The bits of my head on the sun visor were because, every time I tried to look forward to pull out of a junction or driveway, I banged my forehead. That was with the sun visor closed. I never managed to be entirely sure that the road I was pulling into was clear. And because the engine had gone to sleep, because its pickup was lethargic (not the turbo: that was an entirely different and equally dangerous problem. I’m talking about the non-turbo performance from stationary) especially up hill, I had my heart in my mouth at almost every junction. In the country, where driving at 20mph or less is essential, on tight winding, hilly, roads, it simply did not pull. On roads like that it was not safe to hoof it and bring the turbo in. Don’t buy one if you live in a rural area. You’re better off with an old Volvo estate. At least your bags will fit.
The turbo lag, genuinely nearly a second, would mean that, on A roads, I would prepare for and begin to execute an overtaking move and be on the “wrong” side of the road long before the car turned from cart-house to thoroughbred racer. And when it did, if that happened while the wheels were not dead straight, the torque steer scrabbled the front wheels something rotten.
No, there’s a whole load of noise talked about AMG Mercedes and their delights. “My” example didn’t even reach mundane. I’ve driven lots of fast cars, I’ve owned a few. And I’ve driven some absolute dogs. But never before have I looked out of the window and thought “I really can’t face that today.” Not even with an old Skoda estate car that, if the load area was full, lifted the front wheels up so that, in the wet, it went straight on at roundabouts until we moved speaker cabinets into the front passenger seat.
So, stop being excited, stop trying to make the mundane fashionable. Don’t dress mutton up as lamb. I would have been happy with a simple C class convertible (which, to be fair, is what I thought I was getting when I made the booking, not the E350D AMG that turned up). I don’t need a car laden with “features,” but I do need one that doesn’t shake crazily, doesn’t give me false information, doesn’t sit gazing around when I tell it to go and doesn’t make it impossible for me to see if I’m in danger of being wiped out from the side. Take off all the gizmos and make a simple car that works properly and safely.
I was delighted to return it to the hire shop at Heathrow. They made me coffee, really good coffee that lightened a dark mood. They marvelled at just how much of my head was attached to the sun visor, they pulled my suitcase out of the back of the car, from behind the front passenger seat, they said it was OK that I was an hour late because the MB SatNav had driven me round and round in circles in London when it kept having panic attacks if it sensed traffic, and they gave me a lift to my check-in.
Me? I was just happy to give the horrible thing back.
I didn’t look back as I walked away.
© 2016 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
All rights reserved.
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