United Auto Group (Roger Penske's mega-dealer group) is importing the cars for DaimlerChrysler and already has cash deposits on more than 12,000 Smart Cars, which they started taking only a month ago. The cars do not even go on sale in the United States until January 1, 2008.
UAG had plans of selling 16,000 Smarts in all of calendar year 2008, so it is pretty likely that all of the vehicles could actually sell out in advance of a single Smart Car hitting the blacktop. Smart (Mercedes) says if they make their U.S. numbers and achieve their other now-scaled-back regional sales goals in the rest of the world, that Smart will actually be profitable.
Even as recently as 60 days ago, there were plenty of auto industry analysts and journalists that were saying that the Smart car was going to fall flat on its cute little face in the United States.
Their reasoning was that there were not enough buyers in the U.S. for a car like Smart - even when you combined all the urban hipsters, Europhiles, and fuel-economy freaks together, Smart still wouldn't make their 16,000 units.
We predicted 6 months ago that Smart would not only make their numbers, but exceed them in the first couple of years, and it looks like this is now going to happen - Smart's timing for entry into the U.S. seems to be pretty good. We're glad to see it as more choice in new cars is always good, and who knows, maybe it will provide a nudge to other automakers who are considering bringing in cars that fit into the mini or super-mini class.
In the same vein, everyone who was anyone also said you couldn't sell an upscale hatchback in the U.S., but the Audi A3 and the BMW Mini have put that notion to rest.
Maybe we'll see some more great small cars soon - those that exist now, and those that some manufacturers are considering for production.
FYI for Fashionistas: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York announces line up for the Spring 2008 Collections
Mercedes TV works because the content is varied and updated. This has long been a frustration I've heard from car buyers and enthusiasts. They go on-line, watch a video or news clip about a particular model or brand, and that's it. For weeks after that, the video is not updated. But with Mercedes TV, which recently launched, the videos are expected to be updated regularly. Also, the clips have variety ranging from a segment on designing the C-Class, to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, to the making of a Formula 1 commercial with Lewis Hamilton. Granted, you may not care for every clip, but with that amount of variety, you want to go back to the site on a regular basis. Check it out: www.mercedes-benz.tv.
2Q EARNINGS SURGE
[DCX 107.95 0.65 (+0.61%) ] released preliminary second quarter earnings for it's Mercedes division and the company's profits surged 74 percent, with profit margins rising to 9.6%, that's well above the company's target of 7%. This is the latest indication Mercedes is back on track with its cars and SUV's connecting with buyers. Look at the demand for the GL, E, and C Class. Sales for those 3 models are up substantially year over year, with the GL class rising an astounding 124%! This is not surprising given the company's latest designs have been spot-on. Also, Mercedes appears to have licked the quality issues that tarnished the company's reputation a few years ago.
If Daimler is to thrive by focusing on building the Mercedes brand, expanding profit margins will be the key. The 2Q results show Mercedes is well on its way to delivering on that promise. The full results will come out in late August.
According to Mercedes-Benz, sales are up 13 percent for the month of September, 2007. Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) officially reported their best September on record with total sales figures of 22,459 new vehicles. This is an increase of 13 percent over last September, September 2006. So far this year, Mercedes Benz USA has sold 180,265 units, a 1.8 percent increase over the same period in 2006.
Sales of the new 2008 C- Class boosted the volume-leading model line by 42.8 percent (6,052 vs. 4,238 units). Notable sales figures highlights for the month include a 14 percent jump in car sales (15,867 vs. 13,913) which was achieved by significant increases not only by the C-Class, but also the E-Class (up 21.4 percent), the Mercedes CLK coupes and the Mercedes Benz convertibles (up 29.5 percent), as well as the CL-Class coupe (up 575.6 percent).
Sales for Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the luxury light truck segment — M- Class, R-Class, GL-Class and G-Class — continue to demonstrate impressive gains with a combined 10.6 percent increase over last September and a 12.3 percent increase over the first nine months of last year (53,178 v. 47,354 units).
Through the Mercedes Benz Certified Pre-Owned program, MBUSA sold 4,390 vehicles in September 2007, which is an increase of 2 percent over September 2006. This brings the year-to-date sales figure total to 39,253 units, a 9.7 percent increase over year-to-date 2006.
