I must say - seeing a shiny “new to me” car was pretty exciting. It was like getting this amazing gift you’ve always wanted as a child: a 64 piece knife set. You knew that the moment you got those knives, it would mark the beginning of a lifelong journey that would one day lead you to become the sous chef at Denny’s.
As an adult, all of the world’s stresses suck the life out of you when you get bill after bill after bill and you lose the capability to feel that childlike joy and excitement at anything. Generally you spend your days in a screaming match with either your spouse or your kid or both.
Yelling at spouse: “How many times do I have to tell you that we can’t afford for you to get a massage twice a week - can’t you just get one once a week?!?”
Screaming at kid: “This is the last time you will go over the 1000 text msg limit.”
So here’s my solution to that. Forget about how many texts your son sends. Forget about your spouse’s spending habits. Instead, just go buy a car online and have it delivered to you. All those nice, fluffy feelings will instantly come flooding back to you just like they used to when you were a kid.
That’s how I felt when I first saw the CLS55 AMG rolling off the trailer after I purchased it online.
The CLS55 AMG is such an amazing looking car. Its timeless good looks belied its true age which is not immediately apparent until you get inside the car. Because the AMG is almost a decade old, you’ll find the 3-color center display to be completely outdated. There is no rearview camera, bluetooth, touch screen or even an auxiliary input (how can I drive without plugging in Spotify??). You actually have to push these things called buttons to make things happen. It’s like playing with the Motorola Razr flip phone when it first came out: “oh cool, it’s so thin and has a color screen with so many colors - these flat buttons are amazing!” Now those phones are liked fossilized dinosaur bones - much like the CLS55 AMG media center.
However, even after all these years, everything inside the CLS55 AMG looked and felt great to the touch which is a testament to how well the car was originally built and maintained over all these years. What a shock it was to find out that all the buttons in the cars functioned like they were supposed to! I figured that at the very least, the seats massagers or the air vents in the seats would be broken. But nope, everything was just fine - ten years later still going strong with the ability to continue to cool our rear ends.
After I situated myself in the car, I found out that the car doesn’t feel as big as it looks from the outside. The seats are snug with the interior and dash dramatically wrapping around you in a way that cuts down the available interior space in half. Appearance and styling were clearly prioritized over functionality, which is exactly how I like my cars to be designed! There is a price you pay for the extra focus on attractive design; compromises must be made like not caring at all about the rear passengers.
This AMG is essentially a coupe with only two seats in the back that are small and cramped. By no means is it a practical four door sedan. This is absolutely not a car you would want to be chauffeured around in. Because of the way the back of the car swoops down, if you’re 6 ft or taller, you would have a hell of a time getting in and out of the car with your head bumping up against the ceiling every time the car might run over a paper cup. Don’t worry about being back there though - just try to make your way to the driver’s seat.
That’s the place to be because now you’re sitting behind a massive 5.4L V8 power plant. As you start driving, one of the things you notice immediately is the size and weight of the car. It’s bulky with less than stellar handling. Because I had been driving a BMW for the last few months, the handling deficiencies stood out even more. However - who cares about handling??
This German muscle car has an amazing supercharged V8 that makes going in a straight line so much fun that handling prowess becomes secondary. To awaken the beastly CLS55 AMG, just slam down the accelerator pedal and enjoy a V8 roaring to life. It’s loud, vicious-sounding and has 510 lb-ft of torque to hurl you forward.
Even with traction control on, all that torque allows you to break the enormous rear tires loose. The AMG held its own during sharp turns and switchbacks as I tried to put the car through its paces which meant that I was going 3 miles faster than the speed limit. Since the seats have dynamic bolstering, they firm up the sides of the seat depending on the direction you’re going, giving you the illusion that things are under control. But don’t be fooled. You could very well be careening out of control as the AMG continues to assure you: “No, it’s ok since you’re held perfectly stable in your seat.” Even at 20 mph, the seat bolstering was working hard to ensure that you don’t move around an inch in your seat.
Besides the seat bolstering, I enjoyed the rain sensing wipers which worked remarkably well. It rained on and off during the time I was driving the car and never once had to mess with the wiper settings.
