Image by: George Peterson
Infiniti QX30 Launched One of the fastest growing product segments is the Luxury Small Crossover SUV (XSUV) category. Infiniti has been a bit late to the party as there are already 33 small XSUVs on the market. Eight of those are luxury brand XSUVs: the Acura RDX has been out since 2013 in its second incarnation, Audi Q3 out since 2014, BMW X1 out since 2014, Land Rover Discovery Sport out since 2016, Lexus NX200t out since 2015, Lincoln MKC out since 2015, Mercedes GLA since 2015, Range Rover Evoque out since 2012. Launch of the Infiniti QX30, while a bit late, pretty much has every brand in the fray.
Infiniti enters the fray with the Infiniti QX30, making it the 34th member in the small XSUV market and 9th luxury brand XSUV. Remember, QX is the Infiniti nomenclature for SUVs whether they are body-on-frame SUVs (QX80) or crossover SUVs (QX70, QX60, QX50). Infiniti cars carry names that begin with a simple “Q”.
All USA QX30s Classified as Trucks The Infiniti QX30 is a highly styled small crossover available in front wheel drive and all wheel drive powertrain configurations. In other markets the all drive model is called “Q30” indicating Infiniti is classifying it as an hatchback car. In the USA, both versions are classified as trucks.
Dramatic Infiniti Design Cues Differentiate QX30 The Infiniti QX30 is sporty and curvaceous like most Infiniti models. It has bulging front fenders sweeping back and down with a strong character line. Infiniti decribes the character lines as “dramatic and turbulent”. The windshield is very fast flowing into a steeply dropping roofline. The front end is instantly recognizable as an Infiniti with its unique “double-arch” grille. In the side view, Infiniti’s signature crescent-shaped C-pillar further differentiates the vehicle. There is a lot going on there, but it works very well in this small XSUV.
Infiniti QX30 and Mercedes GLA Share Platform To keep the investment in line the Infiniti QX30 is assembled in Sunderland, England alongside the Mercedes-Benz GLA. QX30 and GLA share platforms, but Infiniti has loaded its entry with all the latest high tech electronic gadgetry available.
Engine Power at the Low End of Competitive Range The 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is shared with the GLA and is manufactured by Daimler in Kolleda, Germany. Power output is 208 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque. Compared with other luxury XSUVs this power output is anemic. Driving the QX30, the performance is adequate, even pleasant, but a power output of between 230 and 240 horsepower would be more expected from an engine with these specifications.
The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The S-Class designers really hit the nail on head. Clearly, they understood who the target buyer is and developed a vehicle that met their requirements. The S-Class beats out a very impressive group of premium luxury cars such as the BMW 7-Series, Porsche Panamera, Lexus LS, and the Hyundai Equus. Not only does the S-Class win its IVA class, it also was the highest scoring car EVER in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award Research for 2014. This gets it AutoPacific’s President’s Award that has only been awarded one time previously. George Peterson, President of AutoPacific says “The S-Class is hitting on all cylinders. Not only did it score the highest satisfaction rating AutoPacific has EVER recorded, the product itself has hit its target market in terms of what they want in styling, packaging and engineering.”
S-Class owners truly do not want their vehicle changed. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle question battery, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class led in six satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.
The top five highest ratings by S-Class owners are: Same interior lighting, same ride and handling, same safety features, same seat fit, and same ease of getting in and out.
No vehicle is perfect. S-Class owners would like to see more cargo space and a simpler information and entertainment system.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA is the highest scoring Premium Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Coming in behind the CLA is the Buick Verano, MINI 2-Dr, Acura ILX, Volkswagen GTI, Subaru Impreza WRX and the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA wins or ties in five of fifty satisfaction categories. The CLA is within one tenth of a rating point in eleven categories. For over thirty percent of the satisfaction measurements the CLA is on top.
The top ten highest ratings by CLA owners are: brand and vehicle reputation, the exterior styling and color, the overall quality and handling, the enjoyment of driving the vehicle, the image the vehicle puts off, the braking, and interior styling.
Mercedes-Benz wins in its first foray into the front wheel drive premium small car market. While the CLA begins around $30,000, it can quickly get into the mid-thirties and, with the AMG model, move into the $50,000 range. This year, the Audi A3 was not yet on the market to challenge the CLA. It will be interesting to see if Mercedes can keep its top spot when Audi owners weigh in about their new A3 for 2015.
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.
Very Nicely Done “Front and Rear Six” The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a dramatic mid-cycle update that takes a relatively milquetoast car and gives it a striking personality make over. The major change is a much more aggressive front end appearance including all-LED headlamps with integral running lamps. The lower front fascia includes larger scoops and is accented by a chrome strip at the leading edge of the front air dam. Given these are the sporty models of the E-Class, the coupe and cabriolet include Mercedes’ bold three pointed star in the grille opening. All-in-all, the front appearance change practically makes the E-Class coupe and cabriolet look like all-new cars.
Mercedes-Benz premiered its all new S-Class sedan in Hamburg on May 15, 2013. Held at the Airbus factory where final assembly of the Airbus A320 and A380 is occurring, Mercedes took advantage of an over-the-top venue for an over-the-top introduction to their new Flagship. While an introduction like this should showcase the car (which it did), the showmanship used by Mercedes in this occasion was second to none. A very official looking YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U94OftPwcAc) shows the event up to just before Deiter Zetsche announced Alicia Keys who was sitting in the back of the center stage S-Class. They probably were prevented from showing her performance for contract reasons, but it was pretty darn good. She even worked very well with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra that was playing original compositions prior to her arrival.
USA sale of the 2014 Mercedes Sprinter will begin on September 1, 2013 via 218 dealers in the USA. 161 are Mercedes Benz dealers and the remainder is Freightliner dealers. About 80% of the 20,969 Sprinters sold in the USA in 2012 were Mercedes. The only difference between the Mercedes and Freightliner is the grille texture and badging. Prices are the same.
AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand. Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.
S-Class Dominates Porsche Panamera for IVA Win: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes closest to the ideal of any vehicle – car or truck. In the Premium Luxury Car class, the S-Class out-points the second place Porsche Panamera by 72 rating points. Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding. Getting a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive. Ninety-percent or more of S-Class owners rate these characteristics ideal: exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling, tires and ease of getting in and out. Eighty-percent or more of S-Class owners find these additional characteristics ideal: driver’s seat visibility, cargo space, exterior styling, wheels, power and acceleration, interior storage features, safety features.
The Mercedes S-Class also won AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Best In Class Premium Luxury Car.
Infotainment System – The Only Close Miss for the 2012 S-Class: The only feature S-Class owners weren’t enthralled with was the infotainment and entertainment system. With 79% of the respondents saying the system was ideal in the S-Class, this was a close miss. About 17% of S-Class owners would like more/better infotainment technology than they have now.
You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/
For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact firstname.lastname@example.org and title your email “IVA Results”. A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.
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.