Hi everyone! It’s been a little while since my last post, my pfSense post (currently at 1000 words) was scuppered by well… pfSense. Turns out it wasn’t suitable for my needs (not to mention the hardware I bought wasn’t ideal as it turns out!)
But I’ve moved past that and am onto my next post 🙂
Earlier today I took a test drive in an A180d, a beautiful German made car! Well, not the one I drove. There’s a (referred to internally as the ‘pre-face-lift’ model) <2015 model (the one I was in) and a 2016+ version. To my eyes, the 2016 version is stunning, especially good looking in the blue. I however, was in a boring black car, with black seats, black interior, black everything, which was a bit too plain and boring. I would’ve much preferred a bit of flair from an accent colour – both inside and out! – But I was mainly in it for the drive, looks certainly aren’t everything (never judge a book by its cover).
Me and the, sorry to say… BORING salesman, had a little chat about what I was looking for, 15 mins later we stepped into a car, which wasn’t; blue, the model I was after, petrol and finally, wasn’t the 2016 model. But I was assured that the drive would be incredibly similar, there are just aesthetic differences between old and new, so I thought fair enough and stepped in. Immediately I wasn’t impressed, the A-Class remains to be my favourite car to date (in terms of ‘sensible’ normal road cars, ask me about super cars and that’s a whole different story!). It’s fierce yet subtle at the same time, it’s angry yet not terrifying. The only thing it’s lacking is a personality…
I currently drive a Toyota Aygo, boring? Maybe so. But I love it, it’s the most fun car I’ve ever driven! It looks fun, sounds fun (despite only having a 3 cylinder 1.0L engine) and most importantly – IS fun to drive! It’s responsive, reactive and full of feedback (this will be important when comparing to the Merc.) For a car which has a road cost of just £13k brand new from a dealership, with extensive financing options, etc. It just can’t be beaten, Toyota’s Japanese heritage and many many years of business put it above and beyond what the (based on the same chassis) Peugeot & Citroën try to provide in their 108 / C1 models respectively. But this isn’t supposed to be a review of my Aygo! 😉
So after stepping into the A-Class I was a little bit disappointed, it’s insanely low and the windscreen feels, well, small! The FOV is pretty lame for a car of this calibre. There’s a lot of blind spots with the chunky beams and big seats. the rear-view mirror does do a lot to compensate for the little rear-window and the wing mirrors both have a convex curve to the ends which further help to reduce blind spots when cornering / changing lanes. But the issue still remains, it’s definitely not an ‘open’ car.
The feel, this is 100% down to personal preference, so I shan’t deduct too many points. (Woah, I have points now?!) I don’t like the leather EVERYWHERE, I like fabric seats, seats that I won’t slide off if I go around a corner or over a bump. I think it looks super nice on the dash though and around the handbrake… Oh, there’s no handbrake!! Another thing I hate, yes, hate. I love technology, I love digital-ness, but not when it’s ridiculously unnecessary, when I want to stop my car, on a hill, when parking, when at traffic lights, I want a lever, connected to a cable, connected to my rear brakes. Not a flimsy switch that might or might not work depending on how it feels! It’s ludicrousness, the handbrake has no reason to be removed from its home, in a car, every car. What else? Ah yes, I also don’t like feeling as though I’m sitting on the tarmac, I like to be a bit higher up when I’m in my car, not as high as a van, but certainly not lower down than a cyclist. I want to be upright too, not folded in half by a strangely shaped chair, why Mercedes? I would like to sit like this _/ not like this \/ (Over exaggerated slightly).
The list goes on… Here: The throw on the gearbox is far too short and (a recurring theme) there isn’t enough feedback from the gearbox either. You don’t feel the gear move, I wasn’t too sure if I was in gear or not & once or twice I couldn’t even tell which gear I was moving into. Every other car I’ve driven has given a meaningful reaction when you change gear. Onto the clutch, not too bad, very smooth. The biting point took a couple of seconds to adjust to, but that was relatively fine. The brake pedal… Is supposed to be a pedal. Truthfully, I thought I was pushing a pressure sensitive button! I didn’t feel it move, I also wasn’t braking, it was incredibly difficult to judge exactly how much force was needed. Maybe I’d get used to that over time? But I didn’t like that one bit. What I did like however, was the accelerator pedal 😉 boy did this car fly, even with a sluggish diesel! Mercedes have certainly tuned their engines the way somebody would expect from Mercedes, incredibly.