Here are the official sales figures as reported by Mercedes Benz:
Model Sept '07 Sept '06 Monthly % YTD 2007 YTD 2006 Yearly %
C-CLASS 6,052 4,238 42.8% 42,236 36,771 14.9%
E-CLASS 4,993 4,112 21.4% 34,184 33,266 2.8%
S-CLASS 1,964 2,357 -16.7% 19,501 22,601 -13.7%
CL-CLASS 277 41 575.6% 2,672 476 461.3%
SL-CLASS 384 557 -31.1% 4,787 6,913 -30.8%
CLK-CLASS 1,247 963 29.5% 11,628 12,841 -9.4%
SLK-CLASS 396 702 -43.6% 6,067 8,623 -29.6%
CLS-CLASS 554 943 -41.3% 6,012 8,156 -26.3%
R-CLASS 1,018 1,276 -20.2% 9,917 14,131 -29.8%
M-CLASS 2,948 2,706 8.9% 23,960 21,790 10.0%
GL-CLASS 2,541 1,937 31.2% 18,498 10,939 69.1%
G-CLASS 85 41 107.3% 803 494 62.6%
GRAND TOTAL 22,459 19,873 13.0% 180,265 177,001 1.8%
For more information about Mercedes Benz vehicles, check out their website here.
lol...work it b*tch!
This September marks the ten-year anniversary of the M-Class, the first SUV built by Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. To help celebrate this important milestone, Mercedes-Benz is launching a special limited edition of its popular M-Class sport utility that’s appropriately badged “Edition 10.” The V6-powered ML350 Edition 10 model features a unique Birch Wood and Macadamia and Black leather interior with an aluminum instrument cluster and sport pedals.
With 1,000 vehicles scheduled to be offered in the U.S., the limited-production Edition 10 comes in a choice of Obsidian Black or Arctic White paint with eye-catching black headlight surrounds, tinted tail lights and a chrome shadow finish on the grille as well as the front and rear skid plates. Its exterior and interior are finished with aluminum “Edition 10″ badging and floor mats.
Limited-Production M-Class Edition 10 Loaded with Features
In addition to its exclusive exterior and interior finish, the Edition 10 comes with an enhanced list of standard equipment. A rear-view camera, GPS navigation, power liftgate, rain-sensor wipers and heated front seats are all standard, along with a harman/kardon premium audio system with six-disc CD changer, rear audio controls, Sirius satellite radio and an integrated hands-free phone system.
The new ML350 Edition 10 is part of the 2008 M-Class family that includes the fuel-efficient ML320 CDI diesel with a 215-hp V-6 engine, the ML350 (the most popular M-Class model) with a 268-hp V-6, the powerful new ML550 with a 382-hp V-8, and the high-performance ML63 AMG with a 503-hp V-8. The M-Class line features a sleek exterior with a unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension that deliver impressive on-road driving performance and comfort. Useful technology abounds in the M-Class, including a standard seven-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel-drive and four-wheel traction control.
The First Sport Utility That Drove Like a Mercedes
When the 1998 Mercedes-Benz M-Class first arrived, the new sport utility vehicle started a trend that inspired the entire auto industry to shift toward more luxurious car-like SUVs. Launched as the only sport utility in its class with four-wheel independent suspension, the original M-Class was one of the first to be designed from the ground up, rather than being based on an existing truck platform. The first-generation M-Class won many awards, including the prestigious North American Truck of the Year.
During the eight-year life cycle of the first-generation vehicle, more than 570,000 M-Class SUVs were produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with about half of them sold in the U.S. The second-generation M-Class reasserted its industry leadership in a highly competitive market that had grown dramatically since the launch of the original Mercedes-Benz SUV.
Lieb is quoted in the article as saying he’s still cautious, but it looks like they’re holding their own on the current C-Class, which is now seven years old. So, if you were thinking you might be able to get yourself a deal on one, its not looking too likely at this point.
The new C-Class has been lauded by press and auto enthusiast magazines worldwide. It offers two distinct front-end treatments, a higher level of luxury, more power, better handling, and far more safety equipment than the model it replaces. Unlike other parts of the world, where M-B sells their B-Class and A-Class cars, the C-Class is the entry-level model for Mercedes-Benz in the United States. Lieb says he is confident that the new car will exceed the previous annual sales record of the current car in the near future.
- Mercedes Pushes for Perfect C-Class Launch
2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Luxury
By Brendan Moore
The new Mercedes C-Class, shown for the first time at Geneva last month and now being shown for the first time in North America, must have a perfect launch, says Mercedes CEO Ernst Lieb.
Mercedes has been wounded in the past few years by poor quality and poor reliability, mostly around nagging electrical problems, and Lieb says the new C-Class should put paid to those issues. Lieb stated the new C-Class has been tested more than any other vehicle in Mercedes-Benz history, and he expects the result of the massive volume of testing to be a car as close to perfect as it can be. Many long-time Mercedes-Benz customers are keen to see the tremendous increase in quality Lieb promises as there has some disillusionment (as well as some defections) among the Mercedes faithful over the last 10 years.
