For the past 14 or 15 years, I have driven BMWs (apart from a dalliance with a VW Golf). Back in the spring, when I changed my car, I decided to have a complete change and bought a Mercedes C-Class estate. Over my million and a half or more miles, I have had VWs, Audis and lots of BMWs, but never a Mercedes. Being in my mid-50s now, despite the advice from the salesman in the BMW shop, who told me I wasn’t old enough yet for a Mercedes, I thought that the time was right.
I wish I hadn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad car. It’s quiet, comfortable, more economical that my last BMW, despite being bigger and more powerful. It is safe and takes the dog cage in the boot easily. It’s well equipped, with, for example, the first sun-roof I have had for decades. But, it has so many annoying niggles that it will be my last one.
- The built in satnav will download traffic information to allow the system (and/or me) to choose an alternative route if there is a hold up ahead. The problem is, it takes about 25 minutes for the data to download from wherever it comes from, so I often find myself in an avoidable traffic jam by the time the system says “traffic delays in 0 miles”. No shit Sherlock.
- The handling around corners is dreadful, with far too much oversteer for my liking and a lot of body roll.
- There are creaks and groans from the rear nearside interior bodywork or seats. I can’t work out exactly where, but to have a creaking car after so long is a novelty – and not one that I really wanted.
- The car uses a product called “AdBlue” to clean up the exhaust emissions. The tank, adjacent to the fuel tank, is supposed to hold enough liquid to last between services. But it doesn’t. The dashboard gives a warning that it’s going to run out about 1500 miles before it does. If you don’t refill the tank, the car won’t work. At all.
- Today, it had its first service. At 15,400 miles, some 3,000 miles less than the BMWs. This service, which is basically an oil and pollen filter change, just cost me £325. Now, if I wanted a car that was cheap to service, I would have bought a Ford Mondeo. But that is just taking the mickey. The BMWs used to be around £220 for a similar oil service.
- Oh, they check the tyres at the service too. I need all four changing very soon – two are down to 2.5mm tread. This is after 15,400 miles, don’t forget. I don’t drive this car any differently from the BMW I had last time, yet that would give me 30,000 miles or more on a tyre. This is ridiculous. My first Golf GTi would give me more miles than this and I used to throw that around like, erm, a Golf GTi.
- Then there are the minor niggles, like lack of little cubby-hole spaces in the dashboard, or the really shiny black console trim in the middle that picks up every fingerprint.
So, I have got Mercedes out of my system. I always fancied one and now I drive one. But I won’t be next time. There is a reason why so many people drive BMWs…
Gino in Chester was right. I am not old enough.