Monday, 19 November 2007

Murk Taxi

A quick write up on the 2007 Mercedes E220 CDi Avantgarde (170bhp, £32k); the car you should buy yourself if you were a responsible family man, and didn’t keep buying menopausal sports-cars.

An illuminated engine check warning light event meant that the Cayman had to return to the dealer for ministrations. The recovery service included the supply of a ‘premium’ courtesy car, so I was looking forward to trying a Cayenne Turbo for a couple of days. However, the local agents turned up with a Mercedes E Class…

This one was hearse black with 16” alloys lost in the arches, and only 2,400miles on the digi-clock. The interior was also black hide, the quality of which Mrs SS7 suggested was a bit ‘World of Leather”. Other than that, the dash was competent - but it was difficult to see what was so ‘avant-garde’ about it all. As usual for a Mercedes the front seats went miles back, but even at a comfortable reach for my 6’2”, there wasn’t a whole lot of leg room behind.
Cold starts produced the usual 200k-mile-Transit-death-rattle, but on the move it was quiet. Mrs E-H used it for a 100 mile motorway run with her MU grannies with no real complaints, so I was curious to see how it would deal with the down-land roads up to Guildford.

Not well really. The steering is Honda-light with zero feel, and ignorance about what was going on at the front tyre’s footprint didn’t encourage pushing on. Road noise is well suppressed, and ride is comfortable on the straight and level, but with a combination of a hard driver’s seat and soft ride, it does fall apart a bit in the twisties, often with a lurch as the lateral forces start to act. It did really feel like I was sitting on top of, not in, the car – and my seat was on the lowest setting.

The motor had the usual deseasel mid-range thump, and usually the many-speed auto box kept up well, slurring through the gears in normal use. But even in ‘Sport*’ mode, full throttle was needed to produce a lag-clonk-jerk kick-down, and that wasn’t cool. Surprisingly, braking into a corner or roundabout, then getting back on the gas also produce a thump-jerk as the combination of turbo-lag, mid-range heave and dumb gearbox stopped working in anything close to perfect harmony.

Frankly it really wasn’t fun, and having no compulsion to overtake at all, I found myself following all the traffic like a numpty. Even when alone didn’t really exceed 60mph or so.

I did expect that all this self-control would pay off at the pumps, but the car’s trip consumption showed 42mpg, not a world away from the Cayman’s 32mpg in similar (but 15mph faster) running.

I don’t see the point; buy a black Mondeo.

Who can still change gear better than ZF


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