12/22/08

New Gen Mercedes CLS (2010)

 

The Mercedes CLS has been a success so Stuttgart is pushing ahead with a replacement, due in late 2010. We've snapped the first engineering mule, testing with Brembo engineers, but the big news will be 4Matic transmissions, a hybrid option, new turbo engines and even more striking looks. The mule we've caught uses the current CLS body, but with flared wheelarches to accomodate the wider tracks of the next-gen car.

So Mercedes is replacing the CLS?

Yes. Five years ago, the term 'four-door coupe' was a big unknown. But in 2004, Mercedes introduced the CLS and it didn't take long for it to become the brand´s new shooting-star. Other marques followed, like Jaguar with the XF and VW with the Passat CC, while in 2010 Audi will unleash the A7 and BMW will launch the four-door CS coupe. But while the competition is still learning the tricks of the four-door coupe trade, Mercedes is already laying the finishing touches on the second-generation CLS.

Codenamed C218, the new low-roof four-seater is a careful evolution of the original design masterminded by Gordon Wagener, who was recently appointed head of the design department, replacing Peter Pfeiffer

 

Mercedes E Class Sedan Spied with Interior Shot

Here are the latest photos of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class sedan caught during early evening traffic in Germany. The overcast sky provides a little more depth to the photos for a nice view of the overall shape and size of the new generation W212.

 

Mercedes E Class Coupe Interior Spied

Mercedes next E-Class coupe, expected to replace the CLK, is seen in spy photos with minimal camouflage and clear interior shots.

 

Hamann Volcano Based on Mercedes Mclaren SLR Officially Detailed

Supersizing a supercar - German tuner Hamann-Motorsport has turned the Mercedes McLaren SLR into a true Volcano.

 

Mercedes E-Class Coupe in Black Almost Free of Camo

More spy shots of the coming Mercedes E-Class. This time it's a not very well disguised E-Class Coupe.

 

Mercedes E Class Sedan Spied with Interior Shot

Here are the latest photos of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class sedan caught during early evening traffic in Germany. The overcast sky provides a little more depth to the photos for a nice view of the overall shape and size of the new generation W212.

 

2009 Euro Wagon Shootout: BMW 535xi Wagon, Mercedes E350 Wagon, Volvo XC70 T6, Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Wagon

Station wagons, or "estates" as they are known across the pond, occupy that strange place in the auto market between SUVs, minivans and sedans. On the surface, wagons promise the holy grail of cargo schlepping and fuel sipping. But they're not as sexy as a sedan, not as practical as a modern crossover and they can't haul as much crap as a minivan. In the new world "station wagon" brings up PTSD style flashbacks of 1970s Country Squire wagons with a roof-rack and eight kids in the back on the way to summer camp, 8-track blazing, and your dad at the helm wishing he had a terrier and a 240Z instead. Thankfully, this is not your dad's Oldsmobile Customer Cruiser. For this comparo we've selected the BMW 535xi Wagon, Mercedes E350 Wagon, Volvo XC70 T6 and the Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Wagon.

 

2008 Mercedes-Benz C180K Review

Ovoid no moreEngineered like no other car in the world. At some point in the 90's, Mercedes dropped their longstanding ad campaign. And no wonder. The promise had become a snigger-worthy ironic joke. That said, it stopped being funny when it started being you making regular pilgrimages to your local dealership. Mercedes trumpets its new C-Class as a return to the legendary, over-engineered cars of Mercedes-Benz's past. Heading straight to the very bottom of the range, will the cheapest and most basic of all "true" Benzes right 15 years of wrong?

 

2006 Mercedes AMG S65 Review

One man\'s loss is another man\'s gainAmerica has the hots for hybrids. On the flip side of high gas prices, the value of any vehicle with fuel economy below 20 mpg has collapsed. Brand new "gas guzzlers" sit on dealer lots collecting incentives, rebates, finance deals and dust. The price of used fuel-suckers has dropped by 25 percent in the last four months, and THEN the rest. This is the perfect time to shop for a twin-turbo twelve-cylinder behemoth.

