Grey pride

E43 gobbles up the road as Ryan chows down on a slice of perspective

RYAN LEWIS

MONTH three of my relationship with AMGís E-Class gateway-drug has included time in the embrace of others. It wasnít the carís fault; it was mine. I spent several days overseas in two spells. And while I wasnít thinking it at the time, I missed the big grey blunderbuss.

The second of my two trips ended with a redeye flight from Korea to Melbourne, landing me back in the airport carpark midmorning, midweek, trying my best to make amends with the faithful E43.

I slumped into the driverís seat, feeling a bit weary after enduring a sleep-deprived night on an aircraft, and let out an involuntary sigh of relief. Sitting inside the peace and quiet of its thickly glazed cocoon, it was just so nice to be home.

That same wave of relief washed over me about a week later when I got back into 1ID-4FX after a weekend romp with an LC500.

I can barely tell you what that car was like because I spent most of the time yelling at its navigation system and the utterly broken touchpad control Lexus forces you to use.

I bring it up because in the first episode of this series I made a comment about the E43 having a confusing menu hierarchy. I take it all back. The LC 500ís encyclopaedia of infotainment felonies makes navigating the E43ís gorgeous interface feel like playing Nintendo, even if there are a few relatively minor imperfections.

This month the grown-up E43 has further proven itself to be a car of multiple dimensions; a consummate cruiser and a barrel of fun when getting on it with liberal use of the throttle.

Thereís signature precision to be found at the front end where re-engineered steering and suspension components form a major AMG point of difference compared with a normal E-Class. The E43ís unique appeal in the AMG line-up lies in its maturity and size, and the way it drives is far better than you might expect.

Bags of grip lend the E43ís chassis a hunkered down security, but plonk your right foot deep into the 295kW power reserve and, in the right mode, the all-paw 4Matic system puts on an unexpectedly reardrive- like performance. Electronic nannies interfere earlier than would be ideal, but this 1765kg lump is fun to drive hard.

Iíll concede itís not the performancepuristís first weapon of choice, but Iím still a bit disappointed with myself for not finding more time for bendy road indulgences this month.

There are only a few weeks left for me to savour the E43 on an everyday basis, and Iím beginning to feel anxious about how quickly the return date is rushing up. Iíd best make the next month a goodíun.

BURRIED & LIVE

This may be AMGís milder E-Class offering but it still delivers ample excitement when pedal meets carpet

MERCEDES-AMG E43

Date acquired: April 2017 Price as tested: $159,900 This month: 553km @ 12.4L/100km Overall: 2868km @ 12.9L/100km

Sniffles

Until now it has seemed a bit low on the AMG priority list to bother mentioning the E43ís scented air freshener, and itís probably still folly, but Iíve grown to love that little glass vial stashed in the glovebox. Its elixir siphons into the HVAC system at pre-set intervals and I breathe in the vapours like an addict. Several flavours with airy names are available, but Freeside Mood is my favourite. I wish every car smelled like this.