Portal problems

A discussion of doors both physical and metaphorical

GLENN BUTLER

NEVER thought Iíd find doors to be a challenge. The concept is simple enough: open door, go through, close door. Iíve been doing this successfully for four decades.

Well, there has been the odd painful hiccup, for which I blame alcohol.

The SL has long doors that need a good three feet in which to operate, or the opening is severely compromised. Which it often is. Which means I do a strange contorted vertical limbo as I extrude myself.

Scuff marks on the doorís lower panel give count to my less than perfect starts as I swing my legs way back to where the opening is widest. Then, rather than scratch the car next door, I place my fingers directly in harmís way between my doorís trailing edge and the other carís door panel. The tighter my squeeze, the more my fingers are squeezed. Itís never elegant.

The only places Iím assured of an easy egress are my driveway and kerbside spots.

Elsewhere, itís compromised because Australian parking spaces are not wide.

Iím not saying they should be, but the SL ownership experience has helped me understand why wealthy types do yoga.

Iíve also started keeping a baseball cap in the car. Last month I vowed to drive topless as often as possible. This, too, has not been easy, but not because of the summer sunís intensity. I expected that. Itís the delay each time I get in to drive.

The SLís roof refuses to operate if the carís moving at anything above Zimmerframe pace. Benz claims itíll go up, or come down, at vehicle speeds up to 15km/h.

My read of the speedo suggests itís below 10km/h, which is easy to exceed, even in my driveway. So Iíve been forced to work the roof into my start procedure, right after I put the seatbelt on and hit the starter button.

Itís only 15 seconds, but it feels soooo long.

The feeling of being Ďon showí is acute while the roof does its origami act in public.

Also, the roof switch occupies my left hand, so I canít simultaneously set the nav, or tune the radio, or engage the stubby gearlever, or anything really. A First World problem, sure.

Listen to me whine about what amounts to 30 seconds for each drive. But itís caught me by surprise how much I really begrudge it. When was the last time you did nothing for 30 seconds and didnít subconsciously reach for your smartphone? Waiting for an elevator, in line for a coffee, at the bus stop...

Okay, I ainít catching the bus. Driving the SL400 is much nicer, and the person beside me doesnít have BO, or mutter to themselves.

BLUE STREAK

Look at what some overly soapy car wash detergents can do to the SL400ís black window surrounds

MERCEDES-BENZ SL400

Date acquired: December 2014 Price as tested: $238,500 This month: 1129km @ 9.4L/100km Overall: 1583km @ 10.1L/100km DP T O

Dumb da-dee-dum

BENZíS Bluetooth and I are engaged in a battle of wills right now. My phone is paired, so it automatically connects and kicks into Spotify or Stitcher or whatever I was last listening to. But sometimes the Benzís volume knob plays dumb. No amount of twiddling or turning has any impact on Bluetooth streaming volume. Switch over to radio and it works. Back to media streaming and nada. Redoing the pairing process restores volume control. Until next time.