The Truth About Cars » Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/mercedes-benz/ Los Angeles 2014: Mercedes-Maybach S600 Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-s600-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-s600-bows/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:30:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947873 Jay Z, Kanye, meet your new Otis. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first vehicle from the Mercedes-Maybach lineup, dubbed the S600. The ultra-exclusive, ultra-premium sedan receives power from a twin-turbo 6-liter V12, punching 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque to the back as it speeds the S600 from nil to 62 mph in five seconds, topping […]

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Jay Z, Kanye, meet your new Otis.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first vehicle from the Mercedes-Maybach lineup, dubbed the S600. The ultra-exclusive, ultra-premium sedan receives power from a twin-turbo 6-liter V12, punching 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque to the back as it speeds the S600 from nil to 62 mph in five seconds, topping out at 155 mph.

Performance aside, the sedan offers CEOs and dictators alike more rear headroom and 6.3 inches of legroom due to its lengthened wheelbase. The power barons of the world can also enjoy an onboard bar with a pair of silver champagne flutes, reclining seats with calf supports, fold-out tables with leather inserts et al.

The first U.S.-bound Mercedes-Maybachs are expected in showrooms by April 2015 at the earliest.

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Expanding Portfolios Overwhelm Automakers, Consumers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946586 With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few. Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may […]

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With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few.

Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may soon — if not already — overlap themselves, prompting consumers to go as far as to use Excel just to find the exact model and array of features they desire.

Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast the growth among German automakers would peak at 230 total models in 2018, then begin to flatten out as they cut production costs and improve differentiation among their portfolios, while also injecting what they sell with the latest technologies available at the time.

However, while automakers like Porsche and PSA Peugeot Citroën are implementing caps or drastically cutting down their offerings, others, such as Mercedes-Benz and Opel, plan to add more vehicles to their lineups. The expansions could lead to situations where models can only be seen in virtual showrooms — such as what has happened for BMW — as well as most consumers walking away from buying any vehicle or feeling less satisfied with the one they do buy, due to feeling overwhelmed.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA45 AMG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945145 Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with […]

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Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG side

Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with this until I pulled up next to a cross-over SUV called Range Rover at a light and noticed that its door handle was above this cute-ute’s roofline. Truth is that it doesn’t matter what you call it because it’s a blast!

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG engine

The 2.0-liter 355hp engine sounds mean at startup, letting everyone know that this isn’t a plain olde’ Benzito, but it doesn’t sound like a tuned child’s toy either (Fiat 500 Abarth, I’m looking at you).  Select sport mode, start driving and you really wouldn’t know what is under the hood. There is plenty of low-end power and the engine is not screaming in agony on its way to a relatively low 6250rpm redline. It doesn’t feel like any 2.0-liter or turbo motor I have ever experienced; smooth and linear power from idle to redline. Very impressive.

The gear changes from the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission are fast, accompanied by exotic car-like gurgling backfire noises that were clearly designed in the most sophisticated of anechoic chambers. These noises may not be to everyone’s liking but will let the slower drivers know that they have just been passed by something special. The transmission’s only issues were at very low speeds, where it sometimes couldn’t decide exactly which gear to chose or when to fully disengage the clutch.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG dash

The speed and power of this vehicle are really deceptive, especially on the highway where triple-digit speeds are achieved rather effortlessly. Surprisingly, even in sport mode, it doesn’t launch off the line with authority (I didn’t abuse the vehicle by holding both pedals in) but then really takes off once it built up some speed. Buff books say that a quarter mile run can completed in high 12-second range, which was exotic car territory just a few years ago, now accomplished in a four-banger hatchback with a transversely mounted engine.

Toss this SUV wagon hatchback vehicle into a highway on-ramp and it will stick surprisingly well, with minimum body roll. The steering is very quick and direct, and may just be one of the best of FWD/AWD-based cars. On public roads I obviously didn’t drive anywhere near its or my own limits, but even then the little Benz telegraphed its intended part of travel and tire adhesion very well, with safe and predictable intentions toward understeer. There is a downside to all that fancy handling, however. When the smooth pavement ends, the bumpy ride begins. It’s not as bad as some so-called sport sedans with stiff springs and no-profile tires, but it’s certainly worse than any MB I have ever been in – something like GM’s Magnetic Ride Control would make a huge improvement.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG interior details

The interior will be familiar to anyone who has recently sat in a new MB. The infotainment system is heavy in buttons but generally easy to use, similar to other German makers, with the use of large console mounted knob but with Ford-esque steering wheel buttons. The sports seats are supportive and comfortable, a combination that is not always exclusive. Other AMG cues are visible in big clear gauges, flattened steering wheel, shifter paddles, and a really nice carbonfiber trim.

Forward visibility is not great, with large A-pillars and low sitting position and/or high beltline. The mirrors are rather small, too. From the driver’s seat, the hood has a visible dome in it but I am not sure if it is there to reaffirm that this is a sports, in a WRX sort of way, car or a truck in a 4Runner sort of way. Things get worse looking back; small windows and huge C-pillar make reversing or parallel parking downright challenging. There are sensors and a back-up camera to help assist with this, but the overall process is more difficult than it should be.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG exterior details

To test this vehicle’s abilities to do SUV things I filled up the trunk with week’s worth of groceries, a booster seat and a toddler seat in the back seat, and then instructed everyone to take their seats, with my wife in the front. Shockingly, everyone was comfortable. The back seat is short on legroom but the kids didn’t care. The trunk is small but swallowed up the groceries and a diaper bag. It may not be a large vehicle, but it is functional in a typical hatchback fashion.