 

2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Review

c63_amg-img_8483.jpgWith all this media talk of a gas electric plug-in hybrid clean diesel hydrogen fuel cell future, someone forgot to tell Mercedes that the horsepower war is over. Sure, the new BMW M3 has a 414hp V8, trumped by the Audi RS4's 420hp eight pot. But who gives a shit? The new automotive arms race: building and selling enough small, high-mileage, low-profit vehicles that various government agencies will let you sell large, low-mileage, high-profit vehicles. Meanwhile, the Mercedes C63 AMG.

 

2008 Mercedes-Benz GL 320 CDI Review

gl320_bluetec-img_5154.jpgI flew into Los Angeles with aspirations of driving something powerful; I had visions of some mighty motor displacing six liters or more. Anything with the letters AMG on the back would have suited me just fine. Instead I was staring at a gigantic Mercedes GL 320 CDI. That's CDI as in "diesel." I reckoned it was going to be a long drive to San Diego. I reckoned wrong.

 

2009 Mercedes-Benz AMG SL63 Review

2009_sl63_amg-img_8662.jpgI made my first pilgrimage to AMG in 2001. Arriving unannounced, I was relegated to longing stares through a chain link fence at rows of serious looking automobiles. I eventually bought an SL55 AMG. I loved its ability to terrify unsuspecting passengers. But it always struck me as an engine in search of a chassis. And better steering. And brakes. In fact, it was a steroid injected boulevardier. And now, the SL63 AMG.

 

Mercedes C350 Sport Review

472327_814692_6000_6000_111422106a46764.jpgThe previous gen C-Class was not Mercedes' finest hour.  Chief amongst its non-virtues: base engines that offered little in the way of functional power, refinement, fuel efficiency or brand faithful character (e.g. the 1.8-liter blown four). The fourth gen C300 (W204) put paid to that-- and how. In fact, the new C may have finally have broken the bigger-is-always-better mold that the German carmaker has deployed to lure Benz buyers up the ownership ladder. Ah, but does that mean that the new, more highly-horsed C350 is so superior to the C300 as to steal stars-- and sales-- from its cheaper stablemate?

 

Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Black Series Review

497935_872147_2835_1883_07c739_050.jpgMy co-pilot sat motionless, stupefied from the previous night's revelry. Strangely, this poor fellow thought I could be trusted not to challenge Alka-Seltzer's restorative powers. I allowed him the luxury of this delusion all the way from the hotel to the highway. And then I floored it. The CLK Black Series' engine bellowed WAKE UP FOOL! The uber-bad Benz' back end quivered from side to side. The traction control light sent a steady stream of Morse code through first, second and third gear. The ten second wake-up call placed us well north of 100 mph. The jobbing journo groaned his disapproval. God I love this work!

 

Mercedes-Benz B 200 Review

front.jpgI sat anxiously in a showroom Mercedes CLS while the salesman processed my paperwork for a test drive. Even in repose, the CLS is a magnificent machine. Soaking in that heady blend of luxury and gravitas, I wondered if my spin in the B200 (available in Canada and Europe) would capture any of that Mercedes quintessence. Sometimes, brand extension works (Bentley Continental GT) and sometimes, it doesn't (VW Phaeton). So does the B 200 fit in Herr Doktor Daimler's pantheon of pomp and circumstance?

