The Truth About Cars » Mercedes-Benz The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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 (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 New York 2014: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe Debuted Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:18 +0000 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-01

For the well-moneyed customer who likes the Accord but prefers a German badge, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the S63 AMG Coupe at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Under the bonnet lies a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 driving 577 ponies through all four wheels while providing 644 lb-ft of torque to any driver feeling the need to take down a redwood forest or two. Air suspension, lighter weight and optional ceramic brakes add to the performance alongside the usual AMG enhancements.

As for how much to pay for this experience, look forward to spending somewhere around $150,000 when the S63 AMG Coupe arrives in showrooms.

2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-01 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-front-nose 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-front 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-side 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-wheel 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-04 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-gauges-01jpg 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-interior-steering-wheel 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-seats-interior 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-badge ]]> 12
Mercedes-Benz To Support First Responders With “Rescue Assist” Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:15:10 +0000 Benz Jaws Of Life Demo Courtesy www.autoevolution.comWith little fanfare Mercedes-Benz recently announced a claimed first-of-its-kind program designed to help firefighters and EMTs at sites of severe accidents involving Mercedes-Benz vehicles.  With Rescue Assist, the company is installing QR code stickers on their cars so First Responders will be able to use a Smartphone to bring up a schematic of the vehicle showing where airbags, the fuel tank, and other critical structural components are located. Their intent is to make the accident scene safer for rescue folks and passengers, particular in cases where the “Jaws Of Life” are needed.

The QR code stickers will be applied to the inside of the fuel filler cover and the B-Post on the opposite side of the fuel tank. All Mercedes-Benz vehicles produced after October 31, 2013 have had the QR code adhesive labels installed at the factory. Rescue Assist retrofit kits were shipped to U. S. Mercedes-Benz dealers last week. Owners of 1990 to present models will be offered the product for free when they come in for service while more enterprising Benz stores may reach out to its eligible customers via direct marketing campaigns.

The following video includes supposedly unscripted comments from firefighters about Rescue Assist.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Naturally, the ultimate assessment of the validity of Rescue Assist will be to hear from the B&B, particularly those of you who are employed as First Responders…


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Mercedes Debuts Concept Computer Mouse In Its Latest Niche Play Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:40:59 +0000 mercedes-concept-coupe-suv_web


This is apparently Daimler’s rival to the BMW X6. It’s called the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe. I think it looks like an ergonomic computer mouse.

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BMW May Build Second NA Plant To Fend Off German Rivals Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:04:23 +0000 BMW Spartanburg

In its battle against Mercedes-Benz and Audi for record sales, BMW is mulling over the possibility of a second plant in North America.

Bloomberg reports the automaker would place its second factory in Mexico, with two sites under consideration. The decision to expand will take a few months according to BMW production chief Harald Krueger, Should the move be given a green light, the Mexican plant is likely to build the 3 Series.

The second factory would add to the long-term growth strategy BMW is using to fend off its German premium market competitors in a heated battle for records global sales, fueled by growing demand in the United States and China. Mercedes will add the C-Class to its Alabama facility in June with a new plant in North America due near the end of this decade, while Audi is in the middle of setting up shop in Mexico with a $1.3 billion plant set to produce crossovers beginning in 2016.

Previously, BMW announced it would invest $1 billion to expand its South Carolina plant by 50 percent in 2016, as well as add the X7 large SUV to the X Series lineup currently produced in the plant.

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Travel Back To 1967 As A Porsche Engineer Tackles The Ring In A Mercedes Sedan Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:46:37 +0000 01 - UtIOHGr

A series of incredible photos have been unearthed, showing what is believed to be a Porsche engineer wringing out a Mercedes sedan on the Nurburgring.

Imgur user Rexhardwick writes that the photos are

“A set of kodachromes shot by a Porsche engineer as he took a mercedes sedan around the Nurburgring in 1967. Descriptions are transcribed directly from the notes on the original slides. I’ve acquired his life’s work as a photographer and I am looking for any information about this man.”

It’s startling to think that these photos were taken by hand while driving the ‘Ring, which was even more deadly in the pre-Lauda crash era than today. The changes and improvements made in the name of safety are evident in the sparseness of the track’s landscape, and the lack of familiar devices like Armco barrier and fencing.

01 - UtIOHGr 02 - Starting line 03 - 6umVwFa 04 - 6sIO9n2 05 - atSOSDf 06 - WHgXMso 07 - Adenauer Forst KM 7 08 - Nyp2Ipg 09 - 4MbSadF 10 - Approaching the Caroussel 11 - the Caroussel 12 - Being passed by a porsche 13 - Shot one handed at over 100mph 14 - Finish line ]]> 32
Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:00:19 +0000 12 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing just about all the Mercedes-Benz W114s I find in self-service wrecking yards have in common is that they arrived at the yard in restorable condition. Little or no rust, interiors somewhat intact, mechanical parts mostly there. In this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, and this ’74 280C, and I’ve passed over dozens of ordinary W114 and W115 sedans in the last half-dozen years of junkyard prowling. What we’re seeing here is a combination of extreme longevity coupled with a rapid plummeting of value (in the eyes of those who covet these cars) once the cosmetic wear and tear build up. A 41-year-old Plymouth Satellite or Chevrolet Chevelle coupe in rust-free, reasonably complete shape would be worth a couple of grand and thus safe from that final tow-truck ride to the junkyard. The W114 coupe? Here’s another one, now resting in a California yard.
09 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good news is that there are sufficient examples of these cars still on the street that many parts will be rescued before The Crusher’s cold steel jaws eat this car. Looks like someone has snared the bumpers, grille, headlight assemblies, and trim already.
02 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne difference between restoring this car and restoring that ’73 Satellite is the cost of rejuvenating the upholstery; with the Plymouth, you can buy brand-new seat skins and just about everything else with a few mouse clicks. With the Benz, fixing that leather won’t be anywhere near as affordable.
07 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis big, fuel-injected M130 six was pretty futuristic by 1973 standards.
06 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir conditioning, of course.
03 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car listed at $9,994 new, which comes to just under 53 grand in 2014 bucks. How much was the much bigger and plusher ’73 Cadillac Coupe de Ville? $6,268. Of course, it probably didn’t take the Cad long to drink the price difference, given the effects of certain global political events at the time.

