Cars aren’t usually my thing. I don’t really care much for makes, models or engines. I do however need my car to get me from one place to the next (and the next and the next and the next) with minimal fuss. When the good people of Mercedes offered for me to drive and write about their new Mercedes-Benz Valente family van, my first thought was, ‘probably not’. It always seems like too much effort and anxiety worrying about returning the car in one piece without kids scratching doors and chucking bags haphazardly throughout the interior. Especially when it is a fancy shmanz car. The other problem was that my kids may get quite used to a fancy shmanz car over a week and may then begin nagging about the fact that we NEED a new car and we NEED to have this one.
Needless to say I decided to throw caution to the wind and give the Merc a whirl. On arriving at Mercedes-Benz in South Melbourne I was greeted by some super nice salespeople eager to fix me up with a new pair of wheels. I tried the one below out first and felt rather comfortable, so I have booked it in for a trial in a trillion years when I no longer have kids to ferry around! Salesman Michael was then quick to move me along to the more suitable mother of 5 vehicle.
On arrival home in my Mercedes Valente I did include a fairly important disclaimer: “this is not our car and nor will we be able to keep this car”
It didn’t stop the “Oh man this car is awesome’ from the 12 year old. “If you put down the seat here my surfboard would fit perfectly and we wouldn’t have to put it on the roof”. And from the 4 year old “Please, please, please can we not just have it for 7 days???”
Needless to say the van had a pretty good taste of what its like to be a member of our family. She went to basketball games and training, little athletics, football training, playgroup, kinder drop offs and pick ups, numerous supermarket visits, including my first ever visit to Costco, an overnight stay at Mornington and a family visit to the indoor pool with the really cool slides. And I must say she coped exceptionally well.
The kids loved the conference seating where they sat facing each other. This was actually quite beneficial for socialising and I did notice they talked a lot more together. On the downside if the talking turns to bickering or annoying little kicks of the leg, then they are way further away from me up the front and thus rendering me useless to give a whack of a leg whilst still keeping my eyes on the road (and before you report me to the authorities I don’t really give backhanders to my kids whilst driving). Well I havn’t for a while anyway. There are bigger brothers for that now.
Anyhow I am digressing, but I really need to tell you about the cool features that people who are interested in cars will be interested in…and then I will finish with the pro’s and cons from a busy mother of 5!
The specs and stuff:
- It is really safe with a 5 star ANCAP rating. Apparently it has this feature (Adaptive ESP) that can work out where you are all sitting by the weight distribution and compensate accordingly.
- It has 730 litres of luggage space, which basically translates to a whole boot full of Costco shopping.
- It has 17” alloy wheels, rear tinted windows and daytime running lights so you never have to bother with incidentals like turning on the lights.
- It won the People Mover of the Year in 2012 and 2013!
And the important parent evaluation:
- It’s really big so you feel really safe and like you kind of own the road.
- It’s really big so you kind of feel like a bit like a bus driver in that you are a fair way away from your kids!
- Heaps of room for lots of people
- Heaps of room for lots of people so there is no excuses about taking extra kids.
- No centre console between me and the passenger seat so plenty of room for my bag and less ‘console-y’ compartments to clean!
- The drink bottle containers were too small for my kids drink bottles. We would probably cope.
- Great big boot with room for shopping, pram, school bags….all at the same time.
- Did lots and lots of driving and never got close to using up the diesel.
- 3 sunroofs, 2 of which are in the back with the kids.
- 3 sunroofs 2 of which are in the back with the kids and come with little buttons and knobs that kids love to play with.
On the whole we had fun week with the new wheels. The kids loved showing their friends and pretending we bought it and on more than one occasion I found the boys just ‘hanging’ in the back like some sort of cubby!
What do you look for in a new car? Do you endlessly research make and model? Do you stick with the same one if it served you right? Do you always go for a particular colour? Or is a car merely a means to getting you from A to B?