The pride of Tuscaloosa is getting a very German revamp for its next generation, adopting evolutionary changes in design while slipping in some new tech that only reveals itself to the driver.
First gracing our shores in 1997, Mercedes-Benz’s GLE debuted as the ML320, finding fans in successful realtors everywhere. Since then, M-B has made sure not to push the the model’s boundaries too much, leaving much of the experimentation to its Mercedes-AMG division. It’s unlikely return buyers will find much to hate about the 2019 version, unless they’re particularly averse to six-pot engines with cylinders arranged all in a row.
On Monday, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Vision URBANETIC (styled in all caps by the manufacturer) — an all-electric, autonomous nightmare the company claims “answers the questions of future urban mobility.”
The modular design is as versatile as it is ugly. But it’s an important example of the direction automakers are collectively heading. Despite autonomous vehicles being oversold by manufacturers for years, we’re finally reaching a point where they feel comfortable enough to monetize them. Mercedes thinks the Urbanetic will prove revolutionary in redefining our roads. Still, it’s not the newest idea, despite Daimler calling it a “groundbreaking concept.”
The one and only styling refresh bestowed on Tesla’s Model S involved the removal of its phony grille, with CEO Elon Musk claiming the blacked-out nose had done its duty in luring — and lulling — nervous customers. The subsequent Model X went without, and the Model 3 looks like that masked disfigured girl in Eyes Without a Face.
Mercedes-Benz isn’t on the same page. Perhaps believing that Tesla buyers tolerate the lack of grille only because the vehicles are Teslas, the German automaker has vowed to pretend there’s an internal combustion engine and radiator behind the face of each of its electric vehicles.
It would have been nice to make it to a 10th anniversary, to celebrate a full decade as a contributor to this august website. Oh, that a man might know / The end of this day’s business ere it come! / But it sufficeth that the day will end / And then the end is known. My first contribution to TTAC appeared on December 20, 2008. This is the last one. I’m not quitting the business; you can find me at Road & Track, Hagerty Magazine, Watch Journal, Bicycling, Popular Mechanics, Zoom-Zoom Magazine, and a few others. It’s time to move on to work on some other projects.
Oh, well. Let’s enjoy our final moments together. Come with me as I open the throttle on Mercedes’/AMG’s mild underachiever of a three-liter twin-turbo V6 from the Thai border to Hatyai and from there to Hua Hin. The speeds are outrageous, the 7-Elevens along the way are serving hot sandwiches, and the monkeys that hang from cages mounted to late-model diesel Hiluxes are giving us quizzical looks.
A-Class Sedan Gets Euro Pricing, Edition 1 Variant That's Straight Out of the Mercedes-Benz Playbook
Mercedes-Benz recently announced A-Class sedan pricing for the European market. While not a bargain at 31,000 euros (roughly $36,000), it’s roughly what we expected from from the automaker. Of course, that fee goes up the second you start adding things. While you could go up in trim and include 4Matic all-wheel drive, one of the most sizable pricing leaps comes via Daimler’s Edition 1 variant.
Benz likes to offer a debatably unnecessary permutation of every new model for its first year. The Edition 1 cars typically include a number of visual upgrades and trim pieces to differentiate themselves from the standard model. But they aren’t limited to being solely an appearance package. For example, the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe Edition 1 received an upgraded interior, new steering wheel, a few aerodynamic modifications, and carbon ceramic brakes to complement the racy decals.
The A-Class Sedan Edition 1 appears to be taking the show-before-go route by adopting a copper color scheme and little else. While that usually makes our heads spin, it’s something different from the factory and proves Mercedes still occasionally notices what happens in the aftermarket scene.
Without rivalry, there wouldn’t be sports, and the Atlantic Ocean probably would have been crossed for the first time by a multinational team assembled sometime in the late 1930s, backed by a top-heavy bureaucracy.
Rivalry, at least outside the workplace, is usually fun, and the fierce competition among Germany’s luxury marques remains an interesting one, simply due to the length of time this has been going on. U.S. sales figures from August show that Mercedes-Benz, which muscled out long-running best-seller BMW from its lofty perch in 2016, has at least some reason to be worried about its rival reclaiming lost ground.
Mercedes-Benz has started pre-production on the first vehicle of its electric EQ model range, this one based on the GLC platform and called — what else? — the EQC. It’s a tony but not outlandish electric crossover for posh (but maybe not that posh) types who like the three-pointed star appearing on the front of their vehicle but kind of feel guilty about their carbon footprint.
Luckily, owning an electric car means never having to think about upstream emissions or other unpleasantness that took place before the assembled materials made it to your vehicle.
