Friday, January 29, 2010

Brief date with Mercedes Benz

I remember an Old Mercedes Benz ad which says “Beg. Borrow. Steal. or BUY”. Beg/borrow/steal won’t work with me and Buy is something I can’t afford. However there’s a new option emerging- Rent it.Mercedes-benz-c220-cdi

Regular readers of this blog know I enjoy driving and riding. Though this habit has been financially heavy on pocket, I hardly miss a chance to rent/drive a high end car. My self drive expeditions started off with a Skoda Octavia in June 2008 and I’ve been driving around in various rented cars once a while since then. It is a way of de-stressing: get behind the wheels and go for a long drive. Recently I saw an ad where Mercedes Benz was offered on rent at a relatively expensive but affordable rate (500 Rs per hour, 9 Rs per km). Without a second thought called them and made a booking for 2 hours, with an idea of exploring the vehicle and a ride in it. My mother and sister were visiting Chennai, so it was a perfect opportunity to go for a luxury ride.

I wanted to give a surprise to my mother and sister by arranging a Mercedes ride for them. When they asked “what is the plan for the evening?” I said “surprise” and asked them to get ready and come out. They came out, I opened the door of the shiny black Mercedes C class C220 CDI and they got in. After getting in I was asked: “so what is the surprise?”. That was like pinning the balloon… Next 10 minute I spent advocating for Mercedes Benz, explaining its comfort, cost, status symbol…My mother wasn’t much impressed and was more concerned about the rent I was paying for it.
sea-side Shri_merc2
C220 CDi is one of the entry level series by Mercedes. The AT version costs about Rs 30 lakhs (Comparatively the S-Class costs about INR 1.1 Crores). Of course the car was great compared to other regular cars, but as such I didn’t find any WOW factor in it. Unfortunately the agency was not keen letting me drive it-even for a small distance-they insisted that risk factor is too high and the car is taxi registration, not meant for self drive. So I had to settle for sitting in driver’s seat and posing for photograph, not actually getting to drive it. (That can wait… Some other day for sure)
steering-wheel-merc-benz Merc-tristar-logo
Where do we go after getting into a Merc? No point getting stuck in city traffic where a cycle rider makes his way among traffic and reaches faster leaving Mercs and BMWs stuck behind a crowd of share autos. So I zeroed in on Fisherman’s Cove on ECR. I’d not been there earlier and wanted to check out the place. It also made ideal destination to go in a Mercedes with only few hours to spare.

Drive was smooth-luckily not much traffic on ECR and we reached Fisherman’s Cove and were let in after a thorough security check. The first thing that caught attention was the pool, which is nice. We went inside to lobby area-I was a bit disappointed-the grandeur that was expected in a 5 star place was somehow missing. I would rate Radisson's Temple Bay (formerly GRT Temple Bay) in Mahabs or Club Mahindra’s Coorg resort a step higher. The place was almost deserted (it was 4pm). I asked for directions to go to Sea Gull (name of their coffee shop, which I’d researched a bit so as not to appear clueless once reaching there)
mercedes-benz-logo mask water-bottle
We were greeted by mineral water bottles kept on each table with a tag: “Rs 175+ taxes, not complementary”. We took a pool side table. Sea was partially visible and pool had a few guests swimming and relaxing. A crow on a nearby tree was making some unusual noise-as if it is trained to behave properly in a 5 star hotel. We had a look at the menu, as expected they were all in 3 digits. (Sample: Coffee/tea: Rs 135 +12.5% tax). We ordered few beverages and snacks and they took their own time to deliver them, unmindful of our concern that we’re paying several rupees every minute to the Mercedes Benz parked outside.

To the extent I notice, their most expensive suite (sea facing villas) was costing around 22k per day 2 years ago. Now it has come down to 17k. Most of the areas were for residents only and certainly we couldn’t have asked for a guided tour. In about an hour or so we spent there, I found it a little below expectation overall- in terms of ambience and service. We had our refreshments, summoned our car and left. We went to a seashore, took some pics and then returned to city as clock was ticking.
from-sun-roof sea
Overall nice 3 hours spent trying to explore luxury, expensive one though. OK as an experimental exercise, not really worth repeating. I was expecting the driver to be uniformed-but he wasn’t. Also yellow number plate gave away the secret that it is rented vehicle. The hourly rental was a convenient scheme. Bangalore’s Car Club had a BMW and they were charging Rs 6000 for a 4 hour/40 km rental, which was not viable for me. Just hoping other cars- Audi and Volkswagen models will soon be available on rent (self drive preferably and at an affordable hourly rent)- Anyone listening?

