Twists on classic Mercedes-Benz

Liz Dobson saw new classes of luxury unveiled in Geneva

Mercedes-Benz CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche in Geneva, and (below) the new S 65 AMG, S 600 and all new S-Class coupe
Mercedes-Benz CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche in Geneva, and (below) the new S 65 AMG, S 600 and all new S-Class coupe

As Mercedes-Benz showed off its luxury S-Class coupe at this week's Geneva Motor Show, the German company also revealed that it had bigger plans for its flagship model.

Not just happy with the worldwide success of the S-Class sedan, its limo-size version, and now the sport-like styling of the coupe, it also hinted that there will three more models to join the line-up.

Expect to see a station wagon, convertible and Maybach version while S-Class development director, Dr Hermann-Joseph Storp joked there could be the "Putin" model.

"Putin in Russia loves very long, with thick metal that no bullets come through," said Storp to Driven during a round table interview just after the reveal of the S-Class Coupe.

Mercedes owner Daimler AG had revealed it would reintroduce the ultra luxury model Maybach, based on the S-Class, but with "more length and luxury features", said Storp.

It will definitely carry the Mercedes-Benz star on the front grille, but there will be "a Maybach badge somewhere" on the body, Storp said, before he joked, "and of course on the ceiling of the car, on the seats ..."

But there is no joking when it comes to the huge demand for the car worldwide. Since its launch late last year in New Zealand 16 S-Class sedans have sold, with more customers waiting for their new car.

"We are currently working with Germany to relieve the pressure on our supply, as we have sold orders out to quarter four," Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager, Ben Giffin, told Driven.

But with a six-month waiting list in Germany for the car, Giffin may not be so lucky.

Kiwis though will soon see the GLA compact SUV, set to arrive late next month, then the all-new C-Class that was revealed in Geneva.

With all the luxury and safety features of the S-Class, the new C-Class is set to keep its spot as Mercedes-Benz's top selling vehicle worldwide.

Since the launch in the past few years of the revitalised compacts, A and B-Class, the company has seen an influx of new buyers to the brand.

Mercedes-Benz's head of sales, Ola Kallenius, told Driven at Geneva that in the US, the CLA sedan has had a conquest rate of 82 per cent.

"We also have the highest loyalty rate," said Kallenius.

The company's compact segment, which includes the CLA, has also seen the average age of Mercedes-Benz owners drop by 10 years - from customers in their 50s to Gen X buyers in their early 40s.

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However, Kallenius had sad news about the other end of the company's line-up - the SLS Gullwing: if you want one of the stunning luxury cars Kiwis, get in fast, as they won't be making one for a while.

"There will be a world premiere soon of production car ... but we don't just do one Gullwing after the other, it has to stand on its own."

Liz Dobson will be driving the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class in France this week, with a review soon in Driven and online.

- NZ Herald

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