• smart fortwo cabrio in Hong Kong.
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    He says, she says – with the smart fortwo cabrio through Hong Kong.

    Our drivers: Inga Beckmann and Jonathan Maloney. Relationship status: in love. With each other, with the city – and now with the record holder for the tightest turning radius.

    Fuel consumption combined: 4.3 l/100 km;
    combined CO₂ emissions: 99 g/km.2 | Text: Jörg Heuer | Fotos: What the fox studios

Driving in Hong Kong.

Driving in Hong Kong is a unique experience. There’s simply nothing else like it. Just one in twenty citizens owns a car in this mega-city on the Pearl River Delta. Indeed few adults in the city of seven million even hold a driving license. Space is at a premium here and parking – especially in downtown Hong Kong – can be a nerve-wracking experience. The population density peaks on the Kowloon Peninsula at 130,000 people per square kilometre – a figure that is not matched anywhere else in the world. With so many people, parking spaces are few and far between – and astronomically expensive. Private parking facilities can easily cost one thousand euros per month. That’s just to park your car. It’s no surprise then that nine out of ten residents are regular users of the city’s mass transit services. A smart should cut a fine figure in a big city like this. German Inga Beckmann and Hong Kong local Jonathan Maloney are checking it out.


Jon Maloney and Inga Beckmann laughing.
smart fortwo cabrio in front of a red wall.

Big city, small car. A great combination.

Big city, small car. A great combination. Or what do you think? Inga – who moved to Hong Kong from Germany six years ago – grins. Jonathan – a native of Hong Kong – nods enthusiastically. They clearly like what they’re seeing. The cause of their delight is descending in a lift from the third storey of a high-rise car park opposite their studio in the hip neighbourhood of Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island.

Inga actually begins to jump for joy as she snatches up the key to the smart. Inga loves to drive. She doesn’t own a car, but she never misses an opportunity to book a rental whenever her work takes her away from Hong Kong. To this day, she hasn’t driven a single mile in her adopted home.


Hey there, cutie!

Inga: Hey there, cutie! You’re a sweet little thing. Getting to know you is going to be a delight.

Jonathan: I think this might be love at first sight. And it’s dressed up in the colours of Hong Kong’s flag! Oh, by the way, you can call me “Jon”. A short name to match a small car.

Jon strolls around the smart fortwo, counting his steps as he goes – though there aren’t many to count.


smart fortwo cabrio in the streets of Hong Kong.

The doors are so big!

He gently runs his hand across its black hood. Inga glances up at the sky before consulting the weather app on her smartphone. The forecast is for 18 degrees Celsius. A cool wind and cloudy to overcast. Nothing to worry about, she assures us. Today the couple, who often works together and recently shot a feature on legendary music producer Quincy Jones, will be in front of the camera for a change. She’ll photograph him, he’ll photograph her – and their two assistants will photograph them together. With and without the car.

Jon: Look! The doors are so big! I’m amazed! I like cars that are out of the ordinary. And this is so different to all the high-performance sports cars, luxury saloons and SUVs that you see in Hong Kong’s financial and business districts. This smart is perhaps half or a third of the size of an average car here in Hong Kong.

Inga: And best of all, dear Jon: it’s a cabrio. I am genuinely excited. Just driving around with the wind in your face. Gosh, I’ve missed that. Let’s go!

Inga Beckmann and Jon Maloney on a bench laughing.

Many Hongkongers don’t have a driving license.

Inga yanks open the door – only to stop abruptly as she is about to leap in. Jon bursts out laughing. Left-hand traffic is still the rule in this former British colony. Just like in England. Inga is standing at the passenger door.

Jon: I’d love to drive – and you know I could – but I’m not allowed to. At least not on public roads. Like a lot of people in Hong Kong, I don’t have a driving license. You’d better drive for now. But we have got to find somewhere later where I can get behind the driving wheel.

