Mercedes-Benz History

Mercedes-Benz is one of the most recognizable brands in motoring. It’s also the oldest existing car company in the world, having been started in 1881 by Karl Benz, the man who would later in 1886 invent the very first petrol-powered car, although it looks laughably primitive compared to his company’s products of the 21st century. Mercedes-Benz is more than a car company, its many people’s idea of the pinnacle of luxury, of showing off to your peers that you’ve “made it”. The company occupies an enviable position as the luxury car brand most people in the world aspire to, yet this “attainable luxury” mass appeal does not in any way cheapen the brand. The name Mercedes-Benz and the famous 3-pointed star emblem have together been recognized as one of the world’s most valuable brands.

Mercedes-Benz is currently headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and is part of Daimler AG, formerly DaimlerChrysler AG, formerly Daimler-Benz. The company’s other products include buses and heavy commercial trucks. AMG is also part of the family, and it specializes in tuning Mercedes passenger cars, turning them into fire-breathing high-performance motors. These cars are often shoehorned with a larger-displacement engine, in addition to a stiffer suspension, larger brakes, different interior trim and distinctive bodywork.

Mercedes-Benz vehicles suffered a worrying drop in quality in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when the company unwisely decided to dramatically increase sales volumes at the expense of build quality. Surveys showed that owners were not at tall happy with the cars bought in this period, and the company listened. Since 2005 reliability rankings have steadily improved, and the marque is near the top in quality surveys once again. Another blotch on the company’s record is that it was fined some US$ 30 million by the US government in 2009 for its failure to meet certain corporate-wide emissions standards on its fleet of cars sold there. This was thanks in no small part to the thirsty AMG models with their 6.3 and 6.5-litre engines. In Europe, the company was also ranked last for CO2 emissions in 2006, 2007 and 2008 out of 14 major manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz Models

The Mercedes-Benz New Zealand range is pretty comprehensive, and kicks off with the A-class, a small classy hatchback. Next up is the B-class, a slightly larger hatchback. Some critics have questioned the wisdom of having these 2 very similar cars in the same segment. The midsize volume-selling C-Class follows, and it’s available in a massive range of engines and trims, from the C200 Kompressor with a 2.0 supercharged engine, to the C220 BlueEfficiency engine with its environmentally clean, frugal diesel engine, all the way up to the C63 AMG, a tyre-smoking hotrod version. The CLC is a compact, truncated C-Class.

The semi-executive E-Class is here as well, also available with a satisfyingly large choice of engines; together with the CLS, a swoopy 4-door coupe based on the E-Class platform. It was first shown as a concept car and was never meant for production, but the clamour from customers and the motoring press meant Mercedes-Benz had no choice but to build it.

The aristocratic S-Class is a hot favourite of corporate titans, and it has been several times been labelled as simply “the best car in the world”. Sports-car aficionados are taken care of with the SLK and its bigger brother the SL, both with spectacular, metal-origami folding hardtop roofs. SUV’s are sold as the M-Class, perennial rival to BMW’s X5; the larger GL-Class that looks like a giant M-Class, and the odd R-Class, a cross between SUV and MPV that seats six people.

Looking at buying a Mercedes-Benz? Check the vehicle history of any Mercedes-Benz by entering its number plate in the field above.