22nd September 2014
Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development has some strong opinions about the new S550 plug-in hybrid. He said, ”This is the first luxury sedan with the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model. The greatest challenge in this is to translate efficiency into superior performance. In this respect there is a highly interesting parallel with Mercedes’ successful Formula 1 racing car, which likewise has a turbocharged V6 engine and a high-tech hybrid drive.” Okay, so Dr. Weber might be just a little excited about this new car.
The Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid offers a system output of 436 hp and 479 lb-ft torque, sprints from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.2 seconds and can drive up to 20 miles purely electrically. Key elements of this output are the V6 biturbo and what Mercedes calls it’s intelligent hybrid drive. The new high-voltage lithiumion battery with an energy content of 8.7 kWh can be externally recharged via the charging socket in the right side of the rear bumper.
There is some interesting Mercedes wizardry going on here. In the background, depending on the chosen operating mode, the car automatically selects what it presumes is the ideal combination of internal combustion engine and electric motor and in so doing not only adapts its strategy according to the charge status of the battery; it also foresightedly adjusts it according to the traffic or route. Anyone wanting to can also intervene manually to select a favorite mix of hybrid and petrol operations.
The S550 Plug-in Hybrid is the first hybrid model in the U.S. for the new S-Class. The series production launch of this technology began at Mercedes-Benz in 2009.
18th September 2014
13th September 2014
10th September 2014
8th September 2014
With much fanfare and celebration for all things that are England, today Jaguar launched the all-new XE mid-size sport sedan. Though I guess to be proper we should use the English term “Saloon” instead. Whatever you call it, this new XE carries on the Jaguar tradition of building cars that look stunning.
Under that sleek bonnet (only .26 drag coefficient overall) is one of two engines: a supercharged 3-liter V6 petrol unit good for 340hp, with a 0-60 run of only 4.9 seconds (claimed) and a top speed of 155mph (electronically limited). Another option will be a 2-liter four-banger diesel engine that claims 75 imperial miles to the gallon. (Note that Imperial gallons are less than US gallons.)
No idea which, if either, of these engines will be available domestically. Still, this is an exciting development from Jaguar. The F-Type is a wonderful little car, but price and size limits its appeal. With the XE there’s finally going to be a Jaguar that can fit into anyone’s life and we welcome it, though the folks at BMW may be less than thrilled.
4th September 2014
A Lexus that is designed to excel on the track as well as the street. That’s the mission of the 467-horsepower RC F. Featuring the most powerful Lexus V8 to date (51 more horses than the now-discontinued IS F) the RC F also claims to come with track-engineered chassis, drivetrain and brakes. In other words, if the press release is accurate, Lexus is offering a full combo platter of enthusiast driving pleasure.
Lower, longer and wider than the standard RC, all the flourishes and fancy bodywork on the RC F serve a purpose: from providing improved aerodynamics, to increasing airflow through the oil cooler.
We’ve given Lexus some guff for sticking the “F” badge on cars willy-nilly, but considering the RC F has been tuned on both Fuji Speedway (namesake of all “F” branded cars) and the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it seems this one may have earned its badge.
Because even sports cars need to be economical these days, the RC F engineers employed some witchcraft to make the V8 under its bulging hood even better than it was in the IS F. Redline has been increased 300 RPM to 7100, compression ratio is up to 12.3:1 (from 11.8:1 in the IS F). The engine also employs an Atkinson Cycle at cruising speed to improve fuel economy (TBD). Cooling of both the engine and the transmission has also improved, to increase longevity during trackdays.
The only transmission is the 8-speed Sports Direct Shift system. In other words, an automatic. But not just any automatic. This one has a bevy of options including a, you guessed it, trackday mode called S+. In this mode it will shift harder, faster, blip the throttle on aggressive downshifts and even hold or select gears based on G-sensor inputs.
We look forward to driving this one soon. Maybe a BMW vs. Lexus shootout is in order?