The worst part about the car was trying to change the settings which are horribly non-intuitive. Think of the dash interface as being the exact opposite of the user-friendly Apple interfaces of the beloved iPhone. For example, it takes 2 seconds to change the brightness on the iPhone. In the AMG, you have to push the left arrow button on the steering wheel a few times, followed by the “page button”, the +/- button a few times, touch your nose, tap the windshield and scratch your arm. And after 10 minutes of this, you will finally be able to change the brightness.
And just when you have figured out how to optimize the door lock settings, you run into the car in front of you. Doh!
Confusing interface aside, I couldn’t help but drive the AMG as much as I could during my 7-day 250 mile test drive period since I hadn’t made up my mind if I wanted to keep the car.
What To Do
Indecision...indecision…to keep it or not to keep it. What I was going through was not just a “first world problem” but something that can be summed up as: “Such an insanely ridiculous new world problem that I should be ashamed of even thinking this way.”
But after a few milliseconds of feeling this way, I went back to being stressed about what to do. On the one hand, I loved the powerplant and the gorgeous lines of this car, but there were also a few things that bothered me about the AMG.
Things That Bugged Me
With the CLS55 AMG, every time I floored the car, the downshifts were too jerky and the extra power I was craving did not come as quickly as I wanted it to. I would’ve loved to be able to control the downshifts and the revs/gearing, but the paddle-shifting was slower than just keeping it in auto. If only these animals came with a manual transmission - that would be so much more enjoyable.
The other thing I mulled over was the number of problems I might need to deal with when daily-driving a 10 year old AMG. Even with a warranty, I don’t know if I’d want to be in the shop every other day. I had so many other important things to do like watch TV, nap, go to happy hours, sleep, eat that there was no time to go to the dealer. At 61K miles, I don’t think that there were would be too many more miles without problems creeping up that would interrupt my HBO binge-watching.
Finally, I didn’t want to lose a ton of money by owning an AMG for a while and then trying to sell it. I saw what my friend went through last year with his CL65 AMG and I didn’t want to repeat the same experience. He bought the car for roughly $30K and then couldn’t get anyone to buy it - after about a year of owning the car, he couldn’t even get $22K. Finally, he found a dealer willing to pay him $18K for it, $3K over a Carmax offer. It’s probably easier to sell stolen speakers from the back of a pickup truck in a Walmart parking lot than it was to sell the CL65.
Would my experience with the CLS55 AMG be similar? I’d rather not find out.
Inspite of these things, I just couldn’t decide what to do.
What Sealed The Deal
I was concerned about returning the car since the policy sounded too good to be true. You mean, I can actually drive this thing for a while for free and return it for no additional cost?
Again, my curiosity took the best of me and I needed to find out if it would actually work. Would they give me all my money back?
So with some amount concern and apprehension I called Vroom:
Me: Hello, I’d like to return the car (said this with lots of hesitation)
Vroom: Oh ok, what didn’t you like about the car?
Me: You know, it’s a great car, but it just wasn’t for me.
Vroom: Man, but that’s such a nice car. It’s got those aftermarket wheels right. That’s sweet, brah.
He didn’t say “that’s sweet, brah”, but I know he wanted to. I think he liked the car more than I did.
It turns out that the return process was surprisingly straightforward - even more so than the buying process. And the best part was that I got all money back - every single cent! This part to me was incredible. I never quite believed that you could get all of your money back - there had to be some sort of return or restocking fee correct? Nope..nothing!
Essentially, I paid $15 (the wire transfer fees) to drive the car for free and burned through almost the whole tank of gas which I felt kind of bad about. They did give me the car with a full tank of gas and I returned the car with an empty tank averaging about 13 mpg.
It was sad to see the AMG go. It was a fantastic car, and as some of you have noticed in the comments from the previous post, the car was put up for sale again (during the time of writing this - I think it’s gone now).
I can’t wait to do this again and keep on buying and returning cars over and over again so I would never have to own anything. No, I’m kidding. I would never do this….forever. I’ll only do this for a few months.
Honestly, it’s too much trouble to go through all this. The next car I buy - I’m keeping! I think...
And so the search continues. Goodbye AMG, hello something else.
Torque Affair is about exploring my fascination with cars; I’m always on the lookout for things that interest me in the car world.