Concept A from Auto Shanghai 2017 heralds a future A-Class sedan

Concept A from Auto Shanghai 2017 heralds a future A-Class sedan

Mercedes-Benz Cars remains locked in battle with BMW and Audi for the title of the world's number one premium passenger vehicle brand. The Daimler division has launched multiple additional vehicles in recent times and more are planned. Existing plants are being expanded and new ones are on the way in Mexico and Russia. 

Sedans, hatchbacks and estates

The A-Class remains the smallest Mercedes-Benz model, with the third generation now in the last phase of its lifecycle. The current model made its debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. It went on sale across Europe six months later as a five-door hatchback: the alternate three-door bodystyle of the previous generation was not replaced. In Europe, the main sales region, it competes with the VW Golf. The B-Class, meanwhile, is more of a rival to the Audi A3 Sportback.

The car was launched in its only North American market, Mexico, in October 2012 for the 2013 model year. There was a facelift for North America's 2016 model year, this car having had its world premiere at June 2015's Goodwood Festival of Speed. Variants also gained new names: e.g. A 180 CDI became the A 180 d.

Daimler announced plans for additional A-Class assembly in July 2012. Production began at the Rastatt plant in Germany the same month, with assembly at Valmet Automotive's Uusikaupunki-Nystand facility in Finland commencing in August 2013. Valmet ceased making the A-Class in 2016.

The fourth generation A-Class range is scheduled to appear in 2019 and will for the first time include a sedan. This should be built in standard and long-wheelbase forms. It was confirmed as being under development by Daimler's CEO Dieter Zetsche in a speech on the eve of the 2017 Detroit auto show. The longer car will mainly be for China. The BMW 1 Series sedan is the intended rival.

There should be exports of the sedan to North America from a factory in either Germany, Hungary or China. W177, the next generation model range, will be based on MFA2, an evolution of the platform upon which the current A is based.

The second generation B-Class, a 4,359mm long hatchback, has about 12-18 months of production remaining. Build at Rastatt in Germany commenced during October 2011, one month after its appearance at the Frankfurt IAA. Production was added at Kecskemét in Hungary during March 2012. Like the A-Class and other small or medium-sized front- and and-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz models, the B-Class uses the MFA platform.

A facelifted B-Class range arrived in LHD European market dealerships from the end of November 2014. The car's public debut had been at the previous month's Paris motor show. Manufacture of W247, the third generation B-Class, is expected to commence during the fourth quarter of 2018. The car's architecture will be MFA2.

Mercedes-Benz's smallest sedan is the CLA-Class. This car had its global debut as a concept at the Paris motor show in September 2012. It is derived from the second generation B-Class. Daimler's Hungarian plant was confirmed as the build location for a new 'four-door coupé' in March 2012.

The production model had its global debut at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (Berlin) in February 2013, though it was shown briefly to the media on the eve of the Detroit auto show one month earlier. An earlier preview had appeared at the Beijing motor show in April 2012, in the form of the Concept Style Coupé.

CLA-Class production commenced in late January 2013. Three months later, the first cars were in European dealerships. The launch range comprised 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines as well as a 2.1-litre diesel.

The CLS Shooting Brake was announced in November 2014. The first cars arrived in dealerships from March 2015, production having commenced two months previously. The wagon had its world debut at January 2015's Brussels motor show.

A facelifted CLA sedan had its world premiere at the New York auto show in March 2016, with the refreshed Shooting Brake launched to the public at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin a few weeks later.

The second generation CLA-Class due for release in 2020 will be based upon on MFA2. One major change is said to be the replacement of the sedan body style with a five-door fastback. Whether or not this means no successor for the Shooting Brake (wagon) is at present unclear.

