Mercedes-Benz review: riding the Precious Metal bandwagon

PRECIOUS: The Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet and CLS500. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

PRECIOUS: The Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet and CLS500. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

IT'S okay to overindulge once a year, isn't it?

Last year we sampled some of Mercedes-Benz's finest and rarest when the Precious Metal Road Show came to town. We were left wanting more.

So when Mercedes-Benz Ballarat dealer principal Justin Mitchell invited us back for another taste, how could we resist?

Gav McGrath cherry picks the Mercedes-Benz Precious Metal Road Show. Video: JEREMY BANNISTER

While Ballarat is well served in terms of prestige brands, regional centres often miss out on the absolute top shelf stuff. It is a simple numbers game - there are fewer buyers to justify having an SL in the show room. The Mercedes-Benz Precious Metal Road Show is about providing a taste, and to tempt buyers with something a little special .

Eight machines which made the trip to Ballarat this week ranging in price from a comparatively affordable $77,500 up to $322,000. This year we cherry-picked four.

ELEGANT: The Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

ELEGANT: The Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

E400 CABRIOLET

Tuesday was not convertible weather. It was cold with the odd shower as well. Still, we made the best of it, using the heated seats and Mercedes-Benz's "Airscarf" neck-level heating system to stay nice and warm even with the roof down.

We cruised out to Lake Burrumbeet with the top off, getting the odd bemused look from other motorists. Let's face it, when you're driving a convertible on a Ballarat winter's day you're going to get noticed.

When the rain did arrive and the bright red canvas roof had to go up, we were still getting noticed. If you've got it, you may as well flaunt it.

Drive away price $162,427

IMPOSING: The Mercedes-Benz CLS500. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

IMPOSING: The Mercedes-Benz CLS500. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

CLS500

Next on the menu was the big, powerful CLS500. A sleek but sensible body, with a 300kW bi-turbo V8 heart. The CLS500 sounds terrific and can go very hard but it is also the sort of car that is equally pleasant just to cruise around in. Of our four cars it was the best all rounder.

Drive away price $186,831

ATTITUDE: The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

ATTITUDE: The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

A45 AMG

One of the least Mercedes-Benz-like Benz cars we've ever driven. Rowdy, brutal and with not a trace of subtlety at all, it could have been made in Italy rather than Germany. 

Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo four with 265kW, Mr Mitchell boasted it is one the most powerful four-cylinder cars on the road and there was nothing in our brief time in it to suggest otherwise. A Merc for someone not willing to grow up. We loved it.

Drive away price $82,756

SLEEK: The Mercedes-Benz SL350. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

SLEEK: The Mercedes-Benz SL350. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

SL350

Now we're talking. 

We didn't spend a lot of time in the big roadster. The cars all had to prepped and cleaned for the trip down to Warrnambool for the next leg of the Road Show.

That was perhaps our one regret of the day because the SL is what the Precious Metal Road Show is all about.

As the "budget-priced" SL (if such a thing can really exist), the 350 doesn't have a monster twin turbo V8 like the rest of the line-up. Instead it has a naturally aspirated six which is one of the sweetest sounding V6s we've sampled, especially when the automatic folding steel roof is stowed away. 

A drop top that is almost as big as a large sedan and has just two seats. What's not to love? 

Drive away price $243,952


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