Archive for the ‘Mercedes-Benz’ Category


Mercedes-Benz is no longer just a niche luxury brand. Starting in the early 1980s with the 190E (now the C-Class) Mercedes boosted sales volume in order to reduce overall costs, broaden the appeal of the brand to a new market segment and hook in those younger customers earlier to make them life-long brand loyalists. The Baby-Benz experiment worked and today the C-Class outsells every other Class of Mercedes vehicles.

But while the C-Class may lead volume, the E-Class fuels profit. Lesser versions of the E-Class, sold outside the US, are better known as taxis and livery cars. In the U.S., however,  the E (Executive) Class – is a lovely mid-sized luxury sedan, best for mid-level executives and upper middle-class families. It’s the half-way point in the Mercedes line-up, until you can afford the flagship S-Class.

If you were expecting the E-Class Coupe to be just a two-door version of the sedan, you’d be wrong. The E-Coupe is smaller, more intimate and simply gorgeous. The pillarless design, (standard) panorama glass roof and fully lowing rear windows give the otherwise tight cabin a light and airy feel, not to mention unobstructed views from side to side.  Expensive engineering is on display and we are all better for it.

The 2014 E350 Coupe is gorgeous from every angle.

The 2014 E350 Coupe is gorgeous from every angle.

The 14-way, 3 memory position front sports seats – also standard – have pronounced side bolsters. While my 6’1” 185 lb frame enjoyed being hugged by the $1,370 perforated Nappa Leather, I think larger people would feel squeezed. But maybe this car was designed like a high couture, tailored suit – it’s supposed to look good even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.

The interior is expertly and beautifully finished.  Everything from the double-stitched leather seats to the brushed-chrome accents, soft-touch plastics, switch-gear and center analog clock, look and feel like fifty grand. The flat-bottom steering wheel, part of the $1,490 Sports Package, is an ergonomic work of art – I didn’t want to let go. So even if you’re uncomfortably stuffed into the cockpit, you still look marvelous!

The instrument panel is easy to read. The steering wheel is a first-rate affair.

The instrument panel is easy to read. The steering wheel is a first-rate affair.

Unlike the sedan, a center console divides the rear seats making the E-Coupe a strictly 4-person affair.  And even then, given the steeply-raked roof and paucity of leg room, anyone sitting in the back seat either has to be a child or a contortionist.  Full size adults not riding in front should find alternate transportation. Uber or Lyft anyone?

It's a tight fit in the back. You need to be very short and very thin to fit back there. It's best to just throw some Bloomingdale's bags back there and call it a day.

It’s a tight fit in the back. You need to be very short and very thin to fit back there. It’s best to just throw some Bloomingdale’s bags back there and call it a day.

And speaking of rides, I found the E350 Coupe’s road manners a bit rude. I was surprised by the amount of road noise that soaked the cabin. We were driving on very well-paved streets and highways in the Coachella Valley and I expected the cabin to be quieter. I couldn’t feel the road – that was banished by the lifeless, if precise electric power steering – but my ears could hear any road imperfection and the constant tire drone.  My ass could feel potholes and rough surfaces courtesy of the stiff suspension.

The cup holders are very poorly placed. Almost any cup will block a whole host of buttons and displays.  I think the message is don't bring drinks into this lovely cabin. The German overlords disapprove of eating in your car.

The cup holders are very poorly placed. Almost any cup will block a whole host of buttons and displays. I think the message is don’t bring drinks into this lovely cabin. The German overlords disapprove of eating in your car.

At least the drivetrain on the E350 isn’t a disappointment.  The 3.5L direct-inject V6 makes 302 horsepower and 273 pound-foot of torque.  Mercedes’ outstanding 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters is standard. Shifts are warp-speed and nearly imperceptible.  Most of your driving will take place in the leisurely Eco mode, which starts the car in 2nd gear to avoid jack rabbit, gas-sucking starts. Sports Mode is much more entertaining, but it will also kill fuel economy, which is only class-average at 20/24/30.

And speaking of saving fuel, the standard Eco Start-Stop system was annoying. You really don’t notice the engine while driving unless you’re pushing it, so when it comes to a stop and shuts itself off, you really don’t notice. But when you release the brake or touch the gas pedal, it fires back up and you can feel a slight shudder. That I could live with, but I can’t live with the climate control going into eco mode when the engine shuts off.  In hot weather – it was 96 that day – you need the cooling whether or not you’re stopped in traffic. You can shut it off, but it resets itself each time you start the car. Ugh.

The center console has a comfortable arm rest, hidden storage under the arm rest and the well-weighted rotary controller works most of the infotainment/navigation functions.

The center console has a comfortable arm rest, hidden storage under the arm rest and the well-weighted rotary controller works most of the infotainment/navigation functions.

In addition to the Sports Package and Nappa Leather Package, my tester came equipped with the Premium Package – $3,270, Keyless Go – $650 (which should be standard), Lane Tracking Package – $875 and Steel Gray Metallic paint – $720.

3-position power seat memory is standard. The switchgear is beautiful and the wood, plastic and leather all mesh in lovely harmony.

3-position power seat memory is standard. The switchgear is beautiful and the wood, plastic and leather all mesh in lovely harmony.

Almost any E-Class will come with the Premium Package which adds hard drive navigation (lovely 3-D maps!), upgraded Harmon/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound system, SiriusXM radio/traffic/weather and a rear view camera.  At this level, I’d like these items to be standard – particularly the rear view camera – but this is how the option game is played. The Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist worked flawlessly and were mostly helpful, if sometimes annoying.  All told, this car was $61,500 including the $925 transportation charge.