The W114 was quite a car, and it’s sad to see another rare coupe get eaten by the world’s demand for scrap metal.

02 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 52
Nissan, Daimler Working On Mexican Assembly For Luxury Cars Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Infiniti-Q30-1

The need for economies of scale in the automotive industry is driving some interesting events. The latest, a reported joint venture between Nissan and Daimler, is yet another step for the two companies, which has seen the Renault-Nissan alliance enter into, well, an alliance, to share costs relating to R&D and manufacturing.

Reuters is reporting that the two auto makers have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a factory in Mexico that will produce the Mercedes-Benz GLA, as well as an all-new Infiniti car.

The new car is likely the upcoming Q30 compact, which will use the Mercedes-Benz front-drive architecture that underpins the GLA and its CLA twin, as well as the Mercedes-Benz A and B Class compact hatches. The front-drive architecture has been wildly successful for Mercedes-Benz, and letting Infiniti utilize it will only ease some of the financial burden required for an all-new architecture, with both marques sharing some of the manufacturing costs.

Damiler and Renault-Nissan’s most recent collaboration was the just unveiled Renault Twingo, which will share a platform with the upcoming next-generation Smart cars. This sort of collaboration is a harbinger of things to come as competition in the auto world gets increasingly fierce, and the need for scale becomes a bigger requirement for profitability.


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Analysis: Three Shifts, Four Models A Profitable Formula For Daimler’s Front Drivers Thu, 20 Mar 2014 17:39:59 +0000 2013-03-05_Geneva_Motor_Show_8072

Strong sales of the Mercedes-Benz CLA have led Daimler to add a third shift at the Hungarian factory that produces the compact front-drive sedan, as well as the B-Class hatchback.

According to Bloomberg, Mercedes can’t get enough capacity for the new small cars based on their front-drive architecture. Even though parent company Daimler also builds the smaller A-Class, the B-Class and GLA compact crossover at a factory in Germany, they also had to contract out production of 100,000 units of the A-Class hatchback to Finland’s Valmet Automotive. In the United States, sales of the CLA have been strong, with over 14,000 units sold in 2013, despite being on sale for a mere four months. Although sales were weaker at the start of 2014, sources report that inventories are tight in many key markets, with most cars being pre-sold.

In our market, the CLA is a strong proposition for many buyers, offering an entry point into the Mercedes brand below the larger, rear-drive C-Class, at prices more in line with a well-equipped Honda Accord (the CLA starts at just under $30,000). But in world markets, specifically Europe, the CLA is crucial for Mercedes-Benz. A weak economy has hit young Europeans the hardest, leaving older buyers best positioned to buy new cars. Despite their affluence, they are, literally, a dying demographic.

On the other hand if there is indeed a “lost generation” of consumers, continuing to sell expensive vehicles on a volume basis is not necessarily sustainable over the long run. The CLA allows Mercedes to capture both older buyers looking to downsize, and appeal to younger buyers with less money, but premium aspirations, both in Europe and other markets worldwide. The latter demographic may not be conventionally wealthy, but they are used to brands and products that are considered to be luxury products, even if they don’t necessarily have the exorbitant price-tag of exclusive brands – think Starbucks, J.Crew and Apple.

This is the kind of car buyer that will gravitate to the CLA, and you can bet that the GLA will be also a smash hit in the nascent small-crossover segment. Like the CLA, it has the right badge and the right price tag, but with the added bonus of having the right form factor to sell not just in Europe and North America, but emerging markets with a whole new class of affluent customers, willing to pay a significant premium for a slightly higher ride, a two-box body and perhaps some faux-rugged cladding.

The target buyer for the CLA and GLA often comes up for criticism on TTAC, as well as the vehicles themselves: a small Mercedes with a transverse engine layout and a four-cylinder engine is anathema to most car enthusiasts, and a crossover doubly so. But in this kind of analysis, it’s important to suspend value judgements and look at it from a business perspective.

The business case for the cars is stellar. Four models spawned from one architecture, with the CLA and GLA able to serve as the high-margin variants. Combine that with the low assembly costs presented by building the cars in Eastern Europe, and you have a textbook example of how a car company can leverage economies of scale while also bringing to market a series of enticing products that are able to penetrate emerging markets and untapped demographics. Even BMW is looking to get in on the action, with their new front-drive 2-Series Active Tourer minivan.

The idea may not be terribly enticing to some – as an enthusiast, I’m certainly not thrilled about this direction - but this is where the market is going.

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Hammer Time: The Third Set Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:16:43 +0000 shoot1

“Gimme Carter!!! Gimme Carter!!!”

“You can have him!” My brother Lewis, a lifelong conservative was watching me, a hyperactive  six year old, pointing eagerly at our home’s only TV.

“I’m voting for Reagan.”

“Pa-tau!!1 Pa-tau! To a 1st grader’s ear, the word Reagan sounded just like “Ray gun”. And for all I knew, Carter and Reagan were locked in some Star Wars parallel universe fighting each other for control of the presidency.

Lord knows that 34 years later, I would need every single ounce of that youthful imagination to get through a day long movie shoot.

