Friday, April 19, 2013

New E-Class, CLA, E 63 AMG and CLS 63 AMG: Showtime for new Mercedes-Benz models

Spring is in the air at Mercedes-Benz and a whole array of new models is now on display at Mercedes-Benz showrooms. The Saloon and Estate of the new E-Class feature intelligently modified design, a new interior and new, efficient engines. Meanwhile, world-leading aerodynamics, thrilling avant-garde coupé design and cutting-edge technology are the hallmarks of the new CLA. And more powerful than ever are the new E 63 AMG and the Coupé and Shooting Brake of the CLS 63 AMG, which set new benchmarks in terms of performance.

The revised design of the E-Class features a new face and new proportions. The front end design is totally new, incorporating new headlamps housing all the functional elements under a single lens. The E-Class is also available for the first time with two different faces – with the classic, three-dimensional saloon grille and star on the bonnet or the sports car radiator grille with centrally positioned star. A new structural line and a newly positioned three-dimensional trim strip provide the Saloon and Estate with exciting proportions that lend the cars a new look.

Mercedes-Benz has updated the interior of the E-Class, harmoniously coordinating it with the expressive exterior. Fine materials, a two-piece trim extending across the entire width of the dashboard and markedly enhanced comfort are defining features of the interior.

Appointments offering boundless individuality

As previously, attractive design packages are available to enhance the appearance of the exterior and the interior. The new E-Class also offers extensive scope for individual design. All equipment and appointment options are available, whatever the selected equipment line.

New standard of safety with intelligent assistance systems

The modified design of the new E-Class reflects its cutting-edge technology. Both Saloon and Estate are equipped as standard with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist which significantly reduces the danger of a rear-end collision. Also featuring as standard is ATTENTION ASSIST in an enhanced version which is now able to warn of inattentiveness and drowsiness across a broader speed range. Other new or substantially enhanced assistance systems are also optionally available for the first time.

Efficient and high-performance new engines

The E-Class marks a major step forwards in terms of efficiency and ecology, thanks to new, powerful BlueDIRECT four-cylinder petrol engines featuring direct-injection technology and a new six-cylinder engine combining high performance and high torque with fuel efficiency, plus yet more efficient diesel engines.

Overall, a broad choice of powerful four, six or eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines is available for the E-Class. All are equipped with the ECO start/stop system and combine high output with exemplary fuel efficiency. The petrol engines range in output from 135 kW (184 hp) to 430 kW (585 hp) and the diesel engines from 100 kW (136 hp) to 185 kW (252 hp). Virtually all E-Class models with diesel engines comply with efficiency class A, while the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID even attains an A+ efficiency rating.

Despite a substantially broader scope of equipment the prices have only risen moderately, between one and less than three percent. Certain model variants are even available at a lower price than their predecessors. The entry-level price for the new E-Class stands at €40,430.25 incl. VAT for the E 200 CDI Saloon.

The new CLA: style rebel with breathtaking proportions

As a four-door coupé, the CLA boasts sporty proportions, frameless doors and a powerful, dynamic design idiom. The interior features integral seats in front and rear and continues the exterior's progressive, dynamic appearance.

In keeping with its sporty positioning, the CLA is available with high-torque petrol and diesel engines ranging in output from 90 kW (122 hp) to 155 kW (211 hp), sports suspension and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The technical highlights of this new design icon include a new world record in aerodynamics for series production cars (Cd value: 0.22) and numerous driving assistance systems, including advanced COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST.

All of the engines feature the ECO start/stop function as standard. The engines are combined with a six-speed manual transmission or with the 7G-DCT dual clutch automatic transmission, which reconciles comfort and sportiness in inimitable fashion.

The entry-level price for the new CLA starts at €28,977 incl. VAT for the CLA 180.

