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Auto blogTue, 29 Apr 2014 09:30:00 EST
Think of the letters AMG and you'll probably end up picturing a performance sedan with a big V8. Such has become, after all, the Mercedes turning division's calling card. But with the introduction of its 2.0-liter turbo four, AMG is working at turning that notion on its head.
The highly potent engine produces 355 horsepower and is presently installed in the A45 AMG hatchback, CLA45 AMG sedan and GLA45 AMG crossover, giving Benz's smallest family a full range of performance models. But that might not be the full extent of the high-strung four-pot's use.
Speaking with AMG boss Tobias Moers, Britain's What Car? magazine reports that Affalterbach is considering slotting the same engine into larger models, particularly performance sedans like the C-Class. As we recently reported, Mercedes is already preparing to up the power from the turbo V6 in the C400 to slot a C450 Sport in below the C63 AMG. The C450 is expected to offer around 367 horsepower where the CLA45 AMG et al pack 355, but the lighter weight of the four-cylinder engine would likely offset the truancy of those extra dozen horses. Of course such a prospect would be much further down the pipeline than the C450 Sport which is expected to arrive much sooner.
If the reception it received at the Shanghai Motor Show is any judge of marketplace acceptance, Mercedes-Benz has a hit on its hands in the form of the GLA Concept. And we can understand why - we're quickly becoming fans of Mercedes' recent styling language, as defined by new models like the CLA and this GLA Concept.
The big news on the exterior front are the headlamp clusters, which have frickin' laser beams attached to their foreheads embedded inside that are capable of projecting videos and images on a screen. Plus, a pair of video cameras are mounted on the roof that can be used to capture driving excitement or removed and taken with you. How cool is that? We just hope they have a substantial locking mechanism to prevent would-be thievery...
If the exterior is mostly ready for production, with a few of the more outlandish elements moved to the trash bin - like, for instance, laser-beam headlamps and removable action cams - the interior is a true custom job that screams concept loud and clear. There are all kinds of jewel-like finishes inside, along with transparent surfaces showing what looks like metal latticework underneath and some awfully thick looking leather with massive exterior stitching done by hand similar to what you'd find on a baseball glove.
While every team on the Formula One grid is worried about making a good showing in this year's championship at the same time as they develop a brand-new car for next year's championship, Bernie Ecclestone and F1 circuit promoters have a different concern: how next year's cars will sound. The current cars use 2.4-liter, naturally-aspirated V8s that can reach 18,000 revolutions per minute and employ dual exhaust, next year's engine formula calls for 1.4-liter turbocharged V6s that are capped at 15,000 rpm and are constrained to a single exhaust outlet. Ecclestone and promoters like Ron Walker believe the new engines sound like lawnmowers and that the less thrilling audio will keep people from coming to races. If Walker's Australian Grand Prix really is shelling out almost $57 million to hold the race, every ticket counts. As a fix, according to a report in Autoweek, Ecclestone "suggests that the only way to guarantee [a good sound] may be to artificially adjust the tone of the V6s."
However, neither the manufacturers nor the governing body of F1, the FIA, think there will be a problem. Ecclestone fears that if the manufacturers "don't get it right" they'll simply leave the sport, but the only three carmakers and engine builders left next year, Renault (its 2014 "power unit" is pictured), Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari are so embedded that it would stretch belief to think they'd leave the table over an audio hiccup - if said hiccup even occurs. And frankly, these issues always precede changes to engine formulas, as they did when the formula switched from V10 to V8; fans, though, are probably less focused on the engines and more on the mandated standardization of the sport and the spec-series overtones that have come with it.
No one knows yet what next year's engines will sound like, but we've assembled a few videos below to help us all start guessing. The first is an engine check on an Eighties-era John Player Special Renault with a 1.5-liter V6 turbo, after that is Ayrton Senna qualifying in 1986 in the Lotus 98T that also had a 1.5-liter V6 turbo, then you'll find a short with a manufactured range of potential V6 engine notes, and then the sound of turbocharged V6 Indycars testing last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Any, or none of them, could be Formula One's future.