New Fea­ture:

Driv­ing into the pages of The Guardian to­day

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY LISA CALVI

Cra­dled in a lux­u­ri­ous seat made of the finest leather with sooth­ing mu­sic sur­round­ing me, a heated scarf is placed at my neck.

The scenes treat­ing my eyes are of shim­mer­ing ocean, red cliffs and cobalt sky.

Am I zon­ing out in a spa? No. This pam­per­ing is hap­pen­ing while I’m squeez­ing the throt­tle down on the 2017 MercedesAMG C43 Cabri­o­let.

The C43’s AMG-en­hanced 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 en­gine breaks into its en­thu­si­as­tic 362-horse­power song and dance and launches the siz­zling soft-top from zero to 100 km/h in 4.7 sec­onds.

I’m on the move, top down with the touch of a but­ton, grin plas­tered on my face at the plea­sure of driv­ing into the sun­set, senses on high alert.

My hair is tan­gled but I don’t care. There’s a mar­itime chill in the air, de­spite the July date. Again, I don’t care. That heated scarf at my neck is ac­tu­ally warm air com­ing from the airscarf, Mercedes-Benz’s neck­level heat­ing sys­tem. Ge­nius.

An­other push of a but­ton in the cen­tre con­sole ac­ti­vates the air­cap, rais­ing a wind de­flec­tor above the wind­shield and an­other be­tween the rear head­rests.

This in­no­va­tion de­flects the air flow higher above the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment when the roof is down, de­creases tur­bu­lence in the rear and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces noise in the cabin.

My new BFFs, airscarf and air­cap, make all the dif­fer­ence when driv­ing top down in cooler tem­per­a­tures.

When my tester for the week is a hot Mercedes-AMG Cabri­o­let, un­less the rain is com­ing down in sheets, it’s an ab­so­lute duty to drive top­less at all times.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43, along with its more pow­er­ful sib­ling, the C63, are the two AMG ver­sions of MercedesBenz C-Class sedan. AMG started out as an in­de­pen­dent en­gi­neer­ing firm spe­cial­iz­ing in per­for­mance up­grades in Mercedes-Benz ve­hi­cles.

The let­ters AMG stand for Aufrecht Melcher Großas­pach, the first two words be­ing the last names of AMG’s founders, Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. Großas­pach is Aufrecht’s birth­place. Since 2005, AMG has been owned out­right by Mercedes-Benz.

AMG mod­els usu­ally fea­ture a higher level of per­for­mance, bet­ter han­dling and sta­bil­ity and more ag­gres­sive looks than their non-AMG cousins.

The Cabri­o­let, sheathed in a mean-look­ing matte De­signo Se­len­ite Grey paint colour, is most def­i­nitely as­sertive-look­ing and cer­tainly eye-catch­ing to say the least. Top down, the stun­ning Cran­berry Red in­te­rior stands out.

Roof up or down, the cabin in­dulges the oc­cu­pants with top-of-the-line com­fort with heated and cooled seats, ad­justable head­rests, tons of legroom in the front seat (not so much in the rear seats), and a hop­ping Burmester sound sys­tem.

As al­ways, if I can’t have a man­ual trans­mis­sion, at least give me steer­ing wheel pad­dle shifters. The MercedesAMG C43 Cabri­o­let, with its en­hanced 9G-TRONIC au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, de­liv­ers, re­spond­ing smoothly with the pad­dle-shift but­tons that are la­belled Down and Up.

The steer­ing is most pre­cise and, while the ride is stiff be­cause of the run-flat tires and low side­walls, it’s com­fort­able even on some of our prov­ince’s bumpier roads.

My wheels this week are cer­tainly treat­ing me right, mak­ing me happy to help AMG cel­e­brate its 50th birth­day this year. I find my­self look­ing for ex­cuses to go to the gro­cery story on the other side of town, when there’s a per­fectly good one around the cor­ner. I take the long way home from just about ev­ery­where.

Af­ter all, girls just wanna have fun. Es­pe­cially when the fun in­volves a top­less ride en­veloped in sun­shine, sum­mer breezes and that snappy ex­haust note when I put the C43 into Sport+ mode.

There haven’t been many con­vert­ibles in my life. Grow­ing up, my fam­ily didn’t own one.

My par­ents came to Canada from Italy and prob­a­bly would have thought the cli­mate too cold, a con­vert­ible too friv­o­lous. Mom and Dad had a con­vert­ible Fiat 500 back in Rome in the mid-1960s when they got mar­ried. It was white. What I would give to have that lit­tle top­less num­ber now.

My first ex­pe­ri­ence with own­ing a con­vert­ible was when hus­band, Garry, reached a cer­tain mile­stone birth­day. He bought a 1983 Mus­tang GLX 5.0-litre V8 with a five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion.

We had it for a num­ber of years, stub­bornly driv­ing it top-down well into De­cem­ber, heat blast­ing, col­lars turned up around our ears. No airscarf or air­cap but we were okay with ‘rough­ing it.’

It’s not of­ten that peo­ple put their win­dows down at traf­fic lights to com­ment on what I’m driv­ing. The 2017 MercedesAMG C43 Cabri­o­let sparks car fever all over town.

A young lady re­marks that my ride looks like fun. I tell her I can no longer get a comb through my hair. Her an­swer: “So what?”

Pric­ing

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabri­o­let starts at $68,800. The De­signo Se­len­ite Grey paint adds $2,500, the Cran­berry Red in­te­rior an­other $1,900. Var­i­ous driver, safety, tech­nol­ogy, com­fort and con­ve­nience pack­ages bring the price as tested to $85,380.

Lisa Calvi is project man­ager and vice pres­i­dent of Odyssey In­ter­na­tional, a Hal­i­fax-based au­to­mo­tive event man­age­ment com­pany.

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