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Mercedes to roll out C63 AMG late in 2014 with 4.0L V8

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 14:31:00 EST

The new 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is upon us, launching initially in North America with turbocharged four-cylinder C300 4Matic and six-cylinder C400 4Matic flavors. But that's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the vast array of powertrain configurations that will be offered in the new C-Class in markets around the world. Orders will soon be rolling in for gasoline, hybrid and diesel engines with four, six or eight cylinders, driving the rear wheels or all four, with the seven-speed automatic transmission soon to be replaced by a new nine-speed unit. But what enthusiasts are really looking forward to is the next C63 AMG.
As BMW has done with the M3 (and new M4), Mercedes has gradually ratcheted up the cylinder count in its AMG C-Class, graduating from the 3.6-liter V6 in the original C36 AMG to the 4.3-liter V8 in the C43 AMG, then the 5.5-liter V8 in the C55 AMG before going the distance with the sublime 6.2-liter V8 in the C63 AMG. Like its rivals, Mercedes is expected to use turbochargers as a replacement for displacement in the next model, but unlike its Bavarian rival, it won't be losing any cylinders in the process.
Skipping the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that has gone on to power other AMG models, the next C63 AMG is still expected to introduce a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing between 450 and 500 horsepower. It'll also reportedly keep the same seven-speed automatic transmission (instead of switching to the new nine-speed), but the jury's still out on whether it'll come with rear- or all-wheel drive (or offer buyers the choice). The downsized V8 - codenamed M177 - is then expected to find its way into other models, but the C-Class will be the first to get it when it arrives before the end of the new year ahead.

Mercedes fits new C-Class with AMG kit

Sat, 28 Dec 2013 14:59:00 EST

It's only been a week and a half since Mercedes-Benz revealed the new C-Class, and it'll likely be a while yet before the replacement for the C63 AMG comes along. But if you want to see a preview of what it'll look like, look no further than the AMG aero kit that has just surfaced.
Expected to debut on the new C-Class at the fast-approaching Detroit Auto Show, the AMG Line Exterior Pack adds a new bumpers front and rear, side skirts, dual exhaust tips, mesh grille, aluminum window frames and - most importantly - 18-inch alloys packing upgraded brakes and fitted to a lowered sport suspension. All of which will help any C-Class look the part, even if the engine remains stock.

Mercedes teams with Pebble for smartwatch tech

Tue, 24 Dec 2013 17:32:00 EST

Most automakers have realized by now that a good infotainment system is a must-have feature for many buyers, and have, as a result, invested increasing amounts of time and money developing these technologies. But some automakers are going above and beyond in-car entertainment and navigation technology by focusing on wearable technology as well.
Nissan has emerged as one such company, developing its own alternative to Google Glass and performance-oriented smartwatch. But Mercedes-Benz is also putting itself at the forefront of wearable tech - not by developing competing products to those designed by dedicated tech companies, but by working with them. The German automaker, as we recently reported, is developing its own app for Google Glass, and is now doing the same with smartwatches as well.
Set to be unveiled at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mercedes has collaborated with Pebble Technologies to develop the Digital DriveStyle app. The system will display tell its wearer where the car is, whether the doors are locked and if it needs fuel. Inside the car it'll alert the driver to potential hazards coming up on the road, while making functions like re-routing the nav system, controlling the audio system or activating Siri that much easier.

Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG formalize technical partnership

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 16:01:00 EST

The development of a partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin has been a long time coming. The news dates back to 2008, and over the five years since was supposed to lead to a rejuvenation of both the Maybach and Lagonda brands. That program ultimately fell apart, but the tie-in was forged afresh in July when the two automakers signed a letter of intent over a renewed partnership. And now that partnership has been formalized.
In a deal just announced, Mercedes-AMG will build a new V8 engine for Aston Martin that will power a new generation of luxury GTs for the British marque, presumably to replace the 4.7-liter V8 in the Vantage. The relationship appears to be similar to the one already in place between AMG and Pagani, only in this case, will involve Daimler taking as much as a five-percent stake in Aston Martin and an observer seat on Aston's board.
The technical partnership is also set to lead to the supply of electric and electronic systems, and could incorporate "additional areas of cooperation in the future." Whether that will include a fresh attempt at reviving Lagonda remains to be seen, as does the future of Aston's long-serving, Ford-based 6.0-liter V12 engine. But for now you can read the full announcement below.

Mercedes calls CLA 'best launch in 20 years' as it warns dealers of tight supplies

Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:00:00 EST

It's still in the early going, but it's looking more and more like the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA is a verifiable home run for the German brand. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the new small car isn't just widening the sales gap between Mercedes and BMW, it's attracting a new, younger breed of customers into the brand's showrooms. But that early success is straining supplies of the turbocharged four-door.
Dealers have been warned that the first half of 2014 will see limited supplies for CLA, with a letter to dealers indicating that "tight inventories and low days supply" will exist from February through June, despite the car's Kecskemét, Hungary plant running at full tilt.
"This is our best launch in 20 years," said Steve Cannon, the US boss for Mercedes. "The CLA has been a phenomenal success right out of the gate." The numbers certainly support that. We reported in early October that Mercedes moved 2,300 CLAs in its first week on sale, and now Bloomberg is saying CLA sales were almost singlehandedly responsible for Benz's November sales gains. Mercedes' annual sales are up 14 percent through the November, and it's enjoying a healthy 7,600-car lead over BMW.

