Viewing posts tagged Mercedes

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel worth the 15 year wait?

Mercedes is serious about offering S-Class buyers a lot of choice when it comes to the engine that will power their Benz. Today, buyers can choose from six unique and compelling powerplants that deliver big on everything from raw power to fuel economy.

Want a 621-horsepower V-12 four door sedan? You’ve got it in the S65 AMG. Maybe you fancy all the luxury but really wanted a hybrid.  No need to worry, because MB also offers the S400.The most popular model, the S550, offers some middle ground.  A 4.6L Twin-Turbo V8 producing 429-horsepower.  If those options are not right for you, then a 510-horsepower S600 and 536-horsepower S63 AMG will most likely be right up your alley. Even with an all you can eat powertrain buffet, one type of engine has been noticeably absent in S-Class.  A diesel.

2012 marks the year that a diesel engine option returns to the US S-Class for the first time since 1996.  In the US, cheaper priced gas mixed with misconceptions about diesel have fueled a negative perception about the use of diesel in cars. In reality, diesel makes a great choice in cars for many reasons.  While it may be a more expensive fuel per gallon, diesel engines provide a significant increase in fuel economy.  Diesels are also fun to drive, producing power in a more usable and lower RPM range compared to their gasoline counterparts.

The S350 BlueTEC is powered by a 3.0L turbodiesel. It’s the same basic engine that you’ll find on other Mercedes BlueTEC models that are currently on the market, but slightly more powerful.  It produces a not so great looking 240-horsepower, but in reality that’s not very worrisome.  Because it’s turbocharged, the diesel engine in the S350 produces an earth moving 455 lb-ft of torque.

Think  four-door super luxury sedan that punches you in the gut every time you throw down the throttle.

We drove the S350 on the streets of downtown Boston and came away with the impression that the car is a bruising sleeper. First off, you’d never know it was a diesel unless someone told you. It’s that quiet and that smooth. Secondly, the low end punch on acceleration is impressive for any car, let alone one of this size.

Along with brute force, the BlueTEC diesel also satisfies the fuel miser in all of us.  Able to get an estimated 31-mpg on the highway, the S350 rates 5-mpg better than the S400 hybrid or the popular S550.  That’s right, the diesel S350 out performs the hybrid S400 on city and highway fuel economy by a large margin. The S350 also comes standard with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, which is sure to make northerners happy.

To top everything off, the S350 is the second cheapest in the S-Class lineup. It’s $92,550 base price is only $700 more expensive than the S400 Hybrid.  The specifications of the S350 nearly make the S400 Hybrid obsolete.  All-wheel-drive and a 5-mpg gain on the highway seems to be a great deal for only $700 more.

But not everything about the S350 is better. Because it’s a “clean diesel”, the S350 uses a diesel exhaust fluid to curb emissions. The fluid must be refilled periodically, but Mercedes believes that most owners will never have to worry about filling the separate 7-gallon tank (located under the spare tire).  This is because a full tank should only need to be refilled beyond the 10,000 dealer maintenance interval, and thus will be topped off by dealers.

Owners who want to refill on their own can do so relatively easy since the process only requires removing the spare tire.

The bottom line

We drove the S350 BlueTEC around Boston and came away impressed.  The low end torque is outstanding and the fuel economy is impressive.  Mercedes diesels have proven to be bullet proof, so expect the engine in the S350 to keep churning for as long as you keep the car around it intact. It may have taken Mercedes-Benz 15 years to offer a diesel engine in the S-Class again but as far as we can see it was well worth the wait.

We’re itching to spend more time in the S350 and hope to do so late next month.  Look for our full review then.




Mercedes nears almost perfection with the all-new 2010 GLK compact SUV

Finally, Mercedes has made an everyday SUV that is rave worthy. I could go on for hours about the G wagon, which could probably drive on the moon, but that’s not considered a daily driver SUV by most of us.

No, the Mercedes SUV that has left me impressed is the new 2010 GLK 350. It’s the first in the Mercedes lineup that drives like a Mercedes sedan. It’s the Mercedes for the person who wants to combine an SUV with the legendary luxury of the Mercedes sedan. To me, it’s the Mercedes C class you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

Lest anybody accuse me of plagiarism, I want to include this quotation from the Mercedes press material verbatim because it is spot on: “At first glance, the new GLK appears to be a smaller version of the GL, but a closer look reveals a modern interpretation of the iconic G-Class. In sharp contrast to the relatively soft forms of other similar-sized vehicles, the striking, angular nose of the GLK sets it apart from the competition.”

Not quite sure the politically correct way to put this, but Mercedes SUVs (except for the G wagon) are pretty wimpy looking. They tend to say “Bloated sedan coming through.” They lack attitude. I like the GLK because it doesn’t strive for anonymity. It makes a bold statement just like Mercedes used to make with everything it sold. OK, time to steal one more line from the press kit: “(T)he bullish shape of the new GLK suggests power and agility.”

The GLK350 is powered by 268-horsepower, a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 258 lb-ft of torque. It leaves a driver wanting for nothing in any situation. Mercedes says its 0-60 time is a downright spirited 6.5 seconds for its two-ton weight. This is a true Autobahn crawler so it likes to run along seamlessly at 80 mph forever. So, it’s best to use cruise control, especially during a holiday weekend.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

There’s just one problem. The cruise control system Mercedes has is despicable. It’s a stick on the left side of the steering wheel that your fingers constantly think are the turn signals. Now, I read a surprising statistic recently that only 10 percent of drivers use their turn signals, but I’m still old fashion. About the only time I don’t use them is when I’ve inadvertently engaged the cruise control instead.

The GLK also presents a comfortable level of safety. Standard equipment includes front and side air bags as well as window and knee air bags. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive system comes with electronic stability control and adaptive braking, which features hill-start assist, priming of the brake system for more spontaneous response in the event of panic braking and using braking to dry the discs in wet weather. An additional safety boost comes from the headlight system with integrated cornering light function and headlamp assist.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

I’m a bulky guy so I don’t complain when a vehicle presents a challenge because I’m the problem. However, I do like compact vehicles that welcome my entrance. The GLK 350 is an easy vehicle to get in and out of. Passenger comfort is great. Two six footers can sit behind one another comfortably as demonstrated during a recent press trip to upstate New York.

I was at Bear Mountain to take part in an International Motor Press Association event called Spring Brake (clever name, don’t you think?). Anyway, the day involved the opportunity to drive up to 55 different makes and models. At the end of the day, I found myself wanting to get behind the wheel of the GLK. I liked it so much that I finagled an extra day in it.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

The one thing I don’t like about the GLK, but mostly because I’m cheap, is its required 91 octane. This SUV would be perfect in my book if it ran on 87 octane (or better yet came in a diesel version). It’s EPA rated at 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. Neither number is going to blow your socks off, especially with the more expensive recommended fuel.

The new GLK350, with standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, is priced at $35, 900, plus an $875 destination fee. The GLK350 with rear-wheel-drive is priced at $33,900 plus the $875 delivery fee. Frankly, I don’t find this pricey at all for a Mercedes SUV.

(Questions and comments about this review and other automotive concerns can be e-mailed to [email protected] All queries are answered.)

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 Specifications

Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 178.3 inches
Width: 79.4 inches
Height: 66.9 inches
Curb weight: 4036 lbs.
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 268 hp
Torque: 258 lb. ft.
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/22
Base price: $33,900
As-tested price: $35,900
Also consider: Acura RDX, Mazda CX7, Volvo XC60

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 Photo Gallery