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2015 Mercedes C-Class: The Baby Benz is all Grown Up

Bigger, lighter, lavishly equipped.

by on Dec.16, 2013

The new 2015 remake of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is both larger and lighter.

This Baby has grown up.  After giving us a tease of the new interior of the completely redesign 2015 C-Class a couple months ago, Mercedes-Benz is finally offering a full look – and details – about a car that no longer should be thought about as the “Baby Benz.”

No surprise the 2015 re-make is moving up-market, of course.  Not only are buyers are getting more demanding but Mercedes also had to make room for the now sold-out CLA model which notches in as the brand’s lowest-priced offering at just under $30,000 – if you can find one.

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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a larger, decidedly more stylish, sporty and well-equipped offering, with a much-expanded array of both creature comfort and safety features that would have impressed even an S-Class buyer not all that many years ago.

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First Drive: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK

In hindsight, the future is bright, indeed.

by on Jul.12, 2012

Though a mid-cycle refresh, Mercedes makes some notable changes to the 2013 GLK.

When Mercedes-Benz launched the then new GLK in 2009, the auto industry was still in a bad way.  Sales were down in every segment, and some questioned the sanity of the German maker for launching a premium, small, SUV into the worst recession the industry had seen in at least half a century.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and the segment is rife with competitors, most notably the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.  Both are solid vehicles, but both need to be very afraid of the 2013 GLK 350, a mid-cycle update that is better in every way than its predecessor.

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Let’s start with styling. The 2009 GLK looked like a mini G Wagen (which Mercedes says is the bloodline vehicle for the GLK).  The 2013 model maintains the Gelandewagen’s rugged appeal, but adopts the swoopy look that now adorns many other Mercedes models, including the 2013 SL550 sports car.

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Sixty Years Later: the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL

That’s SL, as in “sportier” and “lighter.”

by on Jan.09, 2012

Mercedes has made the SL both sportier and lighter for 2013, it claims.

It’s been nearly six decades since Mercedes-Benz introduced the then-revolutionary SL, those letters short for “sport” and light.”  Like all too many other products introduced in the decades since, the SL roadster has gotten bigger and bulkier.  But the all-new model making its debut at Detroit’s Cobo Center this week takes the Mercedes 2-seater back to its roots.

Think of the all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL as “sportier” and “lighter.”

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To get there, the maker has completely redesigned the SL, reverting to a modern take on the original car’s aluminum tube frame that shaves as much as 300 pounds off the 2013 Benz, depending on the specific model.

“Decreased weight means increased agility,” said Mercedes brand boss Dieter Zetsche at a sneak preview the night before the official opening of the 2012 North American International Auto Show. “Saving weight,” he added, “means saving gallons.”

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First Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 Turbodiesel

A powerful performer that also delivers great mileage.

by on Dec.09, 2011

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

Let me get this out of the way: I’ve been a fan of Mercedes-Benz products for decades.  I remember my freshman year in college, when everyone still drove American cars, and my buddy Joe had a mint condition 230 sedan.  Yes, it was slow, but it still was a Benz, and I not only felt cool riding around in it, but I also felt incredibly safe, and for good reason, as Mercedes-Benz has long been a leader in safety technology.

Graduation in the early 80s saw diesel powered Benzes at their peak.  You could choose from entry level diesel sedans, to a cool coupe, to the top of the line S-Class diesel.  In fact, 80% of Mercedes-Benz sales during that time were diesel-powered models. But due to increasing diesel fuel prices, and a general dislike of the then smelly, slower accelerating process that was diesel, sales waned, and the last full-sized Benz diesel sold in the United States was the 1995 S350.

So, perhaps, it’s appropriate that the diesel new flagship of the German maker’s U.S. line-up is the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

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Though Mercedes restarted U.S. production of diesel powered cars and SUVs several years ago, model year 2012 represents the return of the big S-Class diesel, and it is an incredibly fun car to drive.  Because high torque diesels make their power at low RPM, when you put you foot into the new S-Class, it moves out with startling authority (0-60 mph in seven seconds). And with new technology, very low sound levels accompany this powerful acceleration.  Take one on a test drive, and if you didn’t know going in you were driving a diesel model, I’d bet nine of ten drivers would not know they weren’t driving a gasoline powered car.

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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

Muscle, luxury and plenty of space.

by on Nov.14, 2011

Mercedes delivers a big bump in power with the launch of the 2012 ML63 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz is seldom shy about adding some muscle to its more mainstream offerings, and the AMG badge on the back of the third-generation ML line suggests that this sport-utility vehicle isn’t meant for crawling all over boulder-strewn trails.

Then again, neither are any of the other members of the ML line-up, which is more likely to win over soccer moms and commuter dads than rugged outdoorsmen.  In the case of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the pitch is to those who want a reasonable degree of functionality and flexibility but still hope to find something with the soul of a sports car.

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There’s no question that the fast-beating heart of the 2012 ML63 can impress, the updated 5.5-liter biturbo V8 making518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque – up 15 hp and 44 lb-ft, respectively, over the old model.  For those who need to press things to the limit, you’ll also find the AMG Performance Package bumps that up to 550 hp and 560 lb-ft.  Power is channeled through the Mercedes Speedshift Plus-7 automatic gearbox.

