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Automotive Section


Mercedes' golden age of design continues with 2017 C-Class Wagon

Mercedes-Benz' C Class wagon is a lovely and wonderful car that combines the best of a sedan with most of the utility of an SUV/Crossover. I call that a winning combination.

When I learned that I was going to get a week behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz' current C-Class wagon - the C 300 4MATIC - I was ecstatic: not only do I love wagons but Mercedes-Benz is currently (in my never humble opinion) in a golden age of automotive design. The company has traditionally made excellent luxury cars but they haven't always made the most attractive ones. Some generations have been a tad dumpy, or too angular, or whatever, with stodgy interiors that may have befitted the legendary marque's historic reputation, but which didn't make my heart go 'zing' like others did.

That, obviously, was then. But today's Benzes - at least their bread and butter C and E classes, are beautiful inside and out. Oh, I still don't think they're as attractive as, say, Audi or Jaguar, but they've come a long way and I definitely wouldn't be embarrassed to have one in my garage. Even better, Mercedes' cars are beautiful underneath the skin, too, thanks to their state-of-the-art design and technology. more...

Mercedes-Benz E coupe a real 'Tourer de force'

Or maybe it's a "coupe de grace!"

However you pun about Mercedes-Benz' 2018 E 400 coupe, it's an exquisite and luxurious two door E Class, and that is nothing at which to sneer. Sure, you won't get much change back from your 90 grand to get one configured as Mercedes-Benz Canada's quite loaded sample was, but that's what a car like this costs these days - and for that amount you're getting an incredible vehicle.

Can't afford that? No problem! All the technology and comforts the E Class has today will trickle down to entry level cars sooner than one might expect, judging by how quickly such stuff as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear view cameras and the like have now started cropping up at the lower end of the market.

But if you want the higher end goodies in a sporty coupe - without getting into the hyper car realm - this isn't a bad place to start.

I'm a sedan kind of guy - actually, I like wagons even more - but the lines of this coupe really stir my automotive drool response. It may be a tad meaty on its haunches but the overall look is modern and high tech and continues Mercedes-Benz' current golden age of interior and exterior design. This is no turgid Teutonic tank, it's a beautiful example of today's state-of-the-art auto design.

Beauty, of course, being in the eye of the keyholder. more...

New Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a mostly excellent and state-of-the-art drive

Mercedes-Benz' new E-Class is a bit of a revelation, not only about what a current mid-size luxury sedan can be, but also about where the market as a whole is going. And, like the E-Class, it should be an interesting ride.

I expected to like the E-Class, but after a week in Mercedes-Benz Canada's sample E 300 4MATIC (all-wheel drive) I came away wishing I didn't have to take it back.

As if that's never happened to me before…

The new E-Class shows that Mercedes-Benz continues to be on a roll, both as far as styling and driver engagement are concerned. As the for tech stuff, well, you may find it a "love it or  hate it" scenario. I certainly loved some of its toys and tools, and was amazed by some - but others would be real deal breakers, though fortunately, the ones I hated most (lane departure warning/assist) can be turned off. more...

Mercedes-Benz C Class coupe a real coup

Mercedes-Benz certainly seems to be on a roll these days. The German luxury car manufacturer is currently making some of the most attractive vehicles in its history, beauty being in the eye of the beholder of course, and they're integrating the latest technology into their models without making most of it unnecessarily annoying and/or obtrusive.

And that's on top of their long-held reputation as the maker of some of the finest cars on the market - an impression they continue to foster via their slogan "The best, or nothing."

The result of their work can be seen in cars such as the new C 300 coupe, with which I spent a week recently. It's a beautiful car, though its roofline seems a tad Honda Accord Coupe-like to these eyes (which would be a compliment were I not also whining about it being a bit derivative), and it drives very nicely too. Oh, it isn't a "real sport coupe" like a BMW M4, but it doesn't claim to be - and it's undoubtedly easier to live with than a BMW thanks to its easier-to-figure-out interfaces. more...

