Building a 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Positioned as the entry point to the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the all-new A-Class sedan is available in front or all-wheel-drive and is based on the same platform as the CLA, which Mercedes-Benz refers to as a coupe, offering more space and practicality. Exterior styling is conservative and proportions are tidy. Inside, the brand’s latest design language translates well into the A-Class with a more cohesive and upscale look than can be found in the CLA, or GLA for that matter.

Technology and safety features from higher up in the Mercedes-Benz lineup have found their way into the A-Class. A suite of advanced safety features is available as is an extra large touch-screen interface. With a starting price in the low $30’s, the A-Class is the least expensive model in the brand’s lineup and it’s aggressively positioned against the Audi A3, its closest rival. Let’s build one and explore the A-Class in detail.

Models:

Two models are initially available for the A-Class, the front-wheel-drive A 220 and all-wheel-drive A 220 4Matic. Both have identical 0-60 mph performance and are propelled by a 2.0L inline-4 turbocharged engine that produces 188 hp and is matched to a 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission. The A 220 has a starting price of $32,500, with 4Matic costing an extra two grand. We’ll select the front-wheel-drive model to keep the price in check and allow room for options. Let’s proceed to the next stage of the build.

Colors & Wheels:

The color palette for the A 220 is fairly bland, with only bright Jupiter Red standing out. However, in some ways understated colors fit the conservative design of the A-Class. Denim Blue metallic is a pleasing grayish-blue that is more interesting than the several blacks and grays on offer. A charge of $720 is incurred for metallic pain.

In terms of wheels, the standard 17-inch 10-spoke design best fits the proportions of the A-Class, which can be overpowered by the optional larger wheels. Time to move on to the interior.

Interior:

The cabin is nicely executed with a unique design that is visually distinctive from the other sedans in the brand’s lineup. The a section of the dashboard spans from door to door for an airy and modern look. Finely detailed circular HVAC vents and metalwork detailing throughout the cabin impart an upscale feel. The flat-bottomed steering wheel with brightwork adds an a classic appearance.

As you might expect, MB-Tex upholstery comes standard while leather is optional. Since leather comes standard on the Audi A3 and has some superior qualities to MB-Tex, we’ll spring for that on the A 220 at a cost of $1,450. Unfortunately, the lovely Macchiato upholstery which brightens up the cabin and provides a nice contrast against the dark carpeting and dashboard is only available in MB-Tex. Bahia Brown is the nicest leather interior color available and goes nicely with the blue exterior. The optional walnut trim ($325) add a touch of warmth and elegance to the interior, so let’s select that and move on to options and package.

Options & Packages:

Here we have the opportunity to outfit the A 220 with luxury features like heated and ventilated front seats ($1,030), a heated steering wheel ($250), and 64-color ambient interior lighting ($310). All of these options are reasonably priced and well worth the investment. Curiously, multicontour front seats are not available with this upholstery selection.


The Premium Package ($1,550) brings safety and convenience features, while the Mutimedia Package ($1,150) provides advanced navigation features. Additional options that are must-haves include KEYLESS-GO ($550), wireless charging ($200) and an upgraded sound system ($850). This selection nicely outfits the A 220 with a high level of safety and convenience features.

Summary:

That brings our build of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A 220 to a close with a final price of $40,885 before destination. That places it squarely in line with a well-equipped Audi A3. With fresh styling, a functional interior and smartly priced options and packages, the A-Class is sure to appeal to entry-level shoppers that may have found the CLA too small and the C-Class too expensive.

While the A-Class can be equipped with more sporting details and styling than this build, the performance angle is best left to the CLA, at least until an AMG version of the A-Class is released.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

Which Generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class Looks Best?

A style icon and international status symbol, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been a force to be reckoned with in the full-size luxury sedan segment. Today we’ll look back at four generations of the S-Class, starting with the 1992-1999 third-generation S-Class, known as W140, and ending with the current S-Class, the W222, which was introduced in the U.S. for model year 2014.

