As promised, here we are sharing the experience of the Mercedes-Benz StarDrive. It was a Sunday and we had booked our time slot from 10 am till 12 in the noon. When we finally reached the place, it was filled with all types of Mercedes passenger as well as SUV range of cars. The only ones missing were the Mercedes E-cabriolet and the CLS. Any man’s wet dream, the AMG range of cars were also present as was the Mercedes SL 65 AMG and its sedan version, the E63 AMG. Not many have the privilege of seeing all these beauties at the same time and at the same place. I very much doubt if the same are even available in the show rooms.
First of all, the event organizer, Mr Karan Singh came upto us and welcomed us all. He asked us to initially register the name of our group and then after we were done with the same, were asked to proceed to the Mercedes Star lounge wherein we were provided refreshments. But then so eager was our team to have the experience that we just sipped some water and were out to foray. We then rush to the SUV counter wherein a small shed awaited us. Inside, Karan said that we would have our first go in the Mercedes GL class and also the smaller ML class. He presented a small demo on what all features are there in the car and how it would go through, the ride height increase, tilt angles etc. But these things don’t make any sense unless you experience them first hand. Sensing our impatience, Karan took us for the big drive. Since we were 6 of us, he correctly asked us to bundle in the GL class. Our drive guide was one Mr.Sunny. Before he got the clearance from the field manager for taking us on the drive, he explained the various features in the car and how he would be using them effectively to go around the track. He stressed on all the occupants to wear the seat belts. The very next moment we started rolling, we were up a gradient. I wish, I hadn’t had a sumptuous breakfast in the morning.
The heavy GL class was hanging with one wheel up in the air. If it would have been some other SUV, I am sure it would have hung up its boots, but not the mighty GL class. It trundled along quite comfortably without even breaking into a sweat. The very next moment, we were up a steep incline which had a 40 degree angle to it. Sunny told us that the GL could go upto 45 degree inclines. We never doubted his claim on that after seeing how easily we were all plastered near the side windows and the GL gleefully carrying along. Next was the hill downside assist demo in the same car. We were to climb up a 45 degrees ramp and then descend it. We did feel that it wasn’t the machine which was taking the brunt but it were we people. How else can you describe climbing something with a 45 degree angle to it and with a behemoth of an SUV for company? Sunny amply selected the down hill speed as 4 kmph from the cruise control stalk and lifted his foot off the accelerator and the brake. The SUV was easily rolling along as if some celestial force was guiding it.
After getting off the SUV, we rested for about 10 minutes ( I am sure words wouldn’t be able to describe the experience and you would have to actually experience it) and then rush to the next shed which was called the Pre-Safe shed. Here one Mr Ranvir welcomed us and explained the safety features to be found in Mercedes sedans and needless to say, the SUVs. After the narration, we were told that we would be seated in the Mercedes E63 AMG car. Oh boy! Imagine people, roughly in the age group of 28 years and all giggling on the thought of been seated in the ultra luxurious E class and that too the AMG variant. Our driver or rather the demonstrator was Mr Sunny and he was very keen on showing us the various safety features practically. The usual procedure of tightening the seat belts and everything was done and then he took off (no pun intended). 0-100 coming up in only a scant 4.8 seconds. Within a kilometer stretch in the Juhu Aerodrome, the E63 blasted to 140 clicks. The aural delight of the twin tail pipes is something which many would always have etched in their minds.
To demonstrate the Pre-Safe features, the windows were rolled down and the sun roof was also opened. Sunny told us that when at high speeds, if we notice a sudden obstacle and we try to swerve around it, then the windows as well as the sunroof close on their own. This is done so that passengers are safe and secure inside the cabin and don’t get hurtled outside nor do outside objects come inside. At the speed of about 120 kmph, he fish tailed the car and avoided the barricade. At the same time when he was attempting this manoeuvre, the windows eerily closed with about 2 cms gap left. The sunroof closed completely. He explained that if the vehicle were to sense a collision, the air bags get ready for deployment. While the air bags deploy, there is so much of pressure inside that chances are that the driver and side passenger would get suffocated. To release the pressure, the windows are slightly open. In the AMG version, the person seated in the front passenger seat can actually feel the seats hugging him. Eerie as it may sound, it was true. With Pre-Safe, if one isn’t wearing the seatbelts, they actually nudge you as if gently coaxing you to wear them.
Alas, we couldn’t get a drive in the SLS cars featured there. By the way, on our request, the Sales Manager out there popped open the hood of the SL 65 AMG and showed us the engineer’s signature which was present on top of the engine of the car. The barely decipherable signature said Philip Walbier, if I decoded it correctly.
Finally out of the cars and back onto our way home, we couldn’t but help stare at the G55 SUV standing there. Now, the G55 is the SUV which would be launched today. The first look of this SUV is what one would scoff at. It looks exactly like the Tata Sumo from the pre-Victa age. The only difference is that the tail pipes protrude from the sides and the interiors is something which Tata Motors cannot even hope to achieve. We were told that the price is in the region of Rs 1.50 crores. The reason cited is that it is the fastest SUV in a straight line and also a true off-roader. It is a CBU unit as well. It has got a V8 AMG engine (printed on the side panel) but then the stats weren’t clear and so we would refrain from quoting them here.
The best thing to say about the whole experience was that it was well hosted and the general public were well catered to. We are still reeling under the effects of what we have actually seen and gone through. I can proudly say that this is a once in a lifetime experience and as my boss would have described it , a freakingly amazing thing. Thank you Mercedes for organizing such a wonderful event.