Through the Grand Alps: 650 scribes to test MB GLK, G-Class carsBy Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
GENEVA—It isn’t every day that Mercedes-Benz—considered royalty in global automotive circles—holds a test fest in Europe, let alone Switzerland. But here we are, in the land of sweet precision (chocolates and watches, anyone?) and pristine geographic beauty, behind the wheel of the three-pointed star. No, we’re not driving a jeepney with a “borrowed” Mercedes-Benz emblem, Inquirer Motoring is in the company of international motoring journalists, all 650 of them, who will get the privilege of driving through the Grand Alps between Lake Geneva and the French Riviera, on the newest Mercedes-Benzes on the planet.
Now that’s a recipe for glädje i stunden (happiness in the moment)!
The 650 media delegates of the ongoing international press drive—which started May 14 and ends on June 1—will get first crack at the new generations of the compact GLK and new G-Class. It is this year’s major event for the German luxury carmaker.
Inquirer Motoring joins two other Asian motoring journalists (another from Top Gear Philippines, and one from Taiwan) and the rest of the European automotive media for the run. For the two-man Philippine contingent, this will be a two-day run starting Wednesday at Geneva, Switzerland, on the way to GLK offroad hub, and La Clusaz, France.
The second day starts on relay station Lake Annecy in Duingt, France, and ends in Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. The road includes Evian, through Thonon, Morzine and Cluses to Chamonix and further to Nice.
Exactly 34 GLK Class (on-road and off-road versions), 11 G-Class and five other G-Class units for offroading will be used. The new G 63 AMG and its 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine (which was designed for significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions) will also be tested.
CATS Motors Inc. president Felix Ang secured the two coveted slots for the Philippines. CATS Motors Inc. is the Philippine general distributor of Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
Ang said these new generation Mercedes-Benzes would enhance the already diverse SUV family, adding that the new edition of the GLK underlines its individual character with a fresh design, innovative assistance systems, as well as efficient, agile engines. Ang added that the G-Class has been an icon of the four-wheel-drive for 33 years, and has now undergone a comprehensive update that offers improved safety and luxury as well as two new exclusive AMG high-performance models.
In the Philippines, and in the rest of the world, the sports utility vehicle has become an integral part of the everyday motoring landscape. But it has had a long incubation period, so to speak. Auto expert Giles Chapman noted on “SUV: The World’s Greatest Sports Utility Vehicles,” the SUV is far from a modern automotive phenomenon. The root of today’s gleaming off-roaders lies in robust World War 2-era military vehicles and post-war manufacturing ingenuity.
The GLK SUV was cited as an occasional niche model by some auto observers. Tony Lewin, author of the “A-Z of 21st Century Cars,” said that although niche models such as the 2008 GLK SUV may jar in its crude design language, Mercedes Benz has developed a “very consistent and solid message across its huge span of different vehicle types. This has been achieved through the systematic application of strong, confident design, and the meticulous management of continuity between successive generations to build up a century of brand equity.”
According to “Car Badges: The Ultimate Guide to Automotive Logos Worldwide,” the invention of the automobile in the 1880s inspired Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, independently of one another, to become pioneers in this new form of transport. With the help of financial backers, they both launched their projects privately in Mannheim, Germany.
In keeping up with the brand’s reputation, which has a predominantly affluent and choosy clientele, everything, including the five-star hotels in Geneva and La Clusaz, France, where the test drivers are to be billeted, is nothing short of posh.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=59535