I started with some general city driving, which is where I noticed the stupid brake pedal and the ridiculous gimmick of a handbrake. Pulling off was alright, it was very apparent to me that I was in a diesel though. On the plus side, it’s much more difficult to stall a diesel than a petrol engine, so even 2nd gear at sub 5 mph was a breeze without having to down-shift into the inherently jumpy 1st gear (Which you should avoid moving into whilst already moving to avoid wear on the synchromesh). Then we moved on the the A46 (relatively close to the Mercedes’ Coventry Dealership) and I could put my foot down. I didn’t speed, I couldn’t risk it. I had no idea how the (pretty boring) salesman would react and it’s wrong anyway. But on the bright side, I went from 30 to a hair over 70 in no time at all… I was impressed, I floored it in 4th, heard and felt the turbo kick in and shot past numbers on my speedo! It was fun, but would’ve been truly immense if I hadn’t have stopped at just 70mph! The top speed of the A-Class tops off at… 155mph… Yeah. And if you opt for the A 45 AMG model, that’s bumped to over 160! Immense, but that’s what you’d expect from a sports car.
Dropping back into the city again I had to shed some speed, with that excuse for a brake pedal. Is it obvious that I don’t like it? Cornering isn’t too bad. It’s very responsive and quite accurate, the power steering is electronic and I couldn’t discern any audible motor noise, whereas I can in my Aygo. It was very smooth and also, something I forgot to mention, the ride is so immensely quiet! There’s always road noise but the 1.5 diesel purred along like a kitten in 6th gear doing apparently less than 2/3k RPM. I could hear the tyres going over the not rough but not smooth tarmac, as well as other road users. But the car itself was silent, just like the atmosphere with the sales man… *sigh*
Back at the dealership
Once that 20 minute trip was completed I was back. I was polite and said I enjoyed the drive I didn’t deem it worthwhile to get out of the car and go “well that was crap, cya” I let him discuss finance options which weren’t wonderful either, yet somehow reasonable for a 22k car. On that note he threw me a business car and wished me a good day.
So my conclusion? I wasn’t blown away by Mercedes.
Maybe I was unlucky, maybe it was a bad day, maybe you absolutely love Mercedes, maybe they thought I was just looking for a little drive. But this is my opinion from what I experienced at the dealership near me. Maybe a more cheerful salesman / woman would’ve changed the entire exchange. But unless somebody wants to lend me their DeLorean time machine for me to try again… Then this is how my time with the A-Class went.
Their staff seemed quite relaxed and laid back. One saleswoman was there on her phone playing Angry birds (I wasn’t overlooking what she was doing but I could hear the unmistakable noise of the bird catapult 😉 ). This is whilst I was currently unattended to while the salesman looking after me was sorting some paperwork. I didn’t think it looked professional at all. I can’t fairly knock off any points for them not having a petrol A-Class in the lot. But I mean come on, not everyone is looking for a diesel. Maybe they were just avoiding giving the keys of a fancy new car to a reckless man – who knows! (Even though I had every intention of being sensible, and was)
At the end of the day, I’m looking for a new car and currently haven’t settled on anything. So I’m browsing, I can certainly cross the A-Class off the list of possibles, no matter how stunning it looks! But I shan’t be stopped, I’ll just try another until I find the right model for me. Heck, I might just end up sticking with my Aygo! But until I make my decision, I’ll have to keep trying cars out, isn’t that the whole point of a test drive!! Something you sit in, travel in, pack into, shop with, live with, take car of and buy, is certainly worth a thorough look at with a fine-tooth comb 🙂
If you liked this, stupidly long… review of the A-Class, be sure to let me know in the comments! If you hated it, also let me know! I’ll find the right balance between quality and quantity one day!