Most powerful E-Class: the new E 63 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG sets a new benchmark in terms of performance, dynamism and efficiency. Its output has increased from the previous 386 kW (525 hp) and 700 Nm of torque to 410 kW (557 hp) at 720 Nm. The E 63 AMG boasts the new AMG design philosophy, featuring the "twin blade" radiator grille in silver chrome and the so-called "A wing" in the front apron. Mercedes‑AMG offers its customers tailor-made model variants for even greater individuality. The entry-level price of the new E 63 AMG is €103,054 incl. VAT.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG: enhanced performance and efficiency

Performance update for the CLS 63 AMG: in both its Coupé and Shooting Brake variants, the CLS now offers 410 kW (557 hp) of power at 5500 rpm and maximum torque of 720 Nm. This represents an increase of 24 kW (32 hp) and 20 Nm over its predecessor. Running on 9.9 (10.1) l/100 km, its AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine also marks the absolute peak of efficiency, with no other vehicle in the segment offering such a combination of exceptional power and low fuel consumption.

The entry-level price for the new CLS 63 AMG Coupé starts at €116,203.50 incl. VAT, while the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake is available from €117,512.50.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Report: BMW i family to expand

With just a few months left before its market debut, theBMW i sub-brand comes to focus. Later this year, the new electric-focused division will launch their first model. Dubbed BMW i3, the megacity car will first be available in a five-door configuration, followed later by a coupe version based on the i3 Coupe Conceptunveiled last year.

According to a source close to Autocar, BMW sees potential in offering mid-size cars in the i brand line-up. “There are a lot of unused numbers in the i line-up”, said the source, “and there is the potential for other mid-sized concepts”. One of those models is along the lines of the Concept Active Tourer.
Report: BMW i family to expand
BMW intends for the i3 and i8 to serve as bookends for the new i range, leaving room in between for a wide range of electric or hybrid vehicles. “With the i3 you have a megacity vehicle that offers zero emissions and a focus on practicality, while the i8 is an all-out sports car that demonstrates the extreme peformance that’s possible using this technology,” the source revealed.
Just last year another source closed to BMW mentioned potential i1 and i5 models, a two-plus-two-seat, short-wheelbase city car and a high-roof, long-wheelbase five-seater wagon/MPV hybrid.
Both the i3 and i8 will debut in the U.S. in 2014.

Friday, April 5, 2013

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive

Driving a 740-horsepower electric anomaly.

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive boasts a 120-mile range and 738 horsepower, but don’t believe for a minute that you can enjoy both at the same time. When pushed to its full potential, the electric SLS won’t make it two laps around the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife. This great conundrum—manage the battery range or exercise the car’s muscle—makes the great power of the SLS ED sort of, well, a limp proposition.

But who are we kidding? Those that can afford the $500,000-plus electric SLS will have people to worry about range anxiety for them. When deliveries begin later this year, the Electric Drive will be a very quick, very fun novelty toy—batteries included—for fewer than 200 well-heeled Europeans. (There currently are no plans for U.S. sales.) For Mercedes-Benz and AMG, the electric gullwing is a research test bed exploring the future of electric propulsion and high-performance vehicles.

Quick to Discharge, Slow to Charge

The 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and the software that manages it were developed by the Formula 1 experts at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. The 1208-pound pack contains 864 South Korean battery cells encased in a carbon-fiber box that acts as a structural element when bolted to the SLS’s aluminum space frame. HPP’s experience with F1’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) was key to extracting big power from the battery, but the engineers didn’t make any strides when it comes to recharging the puck. Unless your garage is wired up like a public charging space, a full charge takes 20 hours—and that’s with 220 volts.

With four electric motors making 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque each, the total output of the electrified gullwing tops even that of the SLS AMG Black Series. Yet asking for all 738 lb-ft lacks the expected drama. The Electric Drive is undeniably quick off the line—we estimate 60 mph arrives in 3.7 seconds—but you won’t hear a chirp from the tires. That’s because torque is routed through fixed-ratio gearboxes that cover the entire speed spread, from creeping up to a stoplight to hitting the governor at 155 mph. To add some theater to the otherwise silent electric-car experience, AMG pipes a sci-fi soundtrack through the SLS’s eleven stereo speakers. “Idling” creates a whirring warble, like a UFO landing in a Warner Brothers cartoon, and there are similarly fantastical sounds for start up, acceleration, cruising, and braking.

Because the four-wheel-drive electric SLS has driveshafts where the gas-powered car’s front springs and dampers reside, AMG engineers redesigned the front suspension. The control arms have been replaced by a multilink setup and the coil-overs are mounted horizontally and actuated by pushrods. Other chassis changes include an electrically driven hydraulic steering pump (rather than a belt-driven unit) and standard carbon-ceramic brakes. Shift paddles behind the wheel adjust how aggressively the regenerative braking cuts in when you lift off the accelerator.