The EQC, according to M-B, falls under the automaker’s “Progressive Luxury” theme, promising lots of high-tech creature comforts and convenience, as well as an emission-free driving experience. However, it’s starting to become a crowded EV market out there, and some buyers might take exception with one particular aspect of this vehicle.
German cars in North America are not immediately associated with base, no-option models or economical motoring. But that didn’t stop Adam Tonge from suggesting today’s trio. Which vehicle gets the Buy when you’re shopping at the bottom of the German luxury barrel in 2002?
Ladies and gentlemen, select your strippers.
Daimler AG unveiled a new corporate structure on Thursday that splits its core businesses into a three legally independent entities, with one of the arms focusing entirely on mobility and financial services.
It’s a sign of the times as automakers press ever deeper into an uncertain tomorrow, all thanks to mobility and data services. “The new structure positions Daimler to tackle the rapid pace of change in the mobility sector and the corresponding strategic challenges,” explained Supervisory Board chairman Manfred Bischoff. “Legally independent divisions will sharpen our focus on the future success of the business.”
This is no small feat, as altering the structure involves reassigning more than 700 Daimler subsidiaries in over 60 countries. After which, Mercedes-Benz AG, Daimler Truck AG and Daimler Mobility AG will operate as one under the Daimler AG umbrella.
Listen up, Millennials. Don’t believe this small crossover stuff you’re hearing from the diverse and sexy members of your social circle. Mercedes-Benz says you don’t need one to feel fulfilled. That’s right, Mercedes-Benz — the brand that seems unattainable yet offers a small, $33,100 (minus destination) sedan it calls a coupe that kinda looks too cab-forward.
Maybe you’re interested in a small M-B sedan that actually looks the part? Oh hey, look what we have here! Why don’t you put down that acoustic guitar, get down from those stone front steps, and take it for a spin? Watch your knit cap getting in the door.
While the rest of the world will be able to enjoy the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, the United States is patiently waiting for the sedan. Since Americans won’t be privy to the liftback model, it’s to be four doors or nothing.
This is our first look at the model without camouflage and, while it resembles the A-Class hatchback to a large extent, there are some aspects unique to the sedan. The most evident change will be the rear end but, as the teaser image doesn’t show that portion of the car, we’re left analyzing the front bumper — which scales down the oversized air inlets and ditches the slats.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the changes weren’t entirely aesthetic. It claims the vehicle’s shape results in a drag coefficient of only 0.22. That beats the outgoing CLA Coupe (along with the BMW 5 Series) as the most aerodynamic production car in the world.
The year is 2000, and a whole bunch of people have just recovered from an unnecessary panic over how computers worldwide would tackle the date change from ’99 to ’00. Crisis averted, and with Nokia candy bar phone in pocket, they headed to dealerships to buy midsize luxury SUVs with their newfound Dot Com cash.
Which millennium-mobile gets the Buy?
Depending on who you ask, the 718 Cayman is the best car in Porsche’s lineup. It’s not the fastest or the nicest, and you’ll have to spend a bundle if you want it equipped with luxury features. But it does offer a reasonably entry point into pure driving enjoyment without a lot of gimmicks.
While a bevy of cheaper options exist, the 718 strikes a balance that’s difficult to beat. Most American rivals have the right spirit but not the necessary precision, and competition from Japan doesn’t really exist. We can praise the Mazda MX-5 or Subaru BRZ as an overwhelmingly satisfying experience all day, but neither occupy the same category as the $56,500 Porsche.
The 718 needs a mass-market rival that wears an identical price tag and hosts a similar personality, if only to force it to step up its own game. But there isn’t one — not yet, anyway. Mercedes-Benz is currently working on a successor to the SLC and, while that vehicle isn’t really fit for taking down the Porsche, reports have indicated its replacement just might be.
It’s a truism, but it’s true nonetheless: Every brand has a core product, and this is doubly true for automakers. The core product for BMW is the 3/4/whatever-Series of once-compact cars. If you buy a 3 Series BMW, it requires no explanation. Audi’s core product is currently in the process of Schrodinger-vibrating between A3 and A4; those are the cars that make the most sense in Ingolstadt’s lineup.
The core product at Mercedes-Benz, at least for those of us who don’t own G-wagens, is the S-Class sedan (in America) and the E-Class sedan (in Europe). They are the descendants of the almighty Seventies-era 240D and 450SEL that built the Benz brand around the globe. The values associated with that brand don’t translate very well to smaller cars. The 190E did a pretty good job in my opinion, but both it and its successors have long been the victims of color-magazine after-the-fact snark the minute the next model showed up.
