My in-laws live south of London in Surrey. We usually stay with them when we are visiting England so my son can enjoy as much time with his Nanny and Grand-dad as possible. We like to see them an awful lot too. Nanny had taken one of my son’s cousins to the nearby Mercedes Benz World for a day of driving on the track and marveling over the beautiful vehicles both in the show rooms and the museum parts of the building. My kiddo was really looking forward to this so one afternoon we all made our way down to check it out.
To get there use the postal code KT13 0SL in your Sat Nav and it should deliver you right to their front door. As you drive up you will see their driving track on the right hand side. They offer a variety of driving experiences on the track and what is really special is that the driving requirements are not based on age on their property, but on height. When you are old enough to reach the pedals, you can drive. The height requirement is 1.5m (about 4’10”) which allows you to get behind the wheel with an instructor and you can partake in their “Under 17s” program which does not require any sort of license or experience. There is a fee to partake which varies from £50 for a half hour in one kind of car to £100 which gives the kid an hour in 2 different types of cars and 2 different types of driving experiences (on the track in a compact car and off-road in a 4×4). Our son only just missed the cut off but on our next trip over he will definitely be tall enough to do this.
Even though he wasn’t able to drive on the outdoor track he did get to drive in the simulator room. They have 3 different simulator sizes allowing kids and adults of all sizes a car that fits them properly with a minimum height requirement of 1.2m (about 3’9″). They charge to drive the simulators (£6 – £10PP depending on the size of the simulator) and each person gets around 10 minutes driving time for that price. Each “car” is fitted with professional software and bespoke hardware to capture the speed and driving demands of Formula One racing, plus driver aids such as traction control, braking assist and automatic gear changes, drivers of all ages can experience the extreme thrill of driving a Formula One car on our virtual racing circuit. My son decided to bring his own personal certified driving coach with him (my husband is a coach here at home on a real track in real cars). He had a hard time with the first lap, but by the end of his driving session he was taking the corners like a total champ. They have a lap times board and he had the 9th fastest time up there -not too bad for a 9 year old!
You may be thinking that you have to wait for your kid to be older, but that is not the case. They also have an area for the wee-ones (they say ages 3-5) to go and “drive” too. For £6PP the little guys can get behind the wheel of a miniature, battery-powered Mercedes-Benz which they can drive on a specially-designed indoor driving circuit. The little guys will drive around and be shown by “coaches” how to be safe on the roads while having lots of fun for about 15 minutes each session. We had a quick look at this but didn’t have any kids in the right age range to check it out completely.
Outside of these experiences, you can slow things down a bit by having a walk around the historic vehicles on the first floor. The history of the company is laid out with some beautiful examples of the first “horseless carriages” and motorcycles. Suspension systems have come an awfully long way! There are also displays of vehicles that are for sale through out the building (on the upper floors). This is not only a museum for experiences but they are selling automobiles as well and have some incredible models available. We enjoyed seeing the various Smart Cars and the Mercedes Camper Van that was on display.
The museum part of the building is dedicated to motorsport legend John Surtees. I was not as familiar with him but he won seven World Championships and six Isle of Man TTs on 350cc and 500cc MV Augusta Motorcycles before moving to cars and winning the Nürburgring and Monza 1000km races as well as the Formula One World Championship in 1964. This is a feat that has not been accomplished since. Several of his cars are on display, including: Mercedes-Benz SL Gullwing, TS 14 – 04, Vincent Black Lightning, 1953 500cc Works Norton.
In the same area there is a section about F1 racing including the F1 cinema where you can have a seat and see what the F1 racing world is like. There is also an amazing display where they have taken an F1 car and completely taken it apart and suspended it. It was incredible seeing all of the bits and pieces hanging there as if the car had been blown up and things were suddenly stopped mid-movement.
Based on the website there is also a golf simulator in the building. We are not golfers and didn’t see this, but if that is something that appeals to you, you might want to ask about it.
Admission to the build is free and you are welcome to walk around. Various activities require booking and a fee, but there are plenty of things to do for free. If you are just walking around I would plan an hour. If you are adding other activities, plan extra time. We recommend it and will be going back on our future visits.