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GET IN YOUR ELEMENT

Published: Wednesday, March 01, 2017    



By Irwin B Fletcher


The Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Cabriolet offers the perfect excuse to let your hair down for the weekend and make the most of those cool spring breezes

Open cockpit motoring has been around since the frst horse-drawn carriages, so it only makes sense that once a motor was added to make it a “horseless carriage” that the nostalgic love affair with convertibles (or cabriolets for my European friends) has continued throughout automotive history.

Most notably these highway cruisers had their heyday throughout the mid ffties to sixties with such sport icons as the Ford Mustang, the Shelby Cobra, Jaguar E Type Roadster, and for my British readers I will toss in the AustinHealey Sprite Mark I.

But if you’re like me, you fnd yourself gravitating to the long, cushy highway legends such as the Cadillac Eldorado or Lincoln Continental that can be imagined so easily cruising along a coastal highway, your elbow resting on the window, a few ticks below the posted speed limit as the sea breeze tousles your hair.

For the most part, I feel this enjoyment of having the top down on the open road has been replaced in recent years with most drivers preferring the muscle under the hood and the ability to melt rubber on asphalt. But Mercedes-Benz has found a way to mold these two trains of thought together to bring the nostalgia back to a day on the open road.

Enter the very exciting 2017 MercedesBenz AMG C43 Cabriolet.

43 VERSUS 63

Let’s start with the obvious difference in the AMG lineup. Mercedes-Benz has introduced the 43 designated AMG to help bridge the gap between the standard engine and the very gnarly 63 and 63S versions. Which means that you will still get the biturbo thrust of exhilaration from the 6-cyliders under the hood when you put your foot down, but you won’t have the inclination of death.

It is also important to point out that the C43 is all-wheel drive versus the 63’s rearwheel prerogative, making you more stable in the corners and having more control at any point in time at any speed overall – even if it should rain a day or two here.

Being all wheel drive doesn’t make the C43 sluggish though. It’s quite the opposite. The 367 horsepower, V6 engine always feels powerful and agile. It will get you from zero to 100kph in 4.7 seconds…don’t blink you’ll miss it. And considering how the 9-speed transmission might be smarter than myself in terms of shifting, it will automatically skip as many gears as needed to keep you well pinned back in the driver’s seat.

SAFE IN THE ELEMENTS

For the days when the sun is beating down, which for this part of the world is most days from April to October, Mercedes-Benz offers special sun reflecting seat leather to help keep you cool and “grill mark” free when you sit down. What is important to remember however is that sunburn is still sunburn, so maybe a hat will be needed when you roll the top back.

But don’t fret, Mercedes-Benz helps you to keep that hat on as speed reaches higher limits. The Aircap system deploys a windshield spoiler to help deflect wind from the cabin. This enjoyment is augmented with a huge wind blocker screen behind the back seat making highway speed breezes feel as if you’re casually cruising across town.

Alternatively, if it’s a little chilly in the morning, the Airscarf vent in the seat’s headrests will blow warm air on your neck. So feel free to go topless all day, everyday, from October through March.

The Cabriolet is almost an exact replica of the Coupé version, but with a retractable roof of course. It has the same minimised S-Class style and elegant interior. The onboard tech includes most of the items that are normally reserved for the cushier top of the line models, which includes the semi-autonomous features such as the collision warning and automatic braking.

Unlike the traditional two-seaters that typically hold the convertible categorisation, there was ample space in the back seat for two friends. We also discovered that even with the ragtop down, there was an abundance of space in the rear for our bags and weekend excursion paraphernalia.

LIFE IS A HIGHWAY

The C43 is packed with power, and loaded with style…but the real magic comes when the car is moving and you just enjoy the drive. MercedesBenz certainly hasn’t forgotten about the enjoyment of a drop top.

I was lucky enough to have a road trip weekend planned for the same three days that I was offered this incredible machine. And to my heart’s delight, we were going to be cruising along the coast.

One can’t help but to smile when you pull the tab that retracts the top – it happened to me every time. I also found that the sky appeared bluer when you look straight up at it from behind the steering wheel. There is something to be said about the wind in your hair while your road trip play list bellows from the Burmester surround sound system.

With the inclusion of the Cabriolet, the C-class spectrum has continued to impress, and in some cases really conform to me as a driver. Mentally I was on the Pacifc Coast Highway, or headed down to Baja for the weekend. Road trips are again what they used to be – and I’m really excited about that.
 
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