The 2017 C300 that I rented in Las Vegas for a quick trip to Ventura, CA and back is, theoretically, the modern equivalent of the 190E 2.3, right down to the miserly specification and the characterless inline-four moaning under the hood. After several hundred miles behind its Benz-generic wheel, however, I’m thinking that Mercedes-Benz has finally succeeded in connecting its smallest Systeme Panhard sedan to a greater and more resonant tradition.
Daimler AG has announced an investment of 500 million euros ($589 million) for its plant in Hambach, France, to start production on a compact electric car for the Mercedes-Benz EQ brand. Known as “Smartville,” the complex was purpose built in the 1990s to supply the automaker with the first batch of Smart ForTwos and has been humming along ever since.
While numerous outlets have billed the model as a “Tesla fighter,” the rumor mill claims this vehicle is quite a bit smaller than the Model 3. That sounds reasonable enough, considering the new model would be produced in the same facility as the electric ForTwo and cabrio. However, the multi-million dollar investment will presumably go toward expanding the factory and procuring the EQ its own assembly line. We’ve heard nothing about the new Mercedes being a rebranded Smart vehicle.
There are actually a lot of gray areas to navigate here. While Mercedes spent a lot of time billing EQ as an electrified subsidiary, it’s already tacking the name onto electric Smart cars. The nomenclature now seems intended for any Daimler model with an electric powertrain, plus cleverly styled concept vehicles. Spyshots of the EQC sport utility vehicle, Mercedes’ first official entry into its broader EV effort, show the heavily camouflaged vehicle looking very much like the standard GLC-Class — not the concept EQs we’ve seen in the past.
The traditional birth order for children goes from oldest to youngest and biggest to smallest. But cars are a little different. If the market allows for it, you can slot in a middle child almost anywhere you like. Formerly a two-trimmed affair, the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is following the hardtop’s lead by expanding its ranks to include a middle-weight bruiser.
For the 2019 model year, AMG Roadsters will now come in a GT S trim. Better than the base unit, but not quite as impressive as its bigger brother, the formula for the mid-level trim is identical to the coupe variant that shares its name — just with an infinite amount of headroom.
Obviously the B&B are all about brand-new imported luxury SUVs, as their great value, utility, and long-term prospective ownership costs put them in a class all their own.
Trolling opener aside, we’re going to talk about expensive SUVs today. Up for grabs are three contenders around the $140,000 price point, from Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
Mercedes-Benz is improving the E-Class lineup with a new driver assistance package that delivers the semi-autonomous capabilities already available on the S-Class. Among them is advanced steering assist and Mercedes’ latest version of adaptive cruise control. Dubbed “Active Distance Assist Distronic” by the brand, the tech allows the vehicle to maintain a comfortable following distance with the traffic ahead and is capable of coming to a complete stop in traffic jams. But, unlike some other systems, it can also resume speed once the road ahead is clear.
There’s also a new SportsStyle Package for the 2019 model year — adding chrome accents to the exterior, tailpipe finishers, special badging, and an upgraded interior featuring stainless steel sport pedals, ash wood center console, new headliner, and unique floor mats.
However, most interesting change comes via AMG. Mercedes has ditched the E43 model for the all new E53 4Matic+. Coming in both wagon and sedan bodystyles, the E53 dumps the E43’s biturbo V6 for an inline unit hosting the same number of cylinders, turbochargers, and adds a mild hybrid application.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the A-Class L sedan at the at the Beijing Auto Show this week, giving us the first real look at the body style that will eventually make it to North America. Of course, despite the U.S. and Canada having a population that’s three inches taller, on average, Mercedes will probably keep the long wheelbase version in the East. But that has to do more with the Chinese appreciation for imported luxury than an indispensable need for legroom.
It’s a luxury that’s sometimes difficult to understand.
Mercedes-Maybach recently showcased a three-box SUV concept we couldn’t quite wrap our heads around, and is now launching into a new aesthetic intended to appeal to Chinese customers that we’re also having difficulty coming to terms with. However, let’s save that visual train wreck for another post, and figure out how much the Chinese A-Class L sedan has in common with the model destined for North America.
Mercedes-Maybach gently teased its new “Ultimate Luxury” concept before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, but one outlet’s itchy trigger finger resulted in every official image of it being sprayed all over the internet prematurely. The vehicle, dubbed the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, is incredibly difficult to summarize.
While it’s considered a sport utility vehicle by the manufacturer, the bodywork is so unabashedly sedan-like that it almost seems like a parody of modern crossovers. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 was similarly ridiculous, but that concept coupe was intentionally fantastical. It was a “look what our styling department can do” kind of car, whereas the Ultimate Luxury is something else entirely.
