Reality check .......... No AMGs !!

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Bryan Allman

Active Member
SUPPORTER
Joined
Apr 19, 2008
Messages
606
Location
San Lorenzo Nuovo - Lazio, Italy
Car
SLK55 (R172) 62.
A year ago this month we upped sticks and moved to Italy. We had been regular visitors ovre the years and after a house hunting visit in July, decided on the location and house for the future. The area chosen is Bolsena, which is roughly halfway between Rome and Florence, so primarily an agricultural landscape with plenty of hills and vales and consequently, very windy roads. The plan was to sell our trusty 700bhp E63 and to export the SLK55 over to Italy as our runabout/touring car.

Then came COVID19 and lockdown..............

Like the UK, Italy had very strict lockdown rules and stringent enforcement of those rules, to the effect that if you went out to the shops you would be stopped and expected to provide the necessary paperwork for the journey. Needless to say, transport of the SLK55 was postponed until April this year after which the reality of everyday motoring in Italy set in.

Fortunately we had a grace period of 6 months during which our UK vehicle credentials (road tax, insurance, MOT) applied here in Italy, so we spent the time after lockdown driving around the local areas, towns and cities. It quickly becomes apparent here that apart from on the autostrada, all traffic travels at 50-60kph; not because the cars are not capable of faster speeds, but the distance beween bends in the roads is rarely more than 200-300 meters. We don't have congestion here; the longest queue of cars, trucks, tractors, Piaggio Apes (3 wheel trucks) etc is about 6-7 vehicles, regardless of the time of day, day of the week, or summer or winter.

You quickly come to notice that there are very few Ferraris, Lambos, Alfas or even Porsches etc south of Florence, the roads just dont suit them and the same applies to even the SLK. There are none !

You might see and occasional E Class, but nothing larger. All the cars are small SUVs or hatchbacks, from every manufacturer under the sun. Yes there are lots of FIATs, but the Japanese and Koreans have a strong foothold here along with all the usual European manufacturers.

The other main reason for the lack of larger or high powered cars here is the cost of Road Tax and Insurance. Cars with over 200bhp are penalised heavily with an extra charge for Road Tax, and Comprehensive Insurance is almost impossible to get, most opting for 3rd Party only. As an example to Tax and Insure the SLK55 in unmodified form (3rd Party, Fire & Theft) for one year would be just under €5000.00 !! And that doesn't include import taxes for the first year.

Needless to say the desision was made to send the SLK back to the UK and look fore something more suitable to life here in Italy...........

So here we are with our new 'steed' - A Ford EcoSport - Titanium. SUV

A what, I hear you ask? Yes, three cylinder, 1 litre, Turbo with 125bhp. Five doors, seats 4/5 and with 8 inch ground clearance for all those little restaurants tucked up some hillside 'white roads'.

I can get the bike in the back (good for puncture recovery - always a problem with the SLK), lots of boxes of wine or beer, lots of suitcases/bags, and yes, it will happily cruise along the autostrada at 130kph along with the rest

Welcome to the new world :) :cool:
 
An excellent new world. And you haven't mentioned your weather or the detail of your new luxurious home....

Tax and 3rd party fire & theft: £5k a year. That's a thought for those of us who spend a fifth of that for comprehensive cover in the UK.

Horses for courses. Supercars are best left to their natural habitat, Monaco or outside Harrods.

I'm shaking my head this week on the Costa del Sol where my rental 320i is fast enough for all the local roads & traffic, gives 50mpg, and is as big inside as Pierce Brosnan's 750i. "The World's gone mad."

I didn't know what this Ecosport thing is, so I had to look it up. (Apologies if it's not the right model / colour). That's a very practical thing.

Ford_Ecosport_2018_lftoxsZ.jpg
 
I have worked in Italy on a number of occasions and driven the length and breadth of it in various hire cars. The contrast between the north and south (not just the roads) is quite striking.

Some parts of the South can look and feel almost 3rd world compared to the North. I know some will comment that the UK is the same (but inverted), not quite as obvious as it appears in Italy.

Having said that, working in the South of Italy is a more relaxed affair than in the north ;)
 
Very often lifestyles come with ’trade offs’. Your new home sounds fantastic, though I’ll guess you’ll miss the SLK, but the car you now have sounds perfect for the road. Would a euro spec Mazda MX5 not be a reasonable compromise?, it would certainly suit your local roads.
 
The contrast between the north and south (not just the roads) is quite striking.
It was once explained to me thus by an Italian friend:

"The South thinks the North are a bunch of yokel industrialists. The North thinks the South are a bunch of workshy layabouts who contribute nothing useful to the country"
 
It was once explained to me thus by an Italian friend:

"The South thinks the North are a bunch of yokel industrialists. The North thinks the South are a bunch of workshy layabouts who contribute nothing useful to the country"
Yeah, but that was before the Unions and the EU closed all our Manufacturing in the late 70's & early 80's.
I used to love working in the factories up North.....
 
