Pull up to any jobsite with the “Mercedes-Benz Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox Van” and get the job done.
That’s the boast of the Mercedes folks, who launched a concept version at the recent Chicago Auto Show.
Open up the side of the Metris van and the ultimate toolbox on wheels is revealed. It’s equipped with a wide variety of Ranger Design® and Sortimo by Knapheide® shelves, racks and removable cases. The Toobox van has enough storage, utility and capability to power through long hours on the job. A durable tile flooring system has been installed, which ensures grip for work boots and is easily removable for thorough cleaning.
A clear, plastic partition from Ranger Design® keeps the driver safely divided from the cargo area while also allowing for easy monitoring of the van’s payload. Unique wheels, finished in bright blue and silver, realistic toolbox latches and a handle on the roof compliment the special exterior wrap created for the Toolbox Van.
Built by RENNtech, it is based on the Metris WORKER Cargo Van and can carry a payload of more than 1,130 kgs and has a towing capacity of twice that amount.
The standard 2.0- litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, boasting 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, allowing the Metris to accelerate to 100 km/h in about nine seconds. Power is sent to the Metris’ rear wheels for maximum towing capability and cargo hauling.
Mounted to the steering wheel are shift paddles—standard fitment on all Metris Cargo and Passenger vans—which allow the driver to manually change gears, whether in anticipation of a steep hill or to maximize their driving experience on a twisty road.
The Metris Cargo Van achieves 11.2/9.8L//100kms(city/hwy), thanks partly to the efficient
7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission.
“Most of those purchased will become city dwellers, destined to hunt in shopping malls, but the drive proved the GLC is more than capable in the wild…”
The route taken for the launch of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV was cruel and unusual punishment for some of us.
The navigation system guided us through a spectacular drive of more than 500 kilometres, which started and concluded in Basel, the Swiss city straddling the Swiss, French and German borders. First, we motored to Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, and then returned the next day via the Vosges Mountains and the Munster Valley.
Cruel? – Well, for the oenophiles among the participating media group having to pass without tasting at the many historic Alsace vineyards along the way made one weep. It was just as bad for the beer-swillers who whiffed the smell of hops as they dreamed about sinking a chilled Kronenbourg.
Those, for whom food excites, had their taste buds tickled. They wolfed down amazing soft cheeses and cold cuts at the roadside. A curious donkey and a family of storks observed our feeding frenzy from a nest on high.
The mental torture was eased by an extremely pleasurable drive in this premium mid-range, second generation SUV from Mercedes-Benz, which replaces the GLK moniker with GLC reflecting its mechanical similarities to the C-Class sedan.
I won’t wax lyrical about the shape and looks, the pictures here tell that story. It’s a little longer and wider, meaning those aboard get more space in which to lounge and enjoy the luxury this top German brand typically offers. And, of course, more space for groceries and golf clubs.
A tablet-like 7-inch screen sits above three large air vents, mounted at the top of the centre stack, which features a well-placed controls touch pad in the lower console.
Back to the drive. Firstly, the test cars were pre-production Euro-spec 250s but we did get to take to the winding, often mountainous roads in a version that will more closely resemble the Canadian 300 4Matic. The same 2.0 turbo-four gas engine we get, though light of around 33 horses, powered it.
The GLK-spec 3.5-litre V6 is gone but worry not, if I might be crude, the four banger, coupled with the new 9G-tronic transmission, is more than adequate on the freeway – zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds – and up those hills. And it was quiet in that cabin.
Incidentally, the GLC will use four-cylinder power in all versions – gas, diesel and plug-in gas/electric hybrid. Economy ratings are expected to be in the low 8s L/100kms in the city, low 6s on the highway.
Dynamic Select is standard fare, allowing the driver to switch between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes. The tester was also equipped with the optional Air Body Control, which improves on its predecessor’s Airmatic system ability to smooth out the ride.
Mercedes boasts that the GLC is at home on any terrain. Most of those purchased will become city dwellers, destined to hunt in shopping malls, but the drive proved the GLC is more than capable in the wild.
Sadly, the Off-Road Engineering package will not be offered in Canada. An off-road course included a 38-degree incline, which my drive partner Regina Chan expertly scaled, tilted about 25 degrees at one point!
The standard safety package is extensive and notably includes Collision Prevention Assist, which warns of an imminent crash and helps to apply the brakes, and the self-explanatory Passive Blind Spot Assist.