We think it’s the automotive equivalent of when a successful businessman decides to remove his shoes and socks on an airplane — upscale, but disgusting.
Mercedes-Benz plans to launch eight cars off the back of the new A-Class and, unsurprisingly, a bunch of them will be crossovers. While North America will have to wait until fall for the A-Class sedan, Europe will see the hatchback much sooner. However, those models are just the start of the upscale brand’s drive to push the platform into every segment its size limitations allows.
The hatch will remain the smallest model, but CEO Dieter Zetsche says Mercedes-Benz needs to keep its rivals on their toes — and the automaker intends to tap the MFA2 platform for that honor. While the expanded lineup gives MB an edge universally, we know which automaker the company is most concerned with: BMW.
Mercedes-Benz has announced it will be testing a new vehicle subscription service for customers in the United States this summer. The practice is becoming increasingly popular with automakers, especially luxury brands. General Motors expanded it’s Book by Cadillac service late last year, Porsche has Passport, and Ford has its Canvas program. Even BMW offered a public aside during the 2018 Detroit Auto Show that expressed its intentions to test the subscription model for itself.
The recipe is simple. A customer pays a flat monthly rate and an automaker opens up access to its fleet. For Mercedes, what you can actually drive depends on how much you spend though. The brand says it’s system will be tiered, with higher-end vehicles being available at a more princely premium. If you want AMG models or access to the S-Class, you’ll have to pay more than someone who is happy bouncing between the GLA and CLA.
Did you ever the the feeling that the Tesla Model S was just an S-Class for EV enthusiasts? Mercedes-Benz sure hopes so, because its CEO, the mustachioed Dieter Zetsche, recently let fly that the brand has a full-sized electric under development called the EQ S. While Mercedes’ core lineup will welcome all manner of hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains in the years to come, Zetsche says the brand will also start building fully electric vehicles by way of its EQ line.
The EQ nameplate is something we’ve heard a lot about in the past, but its true purpose has yet to be defined by Daimler. Typically, we’ve only seen EQ badging added to concept vehicles promising electrification, with no additional details. But new claims from the CEO suggest the category may be reserved for models that use batteries as their only power source.
While black edition vehicles have become all the rage of late, there’s only one lineup that you really need to care about — and that’s the Mercedes-AMG Black Series. Despite the name, Black Series models have very little to do with color. They’re all about the brand’s Performance Studio in Affalterbach savagely goosing a standard AMG coupe, resulting in a vehicle operating on the outer limits of what’s theoretically possible without getting NASA involved.
However, the lesser go-fast AMG models are getting mighty common these days. Mercedes-Benz recently decided to attach the AMG badge to practically every model that isn’t a hybrid and a lot of them seem unnecessary. The V6-powered Mercedes GLE43 and C43 may be stellar driving machines, but did the brand really need to call them AMG’s when they aren’t top-trim performance models? This has created some concern that the no-compromise Black Series could become watered down as Daimler allows the nameplate to ooze onto undeserving models.
Thankfully, Germany says those fears are unfounded. AMG Black Series models will only ever be tuned-up, limited-edition coupes — even though the brand once affixed the Black Series name to a high-performance cigarette boat.
Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class line maintains a steady stream of customers by being attainably aspirational. A dignified, confident car, the C-Class doesn’t feel the need to be something it’s not. Watch a realtor pull up in one, and a feeling of quiet assurance falls over the would-be home buyer — certainly, not the same feeling you’d get after seeing them pull up in a CLA.
In a bid to maintain this respectful relationship, Mercedes-Benz has a host of changes in store for the refreshed 2019 C-Class sedan. These niceties are now bound for the coupe and convertible variants, too.
Isn’t it nice to talk about an honest-to-goodness sedan, coupe, and convertible, each carrying the same model name?
With the minivan now dethroned by sport utility vehicles and crossovers as the king of family transportation, we’ve run into a problem. Larger three-row SUVs can be expensive, while their more affordable counterparts frequently sacrifice cargo space and comfort to accommodate that last row of seats. Another issue is that adults who decided to spawn four children are forced to interact with them during long drives by occupying the same cabin.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if a manufacturer invented a vehicle that could solve most of these problems? Well, some already have. Limousines have been around for ages and it’s ludicrous that they haven’t been co-opted for family use. But, if you’re going to purchase a high-end luxury transport specifically for road trips with the brood, you had better make sure it’s so decadently comfortable and quiet in the back that they can’t help but fall asleep. That’s why the perfect family vehicle is probably the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S650.
Granted, the long-wheelbase version of the already lengthened variant of the S-Class isn’t intended for familial use. It’s supposed signal the wealth of overachieving business persons. But exceedingly wealthy parents who think way outside the box might find it worthy of double duty.