Additionally, Mercedes has geometrically increased the amount of safety testing on the C-Class, and the car is promised to considerably exceed all other cars in its segment regarding passenger safety.
The U.S. market gets three C-Class V6 models: the C300 Sport, C350 Sport, and the C300 Luxury. The sport and luxury models are set apart from each other by different front-end treatments, model-specific suspensions, and different option packages. Mercedes states that AWD will be offered approximately a month after initial launch in August, giving the C-Class a considerable edge over most other luxury cars in the areas of the United States that receive a lot of snowfall.
Mercedes needs everything to go right with the C-Class as it is one of the main pillars of their overall sales worldwide and in the U.S. from a volume perspective.
When I heard the totally redesigned Mercedes-Benz C Class was now in showrooms, I had never even really considered looking at this car for the reasons mentioned above. While out car shopping a few weekends ago, I just happened to drive by my local Mercedes-Benz dealership and out of the corner of my eye saw the new C-Class sitting in the showroom. I just couldn't help myself.. I had to see this car up close.
Pulling into the dealership.. you really feel like you are at some Corporate office headquarters in Germany more so than a car dealership. Everything is perfect. The cars are somehow spotless, even though they are sitting outside during the rainy Florida summer. The salesmen aren't hanging outside smoking waiting for their next prey. I swear there wasn't even a fingerprint on the huge contemporary glass doors leading into the showroom. My only thought was "wow.. I'm at a Mercedes dealership."
After speaking with the very professional receptionist, I was introduced to a "Mercedes Sales Specialist." I informed the gentleman I just wanted to take a look at the new C Class and maybe get a booklet. We immediately walked over to a new C300 Sport (Mercedes has two models for the new C class.. the "Sport" and the "Luxury" at the time no Luxury models were in stock) sitting to the right of us and he gracefully opened the driver door and insisted that I have a seat. Right off the bat I noticed how much bigger this car not only looks on the outside.. but feels on the inside. I had plenty of space with room to spare for a rear passenger. It almost felt like I was in a E class. The interior redesign didn't totally strike me as leaps and bounds.. but it is definitely an improvement over the last model. This may sound silly, but the thing I was most excited about was the weight of the doors. The door felt like the commanders hatch on a tank, like a big chunk of solid steel. It felt like what a Mercedes should feel like!
After a quick once over of the cars interior, the salesman insisted I take one for a test ride. Who am I to argue..! Outside the showroom was a beautiful C300 sport in what Mercedes calls "Barolo Red" over black interior. It had an amazing (and very expensive) set of 18 inch AMG staggered wheels. The AMG package really makes this car stand out. I couldn't see myself driving this car without it.
When we pulled out of the dealership, I immediately noticed how much this car feels like a Mercedes. What do I mean? Well, its very stiff (but not uncomfortable).. very point and shoot driving. You always feel like the car is actually being controlled by some engineer on a computer, locked away in a secret room in Stuttgart. This car really is smarter than you. It's like you are simply being allowed to have some control over driving, but it will take care of the really important stuff. The breaks are amazing.. this car can stop so hard you may just end up in a different dimension. Handling is typical Mercedes, its a nice driving experience without being to much on the edge (and of course if you wanted to go to the edge, my operator in Stuttgart would probably push a button that would slap my hands and tell me "Nein!!!"). The 3.0 liter V6 is quite responsive, and its 228 hp and 221 lbs ft torque move this car out quite nicely. I can imagine this car with the 3.5 liter engine would be a screamer.
In summary its hard to even compare this car to the last generation C class. According to Mercedes this car has been 7 years in the making. This is a completely different car. It is, dare I say it, over engineering at its finest. That is what I love about Mercedes! I want my Mercedes to be engineered like one of the seven wonders! The only similarity this new C class has with the old one is once you start to option this car out it can become quite expensive. The C300 sport I drove with the AMG package and a couple more goodies was over 40k!!!!
When its all said and done, if I'm going to spend over $40,000 for a car in this class... I think I'd still pick the BMW 335.. Maybe a drive in the C350 could change my mind... another car for another day!
The current A-Class has gotten good reviews overall in the motoring press, as opposed to the first-generation A-Class launched in 1997. The A-Class was the first front-wheel drive vehicle ever sold by Mercedes-Benz, and is known as the “Baby Benz” in Europe. Year-end 2006 figures show that Mercedes has sold almost 1.5 million A-Class cars since 1997.
