The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours.
Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years.
While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later.
For 35 years, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has seen tours of duty with United Nations peacekeepers, the Pope, various hardened soldiers from Germany to Canada, and a few celebrities now and again. In that time, the SUV has changed its overall appearance once, when the W463 began leaving the factory in Graz, Austria in 1990; the previous W461 is still available for military and civil service. However, the current Geländewagen will get its second major revision come 2017 while retaining the W463 chassis code.
France’s Conseil d’Etat announced Monday that it has overturned the government’s ban of a handful of Mercedes-Benz vehicles over parent company Daimler’s refusal to cease usage of R134a coolant currently under phase-out by the European Union.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler and Ferrari divisions, as well as Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, bought greenhouse gas (GHG) credits to remain in compliance with the agency’s 2025 twin goals of 54.5 mpg and halved greenhouse gas emissions.
With 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.
In its battle against Mercedes-Benz and Audi for record sales, BMW is mulling over the possibility of a second plant in North America.
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.
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.
Following the same road map that led to the ongoing organization efforts at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers have allied with German union IG Metall and Daimler’s works council on their march toward Mercedes-Benz’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala.
Aimed at the same younger audience the CLA was designed to attract, Mercedes-AMG will debut their GLA45 at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My statement “BMW is the new Mercedes” may have ruffled the most feathers, but the second thing that gets thrown in my face is: “what then has Mercedes become?” I’m sorry if the forum fanboys can’t adjust to the new normal that is a softer, more civilized, more luxurious BMW that puts comfort over balls-out performance. Sometimes you just have to let the ostrich keep its head in the hole. If you think the M6 is the best thing since sliced bread, read no further. This isn’t about BMW, this is about the German luxury company. What of them? To find out we were tossed the keys to a six-figure beast for a week.
Last spring, I sold my Porsche to buy a station wagon. Car guys understand this, because it’s outlined in our unspoken creed: eventually we all trade in our beloved sports cars for a practical family vehicle that can haul our kids and whatever expensive musical instruments they’ve decided to learn this week. But for me, the swap came early: at 23 years old, single and without children, I swapped my 911 Turbo for a mommy-mobile.
My daughter’s favorite flavor of Slurpee is all of them—in the same cup. To her, it’s more exciting to combine all available options than to pick one and roll with it. If you’re the same way, you’ll find the 2013 Mercedes-Benz E550 4Matic a very exciting car.
We’re all familiar with the Mercedes-Benz GLK, from its new-for-2010-looks-like-2002 exterior to its “they want how much for this?” interior. But the fourth model year is MCE time. Mid-cycle, has Stuttgart enhanced its compact crossover enough that previous rejecters should reconsider it?
“Could I get hold of a Sprinter?” Alex was putting together a review series on cargo vans, but wasn’t able to get one from Mercedes. Perhaps I could? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t have a clue about how to evaluate such a beast. Then Alex posted his series, and commenters lamented the absence of the Sprinter. So here you go, my best shot, courtesy of the good folks at Mercedes-Benz of Novi…
While Lexus generally gets credit for pioneering the car-like luxury SUV, the 1998 Mercedes-Benz M-Class actually beat the RX to market by a year. Unlike the car-based RX, the original ML was too much a truck and not enough a quality vehicle. Substantial revisions were made with the 2006, and again this model year. In its third iteration, is the ‘Bama-built Benz now what it should have been from the start?
People form lasting impressions at an early age. This might explain why, among the general population over 35, neither Audi nor BMW can match the mystique of a Mercedes. Even the bottom-of-the-US-range C300 raises eyebrows from people who’ll give an Audi A7 nary a passing glance (and who’d view spending an extra $8,000 for a hatchback as lunacy). But will this continue to be the case with subsequent generations, or will Mercedes follow in the footsteps of Cadillac? A brand is only as strong as its weakest link. Does the C300 justify the cachet attached to its three-pointed star?
Luxury roadsters have always been niche vehicles. With the economic implosion over the last decade, that niche has become even smaller. Last year the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 each sold less than 3,500 units on our shores, down from over 10,000 each back in 2006 and Canadian sales are roughly a tenth of that. While Mercedes is likely crying in their delicious geflügelsuppe, roadster shoppers benefit by being able to drive one of the most exclusive Mercedes models available on our shores. While the last model awkwardly aped the unholy union of a Mercdes F1 car and a bottlenose dolphin, the new model sells itself with sexy new sheet metal, 29 MPG on the highway and a $54,800 base price.
I appreciate the novelty of a new design as much as the next guy, but have never understood the four-door-coupé. I mean, aren’t these terms mutually exclusive? A coupé can’t have four doors and a car with four doors can’t be a coupé? Mercedes started this conundrum with the CLS back in 2004, and then Volkswagen decided to jump on the bandwagon to bolster Passat sales with the CC in 2008. It was only a matter of time before VAG decided to compete with the CLS head on with the A7. After all, Audi has had model envy for years, and if they are to stay on track with world domination, they need to attack the mainline Germans at every body style. Not one to rest on laurels, Mercedes has redesigned the CLS for 2011. Michael Karesh wrangled an A7 out of Audi back in July, and Mercedes let me take theirs for a week. Let’s see if the CLS has what it takes to reign supreme in this extremely small niche.