There certainly are a lot of high-horsepower options available in the midst of the automotive industry’s sea change toward “electric mobility.” Despite all claims to the contrary, North America has stuck with gas-guzzling SUVs, trucks, and performance coupes — leaving economy-focused machines to fill in the domestic market’s narrowest margins.
It’s a similar story in Germany. While BMW and Mercedes-Benz both claim to be pushing toward electrification, they continue to present us with extravagant models where efficiency is an afterthought. If you’re wondering how they could possibly enact this betrayal of trust, they kind of have to. The profit margin for EVs is slim, sometimes nonexistent, and these expensive units generate the money needed for electric R&D.
We also don’t mind seeing them in the showroom in the slightest. Case in point is the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. Like all high-end performance “coupes,” the name is utterly meaningless. The new AMG flagship is, in fact, a five-door hatchback with fastback styling. Fortunately, that’s really the only complaint we can make about it, as everything else looks about as desirable as one could imagine.
Unlike German auto titans BMW Group and Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler didn’t have the stabilizing effect of a family or individual with a massive, long-term cache of company shares. That’s no longer the case, as Geely Group owner Li Shufu has announced his purchase of a 9.69 percent stake in the German automaker.
This makes Shufu Daimler’s largest single shareholder.
The Chinese auto tycoon, whose Zheijang Geely Holding Group manages car-producing Geely Group, already owns Volvo Cars and Lotus, and is a major shareholder in truck builder Volvo AB. Always on the hunt for opportunities, the near 10-percent stake in Germany’s largest luxury automaker should give Shufu the partnership he’s looking for.
Is a seemingly unstoppable Chinese automaker slowly amassing a significant ownership stake in Germany’s Daimler AG? That’s what sources tell Bloomberg.
According to the news outlet, sources claim Geely Auto Group, which owns the Volvo, Lotus, and the mysterious Lynk & Co. car brands, is steadily acquiring a $9.2 billion stake in the German giant. That would give the Chinese a near 10-percent stake in the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Are we witnessing the birth of a new alliance?
To be honest, I would have rather had anything else on the lot, and I do mean anything. However, when I arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, National Car Rental was a bit short on cars on the ol’ Emerald Aisle. There was a line of people about ten deep waiting for cars to be brought up from the overflow lot, and I had a meeting to get to. So I did what anybody else (who rents 40 cars and spends about $10,000 annually with National) would do — I walked over to the “upgrade” area, hopped into the least expensive “luxury” car available, and drove it to the exit booth.
“I won’t be paying any extra for this,” I explained to the booth attendant, “because a Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 is not an upgrade.”
Three days and a couple hundred miles later, I realize how prescient I’d been at the time. I would have rather had a Chevrolet Impala, a Dodge Charger, or even a Nissan Altima over the Hungarian Baby Benz. Here’s why.
On Wednesday, Daimler’s German workers union publicly expressed concerns that neo-Nazis are trying to organize within the automaker’s ranks. While it did not specify which political groups were involved, it named several individuals from the Untertürkheim Mercedes-Benz plant in southern Germany and described the overall situation as “not acceptable.”
The works council believes Nazis are currently using Zentrum Automobil, an alternative labor union formed in 2009, as a base of operations to infiltrate the factory and placed several of its members on its board. “The Untertürkheim plant now appears in the media as a reservoir for neo-Nazis and a center of right-wing extremist activities,” explained members opposing the supposed infiltration.
That’s not great publicity for a German automaker with a rich history dating back through the Second World War. However, if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that the term “Nazi” currently gets thrown around more than a frisbee at a picnic. Are the claims valid?
Thanks to a pact among the world’s largest automakers, automated emergency braking will soon be standard kit on nearly every new vehicle, paving the way for a future of collision-free bliss. That’s the plan, anyway. While undoubtedly a valuable addition to the automotive landscape, self-thinking vehicle safety systems sometimes reveal their dark side.
That’s what happened Wednesday during the Abu Dhabi Tour — a big-deal cycling race in a locale where hydration no doubt takes on new importance. Fluids weren’t top of mind for five of the cyclists, however, as their race was cut short by a Mercedes-Benz with a mind of its own.
Stately. Elegant. Dignified. Endangered?
This isn’t the first time someone has applied that final descriptor to flagship passenger cars, and with good reason. As SUVs gobble into traditional passenger car market share, sales of even the most prestigious sedans have taken a hit — leaving premium automakers wondering “what’s next?”
Well, more SUVs, for one, but also more electrification. Luxury car buyers have shown themselves to be more receptive to plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles, but more importantly, one pesky American automaker — Tesla — is threatening to eat everyone’s lunch.