Mercedes Benz Driving Academy helps you learn the physics of driving

Mercedes-Benz just taught me how to drive like Jackie Stewart!

Okay, maybe not - few people can drive like the legendary "wee Scot" who won the Formula 1 championship three times in the late 1960's and early 1970's. But thanks to Mercedes-Benz's Driving Academy and their recent "Mastering Performance" course at Castrol Raceway near Edmonton, I learned some great techniques aimed at making me a better driver - and one of those techniques was pioneered by Sir Jackie himself.

It's called "trail braking," and if you can drive a manual transmission you'll find it quite similar to using the clutch. more...

Mercedes-Benz Metris van brings driving pleasure to utility

If your company is looking for a utility van that rewards the person behind the wheel, look no farther than Mercedes-Benz new Metris.

It's a work van that takes a lot of the work out of driving, offering a more compelling experience behind the steering wheel than I expected out of a utility vehicle. And it starts at a reasonable $33,900 CAD ($37,900 when you configure it as a passenger van).

My recent week of Metris seat time was actually my second time behind the wheel of the van, though it was also my first opportunity to drive it for more than a few minutes. The Mercedes-Benz folk invited me to the model introduction in southwest Colorado last year, where we got to sally forth through and around the Rocky mountains in a high altitude adventure that convinced me the van would be a pretty nifty vehicle for those contemplating such a product. more...

Adventurer's Pole2Pole journey warms up in Alberta's Rockies

G, wouldn't you love to have a top line Mercedes-Benz off roader to support you on your globetrotting adventures?

Mike Horn certainly seems to love it. The "21st century adventurer" brought his pair of "G" Classes - which will be joined on his upcoming global circumnavigation by a sailboat as well as his own physical abilities and guts - to a press event at Calgary's Lone Star Mercedes-Benz dealership on Monday, April 4, after having tested a pair of the German carmaker's G-Class units in Alberta's mountainous wilderness. more...

Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4MATIC - no K car any more

What's in a name? Perhaps not much, if you consider Mercedes-Benz' new GLC SUV/Crossover. It's a new vehicle that takes the place of an existing model - kind of a renamed update of the original version - but which also raises the bar on what was already a darn fine vehicle.

The new GLC isn't just a rebadged GLK, however. Based on the C class car, it's longer and wider than the "old" GLK, with a roomier rear seat and more cargo space. It's also better looking - not that the GLK was an automotive troll by any means, but this new model is smoother and classier than the outgoing SUV, with a more muscular mien as well. more...

Mercedes little ute an affordable way to class up your garage

What can a consumer get in an all wheel drive utility vehicle for about $40,000 these days? Quite a bit, actually, and you may be surprised to find that an honest to goodness Mercedes-Benz fits into that niche.

It's the GLA 250 4MATIC, which Mercedes-Benz was kind enough to lend me during my week and a bit in Ontario attending the Canadian Car of the Year TestFest. I'd also spent a week with a GLA last January, and really liked it, so I was looking forward to its return engagement. I got to give it a good workout, too, on everything from execrable multi-lane freeway to enjoyably winding back roads, and once again

I wasn't disappointed. Mostly. more...

Smart electric drive not that smart

"Zero emissions. Infinite fun." So says the smart website when you click on the link to the electric drive version of the strangely popular little city car from Mercedes-Benz.

Truth in advertising? Well, the zero emissions part is fine as long as you ignore the fact that the electricity has to come from somewhere. In my case, as an Albertan, the smart electric drive was mostly coal powered; depending upon where you live, yours could be powered by hydroelectricity or - here's where it'll really whack the "warm-mongers" - NUCLEAR!!!!!!! The horror!

The truth in advertising also falls down with the word "infinite," which is merely hyperbole and can be ignored as a product of someone's ad campaign. The slide continues with "fun." If you think this car is fun, well, there's a gulf between us that mere words will probably never bridge. more...

