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Auto blogThu, 18 Apr 2013 03:01:00 EST
Mercedes-Benz has something special planned for the Shanghai Motor Show - a new CUV concept that we first saw when it leaked on the internet yesterday. The GLA Concept compact crossover will hit the show stand with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive, and likely previews a new production model that we've already spotted testing.
That's not news, but the laser-based headlamps with video-projecting capability certainly are. Mercedes-Benz says the array can project any image or video onto a screen, which is handy since there are a pair of HD cameras mounted to the roof rack. The cameras can be removed and taken with you on all sorts of adventures. The lamps also feature a visible cooling system comprised of a series of fans, and the system helps give the headlights their "sparkle" effect.
Step indoors and the GLA offers up the interior of a high-quality crossover, complete with contrasting leather and plenty of aluminum. The automaker says the cabin was inspired by saddle craftsmanship with "more than 65 feet of hand-stitched seams to hold the raw edges of the leather together."
If we're being completely honest, we haven't exactly been in love with the aesthetics of the sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. It's mostly a front-end issue, with its glowering eagle-eye headlamps and upright, dinner-plate-sized Three-Pointed Star coming across to us as overwrought. That's particularly troublesome for a roadster whose history has of the most elegant designs of all time in its back catalog. Somehow, the new R231 generation's brash visuals seem more at home on this Brabus 800 Roadster to us.
That's probably because the high-dollar German tuner has turned up the wick on the SL's visuals even further, with carbon fiber bodywork, a more aggressive aero kit, matte hood scoop and complex two-finish wheels. It's all-the-way committed to its brashness, in other words - and justifiably so. Anything with 800 horsepower and 1,047 pound-feet of torque has earned the right to look however it wants, right?
Brabus started with the SL65 and its not-exactly-underpowered 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12, and went to town, fitting their own turbocharger and intercooler system, along with a less-restrictive exhaust system with driver-selectable sound levels and new engine electronics. The result is a 3.7-second 0-62 mph time, an electronically limited top whack of 217 mph... and one seriously compromised toupée.
You have to love someone who gets incredibly committed to a very weird idea. What you see for sale here is a right-hand drive 1971 Mercedes-Benz 220D in South Africa, but this old Mercedes is now converted into a pickup, complete with bed cover, and there's big secret under the hood, too.
The pickup conversion appears well done based on seller Sedgefield Classic Cars' photos. Even the tonneau cover fits well. You could almost believe that this Mercedes lived its life as a Chevrolet El Camino-like pickup from the very beginning.
However, the rear-quarters conversion might not be the weirdest thing about this Mercedes. The original diesel is gone from the engine bay in favor of a Lexus V8. It seems really odd to pop the hood and find a Japanese mill in this German car, but the photos make it look like a fairly well performed swap. So, bravo to the crazy thinking. According to the seller speaking to Autoblog by email, "as far as we can establish, this was done a few years ago, with all Lexus components."