The best car I ever drove before this was probably a…well, let me think. Hmmmm. Maybe my friend Keith’s ’69 Camaro. But honestly, I don’t remember anything else. Much as I like Lexus’s and have ridden in them, I’ve never driven one. I like BMW’s too, but I’ve never driven one of those either. I don’t often ask to drive friend’s cars as I don’t think it proper and while my friend Joel goes around to car dealers and drives lots of different vehicles, I’ve never done that. I may start, though.
So, when we went to Danville last weekend and had the opportunity to rent a Mercedes Benz C 300, we jumped at the chance. The price was right, $50.00 a day and we only had it three days. We’d set aside that much to rent a car as our two vehicles, while reliable transports, aren’t prepared to make the 5 and a half hours up the Grapevine. We have a mini-van, but the last time we took it up there, its transmission failed on the way home. It felt jinxed to take it again. I’d have been worrying the whole time.
So, we got the Mercedes. It’s a smaller sedan, though on Saturday Sue and our friend Lisa rode in the back seat and they said it was snug, but comfortable. I don’t think I’d have done well back there. But I got to drive on Saturday (though admittedly, the I-5 route and going home on 101, Sue drove the whole way. Liked it, too).
To begin with, the comfort of the front seats is remarkable. I do not sleep in cars and I’ve resigned myself to this fact. I slept in the Mercedes, though. I was tired from a lack of sleep for a couple of nights previously and so needed some catch-up. Out I went and slept well. I attribute this to the seats themselves and the fact that the noise level is very low along with a smooth and even ride.
The cars I’ve driven have a tendency to feel too much is being asked of them if you step on the accelerator in an attempt to gain speed. The minivan sort of hacks its way to higher speed, whining loudly as if to say, “alright-give me a minute, I’ll get there…” It’s the Millenium Falcon of cars, except it’s not all that charming and there are times when it simply doesn’t come through. To be fair, it is 9 years old and has 120K miles on it.
The Scion? Well, it’s a fun little car with 103 horsepower. It’s rather like an elaborate golf cart with a bit more room, a stereo and an air conditioner. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But, it’s utilitarian and decidedly ungraceful.
The Mercedes is a well-heeled greyhound straining on the slips ready to charge and cry “God for Harry, England and St. George!” Though, it probably says it in German and rather than England, Harry and St. George, it cries for Beer, Brats and some ancient German emperor. I don’t know. The point is that when you step on the accelerator and provide that little computerized communique to the engine telling it, “faster please,” it responds hail and hearty, gets up, moves and moves again. Then, it asks you what else it can do for you. All the while, the engine sounds like a purring lion, tiger–or, perhaps liger. I’m not picky-choose your apex predatory feline.
The cockpit is just that. All the controls are at your fingertips with steering-wheel additions so you don’t have to move your hand if you don’t want. The sunroof was a bit counter-intuitive in operation, but it’s a flaw that I can overlook and probably one that most Germans don’t think is counter-intuitive at all.
Steering…well, it’s the reason to drive it. I get where the term “sexy” comes in when describing a responsive car. The wheel put the driver fully in command and if you treated it like a lady (or a gentleman if you are a lady driver), it did what you wanted exactly when you wanted it to and all the while made you feel as though it wanted to do what you wanted it to. It was exciting to drive.
In Livermore’s wine country and in San Francisco, over the Bay Bridge, the Mercedes was a joy. These are the only places I was allowed to drive it, you see. The long roads up the 5 and down the 101, Sue was in command. I didn’t mind, though. I’d had a good time on the byways and backroads. In and out of traffic, weaving like a crochet needle and never a guess as to whether or not I should go. I found myself able to make calculations and decisions I could not make in the cars I drive, knowing that I simply had to will myself into a spot and the Mercedes was there. I believe that today’s kids would refer to it as, “very cool.”
The car is tight, efficient and this one was fire engine red. It was a 2010 with nary 11K miles on it and its interior was leather of gray and black. It had what Dennis Miller refers to in his BMW commercials on his radio show as a “Teutonic thunk” when the door is closed.
It was a beautiful machine. I miss it, now.
I don’t think I can afford one, though you can buy them used for about 26K. There is no such thing as a “base” Mercedes, at least not a “base” that I understand, so who knows? Maybe someday.
Meanwhile, I’ll look to rent another and perhaps…soon.