While not large, the navigation and infotainment screen was easy to read. The 3-D maps were lovely.  And the upgraded Harmon/Kardon sound system was superb.

While not large, the navigation and infotainment screen was easy to read. The 3-D maps were lovely. And the upgraded Harmon/Kardon sound system was superb.

Steel Grey is a good color for this car.

Steel Gray is a good color for this car.

If you’re going to blow $60,000 on a German luxury car, I’d dump the $875 Lane Tracking Package and pop for the $2,800 Driver Assistance Package which incorporates adaptive cruise control (Distronic Plus) with advanced cross-traffic, blind spot, lane keeping, collision braking and pedestrian recognition capabilities. In short, it’s almost autonomous driving.

The large, single-bar grill flanking a huge Mercedes 3-pointed star telegraph the E350's sporting intentions.

The large, single-bar grill flanking a huge Mercedes 3-pointed star telegraph the E350′s sporting intentions.

This E-Coupe feels like it’s trying too hard to be a BMW when it should simply give in and be a Mercedes-Benz. I’m buying an E-Class Mercedes because I want a more cosseting, wafting luxury experience. If I wanted annoying run-flat tires and a harsh ride, I’d get the new BMW 435i with the Sports Package – because at least it would be more fun and entertaining to drive.

I think E350 Coupe should drop the sports car pretense and just go for the personal luxury experience. It’s an extremely alluring, almost regal package, all wrapped up in taut sheet metal and sexy new headlight modules.  The lack of a B-pillar is an expensive, defining feature not available at your BMW or Audi dealer in this class of car.  If you want a more sporty version, opt for the E550 Coupe with the fire-breathing 402 hp 4.6 L biturbo V8.  Otherwise, let the E350 Coupe be the lovely lady that she is.

For me, however, I’d go for the E-Class sedan. You get a significantly larger cabin, the convenience of 4 doors, seating for 4 adults and an accommodating trunk. All for less money.

My choice would be this 2014 Mercedes E250 Bluetec. The diesel-powered sedan is far more practical, handsome and it gets a whopping 42 mpg highway, besting most hybrids.  Consumer Reports said that it was their 2nd favorite car - coming in just below the Tesla Model S.

My choice would be this 2014 Mercedes E250 Bluetec. The diesel-powered sedan is far more practical, handsome and it gets a whopping 42 mpg highway, besting most hybrids. Consumer Reports said that it was their 2nd favorite car – coming in just below the Tesla Model S.

2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Day One #LAAutoShow

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Automobile Manufacturers, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Car Shows, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Jeep, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Los Angeles Specific Issues, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Ram, Range Rover, Volkswagen, Volvo
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The Campagna T-Rex. These three-wheeled wonders are from Canada and are very expensive - $60 - 70,000. I have it direct from an owner that they are fun beyond belief. Nice toy if you can afford one!

The Campagna T-Rex. These three-wheeled wonders are from Canada and are very expensive – $60 – 70,000. I have it direct from an owner that they are fun beyond belief. Nice toy if you can afford one!

LAAutoShow Day 1 005 Porsche 911 Turbo S Rear

All new, if you can afford it, is the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S. Available in both coupe and cabriolet form. When you choose options, it’s usually in $10,000 increments.

LAAutoShow Day 1 006 Porsche 911 Turbo S int

The interior of the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. Red leather is my favorite interior for just about any sports car.

LAAutoShow Day 1 007 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

This is the “lesser” 911 Turbo Cabriolet. It’s missing the S, but I’d still love it and give it shelter.

LAAutoShow Day 1 013 Porsche 918 Spyder rear

This is the production Porsche 918 Spyder. There is NO BAD ANGLE on this fantastic super hybrid.

LAAutoShow Day 1 014 Porsche 918 Spyder Int

The interior of Porsche’s 918 Spyder Hybrid is just as futuristic as the exterior. I’m sure Jay Leno already has one.

LAAutoShow Day 1 016 Lincoln MKC front

This is the all-new Lincoln MKC (C for crossover, compact). It’s based on the Ford Edge, but with lots of upgrades and changes. It’s not just a badge-engineering job. I think it’s handsome and will find some traction in the very big compact SUV/CUV market.

LAAutoShow Day 1 017 Lincoln MKC rear

The rear doesn’t work as well for me. The MKC kind of has a fat ass and the “signature” taillights that sweep across the whole rear just make it look larger.

LAAutoShow Day 1 022 Lincoln MKC int

The interior of the Lincoln MKC is more successful. With a combination of MyLincoln Touch and physical buttons and knobs, this is the direction Ford and Lincoln are taking to try and appease pissed-off consumers who hate the touch controls.

LAAutoShow Day 1 024 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon Cross Country by LGE CTS Motorsports (2014)

I think the new 2014 Ford Transit Connect family of wagons and utility vans will find many new customers as it comes in different sizes with much more car-like interiors.

LAAutoShow Day 1 029 Ford Edge Concept front

This Ford Edge Concept is very close to the upcoming production 2015 Edge Crossover. I like the bold look.

LAAutoShow Day 1 030 Ford Edge Concept

That’s quite the in-your-face grille, isn’t it? The 2015 Ford Edge Concept

LAAutoShow Day 1 031 2014 Ford Focus ST

The lighting just doesn’t do justice to this neon yellow 2014 Ford Focus ST. It’s really quite arresting – and you might get arrested driving far too fast in it.

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