 

Mercedes C300 Review

473032_816776_4992_3328_114213907c680_010.jpgMercedes currently offers American consumers a choice of thirteen different model lines. What a difference from the Mercedes Benz of 1987, when only four U.S.-legal models wore the three pointed star. Back then, the Mercedes brand was renowned for fastidious, brick-shit-house over-engineering. Today, Benzes are known for many things, but mechanical robustness and reliability ain't two of them. If anything, Mercedes has earned itself a reputation for persistent electrical gremlins and multitudinous mechanical misfires. Fresh from its divorce from Chrysler, Mercedes would like us to believe that the new C-Class represents a return to form. When you wish upon a star…

 

CL63 AMG Review

106946306c3777_003.jpgMass, what mass? As I hurled 4500 lbs. of rippled and flared German steel through a long, sweeping, belt-cinching corner, I felt like I was playing a driving simulation. Thanks to its improved active body controls, the Mercedes Benz CL63 AMG remained absurdly unaffected by the enormous lateral g-forces generated by its gyrations. Lacking suitable anti-gravity aids, my passenger and I were thrown towards the outer radius of the turn, welded to the CL63's seat bolsters. Now that's what I call fun.

 

Mercedes C280 4MATIC Review

20026281-e.jpgNow that Mercedes has released pictures of their new C-Class, I figured it was as good a time as any to sample the dead C. In Europe, the outgoing C-Class (W203 in Stuttgart speak) is beloved of German taxi drivers and penny-pinching poseurs with a little extra pomposity in their purse. Stateside, Merc's three-pointed star shines more brightly; the C-Class' price tag aspires to its second name-- despite suffering from a reprehensible rep for reliability. As I drove off in a 2007 C280 4Matic, I wanted to know what ground the new C had to cover to make its bones.

 

Mercedes E320 BlueTec Review

front-again.jpgA few years ago, I found myself comfortably ensconced in the back seat of a German taxicab. I was luxuriating in what I thought was leather (it was MB Tex, the convincing faux hide) when the driver cranked-up the engine. Smoke and stench poured from the Mercedes' diesel engine. I scoffed-- until the driver blew straight through 180kph on the autobahn to Munich. Even from the passenger seat, the torque was more intoxicating than the exhaust wafting in through the window. I was hooked.

 

Mercedes E63 AMG Review

front.jpgOK, I admit it: I've consumed way too much AMG Kool Aid. I own multiple sets of the Mercedes tuner's black license plate frames and key rings, an AMG logo-shirt, a cashmere V-neck sweater, half a dozen hats, a pair of driving shoes, a winter coat and a limited edition AMG watch. I would have more of their stuff, but recently I was introduced to a gentleman from Italy who spied the AMG logo on the back of my car and pronounced it, "Eye-Em-Gay," and that sort of cooled me off. And then I drove the E63 AMG.

 

Mercedes ML63 AMG Review

front22.jpgI recently completed a Munich to Paris road trip in a BMW 335. When I returned to the US, I was retrospectively struck by the lack of high profile vehicles (pickup and SUV's, not celebrity Ferraris or Leclerc battle tanks) on French and German roads. I suppose when gas costs nearly seven bucks a gallon, fuel efficiency is all. Personally, I don't care for SUV's; the few I have owned have taught me that being tall and overweight is no more fun for a vehicle than it is for a former supermodel. So when my Mercedes dealer suggested I have a look at the new ML63, I scoffed. And then went along for the ride.

 

Mercedes CL550 Review

dscn0425222.jpgDuring my soujourn on the other side of the pond, I was delighted to score an early drive in the new CL550. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was somewhat blunted by the French Mercedes salesman's incessant questioning. He kept interrupting my concentration to ask me how to adjust his seat massage system. Then, thanks to his oafish fiddling with the car's COMAND navigation system, I was distracted by a computerized frenchwoman ordering me to make a U-turn s'il possible. I contemplated pulling over sur le grand-rue to garrote both of my companions, but I couldn't find a Parisian parking space of sufficient enormity to berth the German dreadnought. Tant pis pour moi.

 

Mercedes SL550 Review

front.jpgYou may have noticed this website tends to celebrate performance automobiles. While this predilection for dynamic distraction places us within the media mainstream, it doesn't square with urban car culture. I'm sure you know that car owners who inflict double-dubs on their whips happily sacrifice ride and handling on the altar of, gulp, style. Even so, ladies and gentlemen, I've seen the light. Thanks to the Mercedes SL550, I now know middle aged white people can stunt and floss with the best (worst?) of them.