Not sold in the United States, the tiny A-Class is popular in Europe and the model range is massive in its permutations, with variables such as different size diesel or gas engines, trim levels, appearance packages, etc. The A-Class starts at a price that is inexpensive and climbs all the way up to almost $40,000 USD for a 193 hp A200 model that is not only fast, but has a very high level of trim inside. The A-Class also has a 5-Star crash rating, the highest rating given in the European crash tests.
Daimler refused to comment on the report, stating that it was “idle speculation”.
For the longest of time, we Mercedes-Benz fans have had to live with one hard fact and that fact was that Mercedes-Benz products couldn’t quite offer the excitement, or entertainment (as drivers’ cars) when compared to their Munich rival, BMW. Admittedly these two manufacturers have never really appealed to the same type of buyer, but the rivalry is far too blatant to be hidden. Fans of both of the iconic manufacturers have been at ‘war’ (so to speak) for a long time, but that over-used cliché that Mercedes-Benz only makes products for the elderly seeking a vehicle with lush ride and no driving experience is fading away – extremely fast.
As Bob Dylan once said, “The Times They Are A-Changin'’”. They most certainly are for Mercedes-Benz and affiliates who are currently gaining a reputation for developing ‘sporty cars’. Now I know what you’re thinking, aren’t the words ‘Mercedes’ and ‘sporty’, a contradiction? Contrary to what some may believe, such a combination is not a contradiction and the recent flood of complimentary magazine reviews confirms this to be the case.
However, before we move onto to the actual praise of the newer AMG models, I think it’s only fair to mention some of Mercedes-Benz’s greatest drivers’ cars. People often label Mercedes-Benz as a manufacturer with no sporting intent, but excuse me, that’s just rubbish.
Mercedes motor sport-inspired road-going models actually hark back as far as the 1950’s - the most notable of them being the 1954 300 SL “Gullwing”. The iconic 300SL Gullwing was one of the Mercedes’ first road-going automobiles which was labelled as a ‘road-legal race car’ – evidenced by the fact that it was loosely based upon the company’s 1950 race car, the W194 300SL.
The following years saw a steady trend of Mercedes road-going race cars, but none that made as much of an impact on enthusiasts as the release of the 190E 2.5-16 ‘Evolution’ models – the first of which was released in March of 1989. Aside from an obvious body make-over (inspired by Mercedes’ own DTM vehicles, allowing a drag coefficient of just .29), the Evolution took Mercedes to a whole new level by settling itself firmly in the sports sedan section. This was achieved through the addition of such equipment as a: short-stroke engine with a bigger-bore (thus increasing the flexibility and revv band); an adjustable suspension with adjustable ride height; and just about everything thing else you could think of that was available at the time. And to top it off, the 190 Evolution was a homologation special, and that alone secured it a place in Mercedes history.
Wait just a minute! Before you go and utter words such as, “Mr. McCulloch, have you forgotten about the supercar that McLaren motorcars co-developed with Mercedes-Benz? What about the eye catching, carbon fibre-bodied 626bhp monster that is the SLR McLaren?”
No, I haven’t forgotten about it. The SLR may be superbly fast and an amazing performance car, but truthfully, it’s just a big GT (no pun intended). What you should be aware is that even Mercedes themselves doesn’t advertise the SLR as a sportscar, but rather a high performance GT and having said that, it’s clear that various magazines agree with their analogy. British magazine EVO was quoted as saying that they’d rather own the CLK DTM than the SLR, mostly because it boasted a level of driving excitement which the SLR could not match.
This particular vehicle was brought to life in mid 2004 when Mercedes-Benz motorsport division (in connection with AMG), decided to produce a homologation special with no marketing logic whatsoever. Mind you, the words ‘homolgation’ and ‘logical’ have never gone hand in hand, but let’s be honest – 236,060 € for a vehicle (and a Mercedes, after all!) which shared the same base 5.4 litre supercharged 8-cylinder with a number of lesser AMG models and a body style loosely based on the road-going CLK doesn’t fare too well on paper. In fact, most enthusiasts questioned the need for such a vehicle - often implying that it was no more than a standard CLK with a power boost. Nevertheless, such an intial reaction did not affect Mercedes who managed to sell the entire production line (100 units), before any automotive journalists got their hands on the vehicle.
