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My rollercoaster journey from a Ford Fiesta to Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

In March 2023, after 5 nightmarish months, I was finally back home. My perspective on life had changed - I was no longer willing to wait patiently for what I wanted in life.

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Prologue

Background

As a kid, I have always loved cars. Every time I saw a nice car — I would instinctively say "big car" or "red car", even before I could speak complete sentences. At school and while growing up, I would look at the fancy cars of my schoolmates or family friends and drool over them with the feeling "mera number kab aayega". Back in those days, a new Maruti 800 or new Santro was perfectly within the definition of a "fancy car" for me. Talk about the theory of relativity!

Go Fida

After I started working, I had to get a car. And damn — Ford's advertisements were just so out of the world. The "Go Fida" ad was something that I would have seen hundreds of times, always dreaming how I would zoom in on a Ford Fiesta like Abhishek. So in 2010, when I saw an ad on the office board about someone selling their Fiesta 1.4 ZXi to relocate abroad, I went and bought it immediately.

However, the itch of getting a bigger and better car continued, so in 2011 I upgraded to the more powerful next-generation Fiesta 1.6 ZXi, and then in 2013 to the all-new global Fiesta 1.5 TDCi Titanium with the kinetic design. This one was such a hoot to drive — and when Ford announced its plans to exit India, I was heartbroken.

In 2017, I decided to upgrade again, this time by leveraging the lease plan from work. With Ford on the way out, I decided to bite the bullet and get a Skoda Rapid, despite the after-sales nightmare stories. Unfortunately, it turned out to be precisely how people said; every time it went to the service center - it came back with a new problem. When the lease ended in 2020, I was happy to return the car.

Bitten by the SUV Bug

In 2020, when it came to selecting a new car, I was busy looking for another sedan. Few cars were as thrilling to drive as the last Fiesta. However, suddenly, I happened to see a red Jeep Compass, and it was love at first sight. The silent yet powerful petrol engine, combined with a fantastic DCT transmission, and luxurious interiors was enough to ensure that I booked it right away. And boy - did it make me completely forget the Fiesta - this car gave me so much happiness munching miles endlessly.

Life Throws a Curveball

In 2021, certain events were happening in my personal life, and I was hitting rock bottom. It was challenging to accept what had happened, so I spent a lot of time trying to erase memories, both physically and mentally.

Suddenly in mid-2022, without any warning, during an evening drive, the Compass threw up a myriad of errors and slowed to a crawl. Somehow I managed to crawl back home - all of this was due to a single malfunctioning ABS sensor. Jeep, in the meanwhile, suddenly decided to dishonor the warranty, as there was one delayed service during Covid. It was ridiculous, but a good excuse to also erase the memory of the Compass - I called Cars24 and in 2 days the car was gone.

Bringing Home the Tucson 

Selecting a new car was a whole new challenge - there were very few cars in the 40L space. I fell in love with the Skoda Superb and was almost about to book the car, but in comes the news of Skoda retiring the Octavia and the Superb.

One day, a colleague suggested taking a look at the Hyundai Tucson. The Tucson usually looked like a small car in photos, so I wasn’t interested, but still decided to go and take a look. And it was once again, very surprisingly, an Ah My God moment. The car looked enormous in the flesh, was so much fun to drive, and so incredibly luxurious. Once again - I took the plunge and booked the car, only to know that delivery would probably take 6 months due to the considerable demand.

A few days later, suddenly another Hyundai dealer called, as I had been enquiring about the Kona. When they heard about my Tucson booking, they said that they had a blue car arriving in 2 days that they could allocate to me as the intended buyer was facing issues with the loan. Lo and behold - in September 2022, I had my Tucson, and it was delivered faster than anyone else!

Driving the Tucson was always a happy moment, and we did some outstanding drives with our extended family to the Nilgiris, and countless fond memories!

Life Throws Another Curveball

In November 2022, I had to travel to New York for an assignment for 3 months. Post Covid, this was the first time I was traveling, and so I was very excited. Additionally, it would also be a good break to forget about the last curveball… or so I thought.  

