I have tried to attend Salon Privé for a long time, but I’ve never managed it! I always thought Salon Privé was a small car show, and that’s all. However, I was wrong.
I realized this when I attended the event at Royal Chelsea Hospital in London this year. Since I started blogging, I think this is the first car show where I didn’t ask for a press pass.
Salon Privé London has something unique to offer! It is small, but it has everything! From Prodrive’s Paris Dacar off-roader BRX Hunter to Bugatti Chirons (multiple Chirons were present). I’m not even taking into account the number of Lamborghinis that were present.
Another great part of Salon Privé was Anna-Louise Felstead (Instagram @alfelstead). She is a fantastic artist whose paintings I love. This is especially true for the ones that convey the reality of luxury cars. They are amazing!
Also, there were two helicopters at Salon Privé. I can’t ignore them in this write-up. From this year, I will be attending a future Salone Privé event, and I highly recommend it!
Over the last three years, we have witnessed a considerable increase in the number of electric cars in the market. Starting with Tesla, many other manufacturers introduced electric vehicles in their range of models, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.
This trend is not something new, and it was ignited by Tesla. Early in 2013, BMW introduced the i3 and i8 models. At this point, there were only a few electric cars. Now, Mercedes literally offers every ICE car in an electric version. BMW and Audi are going in that direction as well. I am sure VW Group will implement this strategy in the rest of their brands.
All of this is good news for the consumer, and it’s nice to see a shift from ICE to electric cars. The rise of electric vehicles in the market will increase competition, quality, and the range of choices.
There is one thing unique to electric cars, and many people haven’t realised it yet. They realised it as a benefit! Servicing! Electric vehicles have literally no moving parts. The Porsche Taycan is the only electric car with an automatic gearbox.
Electric motors don’t need servicing. This is because there is no engine oil, air filter, spark plugs, clutches, or catalysers. As a result, servicing your electric car will be cheap. Probably, brake pads and brake fluid will need to be replaced from time to time. You may also need to check the condition of the electric motor, and maybe few other bits.
This is good for consumers but bad for car companies. These companies make lots of profit from servicing. Manufacturing a car is an expensive process, but servicing it is really easy! So, the profit margin for servicing a vehicle is high.
Given the limited servicing frame for electric vehicles, then, how will car companies compensate for the lost profit? One option is to increase the price, but this may backfire.
Now let’s have a look at Apple’s business model. You buy an iPad and keep it for a long time; Apple can’t sell you an additional iPad that easily. So, how does Apple make a profit from you? The answer is, again, services! These include Apple Music, Apple TV+, and all the other apps you’ve subscribed to. Your iPad is nothing without those services.
I believe the car industry may go in a similar direction. That’s to say, after you buy your electric car, you may be required to pay a subscription fee if you wish to use services.
Mercedes-Benz is already doing something similar with its EQS. You have to pay for it if you want to have extended angle rear-wheel steering, and Mercedes-Benz will enable it over-the-air. This model is similar to how Apple’s AppStore used to work. If you pay once, the model doesn’t work; everything needs to be on subscription.
Over the next ten years, we will probably see car manufacturers rolling out many subscription services to compensate for the financial loss of vehicle servicing.
After a very long time, probably 6-7 years later, I started to blog in the middle of the night. There is one reason for this: the Mercedes-Maybach S680 4MATIC V12. After years and years of waiting, Mercedes-Benz finally released a V12 4MATIC sedan. For a short period, G65 AMG V12 was available, and it was four-wheel drive. However, there was no V12 sedan with an all-wheel-drive system.
As you would expect, Mercedes-Maybach is the perfect incognito luxury sedan that has the potential to eat the market share of Bentley Flying Spur and Rolls Royce Ghost. Mercedes-Maybach is half a decade ahead of both brands in terms of technology, including its driving assistance systems. However, the cool factor or multiplier of Maybach is not as strong as the British brands.