The base Mercedes-Benz GLA250 starts at $33,300. But this GLA45 AMG is anything but base and therefore it starts at $48,300. Add to that your choice of packages: Premium Package, Driver’s Assistance Package, Multimedia Package, and/or Aerodynamic Package, and the total price can easily surpass the $60,000 mark. That is a lot of coin for a car that Mercedes representatives themselves referred to as “a Subaru WRX for grownups”, which may just be the best way to classify this vehicle.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG front 34

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG rear 34

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Mercedes-Benz Tops In J.D. Power Satisfaction Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945105 Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium. AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 front

Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium.

AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the mainstream brands, MINI scored 727 out of 1,000, marking the fifth straight year the BMW brand took the top spot on the podium.

Infiniti, Jaguar — last year’s top finisher — Lexus and Porsche round out the premium top five, while Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Fiat did the same among mass-market brands.

As far as the overall car-buying experience is concerned, J.D. Power found an improvement of 12 points among mass-market brands, and a 16-point improvement among premium brands. The main factor for both sides was a knowledgeable sales representative who could understand a customer’s needs, especially with more “tech-heavy” offerings on the lot and in the showroom, per vice president of the automotive retail practice, Chris Sutton.

This year’s survey collected 29,805 responses from those who bought or leased a new vehicle between April and May of this year.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:35:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944313 We use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook. No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 frontWe use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook.

No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” car. A 3-Series without leather, lacking a six-cylinder, can still be called a luxury sports sedan. Lexus’s CT200h uses a Prius powertrain, but hey, it’s a Lexus, so it must be “premium” right?

Upscale. High-end. Executive. Premium. Luxury. The words, commandeered by the manufacturers themselves, have lost so much of their meaning because we have lost our ability to place any faith in words which too often turn out to be nothing more than marketing catch-phrases.

But words don’t matter. Forget the words. Ignore the words. Discard the words. Do whatever you have to render the traditional classifying terms null and void.

Doing so will help you accept the truthful message that the new W205 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, tested here in C400 4Matic form, is an honest-to-goodness, legitimate luxury car. Not because it wears a three-pointed star on its key fob, steering wheel, trunk lid, grille, and bonnet, but because it positions you in “the state of great comfort and extravagant living.”

It starts with bank vault-like door closures, but it’s the high-quality interior that truly positions the new C-Class as a cut above its traditional rivals. If not for its size, power output, and pricing scheme, the C-Class wouldn’t really come across as a 3-Series rival in 2015. All the common touchpoints and the places you’ll never touch will cause you to think the C-Class is too nice, too luxurious, to be lumped in with the ATS, IS, Q50, and even the A4.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4MaticMore than the materials themselves, it’s the narrow tolerances, the snug fits, the silent operation of moving parts, the unusually tactile way in which vents open and move, the snickety-snicking of the volume control wheel, muted accent lighting, and the perfectly weighted forward and backward motion of the Agility Select rocker.

Piano black finishes across the central part of the cabin are a big mistake, but not a mistake an actual C-Class buyer must live with – there are choices. The perched central screen is a big no-no from a stylistic perspective, as well. Yet it looks better here than in the CLA250 4Matic we recently reviewed, in part because of its size; in part because of the spectacular cabin in which it resides. Tacked on the dash, the C-Class’s screen does keep your eyes closer to the road, but there are plenty of convoluted interior mechanics to distract and disturb a driver.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic rear closeBesides speech recognition, theoretically a wonderful solution but comically ineffective in this C400, many controls can be operated with conventional buttons mounted below the touch screen, or a touchpad, or Mercedes-Benz’s better-known control knob, which is partially hidden by the touchpad. Seat controls, in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, are located up on the door. The cruise control stalk is hidden away behind the steering wheel, mounted too close to the power tilt and telescoping wand. Wiper options, which are surprisingly limited, are on the same stalk one uses to operate signals. Then on the other side of the wheel, the shifter is a column-mounted unit but not a straightforward column shifter in the manner of nearly all column mounted shifters in the history of column mounted shifters.

But the C-Class is a luxury car, both nominally and in reality, and thus a little complication goes a long way to convincing us that this isn’t an intuitive Hyundai Genesis. Goodness no, that would be a crying shame. No, go and accidentally swipe that touch pad when you meant to press it, fly past Pop2K and The Pulse and The Blend and Love and Elvis in your attempts to access SiriusXM’s 90s on 9. Because Steal My Sunshine.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 interiorThe C-Class is also a bigger car than it used to be: nearly four inches longer than the old car on a wheelbase that’s three inches longer than the W204 car. This provides slight numerical differences in interior space – 1.8 inches more legroom in the rear; 1.6% more cargo capacity – but the difference, in reality, is more stark. It’s ten inches shorter, bumper to bumper, than an Acura TLX and doesn’t feel nearly as spacious, but the C400’s rear seat is more usable than the rear seat in the slightly longer Lexus IS. Capacious? No, but usable. Particularly for front seat occupants actual comfort is downright, dare I say it, luxurious.

Although it’s a bigger car than the old C-Class, it’s also marginally lighter. This C400, lacking any extra performance options, feels decidedly compact to drive and park (not that you’d want to use Active Park Assist, which is prone to mistakes and is slower at parking than you are) and would feel rather tossable if not for the slow-to-react steering. Brake feel and performance is top-notch stuff for a non-performance-branded German sedan, perhaps even for an AMG car. Ride quality is properly firm and unflustered almost all the time but then, suddenly, bizarrely crashy when the coastal Atlantic pavement deteriorates and the low-profile rubber (225/45R18 front, 245/40R18 rear Continental ProContact GX SSR) pays its price. But aside from those rare moments which likely won’t even be encountered where road conditions aren’t dreadful, it’s a calm car. Better yet, the C400’s optional air suspension likely makes for both an improved ride and superior handling.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic BurmeisterThe new C may be a return to form for a brand that didn’t use to perpetually chase BMW-like sporting credentials. Yet while the C400 4Matic isn’t a sports sedan in the sense that Audi’s S4 or a BMW 335i Sport is a sports sedan, it’s a very athletic car with hugely impressive engine specs. The artificially aspirated V6 sends none of its vibrations into the cabin, but it can come across a bit gruff for, say, lovers of inline-sixes. This fresh-off-the-line car landed in my driveway early on its tenure with fewer than 1200 kilometres/800 miles on its odometer, but the 3.0L twin-turbo V6’s 329 horsepower (at 5250 rpm, and 354 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm) felt like ponies well versed in CrossFit, Pilates, hot yoga, and spinning. This is a fast car.