I’m a sucker for M-B’s Intelligent Drive concept. The various systems take data from the various sensors to boost comfort and safety. Systems that think and act somewhat quicker than your average driver!
The first Canadian models will be gas-powered, a turbo-diesel comes in the 2017 model year and a plug-in hybrid is scheduled for 2018. A Coupe version is on the way but no date yet.
The base sticker price is $44,950 but take it up to the premium package, with COMAND navigation and a superb panoramic roof, and you are nudging 50 grand. Load in those extra tricky active safety technologies and you soon hit the mid-50s.
VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz TV: The new GLC – Trailer
“The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is probably the safest compact car sold in Canada.”
Mercedes-Benz Canada went (adventurously) solo and brought the B-Class (not sold in US) to Canada in 2006, just as did with the original Smart Car.
The tall, compact, front-drive hatchback, is a different kind of Mercedes. Yet many Canadian buyers like it and typically buy about 3,000 of them annually.
We join the B-Class story when it got a modest redesign for the 2009 model year. Styling revisions included a new radiator grille with an extra-large Mercedes-Benz star in the centre. The front bumper has a larger air intake and the hood was also modified. Rear revisions included two-piece tail light assemblies, a new hatch release and a new-look rear bumper.
B-Class vehicles have a unique safety feature built-in to its elevated floor-pan design. Mercedes calls it the “sandwich principle” and during a severe frontal impact the powertrain assembly is cleverly engineered to slide downward, under the cabin compartment, to avoid intrusion into the passenger space.
The ’09 B-Class came in B200 and the B200 Turbo models. A B200 comes with a 134-hp, 2.0-litre inline-4 engine mated to either 5 speed manual transmission or a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic. The reliability of this CVT is questionable and in 2011 model year vehicles it was the spotlight of a major recall. It can be an expensive repair, if not covered by Mercedes.
This torque-rich gas engine is a frugal fuel user that’s rated at 10.5 litres/100 kilometres in the city and 8.6 litres/100 kilometres on the highway with the CVT and using the new 5-cycle rating method. The manual transmission allows slightly better highway fuel economy.
The turbocharged variant of the 2.0 litre engine boasts an impressive 193-hp, and is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or the optional CVT automatic. This engine is rated at 10.9 litres/100 kilometres in the city and 8.8 litres/100 kilometres on the highway with the CVT and using the new five-cycle rating method. So you should get a lot better performance with almost the same fuel economy.
B-Class went essentially unchanged for the 2010 and 2011 model years and was temporarily discontinued for the 2012 model year. It returned as the completely redesigned B250 for the 2013 model year and there were no major changes for 2014.
Standard features in 2013 included a fuel saving auto stop-start system, LED daytime running lights, leather seating, 11 airbags, run-flat tires, plus Attention Assist, and Collision Prevention Assist systems. Yet, it still had an under-$30,000 start price.
A new direct-injection four-cylinder turbo engine (208 hp) linked to new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission was the only powertrain combo offered (no CVT). This engine can also produce an impressive 258 lb-ft of torque and it can move a B250 to 100 k/hour in less than eight seconds.
While this engine does like pricey premium fuel, it’s rated at 9.2 litres/100 kilometres in the city and 6.6 litres/100 kilometres on the highway using the 5-cycle rating method. The new automatic obviously has an important role in attaining those impressive highway economy numbers.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is probably the safest compact car sold in Canada. Its brand-new (2015) start price is still under $30,000, however, popular add-on option packages can quickly push its end price into the high thirties and this also influences typical resale values.
Price Check: 2009 – 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class (March 2015)
Year Edition Expect to Pay Today
2009 B200T $12,000 to $15,000
2010 B200T $14,000 to $17,000
2011 B200T $17,000 to $21,000
2013 B250 $25,000 to $30,000
2014 B250 $29,000 to $34,000
Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.
Safety Recalls: 2009 to 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class:
2011: An internal transmission drive belt may fail on vehicles equipped with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the CVT gearbox assembly.
“Mercedes has had enormous success with its 4Matic AWD system, accounting for eighty five percent of its sales.”
If there is one part of this vast country that knows about winter and winter driving, it’s the province of Quebec.
Winter weather can stretch from November until April, which is why this frost bitten part of the country mandates winter tires on all vehicles and was the perfect spot to showcase two products from Mercedes Benz, the B-Class and CLA-Class.
