He says, she says. A 45 AMG.
Bak Deros’ shift starts at midnight and ends at dawn.
He is the best-known bouncer in Paris. His maxim is “diplomacy before muscle”. Ariane Dalle’s studio is an ocean of colours and patterns. As a designer of home textiles, she believes fabrics are a way of expressing emotions. Ariane loves literature and street art, Bak has an obsession with the 70s and the movie character Shaft. While she takes the Metro (“too many traffic jams in Paris”), he travels each night by car: “At five in the morning, the city is asleep,” he says, “and the Rue Rivoli belongs to me alone.” We invited the two of them to test the A 45 AMG 4Matic. Before we get to that, let it be stated: the pair negotiated the Paris rush hour in the AMG A-Class without difficulty. Life was not so simple for the photographer, however, who had to put up with countless curious onlookers getting in the way of his shots. One Russian lady even put her head through the open passenger window to ask for an autograph. She had no idea who was inside, but that didn’t seem to matter.
“When you first set eyes on the A 45 AMG, the word that springs to mind is futuristic. The car is beautifully designed, a cool combination of function and style. I’m a fan of the 70s aesthetic – it’s how I dress, how I furnish my apartment, and both my cars are recent classics from this era. So I like it when a vehicle not only captures the zeitgeist, but actually defines it. The sports seats are really neat, it’s like they came straight out of a rally car. The silver highlights are also picked up elsewhere in the interior.
At first when I got in, I thought it was going to be a squeeze. But thanks to the ergonomic seat settings, it immediately felt like the cockpit was designed specifically for me. When you fire up the engine, you feel the force of a minor earthquake. And you have to watch how you handle such power. That’s a concept I know well: in my job as a bouncer, it’s exactly the same. Of course, it helps to be relaxed. I’m a pretty easygoing kind of guy and I guess that comes across in my driving style. Sure, I’m probably not going to go racing through the streets of Paris in a 40-year-old car.
But even the AMG version of the A-Class is really great for cruising – you just have to slip it into ‘C’ mode. And if you also set the cruise control and Distronic systems, you can afford to pay a little more attention to the music. The rear-view camera also helps alleviate stress. The streets of Paris are not much different to Thailand: everyone cuts you up the whole time and out there trucks stop to unload in the middle of the street – so you need all the support you can get.”
“A trip in a new car is like a first date. First, you have to take time to get to know one another, find out what makes the other person tick. The A 45 AMG is a very lively, fashion-conscious type. I was immediately taken by the interior – black and red. Quite typical of street art actually, with lots of attention to detail: stitched seams like for a leather bag, and the carbon fabric in the instrument panel reminded me of raffia work. A blend of craftsmanship and urban style. The panoramic roof enables you to see things from a different perspective. It revealed a whole new side to Paris – just trees, sky and zinc roofs.
I had never driven an automatic before and was impressed at how smoothly the gears shifted back and forth. And it was fun to switch between the three drive programs C, M and S, and listen to the way the exhaust crackles and rasps when you take your foot off the gas. Even though I don’t have a car of my own, I love driving fast. So I was dying to really put this powerpack though its paces and drive across Paris in eight minutes, just like in Claude Lelouch’s short film C’était un rendez-vous – after all, that was a Mercedes too.
But the traffic here is so bad, I even gave the Blind Spot Assist a hard time: with mopeds overtaking on both sides, it was flashing warnings virtually all the time. The throaty rasp of the engine gives the A-Class a very masculine feel, but in Sport mode the A 45 AMG is transformed into a raging bull. The car’s energy is so infectious, it put Bak and me into such a good mood that we turned up the radio and sang along to Total Eclipse of the Heart at the top of our voices on Place de la Concorde.”