My wife and I always try to spend one day out of the month together. No kids. No work responsibilities. Just the privacy and solitude that comes with two people who are well-matched in what has become a picky, picky world.

She wants to get back into the film and video world, part-time, and so I took it upon myself to get two vehicles that would be a good fit for that elusive older car that looks neither brand new nor decrepit.


The 1980 Cadillac Seville that I mentioned last week was the optimal fit for this journey.  Black on black. Perfect leather seats. A little bit of wear. But not enough to make it look like anything more than a five year old car for the one to two seconds it would wind up on film.  After I put in a new master cylinder and properly bled out the brakes, it was good to go.

The second car was a more interesting case. I had sold a 1983 Mercedes 300D Turbodiesel to a fellow that I thought was a hardcore Mercedes enthusiast for all of $1700. I only made about $400 out of the deal. But I always take personal pride in making sure older cars are given to true enthusiasts. Instead of chucking it to someone looking to donate a car to the human hurricane within their family.


I got a great deal on that old Benz and in turn, left nothing to chance. New filters, fluids, brakes, two new tires. I spent about $300 prepping it for sale in parts and sold it to a guy who I thought would do a good job keeping it.

The good news is he didn’t abuse it. The bad news was that I couldn’t find out whether he took the lease amount of effort of changing the oil.

He said he did it recently. But a quart low already? The alignment is off? And that inner-tie rod end needs to be replaced? Mother of pearl!

A friend of mine who works for Porsches and Maseratis decided to give me the full-report on it while I handled the Cadillac.  The Cadillac was flawless. The Mercedes? Still tight. Just minor stuff…

“You’re getting picky-picky with this one Steve! Damn things old enough to be a Grandma in Alabama.”

“My wife wants to drive it out to a movie shoot. She hates big cars. So I’m gonna be drivin’ out the Caddy.”

“Get her an Impala or a Malibu instead Steve. I hate the smell of this diesel…$^^%$!!!”

My wife came by with her 1st gen Prius, and after I spent over ninety-five dollars filling the two vehicles up, we headed straight for Conyers, Georgia. A small town located somewhere between civilization and Deliverance.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The drive was the usual homicidal freakshow that is Atlanta traffic.  Folks don’t use their turn signals. Cell phones are surgically attached to most commuters, and two people driving 65 mph are justifiably banished to the right side of the freeway where they belong.


The Cadillac was just majestic. GM ‘s styling may have been a bit off the mark for this generation of Seville. But the 6.0 Liter Cadillac 368 engine was just perfectly matched to this particular generation, and it’s a shame that GM decided to off it after only one year for their diesel and 8/6/4 abominations. As for steering and handling,  you can do the same exact one finger cruising with this car that you can do for nearly any good Lincoln or Cadillac of days gone by… and it’s easier to drive than the Mercedes.


The Mercedes was meh. A 300D is expected to be infinitely higher in decibels than an old school Caddy and, even for the time, it wasn’t quite a luxury car.


I will admit that the material quality alone is easily a parallel universe beyond the Cadillac.  All the fake wood and cheaper vinyl of the Cadillac pales to the glory that is the W123′s design and engineering excellence.

That difference though is eliminated once you turn the key.

For the experience that is daily driving through a busy metropolitan area, I preferred the Cadillac. It has enough luxury to keep you isolated from the rampant vehicular stupidity that surrounds, you while allowing the driver to hear the smoothness of a big Detroit 6.0 Liter V8 over the 3.0 Liter clackety-clack-clack of the Mercedes. This noise difference is especially noticeable during the interminable traffic jams that happened on the ride back.

We didn’t hit anything other than air molecules for this first 35 miles journey. We arrived early. Just in time for the most important event for movie extras between the waiting and the shooting.


The eating. Lunch for a successful TV program is a true wonder to behold, and since there were only a few extras for this show which we’ll assume is called, “Go And Throw Ice At The Devil!”. Since there were only two of us at the time, we were spared of the usual culinary segregation and got to eat with the cast and crew.

I saw a familiar face as soon as I got out of the Seville. “Steve! I miss that old yellow pickup truck!”


“It’s down the street from me. The guy is using it for his lawnmower repair business.”

“He’s not restoring it? Damn! I wanted that thing.”

“I’ve been to his house. The family doesn’t believe in anything after 1984. He spent an hour going through the truck and it’s now the ugliest good running truck in town. ”

Brando and I caught up on life, and my wife caught up on crossword puzzles. At least until the opening shoot.


It was supposed to easy. The main character leaves his driveway in some Grizwold 1970′s woody wagon. My wife’s car goes straight past. The Caddy turns right, a Ford truck turns left, and a Triumph TR6 idles away at a stop sign.

Sounds easy enough? Not when you don’t have enough walky-talkies.

We did the shot 16 times. 16 TIMES! And every time I did the shoot, I got an unwelcome surprise.

The police officer blocking off the road I turned into decided to change his cruiser’s parking position after each shoot. Why? I have no idea. His vehicle wasn’t even in the camera shot. But sure enough, every single time I made that turn, I found myself performing another new and exciting three point turn with a 34 year old Cadillac.

“Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk!” Asthamtic sounding acceleration back to position. Then wait….


I also discovered something else. Black on black plus even a 70 degree time will equal about 90 degrees inside one of these things. The A/C worked, thanks to the prior owner who converted it into R134. Unfortunately the director wanted the vehicles to idle at all times. So we likely wasted about $30 worth of gas in the shooting process.

None of the cars broke down or even overheated. However the Triumph had more blue smoke than anything I had ever seen that didn’t already have a two stroke engine in it. I’m willing to bet that the thing was dirtier than any old scooter you can find… but it ran. That vehicle was a bit rough around the edges. But this gorgeous Riviera helped smooth out the line-up that day.


