Whatcar.com producer Iain Reid on his first weekend in our Mercedes E-Class Saloon
Collecting a new car is exciting, collecting it from Mercedes-Benz' flagship showroom Mercedes-Benz World is an event, as I discovered when we picked up the latest vehicle to join our test fleet an E220 CDI SE.
Mercedes-Benz World is a cathedral to car buying, built in the middle of the old Brooklands racetrack. I've visited the showroom before and seen people dressed up in their Sunday best when they go to collect their new car from here.
The multi-storey showpiece is, I'm sure, to convince customers you are not just buying a car, but buying into an exclusive club.
Button's new Merc?
That was highlighted by the fact that when I picked up our E-Class, there was also a SL65 AMG Black Series which costs the best part of a quarter of a million pounds - waiting for its new owner to come and collect it. Jenson Button, perhaps his new employers McLaren are just a few minutes up the road and it will be a while yet before he can get his hands on an MP4-12C. Or maybe a Chelsea footballer their training ground is just a few miles in the opposite direction. Mercedes is too discreet to say.
Either way, I was there to pick up something less ostentatious, our E220 CDI, but the welcome to Mercedes ownership is just a slick.
Our handover expert Lynton Beattie was waiting for me at the entrance to and took me to the special area handovers are conducted. He spent just under an hour showing me around the car.
This car is our pick of the E-Class range because it's well-equipped, comfortable and has an efficient yet punchy engine. Its conservative styling is underlined by the colour we chose tansanite blue.
I took the E-Class into London on Sunday. My daughter, Annabel, made full use of the window shades we'd asked specced as well accessing all her favourite nursery rhymes on my iPod Incey Wincey Spider on repeat, anyone?
The E-Class feels like a big car and so I took extra, extra care when parking in a multi-story car park - I'd already kerbed another long-termer in the same place a few weeks before.
On the way home I'd ignored the sat-nav's advice and took an alternative route. Bad choice I spent an hour in start-stop traffic, thinking the dynamic sat-nav had got it right and that the auto gearbox might have been a good idea after all, despite our manual's lower emissions and better fuel economy.
However, rather like the introduction to the car at Mercedes World, it's been a comfortable and stress-free introduction to the E-Class overall.