 

Mercedes CL65 AMG Review

raikkonen-pole-2-600.jpgAlbert Einstein posited that energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared. The Mercedes Benz CL65 AMG provides a new definition: energy equals horsepower at the speed of light for squares. Relativity speaking, the big Merc's top end is significantly less than the cosmic speed limit of 670,616,629.384 mph. Subjectively, that number feels about right. In fact, the CL 65 is Die Grosse Bang on wheels, an automotive event that warps the time space continuum to the point where I swear I wrote this review tomorrow.

 

Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet Review

clk63amgc06_01.jpgThe Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet is like a woman with large, perfectly shaped breasts. No matter how much you try to talk about her other qualities, your attention keeps returning to one thing: the engine's enormous peak output. The CLK holsters AMG's first purpose-built powerplant, a normally aspirated mill good for 475 horsepower (507 in its less restricted sibilings). As usual, it's assembled in Affalterbach by one satanic mechanic, whose name is stamped on a plate affixed to the engine block. In another nod to heritage, the "63" represents the engine's displacement rounded up from 6.2-liters; homage to the legendary 300 SEL 6.3 produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1968-1972. That's some heavy heritage.

 

Mercedes CLS550 Review

front.jpgSmall changes can have a major impact. Remember Jennifer Grey, the female lead in the film "Dirty Dancing?" Her fine proboscis lent her an air of distinction. Then she had reductive rhinoplasty and dropped out of sight. Although Audi's Auto Union-inspired snout seems to be going for the reverse effect, Mercedes is wise to the law of incremental effect. In the case of the CLS550, small changes have transformed a wannabe into a gotta have.

 

Mercedes E550 Review

E550-IMG_4681.jpgThe Mercedes E550 is like one of those gently aging character actors that everyone recognizes but no one can name.  I guess the fact that Mercedes put over a million of E-Class sedans on the road in the past four years may have a little something to do with it.  Either that or the brand's reacting to Bimmer's Bangling and their own S-Class blingery by maintaining the E's arch conservatism.  While understandable, I'm not so sure that the mid-sized Merc's generic good looks and mild-mannered charisma are such a good thing…

 

Design Study: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

05_copy_6.jpgTwenty years ago, if one were to trying to describe the differences in the various models from Mercedes-Benz, it would be something along the lines of "just like the big, boring sedan, only bigger / smaller." No longer. The Japanese, once viewed as nothing more than a bunch of Pacific-rim wet smack upstarts who would NEVER produce a viable competitor to the established German marques, have changed the rules of the game. Not only do the Asian prestige brands have a stranglehold on quality, but some of them are starting to actually look pretty, too. Uh oh. Seems time to swim upstream, mein freund.

 

Mercedes-Benz GL450 Review

 As I fired up the GL450, I noticed that the big Merc's trip computer had begun calculating my mpg. I watched in startled fascination as the idling SUV's fuel economy began to drop from the previous night's calculation. Although Mercedes deserves props (or brickbats) for releasing such a glorious gas hog at the tail end of America's SUV craze, the dropping digits left me wondering how the GL450 could possibly rationalize this lampshade-on-the-head consumptive behavior. Even if the target market's interest in fuel economy is more political than wallet-driven, the GL still needs to stump-up some serious self-justification.

 

Mercedes-Benz S550 Review

 Ever have an extremely likeable acquaintance who drives you nuts with their constant need to flaunt their knowledge of arcane or technical matters? That's the new Mercedes S550. In many ways, on many levels, the big Merc is the world's best sedan: a sublime expression of German automotive engineering excellence. And then the luxobarge starts showing off, convinced that it's smarter than you are when it comes to comfort, information, communication and yes, driving. At that point, a fully-equipped S550 could well be world's most annoying automobile.