After the shoot, we had dinner and then… a holding cell. No joke. The extras had to stay four abreast in a 2 foot by 10 foot room with no nuttin’ for two hours.


Conversation, yes. Smartphone? Wonderful! A TV? Surely, you’re joking Mr. Feynman.

Once the clock struck exactly 8:48 P.M. we were out on parole. No overtime this time. Brando signed us out and we quickly made a 37 mile skedaddle towards the north Georgia woodlands we call home.

Will we do it again? Probably. However, Georgia weather is rather nasty and brutish during the summer time. A Malibu with light colored cloth and a snow white exterior may be the perfect match for the next set.


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BMW, Mercedes Downsize Number Of Architectures For Future Vehicles Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:01:18 +0000 bmw-2-series-active-tourer-11

In order to accelerate development of new models while also cutting costs, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are downsizing the number of architectures to be used in future vehicles in their respective lineups.

Automotive News Europe reports Mercedes will be down from nine platforms five years ago to four platforms by 2016, with the first — the MFA — already in showrooms as the CLA; the MFA-underpinned B-Class and GLA will arrive in United States showrooms later this summer. The move would allow Mercedes to move safety systems from their flagship S-Class to lower classes more quickly than in previous years.

Meanwhile, BMW will go from five to two platforms — one for RWD, one for FWD –between its namesake brand and Mini. The latter debuted with the redesigned Mini not too long ago, and will also underpin the 2-Series Active Tourer officially unveiled in Geneva last week.

As for the RWD platform, BMW R&D board member Herbert Deiss says it will arrive in 2016 under the next-generation 7 Series. Both consolidations were brought to life to allow more affordable expansion of each brand’s lineup.

BMW’s i Series will not take part in the consolidation, nor will Rolls-Royce.

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Geneva 2014: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:23:30 +0000 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-10


Just to be sure that nobody would confuse it with the Acura CL, Mercedes is now calling it the S-Class Coupe.

2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-10 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-04 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-03 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-01 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-07 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-05 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-06 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-13 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-15 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-17 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-22 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-23 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-24 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-25 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-26 2015-Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-Coupe-27 ]]> 40
Ur-Turn: Das Beste…Wirklich Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:42:01 +0000 06benz7 (2)

At age 64, I have been driving legally for 48 years. I have bought and sold many, many cars. Some were good, some were not, some were meh!

So a question emerges, what was the best car of them all?

As of November, 2013 I would have said, my last daily driver. A 2006 Mercedes-Benz W211, otherwise known as an E 350. I bought it off-lease exactly five years before. It had 42,000 miles when I bought it, and 87,000 at the end.

No car is perfect, of course, but as the years went by, I developed a surprising affection for what I called “my German taxi with plastic seats.” Previous rides that I had “holstered,” in Farago-speak, included BMW 540i, Acura TL, and Lexus IS 250. And the Benz was really reliable. Lexus reliable. It never failed to start or left me stranded by the roadside. It was serviced annually at the local dealer at fees ranging from $400 to $1,000.

The 2 major flaws I experienced were with a jammed sunroof and a failure of the electric trunklid closer. The sunroof problem the dealer estimated could cost as much as $1,000. Fortunately, a friend is very knowledgeable about this problem. When the roof is opened, a front wind deflector pops up, powered by 2 simple flat metal springs. These springs are held in place by (what else?) 2 plastic brackets. It is a horrible design. Even the mechanically illiterate would look at the bracket and declare it inadequate. And this design is found on many, many modern Mercedes. The brackets break, and the broken pieces end up jamming the roof track. New brackets are like $11.00 a pop, easy to install, and the track was easy to clean and lubricate. So I dodged a bullet on that one. The trunk closer fault was diagnosed to be a short in the rear electrical harness and the dealer replaced it for around $800. Not too bad for 45,000 miles of very pleasant motoring.

The car has many pluses. I have always thought that Mercedes-Benz, of all the imports, offer the best combination of ride and handling. They are designed to excel at autobahn speeds and they have amazing road sense. I have owned quite a few Mercedes before and this is a very common characteristic. The other strong point is the overall packaging of people and cargo. Lots of room, front and rear, and a huge trunk. The seats, front and rear were also very comfortable. The paint work was the finest I have ever seen. The Harman-Kardon stereo was also superb.

The main flaws were high levels of road texture noise, as bad as any I have ever experienced. And a way too “flexy” body structure. Over really bad bumps, all 4 doors rattled. That never used to happen on a Benz. Other W211s (and the replacement W212s) I have ridden in exhibited the same symptoms.

So, as I was saying, I liked the car. But five years is a long time and it was time for a change. I live in sunny Palm Springs, and had recently installed solar power on my house. I decided that my next car would be a plug-in hybrid. I’ll write about that selection process soon. So I put my immaculate Mercedes on Craiglist and and soon had several interested buyers. During a test drive, one of the prospects said they could smell gas fumes outside of the car. I had it checked out, and sure enough, my car had developed a leak in the fuel tank. On a Mercedes, the fuel tank is beneath the rear seat cushion. The tank itself was sound, the leak was in the large plastic canister above the tank which included the fuel pump and sending unit. Here comes the good part. You cannot replace just the canister. It only comes as a unit with the tank.

What’s even worse is that this is a known flaw on the W211 series (and probably others.) My local dealer even had them in stock (for an 8 year old car), that’s how often they fail. So here’s your introduction to owning an older, out-of-warranty Mercedes (or any other German car). The fuel tank lists at $1,900 and another $600 for installation. Is this acceptable? “The best or nothing.”?
It made me realize that today’s Mercedes-Benzes are not nearly as well designed, or well built as they once were. The company that used to be run by some of the best engineers anywhere now operates as a maker of expensive fashion accessories. Since most of their customers lease their cars for 3-4 years, the cars are always under warranty. But who will want them when they become 7or 8 years old?

