Can you get the test drive you want? Mercedes-Benz

* 38% of dealers were able to help * We asked for the A180 in SE trim * Performance varies massively by chosen dealer...

Can you get the test drive you want? Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz - Test drive hit rate 38%

Test drive
List price £21,445
Target Price £20,886
A180 CDI AMG Sport
List price £23,690
Target Price £23,070

Why the test drive?
The A-Class range can be tricky to negotiate. There are four trims available: SE, Sport, AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG, and each rides and handles slightly differently. Comfort suspension is standard on all but Engineered by AMG, but alloy wheel size varies and AMG Sport comfort suspension is also lowered, so a test drive is required.

Our pick of the range in terms of value for money is the A180 in SE trim, although the pricier AMG Sport trim’s handling is slightly improved. However, you can only spec this with the diesel engine. How far would Mercedes-Benz dealers go to help us?

Our experience
Most dealers understood our concerns. Full marks to Mercedes-Benz of Coventry, which offered us the opportunity to ‘Drive it Your Way’ – a programme operated by all Inchcape dealers, where you choose not only the cars you test but the route you test them on.

Mercedes-Benz of Blackburn didn’t reply to our initial email, but when we called, the helpful sales manager offered us both cars we’d asked for. Mercedes-Benz of Teesside also didn’t waste any time booking us in for a test drive of both cars.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz of Bridgend couldn’t get us any A180, despite efforts to source one from another dealer. It did have a manual A200 CDI AMG Sport and an automatic A200 Sport in stock, though, which would allow us to test one of our desired trim levels, as well as the standard and lowered comfort suspension set-ups, against each other.

Mercedes-Benz of Chelsea, although friendly, could only offer an automatic A200 Sport. Mercedes-Benz of Taunton was also sympathetic, but again offered just one car, also an automatic; the A180 CDI Sport.
Things didn’t go quite so well with Mercedes-Benz of Reading. First, we got no reply to our email, and on calling, the salesman didn’t sound like he wanted our call. Although he booked us in for a drive the following weekend, he couldn’t guarantee engine or trim level.

Finally, although Mercedes-Benz of Giffnock responded promptly, contact tailed off when it came to sorting out a test drive.

How Mercedes-Benz dealers scored
Promptness of response 
Understanding of buyer’s concerns 
Product knowledge 
Willingness to arrange test drive 
Ability to arrange test drive 
Promptness of test drive 
Overall rating 

Our verdict
A mixed performance from our sample of Mercedes-Benz’s dealer network. On the whole, retailers gave us good service, even if they couldn’t fulfil our needs exactly. Still, just three dealers were able to get us the cars we asked for and we can’t help wondering why more don’t offer bespoke test drive schemes such as Inchcape’s Drive it Your Way.

Mercedes-Benz says...
'We want every customer to be confident they are making the right decision when buying a Mercedes-Benz, and the best way to do that is to drive one for themselves. Features like trim, suspension and options can be very subjective, so retailers aim to have a good mix of cars available.

‘Due to the sheer number of specification variations, it may not always be possible to supply the exact trim, but our retailers will do their very best. They can look to source a car from another retailer in their market area or the wider network.’ Mercedes-Benz UK also runs a central demo fleet.'

Also consider