The Mercedes CL550 is one of the most exclusive Mercedes models sold on our side of the pond. With the highest base MSRP of any non-AMG product, and rarer on American roads than all but the boxy G-class and the incredibly rare SLS AMG, the CL plays in quite a different league than the S-class on which it is based. I am told that Ford sells more F150s in a day the CL’s yearly sales figure and judging by the number I see on the road, I am inclined to agree. The CL was separated from the S-Class line in 1998 to help aid in the exclusive reputation of the model. For those that wonder, CL supposedly stands for Comfort Leicht (or Comfort Light in my native tongue). The comfort is obvious (and mandatory at this price point), but “light” must truly be a relative term as the CL tips the scales at a biscuits-and-gravy fed 4,700lbs. Does this matter? Let’s find out.
The new Mercedes B-Class has been extensively discussed here, it was shown at the Shanghai Auto Show, where it found itself upstaged by the requisite Chinese copy. Slowly, it is time to show the production model. Which will happen at the Frankfurt Auto Show. After the rest of the world has seen the B-Class, now Germany can too.
To highlight the “BMW difference,” the marque traveled from dealer to dealer with not only the redesigned X3 but a few competing compact crossovers as well. Among the bunch, one stuck out as not like the others. But it was the Mercedes-Benz GLK350, not the BMW. Different in a good way? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.
Luxury means many things to many people, but nobody doubts luxury cars should be crammed full of the latest technology… and what says “technology” in today’s car market quite like “Hybrid”? In a strange inversion of history, Lexus created the world’s first hybrid luxury flagship from a vehicle that was clearly inspired by the Mercedes S-Class, and now Mercedes is fighting back with its first hybrid sedan, the S400 Hybrid. So, is Lexus’s hybrid head-start enough to fend off a challenge from the vehicle that inspired its birth over a twenty years ago? The only way to find out is in TTAC’s most expensive comparison test ever.
From the surface, the C63 looks like it has the goods to compete with the big boys in the Euro performance club. Boy racer styling? Check. Monstrous V8? Check. Ginormous tyres? Check. Manual transmission? Not so much. Also not along for the party is a coupe or convertible version of the C63. Mercedes’ decision to make the C63 auto-only is perplexing enough, but the fact that they also decided to ignore the rest of the M3 portfolio is truly baffling. Consider the competition: the M3 coupe and convertible [combined] outsell the M3 sedan almost five to one. This halfhearted approach to a hotly contested and prestige-generating segment truly defines the experience with the C63: you constantly feel like this could have been a great car.
Germany 1958: Women are allowed to take a job without asking their husband for permission. Europe makes its first baby steps to an EU. Elvis Presley arrives as a GI in an army barracks in Friedberg. Mercedes is in its fourth year of the gullwinged 300SL, one of the finest automobiles of all times.
The last perhaps was car journo hyperbole, expected from someone who was just handed the keys to a sports car fully restored by the Mercedes Classic Center in Stuttgart. Juan Perón had one, Porfirio Rubirosa had one, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Zsa Zsa Gabor had one. Now Sajeev Mehta has one, if only for a day, and if only for the benefit of the readers of Thetruthaboutcars.
The R107, with soft top raised, visits the Trapp Family Lodge
Imagine it is thirty years in the future, 2039, and you are driving in a hard top convertible made in 2009. It has had three owners, and sports a healthy six-figures on the odometer. Would you expect it to leak, rattle, and/or squeak?
Would you expect it to look dated and out of place as we approach 2030 when cars (finally) fly and run by garbage-powered fusion generators?
In 2029 there will be 1970s-era Mercedes-Benz cars still on the road though. By then they might rattle, leak, and/or squeak. They may even look a little dated. But not today. I drove this 1979 450sl to a dentist appointment this morning. Two weeks before I drove it from coast to coast, through rain, snow, and sun. It doesn’t rattle. It doesn’t leak. It doesn’t squeak. It is as solid today as the day it rolled out of Stuttgart thirty years ago. This thing is built like a tank.
When my dad hit middle age in the ‘70’s, his first reaction was to park a Mercedes in our garage – a ’75 450SE, which my mom nicknamed “Heinrich.” The Mercedes sedans of that era weren’t beautiful cars, but damned if Heinrich didn’t turn heads – it was obvious that someone important was driving it. By the time I learned to drive in 1979, mom had inherited Heinrich, and we had another German blitzkrieg machine – a BMW 733i. The two cars couldn’t have been more different – on the winding roads around my house, the BMW was a jock, but Heinrich was a Panzer tank of a car that sternly replied “nein” if you tried to force him into back-road calisthenics. But Heinrich always impressed the general public – only dedicated gearheads did a double-take when they saw the BMW, while Heinrich was still getting looks into the late 1980’s. Flash forward three decades, and little has changed: the BMW in this test is still an athlete with no fashion sense, while the all-new E350 is an imposing power suit of a car.
