Sun City, Arizona, United States
Here's a chance to acquire a celebrity-owned vehicles, and this time at a discount instead of a premium. So the celebrity in this case is Consumer Reports, that magazine that could be equally adored and abhored by car enthusiasts. CR buys all of its test vehicles and usually finds willing second owners within its own ranks, but its opening its small used-car lot to the public. On the forecourt are four roadsters: an automatic 2012 Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Tronic with 6,600 miles for $36,500, a manual 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i with 8,400 miles for $45,000, a manual 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 for $39,500 and a manual 2013 Porsche Boxster with 7,000 miles for $48,000.
Those numbers mean a savings of $9,000 to $10,000 before haggling - each car is listed with an "Asking price" so there could be some wiggle room if you show up with pockets full of dough and eyes full of serious intent. Since the money CR earns from the sales go back into the magazine's budget to buy more test cars, however, it probably won't take any oddball trades, so you can forget about getting any purchasing help from that track-day AMC Javelin project on blocks in the back yard.
The vehicles have been taken care of and spiffed up for sale; buyers will take delivery at the CR test track in East Haddam, Connecticut and get a tour of the facilities. While you're there they'll even take you on a lap around the track so you can feel how your car handles when driven by one of its testers. They will probably not help you with advice on which toaster and dehumidifier to buy - you'll still need to get a subscription for that. Have a look at the video below to see a day in the life of a CR test car.
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.
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.