Both are now equipped with Mercedes 4Matic all wheel drive (AWD) system. Touching down in Montreal, the outside temperature was heading to minus twenty three overnight and minus nineteen for a daytime high, plus snow, lots of snow. Perfect for winter driving but not for standing outside.
Both the B-Class hatchback and CLA sedan are based on the Mercedes small car platform that is also shared with the GLA compact crossover.
The B and GLA are sold with front wheel drive (FWD) and now AWD. The latest B-Class was introduced a few years ago and gets a mild facelift, including a new grille, lower chin spoiler, different wheels and a new accent line down the side. The CLA was just introduced last year so external updates will have to wait another couple of years.
The B-Class is a taller hatchback design that provides a useful package for young families, including bigger rear windows and a large hatch and cargo space.
The CLA on the other hand is more about style, competing for the young, upwardly mobile crowd that want to be seen in this sleek, low slung sedan; it isn’t the best choice for a family.
Both the B-Class and CLA receive nice updates for 2015 on the inside.
Both share the same dash so updating both made sense. The screen that sits front and centre on the dash, like and iPad is larger, moving to a standard 7-inch screen or optional 8-inch screen on cars equipped with navigation. This screen is controlled with a small knob between the front seats. Other updates include a sportier and very comfortable steering wheel, a revised stereo head unit and a new instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Heated seats are now standard equipment for 2015 but heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel are not available in these cars.
The B-Class 4Matic is a $2,200 premium over the FWD version, starting at $33,500. The CLA has the same $2,200 charge for AWD, starting at $36,800. One nice feature available on the CLA is an “exclusive” package that includes a leather dashboard with French stitching for $2,300.
To explore the abilities of these two new products, the Olympic rowing basin used for the 1976 Montreal games was partially plowed, exposing sheet ice with a fresh sprinkling of snow. This provided a great example of the limits of grip and the abilities of the electronic stability program, in conjunction with the AWD system.
On sheet ice, there is no grip, so sliding is easy. It was on the rural roads outside of Montreal near the ski resort of Bromont that the 4Matic system proved useful. The system is designed to provide power to the front wheels as often as possible and instantly transfer power to the rear wheels when extra grip is needed, it all happens in a nanosecond. The maximum amount of power sent to the rear wheels if fifty percent.
I noticed that these cars, when placed in “sport” mode actually allow the car to slip and slide without the electronics being too oppressive. An overly aggressive nanny style is often used by other manufacturers and it shuts down any type of sliding, something that can be welcome by advanced drivers.
Altogether, both cars feel very well balanced, almost like a rear-wheel-drive car when a controlled slide is achieved.
Mercedes has had enormous success with its 4Matic AWD system, accounting for eighty five percent of its sales. With the introduction of these two new models in late 2014, the number has jumped to over ninety percent. This opens up the safety and stability of AWD to a larger market.
One thing to keep in mind is these two products offer great value if the buyer keeps and eye on the options. The “must have” package include the Premium Package for an additional $3800 on both the B-Class and CLA. This includes automatic climate control, a huge panoramic sunroof, rear view camera, blind spot system and navigation. This brings the 4Matic price on the B-Class to $37,300 and $40,600 on the CLA. Not overly expensive for a Mercedes Benz product but pricier than the starting price suggests.
Should you consider the 4Matic version of the B-Class and CLA? Absolutely, based on the added level of security, grip and improved resale value.
Power: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder with 208hp
Fill-up: 10.0L/7.5L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: B-Class 4Matic $33,500 CLA 4Matic $36,800
“I do not think people are going out to buy this luxury vehicle to drive some rough back roads but it would be comforting to know it can…”
The recent Mercedes G-Class increased the aggressiveness of its physique.
And, as a result, the G550 I tested can now navigate around the rhinos in the African Serengeti as well navigate the busy streets of downtown Vancouver without looking out of place! – Many would think you’re crazy to take a Mercedes off-road, but this vehicle has been exploring Africa and Asia for decades.
It has a European look at the front end, with two marker lights on top of the fenders and LED light strips just below the headlights. A large Mercedes emblem is proudly displayed in the centre of the grille. The large wheel well openings and fender flares contribute to the aggressive look but serve a practical purpose in allowing for full travel of the suspension without letting the tires rub.