572bhp CLK DTM
Furthermore, the performance figures which this monster eventually turned out surely shocked the majority of sports car enthusiasts. The CLK DTM easily broke the 8-minute barrier on the famous Nurburgring Nordschliefe and matched the best from Italy, Germany and America when it came to slalom courses, braking tests, etc. Once the word spread, those familiar with Mercedes history soon knew that something was a little different this time around. After all, this vehicle had a few advantages which no other Benz could offer, like semi-slick tyres and a stripped out interior full of lightweight bits made of materials such as alcantara and carbon fibre. Far from being the answer to a question no one asked, as auto enthusiasts originally conjectured, the CLK DTM is instead the answer to the prayers every Mercedes-Benz enthusiast had uttered for years.
Thankfully the wonderful CLK DTM has paved the way for a new generation of AMG and Mercedes models. Since the release of the homologation special, the magic has been passed along to other AMG models. They include the SLK55 AMG Black Series; CLK63 AMG Black Series and the recently released, M3 fighting, C63 AMG.
Black Series models, CLK63 (top), SLK55 (bottom)
And yep, you guessed it; all three of these vehicles have Mercedes being considered in a much different light. With respect to the C63 AMG, British magazine AutoCar recently made the claim,"I can’t remember a more entertaining, a more dynamically rounded Mercedes model since the original 190 2.5 Evo." Big claim, wouldn’t you say?
Make no mistake; both Mercedes and AMG are evolving and what makes this achievement even all more impressive is that it appears they been able to do this without any compromises – without alienating the large group of customers that has always known and respected Mercedes for luxury motorcars.
BMW and Audi - watch out! Fair warning is being given right now. Stuttgart’s driving enthusiasts’ models are back and heading your way, at high speed, real soon.
The museum was reportedly built at a cost of $192-million. The building's height and "double helix" interior design maximize space, allowing 16,500 square metres of exhibit space on a lot of just 4,800 square metres.The museum contains more than 160 vehicles.
Well, fast forward a few years, and the brand's cars have NOT been selling well in the US. The company sold 146 cars in 2006, 152 cars in 2005, 244 cars in 2004, 166 cars in 2003. So far in 2007, it has sold 80 cars through August 31, so that means that in the car's entire existence in the US, it has sold only 788 cars. It makes me feel even more "fortunate" to occasionally spot the one near where I work (I work near a wealthy area, but don't live in one), since I've been seeing it since 2003 or 2004. Contrasting these actual sales results were DaimlerChrysler's sales projections of 600 units per year. The dealer body was established based on the projection of 600 units annually, but Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA said that 29 of the original 70 US dealers have given up their franchises. Daimler has negotiated compensation packages with the dealers, which - in at least one case - are about 25 cents on the dollar. That means that each dealer will get back about $125,000 of the approximate $500,000 upfront cost to set up a franchise.
So, what went wrong with the Maybach? They're certainly comfortable, with every imaginable luxury, including some unimaginable ones like an intercom system to allow vehicle occupants to speak with people outside of the car and rear seats in the 62 that can recline completely flat. The cars are powerful, with engines producing at least 550 horsepower. Well, my guess is that although people in the know can tell what a Maybach is, the cars have the misfortune of looking like unattractive Chinese knockoffs of Mercedes S-class sedans. When the Maybach made its debut, it looked more unique relative to the S-class, but with the introduction of the current W221 S-class sedan, it adopted some of the Maybach 57's more attractive styling features and is overall a much nicer looking automobile, and can be purchased for less than half the price of a Maybach.
Meanwhile, the guy who bought a Rolls-Royce Phantom (and there were 336 sold in 2006 and 382 sold in 2005 in the US - more than double the Maybach's sales), for better or worse, never sees himself, or a facsimile of himself, anywhere else in the automotive world.
Frankly, I'm surprised that Mercedes-Benz has bothered to keep pushing the Maybach line. Extremely low sales volumes probably don't make the car a profitable venture, and the fact that they continue to soldier on with the Maybach brand probably is some combination of German arrogance (the Volkswagen Phaeton is an excellent case study of that trait) and a lack of understanding of sunk costs ("we can't abandon Maybach after all of the money we've spent on it.")
Regardless of the reason, if I had more money than I knew what to do with, I would not be spending it on a Maybach. I'd probably go for a $186,000 S65 AMG (with basically the same engine that the Maybach has, wrapped in a more attractive body shell and what is still a really nice interior, and perhaps a Ferrari F430 - or even a $75,000 Corvette Z06 - as a sporty second car with the savings.
If I were Dieter Zetsche, I'd drop Maybach as a standalone brand, reach financial settlements with my remaining dealers, and introduce an ultra-luxurious derivative of the S-class and CL-class Mercedes-Benz cars called "Maybach" that captured the essence of the brand (high performance, ultimate luxury, and owner customization) without the need to support an extra brand.
