The last day of the Mercedes-Benz Road Trip 2014 is already with us. After three eventful days the last leg brings us to the finish in Detroit! In our first, second and third day reports we told you about our experiences on the drive from Houston to Louisville. The last day is special because it also means the last day with the eight Mercedes-Benz cars and the group of 17 people we shared so much with the last couple of days.
The day once again starts very early and even despite a small flu I make it down to the cars at 6am. Today we draw a good straw and receive the keys for the GL 63 AMG. The cold engine start-up sound is brutal and it fits all our luggage with ease. The GL 63 AMG is a pretty unique car as there are very few cars in this segment and not a single one can match the brute performance and sound of the GL 63 AMG. We leave Louisville behind us and quickly get in our daily routine: after a few miles on the Interstate we exit again and this time we invade a Starbucks for breakfast, I doubt they ever had so many customers at 6.20am on a Sunday.
Today we try to stick together the entire route so from the Starbucks we just cruise on Distronic Plus behind Jens and Omar in the lead car. While daylight slowly starts to show I finish the Day 3 report that went live earlier today. We cross the Ohio River and pass Cincinnati into Ohio State leaving Kentucky behind us.
Driving North deeper into Ohio we find the first snow. The weather was a pretty big subject prior to- but also during our trip, the snow and cold air that took large parts of the US in its grip luckily disappeared right in time. Our first day from Houston to Meridian was beautiful with at some points in the sun t-shirt like temperatures. The second and third day temperatures dropped further and this morning it was freezing. But also during our drive today, where it stayed below zero nearly the entire day, the roads were fine and the snow chains and blankets that we carried in the cars remain unused.
Another theme on a great American road trip is the police. Especially in a 500+ hp AMG there is nothing better than putting your foot down and hear the engine rumble. Sadly most States are pretty strict on speeding and the speed limits tend to be very low. Occasionally the speed limit was 75 MPH but mostly it was 65 or 70. We found that especially Louisiana and Ohio had a lot of State Troopers with speed traps littered around the Interstates. In the other States we saw less to no police. Like the police also the road surfaces differ strongly from State to State and section to section. In Mississippi we experienced some stretches that easily match some of the smoothest highways in Europe. But around many cities and in Ohio and Michigan the roads were in terrible condition and we are lucky we arrived without any flat tires.
We pull over quite a few times to stop for coffee, food, toilet breaks and photos. At one of these stops our French guy Gonzi pulls out his camera drone and shoots the cars from above, cool footage to look out for! At the next stop we stop at what can be considered fast food heaven, or hell depending on what way you look at it. The avenue that crosses the Interstate is littered with fast food restaurants from the well-known names like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC to The Spaghetti Shop. This is also the first place where we are properly greeted by snow so Gianluca seizes the opportunity and nearly parks the Mercedes ML on top of an iceberg. The car takes it without a problem but the passenger struggles to get out of the car.
Lunch down there is one last ‘cultural’ visit we would like to make on the way to Detroit and that is the visit to a local Walmart (crazy Europeans..). Ten minutes and two full bags of junk later we return on the Interstate to head to a parking 20 miles away for a group photo. On the way there is police again and again. Jan who drives the CLA 45 AMG today reports on a cop at the weigh station, but by the time we pass the weigh station no cop is to be seen. We conclude: The cop is in pursuit! And yes when we arrive at the rest area the Ohio State Trooper stands next to the group of Benzes. With the finish in sight the cops also started to take an interest in our road trip. After checking our license plates in the computer the trooper is on his way again without leaving his car, understandable not only because we have behaved really well today but also because we were freezing our butt off in the cold Ohio winds.
The group picture is taken and some more footage of the C-Class is shot. From here on there is no group driving anymore and we one last time team up with our favorite French and Italian guys, in the ML this time and head for Detroit! As soon as we leave the rest area the sun comes out and towards Detroit we see more and more blue sky. The snow on the side of the road increases and most rivers are frozen but the road is clear.
Over the last four days we drove a good handful of different Mercedes-Benz cars: the SL550, E63 S AMG, GLK 250 and GL 63 AMG. From those three the E63 S AMG is by far our favorite for an American road trip and not just because it is the most powerful and fastest car we drove but also because of its excellent driver aids like Distronic Plus, Lane Assists and all the multimedia stuff. It also takes more luggage than the S-Class. Where we struggled to put all our luggage in the S-Class in the E63 S AMG we easily loaded three big suitcases and some bags. The only downside of the E63 S AMG compared to the others is the harder suspension setup, especially on sections of Interstate with poor maintenance and loads of potholes you are more comfortable in the S550.
We took our mission of guarding the C-Class very seriously (most of the time) and delivered it safely to Detroit. Tomorrow it will celebrate its official public debut at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show and it was a great honor we were chosen as one of the people to escort it from the Alabama factory to the exhibition hall. The new C-Class is a big upgrade for the segment, it brings the C-Class closer to the S-Class, not only in styling but also in safety, multimedia systems and interior. Our anticipation is high for further C-Class variants, of course the AMG version but also the C-Class Coupe which is due for unveil later this year.
We leave Ohio behind us and cross into Michigan, the last State we will visit on this trip. But before we drop our GL 63 AMG off at the hotel we visit some sights in Detroit: First up is American Jewelry and Loan, a pawn shop featured in the reality TV show Hardcore pawns. Located just off the famous- or was it notorious? – 8th Mile. The second stop is made at the birth place of Motown, The Hitsville U.S.A. Motown building at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit served as Motown’s headquarters from 1959 until 1968, and became the Motown Historical Museum in 1985.
Detroit has- and is going through some rough times, you can see that by the buildings and the people. The closer you get to downtown the more Detroit looks like any other American City but the scars of the decline of the US auto industry and Detroit are also there visible.
We arrive at our hotel in downtown Detroit and are awaited by the Mercedes-Benz staff. Today and tomorrow the Detroit Motor Show 2014 will kick off and the entire US and international motoring press will be present in Detroit. We thank Mercedes-Benz for the #MBRT14 organization and look back at an incredible four days! We also thank the other participants for their great company and keep an eye on our social channels where we will share some of their best #MBRT14 articles, photos and videos!
We also like to thank you; our readers and fans for following our experiences of #MBRT14 and feel free to join us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates from the Detroit Motor Show and more! Also make sure to check out the Mercedes-Benz #mbrt14 Timeline for updates from all people on the trip!