Seen in Detroit – Crashing the Mercedes-Benz Stand

It occurred to me that if I keep posting about individual cars, you’ll still be hearing about Detroit in August. So I decided to speed things up. A little.

Each manufacturer has its own stand at the show, and each stand has its own personality. Having been to three shows in a row, I have observed that most stands have the same location each year, with some changes to layout and design. (Or not – I think Lincoln has done the exact same thing the last three years.) The dynamic and energy is a bit different year on year, though. Volkswagen was dead this year. Chevy has had a jolt the last two years from the Corvette.

In my opinion, Mercedes and Audi have the most dynamic and energetic displays of the show. Perhaps because they bring the most damn cars. And their cars look fabulous. Since there is so much loveliness to see, I thought I’d take you on a little tour of both. Mercedes first.

The news at Mercedes was the debut of the new C-Class. The C has traditionally been the entry-level Mercedes, the small four-door sedan. In 2013, Mercedes introduced the CLA, a great-looking, small four-door intended to carry the entry-level mantle. At less than $30,000, ostensibly. So the C-Class is getting bumped up, in size, features and luxury. Detroit was our first chance to see what that looked like. Expect the 2015 C-Class in dealerships in fall 2014, with a choice of two engines: an inline 4-cylinder or a V-6. Probably a low-to-mid-$40k starting price.

There was also the debut of the 12-cylinder version of the brand-new S-Class, M-B’s mothership. And the S-Class Concept Coupe, a conceptual two-door version of the S-Class sedan (and, alphabetically, the replacement for the CL-Class, which has long been the coupe version of the S-Class). Confused yet?

THEN there is the new GLA, a little crossover. (Not to be confused with the GLK, which is also a little crossover. Or the GL. Which is the big SUV. Or the G. Which is a $100,000 box.) And, horror upon horrors, an AMG version of the GLA. Like BMW’s M, AMG produces high-performance variants of certain Mercedes models. Well, ALL Mercedes models now, I guess. Although the GLA45 AMG is dropped a couple of inches lower than the regular GLA, so it now looks like a hot hatch. Which, of course, I love. I want to be an elitist, but I can’t! A hot hatch will do it every time.

Oh, AND the CLA45 AMG, which I should also sniff at but can’t because it looks damn good.

Okay, enough editorializing. Photos!

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The new C-Class. They now come in “Luxury” and “Sport,” which you can tell by (among other things) the grille. The white one in the foreground of this photo is a “Sport.”

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The “Luxury” grille.

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The caboose. It looks like a baby S-Class now.

Here’s a better shot of the “Sport” grille:

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A seriously upscale interior.

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C class interior

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C class interior 3

C class interior 4

I’m predicting a very successful launch for the 2015 C-Class, following on the heels of Mercedes’ hit with the CLA. Both are just lovely.

Here’s the CLA:

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Great lines, fabulous taillights. The AMG version is killer.

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A sportier interior, although it felt a bit cheaper than the C.

CLA interior

CLA interior 2

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The special AMG gear-shifter. I so wish Mercedes had a manual. Paddle shifters are a poor substitute.

CLA paddle

CLA seat

Thin sport seats and red seat belts. Just the way we like them.

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Mmm mmm. I like.

The S-Class Coupe Concept was also quite lovely. It was hard to get good photos, because the Mercedes stand has problematic lighting for certain colors. But you can at least get a sense of it.

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S class coupe

And its sibling, the world benchmark S-Class…

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I just realized that, for about the price of my house, I could have just bought an S-Class and lived comfortably in it. Blast.

S class interior 2

S class interior 3

S class interior 4

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The back seat – about the size of my living room, and with more comfortable furniture.

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It’ll do, eh?

Oh, and then…here’s a regular GLA.

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And here’s a slammed GLA45 AMG. Tee hee.

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I’m totally digging the little dude.

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Then… AMG engines!

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Each AMG engine is handcrafted and personally signed.

The engine shown above is the 5.5L V-8 biturbo found in the E63 AMG sedan.

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Here it is in the foreground staring down its smaller sibling, the 2.0L I4 turbo found in the CLA45 AMG.

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Another view of the V-8. Quite a monster.

And here is the 4-cylinder:

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Also handcrafted and signed.

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Lastly, I had a few celebrity sightings.

MB Dr. Z

The guy with the mustache is Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Daimler AG, Mercedes’ parent company, and head of Mercedes Cars. He’s kind of a big deal. We have the same birthday, exactly 30 years apart.

MB Steve Cannon

The guy in the blue tie talking to the guy in glasses is Steve Cannon, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. Deservedly enjoying Mercedes’ recent successes on our shores.

Yes, I’m a nerd. But seeing those two was very cool.

MB stand

As you can tell from the photos (which didn’t even include all the cars!), Mercedes had a great stand this year – beautiful cars, lots of activity. Attention to the smallest detail.

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Looking forward to taking some of these cars out on the road someday. You know you’ll be hearing all about it!

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