Wednesday 11th September 2013, 4:30PM BST.
IT’S a good time to be a German right now. Unemployment is very low. The economy is very good. The beer is exceptional. And they make cars like this: the Mercedes CLA. Just look at this brute. One thing’s for sure, buy this and you’ll never be reversing down a narrow lane again.
It looks very similar to its A-Class cousin, but there’s more room inside and a boot big enough to hold all the beer you need to host Oktoberfest.
But there’s no beer-belly here. Nope. The one you see today is the sports version. To tick some sporting credential boxes, just look at those tyres – it’s like a bed sheet round the rims. And most unusual for a car nowadays, it’s a fully fledged manual. No automatic setting and no flappy paddle nonsense, either.
The bucket seats come as standard and hold you so tightly this thing could be blasted into space and you wouldn’t move an inch. They’re comfy too, so if you’re heading to Gibraltar this year, take this car while the Spaniards make you sit, pointlessly, in a jam.
There’s another feature suited to this illegal border-checking, too – the air-conditioning. It operates with such ferocity it causes weather in the car – condensation formed on the windscreen like that re-entry scene in Apollo 13. The ice cream I was holding re-froze.
Blast it at your face and I swear it could cure sunburn. Or park it at the North Pole and with the doors open and the AC on full whack, it could keep the ice-caps frozen, too.
It’s got a neat voice-control system – with the 35 phrases you have to repeat to set it up, you could actually learn English from it – and there’s a sunroof that stretches the entire length of the car, so no one misses out on a tan. It’s no slouch either, with skin-tightening acceleration and the grip in the corners is firmer than the ‘no’ Mr BigMac’s advances would get from Miss Universe.
It also answers the question of why Public Services think the roads are in good condition – they’re clearly all driving these. I went along a terribly pot holed road – located, handily, all across the island – and didn’t feel a thing. I’ve honestly been more uncomfortable lying on a mattress which is on another mattress.
It’s not particularly long, isn’t too wide and if you’re worried about parking it, don’t be. It can do that itself. Seriously.
So like I said, it’s a good time to be a German. And thanks to their export-led economic recovery and ferocious car-maker rivalry, it’s a good time to buy German too.