Chase every thrill with Mercedes-Benz Middle East and XDubai.

Live life in the fast lane! Mercedes-Benz and XDubai are promising thrills and excitement – with the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC, CLA 45 4MATIC und A 45 4MATIC.

Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC and CLA 45 4MATIC:
Fuel consumption combined: 7.3–6.9 l/100 km;
combined CO₂ emissions: 171–162 g/km.*

He says, She says - an Athens road trip in an A-Class.

The drivers: Orestis Matsoukas and Elena Palpani.

Relationship: collegial (most of the time, anyway…).

Fuel consumption combined: 4.1–3.7 l/100 km;

combined CO₂ emissions: 107–98 g/km.*

Orestis Matsoukas.

In the rest of Greece, it’s often said that the people of Athens live in their own universe. It’s something they’ve always done, not just since the debt crisis. And it is most apparent on the streets, where traffic doesn’t pander to such things as road regulations, opting instead to follow its own rules.

So when we asked start-up entrepreneur Orestis Matsoukas (33) and his colleague Elena Palpani (22) to show us around the city in a Mercedes-Benz A-Class, they were a bit taken aback. “You have taken out insurance, haven’t you?” joked Orestis.

Born and raised “just a stone’s throw from the Acropolis” in Athens, Orestis is now ManagingDirector of Orama Group, a company he founded in 2011, as well as President of the Hellenic Association of Young Entrepreneurs. His assistant Elena joined Orama a few months ago, having been made a job offer on the back of her internship. In Athens, job offers are about as hard to come by as unscathed fenders, but today the two colleagues stand before a freshly polished A-Class, an A 180 d ready and waiting for them to take the wheel.

This much space.

Elena, Orestis, welcome to Mercedes-Benz! Who’s first?

Orestis: [To Elena] If it’s OK with you… Elena: Go ahead. You can drive in the inner-city bumper-to-bumper traffic; I’ll take over later and cruise down Poseidonos Avenue by the sea. Orestis: Dammit! I didn’t think of that.

Elena laughs out loud, opens the passenger door and jumps in, looking around the interior in amazement. She stretches out her arms, but they don’t reach far enough to touch the sleek dashboard in front of her.

Elena: Wow! I never imagined there’d be this much space inside!

Elena Palpani.

Orestis gets in and examines the car’s functionality, positions the driver’s seat, studies the display. As soon as he puts the car in reverse, the dashboard’s screen comes to life, giving him a view from the rear camera.

Orestis: Amazing! We have eyes in the backs of our heads! Elena: Let’s see whether it’s of any help.

Ignoring Elena’s chiding, Orestis checks the car’s windscreen wipers, hand brake and hazard lights. To say the latter are one of the most important features of a car in Athenian traffic is no exaggeration. By switching them on you signal to the cars around you that you are about to come to an abrupt halt for no apparent reason. Orestis, don’t forget: in an emergency, the Active Brake Assist will help you out! He seems relieved. He then tests the horn, giving Elena a fright.

Elena: Was that really necessary? Orestis: Nice sound, don’t you think?

Good Sound.

Orestis turns the key in the ignition and the A 180 d’s engine begins to purr. We are in Syntagma Square, where the people of Athens meet to chat, flirt – and strike. Our first stops on the tour are the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium. Orestis squeezes the A-Class into a gap between the slow-moving cars. A couple of traffic lights later, things begin to flow more quickly.

Orestis: This is the first time I’ve driven through Athens without being continuously jolted by the city’s potholes.

Elena: You do still feel the roads though. I like that.

Athenians feel a deep bond with their city, which, more than a metropolis, is like a giant open-air museum pervaded by antiquity. When Orestis and Elena pull up at the Acropolis, and later at the Stadium – with the hazard lights on, of course – we are amazed by their in-depth knowledge. Or did you already know that the Acropolis Museum houses a replica of the Parthenon’s cella, or inner chamber, at its core? Neither did we. Athenians love never-ending conversation and, leaning nonchalantly on the car, Orestis and Elena are a veritable fountain of fascinating facts. But there’s one thing we really want to know: what do they think of the A-Class?

'The design is anything but conservative.'

