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An electrifying ride


When I picked up the Mercedes EQC 4matic from Armstrong Mercedes the only thing that rattled my head was that name, EQC. Something that, when I posted on Instagram, I got a few messages about.

Jack Prebble Media

 

But as this beautiful machine glided out onto the motorway and I placed my foot on the brushed alloy AMG accelerator, all bad reminders were left 5.1 seconds behind me as this beautifully lined, refined electric vehicle took off.

I had Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy pumping through the 13-speaker, nine-channel, 590w Burmester surround sound system with the interior AMG lighting system turning to a cool blue.

Gripping the multi-function Nappa leather sports steering wheel, that gnarly little smile crept onto my face and I knew I was in for a great day on the road.

Being fully electric, the EQC has a range of 354km, with the emergency AC-DC adapter for a backup option.

The electricity on a low output standard house plug just does not have the juice to power the battery fast enough if you are exceeding, like me, 80km a day.

You can recharge at stations around the city, but I highly recommend you install the Wallbox charging system.

This is a stunnin

g electric vehicle: a 300kw duel electric engine 0 to 100km on 5.1 (but it feels much faster than that), 4Matic all-wheel drive, 760Nm torque – all with a base price of $142,000.

 

I was going to write shocking to be funny but that would make it sound bad, and it is not in any way at all.

 

Jack Prebble Media

My model had some up-spec roller sun blinds and 21-inch multi-spoke wheels. The multi-spoke wheels are a total stunner as was the diamond white paint job.

Now it’s not often an up-spec spins my wheels, forgive the pun, but it really does give a bespoke look to an already outstanding vehicle.

Back to back with the standard model there is quite a different look to it and damn it, it is sexier.

I took my friend Lisa out to get a woman’s perspective on it. After a lovely lunch at Botanic we took a leisurely drive. Afterward I asked her what she thought.

The verdict? “Luxurious with impressive lighting and super sexy rose gold air vents, girls love that.”

She went on to wax lyrical: “A gorgeous car, great lines. I absolutely loved it and it’s the first car I’ve been in, in ages, that I would really like to own.”

Believe me, this woman knows what she wants so this is a five-star rating.

It gets a five-star from me with the reminder that you must install the Wallbox home charging system.

If you’re making a choice on electric vehicles this year, please finish with the Mercedes EQC 4matic. It is an electrifying vehicle. Badumdum.

Jack Prebble Media

 

Very sweet turbo


When we think of big SUVs from Mercedes AMG, big V8-bellowing all terrain missiles spring to mind.

BRAD LONGWORTH

 

In curry terms, the range topping GLE 63 AMG is the full chicken vindaloo, hot and spicy.

Whereas the $180,100 GLE 53 AMG is more of a chicken madras, in other words, a milder offering in terms of performance. Under the bonnet sits a very sweet turbo 3L straight six.

The turbo part of the equation refers to a single turbo, electric compressor and EQ Boost generator, making the GLE 53 a mild hybrid.

Grunt is rated at 320kW/520Nm. Also, Mercedes’ Speedshift 9-speed automatic gearbox and 4-Matic four-wheel drive make a welcome appearance. Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 9.4L/100km and zero to 100km/h is despatched in 5.3 seconds.

Styling wise, AMG’s tentacles are everywhere. The front spoiler is more aggressive, and the optional matte black AMG alloys on my test car look epic. Inside, AMG sports leather chairs make for a comfortable yet supportive place to sit and the AMG performance steering wheel is lovely to hold.

Standard kit includes the latest MBUX infotainment and voice recognition system, side-by-side 12.3-inch digital screens, a head-up display, heated front seats, ambient lighting with 64 colours and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Safety kits provide active parking assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic alert, steering assist, lane change assist, active blind spot assist and traffic sign assist.

On the move and you do make brisk progress, but as this is the AMG Lite, things aren’t as rapid as you would first expect, not slow but not rapid. However, selecting Sport or Sport Plus makes a big difference, especially as it activates AMG Active Exhaust, allowing you to hear more of that glorious sounding turbo six.

On the straight and narrow, the AMG Ride Control with air suspension offers a supple ride but feels a bit soft in the bends. Putting the adaptive dampers in Sport Plus will firm things up well enough. If you decide to leave the beaten track, then trail and sand modes are available, that said the average GLE 53 owners won’t be climbing every mountain and fording every stream.

There is plenty to like about the new Mercedes GLE 53 AMG, however if I wanted a GLE with some AMG goodness, I would go whole hog and get the V8 every time.


 

Plenty of power


ONE COULD BE CONSIDERED LUCKY WHEN MERCEDES INVITES THEM TO ITS AUCKLAND OFFICE TO TEST DRIVE THE NEW MERCEDES GLS 400D 4MATIC.

 

Ushered into to the boardroom, we were given an extensive breakdown of the specifications.

It’s a seven-seat SUV with more spin than a very spinny thing! With a 3.0-litre six-cylinder, 243 kW and 700Nm, it also has plenty of power.

The Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers blows your mind, with 590 watts of sound and ambient internal lighting in 64 shades, beautiful leather interior with oak wood trim and a sunroof for that wonderful open-air breeze.

