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Mercedes reveals armored S600 Guard

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury

2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard

It's not every day that Mercedes rolls out a new S-Class, but when it does, Benz usually makes the most of it. Since revealing the latest W222-generation model just last year, the Silver Star automaker has revealed a steady stream of variants, including sedans, coupes and AMG models. You can bet there will be more to come, including Pullman and Maybach versions to make Mercedes' flagship model even more luxurious, but for some buyers there can be no greater luxury than safety. And for just such buyers, Mercedes has now revealed the new S600 Guard.

Joining the E-Guard, M-Guard and G500 Guard, the new S600 Guard offers what Mercedes claims are unprecedented levels of ballistic protection. Rather than buying an existing S-Class and sending it for retrofitting, the German automaker fits it with components made of aramide, polyethylene and a special steel compound right on the assembly line. It also gets polycarbonate-coated glass and underbody reinforcement to make the S600 Guard the first vehicle to meet the top VR9 level of ballistic certification against firearms and explosives.

Despite all the modifications, the S600 Guard is said to be virtually indistinguishable from a standard S-Class, and provides the same level of comfort you'd expect from the flagship Mercedes. The cabin can be configured in either four- or five-seat layouts, and in addition to all the usual luxuries, Mercedes has equipped the S600 Guard with opaque roller blinds, opaque roller blinds, a panic alarm system, automatic fire suppression system, emergency fresh air system and beefed-up hydraulic power windows.

The S600 Guard is powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 as the standard S600 with 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque channeled through a seven-speed automatic transmission. You can expect performance to be more lethargic due to the added weight, however, with the top speed electronically limited to 130 miles per hour. Mercedes also gives the armored sedan a recalibrated air suspension, larger brakes and Michelin PAX run-flat tires with tire pressure monitoring system.

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Mercedes' AMG Sport line to spread across lineup

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport Estate

If you want a performance-oriented Audi but can't stretch to an RS model, you can go for an S instead. If you want a performance-oriented BMW but can't stretch to a full M car, you can go for an M Performance model instead. If you want a performance-oriented Mercedes but can't stretch to an AMG model... you're out of luck. But you won't be for long, as circulating reports indicate that Benz is planning to launch a second line of AMG Sport models.

As we reported a few months ago, Mercedes is preparing to launch a C450 AMG Sport to slot in between the new C400 and upcoming C63 AMG, with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing around 367 horsepower - a few dozen horses more than the C400 but still a hundred or so shy of the C63. The model was subsequently spotted in wagon guise, pictured above.

The C-Class won't be the only one to get the AMG Sport treatment, however. Autocar reports that, while not all Mercedes models are slated at first to get the mid-level performance upgrade, many models will - including the A-, E-, S-, M, GL, GLK and GLA-Class models, as well as the upcoming MLC crossover coupe.

While they won't all get the same engine, each AMG Sport model is expected to undergo a similar transformation, with upgraded suspensions, wider tracks, reprogrammed electronics and more. Expect both gasoline and diesel versions to be offered (at least in certain markets), taking Mercedes into performance diesel territory for the first time to rival BMW's trio of M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d as well as Audi's SQ5 TDI and (currently concept-only) RS5 TDI.

The new line, to be jointly developed by Mercedes and its AMG performance division, would also give the Silver Star a three-tiered performance line-up, starting with the new AMG Sport line, followed by the AMG range and topping out with the AMG S models.

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Mercedes, DVAG continue sponsoring Michael Schumacher [UPDATE]

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Marketing/Advertising, Mercedes Benz, Earnings/Financials

Monaco F1 GP Auto Racing

Up until his tragic accident that left him in a coma, Michael Schumacher was still one of the highest-paid Formula One drivers in the world... even though he was no longer actively competing. That came down to the numerous lucrative personal sponsorship arrangements that the seven-time world champion retained even after retirement. But while some of his sponsors have been canceling their arrangements with Michael as he fights to recover, Mercedes is reportedly committed to standing by its former driver and brand ambassador.

Speaking with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said "We have given no thoughts to changing something in his contract," wishing the retired F1 driver the best of luck in his recovery.

By way of contrast, bottled water brand Rosbacher reportedly canceled its sponsorship contract with Schumacher in June.

UPDATE: When reached for comment, German investment company Deutsche Vermögensberatung AG, whose logo has long adorned Schumacher's hat, told Autoblog that "At the moment, the health of Michael Schumacher is ranked first.... We back Michael Schumacher and his family and wish them all the imaginable energy they need for the next months."

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Mercedes S600 Pullman revealed in patent photos

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Design/Style, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman

Attention heads of state and other potentates: your next car is here. Patent photos for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman have leaked online showing the ultimate interpretation of Merc's S-Class range.

If you just looked at the Pullman dead-on from the front or rear, you might not notice too many differences compared to the stock S600 because the styling is almost identical. However, once you see that profile, you know there's something very special here. The sedan still packs four doors but with additional windows along the side to gaze outward upon your subjects. They're sure to see you, too, because, according to Carscoops, this princely S-Class is about 21-feet long. That makes it even bigger than the massive Maybach 62 and the previous S600 Pullman Guard. While these shots don't show the inside, it supposedly offers room for eight with two in the cockpit partitioned away from six others in the rear with facing rows of seats.

Mercedes is rumored to not actually build the Pullman itself. Instead, the automaker might hand off production duties to noted tuner Brabus to handle the needs of this über-luxury sedan's wealthy clients. It needs to keep them satisfied, too, because the asking price for the armored version is rumored to be $1 million.

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Mercedes to continue sponsoring Michael Schumacher

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Marketing/Advertising, Mercedes Benz

Monaco F1 GP Auto Racing

Up until his tragic accident that left him in a coma, Michael Schumacher was still one of the highest-paid Formula One drivers in the world... even though he was no longer actively competing. That came down to the numerous lucrative personal sponsorship arrangements that the seven-time world champion retained even after retirement. But while some of his sponsors have been canceling their arrangements with Michael as he fights to recover, Mercedes is reportedly committed to standing by its former driver and brand ambassador.

Speaking with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said "We have given no thoughts to changing something in his contract," wishing the retired F1 driver the best of luck in his recovery.

By way of contrast, bottled water brand Rosbacher reportedly canceled its sponsorship contract with Schumacher in June. German investment company Deutsche Vermögensberatung AG, whose logo has long adorned Schumacher's hat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it will continue to sponsor the ailing driver.

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Weekly Recap: The divergent paths of Tesla and Fisker

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Tech, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Fisker, Tesla, Electric

Fisker Automotive

There's no doubt that Tesla is downshifting while Fisker has been grinding its gears. But it wasn't always that way.

In the wake of Tesla's recent success, it's easy to forget that there were once two California electric carmakers with bright futures.

Remember Fisker Automotive?

Both companies were back in the news this week. Tesla confirmed it will team with Panasonic to build a battery factory, and Fisker won approval of its bankruptcy plan to pay creditors and allow it to have a fresh start with Chinese investors, Wanxiang Group.

There's no doubt that Tesla is downshifting while Fisker has been grinding its gears. But it wasn't always that way.

Five years ago, many observers thought Fisker had just as much potential to make a go of it as Tesla. Elon Musk was still known as the SpaceX and PayPal guy who supposedly knew nothing about cars. Fisker, meanwhile, was founded and led by Henrik Fisker, an industry celebrity who designed sexy sports cars like the Aston Martin DB9 and the BMW Z8.

Separated by about six hours of California highway, Tesla and Fisker were billed as the new wave of American manufacturing, two electric carmakers that could do what the Rust Belt-anchored Detroit Three could not. Their rivalry became so heated, Tesla even sued Fisker in 2008 alleging theft of technology, with Fisker emerging as the nominal victor, netting $1.1 million in court fees from Tesla.

As recently as 2012, Tesla only had one car, the Roadster, which was built on a Lotus chassis with an electric-powered motor in place of a traditional engine. It was the definition of a niche product. That year, however, Tesla followed up with another car, the Model S. With an all-electric range of 265 miles and the capability to sprint to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, the Model S was a runaway hit. It had the size and power of a BMW 5-Series, and it didn't burn a drop of fuel.

Continue reading Weekly Recap: The divergent paths of Tesla and Fisker

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NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Government/Legal, Mercedes Benz, UAW/Unions, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz US International Inc.

Mercedes-Benz has run afoul of the National Labor Relations Board after an administrative judge ruled that the company violated organizing rights of workers at the company's Vance, AL factory, which builds the M-Class, GL-Class and the new C-Class.

Judge Keltner Locke upheld the charge that MB told employees they couldn't distribute pro-union literature in the factory's common areas during off-work hours, according to Automotive News. The other charges in the September 3 complaint, meanwhile, were dismissed, with Locke saying the company took "prompt remedial action."

While Locke's ruling comes without penalties, the factory, which is formally known as Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., must tweak its rules to allow off-duty workers to solicit other off-duty workers in certain parts of the factory (parking lots, break rooms, etc.), a right provided by the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision by Locke still isn't sitting well with some of the plant's employees, though. Don White, a 19-year veteran of the facility and one of the parties to the NLRB complaint, is one such worker.

"We're allowed to talk about church, football, anything else," White told AN. "There has been a lot of intimidation to keep us from trying to organize."

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2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz just keeps dropping pricing bombshells on us. After unveiling the cost of the models of the upcoming GLA-Class compact crossover, now the 2015 C-Class, the German brand's bread-and-butter luxury sedan, is ready to unleash its secrets, as well.

The least expensive of the new models is the rear-wheel-drive C300 with a starting price of $38,400, plus a $925 delivery & destination charge, to bring the actual base price to $39,325. However, the two-wheel drive version doesn't hit the road until the first quarter of 2015. The first variants that people can actually buy arrive in September 2014, and they are the all-wheel drive C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic for $41,325 and $49,515, respectively, after the destination fee.

In addition to styling inspired by the S-Class, the 2015 C-Class models also have new engines. Both variants of the C300 use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful C400 uses a bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. All models get Mercedes' 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic gearbox. Merc is holding back on fuel economy numbers and 0-60-miles-per-hour specs until a bit closer to launch.

As befitting a Mercedes, all versions come packed with luxury features. The C300 comes quite well equipped as standard, with dual-zone climate control, power seats, a seven-inch infotainment display and more. Moving up to the C400 adds standard heated front seats, LED headlights and an upgraded stereo. Of course, there's also long list of options including improved interior upholstery, a sport package, upgraded infotainment and a whole lot more.

Comparing pricing of the 2015 C-Class to the 2014 model is rather tricky. The rear-wheel drive C300 is over $2,000 more expensive than the current C250, but if you look at the 2015 C300 4Matic versus the more comparable 2014 C300 4Matic, the latest one is only about $1,000 more. The C300 is also more expensive than the base BMW 320i, A4 or Lexus IS250, but the Mercedes is bringing more to the table in terms of engine power.

Continue reading 2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

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Mercedes rolls out versatile new Vito van

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Minivans/MPVs, Euro, Commercial Trucks, Mercedes Benz

2015 Mercedes-Benz Vito

Mercedes-Benz may be known for its luxury cars on this side of the Atlantic, but it's equally known around the world for making robust workhorses as well: trucks, buses and vans. It has started to turn Americans on to that idea with the successful transplant of the Sprinter van to North America, but it still has a whole range of commercial vehicles it doesn't offer here. It recently rolled out the Renault-built Citan to replace its Vaneo, replaced its Viano with the new V-Class, and it has now introduced a new Vito van as well.

More utilitarian than the V-Class, the Vito is a smaller alternative to the Sprinter and hits showrooms in other global markets in a wide array of configurations. For starters, it will be available in numerous lengths as a panel van, a passenger van or as a crew cab, a configuration that combines a four-door passenger compartment with a cargo bay in the back. It's also intriguingly available in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive, motivated by a pair of four-cylinder turbodiesels displacing 1.6 liters or 2.1 liters with power ranging from 136 horsepower up to 190. Regardless of engine selection, buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

In addition to a wider range of powertrain and bodystyle choices, Mercedes has also redesigned the new Vito to be safer and more comfortable than the model it replaces. It has a more aerodynamic shape for a lower coefficient of drag that pairs with the new engines to help reduce fuel consumption. That's particularly important to the vehicle's competitiveness among fleet buyers, because improved fuel economy leads to reduced running costs. Further, the new Vito can be kept on the road for 25,000 miles over two years in between service intervals.

Despite the suspension that's been redesigned for a more compliant ride, the new Vito doesn't skimp on the utility. In fact, Mercedes claims it's got the highest payload capacity in its class at over 3,000 pounds and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over three tons, depending on spec. Read all about it in the press release below and scope out the range in the high-res image gallery above.

Continue reading Mercedes rolls out versatile new Vito van

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300*

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic, front three-quarter view.

Mercedes-Benz has kindly let loose the price of the US-spec 2015 GLA-Class, telling Autoblog that the base 208-horsepower GLA250 in two-wheel drive form will go for $31,300 *not including a destination charge of $925. That makes for $32,225 in total to get one off the lot, a price predicted as early as last year and in our recent First Drive. The other two available models can push power to all four wheels, and after the destination fee is applied the GLA240 4Matic (pictured) will be $34,225 while the 355-horsepower GLA45 AMG will change lives and wallets to the tune of $49,225.

On the base scale, that puts the GLA250 just a few hundred dollar bills above the more powerful, rear-wheel-drive BMW X1 and a stack of hundreds below the less powerful, front-wheel-drive Audi Q3. If you're keeping in-house score, the GLA250 comes in at $1,400 above its sedan platform-mate with the same engine, the CLA250. At the high end, however, the competition doesn't have anything that can touch the AMG trim. Not that it should matter all that much - Mercedes needed something to keep these buyers in the family, and now it has it. If any of them should need even more power and more money spent, then there's always that 394-hp Brabus flavor. We'll have more info and details on each trim when Mercedes unleashes the shebang in the not-too-distant future.

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