The current C-Class sedan was first seen at January 2014's Detroit motor show. The long-wheelbase C-Class sedan then premiered three months later at AutoChina in Beijing. This 4,766mm long variant has a 2,920mm wheelbase, which is 80mm greater than the standard car's. The C-Class L is built and sold only in the PRC. Production commenced there in July 2014. Additional variants debuted at the Shanghai motor show in April 2015. All LWB cars have a silver L on the C-pillar. This is to distinguish them from the standard wheelbase sedan, local production of which commenced in April 2015 at the same Beijing plant.

Daimler had announced in December 2009 that it planned to shift some 20% of global C-Class production out of Germany and into its US plant during 2014. The move was a way of lessening the effects of what had been a volatile USD/euro exchange rate. In January 2010, Daimler stated that it saw up to 80,000 C-Class sedans being built per year in Alabama for the US, Mexican and Canadian markets. The US-made C-Class went on sale locally in August 2014.

In January 2012 came news from Daimler that Nissan North America would build Mercedes-Benz engines for the W205 series C-Class at its Decherd powertrain plant in Tennessee. NNA also retains some engines for certain Infiniti models, the first of which was the turbocharged 2.0-litre for European market Q50 sedans. Both car and engine production commenced in June 2014.

Most C-Class cars for Europe come from the Bremen plant, production of the sedan having commenced there in February 2014. The majority of RHD cars continue to be sourced from South Africa (10% of global build) with another 10% of the global supply of LHD cars made in China. The company's East London plant in the Eastern Cape has the capacity to manufacture some 60,000 units a year of the C-Class, most of them for export. The South African facility also makes Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and Fuso trucks as well as Mercedes-Benz bus chassis. The first cars for the local market reached local dealerships in June 2014, production having commenced during the previous month.

A new plant in Brazil would manufacture two models, the company announced in October 2013. The location is Iracemapolis, near São Paulo. The C-Class was the first model to be made there, production commencing in April 2016, with the GLA-Class added during the second half of the year at a combined rate of 12,000 vehicles per annum. The company used to make the CLC-Class in Brazil but that plant was refitted in 2010 to manufacture trucks.

The wagon was announced in May 2014. It is built exclusively in Bremen.

As the previous W204 series C-Class sedan was shorter than the CLA-Class, the W205 is longer than the car it replaced. It also has more premium features, such as what was at launch a segment-first option of pneumatic suspension. The vehicle is 95 mm longer, which means the CLA-Class effectively took over in the sedan segment above the B-Class, competing with the Audi A3 sedan.

The C-Class Coupé had its world premiere at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2015 while the C-Class Cabriolet had its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March 2016. Production commenced at Bremen three months later. Facelifts for all bodystyles should happen in 2018 and replacements will follow from 2021. The next generation cars are expected to use a re-engineered version of the existing C-Class' MRA architecture.

W213, the current generation E-Class sedan, was revealed at January 2016's North American International Auto Show. Compared to the previous generation, its wheelbase length was expanded by 65 millimetres (2939/2874) and its overall length by 43 millimetres (4923/4880). Production commenced at Sindelfingen in February 2016.

The E-Class sedan came with a choice of two engines at market launch: the E 200 with a four-cylinder petrol and the E 220 d with a new four-cylinder diesel. Further variants were added to the range later in 2016, including the most powerful diesel. This has a six-cylinder engine incorporating SCR exhaust technology, with an output of 190kW (258hp) and peak torque of 620Nm. Another variant to join the range was the E 400 4MATIC. Its six-cylinder petrol engine has an output of 245kW (333hp) and maximum torque of 480Nm.

The car's architecture is an evolution of MRA, as introduced by the S-Class and also used by the C-Class.

V213, the long-wheelbase E-Class sedan, had its world premiere at the Beijing show in April 2016, with production commencing two months later. The E-Class Estate (it changed names from Touring) was then revealed at the 2016 Paris motor show.

The E-Class Coupé (coded C238) had its world premiere at the Detroit motor show in January, production commencing later that month at Bremen. Finally, the Cabriolet (A238) debuted at the Geneva motor show in March.