So the question I propose to you, the best and the brightest, is: does any automaker today design cars to really last?

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Mercedes Adding New Sprinter Models, Dealers As Van Sales Rise Mon, 03 Mar 2014 06:18:55 +0000 2014 Mercedes Sprinter

With European vans such as the Ford Transit Connect and the Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster finding overwhelming success in the United States commercial van market, Mercedes is preparing its Sprinter to show the competition how it’s done on Floral Shop Lane.

Automotive News reports Mercedes-Benz Vans USA — part of the overall global van division Mercedes created last year during an internal reorganization resulting in three self-contained units for vans, cars and commercial products — will be adding new models to the Sprinter lineup alongside more dealerships to sell the lighter and taller new generation van, all in an effort to capitalize on an evolving U.S. commercial van market as MBUSA vice president and MB Vans USA managing director Bernie Glaser explains:

The Sprinter is the benchmark and the norm of the Euro-style vans. There is a revolution happening in the segment and big changes coming that were caused by the Sprinter — vans with a smaller footprint but big cargo volume.

Changes planned for the Sprinter include: a new four-pot turbodiesel from the E-Class mated to a seven-speed transmission; electronic stability control standard with options available for collision prevention, blind-spot assistance and crosswind stabilization; an all-wheel drive model due in 2015; and a small 12-passenger variant under consideration.

Meanwhile, the sales channel for the Sprinter will expand from 188 to 218 within five years; 57 Freightliner dealers will also be added. Stronger marketing tactics are in the offing, aimed to move more Sprinters into the wrap shop in 2014 than the 21,816 sold in 2013. However, the unit saw 1,288 vans sold in January as small business owners coming out of the Great Recession with more confidence in the market headed to the nearest dealer.

As for 2014, the new Sprinter uses a base 2.1-liter BlueTEC I4 driving 161 horsepower and 320 lb-ft torque through its seven-speed transmission, whose fuel economy is 20 percent better than the optional 3-liter BlueTEC V6/five-speed transmission combo. The latter pairing gets 25 mpg on the highway from the supplied 188 horses and 265 lb-ft torque. Prices range from $35,920 for a Sprinter 2500 with 144-inch wheelbase and standard roof, to $45,400 for the same model with a 170-inch wheelbase and high roof.

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NLRB To Conduct Hearing on Alleged Worker Intimidation at Mercedes-Benz Plant in Alabama Wed, 29 Jan 2014 16:19:57 +0000 28_Millionth_Vehicle_at_Plant_Tuscaloosa

The National Labor Relations Board will conduct a hearing to discuss allegations regarding management conduct at Mercedes-Benz’s Vance, Alabama plant. The reports filed with the Board allege that Mercedes violated worker’s rights by forbidding discussion of unions during working hours, as well as threatening termination of employees that solicited for the union.

The UAW accuses Mercedes of suppressing efforts by employees to organize, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Mercedes claims it has pursued a policy of neutrality regarding the unionization of its workforce. The NLRB dismissed one complaint filed against the company in August of last year. But two other complaints filed in the fall were accepted by the NLRB as possible violations of labor law. The hearing, to be conducted on April 7, will allow both sides to present their case before a judge. The recommendation of that judge will influence the final ruling by the NLRB. A ruling against the complaint would strengthen the position of Mercedes and the union’s political opponents, but if the NLRB finds a violation of the law, it could be a major coup for the UAW.

This is the latest development in an ongoing campaign to unionize the plant, which builds the M, R, and GL Class near Tuscaloosa. Pro-union employees cite stagnating wages and reduced benefits as part of their reason for considering unionization. This leaflet issued by the UAW organizing committee alleges that since 2007, Mercedes has slashed healthcare plans for retirees. Supposedly, employees hired after 2009 will not be eligible for any retiree health benefits whatsoever. Employees have also voiced concern over the increased use of temporary workers at the plant. Still others point to a general decline in the relationship between labor and management, with complaints about inconsistent application of company policy. Others dismiss the need for a union, pointing out that high-paying jobs were scarce in the area before Mercedes arrived. They fear that the UAW may damage Mercedes’ recent run of success in the US. This includes an expansion of the plant to build the new C-Class later this year.

Although it has not yet succeeded in organizing the main Mercedes plant, the UAW has had a measure of success with Mercedes’ suppliers. The parts makers Faurecia, Inteva, ZF, and Johnson Controls in nearby areas have been organized for several years. It’s possible that the UAW may be able to leverage this success with plant workers in Vance. Even so, the unionization of a major transplant automaker in a right-to-work state remains a daunting task.

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EU Starts Legal Proceedings Against Germany in R134a Dispute With Daimler Fri, 24 Jan 2014 12:00:49 +0000 DCF 1.0

The legal struggle has heated up between Daimler and the European Commission over the automaker’s continued use of R134a air conditioning refrigerant, which has been banned by the EU, in some of its models. ”We are opening a procedure against Germany. This is not a final decision by the Commission,” EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said.

Germany has two months to respond. The procedure for adjudicating the violation of EU rules is a multi-step process which normally takes months. The German government is backing Mercedes-Benz and the dispute could ultimately end up in the European Court of Justice, with the possibility of heavy fines and the recall of about 130,000 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B class, CLA and SL cars.

Daimler bases it’s opposition to phasing out R134a is due to concerns over the fire safety of the replacement, R1234yf.  When burned, R1234yf gives off hydrogen flouride gas, which is toxic. Other European carmakers have switched over their latest models to then new coolant which was jointly developed by Honeywell and DuPont.

