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First Look: Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG

A good thing in a small package.

by on Jan.07, 2014

The production version of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG will debut in Detroit next week.

Mercedes-Benz has set out to rewrite the rules on small, entry-level luxury cars.  Forget the little C-Coupe of a decade back, and the original Baby Benz.  The maker is out to prove that good things can come in small packages – and with the upcoming introduction of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, add the word, “powerful” to your list of superlatives.

The production version of the new Benz crossover’s most powerful model will make its official debut at the North American International Auto Show next week, but Mercedes is offering up an advanced look at the 355-horsepower compact crossover.

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Based on the same basic “architecture” as the new Mercedes CLA coupe-like sedan, the GLA is taking aim at Gen-X and Millennial buyers who put a premium on luxury brands but might otherwise be stuck in a more mainstream segment.  The AMG version, meanwhile, is the most affordable high-performance crossover the Teutonic maker has ever offered.

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First Look: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Firing on all – 12 – cylinders.

by on Nov.08, 2013

Mercedes brings back its V-12 with the launch of the new 2015 S65 AMG model.

For those who think the recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class isn’t quite exclusive – or powerful – enough, the maker has an alternative making its debut at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show in the form of the 2015 Mercedes S65 AMG.

The new model – not to be confused with the more plebian S63 – brings back the Teutonic twelve-cylinder powertrain, here making an impressive 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, more than enough to leave the kid in the Mustang GT gob-smacked when the light turns green.

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Of course, performance isn’t all that matters when you’re talking about something that in the European market is expected to go for an equally jaw-dropping € 232,050. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG will be outfitted with such niceties as diamond-quilted nappa leather and only the most exclusive woods. There’ll also be an IWC Schaffhausen clock mounted in the dashboard.

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Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin Partner Up

Might a deeper alliance be in the works?

by on Jul.25, 2013

The retro-futuristic Aston Martin CC100 concept could hint at ideas the new partners will develop into future products for the British maker.

Two classic European luxury makers, Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin, have decided to team up in a deal with wide-ranging opportunities. They’ve signed a letter of intent to work together on a new technical partnership and hope to have the final papers signed by year-end.

The move could prove a critical one for Aston Martin, the British-based maker that is struggling to define its future even as it celebrates its centenary.  The announcement of the new deal raises as many questions as answers, however, and could foretell an even broader alliance if the initial partnership work out.

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“We are proud to work with Aston Martin,” said Ola Kallenius, the head of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, the high-performance arm of Mercedes-Benz.

Under the new partnership, AMG will provide Aston with some of its powertrains and electrical systems, while the British maker also will gain access to other Mercedes performance technologies.  Significantly, the Germans appear to positioned to take a role in the development of future products from Aston Martin.

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The Hottest Small Car We May Not Get

Mercedes pulls the wraps off A45 AMG.

by on Mar.08, 2013

No plans for the US - for now, anyway - the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG at its Geneva debut.

Take a close look.  Breathe deeply, then sigh.  Finally, start sending out those e-mails.  A deposit check might help, too.

For now, it seems, Mercedes-Benz has no plans to bring over its sporty new small car, the A-Class, including the high-performance version, the Mercedes A45 AMG that is drawing crowds at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Too bad.  The pint-sized luxury model is the latest incarnation of the Mercedes A-Class and a major shift in direction from the previous generation, abandoning the ungainly tall wagon approach for this more elegant shape that might almost be called a coupe-like wagon.

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Several more mainstream versions of the new A-Class recently went on sale in Europe, both gas and diesel powered. But the big news in Geneva was the unveiling of the AMG edition.  This is the luxury equivalent of the hot hatch.

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Nissan Aims to Transform Nismo into “Affordable Performance” Brand

Two new models debut in Chicago.

by on Feb.08, 2013

Nissan's global marketing chief Simon Sproule with the new Nissan 370Z Nismo.

Nissan plans to transform its long-time motorsport arm into an “affordable” performance brand, two new models wearing the Nismo badge making their debut at the Chicago Auto Show this week.

Originally launched in September 1984, its name a shorthand reference to Nissan Motorsport International Limited, Nismo was primarily focused on sports car racing, including Japan’s Formula 3 series.  Until now, only a handful of vehicles were built for road use, but that’s about to change, according to Nissan’s global marketing and communications chief Simon Sproule.

Power! Power! Power!

The two offerings on display at Chicago’s McCormick Place include the Juke Nismo, a sporty version of Nissan’s little crossover, and an update of the 370Z Nismo, the 2-seat sports car until now being one of the few production Nissan models to get the Nismo treatment.  And there will be more to come, according to Sproule.

“This represents an exciting new growth opportunity for the Nissan brand,” he said during an interview at the Chicago Auto Show.

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Nissan Turning Nismo into Mainstream Performance Brand

by on Nov.29, 2012

The Nissan Juke Nismo concept reveals the red mirror caps likely to become a signature of the performance sub-brand.

