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Mercedes-Benz M-Class Road Rally (Baltimore, MD)

A week ago I signed up for the Mercedes-Benz M-Class Road Rally that took place this morning and I must say, it was a lot of fun. It was like many “test-drive without salespeople” showcases where you get to drive around a bunch of their cars, unsupervised, without the pressure of buying a car on their test track. I don’t know if the rally was simply under-advertised or if the interest was simply not very high, but the number of people attending was pretty low. If you’re interested, they’re still taking signups at their website and there is an extensive list of cities which they will visit.

My girlfriend and I signed up for the 11AM timeslot and showed up about five minutes late, but it wasn’t a big deal. The rally took place in the parking lot of M&T Bank Stadium (Raven’s Stadium) and they had set up a huge air-conditioned tent stocked with water, snacks, and a massage therapist! The sign-in process was really simple – we signed a waiver, were issued a guest pass and wristband, and we were on our way. There was a small presentation about the new M-Class SUVs and then they told us to enjoy the Pottery Barn furniture, the Voss Norwegian Artesian water, some catered snacks (these cheesecake lollipops were awesome), and test drive their cars. The cars they had available for test-driving were the ML350, ML500, E500, E350, and C230 (no SLKs to drive!) but they had some convertible SLK’s parked for you to sit in.

My girlfriend and I took turns driving each of the cars except the ML500 (the showcase car) and hardly waited in any of the lines. It was fun jamming down the petal on the straight away and then slamming on the brakes to “test the ABS” and we found that screeching the tires was hard on SUVs and the C230, but easy as pie on the E500. There was a brief slalom course, a fake deer in headlights turn, some curves, and a bumpy road surface. The E500 handled like a dream and I put all three hundred and two horses to work on the straight away. It’s not every day you get to abuse a $58,000 luxury “European performance sedan” and not have someone flip out and scream at you. All in all, it was a ton of fun…