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Auto blogWed, 18 Sep 2013 09:58:00 EST
Mercedes-Benz Titan. Mercedes-Benz Frontier. Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. None of these things roll off the tongue particularly well. We'd like to think that's the reason Daimler opted to kill the idea of rebadged Titan and Frontier pickups from corporate ally Nissan. In reality, the execution before the Frankfurt Motor Show was due to more complicated issues.
Yes, Mercedes, byword for German luxury, style and quality, would have slapped a three-pointed star on a pair of Japanese pickup trucks that have failed to resonate with consumers in the world's largest truck market. That slapping of badges isn't much of an exaggeration, at least on the outside. According to the report from Road & Track, the truck's front clip would have been tweaked, but beyond that, the sheetmetal would have been unchanged. The interior would have received a more thorough going-over by the team at Mercedes, while the suspension and noise, vibration and harshness tuning would have also received significant attention.
The trucks would have ended up being sold through the light-commercial branch of Mercedes-Benz - the same folks that will happily sell you a Sprinter van - had the deal gone through. Issues arose, though, first with the engines. Mercedes wanted a wider range of powertrains to allow it to tune models for specific markets, while Nissan said it couldn't engineer the wide variety of engines that MB wanted to drop under the hood. For the smaller truck, meanwhile, MB was interested in a hybrid or plug-in variant, according to R&T, although this was also shot down by Nissan.
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.
The recent Geneva Motor Show was a festival of hypercars, with the presence of not one, but three over-the-top debuts: the Lamborghini Veneno, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LeFerrari. The latter two have hitched their carbon fiber bumpers to the electrification bandwagon by using hybrid-electric powertrains not entirely unlike the propulsion systems we've come to know in cars like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt. Does that mean the flow of electrons up the four-wheeled food chain will eventually consume our hallowed supercars? Not if AMG has anything to say about it.
AMG Director of Vehicle Development Tobias Moers recently confirmed that not only will there be a successor to the Mercedes-Benz performance division's SLS AMG, he notes that its internal combustion engine will most definitely not be sharing living quarters with an electric drivetrain. Instead, AMG plans to focus on further pushing the power and efficiency envelope of the internal combustion engine and advancing the use of lightweight materials to achieve their goals. The first example of this effort can be seen in the new SLS AMG Black Series that incorporates many weight-saving techniques to shed some 154 pounds from the SLS AMG GT (above), which itself is lighter than the standard SLS AMG.
Furthermore, Moers remarks that his company is happy to leave the hypercar segment to companies like Ferrari and McLaren. He admits that, "Ferrari in the hyper-car segment is still a different brand than AMG. We have to be honest..." So rather than taking the SLS further upmarket to do battle with bulls and stallions, Moers hinted that the next-generation SLS may be joined by another performance model that fits neatly between itself and the C63 AMG.