Road Trip: Mercedes-Benz CabriOCanada 150 Days 1 and 2

Day 1: St John’s, Newfoundland

Cod tongues. Lobster Roll. Fish and Chips. Screech.

Provinces Checked Off

Newfoundland

Convertibles Driven

Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabrio 4Matic

Local Cuisine Sampled

Cod tongues. Lobster Roll. Fish and Chips. Screech.

150th birthday celebrations don’t come along every day. They’re special and rare and worthy of a little extra effort to commemorate them, especially when it’s cherishing the beloved nation we call home.

Mercedes-Benz is celebrating too, coming off a third consecutive year of being Canada’s number one premium automotive brand, which is why I find myself in late spring wearing as many layers of clothing as I can and still suffering an ice-cream headache from the wind chill coming off the North Atlantic. A few of my peers and I have been invited by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate Canada’s 150th and a sampling of some of the marque’s highly desirable cabriolet and roadster models on a cross-country sojourn.

In all fairness, we aren’t doing the full drive, sea-to-sea due to time constraints of all those involved, however, we are planning to each drive a Mercedes, top-down in all ten provinces within a six-day span.

In in typical Canadian fashion, we are prepared for a little bit of everything in terms of cuisine and characters; and most certainly weather. Hence why today, the biting sea air is hitting me square in the face as I stand at Point Spear, Newfoundland; Canada’s most easterly point. In less than a week, it’ll be Pacific breezes filling my sinuses on the western edge of Vancouver Island, but today we’re paying our dues to the weather gods.

Patriotic pride (or perhaps just delirium setting in due to hypothermia) has each of us sampling a C300 Cabriolet on a very short jaunt in St. John’s, while the snow falls sideways. It’s much too short a drive to get any real sense of the car, so we’ll save the review for tomorrow when better weather – and a much longer drive – is forecast.

Tomorrow morning with a 4:30 am departure, we leave the snow flurries behind here in St. John’s, and pick up our cars in Halifax to check off the next three provinces on our list. We’ve got nearly 700 km to drive, plus a flight and a ferry ride, so we’re going to be off to a heck of a start.

Day 2: Four Capitals in a Single Day

Provinces Checked Off

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Fredericton, New Brunswick

Convertibles Driven

2017 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cabriolet 4Matic
2017 Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic Cabriolet

Local Cuisine Sampled

Lobster Poutine (with local PEI potatoes), New Brunswick Seafood Chowder.

Today is our road trip team’s Rock Star day. We’ve flown, ridden a boat, and we’ve driven over 700 km through three separate provinces.

After an early flight to Halifax, we selected our respective rides for the day, with the key to a Brilliant Blue Mercedes-AMG C 43 Cabriolet ending up in my pocket. Equipped with the optional AMG Driver’s Package, this stunning machine wore summer tires around 19-inch multi-spoke wheels and best of all, an extremely vocal AMG Performance Exhaust System.

Setting out this morning, the sun was shining, but the air was still a chilly 10-or-so degrees – not exactly convertible weather for some, less hearty-types (like Californians). My driving partner and I were eager to put to the test some of the comfort features Mercedes engineers have built into this machine to keep passengers warm.

The AirScarf system utilizes small fans in the upper seatback that draw in outside air and push it through a heater element, releasing it on the driver and front passenger’s neck and shoulders. It’s a remarkable concept that complements the broil-ready heated seats perfectly.

Mercedes has also added their AirCap system to the windshield header whereby the top of the windshield raises up at the push of a button leaving a two-inch mesh screen to catch several million bugs and deflect wind up and over the passengers instead of swirling around into them.

When not at elevated highway speeds, my driving partner and I generally kept the AIRCAP and rear wind deflector down since part of the appeal of a convertible is feeling the wind tussle your hair. If we’re honest though, it’s because we both feel the AirCap looks ridiculously dorky, like a goofy hat, on top of the car. And we’ll admit that when we’re driving a stunning, bright blue luxury car like this, we enjoy the vanity that comes with it, sans AirCap.

It’s undeniable that on the highway, with the AirCap in place and the windows up, the cabin of the C-Class Cabriolet is essentially absent of turbulence, and even in very cool weather, occupants are kept thawed as we discovered during the long highway stints we drove this morning through Nova Scotia.

Even more telling though, was when crossing the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island toward New Brunswick, when I sat up and turned around to take a photograph behind us while my companion drove. After getting the shot, I turned back around, only to have the peak of my ball cap catch in the wind, sending it to its permanent resting place midway between the two provinces. Had the AirCap been deployed, I have no doubt I’d still have my hat (and my forehead wouldn’t look like a beet now).

With all the driver settings (and exhaust) fixed to their most aggressive and sporting stages, the C 43 Cabriolet is a properly raucous sporting machine. Its twin-turbo V6 dispenses abundant power and the suspension is sufficiently stiff to keep the car flat when pressing it into hard corners. The brakes are excellent as well.

After lunch we spent a few more hours in the C 300 which was certainly a dynamic back step from the C 43. Nevertheless, we came to appreciate that the four-cylinder C-cabrio acquitted itself well as it was flogged down the twisting Route 111 toward our dinner stop at Saint Martins, New Brunswick – despite some Detroit-grade pavement degradation that was soaked up impressively by the suspension.

There’s another all-too-brief rest ahead tonight before we tackle a few bigger provinces tomorrow – Quebec and Ontario – with a different assortment of topless Mercedes machines to try.

10 Provinces. Six Days. Zero Roof. 5/24/2017 7:00:00 AM