of Germany makes luxury and performance
vehicles that span the scale in size
and type with multiple options for power
and traction and the 2004 collection
contains more models than ever before.
products, clustered in alphabetical
classes by size and style, include sophisticated
two-seat sports cars, sedate four-door
sedans, sensuous two-door coupes, rakish
convertibles and muscular sport-utility
wagons, plus souped-up performance versions
for many categories under the AMG label.
year the CLK Class of mid-size cars
gets drop-top versions with three different
trims bound for America. All are derived
from slinky CLK hardtop coupes but cut
to airy convertibles by German car crafter
Karmann. New all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction
applies to three car classes in 2004
with the compact-size C Class sedans,
mid-size E Class sedans and estate wagons,
plus top-of-the-line S Class sedans.
Mercedes has a new seven-speed automatic
transmission primed for the E500 sedan
and E500 wagon, S430 and S500 sedans,
plus elite full-size CL500 coupe and
SL500 roadster convertible. The top
roadster - SL600 - earns a V12 engine
with twin turbo-chargers aboard to punch
it out to 493 hp. And multiple models
continue for the SLK Class of roadsters
and M Class of sport-utility vehicles,
as well as the G Class of no-compromise
A total of seven different models cluster
behind the E Class banner of mid-size
luxury sedans and wagons in the Mercedes
line for 2004.
is optional new AWD equipment, called
4Matic in Mercedes nomenclature, with
40/60 percent front/rear torque split.
The 4Matic system is offered on the
two E Class wagons, E320 and E500.
new to the E Class is a high-performance
sports sedan dubbed E55 AMG. It totes
a 5.5-liter V8 built by the Mercedes
tuner AMG and fitted with a Lysholm
supercharger and crossfire intercooler.
Power for E55 AMG reaches to 469 hp
with a five-speed automatic featuring
manual TouchShift mode.
as a sedan with rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
traction is the volume model, while
the E500 RWD sedan is a performance
model with keen handling traits. E320
takes its name from a 3.2-liter V6 engine
that's good for 221 hp with the Mercedes
five-speed automatic and TouchShift
manual mode. E500 stocks a 5.0-liter
V8 charged to 302 hp. It also brings
the new seven-speed automatic transmission.
Besides electronic braking, both sedans
carry a four-link front suspension coupled
to the Airmatic device with selectable
levels of comfort and ride height.
five-seat cabin draws on fine leathers
and rich polished hardwoods, and high-tech
Mercedes options appear like the Keyless
Go entry system, Distronic adaptive
cruise control, a twin-window Panorama
Sunroof and energy-generating solar
panels, plus bi-xenon high intensity
discharge (HID) headlamps and a DVD-based
Two cool two-door coupes of mid-size
dimensions appear in the 2004 line from
Mercedes-Benz, as do three pop-top convertible
promote a dynamic pillar-less format
with twin-headlamp face borrowed from
the E320 sedan. Every angle exaggerates
the aerodynamic fluidity of motion:
Grille tilts back further than on the
E sedan, the hood slopes more seriously
and windshield cants to the extreme
to achieve a low line on the arching
issues include the CLK320 containing
the 3.2-liter Mercedes V6 for 215 hp
and CLK500 with the 5.0-liter V8 rated
at 302 hp. Prime convertible edition
is the CLK320 Cabriolet toting the 3.2-liter
V6 and rolling on seven-spoke alloy
wheels measuring 16 inches tall.
to a V8 engine leads to the CLK500 Cabriolet
with the 5.0-liter V8 and 17-inch thin-spoke
alloy wheels. The CLK55 AMG Cabriolet
goes further with its 5.5-liter supercharged
V8 by AMG, even bigger wheels plus heavy-duty
brakes and shifter paddles set behind
steering wheel spokes for hands-on transmission
prime convertibles from an automaker
renowned for designing elegant topless
cars seat four in luxury. A cloth soft
top, in multiple layers draped over
an aluminum frame, quickly tucks beneath
a metal bonnet by motorized means. With
the top down, CLK convertibles look
slick and aggressive as the bonnet shows
nacelle blisters trailing behind rear
seatbacks like ones once worn by vintage
posed behind rear seatbacks are loop-like
roll bars that can pop up instantly
if on-board motion sensors detect potential
roll-over movement. The convertible
conversion is controlled by a one-touch
switch mounted on the console, but it
also operates remotely from a button
on the key fob.
High-tech Mercedes equipment may be
added optionally, such as Keyless Go,
Distronic adaptive cruise control, Parktronic
distance sensors, bi-xenon HID headlamps
and a DVD-based navigation system.
our Review: Mercedes-Benz
Compact-class cars by Mercedes skew
from an affordable sports coupe and
practical station wagon to a powerful
AMG-crafted performance sedan.
between these extremes are three new
sport variations plus 4Matic AWD editions.
The 4Matic equipment applies to C240
and C320 sedans and the C320 wagon.
Sport models work for the C230 Kompressor
sedan, C320 sedan and C320 coupe. Each
wears special body cladding and 17-inch
wheels with performance tires, a sport-tuned
suspension, six-speed close-ratio manual
transmission and thickly bolstered front
sport seats. The C Class hatchback coupe
has a supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder
engine tuned to 189 hp.
Noteworthy mechanical tools aboard include
power rack and pinion steering for precise
turning control, plus power-assisted
disc brakes tied to anti-lock and traction
control systems, even a computerized
electronic device that stems lateral
slippage of the wheels and maintains
straight-line stability. The performance
sedan - C32 AMG - continues with a supercharged
V6 maxed to 349 hp. Optional bi-xenon
HID headlamps go for all models.