In February this year, Daimler announced plans for a car factory in Russia. The E-Class as well as 'SUVs' were named as the vehicles to be made at the plant which will be located some 40km northwest of Moscow. Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing RUS (MBMR) is due to produce the first vehicles in 2019 at Esipovo Industrial Park.

Mercedes-Benz India launched a right-hand drive long-wheelbase sedan in March. This is the only market where the L is sold. It is locally assembled from kits shipped in from China.

Facelifts for all E-Class variants will be introduced in 2020 and by then, Daimler's new in-line six-cylinder engines will also have replaced the existing V6 units. The W214 E-Class is due to be rolled out from 2023.

The second generation CLS-Class sedan had its world premiere at the Paris show in September 2010. A sculpture at the Detroit show in January 2010 had revealed some of the model's styling details. This was followed three months later by a wagon concept at the Beijing motor show, the CLS Shooting Brake. The concept also previewed a then-new 60° 3.5-litre direct injection V6 gasoline engine.

Following the introduction of the sedan (Mercedes-Benz calls it a four-door coupé), the shooting brake would follow in 2012, Daimler announced in November 2010. The car then appeared in production form at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in south east England in June 2012. The FoS was also the venue for the debut of the CLS' mid-life facelift. Updated sedan and wagons were revealed there in June 2014.

The CLS sedan went on sale in Europe from January 2011. All cars are manufactured at the main Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen.

C257, the third generation CLS, is due to be revealed later in 2017, possibly at the IAA in September. It may change names to CLE-Class so as to link it to the similarly-sized E-Class. Daimler's new range of inline six-cylinder engines will feature.

The current S-Class sedan was revealed to the media at a special event in Hamburg in May 2013. The car had multiple claimed world firsts, including no lightbulbs (LED instead, modules supplied by Automotive Lighting), heated armrests, and suspension that is primed for the road ahead.

This big sedan brought with it a new rear- and all-wheel drive platform called MRA.

The launch range announced in May 2013 was as follows: S 350 BlueTEC, 190kW/258hp, 2,987cc diesel V6, S 400 Hybrid, 225kW/306hp 3,498cc V6 petrol + 20kW motor, S 500 (S 550 in the US), 335kW/455hp 4,663cc petrol V8. All these variants are available in standard (3,035mm) or long wheelbase (3,165mm) form.

An S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid went on sale in Germany in March 2014, powered by a 150kW/204hp 2,143cc four-cylinder petrol engine. The S 500 PHEV, plus the S 400 and S 400 L were added during 2015. The S 600 L followed at the Detroit auto show in January 2014, powered by a 530hp turbocharged 5,980cc V12 engine. Like the S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, S 65 AMG (see the recent Mercedes-AMG feature) and S 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC, the S 600 reached German dealers in March 2014.

All S-Class build is in Germany but CKD assembly of the S 500 in India commenced in March 2014.

The S 500 was the first petrol engined car to be fitted with a particulate filter. Daimler says it will gradually roll out this technology for all its gasoline engines. Faurecia is the supplier. As at September 2017 and according to the Euro 6c norm, all new type-approved gasoline-powered vehicles in the EU must emit particulates at just one tenth of the previous amount.

A new range of lower emissions engines was announced by Daimler in October 2016. An updated S-Class was the first car to be fitted with many of them. The facelifted model had its public debut at the Shanghai motor show in April. The fresh engines are a range of inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel units as well as a biturbo petrol V8.

As part of the updated line-up, Mercedes-Benz gave the S-Class technology which takes it closer to autonomous driving. Distronic Active Proximity Control and Active Steer Assist now provide even more support for the driver to keep a safe distance and steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of curves or junctions.

The revised S-Class has touch-sensitive controls in the steering wheel. These enable the driver to control the entire infotainment system without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. The infotainment system can also be operated via the touchpad with controller in the centre console and by Linguatronic voice control.

The S 560 4MATIC (fuel consumption combined: 8.5 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 195g/km) and Mercedes-Maybach S 560 4MATIC (fuel consumption combined: 9.3 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 209 g/km) are new variants. They are powered by a 345kW (469hp) 3,982cc biturbo petrol V8 which produces 700 Nm. The turbochargers are positioned in the V of the cylinder banks and the engine switches to four cylinders to save fuel.

