New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet revealed

December 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes Benz E-Class Cabroilet 2011 fq

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is ready to roll out at the Detroit Auto Show, but before that kicks off next month, Mercedes has dropped all the official details on its CLK convertible replacement.

Like the coupe on which it’s based, the convertible is a step up from its predecessor and comes with a choice of powerplants including a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the E350 or a 5.5-litre V8 that churns out 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque in the E550.

The new E-Class Convertible won’t make use of a retractable hard-top, but rather a thick cloth roof that helps keep luggage capacity decent in the boot. There’s also a pass-through compartment underneath the roof’s storage enclosure that should make shifting longer parcels easier.

The real show piece on the convertible E-Class is Mercedes’ new AirCap system, which includes a wind deflector that extends from the windshield, along with a draft-stop mounted behind the rear seats. According to Mercedes, this limits the amount of wind intrusion into the passenger compartment up to speeds of 160 kph, keeping your hairstyle unruffled and making conversations easier when cruising the motorway.

Other technology includes the Mercedes Airscarf, which blows warm air around the neck of the front seat passengers and Mercedes’ first application of head airbags in a convertible. If you just can’t wait to get your hands on the 2011 E-Class Convertible, you’ll have to wait until mid next year, but in the meantime, check out the images in the gallery below.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

December 15th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Driving shots and static exterior and interior footage

Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI 2009 Review

December 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not an easy thing filling large shoes, whether it’s the previous success of a parent or older sibling, matching up is always a big ask. The latest to face this tough proposition is the Mercedes E250. It needs to follow the reputation of the thousands of older-model E-Class vehicles that have proved highly popular as taxi’s working the streets of Europe. Here in NZ when we need a taxi, it’s either a Ford Falcon or a rattling old Nissan Bluebird but on the continent it’s lines of E-Class Taxis waiting outside train stations. Taxi drivers tell stories of E-Classes with staggering mileage on the clock that still offer supreme comfort for paying passengers. So is the new E-Class blessed with the same reliability and refinement as its hard working ancestors? Car and SUV set the meter running with the E250 CDI to find out.

The E250 sedan is predicted to be the high volume seller of the new E-Class range helped largely by its entry-level price of $104,900 and green credentials.

The E250’s heartbeat is provided by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that pumps 150kW of power to the rear wheels. It’s not exactly a performance vehicle but with turbocharging and a generous 500 Nm of torque on tap acceleration is brisk. Peak torque arrives at just 1600rpm making the E250 no slouch off the line, 100kph is reached in 7.2 seconds and it won’t stop till 240kph shows on the speedo. After the initial torque shove the Mercedes settles into its work comfortably and is at its smooth best while cruising.

Mated to an ageing five-speed auto transmission the E250 hums along with relaxed gear changes liking to keep itself low in the rev range. The result of such restraint is a very impressive fuel economy of 6l/100km on the combined cycle. Not bad for a sedan tipping the scales at 1735kg without a newer 6- or 7-speed transmission. To help achieve this economical figure the E250 has been given newly developed tyres, an energy-saving generator and numerous aerodynamic aids to keep it slippery.

In terms of handling the E250 has a small amount of body roll during cornering but holds its line well, offers reassuring grip and is surprisingly quick point-to-point on twisty roads. The variable-ratio steering works a charm and is firm enough at pace while also maintaining good low-speed maneuverability. Ride comfort remains an area of strength and the suspension is set accordingly with enough travel in the springs to protect occupants from almost all bumps and divots in the road.

Putting a smaller engine into a large car is a new trick for Mercedes but in other respects the E250 marks a return to values of old. Most notably in terms of comfort, refinement and the general solid feel that has almost always been a hallmark for Mercedes. The cabin is cosseting and is impeccably put together using high quality materials all round. It’s very spacious for the front occupants while the rear passengers have adequate leg and headroom. The leather seats are excellently soft, well bolstered with multiple adjustments and are ideal for long-range touring duties. Switchgear and instrumentation becomes quickly familiar and a jog dial easily operates the high-mounted display screen. The standard equipment list is suitably lengthy and includes a six-disc DVD changer and sat nav.