The Mercedes roadsters have seats for
only two in a luxurious cockpit crowned
by a sleek hardtop that, at the tap
of a console switch, folds through electro-hydraulic
muscle and tucks below the trunk lid.
Its design, in part homage to the original
Mercedes gullwing 300SL but also a projection
into the future of sophisticated automobiles,
scores among the most artistic to come
from the tri-star brand.
the entailed list of high-tech mechanical
hardware encased by all of that curvaceous
car metal, it's certainly the most sophisticated.
There are devices aboard to stabilize
forward movement and tire traction,
smart brakes and adjustable suspension
settings, plus multiple air bags to
cushion the human cargo. SL500 also
has electronic brakes in a brake-by-wire
system dubbed Sensotronic Brake Control.
For 2004 there are three editions --
SL500 and SL600, plus the performance-driven
SL55 AMG. SL500 draws from a 5.0-liter
V8 that delivers 302 hp through the
new Mercedes seven-speed automatic transmission
with one-tap clutch-less TouchShift
feature. SL600 gets the 5.5-liter bi-turbo
V12 with inter-cooling to push the power
curve up to 493 hp, and SL55 AMG has
the AMG supercharged V8.
assets for 2004 include a steering wheel
embedded with a heat element and the
optional Keyless Go entry system integrated
into a SmartKey.
Full-size Mercedes sedans continue with
four editions -- S430, S500, S600 and
S55 AMG. In addition, there are 4Matic
AWD versions for S430 and S500.
Powertrain enhancements come from a
bi-turbo V12 for S600 ripped to 493
hp and a supercharged V8 in S55 AMG.
The performance-geared AMG model also
has redundant SpeedShift buttons mounted
on the steering wheel, plus a racing-derived
brake system. S430 uses a 4.0-liter
Mercedes V8 at 275 hp, but S500 goes
further with the single-cam 5.0-liter
V8 cranked to 302 hp. Both engines also
mate with the new seven-speed automatic
fitted seats and touches of polished
hardwoods and fine leather decorating
the cabin, these stretched sedans envelop
passengers in a staggering array of
sophisticated controls and perks to
make life in the fast lane not only
comfortable but secure.
there are so many mechanical systems
working latently for protection, including
devices that stabilize forward movement
and tire traction, smart brakes and
adjustable suspensions, plus as many
as eight air bags. All S Class cars
also stock the Mercedes PreSafe tool
that instantly rigs the vehicle for
an unavoidable impact by activating
electric seat belt tensioners and passenger's
front seat moving to optimum safety
position and backrest raised, seat bottom
lowered and seat shoved rearward.
builds mid-size SUV wagons that drive
like a fine sedan and feel as comfortable,
but there's also ample cargo space in
the back plus go-anywhere attributes
of a four-wheel-drive (4WD) wagon.
issues offer an optional DVD-based navigation
system as a factory option. Entry to
the series comes from the ML350 with
V6 power, but the ML500 stocks the 5.0-liter
full-time 4WD system on both models
does not lock axles to maintain traction
in slippery situations, but senses a
slipping wheel electronically, then
brakes the slippage and redirects power
to wheels with better grip.
Elite full-size coupes, with fluid lines
on an exaggerated hood sweeping over
the pillar-less roof to an elongated
tail, crown the Mercedes line.
Powertrains borrowed from S Class sedans
apply to three versions -- CL500 and
CL600 plus CL55 AMG. A 5.0-liter V8
fits CL500 with the new seven-speed
automatic transmission, a bi-turbo V12
stuffs into CL600 and AMG's supercharged
V8 goes to CL55 AMG.
standard equipment includes a DVD-based
navigation system and an audio package
capable of playing MP3 files.
With that eye-popping prow, flat side
panels accented with big blackwalls
and rakish windshield stretched wide
across a cockpit for two, snappy SLK
Class two-seat coupes can shed that
hard top in seconds and store it in
the trunk to switch from weather-tight
coupe to airy convertible.
series continues in 2004 with three
editions capped by the SLK32 AMG performance
model packing a supercharged 3.2-liter
V6 and rolling on twin-spoke alloy AMG
wheels. SLK320 draws from a 215 hp V6
and the entry edition SLK230 Kompressor
uses a supercharged dual-cam 2.3-liter
year's special edition SLK stocks 17-inch
alloy wheels, Nappa leather sport seats
and a cockpit roll bar, plus chrome
accents on the body with body-colored
paint on front grill and tail spoiler.
From a Mercedes assembly plant in Graz,
Austria, the hand-crafted G Class SUV
rolls out in limited numbers as no-compromise
off-road SUV capable of venturing far
away from pavement where conventional
4WD vehicles dare not tread.
carries every mechanical armament -
a full-time 4WD system, traction control,
vehicle stability system, three differential
locks (center plus rear and front),
anti-lock brakes and electronic brake
force distribution (EBD) - then flexes
muscle from the Mercedes 5.0-liter V8.
a rugged exterior design and the hardware
of an ultimate off-road warrior, the
G500 has a cabin lined with luxurious
appointments like leather-clad seats
and trim in burl walnut wood. Multi-contour
seats are now standard on 2004 models,
along with new audio gear by Harman
STORY: THE HERITAGE OF THE MERCEDES-BENZ BRAND]
INFORMATION FROM MERCEDES-BENZ]