By on December 12, 2009

air shirts next?

It’s good to see an occasional glimpse of the good old Mercedes, solving the great unsolved automotive engineering challenges through sheer triumph of the will. Yes, today’s convertibles are already dramatically calmer than the ’65 Fury that tried to give me a head start on dread locks. But good enough is not good enough at Mercedes. For over a decade, their engineers have been toiling on the challenge of the truly turbulent-free convertible. Their efforts have paid off in the form of the new 2011 E-Class convertible, due this May in the US. All the (un) hair-raising details and more pics of Aircap in action follow:

The new Mercedes E-Class cabriolet features an innovative retractable wind deflector that sits at the top of the windshield. Called Aircap, the driver-operated system raises a wind deflector on the tip of the windshield to direct wind 8 inches (20cm)  higher, over the top of the passenger compartment. It works in tandem with the rear deflector to eliminate buffeting and reduce noise with the roof down. And Aircap is the perfect accessory to Airscarf, MB’s heat-blowing head rests. What’s next: Air Shirt? Topless motoring in the chill of a crisp German spring day is only another Mercedes invention away.



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37 Comments on “The End Of Convertible Hair: Mercedes Unveils Perpetual Doldrums Rag Top...”

  • avatar

    Kudos to MBZ!  All that nonsense with dicing cones, road stability, traction control, blah,blah,blah, when most of us only want a good cup holder, and neat hair while cruising down the  freeways at bumper to bumper speeds. That’s innovation!

    • 0 avatar

      I used to think the E-class was ugly but I saw another one today in ice blue. The styling really fits and really sets it apart. The only real problem is the steering and acceleration of the cheap E350.

      to have a coupe, sedan, convertible and wagon based on the same car is awesome planning. I think Benz may move more of these than C-classes soon.

  • avatar

    So, hypothetically, if I were to own another convertible (I sort of count the 1st-gen 4Runner as one), I would fully expect to have my hair blown around and unbearable wind noise. That’s pretty much why you buy a convertible, or so I have been led to believe.
    Thanks, Mercedes Benz, for solving a problem that didn’t really exist.
    In other news, I look forward to buying a beater in 15 years, as is often the case with new MB products.

  • avatar

    There’s a similar system on the VW Eos. A wind deflector pops up from the windshield frame…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Meh, the  sunroof  in  my  BMW yields  the  better  parts  of  the  convertable  experience with  the security of  a metal sunroof.  Many a  sunny  day  in winter time it  is  open   with   the heat going  full  blast to counter  the chill.

  • avatar

    Clever.  Very Clever.

  • avatar

    I thought the whole point of a convertible was wind-in-your-hair motoring?
    If you don’t want your hair messed up, don’t by a convertible.
    Also – I suspect this thing would raise the drag coefficient significantly.

    • 0 avatar

      Having no top reduces the drag coefficient significantly. Convertibles already represent huge compromises so I imagine MB assumes, quite correctly, that convertible buyers couldn’t care less about coefficient of drag.

  • avatar

    To me a convertible represent something more carefree and often elegant. This contraption is neither of those things. Hmm.

  • avatar

    Yeah messed up, wind tossed hair is the point of convertible motoring.  I think that’s the main reason my dad has kept his 67 Mustang Convertible around.

  • avatar

    Ah, the windows up variety of convertible, I never had any use for that look.  Of the three convertibles that I have previously owned (All were 1960’s G.M. full sizers.) I have never allowed that option. Convertibles equal wind through the hair, wind-shock, and a totally useless audio system. I’ve never owned a roadster, but I sure would like to, as it is the base of automobile driving, wind in your face driving.
    Let the wind blow as it may. If it becomes too windy, put the top up and deal with the booming of the canvas top. I never metered it, but the sweetie said she preferred that I was topless, as the noise was more bearable.
    Just more stopgap measures to sell more convertibles. For crying out loud, why shouldn’t my convertible be as comfy as any sedan? Is this in response to those stupid Jeep girls in their latest Jeep campaign?
    A true convertible actually is a source of pleasure and simplicity. It places you very close to nature and the outside world, if driven correctly and in the appropriate places. We’ll leave the parking situations alone, please.
    Although convertibles have always been somewhat of an image vehicle and not really necessary, outside of model glorification, they are a treat all the same. For those that need all of the spoilers to enhance the ownership, you are missing a great part of owning a convertible, roadster, or phaeton.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Glad to see the day’s burning issue resolved.

  • avatar

    I bet Angus Mackenzie gives the idea two thumbs up.

  • avatar

    So, apparently the rear seats extend up along with this thing?

  • avatar

    It’s just the headrests, I think.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    “Triumph of the will”.
    Not funny.

  • avatar

    hey guys, you need to put this in perspective.  what about when you take a date out?  you can’t impress your date by picking her up with the top down because the ride there will ruin her hair that she spent so much time on, until now! then on the way back, roll down the windows and that.. thing, pick up some speed and let the winds blow!
    (honestly, though, i’m just trying to see some silver lining.  my old mr2 spyder was much more fun to drive with the top down then my current BMW.  it’s just not quite the same.   but we all like different things, and not everyone likes the wind in their face thing.  i think most driving enthusiasts do, simply because it simply goes hand in hand with spirited driving, as someone else above me mentioned)

  • avatar

    The lead pic does nothing to dispel the image of European convertibles as chick cars.

