduce turbulence in the interior. Mercedes-Benz said that a hands-free phone conversation is possible at speeds of up to 200 km/h.

Mercedes-Benz explained that the AIRCAP creates "a sea of warm air" inside, by using its two components: a wind deflector that can be extended by around six centimeters with a net in the windscreen frame and a draught-stop between the rear seats.

The soft top is equipped with ABS and ESP, with roll-over protection, seven airbags and drowsiness detection.

As expected from any Mercedes-Benz release, the latest Cabriolet has a number of outstanding safety innovations. Some of the safety features include the plug-in B-pillars, the two tubes that reinforce the A-pillars, and even roll-overprotection. This new two-door open-top model is in fact the first Cabriolet from the brand to offer headbags.

The roll-over protection in particular is due to the two 1.4-inch diameter bars that have been placed in the rear head restraints through modules at the back of its rear seat backrests. What happens is that a tilting cone sensor identifies the potential danger to occupants by basing it on the extreme skidding movements or even the acceleration that happens during impact.

Once the sensor confirms this, it then sends a signal which activates the pre-tensioned pressure springs through pyrotechnic means. Additionally the two roll-over bars placed in the restraints of the rear head have been extended so that it reaches the highest point which then automatically locks by just a fraction of a second.

Since the robust A-pillars have both been reinforced using high-strength steel tubes, combining this with the steel bars results in a very good roll-over protection. Since the plug-in B-pillars in the side skirts manage to be strongly connected as they engage, they give better protection when a crash occurs.

A shoe composed of ultra-high-strength steel props the B-pillar against the crossmember of the rear seat. In addition to the standard seven airbags, all the seats have belt force limiters and belt tensioners. The head restraints of the driver and front passenger are crash responsive.

As such, the E-Class Cabriolet has the most wide-ranging safety equipment package for its category. In case an accident occurs, the airbags are able to deploy in merely milliseconds. This is not limited to the front airbags of the driver and front passenger but includes the sidebags, headbags, and kneebag located on the driver’s side.

The headbags in particular, the first in a Mercedes cabriolet, have been placed in the door paneling just in the beltline area. It covers an area of 2.3 feet x 1.6 feet and when deployed offers a volume amounting to 17 liters.

Thus the headbags can give the right amount of protection during a crash whether the occupants are small or large. The headbag plus the thoraxbag make up the three-part side protection system which maximizes the protection provided to different parts of the occupant’s body. The rear sidebags can improve protection but are only available as an option.

Press Release

The New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

The all new E-Class Cabriolet is the latest addition to the successful Mercedes-Benz E-Class line-up. The open-top two-door model, which goes on sale in May 2010, features a classic fabric soft top, making for a stylistically pure cabriolet feeling. Viewed from the side, the new model is an intriguing proposition – with its clear proportions and a flawless cabriolet silhouette.

In keeping with the motto "four seasons, four personalities", all-year-round suitability was right at the top of the developers' list of priorities. With the new E-Class Cabriolet, the cabriolet season lasts the whole year because, while many cabriolets tend to disappear from the roads in the Fall, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (length/width/height: 185.0/70.3/55.2in.) provides driving pleasure and comfort whether the roof is open or closed.

New features include:
The AIRCAP® automatic draft-stop: always on board and easily controllable at the push of a button, it reduces turbulence substantially for all four seat occupants
The modified AIRSCARF® neck-level heating system
The sound-dampening soft top fitted as standard
The soft top can be opened and closed fully automatically within 20 seconds – even when driving at speeds of up to 25mph. The cabriolet roof is stowed in a special compartment behind the rear panel. A retractable cover separates the soft top compartment from the trunk area; it must be closed in order to close the soft top. If the roof is to remain closed, the cover can be slid rearwards, in which case the trunk capacity is increased by 3.17 cu. ft. to 13.8 cu. ft. A through-loading feature is included as standard for the new Cabriolet, as is EASY-ENTRY – a manually operated entry and exit aid for the rear passengers.

The power plants for the new E-Class Cabriolet are equally innovative: the engines combine efficiency with effortlessly superior power delivery. The exemplary, low fuel consumption has been achieved because of a number of practical measures. These include on-demand activation of the steering and fuel pumps, the use of tires with low rolling resistance and an alternator control system which takes account of the current driving situation and the vehicle's electrical power requirements, plus the crucial factor of outstanding aerodynamics. The Cabriolet's cd figure of 0.28 is the best in its class, marking a continuation of the E-Class success story in the field of aerodynamics.