Again, let's get this straight: the Mercedes S550 is the best riding and handling four-door sedan money can buy. At the front: a four-link air suspension with antilift control, gas shock absorbers, stabilizer and anti-dive system. At the rear: multilink independent air suspension and antisquat system. On the road: the German luxobarge smothers road imperfections with extreme prejudice, out-Jaguaring Jaguar by a wide margin. Even better, hurling Mercedes' 4376-pound behemoth into a corner is like riding a Maglev train; the S550 leans slightly and then glides through all but the tightest turns. The car's dynamics are virtually indefatigable.

 

ML500 Review

ML5001.jpgThe Upper Middle Fork road into Washington State's Snoqualmie National Forest is the kind of road a SUV buyer sees all the time-- in glossy ads. It's a roller-coaster ride of immense potholes, fist-sized rocks and ankle-deep snow that carves through an ancient, awe-inspiring landscape. As such, it's the perfect testing ground for the Mercedes-Benz ML500: a vehicle appealing to well-heeled suburbanites who want to know they could drive their $63k SUV down treacherous roads like this, at speed, even though they never will.

 

Mercedes E350 4Matic Review

Come join the conservative party!  Um, make that 'get together'.Getting old is not for sissies. Aside from a general degradation in motor skills, sensory perception, memory and earnings, the 401K set is prone to health complaints that are both fantastically expensive and endlessly annoying. Fortunately, there are compensations: grandchildren (kids free from a no-deposit, no-return policy) and the Mercedes Benz E350 4Matic. I'm not saying the E350 was specifically designed to salve the fading sensibilities of the blue rinse brigade, but any car this numb, beige and expensive is clearly aimed at Baby Boomers who are wealthy as Hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Unless you ask nicely.

The E350 is a polite request on wheels. While Mercedes' product developers have been busy performing bizarre genetic experiments in pursuit of The Next Big Thing-- carbon fiber supercars, mutant crossovers, four-door chop tops, re-imagined Nazi staff cars-- their mid-sized model remains reassuringly bland-- I mean, conservative. On the downside, the E still suffers from the swoopy dorkiness of its oval headlights, which make the grill look small, which denies the E350 get-out-my-way gravitas. And it continues to share far too many family traits with the lower-priced C-Class to please the legions of status conscious Mercedes buyers.

 

Mercedes E55 AMG Wagon Review

Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Wagon: available by special order only. How fast in the Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Wagon? Fast enough to send the sunroof cover panel backwards. Fast enough to fling the ice cream out of a well-packed cone. Fast enough to make you hit the recirculating air button to keep the smell of burning rubber from curling your nostrils. Fast enough to turn your securely fastened two-year-old into a Teletubby (Again! Again!). Fast enough to lure you out of your office for a quick spin to… anywhere. That's right: pistonhead catnip now comes in station wagon form. Go figure.

Just don't try and find one. You won't find an E55 AMG Wagon on your local dealer's showroom floor or in a glossy ad. The World's Fastest Station Wagon is only available by straight-from-Germany-to-your-driveway special order. By its own admission, Mercedes didn't think there were enough adrenaline-addicted Americans willing to stump-up $80k for a supercharged station wagon to justify the cost of marketing, promoting and importing the beast.

 

Mercedes CLS500 Review

A stunning car-- in the sense that throwing a stick of dynamite into a lake is a stunning way to catch fish.If cars were subject to truth in labeling laws, the Mercedes Benz CLS would be called the Mercedes Benz WTF. Nothing can quite prepare the casual viewer for the chop top Merc's initial impact. Whether you see the sedan as a bold and beautiful move by an adventurous carmaker, or a hideous repudiation of a famous marque's dignified brand values, the CLS' delivers the kind of aesthetic jolt normally reserved for concept cars and George Barris creations.

Quite how this show stopper infiltrated Mercedes' lineup is anybody's guess. Did Chrysler parachute 300C designer Ralph Gilles into the main corporate HQ? Did Mercedes boss Dr. Eckhard Cordes fall in love with the reveal on 'Pimp My Mini-Maybach'? In any case, the CLS accomplishes at a single stroke what BMW's Bangle failed to do with an entire model range: transform a German carmaker's image from stodgy establishment lackey to cutting-edge automotive artist. It's that wild.