Mercedes-Benz points to the future of motoring from its Silicon Valley base

(Note: this is part Two of Two.)

Sunnyvale, California - As German as Mercedes-Benz may be, it turns out that it's in Southern California that some of its latest innovations are being created - not just at the Sunnyvale complex they invited a bunch of us writers to be dazzled by at the end of September, but at other "SoCal" locations such as their Advanced Vehicle Design centre in Carlsbad.

The company invited us to help them celebrate the 20th anniversary of its R&D centre, located smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley - a place known more for innovation in areas other than automotive. But as with other areas of technology - audio, video, computers, smart devices, etc. - there's been a convergence going on for many years now, a marrying of various facets of today's high tech world into products (in this case, cars, SUV's and trucks) that make use of all the disparate parts to create wholes that, to destroy an oft-cited cliché, are greater than the sum of their different bits. more...

Mercedes-Benz celebrates 20 years of innovation in Silicon Valley

(Note: this is Part One of Two.)

Sunnyvale, California - "The best or nothing." That's the slogan German automaker Mercedes-Benz uses these days, and while one might be able to argue that cars such as the Bugatti Veyron may represent "the best" when compared to, say a B Class, it's hard to argue that, overall, Mercedes isn't the brand most people think of when the topic of the best car companies comes up.

It's no accident. Not only was Mercedes-Benz the first car company back more than 100 years ago, but it has led the field when it comes to innovation nearly consistently since then. Heck, if you want to see what's going to be on your entry level car in 10 or 15 years, you need look no farther, generally, than the mighty S Class, which keeps upping its own ante with new technology, from the once rare and now common antilock brakes and traction control features, to seat massagers, lane departure systems and plenty more.

As German as Mercedes-Benz may be, however, it turns out that it's in Southern California that some of its latest innovations are being designed - not just at the Sunnyvale complex the company invited a bunch of us writers to be dazzled by, but at other locations such as their Advanced Vehicle Design centre in Carlsbad (I wonder if it's cavernous!). more...

Mercedes 'Benz' the rules about small vans

Don't call Mercedes-Benz' soon-to-be-released Metris a minivan.

That's the mostly unspoken but highly evident sentiment from Mercedes-Benz, which is unleashing its mid-sized alternative to the popular Sprinter commercial van in October of this year.

"The target group is really commercial customers," said Mathias Geisen, General Manager, Product Management & Marketing, for Mercedes-Benz Vans USA, adding with a smile that "we will not keep anyone from buying this van, because we're paid to sell cars." Geisen noted the company has a "real minivan variant in Europe, the V-Class, but it has a completely different instrument cluster, plus leather trim and stuff like that." There are no plans to bring the V-Class to North America at this time. more...

Mercedes and Lexus offer very different takes on little wagons

One's a turbo, the other's a hybrid, and both of these "little wagons" offers car buyers an interesting if not completely satisfying driving experience.

The B-Class is the smallest Mercedes-Benz offered in Canada currently, while the CT 200h is Lexus' entry level hybrid. They both offer the storage and practicality of a wagon and/or hatchback as well as the luxury that buyers of premium automobiles expect. And they're both priced fairly similarly: they start at just over $31,000 Canadian, though of course you can option them up from there: a nearly loaded B-Class will set you back about $42,500, while the optioned up CT 200h F Sport will drain about the same amount from your wallet.

This isn't a completely apples-to-apples comparison because the options are different in each case and because the up market B also has 4MATIC all-wheel drive, a feature that isn't available on the little Lexus. Of course, four wheel drive may not be important to you, in which case the point's moot. more...

Mercedes-Benz shows off its remarkably capable 4x4 Sprinter

It's a utility vehicle a mudder can love!