In Europe, competition between the Old World and Silicon Valley is heating up, and the newcomer is winning the sales race.
There’s significant changes in store for the freshened 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, though you wouldn’t know it from a casual glance. German automakers aren’t known for messing around too much with something that works — even full redesigns, at least as of late, remain on the cautious side.
The 2019 C-Class’ exterior changes very little, adding standard LED headlamps and taillamps, larger lower air vents, and a sparkly grille you’ll recognize from the C-Class coupe. Inside the compact rear-drive sedan, however, lies the bigger story.
Returning from the dead in 2014, Mercedes’ ultra-luxury Maybach sub-brand has become the only way to make absolutely certain you’ve purchased highest-spec S-class in existence.
There was a problem, however. With the exception of a handful of subtle visual cues, there was no way to distinguish it from the standard fare. While a single glance at the interior would obliterate any doubt that this car was a cut above the norm, external indicators were dependent on the vehicle’s added length and badging.
That’s no way to arrive at a high-profile event, so Mercedes-Maybach has decided to guarantee the rest of society is aware you’re riding in something special via a new grille and optional two-tone paintwork. The updated visuals certainly separates the Maybach-branded S-Class from the rest of Daimler’s lineup, but it also might make it too reminiscent of the cars that ultimately forced the brand into an early grave.
Our previous entry into Buy/Drive/Burn asked which brougham personal luxury coupe you’d choose from the Big Three for the 1980 model year. Today we’ve got a different Big Three — two Germans and a Swede. (Read ground rules here.)
All of them offered luxury wagons with all-wheel drive around the turn of the century, and we hone in on 2004 today. Which one will you drive up to the Alps and then set on fire?
Nobody knows why the custom van lifestyle ended. Despite the keep on truckin’ imperative, the 1970s ended and took those kaleidoscopic fun-wagons with it. Maybe the Baby Boomers grew up and decided to stop smoking weed in the back of large vehicles with words like “Vandy Apple” painted on the side so they could get a real job and start smoking weed at home.
Perhaps the trend simply passed and foreign-built economy cars were the next must-have item. All we know for sure is that it was a mistake.
Fortunately, vans have only gotten better since the ’70s ended. The objectively perfect minivan had its heyday when leisure travel vans still held a corner of the market. While not so popular anymore, the van’s unparalleled versatility has kept it a viable option for work fleets and individual private owners who want a jack-of-all-trades vehicle in the driveway.
Mercedes-Benz is hip to this, revealing its third-generation Sprinter with all the customizable variables one would expect. However, it’s also adding load of new technologies and hardware as part of the brand’s “adVANce” philosophy. That includes new internet integration, driveline configurations, and a forthcoming electric model. Does this amount to the most exciting model in Mercedes’ lineup?
Think back. Waaay back — to 11:19 a.m.
In that article, we chronicled Fiat Chrysler’s deft handling (and perhaps, planning) of a historical Super Bowl Ram commercial that sparked a fierce social media backlash, all thanks to the spot’s use of dialogue from Martin Luther King, Jr.
We told you, all that time ago, and with all the certainty of someone knowing the sun will rise again, that the next automaker might not find itself so unscatched by a marketing blunder (if indeed you view the Ram ad as a blunder). Well, that time has come. Mercedes-Benz just offended a whole country.
Automotive advertising and the Super Bowl are intrinsically linked. Car spots populate the commercial breaks, the most valuable player gets a free truck, and there is usually a contest or two sponsored by a major manufacturer. This year, Mercedes-Benz had a rather clever idea: to create a digital version of the hand-on game where the last participant to break physical contact with a vehicle (usually a Hyundai) gets to take it home.
Scheduled to coincide with kick-off, contestants would keep their fingers planted on their phones for the duration of the game for the chance to win a brand new Mercedes-AMG C43. The last person to allow their digit to stray from the moving photo would be awarded the car. But there was a problem — too many people tried to play the Mercedes-Benz Last Fan Standing game and it immediately crashed.
There’s more to living in Canada than just higher taxes, polar bear incursions, and brutally cold weather. For some reason, denizens of the Great White North are allowed to enjoy more choice at the bottom of the Mercedes-Benz model range.
For example, Americans can be forgiven if they weren’t aware of the B-Class Electric Drive, a low-volume EV hatchback that bit the dust late last year. MB sold just 744 of them in the U.S. in 2017. Meanwhile, Canadians can still walk into their local dealer and sign on for a 2018 B250, the conventional variant powered by the CLA-Class’ turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
The EV model never made its way north of the border, while the conventional model never made its way south of the 49th Parallel.