1992-1999 S-Class (W140)

Often referred to as “over-engineered” this generation S-Class was clearly synthesized during the decadent 80’s. It launched after years of delays amid a global recession in the 90’s and was perceived as overly complex. The W140 was too late in its development stages when the extraordinary 1989 Lexus LS hit the market costing tens of thousands of dollars less, so upon its arrival the W140’s value proposition was called into question. In terms of styling the W140 took the elegant and imposing lines of the previous generation and essentially super-sized them. Trapezoidal tail lights were joined by a decorative horizonal strip along the truck opening. The A- and D-pillars were both sharply angled and the bodysides were intersected with decorate color-coded plastic trim on early models and with bodycolor paint below a scuff guard on later versions. The no-nonsense interior was beautifully constructed and classically Teutonic, but did not move the style needle forward much, as it was essentially an update on the prior generation. The overall effect was imposing and solemn, the W140 S-Class was a big and serious looking vehicle, both inside and out. Holding a place in the ultra-luxury sphere, the 1992 S-Class has a starting MSRP of $69,400, a staggering $25,100 more than the 1992 Lexus LS’s starting MSRP of $44,300.

2000-2006 S-Class (W220)

Lightness would come in the form of the fourth-generation S-Class, known as W220, which was introduced for the 2000 model year and sold through 2006. Physically and stylistically less heavy than its predecessor, sweeping lines and sculpted bodysides replaces the slab-sided and boxy aesthetic of old. The S-Class’s dimensions also downsized slightly during this generation, although interior space increased due to creative packaging. Ovoid headlamps echoed the E-Class and Maybach concept car and the tail lamps had more style flourishes than the staid previous generation. Sweeping changes came to the interior as well. Described as “Italianate”, generously applied wood trim enveloped the cabin and circular lines replaced squared-off shapes and this was the first S-Class to feature an integrated navigation system. The W220 was a big leap forward in terms of style, however quality suffered as the automaker sought to achieve cost savings to better compete with the Lexus LS. The 2000 S-Class had a starting MSRP of $69,700 for the V-8 S430, down from an MSRP of $73,900 for the equivalent 1999 S420, opening up accessibility and leading to this generation being the best-selling S-Class to date. For comparison, by 2000 the Lexus LS400 MSRP has risen to $54,005, narrowing the price gap to $15,695.

2007-2014 S-Class (W220)

Marking a return to its boxy and imposing roots, the fifth-generation S-Class, known as W220, picked up styling cues, especially in the rear, from the Maybach. It looked more substantial both inside and out than the previous generation, with increased dimensions and a noticeably taller trunk line. Higher quality materials lined the interior which featured a layered and more complex design, and enhanced infotainment capabilities. Readily available AMG packages saw many S-Classes of this generation outfitted with aprons and large AMG wheels, which sat in juxtaposition to the formal lines. This shook off some of the design elements seem on the prior generation to adopt a more serve and brooding look, especially noticeable with the exaggerating rear wheel arches and sharply curved headlamps. Deploying the mid-size E-Class to battle it out with Lexus, this generation S-Class had a significant increase in its starting MSRP, jumping $15,700 from the 2000 model year MSRP to a starting price of $85,400 in 2007. The large price increase curtailed accessibility and reinforced S-Class exclusivity and pushing it well beyond the 2007 Lexus LS’s MSRP of $61,000 and creating a $24,400 gap between the models.

2015-Present S-Class (W222)

Smoothing out some of the harshness of the (*), the **** generation S-Class was introduced for model year ***** and is currently in production. This was more of an evolutionary design that is distinguished by downsized tail lamps which appear better integrated into the sheet metal, a graceful character line with scalloping along the doors replacing, toned down wheel arches and a softer contouring of the head lamp fixtures, which now incorporate three rows of LED daytime running lights. Inside, a large infotainment screen dominates the dash and is connected to the instrument panel. The blocky design found in the previous generation made way for more organic forms along the door panels and console and ornate speaker grilles became a design signature introduced on the S-Class that would make its way throughout the Mercedes-Benz range. The 2015 S-Class carried a starting MSRP of $92,900, a $7,500 increase over the 2007 W220’s starting price. Meanwhile, the 2015 Lexus LS’s pricing $75,465, leading to a price gap of $17,436 between the two models.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a mid-size luxury sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet that slots between the compact Mercedes-Benz C-Class and full-size Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the brand’s sedan lineup. A four-door coupe variant of the E-Class is also available, known as the CLS. The E-Class coddles passengers in a luxurious cabin and provides a decidedly serene driving experience with its regular variants and a sporty driving experience in AMG guise. Prices for the E-Class start from an MSRP of $52,950.

Pros: Comfortable Driving Experience, Stylish, Safety Score

Cons: V8 Only Available With Expensive AMG Trimline

Looks Best In: Cardinal Red exterior/Nut Brown interior

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Competition: BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Cadillac CT6, Lexus LS, Lincoln Continental, Genesis G80, Volvo S90

Safety Score: The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class was awarded the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick distinction.

Summary: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a top choice in the mid-size luxury segment, however there are several competitors that cost significantly less. Shoppers are advised to test drive a few entrants in this category to determine which is the best fit.

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[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

Street Sighting: Early 2000’s Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

Still a favorite design from the early 2000’s, the awkwardly beautiful Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe was sold in the U.S. from 2002-2005. It was positioned to make the brand more accessible to first time buyers, however it was widely criticized for its un-luxurious, albeit durable, interior and lack of dynamic handling. Still, it possessed an understated and rather striking design that has aged well over the years.

See more coverage of unusual 2000’s cars in our “2000 & Late” series:

2000 & Late: 2002-2005 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor

2000 & Late: 2002-2004 Nissan Altima

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[Images: Third Auto]

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA is an entry-level compact luxury sedan, and the least expensive vehicle in the brand’s lineup with a starting MSRP of $32,700. The CLA is marketed by Mercedes-Benz as a coupe due to its swoopy silhouette that echoes the larger four-door CLS. Overall, it’s a nice looking car both inside and out, however it lacks the substance some shopper might expect from the brand. With a front-wheel-drive based platform, the CLA offers less stability at the limit and when accelerating relative to the rear-wheel-drive platforms in the Mercedes-Benz lineup.

Pros: Taught Handling, Great Styling, Efficient, Performance Trims Available

Cons: Tight Cabin, Lacks Some Expected Standard Features, Firm Ride, Road Noise

Looks Best In: Mountain Grey exterior/Nut Brown interior

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Competition: Audi A3, Lexus IS, Volvo S60, Volkswagen Golf GTI, BMW 3 Series

Summary: The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA is a fun-to-drive car, however the price quickly escalates after adding in features like automatic climate control and heated seats. The CLA45 AMG is a sporting variant that offers an engaging driving experience. With its small interior and unrefined highway driving experience, the CLA is not as ideal a companion for long hauls as its rivals the Audi A3 and BMW 3 Series. However, for a slick and stylish city runabout the CLA offers prestige and panache for shoppers looking for an upgrade over a high-end trim level of a mainstream mid-size sedan.

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[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class (AKA G-Wagen)

The iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class, nee Geländewagen, is the brand’s most expensive and rugged luxury SUV, with pricing starts at an MSRP of $122,400. The high-riding G-Class might be thought of as an ultra-deluxe Jeep Wrangler, with its utilitarian, off-road focus. It can readily be spotted in rap videos looking “murdered out” with rims and a body kit. Inside, you’ll find all the opulence expected in a vehicle this expensive, but the upright driving position might take some getting used to. It’s a bit glam and over-the-top, but it fits the bill for drivers interested in experiencing something unique.

Pros: Major Curb Appeal, Supremely Capable Yet Luxurious

Cons: Inefficient, Outdated, Expensive

What You Should Know: Although available in two high-performance AMG versions, the standard G500 is plenty quick with a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds.

Looks Best In: Jade Green exterior/Saddle Brown interior

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class interior

Coolest Feature: Everything about the G-Wagon is pretty darn cool, in production since 1979, it was originally designed for military use.