Switch the C400’s Agility selector into Sport+ and those horses behave more like a pack of large, untrained, on-leash puppies furiously pulling their way to the dog park. Eco, Comfort, and Sport are all better options unless you plan to aggressively drive down a great road.

With all of these modes used intermittently, in a mix of city and highway driving, the C400 4Matic Mercedes-Benz Canada loaned to us for a week in November returned 22.6 miles per gallon, a real achievement for a green engine with 329 horsepower, an often heavy right foot, and mandatory all-wheel-drive. It’s rated by the EPA at 21 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic screenAnd again, though the C400 4Matic is poised and balanced through corners, though it accelerates like a supercar of 15 or 20 years ago, and though it brakes remarkably well, this isn’t necessarily the keen driver’s choice. Its 7-speed automatic transmission doesn’t shift swiftly enough and its intelligence is countered by a reluctance to play. It’s a lot like the guy who says he likes 90s music, but when Waterfalls comes on, he won’t turn up the C400’s optional Burmester sound system, a sound system which deserves to be jacked for all manner of music, whether it’s TLC or CCR.

It’s abundantly clear that Mercedes-Benz crafted a luxury car with athletic ability, rather than an All-American athlete with nice finishes in prominent places. (On that note, the C-Class uses its high-grade materials in all corners of the cabin. And it is thoroughly American by one standard: new Cs are built in Alabama with the ML and GL.) They won’t market it that way, of course, because even older buyers who remember Mercedes-Benz at its best feel the need to associate “sport” with the period of youth they’re trying so desperately to remember, assisted by ginkgo biloba, pickleball, and inappropriate use of leggings.

Regardless of which supplements its owner ingests, which sport they play, and how they dress, the new C-Class will nevertheless be a true luxury car, in an authentic use of the phrase. And with a base price of $49,515 in the United States, it better be.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Mercedes Unveils New Nomenclature Scheme, Maybach Addition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-unveils-new-nomenclature-scheme-maybach-addition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-unveils-new-nomenclature-scheme-maybach-addition/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944465 Mercedes-Benz is shaking things up as far as its long-standing nomenclature system is concerned, as well as introducing a new name to the portfolio: Mercedes-Maybach. The first Mercedes-Maybach, the Mercedes-Maybach S600, will make its way down the ramp during next week’s 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. On the boot lid, the new sub-brand will follow […]

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Mercedes-Benz is shaking things up as far as its long-standing nomenclature system is concerned, as well as introducing a new name to the portfolio: Mercedes-Maybach.

The first Mercedes-Maybach, the Mercedes-Maybach S600, will make its way down the ramp during next week’s 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. On the boot lid, the new sub-brand will follow Mercedes-AMG’s display pattern: Maybach on the left, Mercedes star in the center, model designation on the right. The ultra upscale sedan is expected to set the pace for Mercedes-Maybach as a sub-brand “that sets a benchmark for exclusivity and meets even the most discerning of requirements in terms of its appointments.”

Mercedes-Maybach 02

As for the parent brand overall, with 30 vehicles set to be in showrooms by 2020 — including 11 all-new models — Mercedes decided it was time to do some housekeeping, with most of the attention going toward its SUV range. Thus, the following:

  • GLA: GL A-Class
  • GLC: GL C-Class; was the GLK
  • GLE: GL E-Class; was the M-Class, or ML
  • GLE Coupe: GL E-Class Coupe
  • GLS: GL S-Class; was the GL
  • G: No change due to lineage

The L serves as a linking letter between the main class and the five core classes, the latter remaining unchanged. Roadsters will be redesignated as SL beginning in 2016, following the same pattern as established with the G-Class. Engine designations also receive a reboot, and will be displayed in lower-case on the boot lid. Mercedes’ AWD system, 4MATIC, remains unchanged.

New nomenclature Mercedes-Benz model series

New nomenclature Mercedes-Benz drive systems

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Lexus Europe Boss: Teutonic Trinity “Impossible” To Beat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944057 While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible. According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says […]

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2014 Lexus CT200

While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible.

According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says the parent company is “out of its adolescence,” a turbulent time that included taking a one-two combo from the Great Recession and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Global sales prior to the occurrences topped out at 518,000 in 2007, with 2013 sales hitting a new peak of 523,000 units sold. That figure is just a quarter of what Audi aims to sell by 2020.

He adds that after establishing a reputation for high quality, customer service and environmental responsibility, Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills. Diesels in Europe, on the other hand, will need more work:

The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more… For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer.

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Report: Mercedes-Benz Biggest Manipulator Of Euro Fuel-Efficiency Test Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-mercedes-benz-biggest-manipulator-euro-fuel-efficiency-test-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-mercedes-benz-biggest-manipulator-euro-fuel-efficiency-test-results/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942473 The oft-maligned European fuel-efficiency testing cycle have produced a few manipulators, per green lobby group Transport & Environment, with Mercedes-Benz as the biggest offender. According to Automotive News Europe, T&E proclaimed the automaker’s lineup would cost an owner an additional €5,600 ($6,931 USD) in fuel over the lifetime of a vehicle. The figure comes from […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

The oft-maligned European fuel-efficiency testing cycle have produced a few manipulators, per green lobby group Transport & Environment, with Mercedes-Benz as the biggest offender.

