Since I’ve been haunting self-serve wrecking yards since the early 1980s, I’ve seen some patterns in the average age of various junkyard inhabitants. Detroit cars show up in large numbers after about 10-13 years on the road. Toyotas and Hondas need about 20 years. Off-brand Japanese stuff (e.g., Mitsubishis, Daihatsus, Suzukis) appear in under a decade. 1980s Hyundais started showing up in these yards when they were under five years of age, which is a terribleness record. Mercedes-Benz cars, however… well, the stuff they built in the early-to-middle 1970s is just now appearing in large numbers at U-Wrench-It. (Read More…)
What unalloyed pleasure it gives me to welcome TTAC’s august founder, Robert Farago, back to these pages. Robert’s a little too busy with what might be the biggest firearms news site in the world to give us much more than this review of Mercedes’ four-door-not-really-a-coupe, but to paraphrase John Mayer, it’s hard for me to take a stand when I will take his work any way I can. Go visit Mr. Farago at his new digs and say hello… and enjoy this review! — JB
When the heat breaks in Texas Hill Country the air is as dry as an Oxford grad’s sense of humor. And when my ML350 broke blasting across four lanes of trafﬁc my Mercedes dealer passed me the key to a CLS550. And so I found myself behind the squared-off wheel of Germany’s lowered limo on a starry Texas night, contemplating cats’ eyes roller-coastering into the distance. I felt an old yet welcome urge to press my luck with local LEOs.
While your humble Editor-In-Chief was brake-torquing his mighty 560SL — about which more will be said in the near future — over to the liquor store to pick some Alizé for some morally-challenged females, Mercedes-Benz USA was holding quite a party for the CLA Press Drive. I’m reliably told it was the most upscale event in history to feature a vehicle priced head-to-head with the Ford Fusion. I’m also reliably told by the same people who told me about the event that the cheapest Benzo is the bee’s knees and just totally awesome in every respect.
But there’s already one bit of off-message news emerging about the transverse-engined Teutonic travesty:
Mercedes-Benz E-Class sales shot up 44% in August 2013, a 2008-unit gain. This improvement followed up on July’s 10% year-over-year improvement, which put an end to four consecutive months of decline for the now-recently facelifted E-Class, Mercedes-Benz’s core midsize model.
Mercedes-Benz more or less created the four-door luxury coupe segment with the CLS, a large car with all the amenities but a sleeker, sportier roofline. Now, it appears that the German automaker is bringing the CL coupes back into the S-Class fold, introducing the new two door Concept S-Class Coupe based on the S platform. It shares the same 449 HP twin turbo V8 as the recently introduced S-Class sedan as well as the S-Class’ well received interior, but in a body shape that has softer, more elongated lines than the sedan along with wraparound taillights and dramatic front end styling similar to that seen on the Concept Style Coupe show car. That nose, though, will likely not make it to production.
Here’s a little secret: ever since the folks at No Longer DaimlerChrysler decided to pervert their previously sensible nomenclature in order to better suit the lowest common denominator of California housewives, the replacement for the 190E has been known within Mercedes-Benz dealerships as the “Cheap-Class”. It’s a particularly common phrase in Service and Parts, but from time to time a salesperson will let it slip as well, although certainly not in front of the customer.
There’s something ungracious about calling a vehicle that sells for a minimum (and as-tested!) price of $36,725 the “Cheap” anything, but from the perspective of its manufacturer the sobriquet is legitimate. Set the Wayback Machine for 1975, and you can find a W115 240D selling for $9500. That’s $38,000 in today’s money, and it got you a German taxi with roll-up windows, no air conditioning, sixty-four horsepower, and M-B Tex seats. The new car offers more — a lot more — for less. So, Cheap-Class it is.
My recent trip to Napa for the VW Intramural League test offered me a chance to kill a couple birds with a single stone. By renting my own transportation, I’d be free to avoid the $100 dinners with various Heffalumps Of The Industry. And by paying an eye-watering $354 for three days including airport tax, I’d be able to review a Mercedes for the B&B. Done and done. To paraphrase Jerry Orbach in Dirty Dancing, let’s see what my money bought.
Reuters is reporting that his sources tell him that Daimler will join Nissan in building cars at Nissan’s $2-billion Aguascalientes plant in Mexico, which will start production in late 2014. The factory will assemble compact crossovers, the Infiniti Q30 and possibly the Mercedes-Benz GLA, which will share engines and other components with the Q30.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are doing it, so why not Infiniti? The Q30 concept, shown here, previews a front-drive compact luxury car that will likely share its underpinnings with the Mercedes-Benz CLA. The Q30 will make its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, while a production version will be built at Nissan’s facility in the UK that also builds the Juke and Qashqai. A European-centric product, the Q30 is reportedly not slated for North American sales or production.
Though Daimler shuttered its Maybach ultra-luxury brand, it isn’t giving up on selling cars in the $200,000+ price range. With the $470,000 Maybach, Mercedes-Benz tried to compete with ne plus ultra cars like the Bentley Mulsanne and Rolls Royce Phantom. In the ten years that the Maybach was produced, Daimler sold about 3,000 of them, about how many Phantoms Rolls-Royce sells in a year.
After a French court lifted that country’s ban on Mercedes-Benz cars equipped with R134a air conditioning refrigerant, saying that the French ministry for the environment must reevaluate their decision to block those cars, Daimler said that it was “very confident’ that the French government will abide by that court ruling. R134a has been banned for use in new model cars by the EU since the start of 2013.
As part of an announced technical partnership between AMG, the performance subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz and Britain’s Aston Martin, Daimler will buy up to a 5% interest in the luxury performance car maker. The agreement will give AM “significant access” to the technical resources of both AMG and its parent. Aston Martin will use those resources to develop V8 engines and have access to Mercedes Benz’s electronic architecture and components. (Read More…)
The EU Commission has provisionally sided with France in that country’s decision to stop the sale of new Mercedes-Benz cars because of Daimler’s decision to continue to use R134a refrigerant in it’s HVAC systems. The EU has banned R134a out of concerns for global warming. The only available replacement that meets the new regulations is R1234yf, made by Honeywell, and Mercedes-Benz has insisted that their tests show that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and could start an underhood fire under certain conditions. The provisional ruling could be a problem for Daimler in other EU countries.
It’s said that only 5 R63 AMGs ever made it to Canada. They all must be in Toronto. I know of two in the neighborhood I grew up in, while another one was for sale a few months ago in Oakville (and still is). Meanwhile, this one just popped up for $31,000. According to the ad “ONLY SERIOUS BUYAER FOR MORE INFO PLEASE ONLY CALL. ANY TIME”. So, go do that. I would, if I had the extra cash. Then again, financial responsibility is overrated.
In the face of potential CO2 regulations that would mandate tough emissions regulations for new cars in the Eurozone, Germany is doing its best to shut them down completely. And the rest of the EU, along with some OEMs, are not happy about it.