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Mercedes Does Deal With American Express

Automaker lines up expansive affinity card deal with AmEx.

by on Aug.23, 2011

Mercedes puts its name on an AmEx card.

Premium credit card provider American Express has inked an affinity deal with equally upscale automaker Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz products.

Affinity cards have become a hot ticket in the marketing world, hotels, retailers and other businesses planting their name on credit cards that increase loyalty and visibility while offering some sort of perk to consumers.

Such deals have become widespread with the mainstream Visa and MasterCard credit card services, but AmericanExpress has until now limited itself to just five co-branding deals.  And those partnerships, which include the CostCo warehouse chain and Delta Airlines, have far more limited perks than a conventional AmEx card.  The financial service company’s sixth deal, which will carry the Mercedes-Benz co-brand, will offer all the benefits of a conventional American Express card – and more, officials told TheDetroitBureau.com.

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That includes the Membership Rewards program, where customers accumulate points that can be used for travel or purchases – and in this case, they get increased points for specific purchases, such as a five-times bonus on spending at a Mercedes dealership.  The Platinum card will offer a concierge service and access to variety airline clubs while traveling.

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New Mercedes AMG V-8 Delivering Near-I-4 Mileage

Green performance without the hybrid?

by on Jul.21, 2011

Mercedes's AMG division claims the new M152 engine going into the SLK55 AMG will deliver big gains in power - and a 30% bump in fuel economy.

With the upcoming launch of its latest powertrain, AMG, the Mercedes-Benz performance division, claims it will be able to deliver the muscle of a traditional AMG V-8 with the mileage of a compact 4-cylinder powertrain.

While that might be a mild exaggeration, the claims are nonetheless impressive if the new 5.5-liter V-8 – developed specifically by AMG – actually can yield a 30% improvement in fuel economy compared to the brand-within-a-brand’s current 5.5-liter V-8.

Until recently, fuel economy was way down the list of attributes Mercedes officials were likely to emphasize – especially at AMG – but studies show that even the affluent buyers who ante up for cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar now list mileage as a concern.

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The new powertrain will find its first application on the AMG-upgraded version of Mercedes’ compact roadster, the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG.  Significantly, the 30% mileage improvement comes despite a 60 horsepower bump, to 415 hp, with torque jumping from 376 to 398 lb-ft on the new model.

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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

There’s a Jeep under the hood.

by on Jun.08, 2011

Mercedes launches the third-generation ML for 2012.

Mercedes launches the third-generation ML for 2012.

The new 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class rolling into showrooms later this year won’t look all that much different from the current version – at least not if these first images released by the German maker are any indication.  But there’ll be some big differences “under the hood” that could significantly improve the capabilities of the Teutonic crossover-ute.

The third-generation Mercedes ML will be the last major project to emerge from the star-crossed “merger-of-equals” between Daimler AG and America’s Chrysler Corp.  Though Mercedes will stress that it has since done plenty of engineering on its own, the fact is that the 2012 crossover shares its underpinnings with the popular new Jeep Grand Cherokee, a runner-up in the recent voting for North American Truck of the Year.

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The exterior of the new ML maintains essentially the same dimensions as the gen-2 model, and it will likely take most observers a moment to recognize this is a new offering.  A closer look reveals a bit more sculpting to the body, with the side panels flaring rearward from the front wheel well, and a more muscular bulge to the hood.

The interior is modestly upgraded; roomier than before, it features a fatter steering wheel and sporty rectangular air vents replacing the previous round ones.  Despite the extensive use of leather and chrome, some observers might even find some surprising similarities to the latest-generation Jeep.

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Daimler Earnings Double

German maker forecasts record Mercedes sales.

by on Apr.29, 2011

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche forecasts big increases in demand for Mercedes-Benz, especially in China.

Daimler AG’s first-quarter net profit nearly doubled to $1.65 billion, revenue increasing by 17% on stronger sales across the company’s business lines – which, in turn, prompted a prediction of record sales for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars this year.

“We achieved excellent earnings in the first quarter. This puts us well ahead of our planning and confirms our positive outlook for the year 2011,” Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said in a statement Friday.

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Insisting the company is “on the right track,” Zetsche said Daimler is counting on delighting customers w with new product, “continuous innovation and new technologies” in order to “continue our profitable growth.”

Revenues climbed to $34.7 billion, largely reflecting a 12% increase in unit sales in the first quarter to 310,700 vehicles.

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First Look: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

First of four new AMG models coming to U.S.

by on Apr.21, 2011

Think of the new C63 AMG as Mercedes' Beauty and the Beast, suggested product czar Joachim Schmidt.

Mercedes-Benz will roll out “at least” four new high-performance AMG models this coming year, the maker reported, giving the first of these a send-up at the 2011 New York Auto Show.

The new C63 AMG becomes the most powerful version of Mercedes’ “entry-level” model ever offered in the U.S.  With its naturally-aspirated 6.3 liter V8, the compact luxury model will make a full 451 horsepower, announced global product chief Joachim Schmidt, and 443 horsepower.

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The engine drives the rear wheels through a 7-speed Speedshift MCT transmission.

During a presentation at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, Schmidt made reference to a long-running play staged a mile north, on Broadway, dubbing the C63 AMG, “our own version of Beauty and the Beast.”

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