Inga: Then you’d better be nice to me today. Or there’ll be only one person driving this baby and that’s me!

The design is sleek and clear.

After adjusting the mirrors and seats, they settle in and take a moment to appraise the fittings in the cockpit. The design is sleek and clear. Nothing to distract from the driving experience. An automatic transmission. No questions. Inga starts the 71 PS engine and merges into the flowing traffic. It’s a Saturday. A super Saturday for Inga and Jon. We hope.

Jon: Wow! There’s so much space in here! I’m no giant, but the legroom is amazing!

Inga: You don’t realise you’re in a compact vehicle until you look over your shoulder.


Futuristic interior office design is all the rage in Hong Kong.
Colourful decorations in a street in Hong Kong.

It’s the Usain Bolt of the convertible world!

Stopping at a red light, she takes out a stopwatch. On her signal, Jon clicks on a button to open the hood. As if by magic, a ray of sunlight chooses this moment to break through the clouds. Perfect timing.

Inga: Stop! Twelve seconds! Not bad.

Jon: It’s the Usain Bolt of the convertible world!

You opened the hood at the lights. But there’s no need to stop – it works just as well at speed. Be sure to give it a whirl on the motorway later. But – oh no – here comes the rain again. Hong Kong’s weather is notoriously fickle. So down comes the hood again. This time at 50 km/h and without a hitch.


The sense of freedom I get from driving this car is something else.

The journey continues through downtown Hong Kong and then southward, with their assistants following in an A-Class. Crossing a reservoir, Inga heads into the wild beyond. Mountains, palm trees, sea views. There is more to Hong Kong than skyscrapers, merchant banking, and bustling markets. The territory comprises no less than 263 islands, complete with nature reserves, lush forests and stunning beaches. Just under a third of Hong Kong’s total surface area of 1,100 square kilometres has actually been developed. Their first destination: Tai Tam Tuk, a small fishing village in Tai Tam Bay that is popular with water sports enthusiasts. Inga comes here almost every weekend to indulge her passion for wakeboarding.

If traffic is flowing smoothly, the trip to the bay from their apartment in Hong Kong City takes around twenty minutes on the weekend. As she doesn’t own a car, Inga usually takes a taxi. But that could soon change.


Inga: I’ve got to say, the sense of freedom I get from driving this car is something else.

Jon: A car like this really makes sense in a city like Hong Kong. And it would for you in any case. Admit it: you’re already falling in love with it!

Inga: Are you jealous?

Jon: No. I just like to see you smile like this.

Jim, 55, a handsome but weathered looking man who operates a surf school in the bay, greets the couple with a warm handshake. “That’s one cool car you’ve got there. I like it. It’s small, compact. And there’s something sporty about it, too.”

Jon: Could I test drive it here? Maybe do a few circuits of your lot?


Hotel room in Hong Kong.

Sometimes less is more.

Jim shrugs and nods with a smile. Inga tosses the key to her boyfriend. He starts the engine and takes the smart for a quick spin to see whether it truly deserves its unofficial world record for the tightest turning radius. It does. Jon puffs up his chest as he pulls alongside Inga and, jutting his chin upward, flashes her a grin and a thumbs up. Hey Jon, the smart holds the world record, not you. And the best thing about this car? You don’t need to be an expert driver to get the best out of it.

Inga: So how about it? Are you finally going to get your driver’s license?

Jon: I am seriously considering it. Like I said, this smart is one cool car. And it speaks to one of my core beliefs: sometimes less is more.

With the hood down, there’s oodles of space for the couple’s camera equipment and even enough for Inga’s wakeboard!


Drifting along without a care.

Jon parks the cabrio close to the water and takes a seat alongside Inga on the open tailgate. Their assistants manage the shoot before the team hits the highway and heads back to Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island. Jon and Inga raise and lower the hood several times along the way. It looks like someone is having fun. The couple cruises through their neighbourhood.

