When Hope And Joy Only Make Things Feel Worse

After a long hunt in the pages of the word wide web, I found little clear evidence of green-painted cars. Then I saw one in reality. From Mercedes no less. And they have discovered other colours too.

Mercedes A-Class: source

The colour is Elbaitgreen. Under real sunlight it is a bit lighter than the colour shown in the image, almost yellowish or ffinchy. Also, the transitions from light to dark are smoother than on the picture. That might be to do with the metallic particles in the paint. It gives the car a luminescent and vibrant character.

Amazingly it seems not to be an option on the cheapest A-Classes in Germany and I looked at all seven versions. Out of nine paint options, only one was a proper colour, Luscious Tangerine Pink**. Germany is also denied the rather nice Canyon Brown colour which you can see if you take a look at the image below. I can only presume that the lack of the green paint option is some form of a mistake at M-B’s website and not a reflection of reality.

Mercedes describes the car as “magically human.” That’s comforting.

Having found out about the paints, I decided to read up about other aspects  of the A-Class. It’s a fairly lardy car, weighing in at 1455 kg in its skimpiest underwear. Yet the car is no record-breaker in terms of rear space and has been criticised especially for the lack of foot-room for rear-passengers.

Canyon Brown: source

Some casual research shows it does have a rear centre armrest. Thank goodness for small mercies.

The engine range adheres to McDaid’s Law, there being no direct relation to the model number and the engine displacement. The base model is the A200 which has a 1.3 litre engine that can shut-off its cylinders. The 2.0 litre model is called the A250. And a diesel exists though I suppose few will go for that one seeing as diesel is now as popular as inhaling asbestos.

Interestingly, the word on the street is that the A-Class is not a driver’s car at all but a relaxed cruiser. There’s something to be said for that. So why is the interior made to look so aggressively sporty?

How much do they cost? Same as a Ford Focus. The A250 costs even more. That base-price puts a bomb into the pigeon roost, I would think. I am also thinking of a two-edged sword. AutoExpress reported tha M-B sold 47,000 A-classes in 2017. One day soon a Mercedes will be as a special as a Ford, and a Ford as special as a Mercedes, assuming they hang about to take more drubbing in the EU market.

“While it is far from the sharpest car to drive, it sets new benchmarks for design, quality and tech. The badge on the nose will be enough for most,” wrote AutoExpress. Interestingly, for all my bleating, in 2017 the Ford Focus was the UK’s top selling car and number 10 the Mercedes A-class. Ford must be doing something right.

Autocar rated the connectivity. TopGear didn’t really make a big deal about it. Connectivity seems of marginal value to me, seeing as I have nothing to connect to the car and it probably won’t take my CDs.

That all brings us back to the metallic green and the canyon brown. Just as huge sales allowed VW and GM to sell the Golf and Astra with a huge range of engines you’d imagine M-B might wish to plump up their colour range.  It looks like they can do this in Denmark. And in Italy there is even a jolly yellow colour which is not metallic (exclamation point).

Yellow car hi: source

Can it hurt to have an even wider range of colours?  Presumably customers can make their own mind up about the effect on residual values. Not everyone is on a lease deal.

The French get the yellow but not the green or brown.

**That’s a total lie. I should have told the truth and written “red” or “Jupiter Red” as Mercedes call it.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

20 thoughts on “When Hope And Joy Only Make Things Feel Worse”

  1. Ambling around Web ads for recent Lancias I ran across a nice-looking Kappa (not what I was looking for; too big and old) in the intense red, but described as green. Intrigued, I went to the site, where it was still described as green. Now, perhaps red-green colour blindness is no great handicap for a garagiste when so many modern cars are silver or black, but …

    (Kappas were available in green, which I still think look nice. And they also started the “plum-brown” trend, now ubiquitous chez the French trio, plus Dacia too, where it looks better, and less, er, faecal,)

    The first Thesis I saw in the flesh was green, and rather beautiful — as with almost all Lancia colours, it partly justifies the higher prices. A lot of thought went into those colours, and they’re usually more dignified than any MB or BM produced.

    There were green Lybras, but I don’t remember a green Musa — more than half are boring silver. And many Delta 3s are boring black, although it does help emphasise the daring design.

    Ypsilons can be had in green, but now most are bicolore, usually with black on top and cream below, which is the reverse of what I like. Well, that serves as my excuse to Mrs Vic for not getting one, as if we did muggins would still be leaned on to do the shopping run in it.
    It also falls foul of your aversion to the Connectivity mania, which I largely share. A 2018 car is so loaded with digi gubbins you spend a week learning how it works. Cars shouldn’t be like this.

    1. I don´t shun connectivity. It´s that I don´t give a flying care about it. If your music collection is on Spotify then it does matter. My music is still on CDs (which I only adopted reluctantly when wax drums were discontinued) which I listen to one at a time. This notion of listening to singles might be a throwback to the days before LPs. I don´t think the fact artists couldn´t make a long-playing suite of songs to be presented in a certain order means it´s a good idea to not bother with it today. Sometimes a song makes sense after another song. I have a Stereolab album where one track is a long drone of noises which stops to be followed by a lovely, rapid-but-precisely-played and melodic track. The effect is really delightful.

    2. Connectivity in a car: I don’t need it. I guess my car could connect to my phone, but I’ve never tried it in six years. For me, the car is for driving, not for making phone conversations. And of course, music plays an important role. It can affect the driving style, it can calm me down if necessary, or keep me awake. Generally, I listen to music the way Richard describes. It often makes more sense. I have created a few playlists I never use, and I occasionally have my iPod on shuffle mode, but it’s never working because a classical piece might be followed by hard rock and then Jazz… no!