Elena: When I first saw the car this morning, I was surprised. I hadn’t really looked at it before and the image in my head was much more conservative. I thought it would be a car for more mature people. Is it OK to say that? But the design is anything but conservative. I particularly like the front, with the lines running down towards the centre. That’s very cool.

Orestis runs his index finger along the tail. Orestis: This line that begins at the rear light and swoops downward and along as it crosses the two doors – I’ve never seen that in any other car.

Right then, you two – it’s already past noon. Can we get a good gyro or souvlaki around here?

Orestis: Absolutely! I know a place that serves the best souvlaki in the whole city. Hop in!

The drive takes us around the Acropolis citadel and on to Gazi, a former industrial district now bustling with trendy bars, restaurants and clubs. At Kandavlos restaurant, Orestis orders several portions of souvlaki to take away. A short while later, parked in a side street, he and Elena are overcome with adoration for their city as they tuck into their bread. They gush about its narrow alleys and spectacular views over the Saronic Gulf, where grey and white coastal houses meet the deep blue of the sea. Down at the seafront is also where their city tour comes to an end. Elena takes the wheel.

In the rearview mirror, the old city of Athens recedes into the distance.

Elena: Is the engine running? I can hardly hear anything. Orestis: It sure is – take it away!

On Syngrou Avenue, Elena presses her foot down on the accelerator. She is careful at first, but after just a few seconds begins accelerating at speed, quickly hitting the 80 km/h speed limit and taking the curves at quite a pace.

Elena: Woohooo! Orestis: Not so fast, Elena! Elena: Incredible. You can’t hear the wind at all.

Orestis grabs at the armrest with his right hand for something to hold on to. He is laughing, albeit somewhat uneasily. Elena: It’s OK, boss, don’t you worry!

Only when Elena begins to slow down does Orestis’ tension subside. The A-Class turns on to Poseidonos Avenue, which stretches along the coast to Kap Sounion and through the seaside towns of Glyfada and Vouliagmeni. There are countless cafes to stop at along this road, but Orestis and Elena wind down their windows and drive on in silence. An integrated smartphone belonging to one of the two plays an electro-pop version of a Mikis Theodorakis song through the car’s speakers. In the rearview mirror, the old city of Athens recedes into the distance.

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The Mercedes-Benz G-Class exploring the hidden beauty of France.

Guest article: France’s hidden beauty.

The photographer duo Martin Krolop and Marc Gerst on tour with G-Class and A-Class.

12 days of comfort and driving pleasure.

Martin Krolop and Marc Gerst spent 12 days travelling through France, accompanied by two elegant vehicles. The G-Class combines comfort and transport volume while at the same time providing lots of opportunities for taking photographs off the road. The A-Class drives beautifully and the 250 Sport version is particularly fun on out-of-town roads. A perfect duo for a lot of photography equipment and 5.000 km over 12 days. Any specific aims in mind? To have fun driving, gain some nice experiences and to come back home with as many fascinating car pictures as possible showing the versatility of France.

The A-Class drives beautifully and the 250 Sport version is particularly fun on out-of-town roads.
A 250 Sport: Fuel consumption combined: 6.7 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 156 g/km.*
A black Mercedes-Benz G-Class is photographed on a sandy beach between old shipwrecks.
G 500: Fuel consumption combined: 12.3 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 289 g/km.*

Fascinating weather conditions.

12 days of travelling across France doesn’t necessarily mean summer and sunshine all the way. Of course it sometimes rains there and we didn’t exactly pick the best days of the year for travelling around Brittany. But we did have the best vehicle to brace the weather.

The G-Class helps you to cope with things a lot better and even to turn them into good points. In the pouring rain, we jumped into the car and drove right into an old ship graveyard. We headed straight into the mud. And lo and behold, the best pictures come out of the most testing of circumstances.

The front of the anthracite-coloured A-Class 250 Sport on a sandy beach.

Car wash four times a day.

Of course, as a photographer, you’d like to keep digital editing as simple as possible. Everyone wants to avoid making mistakes when taking photos and, while powder is important for portraits, the car wash is just as important in car photography. This resulted in us washing the cars at least twice a day, and sometimes even three or four times. We even went through the car wash in the rain and bad weather, which caused some people to give us strange looks. Who washes their car in the pouring rain? But it was definitely worth it and the right thing to do because a clean car just looks better, even in the rain.

