On the road
I took this astonishing amphibious car for a spin up the Thames.
Needless to say, I turned a few heads as I roared past sedate old
barges, working ferries and haughty old buffers in their river cruisers.
Still familiarising myself with the workings of the
retractable rudder, I happened to ram a police launch at 30 knots
and found myself being pursued by angry river cops . A high speed
chase ensued with the Merc consistently outperforming two inflatable
dinghies and the now sadly listing launch.
Just past London Bridge however, I hit a pod of porpoises
and badly damaged the driver side wing. Fortunately there was no
serious breach of the car's hull and the powerful new wipers were
easily up to the task of removing bits of porpoise from the windscreen.
Full marks Mercedes.
Heading west at speed towards Hampton Court Palace, the Merc's Hazard
Control Software alerted me to a blockade of the river. The police
had changed their tactics and radio'd ahead to colleagues who had
scuttled half a dozen river cruisers in an attempt to halt this
remarkable car. Well, call me a pig-headed old goat, but I like
a challenge and so I simply put the foot down and aimed at a handy
water ski ramp which was just visible in front of the sunken vessels.
The Merc's 4.4 litre V8 engine (combined with a high
performance outboard motor) slammed me onto the ramp and I went
sailing over the hapless police and their blockade. Unfortunately,
I underestimated the power of the car and flew towards the riverbank
and landed heavily on top of a horse which was pulling a barge towards
Teddington Lock. Imagine the surprise of the barge's owner to see
his faithful old horse crushed underneath an amphibious luxury car.
In the cabin
First things first - there is no cabin boy included in the cabin.
Shame, that. However, the plush interior includes an iDrive controller
for viewing non-essential functions (with optional HUD for satnav
and speed projections).
Climate control and top end Linn hi-fi are standard features as
are the emergency flares and inflatable escape podule which are
tucked beneath the parcel shelf.
The onboard systems also include Active Cruise Control which slows
the car automatically if another car or vessel pulls out in front
and a handy fish-finder sonar display which will detect shoals at
up to five fathoms.
Ride comfort is superb with multi link suspension and Adaptive Hovercraft
Ballasting which keeps the car stable in even the choppiest seas.
Plenty of head and legroom in the back, proper wood and proper
leather, good visibility throughout and while the seats may not
be the zenith of sporty lateral support, nevertheless they are comfortable
and heated and the driver's seat not only swivels 30 degrees but
has curved armrests which give it the feel of an old fashioned "captain's
Boot space is generous. I managed to pack in a set of golf clubs,
a picnic hamper, a suitcase, fifteen breadfruits and a collection
of exotic plants. The back seats fold down to provide a galley space
for cooking and relaxing.
Overall, I can find little to fault in the Sea Class, but doubts
do remain as to whether there is a large enough market for such
a ground breaking amphibious car. "Water" dilemma for