Well, it finally happened. Do you remember the time in high school when you had an enormous crush on someone, but for some reason, you couldn’t date them? Me neither. Okay! Fine; except this one girl.
Suppose you want Flavia Tumusiime, but you end up with Faridah Nakazibwe, it’s still a pretty sweet happy ending, right? In fact, it could be an even better ending. They are different, but they both represent the crowning quality of women this country has to offer. You wouldn’t have a split second of regret for not ending up with the other.
And that’s the thing about enjoying a privilege from a class that sets out to give nothing but the very best. At whatever level of consumption, you are part of a special elite group. The satisfaction that comes from being in the moment of that consumption can only be understood, by people that enjoy that same privilege.
Anyone outside that chosen circle, can watch from a distance held in scorn. They all think you can afford this because of a Presidential Handshake or from money meant for malnourished kids in Karamoja. Whether is probably true or not, they’d never be sure.
The privilege I speak of, is the Mercedes Benz experience. My 5th Mercedes Benz experience. I’ve driven; a 2007 E240, 1999 E220, 2002 C200 Kompressor, and a 2010 C200 Kompressor (read about it here) with the sports package.
Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of taking my family’s 2008 Mercedes Benz B170, with the sports package, for a test drive around the estate where the family stays. It is less than a week old, so everything is working.
You ought to understand that am judging it from my past memorable experiences with Mercedes. My boss’ 2010 C Class, with the sports package and the other Benz at my folks, a 2002 C Class. It’s the 2nd lowest class Mercedes makes but then, it is a 2008 model that is less than 10 years old and that means it’s equipped with all the good stuff.
The good stuff? Electronic Stability Control, parking sensors, reverse camera, traction control, cruise control, active lighting system, headlamp assist, cornering lights, pedal shift gears etc.… and, all that is packaged in its very beautiful design. The B Class, is a looker.
Once I had gotten over the paranoia of scraping it on a ridiculously high hump on the drive way from the house, I lived. It is a very low car for a hatchback. It is raised at the back, but the slanting design makes the front significantly lower than the back. It is even lower than the C Class. Which is ridiculous because this means, it is not a ‘go-anywhere’ car. This is disappointing. Your friends deep in Namasuba will never invite you for lunch again since you can’t go there now.
I cannot blame the car too much, the age limit old man is also to blame for the poor infrastructure of our transport system, especially the roads.
I’ll also point out, that it is not the most comfortable car. The sports seats cater less for comfort, they are built to be practical. Which they are. Sitting in them is like, sitting on Flavia’s laps while she hugs you from the back. It is absolutely soothing. It puts you in the right posture to push the limit of the little 1.7 liter petrol engine.
Since am getting the bad stuff out of the way, I should mention that the interior feels cheaply made. Which it is. The stitching on the steering wheel is amateurish, the knobs and buttons feel loosely placed, there is a lot more plastic than there should be on a Mercedes, there is slightly more wind noise than it’s big brothers, and the seats are manually adjusted – why?
And also, it doesn’t feel ‘Mercedes-y’ when you are inside the car, momentarily you forget that the people watching you from outside think you are rich. If anything, the comfort feels and looks like a well-made high-end Japanese MPV.
However, when you put the hammer down, the little hatchback is astonishing. It flies. It is unbelievable just how capable it actually is. The throttle response and the instant reaction as it quickly builds up speed, is like a kindergarten child running towards their parents after school. It just goes. Quickly!
I did not expect this from the 2nd lowest class Mercedes makes. I thought it’d be another cheaply made luxurious car that is desirable because it bears the 3 pointed star. I was wrong. Underneath, for it’s size it tries to perform like its more robust big siblings, but with a less braggart position. The drive feels sporty. The B Class impressively grips on the road giving you ‘good’ power and just about enough confidence that you are in control.
It helps that it is a very light car, so the little components that make it move are not dragging a lot of weight, thus it can take off almost immediately. And this is very good. Light cars are better / easier to control.
Of course it’s a Mercedes and it is the sports package, but it is a little 1.7 Liter hatchback. It is supposed to be a lazy, slow car for parents princely running school errands. It isn’t. It is properly satisfying to drive. What this B Class is, is a beauty with an attitude of a beast.
Sadly however, if you are looking for that legendary Mercedes Benz experience, am afraid this is not it. During the test drive I loved it, but moments later I realized it isn’t made for the experience or comfort, it is made for practicability, fuel economy and affordability to buy and maintain. To me, a Mercedes is defined by the experience and comfort.
As a car, it is great. As a Mercedes, meh!
Author: Ian Paul Byamugisha
Ian Paul Byamugisha is a writer/author/novelist and car journalist. As a writer for Newslibre, he writes car reviews, cars news, tech news and anything that one might find interesting to read. Currently working on a spy novel collection titled “Arthur Vintage.”