Unusual perspectives.

For photographers, it’s that special angle or the most thrilling camera position which makes photography so special. A new tool has recently become available to help achieve this. Quadrocopters or hexacopters are aerial devices which can be used to get a camera into the air. This way, exceptional photos can be taken which would otherwise not be possible. It is possible to shoot from different angles and the pictures have a fresh, exciting quality. Communication is, of course, a particular challenge. Two technical devices have to be synchronised with one another: the drone and the car.

With the help of a drone unusual perspectives of the mercedes-Benz G-Class are possible.
Even in the cloudy and grey Bretagne the Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport looks great.

Bonjour, tristesse.

In the beginning, we were quite disappointed about the bad weather but then we encountered the beauty of France. On a road trip, you have a lot of time to look around you. You have plenty of time to take a nice detour and then you are bound to discover different forms of beauty. The surroundings look different, the colours have different hues, and the effect of the images is also different. It didn’t take us long to adapt to the weather and soon enough we were on the lookout for the right images.

The cockpit of the A 250 Sport at sunrise near the Côte d'Azur.

Shocking moments at the wheel.

No, it’s not what one might think. These were positive shocks. There’s one moment in particular that I’ll never forget. After we had continued our trip towards the Mediterranean, and, on the first day on the Côte d'Azur had gotten up extra early to photograph the sunrise, the sun appeared on the horizon at the exact moment when I was sitting behind the steering wheel of the A-Class driving along a winding coastal road.

We stopped and, although we would normally have gotten out of the car, we both just remained in our seats. I wrapped my hands around the steering wheel, felt the leather, looked out into the distance, watched the warm rays of sun caressing the instrument panel and just enjoyed a true moment of beauty.

The G-Class is at home everywhere.

I will never forget the positive reactions the G-Class received on our trip. Everywhere we went, people commented on the stylish German car. Every time we filled up with fuel, we were given compliments and had to answer people’s questions. Some people even asked if they could jump in. The most interesting thing was the genuine admiration which we were shown. As a photography subject, the G-Class was, of course, also an absolute dream. Regardless of whether we were at the beach, in the dunes or in town, it just wasn’t possible to take a bad picture of this car.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class on a road lined with palm trees at sunset near the Côte d'Azur.
The Mercedes-Benz G 500 on its way to the French alps.

500 kilometres per day.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal on first hearing it, but when you have ploughed through 500 kilometres on out-of-town roads, narrow lanes off the main roads, and through enchanted little villages, then that number takes on a whole new meaning. And when you pause to stop and take photos regularly and are always on the lookout for a great location, the physical demands are really quite high. Then it’s especially nice to have comfortable seats and the ride comfort they provide. When the car seats are more comfortable than the hotel beds, you either made a lousy choice selecting the hotels or the car seats are just unbelievably comfortable.

500 kilometres per day.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal on first hearing it, but when you have ploughed through 500 kilometres on out-of-town roads, narrow lanes off the main roads, and through enchanted little villages, then that number takes on a whole new meaning. And when you pause to stop and take photos regularly and are always on the lookout for a great location, the physical demands are really quite high. Then it’s especially nice to have comfortable seats and the ride comfort they provide. When the car seats are more comfortable than the hotel beds, you either made a lousy choice selecting the hotels or the car seats are just unbelievably comfortable.

The Mercedes-Benz G 500 on its way to the French alps.

Bends, bends, bends.

On the whole, we steered clear of motorways and attempted to drive on out-of-town arterial routes as much as possible. The roads around the Carmargue region near Montpellier proved to be a real dream for motorists. The winding bends didn’t push the two cars to their limits, rather they gave the cars the chance to show the power that the engines had under their bonnets. We knew right from the beginning that we had to somehow record the dynamism, power and driving dynamics of the vehicles in our photos and this challenge was very close to the top of our list of priorities during the whole journey.

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport likes its streets mountainous and curvy.
The black Mercedes-Benz G-Class alongside a ruin on a mountain road in Brittany.

Where getting lost is actually desirable.