Then they park the smart in the public underground car park and head to Tim’s Kitchen for lunch. The dishes are Chinese. Steamed vegetables, shrimps and pork. All smiles, they continue their road trip through Hong Kong. Drifting along without a care in the world. Inga lets out a laugh as she spots several pedestrians turning to gaze in delight at the compact cabriolet, some even whipping out their smartphones to take a snapshot of this rare sight in Hong Kong.


Chinese Dim Sum on a plate.
smart fortwo cabrio driving along a street in Hong Kong.

The engine takes on a more sonorous note.

Inga: Let’s head over to the red monastery wall. From there it’s just a couple of blocks to Teakha Teahouse.

Jon: Sure. Those are both great locations for photo shoots.

They really are. And the tea – about ten euros per person – is worth every penny. But Jon and Inga have saved the best part of their road trip for last. A gorgeous serpentine road snakes its way up to the summit of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak (552 metres) – possibly one of the most beautiful drives on Earth. Inga switches the cabrio to manual drive. The engine takes on a more sonorous note. Rising to the challenge, the music grows louder.


smart!

Meanwhile, Jon leans back and takes in the view: below them lie the waters of Victoria Harbour, its shores lined with the skyscrapers that dominate the skylines of Hong Kong Central and the Kowloon Peninsula, their towering forms swathed in a steamy haze.

Jon: Wow.

Inga: It’s so beautiful.

And? How was your road trip through Hong Kong?

Jon and Inga (unanimously): smart!


smart fortwo cabrio in front of a graffitied wall.

#ChasingStars: With the GLC Coupé from Graz to Bucharest.

Mercedes-Benz and the Transylvanian Alps: 1,700 km across the Transalpina and Transfagarasan. Here, the GLC 250 4MATIC Coupé is the ideal companion for a group of adventurers on their road trip through spectacular landscapes from Graz in Austria via Hungary through to Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

GLC 250 d 4MATIC Coupé:
Fuel consumption combined: 5.4–5.0 l/100 km;
combined CO2 emissions: 143–131 g/km.*
GLC 250 4MATIC Coupé:
Fuel consumption combined: 7.3–6.9 l/100 km;
combined CO2 emissions: 170–159 g/km.*

Related topics.

  • Mercedes-AMG G 63, red, parked.
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    Guest feature: AMG and Puch – as different as the four seasons.

    Along the Elbe with an early Puch G and a Mercedes-AMG G 63.

    Fuel consumption combined: 13.8 l/100 km;
    combined CO₂ emissions: 322 g/km.2

Traditional meets contemporary.

Opposites attract. Contrasts sharpen the senses. In November, the Nikkei Nine restaurant opened its doors in the Vier Jahreszeiten (lit.: Four Seasons), Hamburg’s 5-star Fairmont hotel. Located on the banks of the Alster, the hotel bathes in light, bringing a fresh, exotic and international flair to the city. We pay the metropolis on the Elbe a long overdue visit – and not just in any old cars.


We can do contrasts, too. Together with photographers Stefan Bischoff and Andre Josselin, model Hanna Fischer joined up two other models: a 37-year old Steyr-Daimler-Puch 230 G and a brand-new Mercedes-AMG G 63 for a ride across the bridges over the Elbe, drawing contours with the two red off-road vehicles that couldn’t be any more defined. Old and new, strikingly complementary – just like the new restaurant in the old hotel.


  • Mercedes-AMG G 63 and Puch: two red cars parked in front of each other.
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No chips today.

Sankt Pauli. The cold December wind blows from the Reeperbahn across the Heiligengeistfeld giving the closed snack bar a lonely and grey appearance. In the evening, a cuisine awaits us derived from the dishes made by Japanese immigrants in South America. So we don’t want to spoil our appetites with chips anyway.


Daimler Steyr Puch: Model Hanna Fischer sitting on car.
Mercedes-AMG G 63 and Puch in the rain.

A clear bid for individuality.

