I am going to kick this off with a confession; I am not a fan of the Karoo. I know many people are. I know people feel that place in their bones, in their souls. I am not such a person. I hate any landscape that is dry and barren. I am all about the sea and bodies of water. I need greenery and shade. I feel almost claustrophobic in a place that is dry and hot. Prince Albert is one such place for me. So when I arrived at Onse Rus, I could have wept with relief.
You see, Onse Rus manages to capture all that people love about the Karoo, but will also appeal to the naysayers like me. The garden is lush and full of incredible bird life. The pool is sparkling and inviting. The hosts are warm and welcoming. And the rooms are “farmy” and comfortable (and by “farmy” I mean that they make you feel like you’re on a farm). The correct term for the style of this guest house is Cape Dutch. It’s a place you can come to either in winter or summer because the fireplace and coziness of it all is so appealing.
WHY PRINCE ALBERT THOUGH?
My brother-in-law was getting married at one of the hotels in Prince Albert so we decided to make a weekend of it. I had been there once before on a Land Rover launch and so I knew that this little town held some charm. But it was Onse Rus and the lovely hosts Leonard and Neil that really did it for me this time around.
DRIVING IN STYLE
I had my parents-in-law with me so I needed a car that would get us there in style. Not only to show off, but also for comfort on the 4.5 hour drive. I was fortunate enough to arrange the new Mercedes-Benz V300d. Could you think of a better car to be in as a passenger on a long road trip?
I was worried that the boot wouldn’t hold all of our luggage, but much to my surprise, we managed to fit everything in so that my in-laws were able to choose whichever seat they wanted in the rear. It arrived in the lounge set up, so the second row seats face backwards. I wanted to change them around, but it is quite a mission and one that I wasn’t prepared for. So I instructed my in-laws to sit on the rear bench so they wouldn’t be facing backwards while we drive. Everyone was very comfortable for the entire ride. You can just about make up any configuration you like. Which makes this one of the most practical cars on our roads.
But there was one issue. The rattling door. I am told that Mercedes-Benz South Africa is aware of it and they are waiting on parts for it to be fixed. But good grief, if I had spent close to R2 million on a car and anything even as much as squeaked, I’d have a fit. But other than that, there isn’t much to complain about on this new, more powerful, people carrier.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE ZOO?
We are used to the range that includes the V200d, the V220d and the V250d. But the model I managed to secure happens to be the latest, and most powerful, to hit our shores. The V300d is available in Avantgarde, Avantgarde AMG Line or the one I had, which is the Exclusive.
Under the bonnet of the V300d sits a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that produces 176 kW and 500 Nm of torque, which means it is more than powerful enough. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission which, combined with the engine, makes for a very refined and efficient drive. Fuel consumption is claimed at 8.8L/100 km, and we sat at around 9.7L/100 km, which is pretty impressive.
Some features that do come in handy on a road trip with your in-laws, is front and rear climate control. My husband and I wanted it to be set at around 19 degrees, which would have been too cold for my in-laws. So we left them to their own devices back there. There is also integrated navigation, front and rear park distance control, a multi-function steering wheel to name but a few features. The Exclusive model I was driving adds a sliding panoramic sunroof (which my father-in-law kept playing with, we eventually had to scold him like a teenager), adaptive cruise control (always handy on a long trip), and a surround-view camera…which was really handy as I arrived outside the hotel with all the wedding guests sitting there and had to parallel park this beast. I nailed it. Obviously!
WOULD I BUY IT?
Nope is my very honest answer, not only because I couldn’t actually afford the R1.8 million price tag, but because I think you would be just as happy in one of the other, cheaper models in the range. And if I am being completely honest, I would also probably consider something even cheaper like the Volkswagen T6.1 Caravelle.
However, there is no denying the luxury on offer in this V300d. My in-laws would constantly remark how they felt like celebrities in the back. I think that’s maybe the key. To be a passenger in this car is the sweet spot. Because you can lie back and just enjoy the ride. Although, I am far too much of a control freak, and being the driver is not a bad place to be either.
BACK TO ONSE RUS
If you are looking for a weekend getaway, somewhere to truly escape the hustle and bustle of the city, then put Onse Rus on your list of places to go. Even if you are passing through and need a stop over spot, this is the one you want to stop at. If anything, for the brekkie the next morning. Tell Neil and Leonard I send you! Or not, your call.
And as much as I am still not a Karoo fan, I think for those who are, this sums up the place perfectly; “Here time is suspended in the dry crisp Karoo air. It is the place of silence, vast open spaces, and a night sky so full of stars that you can almost reach out and touch them…” – Onse Rus website.