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Auto blogWed, 06 Mar 2013
Mercedes Makes A Mighty Little Sedan
We got overexcited when the W203 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan came out in 2001, calling it the "Baby Benz" when it really wasn't. We knew that, too, but our enthusiasm for a model more like the old 190 of the '80s was so strong that we were willing to stretch the first-gen C-Class to fit that mold. Today, the C-Class has done what all German premium cars do: grown in size. In this case, grown to satisfy the market intentions of the previous E-Class.
There was the tall A-Class sold from 1998 through 2010, but we never considered that a serious small Benz in the proper spirit, nor was it ever offered in the US. Regardless, we've been craving a smaller, premium, sexy sedan all the while.
No indoor cocktail hour for the launch of the W04, the newest chassis built by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team. Instead, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton spent a morning in photo and video sessions at the track in Jerez, Spain then paused a moment to introduce the car. The team will want the W04 to demonstrate the World Championship credentials of the team personnel and one of the team drivers, instead of the mostly humble performances we've seen over the past three years.
The W04 has been fitted with a new five-element front wing, pushrod front and pull-rod rear suspension, a second-generation Coanda exhaust and an "aggressively packaged" rear end. A small vanity panel, à la Infiniti Red Bull's RB9, covers the stepped nose.
Team principal Ross Brawn has called it "a clear step forward in design and detail sophistication," but as much as we truly respect Brawn's abilities and achievements, we heard him say similar things about the updated W03 last year before almost every race weekend from about mid-season. We really hope he's right this time, and so does the team's newest driver, Lewis Hamilton. We'll do our best to ignore the parallels of the Mercedes F1 team having signed a sponsorship deal with Blackberry, another company trying to find its way back to the top and still struggling, and just point you to the video below of the W04 in action.
Looks like another Tesla Motors investor will be looking to cash in on their connection. Autoweek reports Mercedes-Benz will offer their B-Class in the U.S. with Tesla propulsion.
The magazine says their source at the German automaker confirms plans for a B-Class electric-only vehicle. While Tesla already provides battery packs for the battery-powered Smart ForTwo, the B-Class EV will reportedly have Tesla batteries, motor and other components. U.S. residents should be able to procure one sometime in 2014.
The same Mercedes source says plans for a hybrid B-Class have been postponed for now. Adding a range-extending, gasoline-powered engine to an electric vehicle would put the car into a different class for which rebates and incentives aren't as favorable in the States.