Today I went to the Mercedes-Benz Experience Day 2014 with Matt Owen, our new Fareham Franchisee, and we had a great day. This is the second time I have been and I again really enjoyed myself.
I drove straight there after dropping my son off at School (he goes to Breakfast club at 0730) and I got to circuit at ProDrive in Warwickshire at about 0930. I met Matt there. We both went in our OvenGleamers’ vans as compared to our cars the vans are better on fuel.
We had the initial presentation and then we did the following things:
1. Four wheeled vehicle driving over the rough bit of the course. Going across lots of uneven ground, traversing, going up some very steep hills and driving through a small canal.
2. Miles Per Gallon challenge. We were allowed to chose our van, and Matt and I chose a Mercedes-Benz Citan. We tried to get the best in fuel consumption out of it by driving around the track. I achieved and average of 75.5 miles per gallon, trying to keep the gear changes to a minimum and taking the racing line. Matt who drove it all the way around using Cruise Control to limit the speed, and we thought it would manage the MPG well too, averaged a MPG of 75.2
Then we had a very nice lunch, with a nice pudding and a Mr Whippy from the Ice Cream van outside – it’s the first brand new Ice Cream van I’ve ever seen in my life. A 14 plate Vito.
3. After lunch the first thing we did was reversing challenge – reversing the Vito van first with out rear cameras and then again in a van with the rear facing camera and front face sensors. The van was an automatic so I wasn’t familiar with it so my first go reversing the van without the cameras I was all over the shop and ran into the cone marking the area. But with the camera fitted it made reversing all very straight forward, it was just a case of getting the cone lined up as I could see it on the TV display on the dashboard. Also the sensors that helped you judge the front of the van were very good to. The we did some driving on the skid pan and wet pebbled road. Apparently we would have fallen over if we had tried to walk on it. We went in the Citan first and had a go at driving each with an instructor. He switched the traction control off and the van’s back end went out but with the ESP making lots of noise we recovered it. It was nice to do some proper skids and I was pleased that I naturally did the right things to control the skid. After the Citan we tried the new Ford Transit to get a comparison. On this van we couldn’t switch the traction control off, so it didn’t slide so much as the Citan and wasn’t as much fun! Also the ESP made lots of noise.
4. The last thing of the day was trying out the safety features on the Sprinter, driving towards a dumpy rear end of a Citan. We had to drive at 25 miles per hour without slowing down and breaking towards the dumpy Citan which was on a frame hanging off the offside of a Sprinter. The safe feature that stops you driving to close to a vehicle sounds and then you have to break. It worked okay but it was a bit nerve racking doing something that you aren’t used to doing, that is driving that close to another vehicle; even though it was a dumpy. We were also shown the blind spot features on the van – warning lights on the wing mirrors warn you of vehicles in your blind spot to stop you driving into them. We then had a go in the Citan, we didn’t drive this time an instructor did. He drove at about 50 mph towards some cones and then at the last moment swerved and drove around them. You could hear the ESP working. We had a go in the Vito where they switched the ESP off and then did a run with it on. It was really hairy with it off and a lot better with it on.
Then final briefing and just as I was thinking where are the Gisits (RAF term for freebes) we were given a big bag full of them on the way out: a very nice Mercedes-Benz Van Mug, some traditional sweets, a mouse pad, a hat, a pen, a big jotter pad and a sticky thing that I think might be to go on the dash for a safe place to put your phone but I’m not sure. So in all an excellent day out.