Every single corner in Hamburg, every tributary of the Elbe and every building radiates that old, Hanseatic flair. In recent years, city planners have proved themselves experts in enhancing the raw charm of the port with bright accents. Between the HafenCity and the Dancing Towers on the Reeperbahn, the city has always remained true to itself, but has still managed to go with the times. The same can be said of the two G-Class models with which we are here. The early 230 G from 1980, then sold as the “Puch G” in Austria, Switzerland and the other bordering COMECO countries, appears almost innocent. The G 63 from 2016 has the same form and a similar colour, but is a completely new interpretation of the off-roader. Traditional and contemporary. Class.


Limousine-like.

When the robust, angular off-road vehicle was first presented in 1979, off-roading became socially acceptable. All-wheel drive was no longer just something for the local communes and forest wardens, but also of interest to well-off private customers. The G-Class was different; it was an individual vehicle for modern individualists. 38 years later it is still being produced in Graz with a high degree of manual work involved, but has been technically further developed and leaves nothing to be desired with regard to comfort. Today, a G-Class symbolises an active lifestyle. Most owners no longer hound their Mercedes-Benz across off-road terrain, but they could if they wanted to. With no restrictions.


Mercedes-AMG G 63 seen from the entrance of the Four Seasons.
Bar in the Nikkei Nine.

Welcome to the Nikkei Nine.

The furnishings of the Nikkei Nine also impressively reflect how tradition flows into modernity in the culinary field. Here, you won’t find the somewhat dark, gold-decorated gaudiness that we associate with many Asian restaurants. Everything is brightly lit, the seating for around 100 guests is well spread out and a tempting scent hangs in the air.


A breath of fresh air within dignified walls.

How many different and surprising tastes can we experience in one evening? In a small adjoining room, Osaka-born Yuki Hamasaki makes the finest sushi variations which he expertly seasons with home-made wasabi.


Fish imported from Japan and locally-produced, hand-picked ingredients pamper the palate. The journey through the far-eastern delicacies is accompanied by fine wines or lass of sake. But only for those of us who have no more driving to do today.


  • Design kitchen in the Nikkei Nine.
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Pearls of the night.

Hanna doesn’t want to return yet. She wants to muse over the impressions of the afternoon and evening and drives the Puch G down to the Elbe, to a lonely spot opposite the port facilities. A quiet rumbling and squeaking drifts across from the cranes; the heavy industry on the other side never rests. However, the big city is slowly falling asleep. An evening full of contrasts lies behind us. Culinary variations in a modern restaurant, surrounded by the traditional walls of the Vier Jahreszeiten hotel. Added to that, two red-painted works of automotive art, with 36 years of development separating them. What an experience. Hanna closes her eyes, looking forward to whatever comes next.


Puch 230 G: Model Hanna Fischer is leaning against the car.
  • 1

    AMG EMOTION Tour. Adriatica.

    Mercedes-AMG GT S:

    Fuel consumptions combined: 9.6-9.4 l/100 km;

    CO₂ emissions combined: 224-219 g/km.2

AMG EMOTION Tour. Adriatica.

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Location: Italy/Croatia/Slovenia

Days: 5

Price: 3.190 Euro

Requirements for participation: driver’s license for at least 3 years and 21 years minimum age

 

Conditions for participation (PDF)

Book event

Details.

The wind is warm and smells like the south. You're sitting behind the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG. Ahead of you is a turquoise-coloured sea in which the sun glistens. In the rear-view mirror, the daily grind becomes an ever-distant sight. You've arrived. Welcome to the AMG EMOTION-Tour Adriatica. In a few days, you will discover the most diverse worlds which all come together in one place: the Adriatic. From the breath-taking coastal cutaways around Italy's Trieste to the picturesque roads of Slovenia, and on as far as the gravel tracks of Croatia which our SUV vehicles will be more than happy to tackle. On and off-road pleasure are topped off with a luxurious place to stay: the Hotel Falisia, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, in Portopiccolo. Let the atmosphere of the unique five-star resort work its magic on you.