Also see: Tata Jaguar & LR * Toyota Quality Revolution * Toyota Land cruiser Prado & 200 * 11 things you don't get in BMW 320d * BMW 320 photoshoot

20 comments:

Tarun Mitra said...

I remember the song "or god will you buy me a mercedes benz" whenever i come across the three star. It is no less than a delight to see it and to ride is amazing.

I enjoyed reading the first part, the rent, the mother's reaction (usual for any mother seeing her son spending) but it ended there.

Then somewhere you whether advertently or inadvertently you raised a question with Rs. 175+12.25% water....there is a question mark but I am still to figure out the proper question..

Ravi said...

Funny how your Mom reacted, I just laughed the whole night, as my Mom had no clue why i was laughing so much.

But i wished i was there to enjoy those moments. Never the less i am happy that you at least got chance to get behind the wheels (Although Not in an expected way)lol.

Sorry to hear about the Fisherman's Cove.

But as you wanted to have an experience, i am glad that you had one.

hari said...

Without self-drive option, the rent is a bit much. Also I agree, the yellow board gives away the status of the car.

Not worth while spending so much for so little. Does anybody offer Merc self-drive at all?

shashidhara said...

" Crow was making unusual noise !" That is catchy.

Jyoti Ajay said...

ur mother reaction towards u brought a smile on my face.

Mridula said...

Me too, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your mother's reaction!

Subrahmanya Bhat said...

good narration and Nice experience...
giving mercedes benz for rent is the most exiting thing :) ...thank u

Sandesh Karanth said...

Hehe! Nice experience though costly...

I'd like to give you more suggestions... try bugatti, aston martin, lambhorgini, rolls royce... :P

Didnt quite get why you chose to visit star hotel instead of a long ride...

Madhavan said...

Nice post Nidhi..... Keep writing... very interesting to read

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks everyone for the overwhelming response. I was driving around all day in a Getz and just came back.

Tarun,
Sorry for not being able to sustain the interest level... What is the question mark you're referring to? I was just highlighting the cost factor.


Ravi,
:)

Hari,

I believe it should be possible to get it on self drive in near future. Its just a matter of time before demand and supply meets.

Shashidhara:
:)

Jyothi and Mridula,
Thanks

Subramanya,
Glad you enjoyed

Sandesh,
I'm game, get me an owner who is willing to rent it...

The idea behind going to a star hotel was to give them the experience of hotel staff opening the car door as we arrive, to make them get a feel of a 5 star ambiance.

Madhavan,
Thanks

Tarun Mitra said...

Shrinidhi...at the no point I lost the interest :) but the Rs. 175 bottle water did seemed vulgar to me..well thats how sometimes my mind works...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Tarun,

Ok... Yes, there's no convincing reason why they've to charge 10-20 times more the cost price...

As long as there're customers who don't mind getting ripped off, this will go on...

Prashanth M said...

'So, whats the surprise??' -- :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

:(

Boundlessdreamz said...

I have stayed at both GRT temple bay and Fisherman's cove and Fisherman's cove is way above Temple bay in service quality and in general ambience. The temple bay
room had a barely functional AC and despite putting in a request to correct it no one turned up.We (wife and me) didn't take it up further because the weather was comfortable. Also the space around the rooms in GRT is without many trees and is actually pretty hot. The rooms around the pool are also pretty close together. On the upside the restaurant (wharf ?) is really good.

Fisherman's cove cottages are great. The whole are is full of trees, so even in chennai summer it is pretty comfortable outside. The last time we stayed there, our cottage was right next to the restaurant which was playing some moderately loud music. We asked to be shifted to another cottage but they had no cottages available. So they upgraded us to a villa at no cost and that just left us with a wow. amazing experience.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for those detailed inputs. I've not stayed at either of the hotels, but only have gone there for snacks/refreshments...

Good to know they upgraded to villa..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post and information ((o;

Anonymous said...

Hello there
I am just planning on purchasing a new car and I need help picking between an Audi or a Mercedes?
I am seeking to pick between and Audi A4 and C class
I currently own an A4 and I'm really pleased with it
however I wanna hear from those who own a Mercedes or even have owned both
which one should I choose
Cheers for your help

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Audi... Anyday

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