Anyway, the Mercedes-Maybach S680 4MATIC is powered by a proper 6-lt V12 engine producing 612 PS and 900 Nm of torque (that’s a lot!), paired with a 9-speed automatic. 9-speed automatic and V12 is another first-timer. The sheer amount of torque produced by the V12 was always a transmission breaker. As we can see, Daimler AG’s metallurgy department found a way to cope with the torque.
These are some of the party tricks of the Mercedes-Maybach series. Yes, affordable V8 models are available as well, including a V6 for the Chinese market, Mercedes-Maybach S480 4MATIC (3-lt, 333 PS, and 480nm). However, the party tricks of Maybach are amazing, and I copied them from the press release directly. Just ignore the pricing; if you can afford it, you won’t be bothered by the pricing.
On request, the exclusive appearance of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class can be further enhanced by a two-tone paint finish (14,875 euros) with a fine dividing line. A total of ten colour combinations from the Mercedes-Maybach paint chart are available for this.
When the electrically powered comfort doors at the rear (1606.50 euros) are operated, they open and close with no human effort even on gradients. Integration into the infotainment and control system MBUX and Blind Spot Assist ensures a high level of operating convenience and additional safety. In combination with MBUX Interior Assist in the rear, the closing action of the automatic comfort doors can even be started or stopped with a hand gesture.
Thanks to rear-axle steering (1547 euros), the S-Class feels as manoeuvrable as a compact car when driving in town. The revolutionary headlamp technology DIGITAL LIGHT (2249.10 euros) allows completely new functions, for example the projection of guidelines or warning symbols onto the road surface.
With adaptive rear illumination (345.10 euros), the brightness and colour temperature of the interior lighting is adjustable in several stages. The LED spotlights are adjustable for position and size, allowing use as reading or lounge lights.
MBUX Interior Assist in the rear (523.60 euros) is able to detect rear-seat passengers. In this case the head restraints extend automatically. Intuitive hand gestures can be used to control the rear roller sun blind in the panoramic sliding sunroof. This is available in conjunction with MBUX Interior Assist in the front (642.60 euros).
With the MBUX high-end Rear Seat Entertainment system (2558.10 euros), passengers in the rear can also enjoy the full MBUX experience with direct access to vehicle functions. It is possible to watch films and access internet content on the two fully-integrated 11.6-inch high-resolution displays, for example.
The silver-plated champagne goblets (3808 euros) round off the exclusive atmosphere in the rear of the Mercedes-Maybach. A tailor-made insert in the stowage compartment and two matching holders in the centre console hold the goblets in place even when on the move.
Technical details are;
S580 4MATIC: 3.9-lt V8, 503 PS + 20PS (electric boost), 700nm and 4.8-sec to 100km/h.
S680 4MATIC: 5.9-lt V12, 612 PS, 900nm and 4.5-sec to 100km/h.
Over the last few months, we experienced one of the highest numbers of electric car reveals. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi released a substantial number of electric vehicles to market, and here is a list of them.
Mercedes EQA (electric version of GLA), EQB (electric version of GLB), and EQS (electric version of S-Class). Soon to be EQE (electric version of E-Class).
BMW iX (electric version of X5), iX3 (electric version of X3, with only rear-wheel drive) and iX4 (electric version of 4-Series Gran Coupe, coming soon).
Audi RS e-tron GT (Audi version of Porsche Taycan), Q4 e-tron & Sportback (electric version of Q4 and based on VW platform with rear drum brake), and soon to be A6 e-tron (Electric version of A6).
Don’t worry; it’s not the end of the internal combustion engine, but the end is within sight. As far as I can tell from the press releases, VW Group, Daimler, and BMW will not be developing new internal combustion engines, and they will revise their existing ones. Honestly, this is a great way to improve the internal combustion engines (ICE); these engines are efficient, and improving them will help to increase efficiency levels.
