What Can I Find Near My New PEI Home in One Evening of Touring in a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet? New Friends, Mostly
250 years ago, in Prince Edward Island’s 1767 land lottery of 64 parcels, Lot 20 was scooped up by Theodore Houltain and Thomas Basset.
Encompassing the communities of Malpeque Bay, Clinton, French River, Park Corner, Sea View, and other hamlets, and possessing fewer than 1,000 people, Lot 20 is a gem along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a gem I thought I knew well, at least until I took possession of our new family home earlier this week. Last night, with my friend Jeff The HR Manager operating as a tour guide, we traversed virtually every road on Lot 20 in the company of a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.
We reached antisocial speeds, as AMGs are prone to do. We consumed fuel, as twin-turbo V6s are inclined to do. We made inappropriate noises, as Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select Sport+ mode (with the Performance Exhaust System’s button also depressed) is wont to do.
And we made friends, as convertibles have always and will forever do.
They emerge from behind the woodwork. They squeeze in under the fence. They magically find a way to time their shopping with yours multiple times per week and always end up miraculously parking alongside you outside the store. As if you owned a pickup truck with a “Willing To Help” sign in the window, they produce strange offers of assistance for menial backyard tasks so they can be there when your garage door opens.
This, I’ve learned after driving a handful of convertibles for week-long tests over the last few years, is what friends do. At least when the weather is fair.
I’ve noticed a marked increase in my friend count over the last few weeks. Besides purchasing my own 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata, I spent the week before and during our family’s move to Prince Edward Island in a 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF. Once in PEI, that Mazda was replaced by this 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.
I never knew I had so many friends. I didn’t know there were so many friends to be had.
Last evening, Jeff and I had a goal of sourcing future photo locations for the press cars that will visit me each and every week. It was also a good opportunity, on quiet roads just before tourist season strikes with full force this Canada Day weekend, to put the top down on a beautiful summer’s evening, turn the Airscarf on full blast, and enjoy some of the best routes on The Island. Lots of elevation change, lots of highish-speed sweepers, plenty of great sightlines, abundant overtaking lanes, stunning scenery.
“Hey Jeff,” shouted his grade three teacher as we meandered past a few houses near the end of Cape Road on the north shore, spotting him I-don’t-know-how from her doorstep, at dusk, while he’s in the passenger seat of an Ontario-plated Mercedes convertible.
Everybody knows everybody around here, even if you shouldn’t be able to see them well enough to know them.
From a hill across New London Bay on Route 20, we spotted the national park’s extended dune network at Cavendish. We cruised past the go-karts in Burlington. We didn’t go quite as far as the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush, far from the hustle and bustle of Green Gables in Cavendish.
The roads were empty, so I took advantage. But not too much advantage.
The AMG C43 Cabriolet’s Sport+ mode is fine sometimes, but far too aggressive and persistent if you don’t share the same spirit. Sport is better for 8/10ths driving, and with the AMG Suspension System in the middle of three settings and the exhaust set to burbly, the AMG C43 Cabriolet is a shockingly effective grand touring machine. Not athletic enough to be an outright sports car, there’s nevertheless abundant performance and supreme comfort, the very definition of an ideal grand touring car.
Nearly every car divides opinion, but it’s difficult to find meaningful issues with this particular Mercedes. (We’ll see if by week’s end, with a proper review upcoming, if the C43’s faults become more obvious.)
Eventually, Jeff and I found ourselves heading into the depths of hidden cottage country. He pointed out homes of friends and former teachers and cousins. Then, on a whim, he decided to text the neighbors of his parents, telling them to watch him drive by, “in my new car.” After we did a U-turn at a dead-end, we retraced our steps and Frank and Mary (in her nightie and housecoat, to boot) were outside their cottage waiting.
They sat in the AMG, got their pictures taken in the AMG, touched the AMG’s $2,500 Designo Selenite Grey paint, experienced the wonders of Airscarf, and examined the Burmester speakers. We discussed the great question of our time: Honda vs. Toyota. Frank drives a 13-year-old Celica now, having ended his affair with a 25-year-old Prelude half a decade ago.
We found out that the former owners of my new house just bought a house from Mary’s sister. I learned Mary was also Jeff’s fifth-grade teacher. We discovered Frank and Mary used to live beside my wife’s uncle and aunt in the next town over. Mosquitoes nearly ate us alive, but making new friends on 250-year-old Lot 20 is quite clearly worth it.
Yes, convertibles bring old friends out from behind the woodwork. Convertibles make new friends, too. But in my brief Prince Edward Island experience to date, I’m beginning to get the feeling people like Frank and Mary, in their pajamas, would have come outside to meet me if we drove past in a ’97 Cavalier.
[Images: © Timothy Cain]
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