    3. If connectivity means phone integration then it’s a welcome addition to any car. I mean if there’s a screen in the middle of the dashboard I’ll want it to display satellite navigation maps and allow me to select music tracks or podcasts without having to take my phone out my pocket and drain the battery.

  2. Every time I go spec a car on a UK website, out of curiosity, I am appalled by the dismal choice of colours on offer. Even more so when I spotted something interesting on the street or online, only to find out that it’s no longer available or not on the model or spec level I’m potentially interested in. I find it very depressing.

    1. Also when a manufacturer can’t be bothered to develop a car configurator that gives a fair idea of what a paint colour would look like on their car, as per the samples from M-B in the article…

    2. “The images shown are for indicative purposes only. Colour and trim may vary. The manufacturer accepts no responsibility for the veracity of this document.” Renault sold the Modus with images of a nice tan and beige interior which was not available anywhere but in Renaultland where everyone is happy and lens flare is constant.

  3. Full-disclosure: I have managed to put two generations of the A-Class into the article. The eagle-eyed Mr Doyle pointed this out after we had gone to press. I am not sure if it makes any difference: there were cars on the web-pages, I configured them and this is what I got. Maybe the green is no longer available on the all-new A-Class. I had to look really hard to be really sure the cars were different. Isn´t the yellow superb?

    1. Mr. Herriott. I’d watch my back if I were you. The blessed one never sleeps (he’s forgotten how, allegedly) and his acolytes are everywhere. A sojourn at Sindelfingen for spot of re-education upon the subtle nuances of Sensual Purity could well be your fate.

      As to the yellow car, surely the paint hue fades into pale insignificance against those marvellous Airport Perimeter-spec wheel trims?

    2. I love the yellow, and with those wheel trims as well. That puts me completely out of fashion of course, but we don’t seem to have the choice these days do we?

      Come to think of it, the whole yellow incarnation reminds me of a Renault 14. Now I’m sure that wasn’t what M-B was thinking of emulating……!

  4. I had noticed the two generations of A-Class, but as they’re equally dismal, no colour, no matter how nice, could redeem them.

    More generally, I do feel sad when I observe the dreary sea of greys, blues and white in most car parks. Many buyers are too timid by half to risk a vibrant colour on their new pride and joy. The old excuse used to be worries about resale value, but that no longer counts in the era of PCP and GFV’s. Incidentally, I wonder if anyone has ever been quoted a higher initial or monthly payment under these schemes for choosing a controversial colour?

    Despite having pretty conservative tastes elsewhere, my partner and I have cut loose somewhat with our cars: we chose a Volcanic Orange Mini Cooper* and a Guards Red Boxster. Both are owned outright, so we’ll worry about residuals when the time comes to sell, and not before.

    *Virtually unique in NOT having a black roof, mirror caps and wheels.

    1. Monthly fees for corporate lease vehicles are higher for a white car than for a silver or black vehicle because white cars have lower residual values and (even worse) are very difficult to sell.

      German manufacturers have different ranges of colour e.g. for US export than in the EU. US customers get all kinds of pearlescent pastel hues like light green, gold, cream and white that are not available to EU customers.
      Around 2004 Audi offered US colours to German customers at eye watering extra cost and at the same time US customers could get standard EU colours at equally rip off prices.

    2. Which colour is penalised must vary from region to region. In Denmark white cars are really common. I can´t imagine all of those money-conscious Danes are throwing away cash for the sake of mere colour.

    3. Here in Portugal, white cars are getting so common and desired that there’s no longer a penalty in PCP’s for chhosing a white over a black or silver. But don’t dare straying outside that holy trinity as you’ll be severely penalised as they will be harder to shift at the end.
      By coincidence, today I bought one of my old loves: a Smart Roadster in Spice Red. Weighting heavily on my decision was that, it was one of the few non blacks…

  5. Thank you, Richard. Here’s our Mini:

    And here’s what inspired our colour choice:

    Colour preferences may have something to do with geography and, specifically, quality of light. Strong primary colours tend to look best in Mediterranean countries that enjoy strong and sharp sunlight, but don’t show as well in the flat light of northern Europe.

    Many years ago, my boss, newly arrived in the U.K. from southern California, was buying a new S-Class. He took some persuading not to order it in white, a very popular colour in L.A. I told him he would lose serious money at trade-in time as the only buyer would be a wedding hire business. He was incredulous until the dealer confirmed my opinion, then ordered it in metallic grey instead.

    1. That’s a great choice of colour for a new Mini – thumbs up.

    2. Great minis – put me in mind of the New Zealand film ‘Goodbye Pork Pie’ from 1980 and the remake ‘Pork Pie from last year – light hearted ‘on the run’ chase movies – both a lot of fun.



  6. Richard, the transition from the badge at the back of the car meaning something in relation to the lump under the bonnet to meaning whatever you want it to mean now seems complete. That A200 would suggest the performance of a 2 litre petrol. At 130 hp and a 9+ second Sprint to 100kph I’d say that for a hatchback you’d expect more from a brand new two litre. The A250 only gives you 160hp, again a little disappointing I suggest if you were expecting a hottish hatch. Surely the people who have an interest in cars (and their badges) would prefer to know the CC and whether there’s a charger or battery component to the propulsion. For those (most people perhaps) who don’t care what does it matter? This topic raises my blood pressure.

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