Program highlights:


  • Breath-taking coastal cutaways
  • Gravel tracks of Croatia
  • Picturesque roads of Slovenia

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé: Fuel consumptions combined: 11,8 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 276 g/km.*

Program & Facts.

  • Dates & Codes

    2 - 6 October 2018 EM04-18

    6 - 10 October 2018 EM05-18

  • Program

    1st day: Individual arrival at Trieste airport or the Hotel Falisia, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Portopiccolo / free time / joint evening meal

    2nd day: Guided drive to Slovenia / joint lunch en route / joint evening meal

    3rd day: Guided drive to Croatia with SUVs / joint lunch en route / joint evening meal in a restaurant in Trieste

    4th day: Guided drive along the Adriatic coast / joint lunch en route / joint evening meal in Trieste

    5th day: Leisure time / individual departure or transfer to Trieste airport

  • Facts

    Price per person: 3.190 Euro

    Requirements for participation: driver's license for at least 3 years and 21 years minimum age

    Price includes:

    Provision of AMG vehicles (two persons) / roadbook / 4 overnight stays in the Hotel Falisia - a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa / catering throughout the entire event / including drinks with meals / event accompanied by professional photographer / gift for guests

  • Hotels

    FALISIA RESORT & SPA*****

    Location: On the exclusive beach promenade of Portopiccolo, not far from Croatia and Slovenia

    Rooms: 65 elegant rooms with designer furnishings, bath, phone, TV, minibar, espresso machine, safe

    Amenities: Restaurant, snack bar, pool bar, infinity pool with lake view, access to the Portopiccolo Beach Club approx. 500 meters away, sauna, whirlpool, fitness center, Wi-Fi, non-smoking hotel, no pets allowed

    Board: Full, including drinks with meals

Locations.

Dates.

Contact.

Do you have questions about our events, dates or your reservation? Simply contact us — we can be reached via hotline, fax and email.

Hotline: +49 7144 302-575

Fax: +49 7144 302-576

Email: amg-driving-academy@zet-project.de

The world of the AMG Driving Academy is continuously changing. Stay in close contact with us, follow the latest developments and share your precious experiences with others. Take advantage of our exciting social media presence now!

www.youtube.com/OfficialMercedesAMG


#AMGDrivingAcademy #WorldsFastestFamily

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster Edition 50: Fuel consumptions combined: 11,4 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 259 g/km.*

Sharing my city: Amsterdam with Lizzy van der Ligt

car2go: Lizzie van der Ligt in an apartment in Amsterdam.
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What does it feel like to go on holiday and not just live in someone else’s apartment, but to immerse yourself in someone else’s life?

What was travel like before the advent of platforms on which private individuals can rent out their apartment by the day or week or that enable you to discover an unknown city for yourself using car2go? For some people, those times are now little more than a vague memory. It’s just so fantastic to make your own fried egg in the morning in a city that was unknown to you until yesterday, to browse someone else’s well-assorted bookshelves and, in most cases, to be supplied first-hand with insider tips – following the motto: “immerse yourself in another life”.

Digitalisation and the opportunities offered by the “sharing economy”, in which you don’t need to own something to use it, are opening the door to new ways of living, travelling and working. People are not just sharing car2go vehicles, using Facebook to stay in touch with friends in faraway places and following their latest music discoveries on Spotify. These technologies are causing people’s own networks to grow exponentially. Often, all it takes is an email to get in touch with friends of friends on the other side of the world.

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Our video with stylist and blogger Lizzy van der Ligt describes this way of life and the wide-ranging opportunities that arise from networking and the sharing of information and things. What would it be like if we were one day able not just to book a private apartment for a city trip, but to totally immerse ourselves in another life for a day? Sharing my city: Amsterdam.

car2go: Lizzie van der Ligt next to a smart in Amsterdam.
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