Mercedes-Benz’s electric car range is a carbon copy of their existing ICE cars. Audi and BMW are following the same strategy. This means one thing: we will be moving from petrol to electricity without even noticing. The range anxiety is still here, but the ranges are getting better than better. Mercedes-Benz offers a 770-km range for a single charge, and that’s good. Also, we have many charging points.
The only issue is that electric cars are expensive, but their prices will go down eventually.
Recently, Rory Sutherland mentioned how cool electric cars are, noticing that they have motivated people to talk about their cars again. Honestly, if you own a petrol/diesel-powered car and talk about it all the time, it makes you a bit weird nowadays. The era of car-based status or showing off is gone, but if you buy an electric vehicle, you have a brand-new experience that people would love to hear about. I feel like electric cars will make cars cool again.
Will I buy an electric car? Yes. I am especially interested in the Mercedes-Benz EQS.
Coupe of weeks ago Gordon Wagener, the Chief Design Director of Mercedes-Benz, announced a brand-new G-Wagon. A collaboration with Virgil Abloh (founder of Off-White brand and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men wear collection). However, only one has been produced so far, with the project being named Project Gelandewagen. The car is inspired by the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG and looks fantastic.
The reason I am saying that this is a fantastic vehicle is because G63 AMG is undeniably the most pointless SUV. It has massive wheels, its engine is not fit for off-road drives, it makes too much meaningless noise and the exhaust is overexposed. I would even argue that the G63 AMG should have a different, bolder design than the traditional G-Wagon.
The Mercedes-Benz marketing team initially proposed the G-Wagon as a fashion item rather than a functional vehicle. Sure, this helped increase sales figures, but it distanced people like me from the G-Wagon. I think it’s a really good off-road vehicle which doesn’t need to offer an AMG engine. It should be something like a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – a true off-roader!
Now Mercedes-Benz has the opportunity to offer a proper G63 AMG; it has been designed by Virgil Abloh and Gordon Wagener, LV men’s fashion director and the founder of the Off-White brand. It is only a one-off project, but I think it should be mass produced.
A bit about the vehicle itself: literally everything inside the vehicle is removed. The steering wheel is from the AMG F1, the seats are from the AMG GT, the chunky door handles are done. There’s brand new paint inside and outside. All dials are replaced with the GT racing dials. Their massive slick tyres reduce suspension height and project for the headlamps with duct tape.
This is a proper G63 AMG – I loved it, and I believe this is how it should be offered.
A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity of seeing the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon, in person, on the King’s Road, Chelsea. I thought it was a CLA, and that someone had decided to remove the CL from the vehicle’s badge. Apparently, I was wrong! I should have read the Daimler AG’s press release more carefully, as the A-Class Saloon is an entirely different car than the CLA model.
I personally consider the CLA to be the most obsolete car on this planet, in fact, in our solar system! It looks like someone put the CLS into a dryer which resulted in the obscure looking CLA. The CLA is, however, a cash maker in emerging markets, where the taxation is burdensome on cars. Even taking this into account, it does not justify the awkward aesthetic of the CLA.
I have always considered the CLA to be the ‘Saloon’ version of the A-Class, with a similar frontage, the same interior but with a larger boot. Daimler AG headquarters had a different idea, launching the A-Class Saloon, based on expensive consultants, Excel spreadsheets, and very long reports to justify the advantages and differences over the CLA.
I have been interested in cars since I was a child, and I can even spot the model of a car at night. I could not, however, decipher the difference in design between the CLA and the A-Class Saloon. True, the A-Class Saloon has a higher roofline at the C-column, along with a few other variances, including the suspension which is probably a bit softer in the A-Class Saloon. Yet no glaringly obvious difference would entice someone to choose anything other than the cheapest.
The CLA is positioned as a sportier version, but the differences are so slight I doubt that someone would visit a dealer and measure the rooflines to then decide.
The CLA and A-Class Saloon will inevitably saturate each-others’ market share.
