herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

New leaner and greener Mercedes is one quality carriage

THIS week I opted for a truly modern battle between traditional travel and futuristic motoring in a bid to inspire a Top Gear-style face-off between two modes of transport.

Except this would be done minus the big budget and without the showy productions that make Clarkson and Co the ultimate man racers.

My meagre experiment came when I decided to dump the car – in this case a Mercedes Bluetec Hybrid, in favour of a train.

I was due in Waterford to meet the family for a weekend of cajun and cotton at the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival and a final bit of end of summer fun.

So without much thought I decided to give the train a go and leave the Merc in a Dublin lock-up – and there lies the problem.

Rail travel, as Michael Portillo tells us every week on his Great Railway Journeys, is the only way to travel.

So I parked up the car, picked up my rail ticket – for an extra tenner I got a first class ticket ... and off I toddled.

Within minutes of arriving at the Premier suite I found the carriage occupied by folk who clearly should have been in some livestock hold down the back.

I gently inquired with the waiter if this family of slack jawed guardians and their ferrel kids – the Railway Children they were not – should be in my carriage.

The polite reply was that there was no ticket inspectors on this service and the Munsters knew they could sit where they wanted.

I was now beginning to regret my actions and soon after leaving Dublin I began to lament my Mercedes back at base.

Thanks to the drowning out qualities of ear pods the Shameless-esque 'Gallaghers' fighting and feuding went mostly unheard for the journey, but the annoyance of having to bring all my belongings with me every time I went to the loo, meant I was not going to get the romantic rail travel I sought.

That's not to say I'm no longer down with the train, it's just for a more assured way to travel the car will remain the best mode in my book.

Anyway the very notion that I could forsake the beauty and poise of a Mercedes E Class Bluetec Hybrid is simply bonkers.

This is certainly not carbon spewing locomotive travel, this is Eco driving for the age we live in.

The Bluetec marries traditional four cylinder driving with electric motoring, thanks to a clever lithium-ion battery.

Previous hybrid experiences have seen the battery placed in the boot, but with the Mercedes it is under the bonnet with the rest of the engine.

This is another step closer to Mercedes emission free driving and it was a beautifully smooth affair.

There is ECO stop/start function, parking assist and all the bells and whistles you would expect with luxury driving.

There is still the traditional leather and furnishings onboard, and that traditional Mercedes quality you would expect.

The next time I opt for a sense of romantic folly, I will not discard a car of this quality in favour of a train.

The Mercedes Bluetec Hybrid will cost from €44,540.

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