Posts from ‘Mercedes-Benz’
In an age in which the heroes of auto racing are often backed by big money and equally big egos, LeMons racers are backed by pocket change and a flair for the absurd.
By the way, don’t in any way confuse “LeMons” (as in lemons) with “Le Mans” (as in the famed road race in France), though that’s of course the play on words the organizers intended. Whereas teams spend millions of dollars to field a Le Mans car, teams are supposed to spend no more than $500 to field a LeMons car.
Yep; you read that right: $500. The rules state that you can deduct any parts sold off a donor car to arrive at that figure (such as interior pieces and windows you don’t need), and in time-honored racing tradition, there’s probably some cheating in this regard. But for the most part, the cars start out as bona fide beaters.
Now, that $500 doesn’t include safety equipment, which the rules regard as tires, brakes, and the mandatory roll cage and fire extinguisher. Nor does it include the encouraged “cosmetics,” which can run the gamut from sloppy paint schemes to outrageous costumes. And yes, we mean for the cars.
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
Well, maybe it doesn’t look quite like Yogi Bear, but from this angle the steering wheel with the speedometer and tachometer look like the face of an old-time cartoon character. Felix the Cat? Something. This design faux pas reminds me of the smiley face front grille on some of the Mazdas a couple years back.
Jokes aside, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been one of the finest cars in the world, and the hands-down favorite of Consumer Guide Publisher Tom Appel. Today, Mercedes revealed photos of the 2014 version, the first time the car has been redesigned since 2007.
Regarding the redesign, Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche stated that “our aspirations were ‘the best or nothing’ in every respect.” Yet not surprisingly, exterior styling was only modestly changed. The S-Class is slightly wider and boasts a larger grille. The car’s driver-assistance packages include 30 features, including 11 that are new or significantly enhanced.
Keep following the Daily Drive and Consumer Guide Automotive for more details on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. In the meantime, enjoy the photographs (and try not to giggle).
Shortly after obtaining my driver’s license in the early 1970s, I rushed out and bought a ’64 Olds Cutlass coupe (for $50), at least in part so that I wouldn’t have to tool around in my Dad’s grandpa-green F85 sedan. Back then, driving a 4-door (or—heaven forbid—a station wagon) meant you were borrowing your parents’ car, and that was decidedly uncool. Absolutely no teenaged car guy I knew ever bought a 4-door with his own money.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Some of the hottest cars embraced by the younger generation are sedans (witness the Subaru WRX and Mitsu Evo), and there’s seemingly no stigma attached to having four convenient doors.
I’ve often wondered when that transformation took place. It was probably gradual, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it began with the BMW 530i introduced in 1975. In those dark and dismal days, this BMW made its mark by being a comparatively strong performer, and it quickly became the darling of the motoring mags. The fact that it was a sedan only added to its “Q-ship” mystique. And I begrudgingly had to admit that it was a pretty nice-looking car. At least for a (wince) 4-door.
See Consumer Guide’s report on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.
As the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class approaches its on-sale date, the German manufacturer unleashed its high-performance sibling at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
The CLA-Class is Mercedes’ new entry-level car. Think of it as a pint-sized CLS-Class, and you have the general idea. The first models to reach our shores will be front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 208 horsepower.
As with its other cars, the AMG-tuned edition of the CLA will make its conventional sibling seem absolutely pedestrian in comparison. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG will also have a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but massaged to 355 horsepower. Thankfully, AMG engineers are pairing this engine with a specially tuned version of Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive (imagine trying to channel that much power through the front wheels alone). The sole transmission is an AMG-designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Expect a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
Other high-tech goodies include a three-stage antiskid system, including one setting that disables this safety net completely. A specific performance suspension includes reinforced bearings designed to improve stability at high speeds. Faster steering ratios and larger brakes promise greater control and stability.
Doing hard time can change a man. Things you thought were true on the outside become less clear as time on the inside accrues. I did time—four years, in fact. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a lot of that time, at least the part that wasn’t spent in chemistry. You see, I was sentenced to four years of “learning” at Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois. My crime? Finishing eighth grade.
One thing I learned was that though you can lock a man up and hand him a German II textbook, you can’t stop him from thinking about cars. And think about them I did. It was during this period that the magic triumvirate of working at a gas station, reading Car and Driver, and living someplace rural enough to attempt crazy things in cars came together to reshape my worldview. Well, my automotive worldview at least.
I learned a few important things. From the gas station, I learned that American-made cars produced in the late ’70s and early ’80s were largely laughably crummy. The build quality was embarrassing, performance dull, and reliability distressing.
So far, this has been a mild winter in Detroit. But a cold snap just in time for press days at the 2013 Auto Show reminded everyone in town just what January normally feels like.
And like this cold snap, after half a decade of industry turbulence, this year’s auto show has a refreshingly normal feel—albeit normal in a very new sense.
Superficially, nothing. But let’s dig a little deeper.
The new Corvette is more powerful and arguably better looking than its predecessor. But, it’s not that much more powerful. Chevy could have shot for the moon and brought us a 500-horsepower base ’Vette, but the car we’ll see on lots later this year boasts a more modest 450-horse rating. Instead, thanks to a new all-aluminum substructure, the new Corvette is 100 pounds lighter than the car before it. It’s also more aerodynamic. This careful balance of power and restraint proved to be a theme woven throughout this year’s show.
Mercedes-Benz was busy at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Headlining the German luxury brand’s exhibit was its family of revamped E-Class cars.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class returns in 2-door coupe and convertible as well as 4-door sedan and wagon body styles. All versions receive updated interior and exterior styling as well as a host of new convenience and safety features.
Under the hood, the E-Class sedan will reprise E350 and E550 variants. The former uses a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine while the latter has a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 402 horsepower. New for 2014 is the E250 BlueTEC, which employs a 190-horsepower 2.1-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder. Similarly new is the E400 HYBRID, which uses the E350’s V6 engine paired with a 27-horsepower electric motor. The E250, E350, and E400 have rear-wheel drive. Available on the 350 and standard on the E550 is Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The wagon comes only in E350 form with standard all-wheel drive.
Coupes and convertibles similarly come in E350 and E550 variants, each with rear-wheel drive. An AWD E350 4MATIC coupe is part of the roster, too. The 350’s engine mirrors that of its sedan counterpart, while the 550s get a 402-horsepower 4.6-liter turbocharged V8.
Though it will officially be unveiled to the public later this year at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, Germany, and the Geneva Motor Show, the company gave the media a sneak peek of its new entry-level model.
Think of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class as a pint-size version of the much more costly CLS-Class, and you’re on the right track. With under-skin fundamentals based on the European-market A-Class and exterior styling inspired by the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe, the CLA’s slippery shape is the most aerodynamic on the road. Its coefficient of drag (cd) of 0.23 is less than that of the Toyota Prius.
Power comes from a 208-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission that behaves like an automatic. Unlike every other current Mercedes, the CLA is front-wheel drive. A version with the company’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive will follow about six months later. All models include engine-idle stop/start as a fuel-saving measure.
On the safety and luxury fronts, the CLA will include forward-collision warning, drowsy-driver alert, and Mercedes’ mbrace2 assistance and telematics service. Options include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, hands-free parallel parking, a Sport Package, and a panoramic sunroof.
I’m not a classic car guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the designs of days gone by. Here are just a few of the cars that I think have stood the test of time. They look just as good today as they did back then, and arguably even better than many of their contemporaries. Presented for your consideration, in alphabetical order:
1961-67 AC Cobra (aka Shelby Cobra)
The original Chevrolet Chevelle, Ford Mustang, and Plymouth Barracuda are stand-out muscle cars in their own rights, but none have the lasting presence of the Cobra. The desirable “427” models crammed a 425-horsepower 7.0-liter (427 cubic inch, hence the name) V8 engine into a British-engineered 2-door convertible that weighed less than 2,400 pounds. It’s fast. It’s iconic. It’s expensive. An original 1960s model will set you back a few hundred thousand dollars in “driver-quality” condition. For us regular folks, “kit cars” with the same legendary shape but different engines and more-modern chassis can be had for less than $40,000.