Thursday, 08 December 2022

Competition is tough in the luxury sedan world these days — with stout offerings available from upstarts like Genesis as well as long-standing segment leaders such as Audi and BMW.

One brand that always puts up a good fight in this arena is Mercedes-Benz, and their midsize sedan offering, the E-class, should never be left out of the discussion of top luxury rides.

The E-class slots between Mercedes’ smaller C-class and larger S-class. WIth a history of offering sharp looks inside and out, a powerful and smooth ride, as well as leading tech and safety options, it has a strong past to live up to.

The 2022 E-class model sees some minor upgrades in terms of features offered, as well as some new paint schemes — but it’s core competencies remain strong. It’s a sporty ride masquerading as a family sedan, featuring exquisite design and powerful performance.

The 2022 E-class is available as a sedan, coupe, convertible or wagon. I recently spent some time behind the week of a 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 sedan, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up vs. its luxury competition.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

Mercedes-Benz is one of the leading contenders across the board in the luxury vehicle category, and one area where the luxury brands are battling for supremacy is in the flagship three-row SUV category.

The Benz offering here is the GLS class — which goes head-to-head with U.S. stalwarts like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, as well as global SUV offerings from BMW, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus and Range Rover.

A three-row luxury SUV with comfortable seating for seven people, the GLS pulls out all the stops in a bid for category supremacy. But is it enough?

I recently spent some time in a 2022 GLS 450, and I’m back with a full report.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

What a season! What a finale!

No, I’m not talking about NASCAR. I’m talking about Formula One, which wrapped up its 2021 season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with a race that won’t soon be forgotten.

And everyone who follows the sport should take the time to appreciate what has just happened, regardless of who they root for on the track.

Tied in points entering the season’s final race, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were in a position where the driver who finished ahead of the other would be the champion.

Very much like the four-car NASCAR finale, except it came about naturally during a season of tight competition between the two best racers in F1.

To say this level of competition in F1 is rare would be an understatement. Most years in F1, there is a dominant driver who wins most of the races, and rarely does the points battle come down to the wire like this. If this season had been written by Hollywood screen writers, they couldn’t have done a better job.

Max and Lewis — who both put in performances this year worth of a champion — were at each other’s throats year-round (and at one point, Max’s Red Bull Racing car was literally on top of Lewis’ Mercedes ride).

While the drivers tend to remain cordial, the team principals (Christian Horner for Red Bull, and Toto Wolff for Mercedes) are generally less friendly, trading barbs on a regular basis throughout the intense battle of 2021.

Sunday’s race at Abu Dhabi brough controversy right from the start. On Lap 1, Verstappen made a move to pass Hamilton for the lead, but Hamilton went off track and kept the lead. Instead of ordering Hamilton to give P1 to Verstappen for exceeding track limits, they let Hamilton keep the position. In my view, this was the wrong move, but all the Red Bull team could do was press on and do their best.

Unfortunately for Red Bull, for most of the race, Mercedes was the class of the field, with Hamilton stretching out his lead. There was a nice assist from Red Bull teammate “Checo” Perez to hold up Hamilton and get Verstappen closer behind Hamilton, but heading into the final laps it was clear that a miracle was needed for Verstappen to pull out the win and the championship.

Of all things, that miracle involved backmarkers, and it happened when Mick Schumacher, son of 7-time F1 champ Michael Schumacher, got into an incident with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, and Latifi ended up in the fence. The safety car was deployed, allowing Verstappen to pit and get a new set of soft tires and be right next to his title rival for the final restart.

But hold on! Would Verstappen be next to Hamilton? Or would he have several lapped cars between himself and Hamilton? At first, it appeared the lapped cars would be an impediment to Verstappen on the final racing lap, but Race Director Michael Masi decided at the last minute to order the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass the safety car, moving Verstappen alongside his title competitor.

From there, with Verstappen’s new tires, it was almost a foregone conclusion what would happen. Five turns into the final, one-lap shootout, Verstappen passed Hamilton and took home his first F1 title, a title that I’m sure will be the first of many for this young man. At only 24 years old, and driving one of the sport’s dominant cars, there’s a good chance he’ll contend annually and can run off a string of titles like Hamitlon, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have done in the past. 