The EU’s directive 2006/40/EC bans the use of R134a in models approved for sale after December 2010. Vehicle types certified earlier, or their derivatives, have until 2017 to comply. Daimler and the German government believe that continuing to use R134a in those models in not a breach of EU rules. Daimler had gotten approval from German regulators to continue to use R134a while it develops a CO2 based refrigerant that would be even more environmentally sensitive than R1234yf. Daimler and the German government continue to urge EU officials to reconsider the safety of R1234yf. VDA, the German auto industry’s trade association, said that it was surprised at the European Commission taking formal steps against Daimler before tests on the safety of R1234yf had been completed and evaluated.


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Dr. Z Expects a Decade of Disappointment For Fuel Cell Technology Wed, 22 Jan 2014 11:00:10 +0000 DieterZetscheIAA2009

At a round-table discussion with reporters during last week’s Detroit Auto Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche proclaimed that any consumer wanting to be green with fuel cells had better be prepared for a decade of disappointment with the technology.

Zetsche said there were cost issues with the process for creating fuel cells — Daimler’s three-way dance with Ford and Nissan to bring a market-ready fuel cell vehicle by 2017 was done to help spread the cost while accelerating development — as well as a lack of vehicle volume to help further drive down costs, while the few hydrogen fueling stations around the globe aren’t doing anything to help widespread adoption; there are only 10 such stations in the United States alone, eight of which are in Southern California.

Zetsche is more optimistic on the autonomous vehicle front, however, noting the unexpectedly rapid development in the technology. Mercedes-Benz has taken the lead in the space with the new S-Class and its Distronic cruise control system with automatic braking, which can pilot a car on its own for up to 60 miles with a few adjustments to its onboard technology.

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2014 NAIAS: Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupe Sun, 12 Jan 2014 16:16:10 +0000 IMG_0381

While I was at Cobo Hall straightening out press credentials to the upcoming Detroit auto show for a colleague, Mercedes-Benz was rehearsing their media presentation, including the North American reveal of the Concept S-Class Coupe, a two door version of Daimler’s flagship sedan. The Concept S-Class Coupe isn’t really a secret, having already been shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.


The Mercedes-Benz display at the NAIAS this year is right across from Cadillac’s display, which has been split off from the other GM brands congregated in the corporate GM booth. One of the vehicles that Cadillac will be showing will be the Elmiraj coupe concept that was a big hit at Pebble Beach last summer. Cadillac’s product planners will likely be able to see the Concept S-Class Coupe from the Elmiraj’s turntable. Maybe that’s a good thing, as I’m in the group that thinks that the large RWD flagship sedan that outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson says the company will build almost necessarily needs a coupe version at its side in Cadillac showrooms.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Mercedes-Benz Urges Canada To Adopt EU Regulations As Part Of Free Trade Agreement Tue, 24 Dec 2013 13:00:52 +0000 aclass

Canada and the European Union’s newly inked free trade agreement will eliminate the 6.1 percent tariff on imported vehicles, but one big obstacle remains: the lack of harmonization between Canadian and European vehicle standards. According to a report by The Globe and Mail, Mercedes-Benz Canada’s President is calling for an end to the differing standards, which feature unique requirements and add costs to Canadian vehicles.

Speaking to a group of reporters, M-B Canada’s Tim Reuss said

“Are you really going to say that a car that has been deemed safe enough and environmentally okay for Europe is not environmentally okay and safe to be driven in Canada or vice versa?”

Reuss said that harmonized standards would allow for the sale of the A-Class and an AWD variant of the Sprinter, as well as new safety technologies like flashing brake lights that warn of a sudden stop. Canada’s own regulations are slightly different from the American FMVSS regulations, but are more similar to the United States than the UNECE standards.

Other auto makers would no doubt be glad to have a single set of regulations for Canada. A TTAC source claims that VW would be able to sell the Polo in Canada, which is sized and packaged right for Canadian market tastes, but the cost of homologating the car make it economically unviable for sale in Canada, given the volumes it would do.

By contrast, Australia, which has a similar sized market, accepts UNECE regulations, and has a notoriously crowded market full of brands and nameplates, while Mexico, another NAFTA country, accepts both sets of regulations, and has many European brands and nameplates that would be more suited for the Canadian market, but are currently not sold here.

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Mercedes-Benz Expands Alabama Facilities, Deals With Labor Issues Ahead of C-Class Introduction Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:00:29 +0000 Mercedes-Benz C250, AMG Line, Avantgarde, Diamantsilber metallic

Mercedes-Benz has been making improvements to its manufacturing facility near Tuscaloosa, Alabama in anticipation of the introduction of the all-new 2015 C-Class.  On December 18, Mercedes held a grand opening ceremony for a new 900,000 square foot parts logistics center at the plant.  Mercedes claims the $70 million dollar facility will employ 600 people.


Most of those new hires will be contract employees working for outside suppliers, but some will be directly employed by Mercedes as transfers from existing facilities. The facility will handle daily parts deliveries as part of the just-in-time production method. Governor Robert Bentley was in attendance, remarking that “Mercedes has been a great partner for Alabama” since the plant opened. Mercedes began production at the facility in 1997.

Mercedes says that the addition of C-Class production will add about 1,000 employees at the facility in total. That number may increase in 2015, when the company plans to add another SUV to the production line. Auto Evolution claims that new SUV will probably be the next-generation GLK. This is yet to be confirmed by Mercedes, but it seems likely given that the C-Class is built on the same platform. It would also make a logical replacement for the aged and slow-selling R-Class. Mercedes discontinued R-Class sales in the United States last year, but still produces the vehicle in Tuscaloosa for the world market.