In The Cab
Good vision on all sides. The cabin is extremely well laid out. Controls are easily reached and I like the carbon fibre look over the wood burl. Three rocker switches on the dash control the centrifugal lock on the transfer case, the rear differential lock, and the front differential lock. When you engage these locks, an audible sound appears along with a light on the dash.
The navigation screen is just above the centre stack on the dash. It looks a little out of place, almost if it were an iPad placed there. I would have liked to have seen more of integration into the dash.
The seats are very comfortable and controlled from the door panel. The steering wheel has a piano black lacquer on the smooth surfaces and the upholstery is ‘designo’ leather giving this space a luxurious feel to it.
Driver and front passenger air bag, side and rear head airbag. 4 wheel ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake assist. In the event of an accident the engine is automatically turned off, hazard lights are turned on, and doors are automatically unlocked. Now that is thinking!
I had the opportunity to test this vehicle on the back roads. I have to admit I was a little sceptical of taking this vehicle through the mud and steep washouts without damaging it. To my surprise, the vehicle performed just fine. I had driven on a steep side slope without and problem although my passenger was a little worried we were going to roll. I took it through a series of well-placed ditches to test the articulation and managed to raise the passenger front tire easily three feet in the air while I teetered back and forth. A section of deep mud was no problem with the rear differential lock on. There was no chance of this being stuck. Besides there was no way I was calling Mercedes for a tow!
I do not think people are going out to buy this luxury vehicle to drive some rough back roads but it would be comforting to know it can.
The G550 is equipped with a 5.5 Litre V8, which has an output of 382 hp and 391 ft lb of torque. The transmission is a 7G-TRONIC plus, that has been around since 1960, although updated to handle today’s requirements.
18.1 /13.6 L/100 km (city/highway)
Basic warranty 4 years / 50,000 km
Drivetrain 4 years / 50,000 km
Corrosion 4 years / 50,000 km
Roadside assistance Unlimited
Starting at $121,600
“You can shop for groceries around town in it but a trip up to a local ski hill will certainly not stress out the Mercedes GLA.”
Three seems to be a number that tends to rub people the wrong way.
Expressions like “Three’s a crowd,” or “bad things come in threes,” or someone being described as the “third wheel” don’t leave a favourable impression in people’s minds.
On the flip side, there’s “third time’s a charm,” implying that the third time is the best time. Third is also a podium finish!
For Mercedes-Benz, three is a magical number.
Thanks to the introduction of their all-new GLA – the third installment into their compact vehicle segment – the triangle is complete. And yes, good things do come in threes. Here’s why.
Of the three vehicles available in North America that are built on the same platform – the B-Class, CLA and now GLA – the GLA gives owners the ability to go on and off-road. Okay, let me qualify that.
Though it does come with Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR)- an off-road specific feature – it’s not meant for brutish off-roading. However, it is competent on cottage country roads or if you need to traverse into areas you couldn’t get into with a B Class or CLA.
Whether you’re opting for the GLA 250 or the GLA 45 AMG, both trims come standard with Mercedes-Benz’s fully variable 4MATIC all-wheel drive. You can shop for groceries around town in it but a trip up to a local ski hill will certainly not stress out the vehicle.
The GLA also marks it as the first compact premium sports utility vehicle from the German automaker. Despite its compact designation, four adults could fit comfortably inside. Five might be a stretch but it’s certainly possible. Along with the warm bodies inside, it has a cargo capacity of 421 L. That increases to an impressive 1,235L with seats folded.
What’s even more impressive is the sound that comes from the AMG sports exhaust system. A system with two chrome-plated tailpipe trim elements featuring a twin- pipe design. It’s hard to imagine that’s the burble and brawn of a 2.0L, four-cylinder engine.
That’s right, the 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque are created from the most powerful series production four-cylinder passenger car engine in the world.
Needless to say, the engine’s pairing with the 7G-DCT 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission is as delicious as Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream; ice cream that just so happens to be made in the lovely state of Vermont. And a location that was fortuitously placed on our drive route. The dynamics of the GLA were also as vibrant as the hues of the autumnal foliage that decorated the surrounding towns of Burlington.
In the lesser-powered GLA 250 – which has a 2.0L, I4 turbocharged engine with 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque – you still have a lot of ponies to play with. In fact, of the two engines available, this would be my choice. It has pep but also a smooth demeanor. If these engine choices look familiar to you, they are. They too can be found in the B-Class and CLA.
