2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet First Drive: Four-Season Droptop

– Mont Blanc, France

“Punta Helbronner” is a marvel of modern construction perched on a craggy peak in the Italian Alps more than 11,000 feet above sea level. Accessible only after taking two silent rotating gondolas from the quaint Alpine village of Courmayeur, the two-year-old metal-and-glass structure houses a bistro, a rare crystal exhibition, and a circular observation deck roughly 45 feet in diameter providing visitors with up-close views of Mont Blanc on one side, and, on a clear day, the Matterhorn on the other. And the day I visited, it also provided one primo parking spot for a 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertible.

While Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available on the all-new W213-generation E-Class cabriolet, it would take more than that to get such a car up to Punta Helbronner, which looks like the Millennium Falcon after getting impaled on an Alp. Hence, Mercedes-Benz hoisted the car up there via helicopter. Yes, it’s unnatural to see a car in a place like that and yes, it’s pretty cool, and yes, it’s a stupid PR stunt, and yes, it’s a PR stunt that worked ‘cuz I’m telling you about it. And it was one helluva photo op.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet: First Drive
2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet: First Drive
2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet: First Drive
2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet: First Drive

The cabrio is available in the U.S. only as an E400 at this point, powered by Mercedes’ biturbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

Did Mercedes-Benz have to go through all this effort to get the kind of ink splash it wants for the launch of its newest cabriolet? Well, probably. The new E-Class cab is on...