It was an unfortunate start to a fabulous weekend getaway in Niagara Falls.
As a light drizzle fell, I hauled out two overnight bags and placed them into the tiny trunk of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 roadster. They fit. Just.
I closed the trunk and got into the driver's side, my wife Martha already waiting patiently in the luxurious black-leather passenger seat. And, as I was about to engage the push-button start on the aggressively sculpted $75,675 sleek, sexy white machine with a long snout and compact cabin, she asked, "What's that noise?"
"Noise? What noise?"
"Can't you hear it? That buzzing noise."
Indeed, there was a constant motorized whirring sound coming from the trunk.
"Maybe it has something to do with the retractable hardtop," I said. "But it shouldn't be making that sound."
So I pulled up on the switch to lower the roof. Nothing.
"This isn't good," I said, master of the obvious. The problem clearly rested with the roof though. And my great fear was that whatever motor was associated with it would burn out if not turned off.
Finally, after 10 or so minutes exploring the trunk and scouring the owner's manual for a possible answer, I phoned my contact at Mercedes-Benz's head office and was instructed to bring it in on my way to Niagara.
The buzzing noise was drowned out when I fired up the engine – its 302-horsepower 3.5-litre V-6 growling pleasantly through its wide-set twin exhaust pipes – and backed out of the driveway.
Soon we were on the highway, racing along Highway 401 from the wilds of Durham Region, headed for mid-town Toronto. The leather-clad steering wheel felt solid in my hands, the ride smooth but not overly exciting – which isn't a bad thing. The SLK has plenty of get-up-and-go but is comfortable enough to serve as an everyday driver.
Arriving at Benz HQ, I turned off the car and … nothing. The noise was gone. Had the mystery motor already burned itself out? We were met by three company representatives, including a tech guy, who quickly went to work, plugging his computer into the car and running a diagnostic program.
It came up clean. Even the retractable roof worked once it was explained to me that the cargo cover has to be in a certain position for the convertible feature to engage. The Benz boys were as puzzled as we were.
So off we went, arriving at our Niagara Falls hotel about an hour-and-a-half later, the Mercedes mystery already a faded memory. We checked in, flipped the fob to the valet and took the elevator to our 30th-floor room.
And, after ooohing and aaaahing at the spectacular view of the Horseshoe Falls from our large almost floor-to-ceiling window, I rummaged through the bags to retrieve my electric toothbrush so that I could freshen up.
Into the washroom I went. I put a dollop of paste on the toothbrush and pressed its start button.
Nothing. The toothbrush was dead, drained of all its power.
The auto maker supplied Globe Drive deputy editor Darren McGee with the vehicle. Content was not subject to approval.
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