A similar situation occurred with the BMW brand. Take the BMW 3-Series Gran Tour and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe; they look the same. I raised this issue on my blog and received an abundance of emails in response as so many people were bewildered about the difference or lack of difference between the two models. The only notable criterion was pricing, and this soon wore thin with the consumers, and consequently, the 3-Series Gran Tour was abandoned!
Inevitably this may also be the fate of the A-Class Saloon and the CLA. Someone accidently pitched the idea to Daimler AG, and it went into production.
Mercedes-Benz has finally revealed the interior design of the next-generation S-Class W223. Typically, the features you would see inside one S-Class model would be very similar ten years later on subsequent models, including safety technologies such as ESP and the pre-crash system. This time, Mercedes have broken the mould.
The brand is pushing the boundaries with its functionality, with touch-sensitive buttons or tiny touch screens included in its new model for the seat climate controls. The centre console of this S-Class is akin to the likes of the Audi A8, the Tesla Model S, and the Range Rover. There is a complete absence of physical buttons; now you control everything via a state-of-the-art touch screen. It is very much reminiscent of an iPad experience; however, it can be difficult to alter the aircon temperature, for example, whilst you are driving. The lack of real feedback of a physical button when using the touch screen is a concern, and this is a well-known issue.
The S-Class has taken the touch screen control to an entirely new dimension, with even the controls for seat temperature being controlled in this way! Heating and cooling controls for seats used to be psychical buttons. Notably, the Audi A8 still has these, which I consider to be the optimal experience. Now, if you wish to heat your seat, you have to look at the button area to see whether you are touching the correct one; otherwise, you can quickly cool down your seat on a cold winter drive!
Physical buttons allow us to gauge the pressure we apply to the button, and also how many times we have pressed it. These would be much more practical for users when in the motion of driving – something Mercedes have overlooked.
Regrettably, addiction to touch screens will increase the opportunity for a new type of accident. Until now, we haven’t experienced accidents due to driver distraction from touch screen controls, but this could be on the horizon with drivers of cars like this model having to overt their eyes from the road to manage the screen controls. Pre-crash technology systems may prevent such accidents, but there is no need to invent a new type of accident when the existing solutions work perfectly.
Mercedes-Benz recently revealed their next-generation user interface system for the upcoming S-Class. I didn’t have a chance to try the system, so my assumptions are based upon what I have observed from press releases and others’ experience.
Since the Tesla Model S was launched, there has been a trend to remove all buttons from the dashboard, instead of replacing all controls via a touchscreen glass panel. On paper, it is a great way of minimising the clutter of buttons on the dashboard, whilst upholding a current on-trend aesthetic that is technologically savvy. Undeniably, it also looks great from a design perspective; who doesn’t admire Bauhaus (form follows function)?
By removing all necessary physical buttons and replacing them with a touch screen also created a new source for vehicle accidents; I crashed while I was trying to adjust the climate control temperature.
This problem is ousted by Mercedes-Benz’s voice-activated technology. The system assumes that people will say something and the car will simply understand; wishful thinking? There are so many accent and sentence structures, it is extremely challenging for a computer to understand what we want. You can also control everything from the interior buttons and knobs whilst driving, therefore it is very easy and safe.
Of course, Mercedes-Benz didn’t simply release a funky user interface. They introduced probably the best navigation system launched yet. By implementing augmented reality into the front screen, the navigation system will show arrows and provide direction directly from the windscreen, placing them at the correct points, instead of telling you ‘turn right after 200 meters’.
I loved the augmented reality navigation system and, likely, other manufacturers and brands will soon follow suit. Admittedly, though, I am not in favour of buttonless dashboards. These will only act to increase accidents and distract people. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if operating a touch screen dashboard is a violation of traffic law. Yes, we need touch screens but not for everything. A hybrid approach would be more optimal than a smartphone approach. What is essentially copying and pasting a smartphone experience into a 2-tone metal object that can travel up to 250 km/h is not the way to move forward.
