Mercedes Benz: The Star is Re-Rising

The Car Family

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I had committed the ultimate sin while driving PCH by leaving more than a foot between the Mercedes Bluetec diesel I was driving and the car in front of me.

Perhaps I was lulled into this error by the quiet nature of this E Class sedan, or maybe it was the inordinate amount of time I spent staring at the miles per gallon readout which, despite bumper to bumper traffic, was still indicating 34 mpg for this 4000 pound luxury car. Suddenly, a red Porsche cabriolet slashed into my lane. Knowing that the driver had apparently not mastered the art of using a turn signal I felt compelled to point this out to him. Before I had a chance to share my wisdom he had cut into another lane and within minutes was nearly two cars ahead of me. In Malibu PCH time that is the equivalent of nearly an hour. I decided to catch him using the monkey see monkey do method. Sure enough the diesel’s tremendous low-end torque enabled the Mercedes sedan to keep pace with Mr. Porsche. Soon we were challenging his manhood by pulling ahead of him. It was worth every point on my driving record.

Indeed, the Bluetec is just one of several cars Mercedes has updated to meet the changing needs of a more demanding consumer. Driving the various new models new it is obvious that its star is on the rise again. The 2008 models are loaded with features, have simplified the Command center that controls many creature comforts, and make them, dare we say, much more BMWish in driving manners. Add to this delicious dish is the buyer’s ability to have his or her Mercedes go through the AMGization process and end up with at least 475 horsepower. Just starting the big Benz engine sets off every car alarm in the block, makes your car insurance company happy, and enables you to get to the Starbucks drive-thru first. 

However, the big news at Mercedes is its all new C Class. With a larger interior, much improved handling, a smooth ride, and an abundance of both active and reactive safety features. It is also loaded with features that include an optional hard-drive-based GPS and a surround-sound system. The C Class is available in several forms and can be equipped with all wheel drive. Depending on how it’s ordered you can have a classic luxury sedan or a street scorcher. We like the in-between Sport model with larger tires, a tad tighter ride, and a more modern look. Fuel mileage for almost all Mercedes products is from 20 mpg up in the daily PCH crawl. We have gotten over 25 mpg but we had to stay in the Volkswagen bus lane to do it.

Need more attention and room; the ubiquitous E Class sedan can transform itself from mild manner sedan into uber wagon by just begging for the E63 version. You’ll want to bring home the pizza yourself with its 507 horsepower ready to keep your pepperoni hot. Faster than a non-turbo Porsche, this Mercedes also comes as a sedan should you not want to be the fastest soccer mom in the known world by being able to pass just about everything except a gas station. If you want to pass that station order the Bluetec diesel and test your kidney capacity with a range of over 600 miles. A great way to test a marriage.

Once the divorce is final the two-seater SL hardtop convertible just might be your loving companion. It is the ultimate luxury roadster and is readily prepared to drop its velvet glove to reveal a hardened fist with either its standard 382 horsepower V8 or the $189,000 AMG SL65 version with over 600 horsepower. The power-operated retractable hardtop is standard on all Mercedes SL-Class convertibles and provides a quieter, more secure feel to this four-wheeled pheromone. Space is limited, but how much room can an overnight case and a toothbrush or two take up?

The four seater CLK500 comes as a convertible or coupe. We love the AMG convertible the most with the CLK63 and its 475 horsepower.  A bargain at about $90,000 this is one delicate looking flower that doesn’t mind competition.

Mercedes also is offering its larger S Class four door and the hot selling CL Class sedan with its coupe looking styling. The engine choice depends on the depth of your gas credit card and includes the V12-powered CL600. If you really want to reach the stars the CL65 AMG features a 604-hp twin-turbo V12 painted in “liquid metal” to celebrate AMG’s 40th anniversary. This one is guaranteed parking in front of any valet-equipped restaurant.

For those who want to be seen in something as rare as a parking spot on PCH try the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. With its long nose it better have something to keep from being tormented by every rhinoplasty surgeon and that it does with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 that stirs up 641 horsepower with a top speed estimated at about 210 mph. Complete with semi-gullwing doors and a giddy-up ride this is the new flagship for Mercedes rising star.

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Estimated Mercedes prices in dollars. For Euro prices multiple by two.

C Class $31,000-$38,000

CLK $46,200-$89,200

CLS $66,900-$92,200

E Class $50,900-$85,800

M Class $43,650-$86,650

S Class : $86,700-$194,000

SL : $95,300-$187,200

SLR McLaren 10 feet of beachfront