2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA: Mercedes-Benz has been in a slow launch mode for the new front wheel drive 2014 CLA sedan since the beginning of 2013. The car has just gone on sale and advertising is blanketing the airwaves. So, what’s the story?
Target – Millennials – Does it Have Enough Rear Seat Room? The CLA is Mercedes’ price leader in the USA. Mercedes proudly touts its $29,990 base price and admits its attempt to intercept drivers under 35 before they buy their first premium brand car from BMW or Audi. Most CLAs will be priced in the $35,000 range when you get the $2,300 premium package (garage door opener, premium sound w/iPod interface, heated front seats, dual zone climate control) and the $2,370 multimedia package (rear view camera and navigation system). For that mid-thirties price you get a fully featured front wheel drive 4-cylinder four door sedan and the Mercedes three-pointed star.
Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC
Mercedes’ (@mbusa) top of the line SUV, the 7-passenger GL (#2013GL-Class), is new for 2013. As the top selling premium luxury sport utility vehicle, GL certainly is a healthy profit contributor to parent company Daimler AG. Built at Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa, Alabama assembly plant, 53% of GL production is sold in the United States. The 2013 GL is the second generation GL and continues to be derived from the platform that also underpins the 5-passenger ML. About 80% of the GL is all new for its second generation. We had a chance to drive several versions of the new GL at its global press preview in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Halo Car for CLK Range is a Street-Legal Race Car
For the 2007MY, the Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG replaces the CLK 55 AMG as AMG does away with most supercharged engines in favor of naturally aspirated units. The normally aspirated 6.3L 32v V8 delivers 475HP in the CLK 63 AMG and gets a seven-speed transmission. That isn’t quite enough for some, though, especially as the same engine delivers 503HP in the R 63 AMG and ML 63 AMG. Plus, Mercedes has an F1 Safety Car derived from the CLK. Why not make one you could buy, assuming the right income level?
Pricing for the CLK 63 AMG Black Series has not been announced, introduced at the 2007 New York auto show,
but on the stand it looked terrific, and the photos don’t do justice to the impact of the front bodywork and the seriously aggressive impression the car gives in person. This vehicle will be rare, expensive, and a serious toy for the rich boy racer in you. Not only does it look great, but the details on the transformation from CLK 63 AMG to CLK 63 AMG Black Series is just as impressive.
Painted silver instead of black, but indicated by the black 63 AMG badge, as a street-legal version of the official F1 safety car the Black Series gets design and technology from F1, as well as 500HP instead of the CLK 63 AMG’s 475HP. The extra power comes from redesigned intake and exhaust systems. The Black Series gets larger intake ducts, an AMG sport exhaust with full-length twin pipes, and a recalibrated engine control unit provides quicker throttle response.
612HP Top CL Returns to Help Celebrate 40 Years of AMG
Mercedes-Benz‘ tuning arm AMG celebrates its fortieth birthday this year and uses the return of the CL65 AMG to help celebrate this landmark, revealing the new car this week at the 2007 New York auto show. As well as standard CL65 AMG, a mere forty examples of a 40th Anniversary version will be built. The 612HP (Euro spec, likely 604HP for the States) comes from the same 6.0L biturbo V12 as the SL65 and S65 AMG, mated to a five-speed automatic with AMG’s selectshift.
The CL65 AMG, whether in 40th Anniversary trim or not, gets the AMG sport suspension (with Active Body Control as its base), an AMG body kit (including larger air intakes, side air outlets, round foglamps), twenty-inch AMG wheels, darkened headlamps, and AMG grille. The high-performance brake system uses twin sliding calipers, front and rear, to improve stopping power as well as resistance to brake fade. An AMG steering wheel and silver AMG aluminum gearshift paddles for the five-speed automatic transmission are among the interior touches. The RACETIMER system for measuring lap times is also included.
The forty-unit run of 40th Anniversary Editions adds a unique Alubeam paint finish, a color-coordinated Alcantara roof and “40th Anniversary” lettering on the center console, complete with a “ONE OF 40” plaque. This is a first for a production car, though Mercedes has used the system for show cars. With this system, pigment particles are as small as 30 to 50 nanometers (versus 100 and 300 nanometers in conventional paint) and incorporated more evenly for more vivid and lustrous color (covered with a scratch-resistant clear coat). Inside, the 40th Anniversary CL65 AMG gets the Nappa leather in a diamond pattern of all CL65 AMGs.
