It’s been a while since I shared one of the stories behind my work here, but I figured it was that time again. In the spring of this year I went on a little roadtrip again for Mercedes-Benz, with a set of completely different vehicles this time. These kind of trips always make for great stories besides the amazing photography opportunities, so here we go.
As main sponsor of the UCI World Cup Mountainbike, Mercedes-Benz sets up shop all around the world for these events. At the end of April of this year, the Mountainbike World Cup Downhill took place on the island of Lošinj in Croatia. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the first pickup of the German brand, took centre stage here. Not only was one of these positioned on the actual track, the Hot Seat that held the top 3 riders was positioned in the bed of one of these trucks too at the finish line. Wanting some shots for their social media of this new car, fully wrapped matching the theme, they asked me to travel there and spend some time with this car. As Croatia is not around the corner from my homebase in the Netherlands, we decided we would go with two photographers and two assistants. This allowed us the logistical possibility for a great trip, as we’d have the hands to pick up a car at the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart for the trip to Croatia and return both cars at the end of our trip.
The guys at Mercedes had the perfect roadtrip vehicle for us ready to get us from Stuttgart to Croatia. The brand new Mercedes V-Class provided a smooth ride, with all the luxury and interior space we could wish for. After we switched our gear and ourselves from our own car to the Cavansite Blue Metallic V250d Avantgarde, it was time to leave Stuttgart and make our way further south. We crossed the Alps through Austria and took a small detour through a mountainpass to Italy before crossing through Slovenia into Croatia. With the weather locally already hitting summery heights, we knew this was going to be good.
Arriving a day early on the Croatian island on purpose gave us the chance to use our VIP and media access to the UCI downhill event. The X-Class we came to collect stood centerstage at the finish of the trail till the very end, so we had a full day to experience the world cup. With the media access we were permitted to fetch a ride along with one of the riders to the very top of the island, where the trail started. We could get one the track to get some snaps of this unique setting of riders jumping next to a demo X-Class strategically placed on the track. After this we made our way down the hill next to the track, a challenge in itself on casual sneakers and with cameras in our hands. Back down we were able to score a lunch on a hidden terrace directly besides the last straight of the course towards the finish. It’s not every day you get to enjoy a stack perfectly cooked ribs while seeing riders dash down a sloped straight over the finish.
With the ceremony over and the village slowly emptying of spectators, it was time for us to collect the X250d that would be our second car for the rest of the week. The first pickup of Mercedes-Benz certainly is a looker. With the recognisable and impressivly high front end, the pratical flat bed at the rear and a typical luxurious interior inbetween them, this was going to be a fun car to drive and shoot. The island of Lošinj also provided us with the first stunning locations for both cars. The landscape is nothing short of stunning in this part of the world and when we travelled further south the mainland of the country with the cars it never seized to be beautiful. In a week time we travelled from Lošinj all the way south to Zadar and back up the stunning coastal roads.
The V-Class being a luxurious and spacious travelling companion obviously looked best on the smooth roads with stunning views. Luckily the landscape of this country always allowed us to shoot both cars close together, even though we aimed for completely different looks for both series of pictures. I was definitely impressed by the power of the V250d with four wheel drive, even the steepest narrow roads down to coastal villages never felt challenging. The locals were ever impressed too by the majestic look of this big blue van.
The X250d provided us with the perfect car to explore more of the available landscapes though. The possibility to switch between rear wheel, 4-wheel drive and low gearing made a little offroading a piece of cake. With only a little experience in offroad driving, I was quickly sure of its capabilities and took it off the roads and into the wilderness quite a number of times. Slowly climbing over rocks, assisted by 360 degrees cameras to avoid the biggest hindernesses, it would go anywhere. This gave us the freedom to pick the best locations we could find for the car, never worrying if it would make it there or would be able to get back to the road. I spend most of these days in the X-Class and definitely enjoyed it. While the drivetrain lacked a little bit of power to keep up with the V-Class, as soon as the roads ended there was nothing this car wouldn’t handle.
After a week of enjoying the beautiful country of Croatia, the awesome weather, friendly people and ofcourse the great cars, it was time to return both of them to Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. We had a blast on this trip and a new appreciation for the brand after experiencing a couple of their cars so different from my previous AMG themed adventures. We ended our last day in Croatia in the very north, ensuring we could travel all the way back to Stuttgart and from there on to the Netherlands on the following day. A big thank you to Mercedes-Benz and my fellow travel companions Gijs, Quinn and Sherman for the awesome trip.
And for those wondering where we spend most of our hours during this trip, let’s end with some love for the Mercedes interiors of these cars.