Mercedes-Benz SUV Range 2015

After years of model name madness, Mercedes are finally getting some semblance of logic and system into the range naming protocol. You can actually work out where a model fits in with the new system. With the previous protocol you had  to know what a model was called.

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range. (Quickpic)

So now the model range looks like this:

GLA – Compact cross between a hatch and a station wagon, but rides a little taller. Not trail or off-road capable, but equally good on tar and gravel. I liked it and found it big enough for four adults, but not their luggage. Range starts at R 438,900.00 for the GLA200, GLA 250 4MATIC is R610,900 and on to the GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC @ R785,200.00.

GLC –  Small SUV equivalent to a C class car, but with more usable space and a higher ride. Four models are available , all of them equipped with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard:  GLC 220 d 4MATIC, diesel, 125 kW – 400 Nm @ R599 900, GLC 250 d 4MATIC, diesel @ R619 900, 150 kWm – 500 Nm, GLC 250 4MATIC, petrol, 155 kW – 350 Nm @ R604 900, GLC 300 4MATIC , petrol, 180 kW – 370 Nm R654 900.

GLE – A medium size car which replaces the ML. Mercedes believe it is a competent offroader.  It comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel models with whichever transmission you need. Models are : GLE 250 d 4MATIC R863 000, GLE 350 d 4MATIC R964 000, GLE 400 4MATIC R959 000, GLE 500 4MATIC R1 166 000.

G-class – The king of 4×4 cars by most people’s estimation. We used to know it as the Geländewagen. We get two versions. The common or garden version G 350 d at around R1.5 million and the sporty Mercedes-AMG G 63 at a round R500k more.

Mercedes Benz B250 review

Mercedes-B250-038-thumbMercedes Benz B250 – Luxury and the mother of all hatches

A colleague of mine at Wheels24 almost disparagingly called it a mommy wagon. In fact I think it is the mother of all smaller MPV or super hatches.

Seeing that some people thought it is only a mommy’s taxi type car I asked my wife what she thought.

Mercedes-B250-044-sceneMy wife had this to say:

My first impression was: What a feeble little Merc wannabe, it is to be frowned upon and the production of this little joke must be stopped immediately!

Oh my word was I wrong, very very wrong! Right from the moment when I moved in behind the oval shaped steering wheel and shifted the gearlever into Drive, the world became a much much better place!

The sheer power that is trembling under that aluminium bonnet is just awesome beyond! I now know why the seats come with proper adjustments for real lumbar support – you need it when Sport Mode pushes you back into the backrest.

I just love all the little courtesy lights in the doors, by the sunscreen mirror and in the control panel, plus the fact that all the lights stay on for quite some time when switching off the car and getting out.

Leg room and head room is very good.

So, my wife was surprised by it and I think most people who take it for a test will be. Bearing in mind we had the B250 model, which truth be told is a little excessively powered. Fuel consumption will be around  8.5 litres/ 100km if you can keep your foot off the volume pedal.

B250-&-Ouma-pics-008-dashMercedes has this thing about sticking the multi display on a flimsy looking leg sticking out of the dash very much like it was an afterthought. I just do not like it. Otherwise the cabin is good.

The new B Series grows on you. I know it doesn’t look like a typical Benz, but don’t let that worry you it is very much a Mercedes.

This car is a pleasure to drive and has all the safety and handling items you would expect in a premium brand car.

B250-&-Ouma-pics-011-legroomMy recommendation would be the B200 Auto model at R407 223. You can expect fuel consumption around 7 litres/ 100km and still get 100km/h in under 9 seconds.

The model we tested was the B250 listed at R467 160. The range starts with the B200 at R389 763.

The maintenance plan is for 6 years or 100 000km.

Mercedes Benz B250

Mercedes Benz B250

 

 

Mercedes-Benz bakkie coming

Mercedes-Benz will launch a midsize pickup before the end of the decade but perhaps in 2017.