The third time is a charm because of the compact luxury vehicles made by MB, this is my favourite. I think it has a lot to do with the styling. It has an eye-catching design, especially if you’re looking at the GLA250 with the sport package, which gives you a sport brake system with perforated front rotors and MB logos on calipers, AMG body styling with inserts in front splitter, side sill panels and rear bumper in matte titanium grey, 19-inch AMG Bicolour 5-Spoke wheels with all-season tires and more.
Inside, the cabin is draped in ARTICO leather upholstery; a synthetic alternative to cowhide. Then there’s a 5.8-inch full colour TFT display atop the centre stack; it increases to 7-inches if you opt for the navigation system. The fit and finish is fantastic and the overall ambiance of the cabin is cozy but not cramped.
For the undulating roads, mixed with switchbacks and straight stretches, you have the help of electromechanical power steering to weave you in and out of the Vermontonian roads.
And if things get a little monotonous on the highway, pop the GLA 45 AMG into sport mode, give it (a little) throttle and enjoy the sweet sound of driving pleasure.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC has a starting MSRP of $37,200. The GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC has a starting MSRP of $50,500.
Visit www.mercedes-benz.ca for more information.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, should continue to impress, remain the top-seller and make people smile, one acceleration or turn at a time…
Mount Rainier in Washington State stands 4,392 metres high.
Its majestic presence topped off with an icy garnish, as well as wispy tufts of clouds that surround its peak. It leaves onlookers in awe.
The crystal white hue of a Mercedes-Benz C400 seems to have a similar effect on people. They can’t help but stare. Some take photos. Some admire from up close, some from afar.
The C-Class is a staple product in the Mercedes-Benz lineup and is their most popular-selling vehicle in the family. It’s also one that plays a vital role in the Canadian market, one that usually involves snow!
While the all-new C-Class isn’t covered in snow (just yet), it can certainly handle it with minimal effort. All C-Class sedans come standard with Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.
Though it’s summertime and that feature isn’t being put to use, there are plenty of other new fun things to play with in this five-person sedan.
First off, five people will fit more comfortably inside. It’s larger in every dimension compared to outgoing C-Class.
Then you’ll be able to bring out that smile more often when it comes to accelerating.
There are two all-new 4- and 6-cylinder turbocharged engines from which to choose.
The C300 features a turbocharged 2.0L, 4-cylinder that produces 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. (Note, this isn’t the same engine currently found in the CLA or GLA.
Then there’s the C400. With 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, this new V6 has more torque and better fuel economy in comparison with the outgoing 2014. Both engines are paired with a 7G-TRONIC transmission.
Whether using the steering wheel paddle shifters or just letting the car change the gears on its own, you also have the ability to change your driving modes thanks to the AGILITY SELECT system that gives you five choices. There’s Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. The modes are self-explanatory. Driving in the city and want to save more fuel? Pop it in Eco mode. Heading to a track and want the best access to power? That’s a Sport+ kind of day.
My weapon of choice, even for everyday driving, was the Sport mode. It gives the vehicle enough edge to make it fun and exciting, but without the harshness and abrupt gear changes that would be better suited for the track.
In Sport mode, the modified shifts and throttle response was sensitive enough to add immediate power but not overwhelming, especially in an urban setting. Then there was the steering response, whose curve is adjusted to give you a better grasp for the road, but without the abruptness, a Sport mode could potentially offer.
Regardless, whether I was in the 300 or 400, I was a happy driver. And I had a happy passenger because we both sat in comfort for the hundreds of kilometres we put on this next generation sedan.
Along with its new interior and exterior look, the C Classes are equipped with the next generation of infotainment systems. That comes complete with Touchpad, integrated Media Interface and MB Apps.
The touchpad and I still need more bonding time. I found it confusing to use at first and I ended up pressing buttons I shouldn’t have! But if that’s the harshest criticism of the vehicle I have, it’s not doing too badly.
Okay, the B pillars are quite wide and intrude on my blind spot visibility, but again, properly adjusting the mirrors and a shoulder glance will eliminate those anxieties.
When it comes to driving, it checks off all the boxes necessary to make it a luxury sedan. It’s quiet. Road and engine noises are kept at bay. Its interior materials are soft touch and pleasing to the eyes. And it feels great to drive at slow or high speeds.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, should continue to impress, remain the top-seller and make people smile, one acceleration or turn at a time.
The C300 has a starting MSRP of $43,000, while the C400 has a starting MSRP of $51,400.
Visit mercedes-benz.ca for more information.