For all the E250’s hi-tech gadgetry its most impressive trick is the way occupants are isolated from the outside world. With the attention paid to aerodynamics and also insulation, wind and road noise is kept to a minimum. The diesel engine, which isn’t exceptionally quiet when heard from outside the vehicle, is relegated to a distant murmur on the inside.

The exterior aesthetic is modern and stately mixing a chunky bold front end with more conservative rear styling. The contrasting silver trim, broad shoulder lines and ‘Pontoon’ crease above the rear wheel-arches all add character. The top-end look is finished with 17-inch 5-spoke alloys and LED lights front and rear.

Safety systems have become a clear focus for Mercedes and the E250 is set to be a class-leader in this area. All the usual bases are well covered with an army of airbags including driver’s knee, an advanced Electronic Stability Program and a reinforced body shell design. Further electronic aids include Attention Assist that monitors 70 different factors to check driver alertness, and the optional Distronic Plus (a proximity control that lets you know when you’re following too closely and will apply the brakes if a crash is evident). If it gets too late and a crash is unavoidable active head restraints, belt force limiters, and seatbelt pretensioners are all ready to fire up.

The new Mercedes E250 is difficult to fault and there is no doubt that it shares the same all-round competence and supreme build quality that gave its ancestors a near-legendary reputation. The diesel engine offers solid performance and very thrifty fuel consumption. Dynamically the E250 has limits most owners will never test. The level of standard equipment is high and the cabin is about as comfortable as you can get. If you want a stylish, luxurious vehicle that will go the distance and you’ve got a six-figure budget to lay down then check out the new Mercedes E250.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications

Price: from $104,900 as tested $122,400

What we like:

  • High-level ride comfort
  • Frugal but strong diesel engine
  • Safety features

What we don’t like:

  • Dated 5-speed auto box
  • Rear legroom

Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI – Specifications

Engine and Performance

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 7.8
Compression ratio 16.2:1
Cylinder arrangement/number 4-Cylinder
Displacement (cc) 2143
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm) 150 [204]at 4200
Rated torque (Nm at rpm) 500 / 1600-1800
Top speed (km/h) 240

Fuel and Consumption

Cd value 0.26
CO2 emissions combined (g/km) 159
Emission class EU5
Fuel consumption combined (l/100km) 6
Tank capacity incl. reserve 59/8

Power Transmission

Drive system Rear drive
Transmissions 5-speed automatic

Dimensions and Weights

Boot capacity (VDA) (I) 540
Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) 1735/545
Maximum roof load (kg) 100
Perm. GVM (kg) 2280
Turning circle (m) 11.25

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

McLaren and Mercedes complete SLR production and partnership

December 4th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The SLR Stirling Moss is about to cease being built, bringing overall production of the SLR supercar from Mercedes-Benz and McLaren to an end.

Over the course of its five-year production run, more than 2,000 examples of the SLR were built, making it one of the most prolific supercars in automotive history. Now, the two carmakers are going their seperate ways, Mercedes has sold its stake back to McLaren, acquired its own F1 team, and each has now produced its own successor: the Mercedes SLS AMG and the McLaren MP4-12C.

In 2004, with the swing-wing Coupe, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren jointly set out to continue the story of the legendary SLR racing sports cars of the 1950s. Following that, five different versions in the SLR family have been produced including two coupes, two roadster versions and lastly the extreme SLR Stirling Moss.

In its final iteration, the SLR Stirling Moss, the SLR features a supercharged V-8 with 650 horsepower on tap. Without a roof or a windscreen to separate the driver and front passenger from nature, the supercar is raw and worthy of the name of British motor-racing legend Stirling Moss, who piloted the original Mercedes-Benz SLR racing cars to a succession of victories in the 1950s.

With the last example to be completed by the end of December, the end of SLR production finally marks the dissolution of the manufacturing agreement between McLaren and Mercedes-Benz.

