Let’s face it; winter isn’t generally the best time to showcase convertible vehicles, especially in NZ. However, in true Mercedes style; the sun shone brightly on a crisp and refreshing day and set the tone for the feast of frivolity (sorry I mean hard work) that was to unveil.
Arriving at Mercedes head office in Mt Wellington we were greeted with four hand-picked cabriolets from their extensive range of motor vehicles. SLC and C-Class to the S-Class and AMG all awaiting our seat time; But this wasn’t just going to be a quick drive around the block, oh no, there was lots more to see and do, with a surprise or two along the way to add to the fun.
Immediately opting for the AMG SL 63 Cabriolet (5,461cc V8 petrol, Direct-injection, Bi-turbo, 430kW, 900Nm, AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed, Rear wheel drive) we dropped the roof and headed for the motorway – lunch at Bracu was calling.
With its heated seats and AIRSCARF neck-level heating blazing away, the rawkus and gruff engine note filled
Lunch at the fine Bombay Hills establishment would normally be a worth regaling but it was totally overshadowed by the vision that awaited us – NZ’s first AMG GT Roadster. Open mouth grille and open top roof, its muscular stance was very absorbing – only to be bettered by the roar of its engine on start- up and cheeky rev.
Lunch out of the way meant that we had a few hours to try out the rest of the range on a pre-arranged 20-minute loop that allowed for the odd burst of enthusiasm and some twisty bits to more than simply grab your attention.
Although it would be easy to say that open-top driving is the same (fun, fresh and free) the cars themselves performed very differently. The AMG SL 63 (in Sport+ and Race) is all crackles and pops. It begs for you to squeeze the trigger and responds accordingly. It’s very rapid and extremely entertaining.
The C-Class C200 (1,991cc IL4 cylinder petrol, Direct-injection, Turbocharged, 135kW, 300Nm) is far more sedate – especially compared to what we’d just been in. It’s a car that you’d be more than happy to use as a daily driver moving from one up market suburb to another and has a ‘picnic’ feel about it. In fact, a great choice after such a big lunch.
Third up was the S 500 Cabriolet (4,663cc V8 petrol, Direct-injection, Bi-turbo, 335kW, 700Nm) a very refined and luxurious drive. 9G-TRONIC, 20” Wheels, AIRMATIC suspension, Burmester® surround sound system, MAGIC VISION CONTROL windscreen wipers, Exclusive Nappa Leather Upholstery, AIRSCARF and AIRCAP. It’s lavish and has a large footprint road feel. It’s fast but not loud and showy. It oozes a long drive feel and the massage seats were very relaxing.
Final ride for the day (well almost) was the SLC 300. (1,991cc IL4 cylinder petrol, Direct-injection, Turbocharged, 180kW, 370Nm). It’s a cheeky drive, smaller than the rest in road stance but agile with plenty of poke. It handled the loop well, nipping around the bends with a voice louder than the figures give it credit.
With darkness upon us, we arrived back at MBNZ head office in time to be whisked off for the other surprise of the day – the official opening of their new shining star, the brand new dealership in Botany Downs.
First of all, it’s immense and unmissable – at 1.5 hectares, it’s modern and expansive with Mercedes ‘new clean black and white look’. High ceiling with a full glass front, heaps of parking and a full mechanical and EV workshop out back. The evening was full of jazz and canapés with congratulatory speeches and an official ribbon cutting by Ben Giffin.
What a day. From luxurious and sport convertible cars to a state of the art dealership, let’s just say winter is definitely ‘Open Season’ for Mercedes.
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