Why not enjoy the warmest months as much as possible by putting the top down on an all-new interpretation of the Silver Star's carefree tanning sled?

Too short a season. That's how most Canadians would describe the summer weather that graces our northern sliver of the globe. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet makes a counterproposal: why not enjoy the warmest months as much as possible by putting the top down on an all-new interpretation of the Silver Star's carefree tanning sled?

 

To get us to buy-in before bundling up for the winter, the Silver Star has decided to make the C-Class convertible line-up a triple threat. Sure, it makes sense to cover as many price bases as possible when introducing a redesigned automobile, but Mercedes-Benz has also given each of its new cabriolets a distinct personality that stretches beyond bank account balance and communicates on a more primal level with each prospective customer.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

It was with this in mind that we piloted the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet on the narrow-gauge roads that twist their way along the border between Italy and Slovenia, an imaginary distinction given no thought by the many villages that straddle the geopolitical divide and celebrate the joys of cultural cross-pollination. Running the full gamut of early June's Adriatic climate saw us both braving sudden storm squalls and basking under beautiful sunshine allowed for a complete sampling of the C-Class' many charms.

 

Climbing the C-Class ladder starts with the sturdy C 300 4MATIC rung, the entry-point to four-seat convertible ownership in the Mercedes-Benz showroom. Like most cars in its class - including the Audi A5 convertible and the BMW 428i - the C 300 4MATIC is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder motor, which has quickly become the new luxury standard. Rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and matched with new 9-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, the C 300 4MATIC isn't intended to be driven in anger but rather serves as the cruiser on the Mercedes-Benz cabriolet fleet. Road manners can be adjusted via a toggle on the center console (with suspension settings also available for cars outfitted with the option of air shocks), but you'll get more out of the car on a beautiful, sunny afternoon in the countryside than you would carving mountain roads.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

The latter is a task best left up to the next-step-up Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC, a fresh name for a familiar 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 that drops 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of twist into your lap. Functionally, you've still got nine forward speeds and an all-wheel drive system to manage all of your traction and gear-shifting needs, but now there's a reason to grab the right paddle shifter and command a lower ratio as you carom from one corner to the next. Of all the C-Class Cabriolets that we drove on our European sojourn, it was the C 43 4MATIC that felt the most balanced, combining a relatively light front end with a willingness to turn-in a little earlier than its siblings. You also get the benefit of a sport exhaust system with the turbo six, and although it's occasionally more abrasive than mellifluous, its presence never fades into the background when you're driving hard.

 On the highways that connected Trieste to the old country, the Mercedes-Benz C 63 S proved to be terrifying with one's foot to the floor in a way that the BMW M4 convertible simply isn't.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

Of course, the absolute king of open pipes is the model that tacks on an extra pair of cylinders and then shoehorns them into the Cabriolet's engine bay with nary a concern for propriety or decorum. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet punches a hole through the atmosphere by way of the two turbos feeding its 4.0-liter V8, its 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of twist shunted to the rear wheels only by way of a beefy 7-speed automatic. If you want to go one step further down the path towards losing your license with the wind in your hair, then you can opt for the more-bananas 503 horses and 516 lb-ft of torque churned out by the C 63 S, a model that makes squeezes its additional power from the same engine block by way of turning up the boost.

 

The C 63 S proved to be the most frenetic edition of the Cabriolet when negotiating Slovenia's cart paths. The car's wide-body stance offered an extra helping of grip and stability but its punchy throttle response and willingness to reach escape velocity in what felt like milliseconds were at odds with the lack of run-off on the curly-q asphalt. On the highways that connected Trieste to the old country, the Mercedes-Benz C 63 S proved to be terrifying with one's foot to the floor in a way that the BMW M4 convertible simply isn't. This is as close as Mercedes-Benz gets to building an open-top hot rod in the modern era, and it presents a very specific set of thrills that will no doubt appeal to buyers for whom 'more' is rarely 'enough.'

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

Not to be lost in the shuffle of horsepower and tire smoke is the fact that each of these convertibles delivered a very comfortable ride that felt buttoned-down even on some of the more truculent stretches of Italian pavement. The features list is full-bore for the C-Class, including a strong set of advanced safety options, and you can also add the C 63's sporty styling cues to the C 300 by way of the AMG package (think of it as a walk on the wild side without the sticker shock or the fuel bill).

 

More to the point, each version of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a car one would instantly notice, whether out on the road or parked in front of the valet station. That's an important consideration for Mercedes-Benz, which admitted to not following through as aggressively on the previous-generation C-Class convertible or coupe and losing a little bit of traction in the two-door market to its German competitors as a result. With this next-generation model, it's clear that the only spin the brand has to worry about will result from turning off the C 63 S' traction control.

 

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

 

ENGINE

2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo / 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 / 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8

OUTPUT

241 hp / 273 lb-ft & 362 hp / 384 lb-ft & 469 hp / 479 lb-ft & 503 hp / 516 lb-ft (S)

TRANSMISSION

9-speed automatic / 7-speed automatic

0-100 KMH

6.3 seconds / 4.8 seconds / 4.2 seconds / 4.1 seconds

TOP SPEED

290 km/h (C 63 S)

FUEL ECONOMY

N/A

WEIGHT

1,795 kilograms (3,949 lbs)

SEATING CAPACITY

4

CARGO VOLUME

249 litres (8.8 cubic feet)

BASE PRICE

N/A

AS-TESTED PRICE

N/A

 

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