Tuesday, June 17, 2014

You Complete Me...

I turned 40 last month and in the last almost quarter century of having a driver’s license, I have owned more than 20 Mercedes Benz vehicles and have driven probably twice as many.  I’ve driven them all… from a 1967 SL280 Roadster to a 2014 S550 Sedan…. Big or small, convertible, hatchback, sedan, wagon, SUV, coupe… you name it, I have probably driven it!  And without exception, I have always found something I loved about each Mercedes I’ve driven. Conversely, I have also found something I hated about every one of them!  That never deterred me from owning one, but it always left something to be desired… and perhaps that partially explains why I’ve owned so many cars.

Well, that something to be desired was found last week; when I drove a 2012 E550 Convertible from eCarOne.  And that something I can only refer to as “Completeness.”  This time, I could not find something that I hated about this car!  Maybe all the stars aligned that week or maybe I was in a forgiving mood, or maybe I was just driving the perfect combination of color, style, technology, and power… yeah, I think that was it… LOTS of tire shredding power that takes on a whole other dimension when coupled with top-down open air driving!

I can stop writing here and trust that I have already made my point.  To that, I will not bore you with detail and in-depth review mumbo jumbo… you can go to YouTube for that.  However, I just want to tell you why I loved this car so much and why I had a difficult time finding negatives.  First, the car is just downright beautiful.  The diamond white color is really something to be admired… sure there are many car companies that offer a “pearl” white but not till you compare MB’s diamond white with other “pearls” side by side that you appreciate the depth and dimension of this special color treatment.  And matched with the parchment interior leather and beautiful wood trim and this car was screaming class!  Ok, so it’s another pretty Mercedes… no big deal.  Well, that’s where the “completeness” description comes in. 

This was the E550, yes the Big Mama… a 5 Liter V8 that’s twin turbocharged and mated to an awesome ZF automatic transmission and limited slip differential.  What does that mean?  It means hitting the gas at 30MPH and still breaking the tires loose!  We’re not talking peeling out at the stoplight… we’re talking peeling out while already rolling at a good speed… that’s not just power… that’s power delivery at its best!  It’s one thing to have a high power V8, but it’s another thing to actually be able to deliver the power to the tires with such brute force.  That takes engineering and a great deal of thought.  Let me put it in perspective… the only other Mercedes that I’ve driven that could do that was a CLK63 Black Series… none other.

Other than fantastic power, this car had everything else you’d want; effortless power top operation, excellent sound system, ventilated and heated seats, Bluetooth, backup camera, and even enough room in the backseat for two young adults and room in the trunk for your golf bag.  What else do you want?

I loved this car and I would without question own one.  Go check it out if it hasn’t already been sold to a lucky new owner. 

Mini Me

Last year I drove a Mercedes GL450 from eCarOne for about a week.   That particular week, the GL came in very handy because it was my daughter’s birthday and it was nice to be able to load all the kiddos into one car and haul off to the circus.  I recall writing a very favorite review on the GL and till this day, it remains one of my favorite large SUVs.

Last week (almost exactly a year from driving the GL), I had the chance to drive a 2013 Mercedes GLK250 Bluetec from eCarOne.  At first, I was a bit hesitant to take the little SUV because with all honesty, I never really believed in small SUVs.  I’ve always had a “go big or go home” mentality and to me, a small SUV is almost an oxymoron; sort of like brown tuxedo shoes or a wool swim suit.  I mean what’s the point of giving up handling, acceleration, and sportiness for the sake of just having a little more trunk space and really no more added comfort or seating capacity? 

What’s the point?  Well, after driving the GLK for a week and really putting it to good use, I now get the point.  And the point is that you don’t have to sacrifice performance and comfort in order to get much more cargo capacity than say a comparably priced sports sedan (a.k.a. Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-Series or Audi A4).  Hold on… Am I really comparing the performance of the legendary BMW sedan to that of a compact SUV?  The answer is no.  Rather, I’m saying that if you want a car that provides you an overall excellent driving experience while giving you tons of cargo space, then you can’t go wrong with the little GLK. 

From the outside, the GLK looks small when compared to the average SUV you see on the road today.  In fact, it’s not any longer or wider than a mid-sized sports sedan like an E-Class or 5-Series.  Once you get in the driver’s seat, the overall feel is still the same… you’re in an E-Class and it’s not till you look over your shoulder and see the cavernous rear cargo room that you realize this car is very deceiving!  The rear seat is again not much larger than that of an E-Class but as far as cargo space is concerned, the GLK is phenomenal.  Let me give you real world support to my favoritism…  I had the GLK during a week where I was doing some redecorating at home and accordingly I used it for trips to pick up various items.  I specifically recall one trip where I had two 12x8’ rugs (rolled), several boxes from The Container Store, several large bags of household items, and a full load of groceries.  All I had to do is fold the back seats down and everything fit with no issue… I probably had room for more!  In my opinion, that’s all you should ever try to fit inside the cabin of a vehicle… any more and you should have a truck.

In terms or practical everyday use, the GLK is a winner as expected.  What I did not expect is that the GLK is really a joy to drive.  I was expecting it to drive like… well, like an SUV.  However, this car rides and drives much more like a sports sedan.  In my opinion, it drives much like an E-Class or a C-Class… the steering is very accurate, the suspension is tight and responsive, and it accelerates very well for a car of this size.  There were many times where I had to remind myself that I’m driving an SUV, not a sports sedan.  And I’m someone who is very familiar with sporty driving!  I’ve been driving sports cars and performance sedans for years and I truly feel that the GLK deserves special notice for being a truly outstanding on-road vehicle.  I did not get a chance to test its off-road capabilities, but I think we all know that off-roading is not the purpose this car was built for.  All in all, I thing the GLK is a winner in terms of providing ample cargo room, passenger room, and overall driving enjoyment.

The only quam I have is the diesel!  I live in Texas and had a difficult time finding a gas station that sells diesel.  In terms of performance, I think this diesel powered GLK was excellent (power, torque, and economy) but unless you have plenty of stations around your area that sell diesel, I’d consider the gasoline version.  In either case, you can’t lose.

Till next time, thank you for reading.