The new S 350 d 4MATIC (fuel consumption combined: 5.5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 145g/km) and S 400 d 4MATIC (fuel consumption combined: 5.6 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 147g/km) are powered by a new 2,925cc six-cylinder diesel. It comes in two output levels with 210kW (286hp) and 600Nm as well as 250kW (340hp) and 700Nm.

W223, the next generation S-Class, is due for release in 2020 and like the current model, it should have a seven-year lifecycle. A revised MRA architecture should be its basis.

Sports cars, coupés & cabriolets

R172, the current SLC-Class, originally known as the SLK-Class, had its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2011. Daimler used the timing of a mid-life facelift to also change the name, the thinking being to link the car to the C-Class. The SLC had its world premiere at January 2016's Detroit motor show with cars available to order from later the same month. Production is set to continue until early 2019.

The R173 SLC-Class should be built alongside the next generation SL-Class at Sindelfingen after relocating from the Bremen plant. Like the next SL, the future SLC, due in 2019, will be based on Daimler's MSA components set. There are, however, other reports which now state the R173 project has been delayed or even cancelled. This is due to the segment in which the car competes having contracted, especially in traditionally lucrative markets for convertibles, such as the UK.

The SL-Class, a hard-topped roadster, had its global debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2012. The car is claimed by its maker to be up to 140kg lighter than the previous model thanks to the use of aluminium in its construction. Illustrating just how heavy the old car was, the current SL 500 weighs in at a still hefty 1,785kg. The SL 350 was the variant for which the 140kg claim was made: it was said to tip the scales at 1,685kg.

The SL was the first series production Mercedes-Benz to have an all-aluminium bodyshell. Magnesium, which is even lighter, is used for the cover behind the fuel tank, while high-strength steel tubing is integrated in the A-pillars for safety reasons. The car is said to have a unique platform but other Mercedes-Benz models have evolutions of it.

As for the convertible top, this can be had with either standard glass or the Magic Sky Control from the SLC. Mercedes says the system lowers itself in 20 seconds and is more cleanly integrated than the roof in the R230 (previous shape) SL. There is also said to be a 13-pound weight saving thanks to the partial magnesium construction.

A restyled SL had its world premiere at November 2015's LA auto show. Timed to coincide with the launch of the facelifted range, Daimler gave all variants a standard nine-speed gearbox. 

The next SL-Class should enter production at Sindelfingen early in 2019. Coded R232, it will be based on Daimler's Modular Sports Architecture (MSA). 

Some sources believe that the eighth generation SL will be a 2+2 and therefore a challenger to the Porsche 911. And also that for the first time since the fourth generation model, that there will be a separate coupe model. There are also rumours claiming that these cars are being engineered by AMG, not Mercedes-Benz and that the AMG GT is to be the basis of the next generation SL. R232 is said to be breaking with tradition by being made into a supercar rather than a grand tourer.

There is a possibility that there could be a Mercedes-Maybach version of R232 but Daimler may instead keep this sub brand's range limited to luxury models rather than pure sports cars.

C217, the 5,027mm long S-Class Coupé, replaced the CL-Class. Its premiere was at the Geneva motor show in March 2014 but had been previewed by the Concept S-Class Coupé at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show. A217, the S-Class Cabriolet, was revealed at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2015 and went on sale across Europe six months later.

The US is the largest market for both cars. The hard-top was launched there in the third quarter of 2014, with the convertible following in May 2016. The rest of the world's S 500 Coupe is sold in North America as the S 550 Coupe. In the USA it has standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

A new range of engines is on the way for both C217 and A217, as are facelifts. The changes will bring the two-door cars into line with the recent updates for the S-Class sedan. As for C218 and A218, the next generation S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet, these should be based upon an evolution of MRA and due for market launch in 2023.

