Full throt­tle

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On Road - Paul Gover Na­tional edi­tor

STAND­ING out­side in the snow on a Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon in down­town Stuttgart can have its ben­e­fits. The pas­sive smok­ing out­side the ho­tel is not fun, but it’s im­pos­si­ble to avoid a smile when a pair of top-se­cret Daim­ler pro­to­types idle past.

The first is dis­guised, but barely. It’s a Benz prime mover with graf­fiti cam­ou­flage splashed over the cabin, and it sticks out in traf­fic ex­actly be­cause of the crazy body­work and be­cause there is noth­ing hitched to the tail.

As it glides past, sur­pris­ingly qui­etly, the rea­son is clear. Right be­hind the cabin is an ex­per­i­men­tal fuel cell stack, in­di­cat­ing this heavy hauler is be­ing used to as­sess the fu­ture of hy­dro­gen power in elec­tric trucks for the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Not five min­utes later, as the cig­a­rette fog starts to clear, a flat-black com­pact comes into view.

It’s one of Benz’s new B-Class com­pacts and is wrapped in fake body­work, odd­ball wheels and fin­ished with cheapie tail-lights.

The new B is hard to pick in pic­tures, but up close it’s easy to see the longer and lower body­work, glass that cuts down deeper into the doors, a smoother new dash out­line and the work that’s gone into mak­ing it more than just an af­ford­able city box with a three-pointed star.

Benz has eight new-model introductions planned this year and there was a real in­sight— of­fi­cial and un­of­fi­cial— dur­ing the com­pany’s 125th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions last Satur­day.

The of­fi­cial pro­gram starts with the un­veil­ing of the lat­est SLK road­ster by F1 driv­ers Michael Schu­macher, Nico Ros­berg and David Coulthard.

It con­tin­ues when a de­sign pre­sen­ta­tion on the car in­cludes slides with sketches of the com­ing cabins of the B-Class, baby A-Class and even Benz’s new seg­ment-buster car, the E-Class­based Shoot­ing Brake.

The un­of­fi­cial stuff hap­pens when we get lost in­side Benz’s ex­per­i­men­tal head­quar­ters and do a lap of the carpark. There’s al­most a dozen B-Class pro­to­types, but we also get a quick peek at the lightly dis­guised C-Class coupe, the thump­ing C63 AMGCoupe, the next ML SUV and even an up­dated SL road­ster and a gi­ant GL partly hid­den un­der a car cover.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.