An overview of the engines:

E350 Cabriolet: 268 hp / 258 lb-ft.
E550 Cabriolet: 382 hp/ 391 lb-ft.
Less turbulence, easier to use: AIRCAP® is a world-first

In 1989, Mercedes-Benz introduced a world premiere in the shape of a draught-stop for the SL model series, followed in 2004 by the AIRSCARF® neck-level heating system to further enhance comfort in open-top models. Now comes another world-first: the AIRCAP® automatic draft-stop, which can be activated at the push of a button, greatly reduces turbulence in the interior of the new Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, creating a sea of warm air. It is also much easier to implement and use than conventional draft-stops: there is no tricky installation, the two individual rear seats remain free and the Cabriolet's flowing side lines remain uninterrupted. AIRCAP® is therefore a classic Mercedes innovation: functional, comfort-enhancing, elegant and safe.

AIRCAP® consists of two components: a wind deflector that can be extended by around 2.4 inches with a net in the windscreen frame and a draft-stop
between the rear seats.

The functions of the two components:
Elevation of the free flow above the interior
Net at the front increases the basic pressure in the interior
Draft-stop at the rear reduces the backflow
As well as enhancing occupant comfort and wellbeing, the reduction in draft when AIRCAP® is activated (it can be activated at speeds of up to 100 mph and remains in use right up to the car's top speed) reduces the interior noise level – so passengers in all seats find it far easier to communicate.

When the standard AIRCAP® is combined with the optional AIRSCARF®, the system functions like an invisible scarf warming the occupants' head and neck areas. AIRSCARF® is integrated into the backrests of the front seats and provides warm air through outlets in the head restraints.

Mercedes engineers have modified this unique innovation specifically for the E-Class Cabriolet: in this model, an adjustment wheel pivots the outlet nozzle upwards and downwards by a total of 36 degrees over and above the head restraint height adjustment, meaning that the driver and front passenger can enjoy the unique neck-level heating regardless of how short or tall they are.

Quiet, warm and windproof: sound-dampening soft top fitted as standard

Thanks to its sound-dampening soft top, fitted as standard, even the closed E-Class Cabriolet has one of the quietest interiors in the segment for four-seater premium cabriolets with a fabric roof. The soft top's exceptionally high-quality insulation brings about a clearly noticeable reduction in the interior noise level compared to conventional fabric soft tops. Exterior noise caused by other vehicles and wind noise are therefore absorbed more effectively.

On the road, the difference is audible from speeds of just 50 mph, for example when driving through a tunnel or overtaking a convoy of trucks. At higher speeds, the benefits of the acoustic soft top are even more tangible. For instance, it is possible to have a perfectly normal phone conversation in hands-free mode even when travelling at a speed more than 125 mph.

The soft top is of course waterproof and windproof. Plus it can be put through an automatic carwash without any hesitation. With a total thickness of .9 inches, the fabric soft top offers excellent thermal insulation, meaning that the E-Class Cabriolet is also ideal for use in winter.

Safety: robust structure, anticipatory protection and windowbags

The new Cabriolet offers the wealth of safety innovations one would expect from a Mercedes-Benz model. Highlights of the open-top two-door model include roll-over protection, the A-pillars reinforced by two additional tubes and the plug-in B-pillars. This new model is also the first Mercedes cabriolet to feature headbags.

The roll-over protection consists of two robust bars, each with a diameter of 1.4 inches, which are housed in the rear head restraints in modules behind the rear seat backrests. A tilting cone sensor detects imminent danger to the occupants based on extreme skidding movements or acceleration caused by impact. If this sensor then sends a corresponding signal, pre-tensioned pressure springs are activated by pyrotechnic means, i.e. extremely quickly.

Consequently, both roll-over bars in the rear head restraints are extended. They reach their highest point and are locked automatically within a fraction of a second. In combination with the robust A-pillars, each of which is reinforced with two high-strength steel tubes, the steel bars provide highly effective roll-over
protection.

The plug-in B-pillars are extremely robustly connected as they engage in the side skirts, thus offering highly effective protection in the event of a crash. A shoe made from ultra-high-strength steel braces the inside of the B-pillar against the rear seat crossmember.

With seven airbags fitted as standard, belt tensioners and belt force limiters for all seats, not to mention crash-responsive head restraints for the driver and front passenger, the new E-Class Cabriolet offers the most extensive safety equipment package in this vehicle category. The airbags, which can deploy in milliseconds in the event of an accident, include front airbags and sidebags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag on the driver's side, and headbags. The latter, which appear in a Mercedes cabriolet for the first time, are housed in the door panelling in the beltline area. Covering a wide area – around 2.3 × 1.6 feet with a volume of 17 liters when deployed – the airbags provide extremely effective protection for occupants large and small in the event of a crash. The three-part side protection system – comprising headbag and thoraxbag – optimises the level of protection afforded to individual parts of the body. Rear sidebags are available as an option.

Further exemplary safety equipment available for the E-Class Cabriolet includes ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection, PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, and DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control.

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