NYC: Mercedes E-Class Debut

The new 2018 E-Class Cabriolet. Image courtesy of Mercedes Benz USA


When I was in high school, my best friend bought a convertible.  I can still remember our first drive with the top down in that car.  We got more honks, whistles, and hellos than you could even imagine.  We loved it.  We couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.  That first ride gave way to many up and down the PCH.  

There’s nothing quite like a convertible, especially when you live in a place like So Cal that gets 300+ convertible perfect days a year.  Just in time for the warmer weather Mercedes has unveiled its new 2018 E-Class Cabriolet and it is a beaut.  Offering a premium soft top, larger and more luxurious interior, and comfortable open air driving utilizing their AIRSCARF® technology, this new cabriolet is on point to become summer’s favorite new ride.  

The Cabriolet is the last new member to join the updated Mercedes E-Class family, which has seen a complete overhaul of the entire class over the last year.  This new model has a longer length, width and wheel base, along with a wider track, providing a more spacious interior.  All four occupants of the vehicle will now enjoy individually sculpted seats with the added touch of standard-fit automatic belt presenters in the front seat.  The acoustic soft top is equipped with insulation to protect against the elements, hot or cold.  Heat reflecting leather and individually folding rear seats are some of the options buyers will enjoy on this iteration.  4MATIC all-wheel drive rounds out some of the features available.

Look for this new E-Class Cabriolet in US dealerships later this year.

NYC: Audi Launches Sport Brand

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America


In the past decade Audi has more than established itself within the sport and luxury categories.   They have gone from being a little recognized brand at the end of the 90’s to one of the most desired car brands on the market today.

This Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, Audi of America further stepped up its game and launched the all new Audi Sport brand.  Joining Audi R and RS models will be corporate motorsports, customer racing, the Audi Sport collection and performance parts.  

New vehicles to the Sport brand line-up include the 2017 R8 V10 Spyder, the all-new 2018 TT RS, the 2017 and 2018 RS 3 (available for this first time stateside this summer), and the all-new RS 5 coupe (coming during the first half of 2018).

Entering the customer racing program will be the all-new Audi R8 LMS GT4.  Modeled after the production R8 V10, the R8 LMS GT4 will make its racing debut this spring at the Nurburgring 24-Hour.  This new race car is ideal for the amateur sect as it has a comfortable purchasing price and overall ownship cost for the segment.

Audi Exclusive and Audi Collection will feature a myriad of ways to integrate the brand into the consumer lifestyle.  Customization options for interior and exterior, as well as a full apparel, office good and replicas line will be made available to Audi enthusiasts everywhere.

As of now, more than half of Audi dealerships have taken the leap to become Audi Sport dealers.  For more information on the exciting new offerings, visit http://www.audiusa.com.

In the meantime, I’ve included some drool worthy photos of the 2018 RS 5 Coupe to keep you satisfied until the new Audi Sport makes it way to a dealership near you.

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe. Image courtesy of Audi of America

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe Interior. Image courtesy of Audi of America


SUV Spotlight: 2017 Acura MDX

2017_Acura_MDX

2017 Acura MDX ©Honda Motor Company

Hot off the presses!  Acura announced today they will unveil the all-new 2017 MDX at the New York International Auto Show on March 23.

The new model will come with loads of design enhancements, more features and new, advanced powertrain technology.  “We are sharpening our focus on the Precision Crafted Performance DNA of the Acura brand and the 2017 MDX will integrate new styling elements and powertrain technology that takes us another step in that direction,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

With the MDX owning the title of the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time, it’s not hard to imagine a new and improved model not continuing to hold the record. A good friend of mine drives a 2015 MDX and I loved it when she took me for a spin.  It’s size and functionality is very suitable to young families.  I personally can’t wait to see the latest generation when it debuts in late March.

The 2017 model was designed by the Acura Design Studio in Torrance, California.  The vehicle will be produced at the company’s Lincoln, Alabama auto plant.

 

2016 Chevy Camaro is on Its Way

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

This past Monday, Chevrolet made an announcement that is sure to bring a tear of joy to Camaro enthusiasts’ eyes.  They will begin shipments of the all-new 2016 Camaro to dealerships later this week, and the new models should arrive for customer delivery by mid-November, just in time for the holidays.  “It is an exciting day for everyone involved in bringing the new Camaro from a concept to the assembly line,” said Mike Trevorrow, Lansing regional plant manager.  “As the transporters head out to dealerships across the country, the hard work and pride of everyone at Lansing Grand River Assembly goes with them.”  Understandably so.  The assembly facility in Lansing recently received a $175 million upgrade in tooling and equipment to support this model’s production.

The 2015 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

Just what can consumers expect from the all new Camaro?  For starters, higher levels of performance, technology and refinement. The 2016 Camaro offers six all-new powertrain combinations including a standard 2.0L Turbo, an available 3.6L V-6 in LT models, and a 455-hp LT1 6.2L V-8 in the SS, making it the most powerful SS ever made.  Each engine is available in a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto.

