The decision to splash money on a luxurious European car did not make sense from a pragmatic point of view. We needed a family car, but wanted it to be something 'nice' - as my wife would say. After spending hours visiting many mainstream dealerships and being underwhelmed by poor service, products, product knowledge, and availability it all started to feel too hard. A quick trip into town to grab a meal and debrief had us passing a Mercedes dealership.
My wife had always spoken fondly about how much she loved the new A-class… so I suggested we go in and have a look. First impressions were strong. The layout of the dealership floor was warm and inviting. The sticker prices were scary, the cars were glossy and everyone that worked there looked like they had been Photoshopped.
Feeling very ordinary and out of my depth, a gentleman by the name of Andrew approached us and immediately asked what type of car we needed. The sincerity of his voice and professional demeanor charmed us well. Before I knew it, we had chatted, viewed and organised a test drive of a demonstrator C-Class sedan.
It was a black C200 with a Vision pack. This meant it had intelligent LED headlights, sunroof and HUD. The car was a two-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine with a seven-speed DSG gearbox. It came with various drive modes, synthetic leather interior, 18-inch alloy wheels shod with continental runflat tyres. The W205 C-Class was definitely an impressive car to look at. Even in base form, it had real style and presence.
Once behind the wheel and cruising down the road, the world suddenly felt different. The three-pointed star on the steering wheel was both beautiful and alluring. The car drove as good as it looked, the perception of quality and air of sophistication was overwhelming, so too was the grin on my wife's face. By the end of the test drive we were smitten and decided to talk numbers. How did this happen? We were totally caught up in the moment…
Clearly this brand and its staff knew how to make you feel important, something many places visited that day could not replicate. By the time our chat with sales staff had ended we left the deal in the air without signing up, as I may have set a purchase figure that was too hard to reach… Despite being won over by the car and the experience, I had a budget that was already stretched.
Never mind (I thought)… I used my intuition when cutting the deal and did my best to thank the people for their time. We had been indulged in the dream and it was a nice way to end a painful day of generic options and mediocre experiences. A few days later something unexpected happened, we received a call to ask if we were still keen. Suffice to say the deal was accepted and we became proud owners of a lovely black luxury sedan.
Four years later, we still feel special in our little C200. It has performed faultlessly, maintenance has not been diabolically expensive, and the dealership experience has been on-point. Every time I walk into the garage I am still seduced by its curvaceous body and elegant exterior details. I enjoy driving this car as well as watching my wife drive it too. It has now become her daily, filled with baby seats and a pram in the sizeable boot.
Despite being a fairy tale ownership experience to date, I have been surprised by a few things. Firstly, why do the OEM tyres wear out so fast? The rears are almost bald by 25000km. Fronts barely make it to 50000km. I have swapped over to non-runflat Pirelli's for half the money and keep a can of 'goo' in the boot should I need a flat tyre inflated. On that note…there is no spare wheel, instead you get a fold up shopping basket. What were they thinking?
Secondly, the black plastic surround of the centre stack collects dust, fingerprints, and it scratches easily… be gentle. The biggest surprise came at my 45000km service when I was told the rear pads were done. How? I thought the rear brakes hardly did any work? Clearly I was wrong.
The infotainment screen is clear, as is the reversing camera. It looks like a touchscreen, but it isn't. Why? The operation of the menu system when trying to pair your phone can be frustrating, so too is the sat-nav at times. Having multiple methods of accessing the same information is overkill for me. Less can be more…
Apart from these minor bumps in the relationship, I have been really pleased with its ride comfort, performance and economy. It seems to have a great balance between bump absorbency and handling in all driving modes. Engine performance is good – it feels as fast as my old 5-litre VS Berlina but uses half the fuel. Speaking of fuel, we average mid 8's per 100 kilometres around town – impressive since we do not drive sedately.
The DSG shifts quickly and seamlessly and is perfect for urban use. I have tried manual mode along back roads but felt this style of driving was out of sync with the nature of this car.
This car also has an amazing turning circle, which is handy when you need it. The park assist is a cool feature, and so too is the electric handbrake that automatically disengages when you take off. I'm not one for a push-button starter and was pleased to see that I could remove the button and stick the key in the slot – brilliant.
Overall, time has not diluted the experience – this has been a whirlwind romance that is still going strong.