Drive a Benz day

I admit that the only times I drive Mercedes-Benz are on testdays so to be invited to a drive event with an array of models, provided the ideal opportunity to become acquainted with the marque. My perception of the three-pointed star is of refinement despite a hint of anarchism with 6.3 Kompressors – a crazy amount of power to put through the rear wheels. Furthermore, ‘Kompressor’ is German for supercharger, unusual when most manufacturers are downsizing engines to boost bhp with turbos.


Anachronistic, as automatic gears are engaged from a stalk to the right of the steering wheel. When some mid-sized saloons are memorable for a lack of distinction, the C-class AMG has an interior that is creative and original. Red leather at £795 contrasts with “light longitudinal-grain aluminum” (a no-cost option) whilst the £900 panoramic sunroof filters light through to bath the cabin. Surprisingly, the driving position gives an excellent view of the road ahead as the windscreen rake angle has been designed so that you are viewing just over the window line at a mid-height setting. This contrasts with some manufacturers like Vauxhall and Mazda who are increasing the height of doorskins to give the impression that the driver is in a sportier car but in reality those cars can be difficult to park; quite simply, the driver’s view is being design out of the car manufacturing equation.


Not that I am complaining as Mercedes-Benz brought cars mostly in AMG form but this does make you question the suitability of tyre choice with the varying landscape of Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. Of course, low profile tyres alter ride quality which isn’t what you want on a wallowy B-road; you could actually hear the tyres slapping against the moist Tarmacadam. On the C-class estate, it renders the ‘comfort’ setting relatively so as it is compromised by AMG wheels. The rear roofline of the estate is higher than in the saloon which is better for those sporting bouffant hairdos and you would predict that the stylish and rakish roofline of the C350 Shooting Brake would compress quiffs but it is deceptively spacious inside. A more powerful engine with suspension that reads the road clearer than the C-class, an exceptional drive on flat duel-carriageways may be due to their differing tyre widths and thicknesses front to back despite sharing 19″ AMG alloy wheels. Frameless windows and a dark, conservative interior with a traditional clock in the centre console contrasts awkwardly with its overlying neighbour – the upright Command System. I turned it off. Strangely, the parcel shelves differed in mass so greatly so that the C-class estate was double the Shooting Brake’s – a correlation between size of wallet and bicep, perhaps?


The grand finale was a blast in the S63 AMG Coupe; looks alone demands that it is taken seriously with meticulously tailored napper leather surrounding the dashboard like a chaiselong but I was surprised to find a speedometer display replicating a games console screen – a dream or reality? Two turbochargers spin with 5461ccs of V8 from 0-60mph in a moment (Mercedes state 4.2 seconds) but it felt sober in dry conditions because of a gross body weight of just over two and a half tonnes although a colleague later enlightened me by describing a tail-happy incident in early morning wet conditions that stability control corrected. A rear wheel drive car will always demand more dexterity with tactful throttle control – maybe he wasn’t wearing soft soles? A true four-seater as well at just over £125k …gulp.

Words and film are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou

December 2014