Hey, Everybody, Watch This!

The electric SLS’s primary party trick is a function of the four electric motors that power it. With each motor dedicated to driving a single wheel, the Electric Drive’s computers have precise control over the forces that make a car change directions. Accelerating and braking each motor independently of the others turns this 4700-pound brute into a ballerina. The level of torque vectoring—what AMG calls “Torque Dynamics”—can be set to one of three modes. In Comfort, the SLS Electric Drive can’t hide its 900-pound surplus over the gas model. The electric car is reluctant to change directions and the steering is sluggish. With the body always a step behind the wheels, the SLS feels more like an S-class than a half-million-dollar sports car.

Switching to the most aggressive setting, Sport Plus, affects a transformation unlike any adaptive suspension or torque-vectoring differential we’ve ever experienced. Turn-in is defined by Lotus-like immediacy. The body moves perfectly in sync with the wheels and the driver’s intentions. The steering is prescient, and yet the four-corner torque control means you also influence your heading with the right pedal. If you underestimate a corner, simply squeeze on the throttle to tighten your line—not to induce oversteer but to increase the yaw moment. The outside wheels accelerate, the inside wheels slow, and the Gullwing tucks in, darting for the inside. This four-wheel torque vectoring redefines the expression “steering with the throttle.” And while it’s unlike any car we’ve ever driven, this is the kind of electric car we can easily get behind.

Something to Look Forward to

The hyper-exclusive, ultra-expensive SLS AMG Electric Drive is an anomaly in the world of battery-powered cars. It’s too radical to serve as basic transportation and its range-limited battery keeps it from being a real track toy. Instead, its purpose is to serve as a development bench and proving ground for using smaller multiple motors rather than a single large motor. If the idea of dedicating a motor to an individual wheel becomes common practice, we’re looking forward to a future of hybrids and electrics.

Monday, April 1, 2013

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage Hatch to Get Class-Leading 44 MPG

Show floor update: After seeing the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage on the New York auto show floor, my impressions on the car are generally positive. It’s better built than I expected it to be, with no massive panel gaps. It doesn’t necessarily feel as cheap as it is either (pricing will be similar to the Chevy Spark), with the steering wheel and shift knob — the two most-touched parts of the interior — wrapped in nice faux-leather. The rest of the interior seemed nice enough for the expected price, though there was tons of hard plastic. Though Mitsu claims 37/44/40 mpg city/highway/combined, I worry the three-pot’s lack of grunt could limit its appeal. — Christian Seabaugh

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage four-door hatchback is coming to the U.S. with better estimated mileage than any other non-hybrid gas vehicle offered today. That’s right, with a CVT, the 2014 Mirage subcompact is expected to get 37/44 mpg city/highway when it arrives in dealers this fall.

Of course, making possible that eye-popping manufacturer-estimated efficiency is a very small engine and a low 0.28 coefficient of drag. Under the hood of the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is a 74-hp 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, with 74 lb-ft of torque. The 44 mpg highway comes with the available CVT; a five-speed manual is standard. Mitsubishi says the 2014 Mirage will offer a best-in-class turning radius, and like the Honda Fit and Mazda2, will only be available in a five-passenger four-door hatch configuration.

Standard equipment on the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage DE includes a tilt steering wheel, automatic climate control, power windows (driver’s side auto up/down), power side mirrors, keyless entry with a panic alarm, a rear spoiler, and a four-speaker 140-watt sound system with a CD player and USB/iPod input. Go for the ES model and you add 14-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an engine start button, Bluetooth, and cruise control. Front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system, LED interior lighting, and chrome accents are available, but we’re guessing the best value to be had is in a mid-level Mirage.

Compared to the Mazda2, the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is 6.7 inches shorter but still 4.1 inches longer than the Chevrolet Spark. When the 2014 Mirage arrives in the fall, it’ll likely rank high on the lists of those who value fuel economy and a low price above all else. We look forward to driving a U.S.-spec model soon.

For all the latest news, photos, videos, and much more direct from the 2013 New York auto show floor, don’t forget to CLICK OVER to our 2013 New York show coverage page.