February 28, 2005

Mercedes Sports Tourers: Good News & Bad News

mercedes_bclass.jpg, cribbed from jalopnik.com, but I'm sure it's not theirs, either.The Mercedes I've been waiting to see is the R-Series, a large, sleek wagon--Ach, don't call it a wagon!--Grand Sports Touring crossover/hybrid concept whatever. It's been making the auto show rounds as the Vision R, and it goes on sale in the US this fall with a 5.0-l V-8, 7-speed transmission, permanent all-wheel drive, and lots of room for six people.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes I've always wanted is the A-class, the tall, wedge-shaped mini sedan which is the Vision's precursor, and which has done well in Europe. There was talk of the A-class coming to the US some day, but it's always been kept a couple of years off.

Now it turns out the similar B-class, a much smaller, much cheaper version of the R-class, was slated to go on sale in the US this year, but it's been delayed indefinitely because of currency fluctuations.

At under $30,000 it was supposed to be the advanced, new, entry-level Benz. According to US media reports, though, it's just as well; it's a difficult car to market, with an untested target market, price sensitivity blah blah blah.

Hm, that's strange, because the B-class is going on sale in Canada this fall, and it doesn't sound like they have any problems marketing it. In fact, according to the MBCA CEO, it sounds pretty damn sweet:

"I'm sure it will be a cool car for younger people, attracting young families as well as people who have another Mercedes-Benz car already. It will be one of our emotional products, going through the ages and through the social positions."

The B-class is a Sports Tourer in Mercedes' lexicon, which means it "meets the wishes of today's motorists for a car with generous space, exemplary comfort, excellent practicality, an exciting design and a high level of driving pleasure."

Next thing you know, they'll have extended parental leave and super-cheap childcare, too.

For Euro-Eyes Only: Mercedes B-Class to Debut at Geneva [edmunds.com, via jalopnik]
Mercedes B Targets Younger Buyers [globeandmail.com]
Mercedes B-Klasse European debut site [mercedes-benz.com]


Can I just mention that I have an ML and its great an all, hello, its a merc. BUT....its so frickin' expensive to fix, like UNBELIEVABLY so, actually. I can't imagine that anything entry level for Merc would be any different. It ranks above VOLVO even, for costly repairs and maintenance. And, I would recommend the maintenance from Mercedes directly as it ups the resale value.

PS, I bought it used for not so much money, cuz I'm not trying to say I'm rich or anything!

When my wife and I were touring around Germany visiting friends and family, we wanted to rent either an A-Klasse or a smart car. the smart car was out the window, once I saw the space (or lack of) for luggage. The rental agency wanted to upgrade us to a larger car, but I said I wanted the A-Klasse due to its absence in n.America. we got it, drove down the Mosel, and loved it. we even contemplated the idea of buying one and bringing it home, then looked at the price.

the only thing we didn't like was how it felt on the Autobahn -- somehow it had the speed but none of the bulk to handle the large trucks and other much faster cars.

I'm not a real big fan of the current Mercedes offerings--most are electronically complex (to a fault), while others are just pieces of crap (the ML--never buy one!).

I was interested in the new B-class, but alas, we are too poor to pay for them. My guess is that we get some Chryslerfied version in a year or two, ala the 300 and the Dodge Magnum (Which are downgraded E class rigs), or the Crossfire (SLK).

That said, most current Merc cars are nightmares to maintain. I miss my old 220D highschool/college cruiser that never broke. In fact, there was nothing to break. (Manual windows, etc...--and no, I'm not a Luddite.)

I just didn't want a minivan, and I didn't want an SUV either and the ML (which I bought used) was a good alternative at the time. Besides, being eurotrash, I had to have the obligatory matching vehicles. To go with my boom boom euro-crazed e-addled sensibilities. You are right of course, its been in the shop EVERY three months.

I keep telling myself everytime I see one, the the Nissan's are So frickin' lovely. Now, I am locked in becuase my hubby is such a heimi(how does one spell HEIMY/HEIMI/HIMY????).....cheap bugger, and can't imagine trading it in unless you've driven it into the ground!

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