To be honest, there is a hell of a lot of luxury packed into what doesn’t feel like a seven-seater.

Its increased size is more than made up for in the power and handling capabilities, but the increased room makes for a REAL seven-seater, not like most of the tiny rear two seats of other brands.

The test drivers were given the keys to take the vehicle for a drive to The Glass House, the home of Brick Bay Wines in Warkworth, north of Auckland, a stunning restaurant and the gateway to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.

With the Mercedes GLS 400D, you simply insert the location into the navigation system and away you go; very easy to use!

It was a hot day, making the seat cooling device with a back massage system a very welcome addition.

That’s right, passenger and driver get a back massage by using hand signals, so you can turn this function off and on without losing sight of the road.

After a couple of hours of driving, I felt better than when I got in the car!

It’s a very solid drive and you can actually get a variation with an increased suspension if you really want to go hardcore off-road.

The design features vents in the front grille which increases it aerodynamically and it’s got a lovely line for such a large SUV.

A standout feature for me was the one button push that folds all rear seats down electronically; and no, it has sensors so it won’t squash the kids in case of accidental ignition.

With all rear seats stowed away and loaded to the roof, the capacity reaches 2400 litres; that makes for a whole lot of options.

I said to Jarrod from Mercedes that I could put a mattress in the back and go camping.

He didn’t look impressed; the Mercedes GLS 400D is, after all, much too classy for such an endeavour.

It comes in at $166,700 before on road costs which isn’t everybody’s price point but if you want the ultimate luxury of Mercedes SUV, it’s hard to look at anything else.

 


 

Something Special


It’s always a pleasure driving a new car and the new Mercedes C220D is another great offering from this top marque.

 

 

 

With a good price point, it offers a lot of features for a luxury car. The sunroof is a good starter, giving the cabin an open and light feeling while the console is a polished grey and metallic finish; 1950cc, 4 cylinder, 143kW and 400 torque, it really is a beautiful car to look at as well as drive. It features dual exhausts and sleek curves, the fuel economy of diesel, its torque allows instant response when driving – 0-100 in 6.9 seconds – and it’s smooth and refined. It’s not touch screen on the Apple Play but after a bit of time with Mercedes and their control dial and touch pad system, I’ve become used to navigating it, though it did take a while to stray from my iPhone mentality.

Something I totally love about this vehicle are the stunning 19-inch bi-colour twin spoke alloys. The model I drove came white with black rims and boy does it look good. It just adds something a little special. When you meet the car at night, it has carpet lighting to help you out with an LED lighting system that helps show you the way – technology at its greatest. Its all-digital display and interface systems are getting easier to handle and a lot more simplistic for someone who is kind of plug and go. The steering wheel adjusts automatically to your specifications and it just ‘feels’ good.

The base model sits at $75,400 but my model had some great additions; AMG package $3700; seat comfort package $900; dark tinted privacy glass $700; and the vision package at $6300, all together making a grand total of $87,000. I definitely felt that I was driving something special. You see a few C-class models on the street but the C220D just felt… special. Earlier in the year I managed to grab a week with the C200; the little petrol sister to the C220, it is a 1497cc, 4-cylinder, 135kW, 280 Nm rear wheel drive, mild petrol hybrid at $73,900.

It had similar 18-inch bi-colour wheels and different upholstery, but it just isn’t as good as its big brother. I can’t put my finger on it because, although they look the same, the 220D just seems the better buy. That could be my macho ‘got to have more power’ driver mentality speaking but the C220D just feels better. I keep saying that and it really is personal opinion but perhaps you need to judge this for yourself by taking a test drive with the team at Armstrong Prestige. The C class is Mercedes’ core sedan range and after driving the C220D and the C200 I can see why they are such good staples in the Mercedes range.


 

Mercedes A180

A sporty little number: Mercedes A180

I drove up to the film set of ‘Monster Man’ in the Mercedes A180, a film I play a pretty rough Maori fella in. Not quite the picture you get of a driver of this refined, elegant little vehicle is it?

Mercedes A180
Mercedes A180

Gumboots, unshaven with a Swanndri and beanie: quite the contrast to this 90kW, 200Nm 0-100 in 8.6 seconds, 5.8 litre athletic performer. However, I got the chance to drop gumboot on the accelerator all the way to the Hurunui and found it a pleasure to drive.
It’s a looker – like me, right! – with all the style you expect from Mercedes. A relatively affordable price, with entry level at $47,900. It’s a hatchback, but you wouldn’t know that from the front with its sleek grille. It was great on fuel consumption and even though I’m not a great fan of column shift, most other features make it a good all-rounder.
There’s room for school bags, groceries – and real estate signs! The sunroof gives an open cabin feeling and the black and silver interior creates a nice clean feel. Exterior lines and profile are nice too.
Things that get the tick? Sunroof, automatic tension adjusting seatbelts, interior, dash interaction, steering and acceleration controls, refined interior and iPad style display. It has its place in the Mercedes fleet: it’s a sporty number for around town and I liked the open road performance. Talk to the team at Armstrong Prestige about a test drive. If you’re after comfort, sportiness and safety features, you’re not wasting your time.