Competition: Land Rover Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne

Summary: The 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is wonderfully absurd and has lots of character. More at home on the safari than the highway, with its inefficient design and cramped interior thanks to all of the off-roading hardware. For a more civilized and nearly as capable conveyance that has nearly the same sense of occasion, check out the Land Rover Range Rover.

Did You Know? According to Mercedes-Benz, there half a mile of thread in the G-Class interior with 45,000 stitches.

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[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is the brand’s compact four-seater convertible. With a starting price of $51,200, it is significantly less expensive than the larger E-Class Cabriolet which is nearly $15,000 more.

Pros: Stylish, Optional All-Wheel-Drive, Comfortable, Premium Features

Cons: Pricey, Small Interior

What You Should Know: The C-Class lineup is at the top of its class in terms of interior design and quality.

Looks Best In: Diamond White exterior/Black interior

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet exterior

2018 C-Class Cabriolet interior

Coolest Feature: Air Scarf is a feature which sends warm air through vents in the headrests, extends the convertible season into the chillier months.

Competition: BMW 3-Series, Audi A5

Summary: More relaxed and comfortable than its main rival, the BMW 3 Series, the 2018 C-Class Cabriolet has a classy design and some great comfort features. Available all-wheel-drive makes it ideal for any season.

Did You Know? 20 seconds is all it takes to raise or lower the power roof

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[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

Luxury Brand Sales in October 2017

Wow, Lexus and BMW were neck and neck in October sales! Even closer were Audi and Buick, just a few hundred units difference. Mercedes-Benz numbers includes 2,446 van sales, when we remove those the monthly tall comes out to 29,623, still well ahead of second place BMW.

So, what is Mercedes-Benz doing so right to be this far ahead? A combination of a robust SUV lineup and its push downmarket with the CLA and GLA have postured the brand to acquire more sales than BMW, which currently has no sedan below the $34,900 3 Series, while Mercedes-Benz has the CLA starting at $32,400. On the SUV side, BMW has no GLS competitor, which Mercedes-Benz sold 2,920 of in October. We hear an X7 is on this way, however until then we expect Mercedes-Benz to continue to eat BMW’s lunch.

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Looking at the mid-level of sales, Cadillac and Acura are very close. Will the new XT5 allow Cadillac to power ahead of Acura’s aging SUV lineup? About one thousand units separate Lincoln and Volvo. With both brands experiencing a renaissance of sorts, who will move ahead and who will fall back, like whoa?

xt5

Moving on to the low-volume brands, Land Rover and Porsche  were within a few hundred units. Meanwhile, Jaguar is being encroached on by two newcomers to the U.S. market. Genesis and Alfa Romeo both accumulated decent sales numbers given their lack of presence in the marketplace. Behind Alfa Romero and rounding out the group is Maserati with just over one thousand units sold.

As the year-end push gets aggressive within throughout the final months of the year as automakers and dealers look to move as much metal as possible, it will be very interesting to see how the current state evolve. Be sure to check in with Third Auto as we track every step of the way.

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[Images: Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac]

2000 & Late: 2002-2005 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor

You might say that it was something of forbearer to the current day CLA, the 2002 C230 Sport Coupe was an entry point into the Mercedes-Benz dynasty at the dawn of the millennium. Fifteen years later, the design has aged incredibly well. The aerodynamic front with its swept back fascia still looks fresh and the tall rear treatment, which seemed awkward upon launch, almost looks fresher in 2017 when tall rear treatments are on trend.

c230rear.jpg

The Mercedes-Benz C230 Sport Coupe still looks modern nearly 16 year later.

civiccoupe

The latest Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra feature the tall stubby look, much like the C230 Sport Coupe.

Hyundai and Honda have a similar tall and stubby backend on the latest version of the Civic and Elantra. It’s almost as if the C230 grew into its looks over time, which is not often the case.

Comparing the 2002 C230 to the CLA, the older design seems to have a sense of purpose and solidity missing on the low-slung CLA. Front-wheel-drive proportions play a role, but there also something more honest about the C230’s purposeful design that makes the CLA seems too flashy and a bit gimmicky, like it’s trying too hard. Long live the reverse-aging C230.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz, Honda]