According to Automotive News Europe, T&E proclaimed the automaker’s lineup would cost an owner an additional €5,600 ($6,931 USD) in fuel over the lifetime of a vehicle. The figure comes from its 2014 Mind the Gap report, which forecasts drivers will spend 1.5 times more on fuel by 2020 than they do currently:

If your new Mercedes car swallows 40 percent more fuel than the brochure promised, it’s not your heavy-footed driving. Rather it’s because Mercedes are the current leaders at manipulating the way vehicles are tested, producing official fuel economy figures in the labs that cannot be replicated in the real world.

Mercedes product strategy and planning chief Johannes Reifenrath says his employer is aware of the deviation, adding that the driver plays a massive role in how a vehicle’s fuel economy fares in the real world. Reifenrath reminded T&E and other critics that the testing procedures “are not determined by the automakers… the EU Commission defines the rules we have to play by.”

T&E’s report states the gap between the lab and the real world had grown across all brands between 2001 and 2013, leaping from 8 percent to 31 percent for private owners. The group is calling for reforms in fuel-efficiency testing, with a focus on more real-world results.

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Zetsche: There’s No Money In The EV Stand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/zetsche-theres-money-ev-stand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/zetsche-theres-money-ev-stand/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941673 Though Daimler made $780 million off of its recent Tesla stake sale, CEO Dieter Zetsche says there’s no money in the EV stand. AutoblogGreen reports Daimler is leasing its Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive for €399 ($498 USD) a month for 36 months with a down payment of €8,473 ($10,582) due at signing in European showrooms. […]

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Though Daimler made $780 million off of its recent Tesla stake sale, CEO Dieter Zetsche says there’s no money in the EV stand.

AutoblogGreen reports Daimler is leasing its Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive for €399 ($498 USD) a month for 36 months with a down payment of €8,473 ($10,582) due at signing in European showrooms. Were Zetsche to have his way, however, those payments would be higher:

You can reasonably say that nobody today is making a battery-powered vehicle that’s economically viable in its own right. Manufacturers will not see a return within a reasonable time on the billions they’re investing now.

Zetsche’s remarks echo those of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who would rather spend $10,000 on a more profitable product than lose said amount every time a Fiat 500e is sold. On the other hand, Nissan and Tesla — the latter having worked with Daimler on the B-Class Electric Drive — have found their respective gambles paying off thus far, though neither are planning to show their hands just yet.

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Mercedes Vision G-Code Study Shows Off Possible Future For SUV/CUV Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-vision-g-code-study-shows-possible-future-suvcuv-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-vision-g-code-study-shows-possible-future-suvcuv-lineup/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940225 Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz opened its Product Engineering Centre in Beijing. To celebrate the occasion, the luxury brand unveiled a new design study: the Vision G-Code sporty utility coupe. The 2+2-passenger study took its inspiration from the rising affluence and “digital affinity” of Asia’s youth culture, who are gravitating toward SUVs and crossovers over all […]

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Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014 Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014

Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz opened its Product Engineering Centre in Beijing. To celebrate the occasion, the luxury brand unveiled a new design study: the Vision G-Code sporty utility coupe.

The 2+2-passenger study took its inspiration from the rising affluence and “digital affinity” of Asia’s youth culture, who are gravitating toward SUVs and crossovers over all other vehicle configurations. Thus, aside from its muscular coupe profile — measuring 13 feet long and 4.9 feet tall — and 21-inch wheels riding a 6.2-foot wide track, the G-Code offers a few technological wonders that may someday appear in Mercedes’ portfolio of SUVs and crossovers.

The first is the paint itself. The silver paint is a “multi-voltaic” coating that pulls energy from the sun and/or wind to help aid in the methane/hydrogen synthesis process; the G-Code is also an FCV. The driver can use their smartphone to start the vehicle, then place it in the docking station to access the study’s connected-vehicle system.

Moving both pairs of wheels, a turbocharged hydrogen mil delivers power to the front, while an electric motor selectively moves the rear wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Power regeneration is carried out via the aforementioned coating, plug-in technology, and a suspension system that transmits energy into a compact current generator.

The grill adds still more flash to the G-Code by indicating the state its HYBRID system is in, from blue light moving toward the star in eDrive, to vivid red and reverse movement in sport.

Finally, the driver and their passengers can enjoy niceties, such as: GPS, 3D cameras, leather-upholstered seats with 3D body scanning for improved comfort, a pair of stand-up scooters in the back for additional mobility, and photosynthetic air conditioning for cleaner cabin air.

Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014

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The Streets Of R-Ado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936762 I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the […]

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2006 R500 Courtesy cimg.carsforsale.com

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

The Laredo facility included an assortment of handling, hill-climb and torture tracks, all on the infield of an imposing high-banked 5-mile circle track. The first impression of the scene was intoxicating to a car nut: Hey, there’s a Dodge Magnum, looks just like the spy photos! There goes the next generation S-Class! We were shown the upcoming GL-Class and the next-generation M-Class SUVs. Those vehicles, as well as the future S-class circling the track, were lightly masked but easily recognizable while the “sport touring wagon” was heavily, almost comically, disguised.  It looked like a giant black shoe box with a sloping hood.