If you have a project car you are currently fixing up or restoring.. drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .. send some pics and info and I'll be glad to post it in the next "Project Cars" segment....
Email to email@example.com
DaimlerChrysler is no more. It's just Daimler now, thank you. Like a divorcee asking you to refer to her by her maiden name again, all the while saying to herself,"What was I thinking marrying that creep? I'm glad I dumped that albatross."
Why is it that in business bigger is always considered better? Why couldn't Mercedes-Benz be happy with making some of the world's best, most luxurious cars? Why did they feel the need to sell more cars than their competitors? Even if those cars were Chryslers and Dodges? You know, if I was as successful a writer as Mercedes-Benz is at building cars, I'd be happy with myself. I wouldn't want anything more. I wouldn't, say, go off and try to be an actor too. Or a composer. I'd stick to what I do best and enjoy the rewards. I'd take pride in the work that I did, knock off at 6pm, and go have a beer with my friends (if I had any). And I'd like to think that if at some point I were to be struck by the fancy to indulge one or other of my pipe dreams, the better part of me would refrain the less better part of me from doing it.
DaimlerChrysler never made any sense to me. The brands never really complimented each other in any way. No consumer 'graduates' from a Dodge to a Mercedes-Benz the way a 20 year old buys a Scion and then move on to a Toyota at 30 and, once he loses his hair, his self-worth, his creative ambitions and takes that corporate schlep job he always swore he wouldn't, at 40, buys a Lexus as his pitiful reward. (Am I sounding cynical these days? Better have my therapist give my medications a second look). There was no logic in the collection of brands. BMW and Mini? Wise from the get-go and great execution. Do I like Minis? They're overpriced, ugly, small and impractical. I'd take a Puegeot 207 any day. But the brand has an identity and it compliments BMW. The only reason for the DaimlerChrysler merger was blind ambition.
And all Chrysler did for them was drag down the image of Mercedes. It really hurt their brand and a lot of the reliability issues they had a few years back was likely due, in part, to a cynical consumer view that the company was cutting corners on development because it was a corporate giant just looking to make money.
There are automakers, like BMW, who, after the debacle with Rover, played it smart with Mini to great success. There are others, like Peugeot, who like to grow organically and shy away from mergers or large, risky adventures. There is VW Group, whose collection of brands makes perfect sense, if they don't always manage it well or exploit their brands properly or position their products the right way. Audi is a case in point of an automaker doing the hard work, over decades, of focusing on quality and performance, and building a brand, in this case, a premium brand, that can compete with the likes of Mercedes and BMW.
Mercedes-Benz is now revamping its public image. It is changing the look of its marketing and ad material and it's corporate logo, the silver star with "Mercedes-Benz" in writing below will now become just the star along. It will sit in the top right corner of the ads as if to say that the badge speaks for itself. This is smart. This is what they should be focused on. Reminding people that they make great cars. That should be enough.
How better to get visitors to your museum than to create a massive man-made tornado in the middle of the building? Clearly, our cynical suggestion is not the motivation behind the creation of Mercedes-Benz’s artificial tornado in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart: their excuse was that the building had to abide by fire safety guidelines, which state that the massive open spaces in the museum required big fire doors the museum owner didn’t want to put in place. The solution was apparently a 34.4 meter high tornado, powered by 144 jets and capable of moving 28 tons of air designed to clear smoke from the building — and, for demonstration purposes, stage smoke. It’s certainly not anyway near as powerful as a real tornado (the video after the break attests to that), but it’s definitely just as pretty.
Apart from its unique styling, the GTK features the normally aspirated SLK 55 AMG V8 engine fitted with a complete KLEEMANN Kompressor system kit, delivering 540 HP and 700 Nm or 516-lb/ft of torque. Power is transferred to the road by a 7-speed automatic gearbox, a KLEEMANN limited slip differential and ultra low profile tires on 20-inch alloy rims designed specifically for the GTK. -Continued after the jump
Kleemann supports that their Danish treat can go from 0 to100 km/h (62 mph) in only 3,7 seconds and it can acceleration right up to the electronically limited top speed of 300 km/h – 187 mph. The GTK promises to offer the same excitement when it comes to stopping thanks to the high performance KLEEMANN brake system featuring 380 mm. vented discs with 8 piston fixed aluminium callipers front and 345 mm. vented discs with 4 piston fixed aluminium callipers rear.
According to Danish tuner, while it is not currently planning mass production of the GTK, the concept will serve as an inspiration for forthcoming Mercedes-Benz projects as all new models will feature shapes and details derived from the concept.