On Friday, the automaker pulled the wraps almost all of the way off its new A-Class — a more refined front-drive entry-level model making its first foray into the North American market. Designed to lure buyers who wouldn’t otherwise have considered the brand, the A-Class will spawn a five-door and sedan variant in Europe, while American buyers can expect only the four-door. And Canada? Well, the country that really hates choice in wireless carriers and dairy products somehow gets the five-door, too.
Mercedes-Benz took the covers off the fourth generation of its A-Class in Amsterdam today. While the smallest vehicle in the luxury manufacturer’s lineup isn’t subject to the same kind of fanfare as a new S-Class, it’s a big deal to us, as it will be the first one sold in North America.
Unfortunately, the unveiling was more of an extended teaser. While MB was happy to provide the press with a laundry list of features and options, technical specifications won’t be announced until March. We also won’t be getting the hatchback; that’s relegated for European duty. Instead, American customers will enjoy the sedan variant — which is in the final stages of development.
Thankfully, we do know what kind of hardware it will be working with, and can see from the five-door that it should closely resemble the Concept A Sedan everyone was buzzing about last year.
Automotive soothsayers have foreseen the coming Armageddon, where private car ownership vanishes and we’re all ferried around in robotic taxis or rental vehicles, and manufacturers have taken their divinations to heart. Either that, or the opportunity to diversity already successful companies is too tempting a prospect to pass up. As such, we’ve seen “mobility” become the new industry buzzword — used as a fill-in for electric vehicles, autonomous development, and ride-sharing/hailing programs.
Hoping to expand its own mobility services, Daimler has announced an openness to seek broader alliances just days after BMW Group bought out its rental car partner, Sixt, from their joint car-sharing program DriveNow. That sets the stage for a peculiar partnership, as the two German automakers have a long, competitive history with each other — one which sometimes results in passive-aggressive behavior.
German Automakers 'Rearrange' Staff After Newest Diesel-related Scandal, Audi Employees See Homes Raided
Daimler AG and BMW group suspended or moved several employees linked to a group that was commissioned for research that involved exposing monkeys and humans to potentially harmful gases. While the nature of these tests may not be extraordinary or illegal, the public response has been one of outrage.
Volkswagen suspended chief lobbyist Thomas Steg earlier this week for similar reasons, but the other automakers have now followed suit in the hopes of quelling public anger. The automakers haven’t kept silent on the matter, either. High-ranking executives have called the research repugnant, suggesting that the ethics employed by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) were unacceptable.
Taking a page from its own playbook, the launch of the littlest Mercedes-Benz sedan will mirror the steps taken by the brand when it foisted the CLA onto the American market in 2013.
According to the company, roughly three-quarters of early CLA buyers were people who had never before owned a Mercedes. The company thinks, likely correctly, it’ll be able to duplicate that feat when the A-Class sedan goes on sale late this year.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, aka the G-Wagen or Geländewagen, is an automotive oddity. The current generation rides on a platform that predates your humble author, yet it remains a favorite of celebrities from Beverly Hills to the Meatpacking District. It also offers up a level of off-road capability that few other SUVs do.
We all know it’s a niche vehicle due to its hefty price tag, and it’s cool in part because of, not in spite of, its flaws. Mercedes-Benz could probably let it carry on with minor changes in perpetuity. It could also kill it completely, and save for an outcry from the die-hards, the absence of the G-Class likely wouldn’t hurt the brand a bit. Remember – the GL-Class was supposed to replace the G-Wagen.
In celebration of the redesigned G-Class, Mercedes-Benz has decided to cast the original G-Wagen in fake amber. The massive instillation is suppose to convey the timelessness of the SUV’s design — which is good, because we don’t think Daimler is going to bother changing the look of the new one all that much.
“The amber cube puts the uniqueness of the G-Class in a nutshell” explained Dr Gunnar Güthenke, head of Mercedes-Benz’s off-road vehicle unit. “Our cult off-road vehicle has been continuously evolving for nearly 40 years – without losing its character or its core values. Its DNA is stronger than time and than any fashion trend. The cube expresses this to stunning effect and thus embodies the objective for advancing the G-Class.”
In a year of great political transition, there was also much change afoot at The Truth About Cars and more than a few alterations made in the way my life intersects with the automotive industry.
2017 was crazy. Yet midst all of the external upheaval (Trump, TTAC, Apple skipping the iPhone 9, the launch of a new Honda Odyssey) and an array of internal disorder (GoodCarBadCar’s acquisition, a move to rural Prince Edward Island, Miata purchase, new job) there was at least one constant.