My group of five folks and an engineer jumped into the future R-Class. The interior was well-crafted and amazingly roomy: I could stretch my legs out in the third row. Our moderator led us through the various obstacle courses around the grounds, switching drivers along the way. Finally we headed for the 5-mile circle. It was “Clockwise Day” which seemed strange to someone used to driving counterclockwise on oval tracks.  Our leader cranked it up to an indicated 150 mph and took one hand off the wheel to demonstrate the wagon’s stability. We were duly impressed.

We then each proceeded to take two laps each behind the wheel and several of us hit the magic 150 mph barrier. We were quietly cruising with six people aboard and blasting past Plymouth Neons on the inside lane doing endurance testing.  The original R500 with the 302 hp V-8 had a governed top speed of 135 mph. The Benz engineers would not answer questions about this drivetrain. In retrospect, I think it must have been the 503 hp V-8 from the planned R63 AMG under the hood.

We always said the R-Class would make a great hearse...

We always said that the R-Class would make a great hearse…

Years later I think: Were we really doing 150 mph with six passengers in a prototype with a drag coefficient of Melissa McCarthy?  Was the speedometer clocked? Or is driving on a banked, circular track as safe and easy as driving in a straight line? Regardless, I highly doubt there are many car companies who would allow a bunch of yahoos to drive their mock-up models at high speeds on their secret proving grounds. That day in Laredo was one of the highlights of my time in the car business.

Two years later when I first saw a production R-Class, I was shocked: it looked awful, a combo of awkward lines. I thought about Laredo. Were they hiding the R’s styling from us because previous groups had given it a thumbs down? Or was Germany so proud of the edgy styling that they did not want it leaked?  By disguising its looks, letting us behind the scenes to drive flat-out at their proving grounds, and not talking price or specs, were they guaranteeing that we each would  vote an enthusiastic “yes” when asked if we would consider buying one, which we did?

I was pleased to see one suggestion from our focus group about the poor location of the third-row shoulder belt hanger had been addressed.

 

It appears the Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track within the 5-mile highbank circle.

Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track inside the 5-mile circle track

The R-Class was released in the summer of 2005 to the sounds of crickets on the showroom floors. Press reactions were mixed, (“It’s big and it’s ugly, but inside it you can live like a king,” said the Sunday Times.) Within 30 days of the launch, Benz had to add dealer incentives to counter consumer resistance to the base MSRP of $48,000 for the R350 and $55,500 for the R500. A constellation of factors led to the R-class being a rare failure for Daimler: high pricing, murky marketing and product positioning, mediocre gas mileage, the recession and most of all due to its undeniable ugliness.

Sales of the R-Class in the US peaked at 18,168 units in 2006, far short of the corporate objective of 50,000 sales per year. Less than 3,000 were sold each year between 2009 and 2011 before the car was discontinued in North America in 2012. The R-Class continues to be assembled in Mercedes’ Alabama factory for sale in overseas markets. (US dealers toured the plant recently and upon seeing the R line, several joked, “Oh noooo, it’s back!”)

I had an R-Class company car in 2009 and it rode as well as I remembered, every bit an S-Class on the highway. Even better was the fact it was the CDI diesel variant with its gobs of torque and great gas mileage, a truly underappreciated engine.

I still think the R stands for Repulsive but if I could find one of those eighty 2007 R63 AMGs brought into this country…

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

consumer-reports-reliability-list-1

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Nissan, Tesla Sold Most California ZEV Credits In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935346 In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe. Who won this year? Nissan. AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up […]

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2013-nissan-leaf-7-1

In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe.

Who won this year? Nissan.

AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up at a distant third with 235.2 sold, thanks to the existence of the Fiat 500e.

As for who bought them — purchase price per credit is permanently shrouded in secrecy — Mercedes likely took Nissan’s credits for the former’s less green offerings, Honda following behind with 542.5 purchased. FCA, again, placed third with 237.8, cancelling out what the 500e gained.

Finally, California residents brought home 3.5 million vehicles during the period ending last month, with 38,000 EVs, 30,000 PHEVs and 570,000 hybrids roaming the streets and highways.

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Daimler Financially Divests From Tesla, BMW Could Step In http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935314 Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production. Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble. Despite the divestiture, both […]

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Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive – Laden / Mercedes-Benz

Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production.

Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble.

Despite the divestiture, both automakers will continue cooperating on ongoing projects, such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive recently launched in the United States. Daimler financial management board member Bodo Uebber said the sale would allow Tesla to “broaden its investor base,” adding that stock ownership wasn’t necessary to the overall relationship between the two companies.

As for who Tesla could now court, Forbes believes BMW could be drawn further into its own relationship with the company. International Strategy & Investment analyst Arndt Ellinghorst believes Tesla would benefit more from BMW’s carbon-fiber technology — put to great use in the i Series — than from providing batteries to Mercedes. Both companies met in June to discuss standardization for a potential EV charging network.

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Mercedes Turns Former Naval Base Into Autonomous Testing Ground http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933802 With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research. Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif. Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous […]

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Mercedes-Benz-S-500-Intelligent-Drive-000

With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research.

Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a military base decommissioned in 2005 that may be redeveloped in the future.

Until then, Concord will be used as a “starter city” for autonomous city driving and navigation research and development. The strategy allows Mercedes “to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” per the brand’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern.

As for why Concord and similar spaces, such as the NASA facility Google uses to test its commuter pod, are in play over actual cities, Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski says “existing proving grounds are not challenging enough,” while real-life testing is “too challenging at this point.” Further, both spaces are owned by the federal government, bestowing researchers the opportunity to test their theories without the California legislature dictating otherwise.

