Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mercedes Benz C-Class Self drive experience, Carzonrent Chennai

Recently I noticed that Carzonrent has added Mercedez Benz C Class and E Class to its selfdrive fleet [Full details here- How to drive a Mercedes Benz without robbing a bank] and out of curiosity, booked a short 2 hour ride with Carzonrent (Myles) Chennai, for Rs. 2061.
This morning I completed my 2 hour date with the German lady and this post summarizes what I felt about the ride and rental experience. I plan to write two separate posts- one reviewing the car and one more, comparing C Class that I drove with BMW 3 series which I'd driven earlier.

My booking was from 7 AM till 9 AM. But knowing that Carzonrent folks tend to delay paperwork, I went there well in advance, at about 6.15 AM.

I saw many Mercedes Benz in the campus-4 of them to be precise. I wondered which one will be assigned to me. 2 of them- a gray one a  white one had a sunroof, but they had yellow number plate, which meant not for self drive. Then there were 2 more- one white and another golden-golden one appeared to be the newer of the two, both didn't have a sunroof but had black number plates. (Self drive)

Of course, other self drive cars- Etios, Vento, Swift, Innovas were on standby.

As suspected, the paperwork took more than 30 minutes. The swiping machine wasn't working to block Rs 70,000 on my card. After few attempts, I suggested the staff they can get the amount blocked over phone, they called concerned number, were asked for MID Number (Merchant Identification Number), which they didn't have. I spotted that on back of a cover Axis bank credit card authorization details were listed, showed it to them and eventually they managed to get the amount blocked. One of the employees advised me not to enter any waterlogged street- if water enters engine compartment I will have to pay for full damage!

I asked about kilo meter restrictions- the staff was unaware of any- he suggested I can drive as much as I want, but have to return full tank. Obviously he wan't aware of daily rental rules- his supervisor later corrected the rules to actual- I can drive upto 50kms, no need to fuel up. Beyond 50kms, Rs 25 per km will be charged.

Car had many scratches and had 82000 kms+ on the odometer. While most of the other cars in Carzonrent Myles self drive fleet is new, premium cars seem to be older ones. Either because of reduced demand for luxury car chauffeur driven rentals, or to test self drive market for premium cars, Carzonrent has diverted some of their Mercedes Benz cars to self drive department. I was later told that if demand pickup for self drive rentals of luxury cars, they plan to buy new cars exclusively for self drive.

It is apparent that the car has someone else as regular driver- some coins, stationery and many personal items were left in the car in all places (I am legally entitled to either throw them away or confiscate, because these goods are not officially part of the car when I take delivery for self drive car, however out of courtesy I left them untouched). Newspaper and water bottles were also in place, which is good, but I am not renting a Mercedes Benz to read newspaper in it.

Obviously carzonrent is still keeping best of its Benz fleet for corporate customers, only below average ones are allotted to self drive.

They asked me if I am going to a wedding. I told them I am going to joy ride. I was asked if I am familiar with automatic- I said I've driven BMW before. It took a moment to get the car from P to D and we were rolling.

I had 2 hours and 50kms at my hand- had to return the car within this limit. Which meant I couldn't go long distance. I drove out of city limits, found a link road which had less traffic and pulled over, to know the car better. Clicked many photographs. I will write about the car in detail separately.

End of 2 hours I returned the car. My money blocked on the car will take its own sweet time to get released. Carzonrent should ease this whole renting process and paperwork- they can learn a thing or two from zoom.

Overall, I am not pleased with my short drive with Carzonrent Mercedes Benz C Class because of following reasons
  1. As suspected, car is one of the cheapest variants without much add ons.
  2. Car is close to 2 years old (Nov 2012), has lots of scratches and torn driver seat
  3. Car's engine seem to be detuned to optimize fuel economy, at the cost of performance. So engine doesn't volunteer to go further. If I press hard it does surge ahead, but with a comment "my old boss never pushed me this hard, you're hurting me..." I managed to touch 145 kmph within the short span of empty straight road I could get, but pickup and power was no match to BMW 320d I drove earlier
  4. No sunroof
  5. Each time we start the car, it defaults to Economy mode. It is annoying to having to keep turning it off again and again. There was no sports mode.
  6. Lots of personal stuff (may of car's regular driver) left in various boxes and pockets gave a feeling that I am in someone else's bedroom. [Read more]
I am glad I didn't rent it for full day. It was fine for 2 hours- got to know some basics about Mercedes Benz better. It was good to drive a Mercedes Benz for a while, but that's it. Rent it if you've never driven one or you need a luxury car for some special occasion. Otherwise, we're better off with normal cars. Probably after another 3-6 months Carzonrent will start adding brand new luxury cars to self drive fleet, till then it may be worth the wait.

I have an A Class and an E Class ride lined up for next month. Looking forward.

My opinion is based on my 2 hour ride, w.r.t specific vehicle I drove. It could be possible that other cars in other cities may give better experience. Please use your discretion.

Read more about the C Class and its comparison with BMW 320d

Also read: Carzonrent Chennai Self drive experienceBMW Financial and operating lease explained * Audi Annual Bullet scheme explained * Zoom vs Carzonrent self drive comparison *  BMW 320d Photoshoot


Anand Gadiyar said...

I drove the A-class A180 CDI from Zoom today. The car was brand new (only 165km on the odometer, and I was the second person to rent it from them).

It was a pleasure to drive as was Zoom's process - you might want to try it the next time you're in Bangalore.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Of course I will... Sometime next month