Brabus reveals B63 Mercedes E63 AMG

December 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Brabus E63 AMG Mercedes fq

German powerhouse tuner Brabus has announced it will premiere the new Brabus B63 S Mercedes E63 AMG at this year’s edition of the Essen Motor Show. The Brabus B63 S Mercedes E63 AMG is powered by the standard 6.3 litre V8 engine that has been modified to output 386 kW and 650 Nm of torque.

This is a 30 hp and 20 Nm of torque increase over the standard car. The extra power comes from upgraded electronics, two sport air filters and free-flow metal catalysts. According to performance figures the Brabus B63 S Mercedes E63 AMG can get from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and up to a maximum speed of 320 km/h.

Aesthetically the B63 comes with a unique aerodynamics package and various interior accents. Pricing for the new package hasn’t been announced yet.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe 2010 Review

November 13th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The letter E can stand for many different things, for children it may symbolise a bad mark at school, for teenagers it may mean a party pill and for the middle-aged and over it could refer to a type of Mercedes-Benz. But is the new E-Class set to break away from the conservative image of previous models?

Well, by discontinuing the CLK in favour of the E-Class Coupe Mercedes is definitely showing confidence in its latest offering. Right now, E is for Evaluation as Car and SUV finds out just what makes the E-Class coupe special.

E for Erogenous

Its one hot piece of metal, from the flared rear fenders forward the E-Class coupe has inherited the signature Mercedes understated grace but can’t be accused of being dull. It’s chiselled up front with bold bonnet character lines and quad headlamps and the grille treatment is unique with two silver bars bracketing a large three-point star. What’s most distinctive is the raked roofline that is three inches lower than the sedan, pillar-less and with fully retractable rear windows for an unobstructed side view.

Our test model sported the AMG Sports package ($7,300) that included blinging 18-inch wheels a more pronounced body kit and upgraded suspension.

Retired Financial Director or successful drug dealer the new E-Class’ styling will work for a variety of lifestyles, and an impressive drag figure of just 0.25 makes it one slippery customer.

E for Elegance

The Coupe’s cabin has plenty to see and do but what’s immediately noticeable is the level of comfort on offer from the leather seats. Fully cosseting and with a multitude of adjustments the seats include bolstering air cushions and integrated headrests. The rear has room for two passengers who receive wide individual seats but headroom is compromised by the low coupe roofline. Buttons and switchgear is intuitively laid out, navigation is standard, and a five-circle instrument cluster features an analogue clock and a secondary display screen for vehicle information. The main multi-info screen is mounted centrally and is controlled by a circular jog dial located on the armrest.

Fit and finish in the interior is top class and all materials are pleasant to the eye and the touch. With the coupe’s low-mounted seats and relatively high waistline it’s a cocooning atmosphere but very spacious for the front occupants.

E for Exciting¦ almost

The E-Class coupe is available with three different powerplants from the E250 CDI 4-Cylinder diesel up to the E500 V8 petrol. Our test vehicle was the mid-spec E350 3.5-litre V6 putting out 200kW in power and 350Nm of torque. The direct injection unit is responsive and silky smooth throughout the rev range. Peak torque arrives just in time at 2400rpm and when pushed it responds with gusto hitting 100kph in 6.4 seconds. But for all the engine’s competency it could be accused of lacking in character. Acceleration and general behaviour never breaks from being linear and civilized even at the peak of its range.

The V6 mates up well with Mercedes’ 7G-TRONIC 7-Speed auto transmission. It’s a clever unit that changes seamlessly and predicts driver intention well, skipping gears if necessary to deliver the correct ratio. Paddles sit behind the steering wheel for manual changes. In auto two shifting modes are on offer, Comfort and Sport, remaining in Comfort mode helps return a fuel economy figure of 9.5l/100km for the E350.

E for Effortless

The engine may lack a little character but the chassis is a gem. The E-Class dynamics are excellent with superb stability and minimal body roll. The suspension set-up allows for spirited driving without compromising the maturity and comfort focus of the ride. There is plenty of grip and although the coupe feels most comfortable on motorway cruising duties it has no issues with twists and turns.

