This is expected to be a relatively quiet year at the biennial Paris Motor Show, an array of manufacturers including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Infiniti, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo sitting it out.
But you likely wouldn’t notice if you wandered into the Mercedes-Benz exhibit. The German maker intends to take advantage of that industry shake-out by unveiling an array of its own new products including the completely redesigned B-Class the next-generation GLE, an all-new battery-electric EQC and the hot-hatch version of its smallest product line, the A35.
We’ve gotten a first look at a few of these new models, notably the first truly long-range Mercedes, the EQC, but all will be making their public debuts in the City of Lights early next month. Here’s a bit more on all four of the major debuts the German marque will bring to Paris:
(Mercedes-Benz debuting new GLE ute at Paris. Click Here for the story.)
Most Americans are likely unfamiliar with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. It was only offered in California, and in all-electric trim, for a couple of years as a “compliance car” meant to help the German maker meet that state’s zero-emissions vehicle, or ZEV, rules. But the little B-Class is big in Europe where the MPV has a solid following among family buyers.
Like the even smaller A-Class, it’s getting a redesign that will, among other things, translate into a sportier exterior and an interior Mercedes hints is “more spacious” than the outgoing MPV.
The cabin is also expected to be equipped with the new MBUX infotainment system. First shown at the Consumer Electronics Show last January, it’s pretty much a voice assistant on wheels, capable of letting you ask for directions, change stations and do a variety of other functions using normal speech, rather than the typical, stilted commands other systems require.
The high-tech focus extends to the new B-Class safety system which is largely shared with the top-of-the-line Mercedes S-Class – no mean feat considering the B- is one of the brand’s most affordable models.
Essentially a minivan, the B-Class is likely the only one of the new models debuting in Paris that won’t make it over to the U.S., but it’s a significant piece of the brand’s global line-up. If it does cross the Atlantic odds are it could be in fully electric form once again, according to sources.
The EQC is part of an 11 billion euro, or nearly $13 billion, project that will see Mercedes launch an all-new sub-brand, EQ, while also switching to all-electric propulsion for Daimler’s urban brand Smart. The company is “going all in … on electric cars,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told an audience in Stockholm, where the EQC was unveiled.
At first glance, motorists might confuse the EQC with the traditionally powered Mercedes GLC crossover. A few visual cues give it away, however, starting with the distinctive light bar that stretches across the face of the new model.
It’s what’s under the skin that makes a real difference, however. Like Tesla, Mercedes is adopting a skateboard-like platform for its all-electric models that mount the batteries, motors and key electronics under the floorboard. That lowers the center of gravity and actually improves the vehicle’s handling. It also provides room for a larger battery pack that extends range without cramping passenger and cargo space.
Twin motors – one on each axle – will make a combined 402 hp and 564 pound-feet of torque, meaning the Mercedes GLC will be a lot quicker than prior-generation BEVs, hitting 60 in about 4.9 seconds and topping out at 112 mph. Meanwhile, with 80 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries, Mercedes estimates 200 miles per charge.
(Click Here for more about the new Mercedes Sprinter plant in South Carolina.)
Mercedes decided to realign its sports car and SUV line-up a few years ago, and if you somehow missed the news, the old ML is now the GLE. And it remains the brand’s best-selling SUV, delivering a mix of midsize roominess, performance and features and, from the initial images we’ve seen, a nicely updated design.
Look for the wheelbase of the new version to gain about 3.1 inches, with the wheels moving further out to the corners to yet increase interior space. And that will allow Mercedes to offer a three-row version of the GLE for the first time.
Globally, the crossover will be offered with a range of powertrains, including gas, diesel and a new, mild-hybrid system. That will be packaged with a 362 horsepower inline-six that will feature what we expect to be a smoother stop/start system and a minor boost to off-the-line performance. The 48-volt system also will be used to enhance the new GLE’s air suspension package. The alternative drivetrain for the U.S. will be a 255 hp inline-four.
Mercedes also claims there will be “a host of other innovations” which we hope to learn more about before arriving in Paris in a few weeks.
The A-Class is Mercedes’ lowest-priced line, but it isn’t being treated as entry-level. In fact, it recently became the very first model in the marque’s entire family to be offered with the new MBUX infotainment system.
Equally significant, the latest-generation A-Class is finally winding up in the U.S. market where it will be sold alongside the similarly sized Mercedes CLA model.
There will be two versions of the new A-Class, with the U.S. getting the sedan. Which leaves us fretting about the fact that there’s a new hot-hatch variant, the A35 currently not expected on our side of the Atlantic. One can only hope the German maker thinks twice about that lapse.
(To see more about the EQC taking Mercedes all-electric, Click Here.)
Bearing the AMG imprimatur, the A35 will punch a hefty 302 horsepower out of its turbo-2.0-liter inline-four, power going through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox before heading out to all four wheels. It is expected to hit 60 in just over 4.5 seconds. And, as you’d expect of a Mercedes-AMG, it adds such niceties as a sport exhaust, adaptive dampers, oversized brakes and variable-ratio steering.