The expansion of the Tuscaloosa facility, like the founding of VW’s Chattanooga plant, has created waves in labor relations around the globe. Building cars in Alabama is part of a global production strategy that has seen Mercedes parent company Daimler shift more capacity to America.  When Daimler announced plans to transfer C-Class production out of its Sindelfingen, Germany facility back in 2009, it led to mass protests by workers affiliated with the union IG Metall. IG Metall has since backed unionization efforts at both Daimler and VW’s American facilities by the United Auto Workers, out of fear of being undercut by cheaper American labor. The UAW has lobbied Tuscaloosa workers extensively with IG Metall’s assistance, but has had no success thus far. The continued expansion of the facility will undoubtedly focus ever-greater attention on labor relations and compensation at the plant.

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Mercedes Unveils Grown Up 2015 C-Class Tue, 17 Dec 2013 05:34:20 +0000 Mercedes-Benz C250, AMG Line, Avantgarde, Diamantsilber metallic

Though the CLA has enough fans to merit a warning about supply shortages until after June of 2014, Mercedes-Benz still knows the C-Class is its bread and butter. As such, the automaker has unveiled their latest and greatest generation of the former “baby Benz” to the world.

The new C-Class is larger than the outgoing generation — adding 3 inches to the wheelbase, 3.7 inches in overall length, 1.6 inches in overall width, and a total of 17 cubic feet of trunk space — but is also 220 pounds lighter thanks to its hybrid aluminium body and other weight-saving tech. The sedan’s new nature-inspired styling provides a lower drag co-efficient and quieter interior.

In the United States, the C-Class will arrive in two models: The C300 4MATIC — powered by a 2-liter directly injected turbo-four pushing 235 horses and 273 pounds of torque through all four wheels — and the C400 4MATIC — powered by a 3-liter turbo V6 churning out 329 ponies and 354 pounds of stump-pulling power. Directing the power will be the automaker’s 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission.

As far as technology is concerned, the CLA leesees will miss out on goodies such as the AIRMATIC air suspension — a first for the segment — which allows drivers to adjust their ride and handling through four presets and one personalized setting, adaptive braking, collision detection/prevention, lane-keeping, even attention assistance to keep you awake on long drives.

No price has been announced as of this time, though speculation states an announcement could occur as early as the upcoming Detroit Auto Show next month.

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Mercedes to U.S. Dealers: Expect Fewer CLAs For Now Mon, 16 Dec 2013 06:22:11 +0000 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Due to high demand from customers jumping aboard the CLA bandwagon, Mercedes-Benz has warned dealers in the United States that supply of the new four-door coupe will be limited for the first half of 2014.

The popularity of the CLA helped the Stuttgart automaker widen its lead in the U.S. over the Bavarians at BMW while also bringing in a younger demo to the showroom; the median age of a CLA lessee is 46, while 57 is the age of majority for Mercedes overall.

In the meantime, supply of the front-driven coupe will be tight up through June 2014 as the factory screwing them together is at maximum capacity.

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Cain’s Segments: Luxury Flagships Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:00:01 +0000 444x350xTesla_Supercharging_in_Gilroy-444x350.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kxcAuWKYL-

As expected, the arrival of Mercedes-Benz’s sixth-generation S-Class provided a massive boost in sales just as Mercedes-Benz’s all-new CLA-Class arrived at the bottom of the lineup. Traditionally seen as the market leader, the S-Class has attempted to put aside all doubts by attracting more than 1900 U.S. buyers in each of the last two months. It’s popular.

Its rivals from the top of competitors’ lineups are, by recent comparison, rather rare. The S-Class sold 84% more often than the Lexus LS, its next-best-selling rival, in November 2013. LS volume is higher than its been since 2010, but as is the case with the S-Class, sales in this category simply aren’t what they once were. Lexus is on pace for fewer than 11,000 LS sales this year, yet they sold 32,272 copies in 2004. Mercedes-Benz USA sold more than 30,000 S-Class sedans as recently as 2006, but shouldn’t top 14,000 sales in 2013.

BMW’s 7-Series surely sees some of its possible sales siphoned off by the advent of the 6-Series Gran Coupe, an exceedingly stylish and similarly-priced sedan. After falling 8% in 2011, 2% last year, 7-Series sales are up just 1% this year. BMW USA sold 22,006 7-Series sedans in 2002 but will likely sell half that many in 2013. Meanwhile, the three-pronged 6-Series lineup will sell close to 10,000 units in 2013, not much (if any) better than what it achieved in the 2004-2007 time period, but approximately quadruple what BMW managed in pre-Gran Coupe 2010.

With a meaningful 9% year-over-year year-to-date increase, the Audi A8 is selling about half as often as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class over the course of the last eleven months. Back in 2006, when Mercedes-Benz sold 30,886 S-Classes, Audi A8 volume totalled just 5038. Sales then fell consistently until Audi was below 2000 A8 units in 2009 and 2010. The A8’s 7% November decline followed a 1% drop in September and a 25% decline in October.

In terms of YTD U.S. volume, the Jaguar XJ is the Audi A8’s closest competitor. Year-over-year, XJ sales rose 4% to 10,552 in 2004, when Jaguar also sold 10,975 S-Types and 21,542 X-Types. Compared with 2012, XJ sales are up by 522 units through eleven months. 32% of the Jaguars sold in America this year – and 8% of the Jaguar-Land Rover products – have been XJ sedans.

The Panamera accounts for 13% of Porsche’s 2013 U.S. volume; 22% of Porsche’s non-Cayenne volume. November, however, wasn’t a particularly positive month for the Panamera, sales of which slid 31%; 35% compared with November 2010. 28,402 Panameras have been sold in the United States since the model went on sale in 2009. 7741 were sold in 2010, its best year so far.