Steering is well-weighted and precise on turn-in but it can feel light and unconnected when straight-line driving.

E for Enduring

Safety systems are a clear focus for Mercedes and the new E-Class is set to be a class-leader in this regard. All the usual bases are well covered with an army of airbags including driver’s knee, an advanced Electronic Stability Program and a reinforced bodyshell design. Further standard electronic aids include Attention Assist which monitors 70 different factors to check driver alertness, and Distronic Plus (a proximity control that lets you know when you’re following too closely and will apply the brakes if a crash is evident). If you absolutely must crash your E-Class coupe then active head restraints, belt force limiters, and seatbelt pretensioners are ready to fire up.

E for Exclusive

Mercedes-Benz has created a worthy replacement for the CLK with the new E-Series Coupe. The styling is graceful, the cabin offers luxury-sedan comfort and the performance is delivered with stealth. What E doesn’t stand for is electrifying or extreme, but that’s almost irrelevant because Mercedes has created a vehicle that exists beyond its perceived competitors. It’s larger, of a higher quality and is more expensive than the BMW 3-Series coupe or Audi A5 and will appeal to a different buyer. Will this buyer be middle-aged and over? Probably. Will they be happy with their purchase? For sure.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications

Price: from $119,900(E250 CDI) as tested $147,200

What we like:

  • Smooth and slippery styling
  • Comfort focussed interior
  • Well balanced Chassis

What we don’t like:

  • Rear headroom
  • Lacking driver excitement

Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 Coupe – Specifcations

Chassis (Standard) and Wheels

Front tyres 235/40
Rear tyres 255/35

Dimensions and Weights

Boot capacity (VDA) (I) 450
Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) 1645/470
Maximum roof load (kg) 100
Perm. GVM (kg) 2115
Turning circle (m) 10.95

Engine and Performance

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 6.4
Compression ratio 10.7:1
Cylinder arrangement/number V6
Displacement (cc) 3498
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm) 200 [272] at 6000
Rated torque (Nm at rpm) 350 / 2400-5000
Top speed (km/h) 250
Fuel and Consumption Cd value 0.25
CO2 emissions combined (g/km) 222
Emission class EU5
Fuel consumption combined (l/100km) 9.5
Tank capacity incl. reserve 66/8

Power Transmission

Drive system Rear drive
Transmission 7G-Tronic

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

2010 European Car of the Year nominees announced

November 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

2010 European Car of the Year

The European Car of the Year contest is usually stacked with European cars, of course, if not cars from around the world that are sold in Europe. But this year, the fight is being waged almost exclusively between European cars with outside manufacturers barely getting a look in.

The candidates for the 2010 awards were announced back in June, but that’s really just a long list of vehicles that are eligible. Now the panel of automotive journalists from across the continent have chosen their seven nominees among from which the final winner will be selected.

Those up for the prize are:

  • Citroen C3 Picasso
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Opel/Vauxhall Astra
  • Peugeot 3008
  • Skoda Yeti
  • Toyota iQ
  • Volkswagen Polo

The iQ is the only non-European product in with a chance, and the Mercedes the only car among the finalists even currently available in the North American market.

The winner should be announced by the end of November.

Audi and Mercedes break ‘top speed pact’

September 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Audi and Mercedes have officially, but rather indirectly announced they’re going to break the 250 km/h top speed pact they both agreed on back in 1988.

Both companies, with their most recent models, the Audi R8 V10 and the Mercedes SLS AMG, have dropped the 250 km/h top speed limiters.

The Audi R8 V10 is powered by a V10 5.2 litre FSI engine that develops 525 hp and can take the German supercar to a top speed of 315 km/h.

On the other hand, the Mercedes SLS AMG is powered by a 6.3 litre engine that develops 571 hp and can take the new Gullwing to a top speed of 317 km/h. Mercedes says the top speed of the SLS AMG is limited, but not longer to the usual 250 km/h.

BMW and Porsche are still obeying the 250 km/h top speed agreement for now, and it looks they’re not going to get pulled in to a top speed arms race between Audi and Mercedes.