I’m old enough to remember when Mercedes used the tagline “engineered like no other car in the world,” and no one questioned it. When the 1986 W124 E-Class was introduced, Car & Driver proclaimed it “the best car in the world.” In the quarter-century since, Mercedes’ position in the automotive pecking order has become less certain. Lexus came out of nowhere, and BMW has managed to successfully expand upward from the 3-Series and to become a provider of luxury as well as sport. For 2010 Mercedes has totally redesigned the E-Class. Any chance it’s 1986 all over again?
The year was 1997. As a bright eyed, recently minted med school graduate, I had two glorious weeks in Europe before the torture of internship began. One very memorable moment was in the parking lot of the MB museum in Stuttgart, where I spotted a prototype 1998 E50 AMG sulking behind a security gate. That thing looked evil, hunkered down on its 17″ alloys. It was so far removed from my Opel Astra rental car reality that I could scarcely imagine unleashing the 350 HP AMG-fettled V8 on the ‘Bahn at 170 mph in the latest heir to the Hammer.
The ad for the new Mercedes GLK is targeted straight at owners of MB’s ML and GL SUVs. After all, the new GLK gives you the “same innovation in a smaller design.” Same agility. Same suspension. Same luxury. Same depreciation (my add). So, why bother paying more for one of Mercedes’ more much macho trucks? Sure, this baby brother routine hurts the automaker. The Nissan’s Rogue’s Murano-i-cide is but one example where a new, smaller vehicle robbed Peter to pay Paul less. But that’s the way it is. In Bailout Nation’s new era of hunker down austerity, downsizing is almost as fashionable as having a job. Big ticket buyer meets smaller ticket price on the dark side of town. The carmakers must figure that what they lose in profit they’ll recover in volume. Ask GM how well that works. In that sense the Mercedes GLK is a born win – loser. Or is it?
It takes a couple of miles to warm up to this trucklet. The Mercedes GLK’s exterior won’t fire you up on your approach. The 90s-style orthogonal body looks like it’s already due for a refresh. I’m not saying everything on the road needs to be modeled on a suppository. I love the righteous Geländewagen, a machine which shipping crates have envied for over 30 years. But the authority of the creases found on the G and GL SUVs simply doesn’t scale down. Sometimes, emulating your big brothers makes it all the more obvious that you’re the baby of the family.
The diminutive outside cons you. The interior appears so incredibly roomy A) because you’ve lowered your expectations and B) because it is. Two sunroofs help. Headroom and shoulder room are ample enough to make you forget this is the runt of the litter. The detail is stark but accentuates the safety deposit box theme. The silvery rings on the controls and the dials put you inside a Breitling chronograph. If I owned a big ad agency I’d do my office this way and everyone would respect me.
The seats are exquisite. The seat controls’ traditional door-mounted position makes them easy to use and keeps snow off the armrests. One assumes they won’t short out. An electrical problem is not what you want in this mobile Brookstone showroom. The tester had more than $6k worth of extra electronics, including a 600-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system; 7-inch color monitor; a 6GB hard drive with media database and an entirely superfluous in-dash six-disc changer. Everything is voice controlled.
I didn’t fiddle with all the gizmos. Who has that kind of time? My only complaint with the inside: getting inside, through the rear passenger doors. The rear side glass intrudes on the top right, making the porthole smaller than you think. It’s needlessly awkward on an otherwise carefully thought-out design.
I approached the driving part of the Mercedes GLK program with a prejudice: I like wagons. The GLK has more suspension travel than the C-Class upon which it’s based. It’s far more supple, without being soft. I could feel the ruts in the road (Yes, ruts. I didn’t baby this thing) without being jarred. The use of hydraulic dampers and blow-by valves sounds like steampunk technology, but it works.
This is especially true when combined with the 4Matic all wheel-drive, traction and stability control and thrown about in a square mile of fresh snow. Even with all-season rubber, this was a yak. Thanks to the power-to-weight ratio, with the all the processing tech being equal, this could be the best ski trip vehicle in Mercedes’ line up . . . or on the market.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6, putting out 268 horsepower. It’s as quick as it should be. The automatic transmission was a seven-speed Zen koan. So many gears, so much wheel-spin management and suspension adjusting and brake control. In other words, I have little idea what it was doing at any given moment, but whatever it did seemed appropriate to the situation. If you consider the best transmission the one you never have to think about, you don’t need to think about this one.
The Mercedes GLK’s brakes are as expected: powerful enough to haul you down from speed before the cops can haul you off to jail. Mercedes has always taken their stoppers seriously and it shows. Everything is firm and fluid. Again, I’ve got to compliment the suspension, which sucked up inertia in ways I don’t fully understand.
And slowly, as the miles clicked by, I became a fan. I still don’t get the whole tall wagon deal. This one is derivative in intent and purpose. It won me over with genuine driving chops. The GLK was not the first to the small SUV market, but it’s the best. The vehicle will find favor amongst financially-challenged Mercedes SUV fans. But it’s also Mercedes’ best “entry level” product in decades. If it was a book, it would be called “How to Win Friends and Win More Friends.”