Coincidences often provide the best basis for special pictures. Every photographer knows that. For a road trip, that means you have to take the odd wrong turn here and there. In other words, you could say that you have to deliberately incorporate some detours through unknown territory. In the High Alps, you can land on the most beautiful locations by simply taking a dubious-looking pass road and suddenly turning into no-man’s land. A small, inconspicuous path will lead to a mountain stream or to a charming ruin.

A mountainous landscape in Brittany surrounded by clouds with a view down onto the Mercedes-Benz G 500.

A passion for highs and lows.

Of course, you should have a certain predisposition to do this but I can hardly imagine anything more beautiful than clouds, snow-covered mountain peaks, flowering meadows with cheerful cows and a powerful V8 engine to fight your way up the winding roads. What’s special about France is the extent and the diversity of the country at every juncture.

Well, you can see that in Australia or the USA, too. But France stands out with its particular European charm. We went through a kind of time lapse. One day, we were on the Atlantic with the waves whipping up on the sea, and on the next, at the Mediterranean in 29-degree heat and without a cloud in the sky. Later still, we were standing on a high alpine pass with our feet in the snow. Bewildering and absolutely fascinating at the same time.

The black Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the Breton hills in the sunshine.

Off-road.

Neither Marc Gerst nor my humble self are experts when it comes to off-road driving. But we utilised the advantages of the G-Class and left roads and man-made tracks behind us as often as possible. And what was our verdict? The G-Class belongs there as much as it does on out-of-town roads. Maybe even more so. As you slowly drive over tree roots and approach gradients thinking: “This one’s surely going to be too steep,” but then see how the G-Class gently hums its way up, you know what kind of vehicle you are in.

Sophisticated snapshots.

As photographers, we can, of course, employ the odd trick to make our shots look more special. One of these is the so-called car rig shot, for which a very delicate construction is fixed to the car in order to drive the camera with the car. As long as the camera position is not changed in relation to the car, the car is pictured in sharp focus and the background is blurred due to the car’s movement.

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport seen from above while two photographers prepare the vehicle for a car rig shot.
Seems faster than it is. A car rig shot of the Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport.

Looks like 100 km/h but it’s actually being pushed.

In the finished photo, it looks as if the car is speeding along. The perceived speed is 100 km/h or more. In reality, a photographer sets off the camera, the other photographer releases the brakes gently and lets the car roll forward for two seconds by about 50 cm.

The image is taken during these two seconds and the result is really amazing. Many thanks to co-author Patrick Lehmann for the help he gave us.

Image gallery.


Guest article: All statements in this article are personal opinions and impressions of the author and sometimes not of the Daimler AG.

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The new Mercedes-AMG A 45. A date with performance.

Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC: Fuel consumption combined: 7.3-6.9 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 171-162 g/km.*

 

Performer meets performer – and the race track is open. RACE START activated: In 4.2 seconds from 0-100 km/h, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 becomes a force of nature. 280 kW (381 hp) and a maximum torque of 475 Newton metres at 2,250-5,000 rpm deliver phenomenal thrust – leaving nothing but exhilaration in its place. And with seven speeds, four drive programs and the AMG RACE START function, the SPEEDSHIFT DCT sports transmission is perfectly tuned to the demands of the track. The optional Performance seats score top marks for grip, but it’s the driver who scores the fastest lap times.

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC on the race track.

Guest Feature: Highsnobiety x Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC.

From the race track to the Old Town: Highsnobiety puts the world’s most powerful compact sports model to the test in and around the German city of Dresden.

Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC:

Fuel consumption combined: 7.3–6.9/100 km;

combined CO₂ emissions: 171–162 g/km.*

Striking: contemporary design on ancient streets.

For our latest project with Mercedes-Benz, we headed to the historic German city of Dresden to check out the details of the new generation of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC. Putting the 381-hp Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC to the test, we hit both the race track and the town’s ancient streets to discover the ins and outs of the world’s most powerful compact performance car. With a 2.0-litre turbo engine crafted by hand, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC reaches 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds.

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC on the streets of Dresden at night.

The ultra-contemporary A-wing design and the hum of the unassuming beast below the hood, meanwhile, provided a striking contrast against Dresden’s beautiful, quiet Altstadt, or Old Town.

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