The Merc is currently equipped with ‘All Weather’ tyres, or if you’re foreign, tires. If you are one of those philistines that regard tyres as simply black circles then I urge you to read The Intercooler, available as an app. That small patch of rubber on each corner of your pride and joy is what keeps you on the road, delivers communication from the asphalt, squeezes the water out to prevent aqua planing and yet is soft enough to grip the surface under hard braking or cornering.
Around September 2019 after a couple of months of ownership I decided that the distinctly underwhelming and overworn tyres needed replacing. Graham at Oatlands Tyres of Harrogate suggested Vredestein Quatrac all weathers. I toyed with the idea of getting a set of wheels for the tyres so that I could run both summer and winter tyres, an idea that was dashed on the rocks of fiscal reality. Graham assured me that these tyres were more than adequate and indeed after over 30,000 miles on the rears they have fulfilled that promise. Moreover they have proved their worth in adverse weather.
They can be fairly noisy on motorways, the section on the M1 link road with a concrete surface renders Radio 4 inaudible, but generally I am very happy with them. The fronts have been replaced because of punctures and potholes, sadly with plenty of wear left, but the rears could last another 10k. However Vredestein Quatrac tyres prove their worth!
It’s been a while since I last posted, sorry. The BMW has moved on to another owner and I have returned to the Mercedes fold. The vehicle in question this time is a C43 Estate, and it is almost everything a car should be.
This could possibly be my favourite Mercedes (so far).
It has a 3.0 litre petrol engine, turbocharged to give 362 BHP which gives it quite amazing performance. The way the engine picks up is staggering and I would argue that it is realistically quicker than the C63 that I used to own. The 0-60 times are slower but on an overtaking manoeuvre with kick down, the twin turbos spool up very briskly and shove the old girl in a blur of speed and sound. The noise is different from the old V8, that was a delicious rumble that stirred the dangly bits, this V6 sounds like a swarm of angry hornets buzzing around the rear. It is actually very good but I don’t have the optional Active Exhaust ‘loud’ button that would certainly improve things.
Because two Turbos are better than one!
On the practical side, it consumes Shell’s finest petrol at the rate of 33 miles to the gallon, it has a full panoramic roof, an excellent sound sytem and is very comfortable ploughing up and down the A19 at a steady 65MPH*. As I travel around 800 miles every week it is perfect.
There are a couple of niggles: I am not enamoured of the gear selection on a stalk similar to an indicator. I worry that I may mistake the lever for the windscreen wipers and put the car into reverse at 65MPH, I am sure that it will be impossible but I’ve not yet dared to try it. The previous owner seemed to lose his bottle with the options list, there is no Apple Carplay, Adaptive Cruise control or Proximity Sensors in the door mirrors.
Possibly the finest cars – In the World.
All in all it is a splendid car and covers my every need… However it has done over 33,000 miles and I need to change it very soon before its value plummets even further.
*All cars seem to have a mechanical resonance where all the moving parts settle in a sympathetic alignment and with this vehicle it is at around 65MPH. It is also very relaxed at 85-90 too but I have just acquired 3 fresh points from the Scottish Constabulary.
The time has come to say goodbye to my Mercedes C63 Estate, possibly the best car I have ever had (so far). The image here will illustrate the reason why. After some very careful driving I managed to get the average MPG up to 23.2. And careful driving is not really what the car was about. It was about noise, acceleration and more noise. Yet if driven quietly and carefully it was an extremely capable car although the suspension was a little harsh. The rear tyres lasted for 23000 miles, incredible for a rear wheel drive car with 450BHP, and servicing was no more expensive than any other comaparable vehicle. It was the thirst, and the fact that I only ever put Shell V Power in her that combined to make using her as an everyday hack unaffordable.
So we come to the BMW, an ordinary but newer car, a 520D Estate, also capable and solid but soooo boring. It does not make my willy tingle, something the Merc did whenever I got in and it started with a roar like Zeus clearing his throat. The pragmatic part however is it cost around £85 to fill the Merc for around a 230 mile range. The Beemer is a similar price for the cheapest diesel to fill but the range is well over 700 miles. In fact I can confidentally set off knowing that I need not worry about where or when to fill up whereas with the C63 and my Shell V Power pedantry, the smaller range gave me the sort of anxiety that I imagine drivers of electric vehicles suffer.
Essentially then, the BMW 520d is like an ugly mistress; it does the business when required without complaint and who knows, I may grow to love her.
Been running this car for around 6 weeks and already covered 3500 miles. What a tremendous vehicle, I absolutely love it, it is such a joy to drive and I rarely stretch it and go more than 3000 rpm, it doesn’t need it. It is comfortable, easy to drive and feels so well made and secure. I will admit that it is not too easy on the pocket, but I am not surprised. When I first got the car the average MPG over the previous 12000 miles was 16.5, I have now got it up to 17.5, but I am driving quite long distances across the motorways of Northern England. I am also trying to fill with Shell V Power or failing that at least a BP, Esso or other 97RON. It is a little pricier, but almost universally recommended for these engines.
A tale of two journeys..
It’s the throaty rumble and noise that really is the car’s USP though. I was driving towards Bradford from home, The Better Half and No.2 Son in tow and there is a tunnel under the airport. As we approached No.2 Son and I dropped the car windows and I dropped a couple of cogs. I enjoyed the Tinkie Tickling noise for a moment. The Better Half looked across with a withering look, “you are both so childish….”
I traded in the Mazda and to be honest I’m glad to see the back of it. Don’t misunderstand, it was (is) a very capable car and was exactly as all the motoring magazines and pundits said. It was very good to drive, well made, quite good value for money (except for trade-in!) but I found it very disappointing. If one wanted to drive like a loon, as though one’s pants were on fire and get the back end out round corners all without breaking too many speed limits, it was great. However if one had to be in Newcastle at 07:00 in the morning, wanted to listen to Radio 4, wanted somewhere to put one’s phone and keys and it was raining, it was a miserable and claustrophobic place to be. Artics cut you up because they can’t see you, one felt vulnerable on motorways and the fuel gauge would drop from 25 miles remaining to less than 5 in around 3 miles. Every time a corner was taken the keys would slide from the centre console and disappear under the seats. 3/4 vision was very poor with the roof up and the lack of any sort of storage space in the cabin was infuriating.
I hope the Merc and I get on, we are going to firm friends with the local Shell garage and spend much money with my local tyre man. I can’t wait.