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

The Gen Six also provides a faster, more nimble driving experience due to its lighter frame and larger range of powertrain options.  The vehicle mass has been reduced by 200 pounds or more, depending on the model, providing not only better handling, but better efficiency as well.  The new 2.0L Turbo will get more than 30mpg on the highway, while still delivering a 0-60 mph that comes in well under six seconds.   Magnetic Ride Control active suspension is also available for the first time on the SS.

© General Motors

© General Motors

Under the hood isn’t the only place this model has gotten an upgrade.  Chevy also took great care with the exterior and interior design details.  The exterior was given a more athletic, sculptured look, complimenting the leaner architecture.  More emphasis was also put on customer personalization including 10 exterior colors, five interior color combinations, new lighting options and many dealer available accessories, including wheels and striping packages.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

The interior receives an upgrade with a new shifter-focused center console, intuitive controls, flat-bottom steering wheel and the use of higher quality materials in general throughout.  Also missing are the conventional temperature and fan speed controls.  In their place, unique control rings around the air vents, giving it a cool futuristic vibe.  The tech gets an upgrade with standard connectivity features including Chevrolet MyLink with Apple CarPlay capability and an OnStar 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

After checking out photos online, I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of the changes that have been made to the body and interior.  Add into the mix the six all-new powertrain combinations, and 2016 is looking like a sweet year for the Camaro consumer.  This new Gen Six looks to be best we’ve seen since the original burst onto the scene on September 29th, 1966.   It is also still heavily tied to its American roots, which I find refreshing.  “There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation around our community and throughout the world for the next-generation Camaro,” said UAW Local 652 President Mike Green. “We have received great products here because of the quality of work always performed by the Lansing autoworker, active and retired.”

If you’re looking to buy, the SS and LT models with the 3.6L V-6 will be the first to arrive at dealers, followed by the convertible and the 2.0L Turbo, which will begin shipping in early 2016.

Happy Driving.

*Information courtesy of the Chevrolet Pressroom*

LA Auto Show 2014

Los Angeles is a hot market for cars.  Ever heard the song “Walkin’ in LA”?  Nobody walks in LA, and nobody takes the non-existant public transportation either.  Pretty much everyone needs a car to exist in this hectic city.  Not only do us So Cal natives love to drive, we also love to make a statement.  Combine these attributes with our stellar weather, and LA is quite easily the best market in the US, if not the world, to debut the latest and greatest car companies have to offer. This past week I got a sneak peak of what consumers will see when the LA Auto show opens to the public.

Here’s a quick look at some of this year’s show highlights.

Bentley:

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept Car: Signature Mulsanne Grill

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept Car: Signature Mulsanne Grill

The Bentley Grand Convertible was easily one of this year’s best in show.  With it’s sleek, muscular styling, classic Mulsanne-inspired good looks, and standard beefy Bentley engine, this car is in a class of its own.  With the Grand Convertible, Bentley hopes to redefine the standard of luxury, open-air driving and they succeed.  The bonnet of this impressive vehicle is covered in a silver, liquid metal, while the rest of the car is painted a lovely Sequin Blue, a color created from the sequin of a customer’s couture gown.  Everything about the Grand Convertible from it’s elegantly designed exterior, to its rich, luxurious interior, makes me want to put the top down and get this bad boy out on the open road.  I can already feel the wind in my hair.

Mercedes:

The all-new Mercedes Maybach

The all-new Mercedes Maybach

The big buzz at the Mercedes booth this year was the all-new 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600.  The new Maybach combines the style of the extremely popular S Class with the luxury of the Maybach. Launching stateside in April 2015, the car is touted to be the world’s quietest production sedan.

The exterior holds true to characteristic S Class design while featuring a bold new side line.  While the wheel base is 8.1 inches longer than the standard S, the rear door has been shortened 2.6 inches, allowing the door to effortlessly blend into the side line of the car.  The rear triangle window has been eliminated and moved to the C-Pillar, which places the rear seat solidly behind the window, allowing the occupants ultimate privacy from the road outside.  Although if I were in the back seat of this ride, I would want everyone to see.  But that’s just me.

The V-12 biturbo engine cranks out 523hp, hitting the maximum 612 lb.-ft of torque at 1900 rpm.  The Mayback will hit 0-62 in 5 seconds flat.  Sadly all that power has an electronic limit of 155 mph.  While most people wouldn’t really need to go that fast, I would be curious to see what the actual top speed is.

According to  Ola Källenius, member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars responsible for sales, “As an addition to the portfolio of S-Class sedans, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sets new standards in the luxury segment. The vehicle satisfies the very highest requirements in terms of exclusivity appointments and comfort.”

Mercedes has obviously set the bar high for this new Maybach incarnation, and next April, we will see if consumers agree.

