Sponsored by Nuffnang for Mercedes-Benz Valente.
A few weeks ago I was presented with an opportunity to test-drive a Mercedes-Benz Valente for a week.
I didn’t hesitate.
I collected the car from Ian Watts at Mercedes-Benz Sydney in Alexandria. Ian told me that in the past the Valente has been sold mostly to those in the hire car industry or to boutique hotels offering a pick-up and drop-off service, however, increasingly, the Valente is being sold to mums with two or more children. The Valente section of the Mercedes showroom in Alexandria used to deal exclusively with commercial clients however, because the Valente is increasingly being bought by mums, the dealership is enjoying looking after families.
When Ian greeted me he was enthusiastic and all smiles. He took me into his office and gave me some information on the car like how it has no less than four points for child restraints, how there are three sunroofs, how the passenger seats can be rotated to allow for a variety of seating options, and how there’s a very handy phone charger in the glove box so you can stop your i-phone and i-pad from going flat-line.
Then Ian gave me a tour of the car. He showed me how the side doors open and close with just the touch of a button so there’s none of that tugging and struggling with a large sliding door. He also demonstrated, by sticking his hand in the door as it was closing, that the side doors are fitted with a sensor and if it becomes aware of a body part being in the way of the door closing, it will spring back – very handy when you have children who often have their limbs and appendages in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I sat behind the wheel and Ian gave me the ‘key’ which is actually keyless entry and then to make me comfortable behind the wheel Ian showed me how the seat moves in a thousand different directions so it wasn’t long before I settled into a comfy lounge chair position with plenty of leg room. Ian asked me my favourite radio stations and put them into the system, then blue-toothed my phone into the sat-nav. He showed me how to use the sat-nav and then plugged in my address so I wouldn’t find myself lost on my way home.
I waved goodbye to Ian and with a full tank of diesel in the 2.2L 4-cylinder twin-turbo engine, I roared out of the showroom and onto the main road.
What I instantly loved about the Valente was the excellent and commanding view I had over all the other traffic on the road. For a long way up ahead I could see exactly what was happening and that made me feel very safe. The great visibility is not only due to the raised position of the vehicle but also because of the larger side mirrors and the height and size of the windows.
Yet it doesn’t feel big. I normally drive a people-mover and so am used to a larger vehicle and the Valente didn’t seem all that much bigger than my current car, just higher with better visibility and more space.
When I arrived home, the car-enthusiast of the house gave the car a once-over. He was impressed with the boot space and I told him the third row of seats can be removed to create even more boot space and if you still need more space, you can also remove the second row of seats – handy if you’re moving house or, at Christmas-time, doing what I do and buy a 10-foot tree.
During the week I had the car, I took it everywhere and we even went away in it to Nelson Bay. On that trip it was so lovely to have so much space! Alfie had the choice of six seats to to choose from and he certainly made the most of all his options. He loved having his own cup-holders and places to put all his bits and pieces. What I noticed is that wherever you sit in the car, you have plenty of leg-room; none of this being squashed just because you’re in the back row.
On the open road a few things surprised me. One was just how powerful this 4-cylinder car is. If we needed to over-take or get around a ditherer, there was plenty of acceleration. The other surprise was just how economical the car is. In the time that I had the car, despite taking it to a blogging lunch, to indoor rock climbing, to the city, to Little Athletics, to a black tie function, to Nelson Bay (two and a half hours from Sydney) and then on some touristy drives, I returned the car to Mercedes in Alexandria with still plenty of petrol in the tank.
In terms of maneuverability, the car has an unbelievable lock. Every time I had to turn the car around I could do it in one turn, not three. Amazing! And in terms of getting in and out of tight spots, the car has sensors that beep at you if you get too close to something like a pole and there’s also a very handy reverse camera. Getting around car parks has never been so easy!
I loved driving the Valente and am not surprised it was awarded People Mover of the Year in 2012 and 2013. With its 5-star ANCAP rating you feel extremely safe. Another safety feature is that in an emergency, the ADAPTIVE ESP system is activated which can detect the weight distribution of all passengers and respond accordingly.
The Valente drives like a car but has all the benefits of a people-mover. With everything the car offers and with so many luxury features it’s amazing that the price of a Valente starts at just under $60,000. Base models include stylish features like 17-inch alloy wheels, rear tinted windows and day-time running lights. It’s a very smart looking vehicle.
But I think my experience with the Valente can best be summed up by my husband’s words. As I prepared to take the Valente back to the dealership he asked, ‘Would you like me to upgrade your people mover?’
Would you like to upgrade to a Valente for you and your family?