The Panamera brings up an interesting point, of course, that of the Cayenne’s impact. Ignore price points for a moment, and consider the total year-to-date sales of these same automakers’ flagship utility vehicles: 13,699 Audi Q7s, 37,865 BMW X5s, 3950 Lexus LX570s, , 27,673 Mercedes GLs and 2295 G-Classes, 17,128 Cayennes, and 10,881 Range Rovers and 13,671 Range Rover Sports. Cadillac, Infiniti, and Lincoln don’t have genuine S-Class alternatives, but Cadillac has sold a total of 20,203 Escalades this year, Lincoln has sold 7671 Navigators, and QX56/QX80 volume is down 13% to 11,398.

Still wondering where large luxury limo sales went?

Still want to know what’s up with the Hyundai Equus, a car which is priced more in keeping with an E-Class than an S-Class? Sales are down 11% to 3226 in 2013. Hyundai USA set an Equus sales record with 435 sales in August. Cadillac XTS sales are up 147% to 29,889 in 2013; up 31% in a like-for-like six-month period. Lincoln MKS sales are down 13% to 9719 in 2013.

Tesla’s sales figures for the Model S, a vehicle with which you could form an S-Class-rivalling argument, aren’t released monthly or with specificity but are estimated to be around 16,950 through eleven months with approximately 1400 November sales. (We don’t ignore it for lack of relevance but because of data dearth.) The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class are down 2% to 7539 and down 0.5% to 7322, respectively. Total Maserati sales are up 55% to 3715 in 2013, total Bentley sales are up 21% to 2519, and other luxury marques don’t report monthly U.S. figures.

% Change
11 mos.
11 mos.
Audi A8
503 541 -7.0% 5582 5102 +9.4%
BMW 7-Series
617 939 -34.3% 9813 9676 +1.4%
Jaguar XJ
465 266 +74.8% 4985 4463 +11.7%
Lexus LS
1039 1309 -20.6% 9663 7059 +36.9%
1907 1374 +38.8% 11,446 10,684 +7.1%
Porsche Panamera
472 680 -30.6% 4921 7131 -31.0%
Tesla Model S
( Est.)
1400 800 +75.0% 16,950 1620 +946%
5909 +8.4% 63,360 45,735 +38.5%
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Mercedes-Benz Increases Its U.S. Luxury Lead Over BMW On Strong CLA Sales Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:30:55 +0000 2014 Mercedes CLA

In the new $29,900 CLA coupe’s first full month of U.S. sales, Mercedes-Benz sold 4,895 units in October, helping the brand post a 25% increase over last October’s sales and double it’s lead over BMW, the number two luxury brand in this market.


In addition to the CLA, deliveries of the E-class were up 23%, with total sales for the month at 30,069. By comparison, BMW brand October sales were 27,574 vehicles, a 4% increase over last year. For the year, M-B has sold 245,125 units compared to BMW’s 240,139, Lexus’ 213,479, and Cadillac’s 148,206. Lexus sales are up 12% for the year and Cadillac is up 27% on the year to date.

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BMW Focused On i Subbrand Over Short-Term Monetary Gains Tue, 05 Nov 2013 14:25:10 +0000 02-2014-bmw-i3In lieu of short-term monetary gains over their competitors at Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen (via Audi), BMW is spending its earnings on building up their i sub-brand through the city-focused i3 and the plug-in hybrid supercar i8.

As a result of their focus on the cutting edge, and in spite of demand for the brand’s 3 Series, the German automaker posted a 3.7 percent decline in third-quarter earnings, pulling in $2.6 billion this time around. In an effort to stay ahead of their hard-charging competition (both of whom aim to bury BMW in the sales war by the end of this decade), BMW will introduce 25 new models during the 2013 and 2014 model years, 10 of whom are completely new. In contrast, Mercedes aims to release a baker’s dozen of all-new Teutonic goodness by 2020, while Audi plans to add a few more numbers to its Q series of SUVs.

Regarding the i3, 8,000 orders have already been sent to dealers in the United States, Europe and China, prompting BMW to make more of the EV in time for its debut in European showrooms November 16; American and Chinese customers will get theirs sometime in the first half of 2014. The price of admission for the i3 on our shores will be $41,350, with an optional 650cc 2-cylinder engine — whose sole purpose to keep the electric power going for an additional 80 to 100 miles on top of the 80 to 100 miles the electric-only model travels — priced around $4,000.

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QOTD: Pump Up The Volume Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:59:26 +0000 mercedes_is_betting_a_lot_on_smaller_cars_with_the_new_a_cla_large_104251

With the wraps finally off the BMW 2-Series, we now have a full slate of entry-level products from the German luxury designed to bring a whole new demographic into the arms of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. As much hand wringing as there is over the possible brand dilution going on here (all in the name of ever more important volume), it’s a damn good time to be a German car fan with around $30k to spend.



The Mercedes-Benz CLA is the first to hit the market, with the all-important sub$30,000 pricepoint. $29,900 gets you a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and swoopy, pseudo-CLS styling. But you won’t be staying there for long – pretty much everything is an option, and the price can creep upward really quickly.


For the same $29,900, Audi will also offer you a same sedan that is front-drive, with an engine 200cc smaller and the same “looks like a big Audi, till a big Audi pull up” styling. The A3 at least has a fair bit of standard equipment: xenon lights, leather and a moonroof are all standard.

digital post production: Ole Bunger

Of the Germans, only BMW has breached the $30,000 barrier, with its all new 228i, which starts at $33,025. But the 228i offers two things that the Audi and M-B can’t give you at any price: rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Of course, it’s also got two doors, while the other have four.

Tell me which one you’d prefer in the comments, or if you’d rather have a W-Body paid for in cash because owning one of these past the warranty period is an exercise is masochism.

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