Luxury means many things to many people, but nobody doubts luxury cars should be crammed full of the latest technology… and what says “technology” in today’s car market quite like “Hybrid”? In a strange inversion of history, Lexus created the world’s first hybrid luxury flagship from a vehicle that was clearly inspired by the Mercedes S-Class, and now Mercedes is fighting back with its first hybrid sedan, the S400 Hybrid. So, is Lexus’s hybrid head-start enough to fend off a challenge from the vehicle that inspired its birth over a twenty years ago? The only way to find out is in TTAC’s most expensive comparison test ever.
From the surface, the C63 looks like it has the goods to compete with the big boys in the Euro performance club. Boy racer styling? Check. Monstrous V8? Check. Ginormous tyres? Check. Manual transmission? Not so much. Also not along for the party is a coupe or convertible version of the C63. Mercedes’ decision to make the C63 auto-only is perplexing enough, but the fact that they also decided to ignore the rest of the M3 portfolio is truly baffling. Consider the competition: the M3 coupe and convertible [combined] outsell the M3 sedan almost five to one. This halfhearted approach to a hotly contested and prestige-generating segment truly defines the experience with the C63: you constantly feel like this could have been a great car.
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Germany 1958: Women are allowed to take a job without asking their husband for permission. Europe makes its first baby steps to an EU. Elvis Presley arrives as a GI in an army barracks in Friedberg. Mercedes is in its fourth year of the gullwinged 300SL, one of the finest automobiles of all times.
The last perhaps was car journo hyperbole, expected from someone who was just handed the keys to a sports car fully restored by the Mercedes Classic Center in Stuttgart. Juan Perón had one, Porfirio Rubirosa had one, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Zsa Zsa Gabor had one. Now Sajeev Mehta has one, if only for a day, and if only for the benefit of the readers of Thetruthaboutcars. Read More >
Imagine it is thirty years in the future, 2039, and you are driving in a hard top convertible made in 2009. It has had three owners, and sports a healthy six-figures on the odometer. Would you expect it to leak, rattle, and/or squeak?
Would you expect it to look dated and out of place as we approach 2030 when cars (finally) fly and run by garbage-powered fusion generators?
In 2029 there will be 1970s-era Mercedes-Benz cars still on the road though. By then they might rattle, leak, and/or squeak. They may even look a little dated. But not today. I drove this 1979 450sl to a dentist appointment this morning. Two weeks before I drove it from coast to coast, through rain, snow, and sun. It doesn’t rattle. It doesn’t leak. It doesn’t squeak. It is as solid today as the day it rolled out of Stuttgart thirty years ago. This thing is built like a tank.
When my dad hit middle age in the ‘70’s, his first reaction was to park a Mercedes in our garage – a ’75 450SE, which my mom nicknamed “Heinrich.” The Mercedes sedans of that era weren’t beautiful cars, but damned if Heinrich didn’t turn heads – it was obvious that someone important was driving it. By the time I learned to drive in 1979, mom had inherited Heinrich, and we had another German blitzkrieg machine – a BMW 733i. The two cars couldn’t have been more different – on the winding roads around my house, the BMW was a jock, but Heinrich was a Panzer tank of a car that sternly replied “nein” if you tried to force him into back-road calisthenics. But Heinrich always impressed the general public – only dedicated gearheads did a double-take when they saw the BMW, while Heinrich was still getting looks into the late 1980’s. Flash forward three decades, and little has changed: the BMW in this test is still an athlete with no fashion sense, while the all-new E350 is an imposing power suit of a car.
I’m old enough to remember when Mercedes used the tagline “engineered like no other car in the world,” and no one questioned it. When the 1986 W124 E-Class was introduced, Car & Driver proclaimed it “the best car in the world.” In the quarter-century since, Mercedes’ position in the automotive pecking order has become less certain. Lexus came out of nowhere, and BMW has managed to successfully expand upward from the 3-Series and to become a provider of luxury as well as sport. For 2010 Mercedes has totally redesigned the E-Class. Any chance it’s 1986 all over again?
The year was 1997. As a bright eyed, recently minted med school graduate, I had two glorious weeks in Europe before the torture of internship began. One very memorable moment was in the parking lot of the MB museum in Stuttgart, where I spotted a prototype 1998 E50 AMG sulking behind a security gate. That thing looked evil, hunkered down on its 17″ alloys. It was so far removed from my Opel Astra rental car reality that I could scarcely imagine unleashing the 350 HP AMG-fettled V8 on the ‘Bahn at 170 mph in the latest heir to the Hammer.