Nobody likes to be labeled a size-queen, but let’s face it: bigger is better. Alas, many a lavender letter has been pinned to the chest of Mercedes-Benz owners forced to switch brands for their seven-passenger SUV needs. To stop loyal clientèle leaving the family, Mercedes-Benz developed the first full-size luxury SUV to wear the “Made in Germany” label: the GL. Larger than the well-regarded ML but not as ponderous as the iconic G-Class, the GL’s modest dimensions accommodate six passengers (seven in a pinch) while also fitting comfortably into most garages, a claim not many Cadillac Escalade EXTs can make.
From behind the steering wheel, the GL feels much like the smaller ML. Easy to maneuver and park, the tight and controlled handling instills a sense of confidence rarely attributed to vehicles of this size. Standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive, center and rear- locking differentials and the Airmatic air suspension ensure the utmost in off-road ability, while safety features such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and three-row side-curtain airbags ensure the best possible outcome should the unthinkable happen.
And then there are the little touches only Mercedes-Benz seems to remember, like a front passenger seat that automatically glides forward when the second-row seatbacks are folded down. The second and third-row seats are quite comfortable on long trips, as are the wonderfully contoured front buckets. Perhaps the most appealing thing about the GL is its lack of overly-complex controls for the audio, navigation and ventilation. Everything is fairly intuitive, although we never did figure out how set the climate control to simply plumb in fresh air. Having the third-row seat in place leaves a modest cargo compartment, and God knows if there’s one thing we gays can’t do its pack light. So with six passengers onboard, the GL’s tour of duty is limited to day trips. A Ski weekend in Aspen with your partner and another couple, not to mention everyone’s gear, is what this big Benz does best.
The GL distances itself from the competition with a choice of three engines; two V8s and one V6 turbodiesel. The latter is highly unusual in the American market and showcases the latest developments in clean diesel technology. With an MSRP starting around $54,000, the GL320 CDI is not only the least expensive GL, it also produces less greenhouse gas emissions than its gasoline counterparts, has more torque than either of the two V8s (all important for towing and passing) and returns an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 city/24 highway.
Of course if diesel isn’t your thing, the V8-powered GL450 offers much of the same standard equipment and costs just $3,000 more. The GL550 bumps the asking price into the high $70,000 range and features a 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8 engine, unique front end punctuated by a massive three-point star emblem and just about every creature comfort available in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio. Available features on the GL include DVD navigation, a power glass sunroof with a fixed rear glass panel, heated rear seats, Harman/kardon logic 11-speaker audio, Parktronic parking assist, rear backup camera, full leather seating (GL450), Keyless Go, rear seat DVD entertainment system, power rear quarter windows and the list goes on.
Mercedes-Benz is a gay-friendly company.
Get more detailed information on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL in our New Car Section.
Calculate the payments for a 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL
From a diesel perspective, anything that isn't turbocharged is a waste of time from a tuning point of view. Similarly, anything that isn't using electronically managed direct injection is a pointless tuning proposal so we are somewhat limited to modern Turbo Diesels.
Get rid of those two ointment bound flies and things get more interesting. A 2001 plated Peugeot 406 2.2HDi has been re-mapped from factory spec 136bhp (it's pretty good in that tune with 235lbft to play with!) to a whopping 192bhp@4150rpm and 329lbft (yes, that's right, we have NOT confused Nm with lbft) delivered from 2250rpm. This endows the car with mid-range thump that wouldn't disgrace a Boxster or Audi TT with the silly engine option. NO stopwatch necessary, this is a genuinely rapid car now, it both feels quick and achieves the numbers to be quick.
All the anti-diesel folks will bang on about 0-60. Well, HDIfun has never put a stopwatch on it in anger but says "you can do it in well under 8 seconds without going over 3500rpm! In gear acceleration is a bit of a giggle too - 50 to 70 in FOURTH in about 2.5 seconds!! 70 to 90 in fifth in under 6!!! Flat out, who cares, the factory spec is said to be good for 129mph."
Go figure for yourselves - and then reckon into the equation over 35mpg when driven in anger. A powerful turbo diesel is perfect for the half grown up driver, and, boy will you lurrve that sheer muscle. It the sensible and fun choice.
Everyone who has driven a current 330d or a 535d will likely agree that they are disgustingly rapid from the factory. These engines can still be made to deliver more torque, but you have to question if it's really necessary given the ease with which they both fling themselves foward in response to a gentle squeezing of the right toes
Some assert that manufacturers modestly undertune the current crop of performance diesels in order to create a place in the market for their petrol powered models. In the case of the Golf GT tdi I've still to meet anyone who doesn't exceed the standard manufacturers acceleration claims by a whole second. For some folks, only petrol will do. Curiously, in my estimation these are of the older generation who will not even test drive a diesel car because 'they're slow and noisy, aren't they?'. Just look how many current model Micras are being driven around with Nissan's excellent but spineless small capacity 4 cylinder petrol units. Try the dCi 82, for example. It handles like a go-kart and accelerates absolutely beautifully. It would suit your dad perfectly.