I drove a ton of cars. Many tons of cars, to be more accurate.
26.1 pounds of boost. A seriously stiff suspension. Matte paint finish. Brash red-painted brake calipers. A showy wing. A silly loud exhaust.
Do any of those describe your mental image of a Mercedes-Benz product? Or, when presented with that combination of features, do you conjure a car rejected from one of the early The Fast and the Furious films?
When the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 was revealed a couple of years ago, I recall writing it off as a pretender – after all, it’s a crossover! After spending some time in this absurd vehicle, however, I began to appreciate the magic of AMG.
GMC has its Denali sub-brand, and Buick now has its Avenir, but German premium marques aren’t in need of added luxury. Extra horsepower and speed earns that inflated sticker price.
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand isn’t the small stable of tuned performance cars it once was. The automaker’s made it painfully clear it wants to AMG all the things, with the brand’s large crop of SUVs (and SUV “coupes”) serving as the latest canvas for AMG’s brushstrokes. A lineup that began the current year with 34 models will likely celebrate New Year’s Eve with 42.
The folks at Mercedes-Benz USA are already reaping the reward.
Last week we introduced a new series to TTAC called Buy/Drive/Burn. A rather comprehensive set of instructions (and an example) was given in order to prepare you for the upcoming entries into our new game. If you haven’t read that primer, go do so now. This week is the first real entry for Buy/Drive/Burn and, like the example post, we’re sticking with luxury.
Your three options to purchase, borrow, and set on fire are all luxury coupes costing over $100,000.
What is it about the new crop of vehicles? It’s great that the”cheerful” phase in automotive styling is over (the demented visage of those old Mazda 3s still haunt my nightmares), but what we’re left with, at least in the passenger car segment, is enormous, angry grilles or, in the case of the 2018 Ford Mustang and next-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS, a kind of sad face.
Why the droopy eyes, Mercedes?
Whatever the reason, the automaker is bringing more than a questionable front end treatment to the table with its third-generation CLS. The sedan that started the four-door coupe craze (which then jumped ship to the SUV segment) adopts a host of changes for 2019, not the least of which is a new engine that should have both purists and futurists smiling.
All hail the inline six.
Back in July, German authorities became concerned that the country’s manufacturers had been operating one of the largest automotive cartels in history. With many auto executives still under the microscope for diesel emission manipulation, combined with inter-familial strife between the Piech and Porsche clans, Germany’s auto industry was starting to resemble a PG version of the film Goodfellas — with a dash of Dallas, for flavor.
Despite some rather serious accusations, nothing really came of the cartel investigation. We were beginning to wonder if it was much ado about nothing. But Germany’s antitrust officials hadn’t forgotten — they were simply biding their time during preliminary investigations into corporate collusion and price-fixing. Earlier this week, they made their big move and raided BMW’s headquarters.
Ford Retiree J Mays Says German Cars Don't Look German, Reserves Particular Criticism For One Automaker
“I think the British do a pretty good job — they seem to produce cars that look British,” Ford Motor Company’s retired design chief J Mays says.
Given that Minis essentially look the same as they’ve always looked, Mays makes a good case.
But Mays tells Automotive News he’s “a big stickler for cultural relevance.” And while the man whose influence can still be seen across much of the Ford lineup — he retired three years ago — credits the Brits for bringing culture to car design, he gives no such credit to the Germans.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe’s high beams unfurl like a curtain, quickly and progressively spreading light across the forests on either side of the road. And that’s only the Benz lighting system’s third act.
It’s a late summer evening and you open the E400 Coupe’s vast door, welcomed by ambient lighting that swirls around the cabin, hued to your liking, with a glow bright enough to be useful but soft enough to be easily ignored. The turbocharged V6 ignites and a light show is instantly projected onto the house in front of you with radiant beams and excitable flashes.
With the auto industry well into its second century, it’s increasingly difficult for a luxury automaker to set itself apart. Equipment alone doesn’t do the trick, particularly when a car as costly as this heavily optioned 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe lacks, for example, the ventilated seats of a $29,190 Kia Optima.
No, it’s the special stuff that makes the difference; it’s the memorable moments that distinguish the extraordinary from the ordinary. Heated seats must also warm the accompanying door panel and center console. A variety of dramatic light exhibitions must always attract your attention. The central infotainment display must seamlessly merge with the gauge cluster to create a vast screen stretching 28 inches across.
And the windows must roll down to reveal a pillarless structure, a redolent whiff of classic coupes long since expired.
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- Redapple2 Barra at evil GM is not worth 20 mill/ yr but dozens (hundreds) of sports players are. Got it. OK.
- Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
- ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
- SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
- El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?