When the name Mercedes Benz comes to my mind I naturally think
of terms like status, luxury, refinement and German engineering,
or even ones like uptight, snoot and old fart. And generally
they are associated with the older folk from doctors and lawyers
to rich business men. Sportiness was never really a word linked
with the brand. But how things have changed over the last few
Mercedes Benz have managed to rebrand themselves in the sports
car market making some mental machines like the C63 AMG all
the up to the SLS Black series. But even with all that there
was a market they never really tapped into, the hot hatch market,
This is Mercs first attempt at a proper hot hatch and my word
have they nailed it from the get go. My good friend David recently
acquired his very own dream car and as soon as the 1500km run
in mileage was done I was knocking on his front door.
A nice decent drive was in order and we decided to head out
to the picturesque town of Franschhoek, specifically, the pass.
After a quick fuel top up at the Engen 1 Stop we made our way
to the quaint little town.
The closer we got into the town the more I realized how lucky
we are to be staying in Cape Town. This place is absolutely
beautiful and it’s only a few km’s out of Town.
I really felt like I was in another part of the world.
David was one of the first people to actually order one, so
early in fact that when he called Mercedes up they themselves
didn’t even know what car he was talking about. Weeks
and weeks of pestering later they eventually received all the
relevant info on the car and David’s deposit was down.
When David finally received the phone call to say his car had
arrived, he immediately rushed through to Mercedes-Benz, and
like a kid on Christmas morning he couldn’t wait to see
what Santa had brought him. Not knowing what exactly he had
gotten due to him insisting on getting the first available one,
when the salesman eventually showed David this particular car,
David’s reaction was “Shut up and take my money!”
Not being the original white that David imagined, this mountain
grey version eventually grew on him and he is glad he made the
choice. The spec list on this car makes up for everything. Direct
from the “I’m too lazy to do anything myself”
option list we have things like reverse camera, lane assist
pack – that’s when it notifies you if you veer off
your lane, blind spot assist – when you’re too lazy
to turn your head it will tell you if it’s safe or not
to change lanes, active park assist – it parallel parks
for you, and it even tells you when you’re driving too
close to the car in front of you and it will brake for you if
Those are just SOME of the options which this car has. It’s
amazing to think technology like that has been crammed into
a hatch back. Its stuff you would usually find only on the bigger
super saloons like the S Class range.
So… this article seems to be pretty boring thus far. It’s
so… Mercedes Benz, right?! Well yes, but let’s get
to the fun part, where we get to drive it. Driving this car
is far from boring! It’s a little pocket rocket! All you
have to do is point with the steering wheel and shoot with the
accelerator pedal and bam you’re there! It’s a 4
wheeled drive teleportation device! (Thanks Jason) I can kind
of describe it also as a UFC fighter with a suit. All smart
and sophisticated on the outside but if the need arises it can
be a bar brawler of note.
With 1.8bar of boost, 265kW’s and 450Nm’s are figures
unheard of from a stock standard hatch back. What’s more
amazing is that it all comes from a 2.0L 16V 4 cylinder engine!
Just how Merc got that right I’m not sure but kudos to
them! With so much boost you’d naturally expect a decent
amount of lag, maybe that’s me just being old school,
but this little monster firmly pushes you back into your seat
without much hesitation after squeezing the throttle. It’s
also surprisingly rev happy. You put your foot down and you
immediately realize how quick this thing actually is.
And with AWD traction it’s always reassuring and safe.
Even though it’s in front wheel drive most of the time,
until traction is about to be broken then the rear wheels kick
in. However it works I don’t care it’s just so bloody
brilliant! Personally I would prefer a RWD car, but for David,
this car is perfect, he is going to have as much fun in this
as he could ever possibly have.
But even when I was driving it, it gives you so much confidence
it just makes you want to do naughty things all day! It didn’t
help that David was still waiting for his registration plates
and the trade plate page “fell off” the back window.
Being electronically limited to 250km/h is the norm now days
but top speed was of no interest to me. It’s how it gets
there. With a claimed 0-100 time of 4.6 seconds I got to feel
every bit of that via its launch control system. A bit tricky
to get used to at first but once you master the systematic procedure
to engage it, its pocket rocket time baby!
The only downside for me about the way it drives is that these
new cars are so well built they sometimes give you a false sense
of speed. You know you’re going fast, but don’t
realize how quickly the speedo is actually climbing. Even though
you feel the boost, I think it’s due to the lack of noise
inside the cabin. Don’t get me wrong, you do hear the
car, but I think personally I would prefer it to be a little
louder even though it has the AMG performance exhaust system
on it. I think I’d want it to be more of a bare back horse
ride of an event rather than the hand of God wafting you from
point A to B.
Which brings me to today’s version of the dump valve.
It’s no more the neck twisting “ttsshh” noise
we’re so used to hearing, now days it’s the exhaust
fart. But besides it being a little too soft on acceleration
for my liking, I absolutely love the other noises it makes on
the over run… this car snap crackle and pops all the time.
It’s such “un-Merc-ly” like behavior. Which
also reminds me of the ride quality. This car has the AMG performance
suspension as well and ride quality isn’t S Class, neither
is it race car, but personally I think it’s just stiff
enough to enjoy in all forms of driving.
As tested this model costs over R700 000. For a hatch back that’s
damn pricey. Lots of people would opt for something else instead,
but if I could afford this then why the hell not. As soon as
you jump into the driver’s seat you instantly realize
where that R700k went to. It’s absolutely stunning inside.
From the leather bucket seats with red stitching and piping,
to the brushed aluminum and carbon fibre and sued leather on
the steering wheel, it all shouts expensive! Money well spent
I say. It’s an awesome place to be, especially for David
since this is his everyday car.
For what this car is, regardless of the price, I think it’s
a brilliant all rounder. Yes it’s not a RWD but if this
was my everyday car I would also prefer it being an AWD. It’s
something you can really enjoy on the roads and enjoy even more
on the track throwing it around. Like I mentioned earlier, for
David, this everyday dream car of his will give him as much
fun as he could ever possibly have!
Watch the video below and enjoy how this pocket rocket gets
off the line.