Though pricing hasn’t been announced, the SL65 AMG enjoys a price premium of nearly $40,000 over the S600. A similar jump is likely for the CL range, meaning that this beast could set you back $190,000 for the non-40th Anniversary Edition model. Exactly when the CL65 AMG arrives on U.S. shores may be revealed at the formal press conference, but as we’re still waiting for the CL63 AMG that Europe got a couple of months ago, it may be late in 2007 before we see the CL65 AMG. Not that it matters too much; at this price, the vehicle is essentially built to order. The price suggests that Mercedes will keep volume low and AMG as exclusive as they can, but these days Benz creates one or two AMG models for each line they offer. At what point does AMG lose some of exclusivity and just become another expensive, albeit fast and beautiful, toy?
New AMG Models Arriving This Year
Mercedes-Benz AMG subsidiary has developed a new normally aspirated V8 engine, instead of looking to supercharging to get reach its legendary power output, while not yet abandoning the supercharged 5.5L V8 or the biturbo 6.0L V12. The results have been rolled out over the several recent auto shows (Frankfurt 2005, Vision R 63 AMG and ML 63 AMG; Detroit 2006, S 65 AMG; and Chicago 2006, production R63 AMG and North American ML 63 AMG intro), but there was even more news in Geneva this month.
More German Answers to Questions Nobody is Asking?
After studying this dizzying array of Mercedes and AMG offerings, we at VehicleVoice and AutoPacific wonder at their relevance. Can even the aficionados keep them straight? Probably so because they are keenly aware of even the most arcane details of cars like this. But, for the Regular Joe, are these AMG entries just another way for Mercedes to dilute its image and add to line-up confusion?
Heading the Geneva AMG
lineup are two new SL AMG roadsters, the SL 55 AMG and SL 65 AMG, but application of the new 6.3L AMG V8 expands to a CLS 63 AMG and CLK 63 AMG. European drivers got their first look at the R 63 AMG in Geneva.
Now that I have had a chance to digest the upcoming all new Lexus LS460 I have to conclude that it will be one formidable competitor. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific analysts concur.
In an auto show season when the USA audience has the chance to see an all new (to the USA) Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS460, there is an opportunity to do some deep soul searching about the group of flagship sedans that top the car market in the USA. We include the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Infiniti Q45, Jaguar XJ, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS in this group of excellent cars. We might reach downmarket a bit to the Acura RL and upwards a lot to the Bentley Continentals, but the key competitors are Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes. By far, the best seller has been the Lexus capturing 27% of the class in its last full year of production.
So, why would a Japanese luxury car now be worthy of becoming the benchmark of the Premium Luxury Segment? The Lexus LS has had the corner on durability, quality and reliabiliity consistently rating higher than the German marques in AutoPacific quality and satisfaction research. In fact, in most years the Lexus LS wins AutoPacific’s prestigious Vehicle Satisfaction Award (in 2005, the Jaguar XJ won by a nose over the Lexus). So, now, the new Lexus LS may clearly establish its mainstream models as the cream of the Premium Luxury Car crop because now the car will have distinctive styling arguably on a par with the best coming from Europe. No longer can the LS be described as boring and bland.
S65 AMG: Still the Most Powerful Series-Production Sedan
Mercedes-Benz has been hard at work adding new products to its portfolio with the R-Class, upcoming GL-Class, all-new M-Class, and European-market B-Class all arriving within a sixteen-month span, but the company has not left behind its flagship S-Class sedan. The choice of dignitaries everywhere was officially introduced at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show, ahead of late 2005 sales in Europe.
Mercedes saved the introduction of the currently fastest version of the S-Class for North America, however. The latest S65 AMG is being introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January. Though the GL-Class is expected alongside the S65 AMG, the S65 will retain the title of the world’s most powerful production-series sedan, carrying on with the 6.0L biturbo V12. This year, its output has increased slightly to 612HP.
Along with modifications to some of the materials and components in the engine for improved performance and better cooling, there are other AMG touches. Befitting the most powerful series production sedan, it is supported by an AMG sports suspension based on the Active Body Control system and stopped by all-new high-performance composite brakes. The engine continues to be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Along with specific nineteen-inch wheels, there are the to-be-expected AMG exterior touches. Among them are a redesigned front apron with bigger air intakes, side skirts, and V12 biturbo lettering on the front fenders. Borrowing a page from the Porsche handbook, the S65 AMG introduces AMG’s take on in-car lap-timing software with the RACETIMER system. For those track days, the system stores last lap, average lap, and best lap times as well as the track distance.
Sounds wonderful, but about a month past being able to add it to your Christmas list!