Having competed in Formula One since he was a teenager, Verstappan has the talent and experience of a veteran, and well over a decade left on his driving career at the highest level of motorsport. There’s no doubt he could be rewriting the record books by the time he’s done, just like Hamilton has done this past decade.

But getting back to today’s race: Was the right call made? Should Max have been next to Lewis on that final restart? Despite protests from Mercedes, the stewards are sticking by their decisions. F1 stewards have dismissed both of Mercedes’ protests, upholding that Max Verstappen is the winner and 2021 World Champion

In a quote that will be long remembered, after hearing complaints from Mercedes’ Wolff about the decision making at the end of the race, Masi replied: “Toto, it’s called a motor race. We went car racing.”

I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

There are the purists who will say that according the F1 rules, once the lapped cars has passed the safety car, it legally had to wait another lap to come in. But had that been allowed to happen, the race would have finished under the safety car, with no final lap run at all.

I can’t think of a worse way to decide a Formula One world championship  — especially one this hard-fought all year long — than finishing under a safety car, so I applaud the decision to have it decided on the track in a one-lap shootout.

There will be further protests and lawsuits, and perhaps some monetary damages assessed if Mercedes can plead its case to the right people. But make no mistake, Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing won this race, and they are the champions. That is not going to change, and I’m willing to bet this marks the end of Mercedes recent dynasty in the sport of F1, and the dawn of a new one starring Red Bull.

I applaud Lewis Hamilton for a great season. He put on some spectacular drives, and did everything he could to try to win a record 8th title. He’s a classy individual, who uses his position to advocate for important causes, and as long as he races will be continue to be a leader in the sport of F1 and beyond.

But the Red Bull Racing team has established itself as the dominant car in 2021, and I see that trend continuing in the years to come.

This season and the tight competition it brought was a dream for racing fans at the highest level, and one that I don’t think we’ll see equaled for many years. Which is OK, because the next time it happens it will be that much more special.

Kudos to everyone on both Mercedes and Red Bull on an awesome season.

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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Published in NASCAR

For drivers seeking a luxury vehicle with a sporty personality, things can get pretty pricey. That’s why the entry-level options — compact sedans from the world’s leading luxury automakers — are often attractive for people looking to venture into this class of vehicles. 

Mercedes-Benz first launched its A-Class model back in the 2019 model year, and it’s been regularly ranked among top luxury sedans ever since. The 2021 model adds some new features, such as standard blind spot monitoring, and continues its tradition of providing a high-end design and strong performance.

Put all that together, and it’s an excellent way for folks working to enter the luxury class without breaking the bank on the larger and more high-end models.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2021 AMG A35. What's all the hype about? Read on to find out.

LOOKS

Let’s start on the interior, where the 2021 AMG A35 sedan offers a uniquely classy and aesthetically pleasing upscale design. Even the metallic air vents and steering wheel accents offer distinct Benz styling, and the AMG branding is present on the dash.

Interior highlights include ambient lighting, power front seats with lumbar support and memory, split-folding rear seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated front seats, keyless start and dual zone automatic climate control.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

If you have the need for speed, and a luxurious design to go along with it, there are plenty of sedans to choose from among the elite luxury brands.

For Mercedes-Benz, one such crown jewel offering is the AMG E53 (a high-end version of its E-class sedan), which I recently was able to experience. Read on for full details on how it measures up.
 

LOOKS

Long, low and shapely by anyone’s definition, the E53 boasts a simply beautiful exterior design, which is typical of a Mercedes offering.
You can also opt for attractive 5-spoke wheels with black accents (a $750 option) and a panorama sunroof ($1,000).

The Interior, with extremely comfortable seating and a smooth design that flows well, is equally impressive and one of the best in class. 

Published in CAR REVIEWS

When the term luxury vehicle is thrown out, many people automatically envision something far out of the reach of the average car buyer, pushing toward the six-figure price range.

But in reality, on the lower end of the luxury scale are many vehicles that are well within reach for people who don’t fit into the 1 percent class.

With that in mind, Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new vehicle for 2019, the A-Class (aka the A220). It’s an attempt to draw new and younger buyers to the brand as they battle BMW, Audi, Lexus and other luxury brands for category supremacy.

I recently tested an A-Class and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

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