However, on the second day of my trip, I had a significant Medical Incident, which was suspected to be related to long-covid or the vaccine. It took me 5 months to get back on my feet before I could return to India. Life happens…

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In Comes the Blizzard

The New Life

In March 2023, after 5 nightmarish months, I was finally back home. My perspective on life had changed - I was no longer willing to wait patiently for what I wanted in life. In August 2023, I decided to quit my job at one of the world’s most well-known banks to take up another offer. In doing so, I had to relocate to Chennai, leaving behind my home of 14 years.

Fast-forward to November 2023, while Pandal hopping during Durga Puja in Chennai, I saw a Merc on display. And suddenly, it dawned on me that I had to experience that too, especially when life gives no guarantees. Very soon, I decided to sell my Tucson (which was not an easy decision - I loved her) and get the German beauty.

The Ultimate Driving Machine

So I decided to visit the BMW showroom on OMR, and immediately fell in love with the 6GT. Oh boy - what a looker she is! The long curvy silhouette, the leather seats and the air suspension just blew me off my feet.

But that’s where the fun ended - everything went downwards from there:

Customer Treatment - We went to their main showroom on GST Road, and we took my father’s i20. We were made to wait for a long time, it seemed that everyone’s attention was focused on an iX delivery. Then they said that the 6GT signature version was out of stock. We wanted to see the x5 - we got a very brief feature review, and no one wanted to tell us the price. Peasant treatment?

Inconsistent Discounts - While the 6GT was getting very attractive discounts in Bengaluru and Mumbai, the Chennai dealership, due to their monopoly, refused to match them at all. Bargaining for me is like rubbing nails on a blackboard or going to the dentist for scaling - I just can’t! And it seemed very unfair that I would pay around 10 lakhs more for the same car!

Final Nail in the Coffin - For a while they kept on saying that they would give me a very attractive price for my Tucson. One Wednesday, I was ready to book and had my chequebook ready, when the BMW sales people came to my office. They quoted 50% for the Tucson. When I shook my head in dismay, they asked me to wait while they called someone on the phone. After 15 minutes of waiting, they offered 25,000 more. Seriously? I walked out…

Side note: BMW finally agreed to match the best price I received for my Tuscon, but it was too late. The last episode left such a horrid feeling that I was unwilling to go back to the dealership!

Burmester Blows My Mind

In between all this, I decided to visit the Merc showroom, and I was surprised at how welcome they made us feel. The security person rushed to help us come out of our i20, and the sales consultant Mr. Vinoth, patiently showed us all the cars. He continuously kept on saying — sir, you don’t have to buy from us, just experience all our cars and then decide.

The car that I liked best in the showroom was the GLC. It was a brand-new model (not a lifecycle impulse / LCI) on a new global platform, looks like a mini S class from the inside, has the best-in-class tech, and is as fast as the six-cylinder 6GT 630d (despite having 4 cylinders). However, what blew me off was the Burmester music system — it is just out of the world and no other German car comes close. I have a Bose, Sony, and Samsung home theatre at home(s), and this was way better. Additionally, one of the interesting things that I learned about Mercedes was that the pricing and discounts are controlled centrally and dealers cannot decide. Therefore, everyone pays the same for the car and all bookings must be made online directly with the brand.

My aged parents were also with me, and they were immediately taken to the Mercedes Cafe and treated to amazing beverages and snacks. The warm welcome was very impressive, but at that time we were still leaning towards the 6GT or the x5.

After the horrid haggling experience with BMW, I called up Mr. Vinoth the same evening and asked him how much he would offer for my Tucson. He quoted a price that, I thought, was fair, and I booked my GLC 300 online immediately. 

Here Comes the Blizzard — GLC 300

The next day, Mr. Vinoth (the sales consultant) and Ms. Sheeba (showroom head) came over to our house to complete the paperwork and give another test drive. They brought the GLC and the C-Class, and were very generous that we could drive any or both cars and for however long we wanted to.

I took the car to ECR, floored the pedal, and was floored myself. The crazy acceleration (0-100kmph in 6.1secs), confident braking and straight-line stability were impressive. Moreover, it’s an All-Wheel-Drive SUV that one can confidently take to the hills, rough patches, off-roads, and not break a sweat.

