One final snippet from last week's SMMT test day - a chat with the people from the UK end of Binz, a coach-building company that works hand-in-glove with Mercedes. If, like me, you're old enough, you may remember the Matchbox model Binz/Mercedes ambulance based on the old Mercedes 'Heckflosse' ('fintail'), which used to be very popular in the late sixties.
We tend not to have car-based ambulances in the UK, so here, Binz focuses on hearses and lengthened Mercedes saloons like the extended E-class. Binz emphasises that the lengthened E-class cannot really be compared with those American stretch limos that are so popular for hen and stag nights as it is built to full Mercedes-Benz standards with a proper warranty and a proper spare parts supply set up and so on.
I was taken out in an extended E220 CDI for a couple of laps on the Millbrook high-speed bowl. A couple of observations. The smallish diesel engine does a great job of hauling this big car quietly; even when I was in the rear-most third row of seats (see photo below), normal conversation with the driver was perfectly possible at speeds approaching 100mph on a noisy concrete surface.
The ride from the Mercedes Airmatic suspension was excellent too, and this car had the very convincing artificial leather upholstery that is common on German taxis, which is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
I'm told it's just possible we might be able to get this impressive machine on to the Verdict at some stage, so fingers crossed. This is one of those unusual cars that are as interesting from a passenger's as from a driver's perspective.