Here is the technical details of the MBUX (next generation S-Class W223):
Display: 1888 x 1728 resolution, 12.8-inch and 200-ppi (pixel-per-inch) (Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 458-ppi)
Storage: 320 GB SSD
Memory: 16 GB RAM with 41,790 MB/sec (bandwidth)
Exactly seven years ago, Mercedes-Benz S-Class press photos were leaked around this time (I have the actual date on my Facebook memories). But this time, it is not a press photo but an Instagram photo. The notorious Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/cochespias/) for finding leaked car photos managed to find the images of the upcoming S-Class (W223). Sadly though, this is the next model! It looks like a Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan on steroids, and it has finally had its ultra-serious look removed. Yet unfortunately, the upcoming look of the S-Class reminds me of a ‘this look sells more cars’ face.
I am sure that many people will buy the new S-Class, there is no doubt about that. It is the critical player in this segment. But the interior is a bit disappointing. The new steering wheel is touch-capacitive capable, with Mercedes-Benz opting to use the touch screen features of a smartphone on the steering wheel and assumes that this is a good idea. While it means they don’t need moving buttons, this type of design will increase accidental taps and makes the learning curve too steep.
The centre console is a disaster. All touch screen trends started with the Range Rover and Audi caught this terrible virus. Now it is time for Mercedes-Benz. All touch screen centre consoles are pointless and silly – you can’t have button feedback, and you have to stop all the time to adjust the aircon temperature, or the seat heating, or whatever that can be done quickly using knobs and buttons.
Mercedes-Benz’s defence will, in all likelihood, be that it is a new technology and that the driver can use voice control. Voice control in cars has historically been rubbish and never works. Drivers need physical buttons and feedback to control basic controls while driving; otherwise they have to look at the central console to adjust minor things and stop looking at the road. This technology will work in level-5 autonomous vehicles, but we are not there yet! In the meantime, we still need physical buttons on the central console.
I think everyone agrees with you on this. So, what do you think about the buttonless touch only central consoles?
Following much anticipation, Mercedes-Benz has revealed its Maybach SUV, a vehicle that has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade. Just a few days ago, the Maybach GLS 600 SUV which is based on its existing GLS model.
Interestingly, the launch of the Maybach GLS 600 was timed to perfection. The GLS 600 may not be the most attractive of the luxury SUV market fleet, but from a behavioural economics perspective, we judge everything based on a reference point and the luxury SUV market hosts a more limited range of vehicles. Starting with the Bentley Bentayga, the Rolls Royce Cullinan and the Aston Martin DBX (that looks akin to a Ford Focus SUV despite Aston Martin not being affiliated with Ford). Owing to the competitors’ sense of design the GLS 600 does favourably well in terms of aesthetics and style.
The GLS 600 offers state-of-the-art technology that somewhat supersedes the existing S-Class (the S-Class will have a re-vamped model next year). The Mercedes-Benz technological capabilities are superior to the BMW brand and the VW Group, therefore you can enjoy the tech and added comforts bestowed by luxury brands such as Bentley or Rolls-Royce.
Regrettably, as seen on some of the press images, there are some less aesthetically appealing parts to the interior including some plastic trims. Admittedly, the slightly ridiculous front perspective of the car is not a selling point, but when compared with its rivals in this market, the other alternatives are not much improved. Interestingly, the GLS 600 is the only luxury SUV that offers a central differential lock and a low range gearbox, though this has not been officially confirmed as yet.
Unfortunately for Mercedes, the GLS 600 does not offer the 6-lt V12 engine that you can find inside the Mercedes-Benz S600. The GLS 600 featured a 4-lt V8 bi-turbo engine that is available on AMG models, however, failing to offer the V12 engine means that the GLS will lag behind the Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Ultimately, the Maybach GLS 600 is a captivating vehicle for this market. Personally, I would not choose to purchase one, however, it will undoubtedly capture the market of Bentley Bentayga as well as penetrating the boundaries of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan market.