On a first date, you probably shouldn’t show up in your mediocre version – certainly not in times of self-optimization, when everyone is striving for the best me ever. The only question is: How many ego’s are there actually? Which of them is the best? And: Do we even want that? Lucky are those who tend toward narcissism. After all, in their eyes they are already the best version of themselves. But this view is, of course, very subjective. It would be better to provide some objective data and facts. And as we all know, the truth is out on the street.
I’m going to take a big approach to the question and arrange to meet a Mercedes-Benz V-Class. Because it likes to be optimized, the choice falls on the top engine, the 300d. The two-liter four-cylinder diesel with its 239 hp output and 500 Nm of torque should be enough for optimum propulsion, and the standard 9G-Tronic automatic transmission distributes the power to all four wheels in this case. Optimum in this case means “4matic”.
And off we go with a bang. A few low mountain curves are just right for getting to know each other, I think to myself. The optional Agility Control suspension always stays calmly on track, the selective damping system provides comfortable compensation, and it dampens bumps with a shrug of the shoulders. The first thing you realize is that from a purely physical point of view, this is the best possible car, and even the elevated seat with its van perspective is quickly forgotten. A limousine-like pleasantness sets in. The ambience also contributes to this. The equipment line is called “Exclusive” and makes every effort to live up to this claim.
Whereby a small digression on the experimental arrangement of this date is appropriate here: Optimization efforts in the sense of self-optimization should have a rational, disciplined and systematic self-control via feedback. In other words, they should have sense and reason. Routine improvements without purposeful working towards an ideal of any kind do not count among them. A special lifestyle must be striven for.
Back to the road, or more precisely: to the passenger compartment. First impression: the aluminum trim is all finely brushed. The air vents flash silver chrome, the leather trim is a tactile delight, and the finely crafted decorative stitching is a visual delight. And the panoramic sunroof expands the horizon immensely, while the center console delights with an integrated cooling compartment. Is that self-optimization already? It’s certainly beautiful, according to the second finding.
But it becomes a big whole when you listen carefully. To what you don’t hear, for example: driving noises are gently relegated to the interior by the insulating glass, while Burmester’s surround sound from 16 high-performance loudspeakers including a bass reflex box ensures self-chosen feel-good sounds. Finally, the whole thing is topped by the seats – the active seat ventilation ensures a perfect climate in the driver’s and front passenger’s backs, while the guests in the rear can still enjoy a massage on the optional luxury seats. The third finding is that nagging passengers, be they spouses, children or in-laws, can be quieted down perfectly, even when the speedometer needle is approaching the maximum 220 km/h on the highway.
The only question left is: What does all this tell us for the self-optimized self? The answer comes just a short time after the test drive in the form of a request: My wife is complaining about a neglected back, a massage is in order, but it shouldn’t be anything less than the V-Class please…. To cut a long story short: It was a stupid idea to take this showpiece vehicle for this test arrangement. Now I’m optimizing my wife’s well-being instead of my own …