Audi:

Audi's latest concept: prologue

Audi’s latest concept: prologue Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi's latest concept: prologue

Audi’s latest concept: prologue Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi debuted its new large concept coupe, the Audi prologue.  Audi Head Designer Marc Lichte was on hand for the big reveal.  Lichte had this to say about the new concept: “Audi stands for sportiness, lightweight design and the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. In the Audi prologue, we are expressing this know-how in a new form – we have put the sportiest car in the luxury segment on wheels. Our team took new approaches in both exterior and interior design.”

Audi prologue interior

Audi prologue interior Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi prologue interior

Audi prologue interior Photo Credit: Audi USA

The prologue body shape combines elegance and tight, sporty lines.  While I found the exterior to be quite modern and beautiful, the interior unfortunately took me back in time to my grandmother’s Oldsmobile, and not in a good way.   To me, the dash configuration is a throwback to the Buicks and Cadillacs of the 1980’s and simply put, looks dated.  The only thing modern about the interior are the digital displays.  Even the gear shift and steering wheel look “vintage”.  I expect Audi to provide more luxury and innovation in a dash configuration than the prologue offers.  The seats do look quite comfortable and I love the bucket-seat styling in the back seat.

Audi prologue

I would be willing to live with the interior for what’s under the hood.  The 4.0 TFSI has 605 hp and 553.2 lb.-ft of torque.  All that power gets the prologue from 0-62 in 3.7 seconds.  The all-wheel steering allows each wheel to turn up to 5 degrees, providing a stable and responsive ride.  With all that giddy-up, you can get past the weird interior pretty quickly and enjoy the quick, graceful Audi handling.  Should this car make it to production, I seriously hope the interior gets a major overhaul.

Toyota:

2016 Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai

Once again Toyota finds itself at the forefront of automotive ingenuity.  With the launch of the 2016 Mirai, the car company will be able to offer consumers a four-door, mid-size sedan that uses no gasoline and has zero emissions except for water vapor.  This fuel cell electric vehicle gets its power from hydrogen, refuels itself every five minutes, and will drive a whopping 300 miles on a full tank.  Instead of using a large battery to power the car, the fuel cell combines hydrogen from tanks with oxygen to generate electricity.  The car also has one of the world’s highest power outputs at 3.1 kW/L, providing 153hp and a 0-60 time of 9 seconds.

If it’s unique options you’re going for, look no further.  Some Mirai models will come equipped with a power take off (PTO) device that allows the vehicle to act as a mobile generator in case of emergency.  This means the Mirai is able to successfully power home essentials to the average house for up to a week during an emergency, all while emitting only water vapors. That’s a great feature for those of us in So Cal waiting for the “Big One” to hit.

Consumers looking to own the vehicle will find the technology incredibly wallet friendly.  When it hits dealerships in 2015, Toyota will be offering an initial $499/month/36 month lease option.  Add to the price the free hydrogren refills for up to three years from Toyota, and this could be a very competitive option for those looking for cutting edge technology at a more budget friendly price point.  Toyota will also offer a 24/7 concierge service by a dedicated fuel cell representative, 24/7 roadside assistance, 3 year maintenance up to 12k annual miles and complimentary hydrogen fuel for up to three years.  Saving the environment just got a little more exciting.

Kia:

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

The big headline was California Adventure at the Kia booth this year as the all-new 2016 Sorento made it’s North American debut in LA.  The redesigned model is now made with premium materials, comes equipped with many amenities, more head and leg room in all three rows, and three engine options, including the new 2.0 liter turbo charged, the 3.3 liter V-6, and an improved 2.4 liter normally aspirated engine.

2016 Kia Sorento Interior Photo credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Interior Photo credit: Kia Motors

Inspiration for the new design came primarily from the 2013 concept Cross GT and incorporates a much stronger body structure, providing CUV drivers the stability and confidence they demand in a vehicle.

“The core principles in the development of the all-new 2016 Sorento were simple:  Deliver class-up premium materials and features in a capable, confidence-inspiring CUV,” said Orth Hedrick, Vice President, Product Planning, KMA.  “During the development process, engineers started from the ground up by reinforcing an already stiff body structure.  This added rigidity pays dividends when conditions are less than perfect and helps deliver a premium driving experience.  By painstakingly crafting a vehicle with significant reductions in NVH and substantial gains in overall driving comfort and dynamics, the 2016 Sorento sets a new standard for Kia in the highly competitive mid-size CUV segment.”

Kia booth at the LA Auto Show 2014

Kia booth at the LA Auto Show 2014

Kia also delivered an all-encompassing experience to the press this year, focused on the California lifestyle.  Amongst the plethora of new Sorentos on display, Kia had California wine and cheese bars, professional rope climbers and a virtual ski experience press could try.

I continue to be impressed by Kia’s climb out of the average runaround car category. Year after year they step up not only their technology and design, but the quality of their cars.  With this step up comes a higher price tag, but should Kia establish themselves as a more aspirational brand, it’s a price tag consumers may be more willing to consider.  At the very least, I give them style points for their booth, which was by far the most interactive and interesting at the show.