Induction kits and exhaust should theoretically offer a slight increase in power as you still require an efficient delivery of lots of cold air and a way to expel them as efficiently as possible. The bore size of Diesel exhausts is typically much larger than a similar powered petrol car especially on Turbo Diesel models. Initially I would recommend just adding a good quality (washable) high flow panel air filter to the standard air box.
As for internal mods for sophisticated diesel engines, typically the rewards obey the law of diminishing returns. With forced induction there's only so far you can go with cam/valve lift and air (gas) flow. Especially with a diesel engine, given the limited rev range there's not that much reward from tuning a head in the traditional way. Diesel burns very slowly (hence the 4000rpm peak BHP most achieve, even if they will spin to over 5000rpm).
Getting the flame front inside the combustion chamber to accelerate faster than the piston crown is the only real option, and this is to some degree achieved by allow small amount of fuel to be injected during the expansion phase of the engine's cycle.Too much of this and you get smoke and soot, and burn a load of fuel. Increasing the BMEP (brake mean effective pressure) by means such as increased boost can assist. This, too, is a double edged sword as the biggest fraction of the atmosphere is nitrogen, which, although good for cooling, is still incombustible.
That's where nitrous comes in, in the same way it does in a petrol powered vehicle. The gains achieved in this way can be absolutely silly, but given the cost and legal position with regard to road usage it's a bit of a white elephant.
Increasing the cetane rating of diesel fuel is quite effective in increasing the release of 'free' power. With a diesel engine, the key is getting the fuel to burn more rapidly, as opposed to a petrol engine where octane number is God. Higher octane petrol fuels burn more slowly and resist pre-ignition better than low octane fuels. Pre warming the fuel and direct injection into the combustion chamber all help to improve the speed and efficiency of combustion.
Good results can be obtained with cetane improvers. Sadly, these can prove expensive and should not be used in engines that are Euro Iv (2004) compliant. Strangely, the 2.2HDi 2001 model is 2004 compliant. The particle filter ( a whole subject in itself) can become blocked or excessively obstructed by use of such products.
Weight reduciton is very very sensible. Not only does less weight mean better performance for free, it also puts less load on tyres, which allows braking and handling to be optimised. It also reduces the load on the environment as less fuel is required, thereby the release of exhaust gases is reduced.
Engine mass/weight is a standard problem with diesel cars (especially FWD ones). That heavy engine can upset the handling balance of a car. Diesel units are heavy; they're dealing with big compression ratios and big torque figures. As such, the bearings are larger in diameter, the gearboxes belong in lorries and tractors even if the change quality is good. Clutches are getting on for 12" diameter and require fluid operation and servo assistance to make the things pleasant to drive, often a standard clutch will suffer from slip when a remap yields a massive torque figure so you may need to uprate the clutch.
Mercedes car tuning tips and advice. We have a wide range of tuning articles covering all models of Mercedes from small engined family cars to large engine hot hatches and executive cars. Following our tuning tips you will avoid many of the common mistakes and actually achieve the car setup you desire. Please join the forum for model specific questions and answers and to meet other owners and see what modifications they have done.
Torquecars started providing Mercedes upgrades, car tweaks and car modification Tips and advice back in 2004 and have grown from strength to strength with a fast growing membership of all types of Mercedes owners. This year we are organising our first car show in Kent. Our Mercedes tuning and Mercedes styling articles are continually updated so for the latest Mercedes upgrades,tweaks and modification advice, tips and pointers please check back regularly. Once again we recommend you join our Mercedes owners forum and swap upgrades ideas with like minded Mercedes owners.
- Selected Mercedes Stats
- E-Class E-Class Estate E320 CDi Elegance 5d Tip Auto - 3226 cc - 195 bhp - 470 Nm
- C-Class C-Class Estate C230 Esprit 5d Auto - 2295 cc - 150 bhp - -
- C-Class C-Class Saloon C200K Classic SE 4d (04) - 1796 cc - 163 bhp - 240 Nm
- E-Class E-Class Estate 320 TE 5d Auto (5) - 3199 cc - 220 bhp - -
- C-Class C-Class Estate C270 CDI Avantgarde SE 5d Auto - 2685 cc - 170 bhp - 370 Nm
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