It was explained to me by one of the Italian engineers I worked with (He was from Modena)
" These people down here are too close to North Africa...." :eek: !
It's always about the weather and sometimes water.

If it's too cold, too wet, too hot, or too dry, people don't work.

The "Protestant work ethic" was invented in Germany and England. 'Tis the curse of the drinking classes.
 
Well done Bryan for the move. I’m in Milan/Como quite a lot, love the place. Apart from a few of my wealthy business contacts there, I can literally count the number of top end heavy metal I see there on one hand.
 
Would a euro spec Mazda MX5 not be a reasonable compromise?, it would certainly suit your local roads.
Amen: cheap as chips and perfect for slow roads and dodgy road surfaces. (Although the right Fiat 500 is THE local runabout)
 
You observation regarding the inability to use the performance of your SLK duplicates the UK situation. Congested potholed roads, maximum permissible 70mph speed limit, but in reality 40mph except motorways/dual-carriageways if you're lucky. Unless you reside in a remote part of the country of which there are rapidly diminishing numbers as many escape from inner cities/no-go areas or where they no longer feel safe or have become a minority, then Midnight - 4am is about the only time when you do not have vehicles in front or behind. Thus driving something very powerful is not only unnecessary but makes you look an utter prat & a show-off.
The advice regarding something modest & able to quickly squirt from corner to corner is well founded & intelligent.
Personally I have more fun in sprightly cars rather then brutally fast ones, the latter never ever getting me to a destination faster than the former. This I was proving 10 years ago when regularly morning commuting 60 miles on minor roads, dual-carriageways & motorways & into a town centre in everything from Transit vans, 3 cylinder City cars, diesel Vauxhall Vectra's & occasionally Jaguars & Aston Martins & on no occasion whatsoever did the journey time vary irrespective of the vehicle being driven.
Be assured that sitting in a motorway jam in a 150+ MPH £100,000 car I was red with discomfort & embarrassment. I was not impressed & neither I suspect were those around me. I was just another dam car in a jam.
 
Thus driving something very powerful is not only unnecessary but makes you look an utter prat & a show-off.

Be assured that sitting in a motorway jam in a 150+ MPH £100,000 car I was red with discomfort & embarrassment. I was not impressed & neither I suspect were those around me. I was just another dam car in a jam.
If I was lucky enough to drive a £100k 150mph+ car I woulldn’t worry too much about what other people thought of me or the car I was driving. I would be equally comfortable driving a Rolls-Royce Phantom or a Reliant Kitten, but we’re all different.

If the rationale behind your extreme embarrassment is because such a car is more expensive and faster than it need be, then the vast majority of cars in the UK are also more expensive and faster than they need be. In fact the majority of cars driven by members of this forum will be too.

Thank you for implying that most members look like “utter prats” and “show offs”.
 
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You observation regarding the inability to use the performance of your SLK duplicates the UK situation. Congested potholed roads, maximum permissible 70mph speed limit, but in reality 40mph except motorways/dual-carriageways if you're lucky. Unless you reside in a remote part of the country of which there are rapidly diminishing numbers as many escape from inner cities/no-go areas or where they no longer feel safe or have become a minority, then Midnight - 4am is about the only time when you do not have vehicles in front or behind. Thus driving something very powerful is not only unnecessary but makes you look an utter prat & a show-off.
The advice regarding something modest & able to quickly squirt from corner to corner is well founded & intelligent.
Personally I have more fun in sprightly cars rather then brutally fast ones, the latter never ever getting me to a destination faster than the former. This I was proving 10 years ago when regularly morning commuting 60 miles on minor roads, dual-carriageways & motorways & into a town centre in everything from Transit vans, 3 cylinder City cars, diesel Vauxhall Vectra's & occasionally Jaguars & Aston Martins & on no occasion whatsoever did the journey time vary irrespective of the vehicle being driven.
Be assured that sitting in a motorway jam in a 150+ MPH £100,000 car I was red with discomfort & embarrassment. I was not impressed & neither I suspect were those around me. I was just another dam car in a jam.

Make your mind up. You approve of something able to squirt quickly from corner to corner (for which the SLK 55 is ideal), but not of powerful cars?

Incidentally, I commute to the office on the M40 and M25, and when I sit in a jam, there are plenty of 150+mph cars around (even a stock 350 diesel E-class or CLS is that), but I don't see many drivers red with discomfort or embarrassment; bored, more like.
 

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