That's the impression Mercedes-Benz gave media attendees at its fascinating introduction to the new 4x4 Sprinters, an event at which the company made it clear that neither rain, sleet, snow nor even deep and wet mud can prevent the vans from performing their appointed rounds.

Maybe Canada Post bought their letter carriers the wrong equipment… more...

Mercedes-Benz creates a nice new 'cute ute'  

The small SUV niche is a crowded and popular market these days, with entries from just about every major automotive brand. So if a new kid on the block wants a piece of this luxuriant landscape of lucre, they'd better offer something pretty compelling.

And that's exactly what Mercedes-Benz has done with its new GLA 250 4MATIC, a handsome and capable vehicle that's not only a nice entry into this niche but is also a way for new customers to discover the joys of owning a Mercedes-Benz.

It's funny to think of one of the world's oldest surviving automaker as being a new kid on the block, but the closest the company has come to making an "entry level" (for a premium car company, anyway) SUV before was the GLK – which is also a very nice vehicle but a tad bigger and more up market than the new GLA. more...

Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4Matic a fine sedan

It isn't the smallest car Mercedes-Benz sells in North America, but the CLA-class "four door coupe" is a very nice vehicle that, despite big time turbo lag, moves its passengers along smartly and in great comfort.

Designed to compete with such worthy cars as the Audi A3, Acura TLX, Lexus IS and the like, the CLA wears the "four door coupe" look the company pioneered with its original CLS a few years back. And while I think the four door coupe concept is silly - why not just call it a sedan and be done with it, since there's nothing wrong with having four doors? - it's a handsome car inside and out. And it starts at a reasonable (for a Benz, anyway) $34,300. more...

Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec boasts diesel economy and torque

Take a good diesel sedan and subtract two cylinders from its engine and what do you get?

In the case of Mercedes-Benz' new E250 Bluetech, you get a car that may have a tad less horsepower and torque than the outgoing model, but not enough less to make any substantive difference.

Gotta love the onward march of technology! more...

Mercedes driving course helps teach safe driving techniques – and more

What did the driver of the German car say when he wrapped it around a light pole?

"That's the way the Mercedes bends!"

A bad joke, indeed, but a good way to illustrate what Mercedes-Benz is accomplishing with its Driving Academy, a roving series of courses designed not only to help you drive more safely, but to also understand the capabilities of your car and its technology. It's also a delicious way to drive a whole bunch of fine Mercedes-Benz vehicles in a single setting – and how bad can that be? more...

Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 – smooth and luxurious small SUV

It's German, it's luxurious, it's built well and it's nice to drive. And perhaps best of all, it's entry level – at least as entry level as one can expect from a marque such as Mercedes-Benz.

There's a lot that's new about the GLK 350, including exterior and interior tweaks and new technology designed to make this "cute ute" even more compelling than the previous model – which was itself no slouch. more...

Mercedes E 300: new entry in the E class

The words "entry level" and "Mercedes-Benz" may sound a lot like an oxymoron, but in the case of the E 300 4MATIC sedan, it's very nearly appropriate.

That's because the E 300 is the low sedan on the E-Class totem pole, one that extends right up to such heights as represented by the company's awesome E63 AMG sport sedan that is apparently quite the tire shredder.

Naturally, you sacrifice some stuff to be the entry level, chief of which in this particular case is that you get a less powerful V6 engine than you'll find in other gas-fired E's. more...

Mercedes-Benz' Slick new SLK

Mercedes-Benz sporty SLK is back with a new, third generation version that's attractive, luxurious, and fun to drive.

And the two seat, retractable hard top "vario-roof" car looks and works better than ever, with a new exterior that's reminiscent of the company's SLS AMG supercar, and with enough performance and technology to please the discerning driver. more...


Mercedes-Benz' "entry level" SUV offers a lot of benefits for the luxury-minded consumer. The midsize GLK goes head to head with such worthy competitors as the Volvo XC60, VW Touareg, Lexus RX 350, BMW X5 and Audi Q5. And 'twould be tough, indeed, to decide between 'em if it were my money.  