They don’t build them like they used to. Really. I have yet to come across an car as solid as an old Mercedes, say pre-1998, before the Chrysler – DaimlerBenz AG “merger of equals.” If I had to choose one car to represent the pinnacle of—and benchmark for—Mercedes’ build quality, it would be the W116 S-Class. Hence my decision to restore a barn-found 1975 280S.
Summer 2005. My plans for a Vintage Car Rally Vacation evaporate. Rebuilding a very poorly rebuilt engine vacuums funds allocated for the purpose out of my wallet. What started as an odd knock became a horror show. My fussy ex-pat Yorkshireman mechanic in Chilliwack, B.C. removed the head and found the forensic remains of a car-related massacre not seen since Pol Pot rode around in his ’73 Mercedes. Just when I had given up on my dreams of a vintage vacation, the phone rang with an offer to co-drive an event in what many have called the world’s first supercar: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. I accepted the offer faster than Mr. Fangio could frustrate Mr. Ferrari.
Review: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
I was expecting to dislike the new E-Class Coupe from Mercedes. AMG versions aside, the outgoing CLK was about as interesting to drive as a Toyota Solara, and Mercedes has already announced that there would be no AMG versions of the new car. From the early photos of E-Class Coupe, I had already determined that the large glass sunroof with its meager mesh sun protection would curry little favor with me, and the little rear quarter window spoiled the look of this frameless coupe. To make matters worse, the 2010 E-Class Coupe’s engines are carryovers from the CLK. Mercedes claims our fuel quality isn’t suitable for the new direct injected engines offered in Europe. (Translation: the US is a dumping ground for some old engine inventory.) The E-Class nomenclature is another sleight of hand, as the chassis is still derived from the C-Class. Harrumph.
Review: 2010 Mercedes E-Class Coupe Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
My experience running the 2005 One Lap of America in a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16/ had left me more than a little cynical about the event. The fantasy of running the “modern-day Cannonball” had been eclipsed by frustration with the quasi-time-trial, horsepower-obsessed reality that is OLOA in the modern era. Still, the competitive disease from which both I and my co-driver Brian suffered meant that we wanted to “win” the thing before we left Brock’s Big Parade for the greener pastures of real wheel-to-wheel racing. Enter former radiologist and current Mercedes-Benz tuner Satish Tummala, owner of Motorwerks in Detroit.
M, RS, V, F, AMG. The alpha alphabet represents five manufacturers’ best efforts to create something unique, exciting and memorable from their more prosaic mainstream motors. The resulting “performance tuned” sports sedans are so powerful, so capable, so versatile, that they’re the ground based equivalent of the all-weather fighter jets that battle for control of the skies. While the shibboleth “there’s no such thing as a bad car” applies here, there are always going to be winners and losers. And it’s our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The ad for the new Mercedes GLK is targeted straight at owners of MB’s ML and GL SUVs. After all, the new GLK gives you the “same innovation in a smaller design.” Same agility. Same suspension. Same luxury. Same depreciation (my add). So, why bother paying more for one of Mercedes’ more much macho trucks? Sure, this baby brother routine hurts the automaker. The Nissan’s Rogue’s Murano-i-cide is but one example where a new, smaller vehicle robbed Peter to pay Paul less. But that’s the way it is. In Bailout Nation’s new era of hunker down austerity, downsizing is almost as fashionable as having a job. Big ticket buyer meets smaller ticket price on the dark side of town. The carmakers must figure that what they lose in profit they’ll recover in volume. Ask GM how well that works. In that sense the Mercedes GLK is a born win – loser. Or is it?
Review: 2010 Mercedes GLK 350 4Matic Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Station wagons, or “estates” as they are known across the pond, occupy that strange place in the auto market between SUVs, minivans and sedans. On the surface, wagons promise the holy grail of cargo schlepping and fuel sipping. But they’re not as sexy as a sedan, not as practical as a modern crossover and they can’t haul as much crap as a minivan. In the new world “station wagon” brings up PTSD style flashbacks of 1970s Country Squire wagons with a roof-rack and eight kids in the back on the way to summer camp, 8-track blazing, and your dad at the helm wishing he had a terrier and a 240Z instead. Thankfully, this is not your dad’s Oldsmobile Customer Cruiser. For this comparo we’ve selected the BMW 535xi Wagon, Mercedes E350 Wagon, Volvo XC70 T6 and the Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Wagon.
Engineered like no other car in the world. At some point in the 90's, Mercedes dropped their longstanding ad campaign. And no wonder. The promise had become a snigger-worthy ironic joke. That said, it stopped being funny when it started being you making regular pilgrimages to your local dealership. Mercedes trumpets its new C-Class as a return to the legendary, over-engineered cars of Mercedes-Benz's past. Heading straight to the very bottom of the range, will the cheapest and most basic of all "true" Benzes right 15 years of wrong?
2008 Mercedes-Benz C180K Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars