NYC: Mercedes E-Class Debut

The new 2018 E-Class Cabriolet. Image courtesy of Mercedes Benz USA

When I was in high school, my best friend bought a convertible.  I can still remember our first drive with the top down in that car.  We got more honks, whistles, and hellos than you could even imagine.  We loved it.  We couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.  That first ride gave way to many up and down the PCH.  

There’s nothing quite like a convertible, especially when you live in a place like So Cal that gets 300+ convertible perfect days a year.  Just in time for the warmer weather Mercedes has unveiled its new 2018 E-Class Cabriolet and it is a beaut.  Offering a premium soft top, larger and more luxurious interior, and comfortable open air driving utilizing their AIRSCARF® technology, this new cabriolet is on point to become summer’s favorite new ride.  

The Cabriolet is the last new member to join the updated Mercedes E-Class family, which has seen a complete overhaul of the entire class over the last year.  This new model has a longer length, width and wheel base, along with a wider track, providing a more spacious interior.  All four occupants of the vehicle will now enjoy individually sculpted seats with the added touch of standard-fit automatic belt presenters in the front seat.  The acoustic soft top is equipped with insulation to protect against the elements, hot or cold.  Heat reflecting leather and individually folding rear seats are some of the options buyers will enjoy on this iteration.  4MATIC all-wheel drive rounds out some of the features available.

Look for this new E-Class Cabriolet in US dealerships later this year.

SUV Spotlight: Mercedes GLS

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has been busy redesigning its popular G-Class SUV into the new Mercedes GLS.  Like its predecessor, the GL, the GLS is poised to become the “S-Class among SUVs” according to the German automaker.  The only full seven-seater within the premium European SUV segment, the GLS has an ample interior which provides the magic combination of luxury, comfortability, and safety.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t missed a step in the GLS design.  Offering 4 trims, the GLS d 350 4M, GLS 450 4M, GLS 550 4M, and AMG GLS 63, there seems to be something for every Mercedes SUV consumer.  Each GLS boasts a new dynamic exterior and luxurious interior.  The designers have placed the focus on redesigning the front end of the car, while modernizing the rear.  Inside the car, consumers will find a brand new instrument panel which includes a media display, new 3-spoke steering wheel configuration and a center console complete with  touchpad.  This new generation also includes more efficiencies, an additional DYNAMIC SELECT transmission mode, an improved air suspension system, a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC auto transmission, state of the art assistance system and the most recent telematics, including internet access and remote start capability.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

If all of that isn’t enough to get you going, look no further than under the hood.  The AMG GLS 63 boasts a 577 hp 5.5 liter AMG V8 which delivers a whopping 561 lb.-ft. of torque, perfect for drag racing fellow suburbanites, or that urgent soccer mom grocery run.  The Sport+ mode will definitely help you feel the need for speed while the OFF-ROAD mode will help navigate the vacation wilds.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

And how can one take advantage of all that power without accounting for proper safety?  Mercedes has taken care of that as well.  The standard driver assistance systems include COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, Crosswind Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST.  Also available, are the PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and sadly, Speed Limit Assist.  This SUV will practically drive for you with all the safety features.  As a member of the Mercedes family you also have access to Standard Services including automatic emergency call, Accident Recovery and breakdown assistance.  There’s a reason you pay more to drive a Benz and features like these are it, but they are worth every penny in my opinion.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

Finally, there is not a roomier SUV available in the European SUV class.  There is ample elbow and head room available in all three of the seat rows inside the vehicle.  With many adjustment options, the center row makes the interior configuration flexible by way of a cargo position for optimum use of space.

With all of its sporty and luxurious finishings, the 2017 Mercedes GLS is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the SUV class, but only for those with deep pockets.  While MSRP was not available at press time, one can only assume it will be quite high, which begs the question: How much is a sporty exterior, a luxurious, spacious interior, and a badass engine under the hood worth?  For some the answer would be it’s priceless.  For those, the Mercedes GLS is the perfect fit.

2015 LA Auto Show Highlights

It’s that time again.  All things new and exciting in the automotive world have descended on the LA Convention Center for 10 glorious days.  Since today is the first day doors will open to the public, I thought it fitting to share some of this year’s not-to-be-missed highlights.  Also, be sure to check the blog in the coming days, as I cover these vehicle debuts in more depth.


Volvo Concept 26

#1: Volvo’s Concept 26
As someone who has spent way too many hours of my life in traffic, this was by far the most mind-blowing thing I saw at the auto show.  While I am a driving enthusiast, I have to say, the thought of being able to literally kick back and catch up on my Netflix while being squired around the stand-still streets of Los Angeles by my autonomous car had me practically turning cartwheels in front of the exhibit.


Mercedes SL Roadster

#2: Mercedes SL Roadster
Mercedes is hoping the latest generation of the SL series will bring the luxury roadster segment back to life.  With its sleek lines and powerful performance specs, there is no doubt it will be a desirable option for those in the market for a two-seat roadster.  While launching this beauty in the fun-loving California market is a stroke of genius, it remains to be seen whether the $100,000 roadsters can make a comeback in light of our new economic realities.  If they do, the 2017 SL550 will most certainly be leading the charge.


Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept

#3: Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept
After months of teasing, Audi finally revealed its beautiful, all-electric, luxury class sport SUV.  During the big reveal, Audi not only issued a mea culpa for the TDI debacle, but vowed to take the brand to the forefront of the electric mobility platform.  Boasting three electric motors and a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds, if the E-Tron Quattro Concept delivers what is promises when it hits the market in 2018, it’s will not be hard to take Audi at their word.  This concept is definitely worth stopping by the Audi booth to see in person.


Jaguar F-Pace

#4: Jaguar F-Pace
Five years ago I met with a Jaguar representative at the LA Auto Show and asked if they had any plans to make a Jaguar SUV.  He laughed and pointed to the multiple Land Rovers and Range Rovers on display and said, “There are our SUVs…right there”.  Well turns out he was wrong, because on press day, Jaguar revealed their brand new luxury sports utility vehicle, the F-Pace.  Taking inspiration from it’s sports car brother, the F-Type, the F-Pace is the total looks and performance package for the soccer mom wanting to make a statement.


Mazda CX-9

#5: Mazda CX-9
Mazda has finally finished its complete fleet overhaul with the unveiling of the all-new CX-9.  The last in its fleet to get a facelift, the new body style is all class.  It’s a bigger, roomier and higher performing version of the CX-5.  Packed with style and fun, this one is sure to be a hit with the family circuit.  While not as sexy as the F-Pace parked a few stalls away, it provides quite enough style for the practical price tag that comes with it.



If you have some extra time, be sure to stop by the Toyota booth to check out the Back to the Future display featuring Marty McFly’s 1985 Toyota Tacoma, as well as a DeLorean-inspired Toyota Mirai, complete with gull wing doors and a Mr. Fusion.


I also recommend trying your hand at the Dodge Viper Challenge.  Climb inside an actual Dodge Viper and race around a simulated track at top speeds.  Ask for the manual mode and you’ll feel like you’re actually flying around the racetrack.








Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Forget self-parking, autonomous driving is the way of the future, as proved by the big reveal by Mercedes-Benz at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  The research vehicle, F 015 Luxury in Motion, made its world debut at the popular electronics convention.  With this new concept comes the realization of the company’s vision for the future of the automotive industry, taking transportation beyond getting from Point A to Point B and elevating it to an experience.  With the emergence of an autonomous vehicle, the time of the automotive passenger becomes increasingly more valuable.  The first self-driving cars are set to not only revolutionize transportation, but ultimately alter society as a whole.  As Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz explained, “Anyone who focuses soley on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society.  The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Rear LED lights Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Rear LED lights Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has taken great care in the design of the F 015 Luxury in Motion concept, choosing to focus on functionality, comfort, safety and, the most important element to their consumer, luxury.  As urbanization continues to rise, we as people crave privacy more and more.  An autonomous drive car perfectly fits this need.  It will allow future city-dwellers to escape the stress of driving while maximizing time lost navigating the roads manually.

