Science would have you believe that there are very few differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. The obvious ‘visual’ connection would be with primates but we also share a large percentage of our DNA with them too (up to 98.8%). It doesn’t stop there though. Apparently, we share our DNA with many other things, Cats 90%, Cows 80% even fruit flies and chickens (both 60%) appear to be relations – does that make that trip to KFC cannibalism? Hmmm. Anyway; because of our genetic makeup, looks, noses and ‘opposing thumbs’ we (Humans, Old World monkeys and anthropoid Apes) are all Catarrhines.
For some people, I’m sure it’s hard to believe that our differences boil down to a fraction of a DNA percent and a couple of thumbs, (mind you, for others maybe not) but never underestimate the power of the thumb it’s a very valuable appendage. Aside from it being ideal for hitching a lift somewhere with a total stranger, having opposing thumbs (ie can press back against other fingers on the hand) allows us to pick things up with ease, zip things up, text, open jars and snap your fingers – in your face Chickens! And it’s this ‘human’ feature that I found incredibly useful when reviewing the Mercedes-AMG E 43 – that and my right foot.
The new Mercedes E-Class is an education in technology. I had the pleasure of piloting one from Auckland to Dunedin last year and I basically only got involved when I wanted to. The E-Class took care of the headlights, the roads, the navigation, the road signs – half the time I was simply a glorified passenger. On saying all of this, I am a bit of a slow adopter so I engaged with most of the tech via the good old fashioned switches and the central console touch pad that I was familiar with. But not this time, no no no, this time I was going to let my thumbs do all the heavy lifting.
You see; integrated within either side of the steering wheel are two touch pads, both within thumb reach and control the widescreen cockpit (two 12.3” full HD screens housed as one). The left thumb handles the left screen – things like the Burmester sounds, Temperature, Dynamic controls and the right handles the right (coincidentally) – instrumentation, lots of it. In all honesty, the amount of data and information under your thumbs is both impressive and takes a little getting used to – maybe I’m just a slow learner. But once mastered it makes perfect sense, eliminating the need to take your hands off the leather clad wheel.
Now let’s talk about my right foot. Under the bonnet of my Mercedes-AMG E 43 lurked a 3L, 6 cylinder, Bi-turbo powerhouse; ready and waiting to be played with. 295kW’s of power and a rather substantial 520Nm of torque is more than ample enough to propel this luxuriously smart saloon from 0-100kph in 4.6s. It’s actually quite efficient too. Mercedes-AMG report 8.4L/100k’s but all I know is that the gauge is very slow moving.
It rides smoothly in Comfort, it’s quick in Sport but flicking the driving mode dial to Sports + unleashes all the power and opens the exhaust note too – it’s very unbecoming for this understated obsidian black luxury saloon but heaps on the driving pleasure. Added to this is the AMG 4MATIC which means that the E 43 puts confident power to all four of its 20” Alloys, the result is a responsive drive that sticks well to the tarmac regardless of the weather. Having an E-Class Mercedes on the driveway always makes the neighbours curtains twitch but in truth I made any excuse to be out on the road with it, from a trip to the store to showing off to friends, short runs around the corner to ‘review’ time along rural roads, this well-appointed saloon is great place to be.
Fine Nappa leather covers the upholstery while ARTICO (man-made leather) adorns the upper dash. A chrome decal wave flows from door to door and at night the ambient light (which comes in 64 different shades) cuts a sharp beam below – I chose red.
The Mercedes-AMG E 43 combines all the prestige and status that comes with owning such a well-respected model in the ‘three pointed star’s’ range with a powerful and noisy (but not overly so) drivetrain. Its finishing throughout is meticulous and it oozes technology from every corner of its being; but (as I discovered) the tech is easy enough to navigate around too (so much so that any ageing journalist can do it). As it turns out, the steering wheel is an ideal place to act as a command centre. (Once mastered) I was able to set destinations, check torque and power levels, change radio stations, meddle with the lighting (I could go on) and of course drive – all without searching around the cabin – so for that reason (plus the lovely powertrain) I give the E 43 a big Thumbs up.
One last point, over the years, Scientists have sent Monkeys into space, got them to perform logic tests, got them to wear make-up and I’m sure at some point they’ve been behind the wheel of a car, on top of all this, according to the ‘Infinite Monkey Theory’, given enough time Monkeys could produce the entire works of Shakespeare – Hmmmm, Car driving and writing, maybe I’m closer to Apes than I think.
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