Time to break out my favorite cheesy ‘Life Is Good’ t-shirt. And why not; the sun has got its hat on, the sky’s bluer than Windex, and the humidity has vamoosed. Welcome to winter in Florida.
To add to all this overbearing joy and happiness, I’ve got the keys to a brand new 2020 Mercedes AMG E53 Cabriolet in my back pocket. Life is good, indeed.
I’ll proclaim up-front that this open-air bundle of automotive joy might be the most perfect Florida convertible.
Just look at the thing. It has more curves than Serena in Spandex, a windshield so steeply raked you could ski off it, and so much style and elegance it could have come off the cover of Vogue.
And just take-in that color. Mercedes calls it Brilliant Blue Metallic and it’s the deepest, richest, most glorious shade of blue I think I’ve ever seen. It’s like gazing into the Mediterranean.
Add to all this, the car is a rockstar of advanced technology. Yup, it’s a hybrid.
Under that curvy hood, Mercedes has squeezed-in a brand new AMG-tuned turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six engine. But here’s the cool part; integrated between the engine and its nine-speed transmission is a honking 48-volt electric motor. Mercedes calls it EQ Boost.
No, it won’t power the car on battery-only like some open-top Tesla. What it does, however, is provide an extra 21 horsepower to juice-up the performance.
That means for short bursts – like powering away from a stoplight, or zipping past slower traffic – you get a combined 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of muscle. Against the stopwatch, that translates into 0-to-60mph sprinting in just 4.4 seconds.
Such is the Merc’s refinement that you never notice the electric assistance. The car just feels seductively fast. Squeeze the throttle and you get this lovely tsunami of torque that pushes you back into the seat and thrusts you towards the horizon.
And it’s complimented by that nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic with wheel-mounted paddles for do-it-yourself shifting. Trust me, flipping a light switch isn’t as instantaneous as the way this transmission shifts gears.
Also standard on this E53 is 4Matic+ all-wheel drive – the first time all-wheel-drive has been offered on an E-Class convertible. The beauty of this AMG-tuned system is that it can direct 100 per cent of power to the rear wheels.
For driving enthusiasts who love to carve curves, that means sportier, more dynamic, more fun handling. And with five different driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ and Individual – there’s a setting to satisfy your mood.
While Comfort is perfect for ferrying buddies to the beach, click on ‘Sport’ and the engine and transmission get a dose of Red Bull, revving higher and shifting even faster. The exhaust also opens up and gets a little ‘shouty’. This is one fun car.
And dropping the top only adds to the considerable joy. Toggle a switch and the three-layer, inch-thick fabric roof automatically unlatches and powers back in just 20 seconds. And one switch can raise or lower all four windows at once.
Drop the top, raise all four side windows, raise up the wind-blocker behind the rear seats, and levitate the so-called AIRCAP wing at the top of the windshield, and even at triple-digit velocities there’s hardly a rustle of wind disturb your ‘do’.
While you wouldn’t want to subject friends or family to a long trip in the Merc’s rear seat, there’s enough legroom for a quick trip to dinner or the beach.
All this quality, technology and craftsmanship naturally doesn’t come cheap. E
53 Cabriolet pricing starts at $82,645, though start adding those must-have options and you’re looking at over $90,000.
But when the sun’s shining, the air is cool and you want to take friends to that waterfront eatery for shrimp, this new E53 Cabriolet is the sweetest ride you’ll find.
Life is good for sure.