In less than a week, the car arrived from Pune, and we did a quick PDI followed by registration formalities.

Bringing Her Home

The delivery was a very regal event at the iconic VST Titanium Showroom at Thousand Lights in Chennai. We had a wonderful cake cutting, along with professional videography and lots of fun with the entire crew.

Star Trail Events

We were invited to 2 Star Trail events over the following months.

The first one was a lunch event at **Intercontinental Hotel, ECR, Chennai** followed by the unveiling of the new A class. The second one was an off-roading expedition at **The Farm, OMR, Chennai** where we were treated to some outstanding food and got to drive some expensive cars off-road.

I got a chance to drive the GLS through the rocky terrain, and it climbed steep slopes with more agility than a tiger. Even for a moment, one wouldn’t feel the massive size of the car while navigating the peaks, which was beyond impressive. A feat of engineering!

After Sales Service

While purchasing the car, I had also included Star Ease Compact Plus package for 4 years and an extended warranty for the fourth year.

In the past few months, the car had 2 trips to the service centre — one for the 30-day service and the other for the 80A fuse box replacement (as a part of the recall campaign). Both the times, the car was picked up from home, and washed and returned like new after the service. The entire process was coordinated extremely well by Mr. Satish (CRM) and Mr. Agasiya (Service) with continuous updates and accommodating any requirements. Needless to say — everything (including the car detailing) was free of cost. Of all the brands that I have owned — the after sales service of Mercedes has been the best, by a long shot!

Unintentional Testing of the Build Quality

On the first day of the new year, we went out towards ECR but were caught in a long traffic jam, where people were trying to squeeze into every gap possible.

In between all of this, a Polo GT decided to suddenly speed up and rear-ended me. As the car shook violently from the impact, in my mind, I was already picturing the rear bumper and tail lights breaking and requiring a long stay at the service centre. I will let the video describe this.  

When I reached home, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t even a scratch on the car. I checked 5 times over to make sure that I was missing nothing — and indeed there was nothing! Build quality 10/10

Pondicherry Trip

We decided to do a weekend trip to Pondicherry and see the sun and sands. We decided to take the GST Road to allow the car to stretch its legs and also use the advanced DISTRONIC cruise control system. The car is indeed a hoot to drive, and getting 13kmpl despite occasional hard acceleration was easy.

As a side note, the recommended fuel is 95 Octane and the ideal is 97 Octane, as this is a high-compression engine. I was initially using Shell Premium (which is 91 Octane) but then started using XP100 / Speed97 and the smoothness and acceleration impact is night and day.

Other Interesting Points

  • ADAS: All my ADAS functions (emergency braking, lane keep assist etc) are always switched on and kept on the **_medium_** setting. I did the same in my Tucson and I feel it makes me a better driver - I always keep sufficient gap from the vehicle in front. I believe I would prefer being rear-ended rather than hit a vehicle or pedestrian myself - there have been numerous instances when people and kids dash in front of the car out of nowhere.
  • Kitna deti hai: I get around 9kmpl in the city under normal driving conditions, and around 13kmpl with occasional hard accelerations.
 

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Epilogue

Special Thanks To

The VST Titanium Crew: This is the same group that meets film stars and other celebrities (you can see plenty of videos on YouTube) as they deliver cars like Maybach, AMG, and other expensive vehicles. Yet, they gave us (i.e., Hyundai i20 guests) the same warmth and welcome as they do to the stars — this amply demonstrates the maturity of the brand and the incredible culture of the group. Through the sales process and for the Star Trails events after that, they were very inclusive with my aged parents, sparing no opportunity to make them feel welcomed and comfortable. Special thanks to Ms. Sheeba (head), Mr. Vinoth (the most fantastic and talented sales consultant), Mr. Vignesh (Insurance), Ms. Shanti (CRM), Mr. Satish (CRM), and Mr. Agasiya (Service).

Mercedes India & Mr. Santosh Iyer, CEO: Thank you for building the brand for the last 15 years, the aspirational value and recognition of the star are unparalleled. I grew up seeing so many Mercedes videos that made me dream and build a future, that I probably couldn’t have, without all that inspiration. We are proud to be called different names... Rebels, Radicals, Renegades!

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