Mercedes dealers authorized to spend $2,500 on perks for S-Class customers

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:01:00 EST

If you drop $100,000 on a luxury sedan, it seems only reasonable to receive some preferential treatment at the dealership you purchased from. After all, that price isn't just for the car - you're paying for the brand and all the cachet that entails. For Mercedes-Benz, those benefits have apparently been lacking relative to the German brand's luxury competitors.
That's set to change, though, as Automotive News reports that the German brand is placing a much greater emphasis on keeping its customers happy and loyal with its MB Select program. Starting with the new S-Class and spreading to the CLA-Class (and eventually beyond), dealers are being given money - up to $2,500 in the case of the flagship sedan - just to improve the customer experience.
We agree, improving the "customer experience" is quite a vague term, so it's nice that Mercedes USA's CEO, Steve Cannon, offered up some examples to AN at the LA Auto Show. For example, a customer couldn't fit his sunglasses into the overhead compartment. "So we bought him a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that fit because of their shape," Cannon said.

Is Audi getting complacent and suffering from brain drain?

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 08:57:00 EST

The argument is made in a Reuters article: Audi is falling behind other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, due to a lack of research-and-development spending and "brain drain," or the migration of top executives and R&D chiefs to other parts of the Volkswagen Group. Reuters notes that Audi's current R&D chief is the third in 16 months.
Audi, which contributed to 40 percent of VW Group's $11.6 billion in profit the first nine months of the year, is delivering cars at a record pace: 1.31 million were delivered from January to October 2013 versus BMW's 1.35 million. Yet Audi, Reuters reports, doesn't have a halo car akin to BMW's new electrified i3 and i8 or an answer to Mercedes' plug-in-hybrid S-Class, and the R&D spending at Audi is less than BMW and Mercedes by a fair margin. It's noted in the article, however, that Audi benefits from other R&D spending within VW Group.
Reuters mentions that BMW "trumpets its new 'i' series" and the new Mercedes CLA and GLA ranges are winning "rave reviews" as part of its argument that Audi's recent lack of technological innovation could hurt future sales. Those cars do pack tons of new technology, some of which are firsts for mainstream production cars. But last time we checked, the i3 could be causing BMW's stock to slide, the CLA isn't receiving the rave reviews that Reuters would have you believe and the GLA hasn't been reviewed yet.

Mercedes Concept GLA45 AMG is ready to run

Wed, 20 Nov 2013 14:00:00 EST

This is the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA45 AMG, and what we mean by that is, "This is the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG." Mercedes has just unveiled the liveried 'concept' at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, giving potential customers a very good look at the newest lunatic in the AMG asylum - a 355-horsepower, 332-pound-foot crossover that uses the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the CLA45 AMG and Europe's A45 AMG.
Joined with a seven-speed, AMG Speedshift dual-clutch transmission and an AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, Mercedes promises a sub-five-second run to 60 miles per hour. That's not just quick for a crossover, that's quick full stop.
That sleek, lifted body has also been tweaked by the minds at AMG's Affalterbach facility. A new rear spoiler, side sills and front clip are the primary aerodynamic tweaks. Aesthetically, AMG has fitted the requisite "Turbo" badges, gloss-black accents (including exhaust tips and roof rails) and a set of 21-inch, AMG-spec alloy wheels to round out the overall package. Based on the spy shots we've seen, expect slightly toned down aerodynamics when the GLA45 AMG arrives in showrooms.

Daimler buying 12% stake in Beijing Auto

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 08:00:00 EST

Daimler and Beijing Automotive are officially going steady, with the German company set to take a 12-percent stake in the Chinese brand tomorrow. The two are already tied up in a Mercedes engine plant in Beijing, of which BAIC will increase its stake in, from 50 to 51 percent. Daimler will also get two seats on the Chinese company's board. BAIC may also gain the ability to produce cars on Mercedes-Benz platforms, according to Automotive News Europe.
The investment in BAIC comes ahead of that company's initial public offering, according to a report form Bloomberg, which indicates the deal will be inked tomorrow in the Chinese capital. According to the report, if the circumstances are right, BAIC may turn around and invest in the Germany company "soon."
It's not entirely clear just how much the 12-percent cut is costing Daimler, although it seems reasonable to assume that, as it's ahead of the IPO, the parent company of Mercedes is getting a bit of a bargain.

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series [w/video]

Fri, 15 Nov 2013 11:58:00 EST

The biggest misconception about the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series is that it's simply a higher-performing version of the SLS GT - a closer look, or better yet, a few hot laps on a high-speed racing circuit, reveals that is anything but the case.
Launched in the States in mid-2011, the standard SLS GT is a 583-horsepower, all-aluminum, gull-wing coupe with performance that positions it near the top of the exotic segment. While the AMG team at Mercedes-Benz could have left it alone, their experience with the SLS AMG GT3 race car said there was room for improvement, so they devised the SLS Black Series. The transformation from SLS GT to SLS Black Series is extensive, with no fewer than 17 different significant enhancements.
The engine mapping, crankshaft, connecting rods, valve-train, intake, exhaust and cooling are all modified and the engine's redline bumps up from 7,200 to 8,000 rpm, which pushes output of the hand-built 6.3-liter V8 to 622 horsepower. The power steering receives a new ratio, a coil-over AMG Adaptive Performance suspension is installed along with underbody braces, the track is widened, two-piece carbon-ceramic brakes replace iron rotors at each corner and a lightweight titanium exhaust is fitted beneath. The AMG Speedshift seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is modified and an electronically controlled AMG rear differential lock ensures the power goes to the pavement. Last on the mechanical upgrades are new lightweight forged wheels (10x19 inches front and 12x20 inches rear) wrapped in special R-compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires.