Tag Archive | "Mercedes"

Aston And AMG – Quite A Team

Buyers know what to expect when they buy a Mercedes. When they specify an AMG Mercedes they also know what to expect only with a portion of additional adrenalin and a touch of madness. When buyers decide on an Aston Martin they are, it is fair to say, buying into a different dream. In the UK there is a certain amount of nostalgia attached to that venerable name which is quintessentially British in origin.

On the other hand, the cars we buy today are really a product of the world car industry rather than some niche brand built in a country corner. So it comes as no surprise to learn that Aston Martin are teaming up with Mercedes-AMG GmbH, the performance arm of the mighty German company.

Both parties have signed a ‘letter of intent’ to this effect whilst working towards a full blown agreement by the end of the year. It isn’t a takeover but rather a collaboration. Both sides are remaining tight-lipped about the deal so there’s a non-disclosure order hanging over the arrangement for the time being. AM cars will continue to be made at Gaydon in Oxfordshire and will remain independent.

The idea is that AM will have access to the development of bespoke V8 power-trains and certain components of electric/electronic architecture. This hints at a future hybrid development. In effect this seems to be an ‘economies of scale’ exercise on the part of AM and Mercedes will get a percentage of non-voting shares. It seems to make sense; although Aston make wonderful cars they are not at the cutting edge of profitability so it does seem like the right thing to do on the face of it. Imagine a world without Aston Martins. Unthinkable.

V Aston And AMG   Quite A Team

So, it looks like, at sometime in the future, our Aston Martins will be powered by Mercedes. Does it matter? If a car looks like an Aston and sounds like an Aston then it must be an Aston. Most buyers won’t care that the car is part Mercedes because that name brings with it a sense of reliability. We’ll draw the line at an AMG badge on the back though. That would be too much. Out of the question. Harrumph.

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New Cars At The New York Show

2013 seems to be producing a bumper crop of new cars, despite all the recessionary woe. At the latest show in New York the trend continued with a selection from Kia, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes.

The Kia Soul is a car that is either loved or hated for its looks despite being practical and roomy with a decent boot. It strives for a trendy image but has been let down by a mediocre ride and economy. The company have now announced the replacement which will arrive on our shore early in 2014. That’s it in the picture. It is probably a coincidence but it looks a bit like the new Fiat 500L; not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Suspension and handling have been improved for a better ride and the whole car has a more premium feel to it. Mini owners won’t be trading in but this new car should attract plenty of new fans.

A surprise addition to the Audi range is a saloon version of their excellent A3. It has to be said that it is hard to understand the purpose of this car but Audi rarely put a foot wrong. The company say that the car is aimed at ‘young professionals’ looking for a ‘sporty but fun car’. So why not choose the brilliant sport back then? Audi see their market for this car to be predominately in Russia and the far East and, to a lesser extent, Europe. Early reports say that it’s a roomy car, slightly longer than the hatchback.

Sweden is represented by Volvo and a new set of R-Design cars based on the recently updated 60 series. All three cars get new faces, a new rear diffuser, sports seats and an R-Design exhaust system. The S60 and V60 models have a sports chassis and lowered suspension whilst the XC60  gets a better handling kit of springs and anti-roll bars.

If all this is a bit tame for you and you feel the need for 355bhp then how about the new Mercedes CLA45 AMG express. This car looks fabulous (especially in white with black) and in the traffic light grand prix will whisk you to 62mph in a ferocious 4.6 seconds. Despite this performance Mercedes are claiming 40mpg and emissions at around 160g/km. If that’s a fact then it is quite an achievement and bodes well for performance cars of the future.

It seems that scarcely a week can go by without there being a new Jaguar – and here it is. This time it’s the super-hot XKR-S GT which the company describe as the ‘ultimate road-going XK’. Presumably until the next one. Only thirty will be built and they are all going to North America. If there’s enough clamour in the UK then a small run of LHD versions could be built but don’t hold your breath.

The Rolls Royce Wraith also featured as did the new Range Rover Sport that Motor Blogger featured on March 20th. As we said – a bumper year!

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New Year New World New Cars

One of the best things about seeing ourselves into any new year is that we know Spring is just around the corner and we can look forward to gradually improving weather – or so we hope. Another good thing is the arrival of a new crop of car shows to delight car enthusiasts everywhere; and it all starts in Motor City – Detroit.

It’s inevitable that any American show is going to favour home grown products – like the awesome new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This may well be the star of the show, resurrecting as it does the Stingray name from 1963, but it is less likely to interest the average UK motorist for whom such cars are just a primordial dream.

Much more interesting, yet probably never available to the UK market, is the Volkswagen CrossBlue concept. This is an SUV for the North American customers and is even bigger than the same company’s Toureg, although it does indicate the ‘face’ of VW SUV’s in the future. It’s a six-seater and would be instant must have for Tony Soprano – if he were still around.

Also at The Detroit Motor Show was a new Mercedes that will make fans of the brand very happy indeed. This car is seriously good looking as you can see from the image, above. It has all the style of the CLS but packed into a vehicle not much bigger than an A-Class. The CLA is part of Mercedes new small car family and is the first compact four-door coupé of its kind; although not for long as BMW will soon launch a 4-Series Coupé , as will Audi with an A3 saloon. More on these two cars shortly.

In keeping with the ‘let’s make them smaller’ trend Honda have shown their new SUV concept to be based on the forthcoming Jazz. It’s called the Urban SUV for now and, if it goes ahead, will rival the Nissan Juke and Renault’s Captur that we featured yesterday.

Mini fans will be delighted with the new John Cooper Works version of the Paceman. This 215bhp pocket rocket comes with four-wheel drive, is lower than the standard Paceman and is augmented by a more aggressive body kit and a rather splendid choice of paint jobs. At a starting point of around £30k however it might find itself price compromised. There are cheaper hot hatch offerings.

Jeep have revamped the Grand Cherokee and added a new and impressive front end which will give UK drivers who hanker for USA styling a bit of a lift. It is suitably butch but in an appealing way. Additionally on show are the new BMW M6 Gran Coupé , the Infiniti Q50 sports saloon and the revised Mercedes E-Class to name but three. World recession there might be but in the motor halls of Detroit – like speaking of the Dark Lord – nobody is mentioning it.

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Thirteen For 13

Are you superstitious? Would you be entirely happy with the number 13 on your car? Well, unless you can find a way around it – as suggested by Motor Blogger last year – you are just going to have to lump it. Our unwavering government have no intention of ditching this year’s series just to please the likes of you.

Never mind. At least there is going to be a fantastic selection of new cars that you could attach to the back of your new number plate. Honda, for example, are planning a new SUV in line with current trends that will be pitched into the gap between the Civic and the CRV. An interesting point is that it may feature Honda’s next-generation hybrid technology.

If you’re feeling flush with cash you could push the boat out and treat yourself to Jaguar’s forthcoming F Type. This may well be the most anticipated car of the year; full of lovely supercharged goodness. Too tame for your wallet? Fair enough. How about the long-awaited replacement for the Enzo, the F70. Or will it be the F150? We’ll see what Ferrari decide although Ford America won’t be too happy as that’s the designation for their new pick-up!

Back in the real world Fiat are offering the 500L. We’ve mentioned this before. Basically it’s a 500 on steroids. Presumably this is designed to rival the giant Mini and word has it that this could be one of the year’s best sellers. As indeed could the 500 Coupé , a cheeky 2+2 version of the perennial favourite. Meanwhile over the border in France, Citroen’s successful DS3 is taking it’s top off, or at least rolling it up – a feature that really suits this star car.

For hot hatch fans Ford will be selling the long awaited Fiesta ST, sporting at least 180bhp. If a suitable family car is more to your requirements then there’s a new package with the latest Kia Carens SUV (pictured) – the words on the grapevine are ‘surprise’ and ‘delight’. Not content to settle for one new car, the same company will present their first hot hatch in the UK. The Cee’d GT. Boasting a muscular 200bhp it looks like a rival for the ST.

Winner of this year’s daft name award is the mighty Maserati Kubang. Effectively a Ferrari powered Jeep in an Italian designer frock it’s a new departure for a company that is slowly resurrecting its image. The trouble is – is it a car too far for a company noted for beautiful design? The official Kubang website is showing a wonderful old and evocative short film called ‘A story that will overcome time’. Worth a look.

Mazda’s 6 is a good and popular choice, especially if you are not badge conscious but now they’ve produced a coupé version that’s a real looker. Let’s hope it gives a boost to this underrated manufacturer. If you do like a badge then Mercedes are refreshing the E-Class. Not earth-shattering in itself but the company are saying it will be packed with cutting edge technology under the banner ‘intelligent drive’.

In fact, there will be something like sixty new or updated cars being sold or announced in the coming year, but in this brief article there is only one car that can finish of the list. Will we finally be able to get our hands on the Alfa Romeo 4C? Live in hope.

So there you have it – thirteen cars for 2013. So don’t worry your heads about the reputation of the number 13. You know what they say – lucky for some!

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Feel The G-Force

The Mercedes Geländewagen, or G-Wagen as it is more popularly known, has been around since 1979 in all its Teutonic mightiness. If you wanted a bullet-proof, heavy, thirsty off-roader that could take on any terrain imaginable then this was the car for you – at a price.

These days it has been renamed into the new family tradition and is now the G-Class. It has become posh and refined but, although very good, many buyers would possibly prefer the Range Rover. Nevertheless Mercedes clearly plan to keep this model on the go and at the Los Angeles Show will give us a glimpse of the future with the Ener-G-Force Concept vehicle.

Now, if ever a car looked like it should be helping the police with their enquiries it is this one but in fact it is actually based on a design concept for a ‘Highway Patrol Vehicle’ for the year 2025. It is an SUV (see image) developed for the Los Angeles Design Challenge and may well suggest at least some aspects of the new G-Class which is scheduled for 2015.

As a idea of a future police vehicle it will surely fit the bill. With its massive ground clearance, low profile windscreen and huge Tonka-toy wheels it certainly looks the part and should appeal to macho County Mounties in the American West; maybe not so much in Chelsea.

More importantly, the Ener-G-Force is a genuinely environmentally friendly car because beneath its bold exterior drive is provided by electric motors at each hub with power provided by a hydrogen fuel cell. Recycled water is stored in special tanks on the roof which is transferred to something called a ‘hydro-tech converter’ and this in turn coverts the natural resource into hydrogen, thus providing the power.

The juice so produced is stored in the side skirts of the vehicle. Allegedly, the G-Force will carry on for five hundred miles and will emit nothing but water from the tail pipe, and the technology doesn’t stop there. A scanner on the roof ‘examines’ the surrounding terrain and automatically sets spring and damper configurations to achieve maximum traction. Impressive stuff. The only problem might be the perceived danger of the association between the word ‘hydrogen’ and ‘bomb’.

Concept cars are always interesting because buyers of the future can get an idea of what’s coming up. Even some of the more lunatic schemes often turn up a good idea or a solution to a problem that have previously eluded the manufacturers. That’s one of the benefits of good design and all motorists benefit from it in the long run.

You never know, one day we ordinary mortals might get a chance to drive something like Ener-G-Force so it is probably a good idea to order your genuinely authentic imitation Judge Dredd helmet in good time.

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