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Los Angeles 2014: Mercedes Maybach Set To Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-set-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-set-debut/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933770 Once a name best known for providing a platform for Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s Mad Maxian fantasies, Maybach is set to return from the grave under the bright lights of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show as a Mercedes model. Car & Driver reports the Maybach will be around 18 feet in length, slotting […]

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Maybach-badge

Once a name best known for providing a platform for Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s Mad Maxian fantasies, Maybach is set to return from the grave under the bright lights of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show as a Mercedes model.

Car & Driver reports the Maybach will be around 18 feet in length, slotting between the S550 and the deceased Maybach 57, according to head of global design, Gordon Wagener.

Other features include a turbocharged V12, rear-wheel drive, Mercedes’ Magic Body Control suspension, luxurious materials, and a badge here and there to let the proletariat know a god and/or goddess is being chauffeured, not some Silicon Valley dirtbag.

The Mercedes Maybach will be going up against Bentley and Rolls-Royce in the Grey Poupon delivery game, with the Maybach name becoming a sub-brand like AMG. That move could, in turn, allow for more models down the road, such as an SUV based on the GL-Class, as well as a coupe and/or convertible derived from the S-Class.

As for price of admission, all that has been said is that it will be lower than the Maybach models from just a few years ago.

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My Last Free Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:10:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922041 Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor! Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world. Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world. Yesterday I was working for the Germans. Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who […]

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2015 ML350

Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor!

Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world.

Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world.

Yesterday I was working for the Germans.

Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who loves rap music.

I am one lucky sumbitch.

I elected to take early retirement after 17 years at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. The hardest part about leaving the OEM auto business is giving up the free company car. The 2015 ML350 you see above was my last ride and is currently for sale at Mercedes-Benz of Tucson (Low Miles! Illuminated Grill Star! Celebrity Owned!). God, it hurts…

An old retail automobile business adage says that the only things car salesmen need are the “3 Ds” – a desk, a drink and a demo. For me, that first demonstrator was a used 1981 Rosewood Brown Buick Regal that I drove while working at Spires-Douglas Buick in San Antonio.  I clearly remember driving  it off the lot after my first day on the job and thinking, “I like this business!” The days of salespeople getting free rides are long gone at most dealerships, no doubt a factor in attempting to draw new talent into the retail industry now.

The scores of Honda (all stick shifts by the way) and Mercedes-Benz vehicles parked in my garage over the years were nice but my favorite ride was a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited High Output V8 I drove during the year I was sentenced to work on the Chrysler Financial side of our company. I was our auction rep in Arizona, selling repossessed Neons and off-lease Jeeps, and the GC could flat-out fly over the whoops on the rugged Apache Trail outside of Phoenix.

Jeep_Grand_Cherokee_WJ_34h courtesy wikipedia.org

Stories of wrecked demos are commonplace as there can be a certain “it’s not my car” mentality to driving one, as illustrated in this funny company car features page. In my own case, I tell people my last accident was in 1977 because I don’t count the night in Dallas in 1988 while coming home from Adair’s Saloon that I discovered that the counter rotation of the wheels on a 4-Wheel Steering Prelude negated my ability to execute a perfect bootlegger’s turn. I slid sideways hard into a curb and destroyed the suspension but somehow limped her home, dragging one tire all the way. Thank God it was during the corrupt days at American Honda: I traded a load of Accords to a dealer in return for him replacing the Prelude and making the wrecked one disappear.  I think that night was the end of my drinking and driving days and I have never put more than a scratch on a demo after that. Besides, get in an accident or get pinched for DUI in a OEM car and you could lose your job or, if you are lucky, keep your job but have to buy your own car.

I can take solace in the fact that I will driving the occasional press car for test drive purposes. You may wonder if I will be biased in favor of Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Of course I will. But I told Derek those are the last two brands I want to write about. I will pen a few stories about my days working for those corporations but I owe it to you to explore and write about all brands and all automotive companies. Besides, I already know how most of you feel about Mercedes-Benz vehicles…

I am thrilled to be reporting to you from the Tucson TTAC Tower and can promise you only one thing: the truth.

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Daimler Works Council Boss To Meet With UAW In Coming Weeks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921217 Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers. Reuters reports both the UAW and German […]

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Michael Brecht

Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers.

Reuters reports both the UAW and German union IG Metall are pushing for the plant to be organized, while Brecht himself “is convinced that the employees in the company need to have their interests represented by having their voice heard,” according to a spokeswoman on the matter.

As early as June of this year, the UAW has proclaimed work on a plan for MBUSI as part of an overall strategy to organize the transplants in the Southeastern United States and boost their rolls. The union recently established a local at another plant — the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. — having gained enough members to “force” Volkswagen AG into recognizing the local as the exclusive bargaining agent for that facility.

Finally, though UAW president Gary Casteel wouldn’t say what he and Brecht would discuss regarding MBUSI, he said that he and Brecht had “a strong, close relationship,” and that the union considered him “a close ally.”

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EU Orders Germany To Cease Use Of R134a Within Two Months http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/eu-orders-germany-cease-use-r134a-within-two-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/eu-orders-germany-cease-use-r134a-within-two-months/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920050 After months of investigation regarding the German government’s support of Daimler’s continued use of R134a — in violation of a law mandating use of refrigerants “with a global warming potential no more than 150 times that of carbon dioxide” — the European Commission has given Germany two months to comply with the law, or be […]

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Mercedes SL With R134a

After months of investigation regarding the German government’s support of Daimler’s continued use of R134a — in violation of a law mandating use of refrigerants “with a global warming potential no more than 150 times that of carbon dioxide” — the European Commission has given Germany two months to comply with the law, or be fined and taken to court.

Reuters reports the Commission sent its formal request to the Bundesregierung this week, stating that if the government fails to comply, “the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.”

Meanwhile, Germany still believes it is not in violation of European Union law, and that the government would reply within two months to the Commission.

