On Autos: Mercedes convertible offers serene open-top experience

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 balances comfort, luxury and performance with a relatively roomy interior and a potentially palatable price tag. (Brady Holt/The Current)

Most of today’s high-priced convertibles are sports cars, vehicles that dazzle for their exhilarating performance and low-slung bodies.

But Mercedes-Benz is keeping an option available for buyers who want the wind in their hair without giving up a comfortable ride, decent rear-seat accommodations and extra-posh interior — and without spending six figures. That’s the redesigned 2018 E400 Cabriolet, a midsize luxury convertible that’s priced from $67,295.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 has a superbly finished interior and two large display screens — one replacing the traditional gauge cluster and the other housing the stereo controls. (Brady Holt/The Current)

The E400 offers much of the experience found in Mercedes’ S-Class convertible, a model that’s one size larger and almost exactly twice as expensive. The E400’s sumptuous interior is classically elegant yet modern, with exquisite materials and crisply rendered display screens.

This convertible is also pleasant all year round, thanks to available all-wheel-drive; a wind deflector that pops up above the windshield; and the Mercedes “Air Scarf” feature, which locates heating vents around the front seats near the occupants’ necks — so chilly weather doesn’t force a decision to put the top up.

The E-Class Cabriolet is currently offered with only one engine: a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 with 329 horsepower that delivers smooth, strong acceleration. It doesn’t have the four-cylinder or V8 options found on the E-Class sedan, and although gas mileage isn’t too impressive at 22 mpg in mixed driving, the V6 otherwise impresses with its refinement and power.

Especially from the rear, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet resembles the brand’s other convertibles. (Brady Holt/The Current)

While the E400 Cabriolet isn’t cheap, it’s challenging to find a similar experience from a competitor. The BMW 6 Series costs some $20,000 more, and Audi’s only convertible comes in its compact A5 line, not its midsize A6 or A7.

Mercedes does offer a similar experience in the convertible version of its compact C-Class, which starts at $52,195. The two cars look quite similar at a glance, though the slightly larger E400 feels more solid. The E-Class also picks up some additional space in the rear seat and trunk.