  • avatar

    I’d go for the SL with a hot chick next to me and tell her two other friends to meet us there.

  • avatar

    Mercedes-Benz, answering automotive questions nobody asked since 1926 (or later, depending on who you ask).

  • avatar

    Here in sunny Hawaii I would easily estimate that 8 out of every 10 convertibles on the road are covered up and that 2 of 10 c’bles are driven by a tourist in, either, a Ford Mustang or Chrysler Sebring.  I’ve never understood why the rest buy an inherently compromised car and yet not use it as intended.  Even Miatas are mostly driven top up, fer chrissakes!

    • 0 avatar

      I couldn’t agree more. I lived on Oahu for 8 years and can confirm your assertions.
      I’ve always found a wide open sunroof with all the windows down to be more than enough open air for me. I’ve never understood the desire for full convertibles.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Convertibles are not for driving on the autobahn. They are for cruising on hot summer nights. MB has solved a problem that does not exist.

  • avatar

    There’s some serious wind-in-the-hair snobbery going on here and it’s silly.  I have a Miata as my second car and I love driving it with the top down and all the wind on warm days, but I cannot drive it top down unless the temperature  is in the 70’s because otherwise it’s just too cold for me at any kind of speed.   If an invention like this extended the comfortable top-down temperature range by 5-10 degrees, I’d get a lot more enjoyment out of it. I could use the deflector when the temperature is borderline and not use it when it’s warmer.  What’s the problem?  Enjoying a convertible isn’t JUST about the wind, it’s also about the sunshine and blue sky above you and an open-air feeling.

    Oh by the way I am a southerner so if you’re a hardy northener and think the 70’s is too wimpy a minimum top-down range, fair enough.  But no matter what your minimum would be, if something like this would give you another 5-10 degrees of usable top-down temperature  that’s a good thing.  You don’t have to deploy the deflector when the  temp is warm enough to not need it. 

    This deflector is not as silly as driving a convertible in a coat and hat, as I have seen some people do when it’s chilly.

  • avatar

    Here’s another solution, Mercedes:
    How about you just put a roof over the thing and call it a “coupe”?
    Sorry to be so snarky, but Christ, no hair blown, no feeling of the outside weather, no noise? Why GET a convertible, then? To be a poser, I guess.

  • avatar

    What’s with all the whining? A convertible is not just about the wind messing up your hair, if you just want that then drive with your head out the window. A much more important part of the experience is all the noise and feeling of openness. In my opinion this deflector is a really good thing, on a four seater convertible at least. Ever been in the backseat of one of these? It won’t eliminate the wind anyway, just reduce it. You will still feel the wind. And you don’t have to use it should you not want to.  That being said, the deflector does look quite silly.

  • avatar

    The wind deflector above the windshield on the Eos doesn’t really do what the new MB deflector claims to do. It is mostly for use with the sunroof, not with the top down, and all it really does with the sunroof is reduce noise. On the other hand, the Eos wind blocker that fits above the rear seat is truly awesome and, in conjunction with having the side windows raised, creates a virtually wind-free environment at highway speeds. Of course, a lot of other convertibles have such things. The only advantage of the MB system would be the ability to have four people in the car. I’m guessing the rear seat in this E-Class is not big enough to make that a much of an issue.

  • avatar

    I’ve noticed with my Jeep Wrangler that when the top is off, the air coming off of the windshield continues to travel up another six inches or more before heading over the Jeep. It’s the same effect as what this does. However with my Jeep, the air still comes from the sides with the windows down and often the doors off.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    To paraphrase one my favourite comedians, Jack Dee:
    “Someone at Mercedes-Benz, committed millions of pounds to the development of this feature. One in three of us is going to die of cancer, but let’s no worry about that! Let’s sort out this hair nightmare first!”

  • avatar

    as a hardy northerner, i have to agree with xyzzy.  wind in your face is the best, but that only works when it’s warm out, and i like driving with the top down on any sunny day (or clear night) that i can.  with windows up and windstop in place, i can do that pretty comfortably down into the 40s.  with this, i could go even colder.  yay for mercedes.

  • avatar

    The new E350 is based on a C-Class platform. MB did not use the E platform for the coupe or convertible.

  • avatar

    Yes…. you must enjoy a convertible for the exact same reasons that I do, or else you are a poser and a loser. No doubt, if I enjoy the wind in my hair then anyone who doesn’t is foolish and doesn’t really understand or appreciate cars. Women with long hair wanting to drive without messing up their hair? Absurd! Next thing you know they’ll be asking to vote.

  • avatar

    The AirCap is quite efficient in warding off wind turbulence and noise in Merc roadsters, which is a must-have in modest not-so-premium Verts. But ordinary convertibles still have the option of good wind deflectors like the Windblox wind restrictor and so on to rein in these bogeys.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, Windblox windblocker is a good wind deflector. I too have mounted it on my ride. Now my hairdo is in form and I don’t have that beat-up feeling after a long top down drive.

  • avatar

    The wind deflectors take open top motoring to the next level by providing noise- and turbulence-free ride even at motorway speeds. Thanks to the Backblade windblocker now my hairdo stays in form and I need not yell for conversing with my co-passenger.

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