Superbly engineered, technically sophisticated and pleasure to drive…
The mid-sized C-Class is the most popular and affordable Mercedes-Benz sedan and about 8.5 million of them have been produced, since it was originally introduced in 1993.
Mercedes engineering typically operates on a seven-year “circle of life” production run and an all-new generation of C-Class will arrive in Canada, as a 2015 model year vehicle, this summer.
In brief, it’s a bigger and better C-Class, however, real progress is in the details. This C-Class is lighter, safer, comes with a choice of two more powerful (yet more fuel-efficient) new engines, uses even more advanced technologies, plus its body is more aerodynamic and, to my eyes, better looking. The South of France global launch location, even though I had to share it with over 800 other auto hacks, was another nice bonus – more later…
There’s no pricing available at this time, but we do know the initial trim levels offered in Canada will be a C300 and a C400. A sporty AMG edition, called the C63, will also be added to the line in January 2015. Although not official, a diesel edition is also expected to be added in 2015. At this event Mercedes was also showing a Euro-destined hybrid-diesel edition.
An optional (Airmatic) air suspension is offered for the first time in C-Class. It allows a driver to choose between Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Sport+ settings via an Agility Select switch on the console. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is, as before, the other major option. Also available is a Sport Package that includes AMG trim upgrades, wheels and front brake system.
The C-class has classic rear-drive vehicle proportions with a long hood (with a choice of two front grilles) and a short rear deck. It looks like a smaller version of the top-line, and redesigned last year, S-class, especially the new LED headlights and taillights. Compared to the current C-Class it’s longer, lower and wider and is now close in size to a 90s E-Class. Its extended wheelbase also helps create more interior space, especially for rear seat passengers.
The big change under-hood is a four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre, in the C300, that’s max rated at 235 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. While it produces more power than the outgoing base V6, I found the initial power surge, when you push on the gas pedal, overly aggressive. In fairness, the North American edition will come with different throttle mapping.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 in the C400, on the other hand, is a beauty. It can pump-out up to 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. More importantly, it does so in a quieter, smoother and effortless fashion that most drivers expect when at the wheel of a Mercedes. Both engines come with idle fuel saving start/stop systems and are mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The list of standard and available high-tech active safety features is simply amazing. It includes almost everything that’s available in the top-line S-Class, which is touted as the world’s safest car. Intelligent Drive is an optional suite of technologies that includes autonomous braking with pedestrian recognition, a low-speed heavy traffic auto-pilot feature, active parking assist and a 360-degree camera setup with numerous views of immediate surroundings.
Bordering on frivolous, there’s an Air-Balance in-car perfuming system … to prolong that new-car Mercedes smell. Another one is a GPS-linked climate-control system tech feature that automatically switches it to “recirculation” mode when a C-Class is driven into a tunnel.
The test drive actually did include a few tunnels and there are lots of them in and under Marseille. It’s the second largest city in France and its busiest port with numerous ferries to other Mediterranean destinations.
Our drive route took us out of the city on a circular mostly rural route around the outskirts of Marseille and ended at the picturesque small harbor community of Cassis. A mountain drive along the Route des Cretes (Route of the Ridges) was spectacular. It’s a narrow, winding high-elevation road with pull-offs at numerous view locations.
Even with the (100 kg) weight reduction, this C-Class is sublimely stable on the road. The switch to a full electronic assist rack and pinion steering system, called Direct Steer, is also flawless. There are fuel economy and active safety benefits.
Inside the seating is typical Mercedes with easy to find power controls on the door panel. Generous in size, yet excellent support and a good range of adjustable elements didn’t give my weak back a reason to complain, even after many hours of driving.
The restyled dash is an elegant and less fussy design, thanks mainly to a new Touchpad controller that eliminates a multitude of switches. It can recognise both single and multi-finger gestures, wiping movements, zoom finger gestures, even user handwriting.
That said, the stand-alone display screen looks out of place, as if an afterthought I-Pad was attached to the dash.
Overall, this C-Class is sure to please both purists and newcomers. Superbly engineered, technically sophisticated and pleasure to drive.
Sure, this was published all the way back on November 8, but it’s hard to get enough…
Mercedes is making waves for 2014. It’s CLA has already impressed the heck out of our own car guy, Zack Spencer.
And its new E-Class looks fit for a drive from the bustle of New York City to the luxurious lapland of Montauk.