As for Daimler, a representative says the company’s position on the use of R134a has not changed, and is still at work on a CO2 replacement expected to arrive in 2017. Daimler’s stance is based on its concerns over the EU-compliant R1234yf refrigerant made by Honeywell, claiming the alternative creates a toxic gas when burned.

The edict comes a few months after Daimler successfully won the right to continue to sell R134a-equipped vehicles in France, when a ban issued by the nation’s economy minister, Ségolène Royal, was found unjustified.

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Mercedes Increases Production To Meet US CLA Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-increases-production-to-meet-us-cla-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-increases-production-to-meet-us-cla-demand/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913194 [AUTHOR'S NOTE: I erroneously reported production would be increased at MBUSI in Vance, Ala. alongside the Hungary facility. That's what I get for reading the dateline and interpreting things as such. My apologies. -- CA] With demand still strong and supply still tight months later, Mercedes-Benz is pumping up production capacity to bring more CLAs […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I erroneously reported production would be increased at MBUSI in Vance, Ala. alongside the Hungary facility. That's what I get for reading the dateline and interpreting things as such. My apologies. -- CA]

With demand still strong and supply still tight months later, Mercedes-Benz is pumping up production capacity to bring more CLAs to showrooms in the United States.

Automotive News reports 14,113 copies of the $30,825 entry-level premium sedan were sold in the United States during the last four months of 2013, with the most sold overall in October at 4,895 units. Additionally, 15,676 CLAs left the showroom floor from January through August of this year.

Thus, the facility in Kecskement, Hungary that produces the CLA added a third shift in May to help meet demand the world over, having made a total of 109,266 in 2013 alone. The plant will also host production of a CLA shooting brake, a vehicle Mercedes has “no current plans” to bring over to the U.S., according to a representative.

As for how many CLAs will be leaving Vance, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche didn’t specify, though he did expect “a positive reaction” to the boost in production.

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UAW Quietly Building Southern Strategy For Organizing Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-quietly-building-southern-strategy-organizing-mbusi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-quietly-building-southern-strategy-organizing-mbusi/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912746 Inside a small strip mall in Coaling, Ala., the UAW is quietly at work in its fight to organize the Mercedes-Benz facility in nearby Vance, using similar tactics as those employed in the ongoing battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Detroit Free Press reports the union has been in its latest push for […]

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Inside a small strip mall in Coaling, Ala., the UAW is quietly at work in its fight to organize the Mercedes-Benz facility in nearby Vance, using similar tactics as those employed in the ongoing battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Detroit Free Press reports the union has been in its latest push for Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama factory for the last two years, building enough support to establish a local, with the end game of organization in mind. The tactic is already in play in Chattanooga, where a local was put in place after the UAW lost a close election in February of this year, whose results were briefly contested before the National Labor Relations Board before the union withdrew the complaint.

However, while Volkswagen outright desires to have a works council in its sole U.S. facility, Mercedes and parent company Daimler AG aren’t too interested in buying what the UAW is selling. As recent as July 2014, the NLRB ruled against the automaker on accusations that it was prohibiting distribution of union materials in team center areas and the plant’s atrium during off-work hours. On the other hand, the ruling also verified that as far as organization is concerned, the two entities remain neutral.

Meanwhile, stronger resistance is building within the state, as interest groups prepare to fight back against the UAW’s Southern Strategy, which also includes the Nissan plants in Canton, Miss. and Smyrna, Tenn.

Further up the chain, Governor Robert Bentley proclaimed earlier this month that he doesn’t see a reason for workers in any company to sign on with the union, “as long as a company does what they should do with their workers” by treating them well.

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Daimler: Unionization Is For The Employees To Decide http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-unionization-employees-decide/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-unionization-employees-decide/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908697 Despite allegations to the contrary, Daimler AG chair Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche says his company remains neutral on the subject of unionization in regards to the Mercedes factory in Vance, Ala. According to The Detroit News, Zetsche says the decision to join the United Auto Workers would be left up to the employees at the […]

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MBUSI Mercedes-Benz Alabama

Despite allegations to the contrary, Daimler AG chair Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche says his company remains neutral on the subject of unionization in regards to the Mercedes factory in Vance, Ala.

According to The Detroit News, Zetsche says the decision to join the United Auto Workers would be left up to the employees at the plant, adding that, “As long as a company does what they should do with their workers: treat them respectfully and treat them correctly, they are never going to unionize.” He also noted the plant’s employees have opted not to unionize over the past two decades.

At the state level, Alabama governor Robert Bentley claimed that if the UAW did win the Mercedes facility, he would have trouble recruiting more foreign companies to his state, especially those who call Japan and South Korea home.

Meanwhile, the UAW is still pursing its Southern strategy, having already established a new local near the Volkswagen AG factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. in August with the aim of attracting its workers to voluntarily unionize. Union president Dennis Williams said the UAW would “respond to concerns raised by pro-union workers” at the Mercedes plant, as well.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-mercedes-benz-cla250-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-mercedes-benz-cla250-4matic/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:30:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901154 If it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz. And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz. So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticIf it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz.

And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz.

So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that the bright red CLA250 4Matic that visited us in mid-August was Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level car. None of those neighbours visited the inside of the car.

When told that it’s a lesser car than the CLS or E or S or even C, those neighbours warm to a notion created over time, both by marketing and in their own aspirational minds, which says they could have all that inherent Mercedes-Benz goodness with an affordable price tag.

It sounds so easy: big brand, little car, the loss of some frivolous luxuries, the removal of a few horsepower, and a deep discount.

It’s not so easy.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic red frontMany a luxury item has been removed, and I’m alright with that, but then again, many such features have been added back into this particular Mercedes-Benz Canada car, which would cost slightly more than $40,000 in the U.S. if it could be equipped identically.