The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will initially be targeted at markets in South Africa, Latin America, Australia, and Europe – all of which are posting sustained growth in this segment.

Says Nicolette Lambrechts, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa: “This is a really exciting time for Vans. This will give Mercedes-Benz Vans the opportunity to reach a whole new customer in an entirely new segment. For Mercedes-Benz South Africa this gives us the ability to offer the customer the entire spectrum of products to suit not only their business needs but also cater for their lifestyle requirements – from a car, van, truck, bus and now the pickup.”

It is expected to be a bakkie version of the V-Class and the Vito models and will be developed by the same team. It appears it will be more consumer orientated than workhorse. More like an Amarok, less like a Land Cruiser.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

Styling exercise for the proposed new Mercedes-Benz bakkie.

“We can perfectly serve customers looking for a vehicle that offers a high level of utility and at the same time has the comfort, safety, and design of a Mercedes-Benz passenger car,” says Mercedes-Benz. “We will design our brand’s first pickup according to this recipe for success.”

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

The existing Mercedes Sprinter bakkie.

 

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review

MB GLA 200 CDI

MB GLA 200 CDI

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI

This is a very competent, practical compact luxury car. It rides highish off the ground so farm roads are a doddle. You also sit more upright and higher, giving excellent visibility.

Performance is between good and excellent. Handling and roadholding match the class leaders in this crossover SUV niche.

Mercedes replaced the old A Class with 3 models. A sporty range called the CLA, the normal one called the A and a cross-over that superficially looks like the A, the GLA. The GLA rides higher than the A and is a little bigger all round. Many will feel this is the most practical  new baby Benz.

MB-GLA200--1-011

There are two petro and two diesel models, three  style  lines and three add on packages.

The 200 is a 1.6 petrol engine with electronically controlled direct petrol injection through piezo injectors and a turbocharger. Claimed fuel consumption is 6 litres/100km, but expect around a still exceptional  7. The 250 4matic has a 1.9 engine, more performance and  is a little thirstier but still very good.

The 200 CDi is a 2.1 litre  turbodiesel with high-pressure fuel injection common-rail technology, VTG turbocharger and EDC. The 220 CDi is the same engine but with more punch. Claimed  diesel consumption is 4.5 to 5 l/100km. Aim for 6, but be easy on the throttle.

The GLA comes in a choice of three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Line” .

Amongst the many optional extras to choose from, are the large panoramic sliding sunroof, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be opened and closed at the push of a button.

MB-GLA200--1-084dashStandard equipment includes multifunction steering wheel, eco start/stop, Collision prevention assist, which warns the driver visually and audibly of insufficient distance to the vehicle travelling ahead or of stationary objects, attention assist, cruise control, climate control, automatic lights and adaptive brakes.

In addition there are three style packages: Night, Exclusive and AMG Exclusive. Highlights of the Exclusive package, for example,  (available for all three lines) include heated sports seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, leather-covered, like the multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever.

It is all a little confusing and almost too much for me. In the showroom it is a little easier to get you head round the choices, but beware, costs mount rapidly.

MB-GLA200--1-007I liked the car. I think  Mercedes mostly got it right and it does feel like a baby Benz. The interior, apart from the protruding multimedia screen, is very pleasant and has enough space for a smaller car.

If you prefer a hatch type shape of car and a little more ride height MB have got it right with this car. Not cheap though.

Also look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV, Volvo V40 Cross Country and Ford Kuga.

As tested R422 700 plus options R120 450 for a total of R543 150. Options are reversing camera, active park assist, paoramic sunroof, 7G-DCT automatic box, COMMAND online, tow-hook, Bi-Xenon headlamps, easy pack tailgate, Exclusive package, mirrors, night pack and urban line.

The range starts at R421 800, and goes to R760 800 for the GL45 AMG. We would recommend the G LA200 Auto at R461 947.  Two formidable competitors stand out. The Ford Kuga 2.0TDCi AWD Titanium is R448 900 fully and comprehensively equipped. The Volvo V40 Cross CountryD4 Excell at R395 000 is a complete package.