The GLK 350 (as do many of today's vehicles) gets its motivation from a 3.5 liter, 24-valve V6 engine. This particular power plant could use just a smidgen more oomph than the 268 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,400-5,000 rpm provided, but it's hardly a deal breaker – and regardless of my oomph angst, it's competitive in its class.  more...

2011 Mercedes Put Author At "E's"

Mercedes-Benz' E Class vehicles offer some compelling choices for drivers looking for a car that's state-of-the-art innovative, comfortable and classy.

I got to spend about a week in each of the E 350 4Matic sedan and the E 550 Cabriolet – proving once again what a great job I have – and, while both E class cars look, act and feel very different from each other, I came away liking both of them more than I thought I would.

Not that I didn't think they'd be great cars. After all, Mercedes-Benz needs no excuses. more...

smart fortwo - Smart? Or Just Politically Correct?

There are many, many good and economical cars on the market today. The "smart" fortwo is not one of them.

The "smart" fortwo is easily the worst new car I have driven. I knew within five minutes, maybe less, of having taken possession of the thing that my week would be an ordeal. And when my time was up I was very happy to turn in the stupidly-designed "black icons on a black background and therefore virtually illegible" key fob. more...

Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy

Take some world class cars from one of Germany's top marques, add a day on a road course race track learning and honing your driving skills, and what do you have?

Well, besides one of my ideas of heaven, you have the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy. more...

Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic

Mercedes-Benz' C class is the most affordable of the German carmaker's sedan line, but that doesn't mean it feels like an entry level vehicle. It is, after all, a Mercedes. And that means even its lower end cars are upper echelon in the grand scheme of things.

So it is with the new C. Mercedes-Benz says the fourth generation C300 has a greater emphasis on agility, safety and comfort than before, and with "a sportier flair." more...

Mercedes-Benz E280 4Matic

How can a sedan with a well-earned reputation for excellence leave a reviewer feeling ambivalent after a week behind the wheel?

It couldn't have been the fact that the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E280 4Matic is the "entry level" version of the popular E-Class; heck, a "lower end" Benz (which is about as close to an oxymoron as I can think of!) is still an important vehicle in the automotive world, a car that lets mere mortals know you've arrived. And when I drove the even more "entry level" B200 Turbo a while back, I loved the little critter. What gives? more...

Mercedes B200 Turbo – A Little Car that Can

Maybe Nissan shouldn't have cancelled its Axxess so many years ago.

That old car, long dead now, may have been ahead of its time because it almost seems like a "down market prototype" for the new Mercedes-Benz B 200 "Compact Sports Tourer."

While one could make the argument the B is really more like a miniature minivan than a "Sports Tourer," it's actually a fairly apt description of the beast. It's definitely compact and surprisingly sporty – and during my week of touring around the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in it I really started to like the little critter: it's fun to drive, roomy, efficient, classy – and features a wonderfully expansive sunroof through which you could very nearly parachute. When it's open, of course. more...

Mercedes Benz R – Class, in Minivan Clothes

Mercedes Benz may not want its new R Class to be known as a minivan, but it sure seems like a minivan to me – and a darn fine one at that.

The only real difference I can see between the R 350 I drove for a week and a garden variety minivan (other than M-B’s high end trappings and technology, of course) is the fact that its center passenger doors are hinged to open outward like the front doors instead of sliding backwards the way most minivan doors do.

On the other hand, it looks a lot like those so-called crossover vehicles that are becoming more common – vehicles that supposedly blur the line between minivan and SUV or SUV and wagon such as the Chrysler Pacifica or maybe GM’s models such as the Saturn Relay. DaimlerChrysler seems to want the R to be known as a “sports tourer,” and while I agree with the “tourer” part, I’m not sure a big vehicle like this has a lot of “sports” in it. more...

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Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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