But with the loss of luxury features like massaging seats and air suspension from high-end models, and even with the re-insertion of premium features like navigation and Bi-Xenons and a big glass roof, the attractive CLA250 interior is let down by a large amount of cheap plastic through the centre console and a screen that’s unconvincingly tacked on.

The best aspect of the CLA’s interior is the look of it, from the vents to the seatbacks to the simple but elegant layout of the controls. As much as the centre-mounted screen isn’t attractively placed, it is functional, requiring very little removal of the driver’s eyes from the road. I’ll always prefer a control knob mounted between the front seats, as in the CLA, compared with a long reach forward to touch a screen.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticThere’s even room in the rear of the CLA. It’s not abundant, but we crammed three adult males back there for a short back road jaunt. Something about the shape of the seats also makes the installation of a rear-facing car seat surprisingly easy, too, so long as you remember to watch your head (and the baby’s) when loading through the narrow rear door aperture.

With five adult males aboard and with the heavier all-wheel-drive configuration, the CLA250’s 258 lb-ft of torque still comes on strong. Soon enough. Whether you blame the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or the turbo’s lag or Mercedes-Benz’s traditional lack of immediate throttle response, there’s a distinct pause at first. It’s easy enough to become accustomed to the engine, as it seems to punch above its weight once up to speed.

The DCT, however, is easily confused in Sport mode and overly interested in fuel economy when left in Eco, racing through the gears like it’s, well, a race. “What’s wrong with the car?”, my brother asked from the back seat when we accelerated away from an intersection in Sport and the CLA groaned under the weight of first gear as though I was unwilling to perform an upshift in Manual mode. He also chuckled when the CLA shot up to seventh under light acceleration in ECO, almost in an immature panic, although the rate with which the DCT can snap off shifts is oddly impressive.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic interiorOdd is also how you’d describe the CLA’s mixed bag of suspension movements. The CLA has the ability to eliminate road imperfections, but it struggles to maintain composure when the surface is full of small elevation changes. At the same time, there’s a sense of initial agility, but it’s followed by a surprisingly early onset of understeer when you’re encouraging the CLA to impress your teenage nephews, and the CLA then becomes too uncommunicative.

It’s difficult to say when they’re not driven back-to-back – my time with the CLA250 4Matic came nine months after a week I spent with the front-wheel-drive CLA – but the AWD CLA250 seems to ride better, handle worse, and draw more attention to the DCT’s deficiencies. We also saw no fuel economy penalties with the all-wheel-drive, a 29.4 mpg car in our mostly urban driving, compared with the 28.7 mpg we saw on similar drive routes when the temperature was admittedly cooler last November.

The CLA250 is therefore a relatively quick and efficient car with a premium badge and decent interior space. Although I’m personally not convinced that the stylistic themes work on a product with the CLA’s dimensional limitations, it’s an obviously design-oriented car. Thus, for those who love the car’s appearance and the fact that it screams, “I’m expensive!”, the appeal of a CLA is not difficult to comprehend.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic screenCLA pricing begins at $30,825 including destination; 4Matic adds $2000. Is Audi’s A3 the CLA’s key rival? Or is the un-optioned $41,325 C300 4Matic, a dramatically improved car for the 2015 model year, a competitor for properly-equipped entry-level Benzes, CLAs with 18-inch wheels, heated seats, a rear view camera, and dual zone automatic climate control?

Regardless, Mercedes-Benz has carved out a space for the CLA in America. U.S. sales have slowed noticeably since the car’s arrival late last year, but that’s due in large part to the CLA’s global successes. Yet with 2378 July sales (its best month since January), the CLA accounted for 13% of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car sales last month. It’s not a rare car. On the other hand, it’s no C-Class, which even in this transition year has averaged 5500 monthly sales.

Yes, more consumers prefer the more costly C-Class, even the old, outgoing C-Class. And though the CLA is appealing in theory, it’s not hard to see why the C-Class is more appealing in practice.

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Aston-Daimler Partnership Deepens With Component Agreement, Increased Holdings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-daimler-partnership-deepens-component-agreement-increased-holdings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-daimler-partnership-deepens-component-agreement-increased-holdings/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883521 Daimler’s partnership with Aston Martin is growing, as the former will supply electric and electronic components to the latter for a 1 percent increase in holdings. Bloomberg reports Daimler’s total holdings will come to 5 percent as part of the supply deal, which in turn is part of a larger agreement where Mercedes AMG will […]

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Mercedes SLS AMG + Aston Martin DBS

Daimler’s partnership with Aston Martin is growing, as the former will supply electric and electronic components to the latter for a 1 percent increase in holdings.

Bloomberg reports Daimler’s total holdings will come to 5 percent as part of the supply deal, which in turn is part of a larger agreement where Mercedes AMG will supply V8s for future Aston models. Aston Martin is also planning on using Mercedes tech to develop an SUV for sale by 2017 at the earliest.

Other shareholders of the largely independent premium automaker include London-based investment firm Investindustrial, and Kuwaiti-based Investment Dar Co. and Adeem Investment Co.

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Versatile 2015 Mercedes Vito Van Puts Power To Front, Rear Or All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876185 If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you. Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ […]

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Der neue Vito / The New Vito

If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you.

Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ V-Class — can be had with RWD and AWD — like the V-Class — as well as optional FWD. The previous Vito had FWD for only the EV variant, while the new one puts diesel power to the front of the line alongside the rest of the family.

Autoblog adds said power comes turbocharged through four-pots ranging from 1.6 liters to 2.1 liters, with anywhere from 136 to 190 horsepower pushed to wherever it’s meant to go through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito

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