Nissan plans to transform its Nismo subsidiary into a new, mainstream performance brand-within-a-brand, loosely modeled on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz sub-brand AMG, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

Unlike some previous Japanese efforts to create sporty sub-brands, every model to wear the Nismo badge will get a measurable bump in performance, more sporty suspension tuning and distinctive exterior and interior design modifications, according to a senior Nissan executive.

The new operations will launch next year with the introduction of the new Nissan Juke Nismo. Other models will quickly follow. Meanwhile, Nissan will increase Nismo’s presence in various motorsports programs to enhance its visibility.

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“We saw an opportunity,” Nissan global marketing chief Simon Sproule explained during  an exclusive interview.  “No Japanese company has exploited its performance heritage successfully,” he added, including Nissan’s luxury arm, Infiniti.

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Polestar Helps Volvo Muscle Up

Better performance without mileage sacrifice.

by on Mar.19, 2012

Volvo's collaboration with Polestar is rapidly expanding.

When you think Volvo you almost certainly think safety.  But the Swedish maker also would like to get potential buyers to associate the brand with performance.

Mercedes-Benz has AMG and BMW has its M-Class and now Volvo is challenging its German rivals with cars enhanced by Polestar.

Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Polestar has collaborated with Volvo since 1996. Since 2009 Polestar has developed performance optimization software for Volvo cars. Polestar and Volvo is now boosting the visibility of its partnership with Polestar. The initiative isn’t anywhere near as lavish or expensive as the AMG and or M-Class but it does offer Volvo fans looking for added performance some genuine punch — without the typical mileage penalty.

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The Polestar performance software packages are now available on the 2012 XC60 R-Design, S60 and XC70 fitted with a T6 engine for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,495 when installed at the dealer. The T6 Polestar software package adds 25 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque, bringing the three car lines to 325 horsepower and 354 lb-ft.

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Infiniti Beefing Up New IPL Line-Up

More than just show.

by on Nov.22, 2011

Infiniti muscles up its stock G37 Convertible.

With the launch of its new IPL G Convertible, Infiniti is adding some real muscle to its new performance sub-brand.

At 343 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, the 2013 Infiniti IPL G Convertible gets a noticeable bump up from the more conventional Infiniti G37 cabrio, a well-received improvement from the base car which had plenty of show but needed more go.

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First introduced at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and then updated, in concept form, at the recent Pebble Beach Concours, the IPL G shares its 3.7-liter engine with the standard-issue G37 Convertible, but it undergoes some exhaust tuning and engine management changes that add an extra 18 horsepower and 16 lb-ft of torque.

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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

Muscle, luxury and plenty of space.

by on Nov.14, 2011

Mercedes delivers a big bump in power with the launch of the 2012 ML63 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz is seldom shy about adding some muscle to its more mainstream offerings, and the AMG badge on the back of the third-generation ML line suggests that this sport-utility vehicle isn’t meant for crawling all over boulder-strewn trails.

Then again, neither are any of the other members of the ML line-up, which is more likely to win over soccer moms and commuter dads than rugged outdoorsmen.  In the case of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the pitch is to those who want a reasonable degree of functionality and flexibility but still hope to find something with the soul of a sports car.

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There’s no question that the fast-beating heart of the 2012 ML63 can impress, the updated 5.5-liter biturbo V8 making518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque – up 15 hp and 44 lb-ft, respectively, over the old model.  For those who need to press things to the limit, you’ll also find the AMG Performance Package bumps that up to 550 hp and 560 lb-ft.  Power is channeled through the Mercedes Speedshift Plus-7 automatic gearbox.

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Mercedes Adding Coupe-Like SUV to Alabama Line-up

Maker also introducing its most powerful compact ever.

by on Jul.25, 2011

Mercedes unveils the most powerful C-Class ever.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t slowing down its product proliferation program.  The maker, once limited to a handful of models such as the C, E and S-Class sedans, now has a broad range of sedans, coupes, crossovers and SUVs – and will add a new model that apparently blends the off-road capabilities of its M-Class line with the sleek coupe-like shape of its CLS sedan.

Reports indicate the new model will be one of the new additions to go into the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama.  The maker has announced that it will spent about $2 billion to upgrade the factory – more than twice the original cost of the plant.  Among other things, the investment will permit Mercedes to produce its C-Class model in Alabama, as well.

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The C-Class line-up will also be getting bigger, the German maker revealed, with the 2012 launch of the new C63 AMG Coupe Black Series.  It will be the most powerful version ever in the compact line – originally known as the Baby Benz.  Powered by a 6.3-liter V-8 developed specifically for the AMG brand-within-a-brand, the Black Series coupe will make 510 horsepower and should launch from 0 to 60 in about 4.2 seconds, Mercedes says.

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