MPVs/Minivans

Some readers might be surprised to see the inclusion of the R-Class but this giant minivan-crossover is very much alive. Originally previewed by the Vision R concept at September 2004's Paris motor show, the R-Class then appeared in production form at the New York show in March 2005. Production, which remains solely in the USA, started three months later.

Though there were both standard and long-wheelbase formats, only LWB versions were sold in North America. The model was launched there in October 2005 with European dealers receiving R-Classes from January 2006.

The original engine line-up was as follows: 190bhp 3.0-litre turbo diesel (R 280 CDI), 224bhp 3.0 litre turbo diesel (R 320 CDI), 272bhp 3.5-litre V6 and 302bhp 5.0-litre V8. The 375kW/510bhp 6.2-litre V8 R 63 AMG had its debut at the Geneva show in February 2006, the 'Vision R 63 AMG' concept having debuted at the Frankfurt show in September 2005.

Mercedes-Benz announced a minor restyle in May 2007, which went on sale in the US two months later. At the same time, the R 500 and R 63 AMG were discontinued in North American markets. The range was then split into five- and seven-seater formats, though the former 4+2 arrangement continued to be available (as an option).

The range was, until May 2009, as follows: R 280 CDI R 280 CDI 4MATIC (short wheelbase only), R 320 CDI 4MATIC, R 280, R 350, R 350 4MATIC and R 500 4MATIC. The 3.0-litre R 280 was new at that update, while the R 500's 5.0-litre V8 was replaced by a 5.5-litre unit.

In May 2009, Mercedes-Benz announced various changes: R 280 CDI renamed R 300 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, R 280 CDI 4MATIC became R 300 CDI 4MATIC, R 280 became R 300 and R 320 CDI became R 350 CDI. A second facelift then debuted at the New York motor show in March 2010.

In July 2011, Daimler confirmed that a replacement for the GL-Class would be made at Tuscaloosa, and reconfirmed the then next C-Class for the plant. It made no mention of a successor for the R-Class.

Sales of the R-Class in North America ceased at the end of that region's 2013 model year. The model continues to be built for certain export markets, with China one of the main ones.

Production was taken over by AM General during 2015. This is the same firm which once manufactured Hummer SUVs at the same location in the state of Indiana. The R-Class would be made in long-wheelbase form for several more years, according to a 27 January 2015 report by just-auto.com. In April 2015, the company confirmed that it had secured a 'multi-year' contract with Daimler and that the R-Class would be built at the rate of 12,000 units a year. This takes place on the line which formerly produced the Hummer H2 and which also makes the MV-1 taxi. The first series production R-Class was made at Mishawaka in during August 2015.

The V-Class is the successor to the Viano and so is a van-based minibus. It was revealed at a press preview event in Munich in January 2014 with its public debut being at the Geneva show two months later. It uses the same platform as the Viano and is a big vehicle, measuring 5,140mm end to end.

Initial production began at the Vitoria plant in Spain, with build in China added in March 2016 to replace the locally made Viano. China's V-Class went on sale there in April 2016.

The V-Class was launched in Europe in May 2014 (May 2015 for the UK) and is sold via passenger car and commercial vehicle sales channels.

The US and Canadian markets have had their own variant since late 2015: the Mercedes-Benz Metris. So as to avoid the US' so-called 'chicken tax', a 25% import duty, cargo versions of the Metris have their powertrains, fuel tanks and batteries taken out and shipped to the Daimler Vans plant in Ladson, South Carolina, for re-assembly. Passenger versions are not subject to the tax.

A plug-in hybrid prototype of the V-Class premiered at the 2015 Geneva motor show. This was the Concept V-ision e. No production model has (yet) appeared.

The Australian importer sells the passenger version of the V-Class as the Valente.

The V-Class Exclusive, an upscale variant, had its public debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2016 and was in European dealerships during the same month. The next news should be a facelift for the whole range in 2018 and replacement model in 2023.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as model codenames and production locations, are available in PLDB from QUBE.