I'll be writing a lot of posts about specific parts of my European Delivery Experience. This is a general overview that my instagram friend Marc Christiensen is also sharing on his automotive blog - fünfkommasechs. You can read the same post in German there. Ab sofort schreibe ich auch in deutsch! I totally wrote that. No, I didn't.
Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program – 2015 S550 for the US
The European Delivery Program through Mercedes-Benz USA is an opportunity for American customers to go to Germany, pick up their new car and drive it around Europe for up to two weeks. The vehicle is then reprogrammed for the US and shipped home, arriving at the selling dealership 6-8 weeks later. As a salesperson, I have been arranging these trips for my clients for more than 10 years.
MBUSA also offers dealerships the chance to pick up 4 cars per year through the European Delivery program that will then come back to the dealership and be for sale as demos.
I was planning to visit family in Italy this year so I requested a company European Delivery and got a slot! We were allowed an extra 2015 S550 if someone could pick it up in June…that someone was me! I booked the trip, along with the Black Forest Alps Package through Mercedes-Benz, and hit the road!
We arrived in Stuttgart and took a taxi directly to the delivery center in Sindelfingen. This is where we completed the paperwork, insurance forms and took delivery of the car. While we were there we toured the factory (and saw the new S-Class Coupe which is not for sale in the US yet!), had a wonderful lunch and shopped in the boutique. When the car was ready we were introduced to Bertha. Bertha is a 2015 S550 in Diamond White. I named her in honor of Bertha Benz, wife of Karl, who is credited with taking the first road trip! The delivery center folks helped me program a few addresses into the navigation center and off we went!
Road Trip! The original plan was to visit the 5 hotels booked through Germany and Austria as a part of the Black Forest Alps Package and then stay with family in Italy for a week. However, that plan went out the window! We decided to see everything we could see in 2 weeks!
The hotels that we booked through this package were exactly what you would expect from Mercedes-Benz! The Best! It was also fun to run into other people who were participating in European Delivery and get their impressions of their new cars and the trip. We stayed at two hotels in Stuttgart – the Schlossgarten and the Graf Zepplin. Both were very convenient to the city and took good care of Bertha.
We stayed at the Traube Tonbach in the Black Forest and it was breathtaking! It is a resort hotel off in a little town and had wonderful pools, grounds and access to hiking.
The Interalpen Hotel in Telfs, Austria was certainly a highlight. From the lobby-like garage to the mountain views it could not have been more impressive.
We also stayed in Salzberg, Austria at the Goldener Hirsch in the heart of the city. They took Bertha far away for safe parking and we were able to explore the city on foot.
The Stelvio Pass – This road from Davos, Switzerland to Stelvio, Italy was featured on Top Gear and was a must see! It is the second highest paved road in Europe and a mecca for cars, motorcycles and bicyclists. We suctioned on the GoPro and drove carefully. Bertha is perhaps not the most maneuverable car out there but the electromechanical steering made the sharp turns a breeze.
Triglav National Park in Slovenia- We entered Slovenia from the north and went to Lake Bled. From there we could have taken the highway to Italy…but there was this really curvy road that cut through the forest so we went that way instead. It was very much like the Stelvio Pass but with less traffic and more forest. I would say it was about 150 kilometers of fun! Well worth the detour!
The Amalfi Coast – What could be more beautiful than cruising along the coast from Italy to France? We took a variety of coastal roads and highway and both were gorgeous!
Monaco – As an F1 fan I could not be that close to Monaco without visiting the track. It was like stepping into a race broadcast! The swimming pool! The tunnel! The hairpin! We drove the route several times and took in all of the sights.
Museums - When we weren’t driving we had to get some European culture so we visited quite a few museums. The Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums in Stuttgart, the BMW museum in Munich, Ferrari, Ducati and Lamborghini in the Maranello area and even looked through the gates and the Pagani factory! Here are my rankings:
- Mercedes-Benz – massive, sensible layout, stunning displays, great food.
- Ducati – took the factory tour as well and it was very AMG like.
- Lamborghini – small but very impressive.
- Ferrari – large, strange California theme, make sure to visit both locations.
- Porsche – small but beautiful.
- BMW – very large, but a confusing layout.
I spend a lot of time around Mercedes-Benz vehicles. I have delivered many S550s to my clients but I have never spent an extended period of time driving an S550 myself. There really is nothing like it! Bertha was state of the art! Just sitting in the seats was a joy! But the driving…at autobahn speeds she was steady, strong and fast as lighting. On challenging roads the electromechanical steering made it easy to take sharp hairpins and switchbacks.
The surround view cameras made it possible to park in tiny European spots. The Distronic Plus with Steering Assist was the star of the show! Under 50 km/hr it uses the cameras to watch the lane lines and the car in front of you to maintain position and speed without a hand on the wheel! Of course, it does need to be corrected from time to time and you do have to push the gas to restart the system after fully stopping but it was mind blowing. Over 50 km/hr it required a hand on the wheel at all times. It makes city driving much less stressful and autobahn driving a breeze. It is a deal at twice the price!
This was an amazing opportunity for me to experience Europe in the best vehicle in the world. I would wholeheartedly recommend the European Delivery Program, the S550 and every site I visited. The Best or Nothing!