All GLA models come standard with a 6-years/100 000 km maintenance contract and two year unlimited warranty.

 

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI review

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes Benz CLA

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI

Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and the Mercedes CLA have a thing or two in common.

They are both classy. A little strange. Amusing. And then there is the dual personality thing.

Just as Ferrando and Gulielmo appear to change character, so the CLA can be just a small Merc sedan. Or it can become a snarling sporty coupé. At the touch of a button. This button is like a rocket launcher. Select S and all pretence of frugality and domesticity disappears.

Like Fiordiligi and Dorabella, prepare to be swept off your feet by the charming soldiers and romanced by the fiery foreigners.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes have, with the 220, managed to combine performance and practicality in a very neat looking package. Most people saw the coupé and not the sedan. A very successful design then. It looks sporty but has 4 doors and is practical inside. It seats 4 adults in comfort and the boot is not bad. I have a suspicion its about as big inside as the C series sedan of 10 years ago. Sitting in the back with the driver’s seat set up for myself I was quite comfortable.

Mercedes-CLA-Xti-pics-060Mozart would have approved of the exterior styling, I think. It suggests a sporty intent but delivers practicality. BMW and Audi have some catching up to do. Mercedes call it a 4 door coupé. They say: “Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side: the front structural edge over the wings flows towards the rear end in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel towards the rear.”

The boot takes 470 litres or 480kg.

I loved it and could not find a particular element that jarred. Nice car. The CLA looks better in the metal than in these pictures.

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

Mercedes-Benz CLA dash

The interior is both smart and suggests sportiness. Not a lot of space but enough and very well used. I did not like the “free standing” display which sticks out from the dash looking very much like a cheap Chinese part put in as an afterthought.  My son says:  “the stupid screen that looks out of place.” Shoddy, to say the least.

The instrument panel incorporates five round vents. The outer rings of the round vents have a high-quality electroplated silver-chrome finish.

The CLA is fitted with integral seats in the front and rear.

You can order the “AMG Line” equipment level. Here the emphasis is on the colour red: in the contrasting topstitching on the sports seats the multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather with flattened lower section, and the armrests. You will also get steel sports pedals with rubber studs.

This is the version we had.

There are three design packages, “Exclusive”, “AMG Exclusive” and “Night package” which offer further individualisation possibilities.

All CLA versions have electromechanical power steering, which makes possible various steering assistance functions controlled by the ECU, including countersinking when the car oversteers, corrective steering when one or more wheels have different levels of grip, reducing torque steer, compensating for camber.

The 2.2 litre turbo diesel produces a very useful 350Nm between 1 400 and 3 400 rpm and puts out 125 kW. Expect fuel consumption between 5 and 6 l/100km unless you have a heavy foot which will reward you with around 7l/100km. Top speed is rated 230km/h and the 0 to 100km/h time of 8.2 seconds is not to shabby.

The CLA drives as well as it looks. Behind the wheel you know you are driving a special little car. Well, not so little. She handles well, corners well and accelerates very joyfully. She sounds great too.

Disappointingly the CLA has run safe tyres and not a spare wheel to be seen. I personally do not like travelling on the open road without a spare wheel. Avoid back roads with this one.

Summary

A small luxury performance family sedan dressed up as a coupé. Like Mozart did with Opera, advancing their technical sophistication and emotional reach, so the Mercedes engineers and designers have produced a breath of fresh air.

The CLA as tested cost: R450 000

The range: CLA 200 R383 900, CLA 250 SportAMATIC R529 800, CLA 220 CDi R438 800, CLA 45 AMG R694 700.

Also consider a  BMW 1 Series (120d or 125i),  Audi A3 Sedan A3 2.0TDI SE, Lexus CT200h or Volvo S60.

Warranty – Two years unlimited distance and 60 000km maintenance plan.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220

Mercedes-Benz CLA 220