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CityPress - - Voices -

ho are you driv­ing with?” is one of the most com­mon ques­tions motoring journos ask one an­other on car launches. It mat­ters.

We share test ve­hi­cles and if you’re out of spoke with your driv­ing part­ner, spend­ing a full day nav­i­gat­ing high­ways and treach­er­ous moun­tain passes can be a te­dious af­fair.

Amer­i­can writer and wit Tru­man Capote de­scribed a good con­ver­sa­tion as “a dia­logue, not a mono­logue. That’s why there are so few good con­ver­sa­tions: due to scarcity, two in­tel­li­gent talk­ers sel­dom meet.”

I’ve had my fair share of mo­not­o­nous, one-way streets where I’m cooped up with a fel­low who can only torque about car­bon emis­sions, RPM and kilo­watts while I’m dy­ing to en­gage about the lat­est refugee cri­sis, the loss of Bowie and Prince, or whether wedges or stilet­tos are more dan­ger­ous to drive in.

So, on the re­cent launch of the jus­tre­leased, su­per­sexy Mercedes C-Class Coupé, I nabbed Mr “Golden Oldie” Roger McCleery, one of motoring’s most loved com­men­ta­tors. I wanted him to travel the scenic 300km route that Mercedes had mapped out for us in Ge­orge and the rest of the Western Cape.

With more than 50 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try, start­ing out by rac­ing mo­tor­bikes on Cape Town’s Kil­lar­ney race­track, I knew Roger would have plenty of in­sight, and not only about what’s un­der the bon­net. While we nat­tered about Don­ald Trump’s das­tardly plans for the US, and the Ku­mamoto earth­quake that had hit Ja­pan, we shared our en­thu­si­asm for our wheels, Merc’s baby C-Class Coupé with its low-slung sil­hou­ette and curvy rear. Some of its me­chan­i­cal bits are shared with the mighty S-Class (the same su­pe­rior sus­pen­sion sys­tem and Air­matic air sus­pen­sion as an op­tion) and we en­thused about the clutch of stan­dard equip­ment that the sul­try coupé of­fers. We soon tested the Col­li­sion Pre­ven­tion As­sist PLUS, cruise con­trol and ECO Start/Stop, while I gave Mr Mac a les­son in Blue­tooth: I seam­lessly linked my lat­est Sam­sung into the Au­dio 20 in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and in­tro­duced him to the beats of Kanye West and Dre through bang­ing Burmeis­ter speak­ers. Swap­ping our im­pres­sive, fuel-savvy, 6-speed man­ual C 220d, which packs 125kW of power and 400Nm of torque, we si­dled into the top-of-the-range C 300 (watch out for the AMG!) and soon rev­elled in its im­pres­sive 2-litre tur­bopetrol engine that emits 180kW and 370Nm.

While Rog pointed out the de­tails of the dy­nam­i­cally con­fig­ured chas­sis, its ag­ile han­dling and im­pres­sive sus­pen­sion with al­most zero road roar and tyre vi­bra­tion, I gave him a quick les­son in In­sta­gram and posted a bunch of self­ies to cap­ture some mem­o­ries of the day.

When we took a pit stop in the small town of Oudt­shoorn, we turned a cou­ple of lo­cal heads. Petrol at­ten­dants nod­ded in ap­proval as I snapped my au­to­matic seat­belt feeder and we emerged from our coupé’s leather sport seats.

I bet some peo­ple thought Rog was my 80-some­thing blesser!

At the air­port, I bor­rowed my farewell lines from Jane Austen’s Persuasion: “My idea of good com­pany, Mr McCleery, is the com­pany of clever, well-in­formed peo­ple who have a great deal of con­ver­sa­tion; that is what I call good com­pany.”

Leg­endary wheels, like good wine, al­ways make torque smoother.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

TOP OF THE RANGE The new Merc is su­pe­rior on ev­ery level POWER PLAY

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