 

Mercedes C320 Sport Review

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' aroundOK, I'll admit it: I had it in for the Mercedes Benz C320 Sport even before it hit the drive. After my review of the C55 AMG, MB USA made it abundantly clear that they were unhappy with my opinion of the class from which it sprang. The suits viewed the C-Class as "prestige lite": a gateway drug to their bigger, better products. I saw the model line as a range of glorified German taxis for itinerant badge snobs. So when the C320 Sport Sedan arrived, I was ready to add fuel to my pyre.

The truth of the matter proved elusive. As soon as I found something to hate about the car, I'd discover something I liked. For example, the C320 Sport looks about as aggressive as a Dodge Caravan. The C's tiny mesh grill, petite rear spoiler and single chrome exhaust pipe are a pathetic attempt to inject sporting intent into a thoroughly banal shape. But the sedan is perfectly sized for spirited driving: low, small and relatively narrow.

 

C55 AMG Review

 

The belly of the beast:: a 5.5.-liter, AMG-fettled, 362hp V8 that looks a bit like Battlestar Gallactica.   I swear I had no intention of performing a drifting demonstration outside my step-daughter's school gates. In a prior attempt to gain a little mid-corner throttle control, I'd switched off the computerized handling Nanny. And then forgot all about it. So when I attempted to merge with the after-camp traffic, I suddenly found myself laying down a good 20 feet of rubber, in a decidedly sideways fashion.

Needless to say, that was not an example of driving in the traditional Mercedes manner. One wafts in one's Merc. But let's face facts: the C-Class appeals to a younger, thrustier demographic. Turning a plain Jane C into a demented German hot rod can't piss away the model's air of emotionally reserved exclusivity-- it never had any in the first place. So it's damn the brand, full speed ahead!

 

Mercedes S55 AMG Review

Serious stoppers for a swift sedan.  Nice wheels tooFind an open stretch of highway, floor the Mercedes S55 and you'll soon know what it means to kompress the time/space continuum. There's a small pause and a gentle jerking sensation-- as the five-speed gearbox kicks down and the supercharger spools up. And then the AMG-fettled sedan launches itself at the horizon with a single, seamless blast of forward thrust. Any doubt that the massive S55 can obliterate time with acceleration dissipates the moment you watch the speedo arc gracefully past 140 miles per hour, and keep on going.

I guess that's what happens when the W├╝rttemberg Wirbelwinds stuff 493 horses and 516ft.-lbs. of torque under the hood of an S-Class sedan. Even in these horsepower mad times, when a stock pickup truck can out-drag a 60's Ferrari, that's a lot of grunt. It's enough shove to put Mercedes' 5.5-liter V8-powered leviathan on a par with a Porsche 911. (Both sprint from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds.) No wonder the technician who builds the S55's supercharged powerplant signs his name on the engine; Guido Nordheim wants you to know who owns your adrenal glands.

 

Mercedes S600 Review

 It may not seem logical to start a review of Mercedes new, new-shape S600 by dissing the glove box. After all, this machine is Mercedes' latest salvo in the ongoing German horsepower wars, featuring a battle-ready twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12. But trust me, you gotta see this glove box. More specifically, open the lid and take a gander at the tiny light bulb illuminating the cubby. You can see the naked bulb shining above the glove box' top edge. What's more, the lid itself is so flimsy you have to shut it with your fingers directly over the central lock. Otherwise, it just falls back down. Plop.

How the mighty have fallen. Once a Mercedes Benz - any Mercedes Benz- boasted unassailable build quality. Now, the quality of the plastics and workmanship in their top model makes an Audi - any Audi - look like a Rolls Royce (which of course is a BMW). For people who notice and appreciate the way a heater switch feels when you press it, or how a visor adjusts, it will come as no surprise that the S-Class is easily outclassed by a flotilla of less expensive saloons: Jaguar, Audi and, gulp, VW. OK, rant finished. Let's talk about power...

 

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