You know, if you’re in that area.
If Mercedes Benz can sell such a competent car for so little, the pressure will be on non-premium brands to sharpen their pencil, add more features, and revise their prices lower…
The Mercedes CLA 250 is here and it is a cause for celebration.
This stylish compact car is powerful, filled with all kinds of features and starts at an amazing $33,900. What this means for the entire car market is a trend towards more car for less money.
If Mercedes Benz can sell such a competent car for so little, the pressure will be on non-premium brands to sharpen their pencil, add more features, and revise their prices lower. Mercedes already has a very affordable hatchback with the B250, which arrived about a year ago and is the basis for this CLA. Both of these cars open up Mercedes Benz to a new market of buyers who might have been thinking about buying a non-premium brand but now realized a CLA is within reach. This, along with Mercedes strong resale value will help to keep lease rates low, amplifying the value this car offers.
Mercedes helped create the “coupe” 4-door sedan several years ago with the CLS sedan, which is based on the E-Class sedan. By dropping the roof, raking the front and rear windows and adding a more aggressive front end, produces an eye-catching sedan that looks classy and aggressive at the same time. Mercedes has taken this formula and applied it to the B-Class platform to produce this coupe-like sedan. The base model comes with 17-inch wheels but the sport package is great value, at $1,600, which adds 18-inch AMG wheels and extra AMG exterior trim pieces.
The AMG look is more aggressive, providing a bigger front air intake and chin spoiler to complete the look. (The car pictured in this story does not have the AMG package but does have the bigger wheels)
The side windows are slim as is the back window for limited outward visibility, not so much for the driver but the rear seat passengers, especially kids.
One trend I’m not sure I like is placing a screen in the centre of the dash, like putting an iPad Mini in the permanently placed in middle of the dash. It doesn’t look particularly polished, almost like an afterthought. Audi’s new A3 sedan, arriving in March, has the ability to lower their screen, which I think is a better approach.
The dash has rotary air vents that look similar to the high end Mercedes SLS supercar. The front of the dash, in my test unit, was covered in an aluminum panel and surrounded by soft touch materials. The radio and heat controls are similar to other Mercedes products so even though this CLA isn’t uber-expensive, it looks like a proper Mercedes Benz.
The premium package is a must because it includes a huge panoramic sunroof, backup camera, automatic climate control and heated front seats; all of this for $2,800. This is a small car; the roof feels very low and back seat passenger’s needs to be children or shorter adults. Rear seat outward visibility is limited and legroom is also at a premium.
The better bet for families is the less expensive B-Class ($30,500) because it offers a bigger back seat and hatchback storage.
The launch event for this new CLA was held in the Washington DC area, leaving historic Georgetown and heading towards Maryland’s ports and navel academy.
This provided some excellent stop-and-go traffic opportunities in Washington’s morning rush hour and then getting to stretch the new CLA’s legs on fabulous Interstate highways. The power plant is a direct injection turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a healthy 208hp. The power goes through a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission to the front wheels. The more expensive and powerful 355hp CLA 45 AMG has an all wheel drive (AWD) system as standard equipment but the base CLA 250 will get this important option sometime in 2014. Power is fantastic, especially if the transmission is placed in the sportier mode. This car cruises effortlessly at highway speeds and passes with ease.
Even though it uses the same engine as the B-Class, this car felt more planted and sophisticated, maybe due to the lower centre of gravity and a trunk, which will muffle road noise compared to the hatchback.
All CLA models come with a Collision Prevention Assist feature that alerts the driver to the possibility of an impending collision.
We are heading into a wonderful period of lower priced cars, or vehicle fitted with more standard features. This new CLA 250 is a perfect example of this. Other new entries include the latest A3 that arrives in March and starts at $31,100 and then the new BMW 1 Series will arrive in about a year.
For the price of a well-equipped non-premium brand Canadians can now get a premium German sedan for about the same price.
If I were to get this CLA 250, I would include the premium package to get the sunroof, backup camera and heated seats. The Sport package is also tempting for the bigger wheels. This would bring the price up to $38,300. Not cheap, but you do a get a lot of car and features for this price. I hear that BC’s Mercedes Benz dealers have had huge interest in this new CLA with back orders now in place as they try to get as many cars as they can. A nice problem for Mercedes to have and they derive it as this is a great car for the money.
Power: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder with 208hp
Fill-up: 7.8L/5.1L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $33.900
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