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….”
Whenever I’ve sold a car there is always a slight lingering pang of regret, usually financial, and a desire that the new owner should look after her. I have a habit of referring to cars, in fact most mechanical objects, as female. It is well known that sailors always referred to ships as ‘she’ and perhaps this habit has carried on to motor vehicles, like women they are beautiful and complicated. There is this quote from many a US Naval wardroom:
“A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.”
Now that comment may be a little chauvinistic but it may help to explain why we anthropomorphise vehicles and most complex mechanical gear with a female gender. I’ve had far more cars than girlfriends, but each has left fond memories and their foibles that at the time were very annoying have faded in the recall.
The Sunbeam Lotus that was forever snapping clutch cables.
The Mini that wouldn’t start, rain or shine, without a squirt of WD40.
The Clan Crusader that consumed more coolant than petrol.
The Lotus Elan Sprint that tore fingernails off when putting the roof down.
The Citroen Xantia with the iffy brakes and that made me car sick on long journeys.
The Smart (sic) car that had to be driven so hard to make any decent progress that it was really uneconomical.
The TVR 420SEAC that… too many problems to mention.
Generally when I change my car it is through a thief car dealer and they are particularly unemotional about them, so it was nice to receive an email from the purchaser of my MX5. He had seen this site and remarked that I was not very complimentary about the Mazda but that he had bought it has a ‘high days & holidays’ car. I replied that the car was in reality very good and was exactly as described in countless motor magazine reviews, I just didn’t like it. I also remarked that should it ever be in this part of North Yorkshire again I would be happy to demonstrate in 6.3 V8 form why I sold her.
The list of cars that I regret selling will be listed here soon……
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.