On the exterior the car looks like something out of a futuristic movie.  The streamlined silhouette and low lying front and rear give the car a sleek, smooth look.  The exterior is also equipped with LED light modules at both the front and rear.  These LED lights provide a large range of functionality, but also serve as the communication with other vehicles on the road.  For example, when the car is in autonomous mode, the LEDs are blue, when manually driven they turn white.

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Interior.  Front passenger seats swivel around to provide the option of four passengers facing one another.  Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Interior. Front passenger seats swivel around to provide the option of four passengers facing one another. Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

The interior was designed specifically to feel more like a lounge rather than a car.  The length (5220mm), width (2018mm) and height (1524mm) were specifically chosen to provide space.  The focus of this car is passenger room, not instrumentation.  The front seats swivel around to face the back seats, and the steering wheel retracts, when the car is in autonomous mode.  Should you opt to drive the car manually, the seats simply change to be forward facing and the steering wheel slides out automatically.  The lounge-style seating also provides an easy exit for passengers, as the chairs rotate up to 30 degrees when the doors are opened, making it quite easy for passengers to step out.

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Interior Instrument Panel Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Interior Instrument Panel Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

The interior promotes communication between passenger, car and the outside environment via six screens cleverly integrated into the car’s front instrument panel, rear and side panels.  Interaction between vehicle and passenger occurs via gestures, eye-tracking or touch screen.  The car even senses the user’s hands, offering operating options within comfortable reach, depending on the passenger’s location in the car.  Finally, the screens also provide a visual display of the car’s movement on the road.

It was important to Mercedes-Benz the car be safe, yet lightweight.  This was achieved by using a combination of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, aluminum and high strength steel.  This allowed engineers to shave off 40% of the standard weight of cars in production today.  The engineers also designed the doors in a saloon style, with the rear doors positioned on rear hinges.  Front and rear doors open to a 90 degree angle, ensuring the spacious interior can be accessed from all sides.  Because of the design, they also eliminated the B pillars without losing valuable structure needed for safety.  An interconnected system comprised of locking mechanisms ensures the high safety standards are met.  When front and rear doors are closed at the same time, these mechanisms fix them tightly to the roof frame and side skirts, allowing a large amount of impact to be absorbed should the car be hit from the front or side, causing minimal damage to the passenger compartment.

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

While autonomous driving might seem to be a far off dream, the strides
Mercedes-Benz has already made in the semi-autonomous category, with features like DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, Stop&Go Pilot semi-autonomous traffic jam vehicle following function, and Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC, make it seem like an achievable endeavor.  They also proved in August 2013 autonomous driving is a closer reality than we may think when the close-to-production Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE completed a 100km (62 mile) trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim fully autonomously.  Mercedes-Benz is nothing if not nostalgic, as that happens to be the same route Bertha Benz traveled in 1888 on the first long distance drive ever done in an automobile.

It’s hard for me personally to wrap my head around not having to drive my car.  I also wonder ultimately how safe it is to have a bunch of computers navigating the often clogged streets of Los Angeles.  While I find the prospect of this technology quite exciting and intriguing, I also find it scary.  As we develop more technology, and become more reliant on machines, we become complacent.  Imagine a world where no one actually knew how to drive.  Don’t get me wrong.  Driving can be utterly painful, particularly when sitting at a dead stop on the 405.  However, there is nothing more freeing than hitting the open road on a lazy Sunday afternoon and letting the horsepower rip.  I feel sorry for the city-dwellers of the future who will likely never experience that feeling.  Rather they will be stuck inside their autonomous car bubbles, furiously working away with all the valuable time they’ve saved by not having to drive and not taking the time to enjoy the ride.  Is this sad or progress?  I’ll let you, the reader, be the judge of that.