Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mercedes Benz Showcases 2016 C63 AMG C63 AMG S, Retains V8

Following a leak that took place late yesterday, Mercedes Benz has spilled the beans on the revamped 2016 Mercedes C63 AMG which will make its debut at the Paris Auto Show in October. Aimed squarely at the redesigned BMW M3/M4, the C63 along with its more potent sibling the C63 S look to take a bigger chunk of the luxury performance sedan market, while also scorching track times and handling courses at the same time.

The exterior styling of the C63 retains the basic profile and S-Class esque cues of its mainstream C-Class relative, but a more muscular front fascia as well as a twin slat radiator grille give the C63 a much more purposeful look which is enhanced further by Mercedes-AMG C 63 S (BR 205); 2014bigger front air dams and model exclusive mesh accents. The rear fascia has also been tweaked for C63 duty and features a built in air diffuser, rear bumper vents, as well as four exhaust pipes which are a signature design cue of the iconic in-house tuner. AMG engineers also lowered the C63 somewhat thanks to a new adjustable sport suspension which improves handling behavior, while also allowing the car to have a lower stance than the decidedly more mainstream C-Class.

The interior of the C63 features a performance oriented cockpit that offers a balanced blend of luxury and performance oriented flair. A meaty three spoke flat bottomed steering wheel provides ample grip and feedback, while an AMG spec instrument cluster delivers clear and precise information to the driver and as a nice bonus even features a healthy dollup of carbon fiber to amp up the exclusivity factor somewhat. Occupants will Mercedes-AMG C 63 S (BR 205); 2014also appreciate the supportive sport bucket seats which features a sultry combination of Alcantara and leather accents that looks stylish, and also helps keep the driver firmly in place during spirited driving. A potent Burnmester sound system will be available as an optional piece of equipment, and  it will join an extensive list of options that include fun enhancing items such as performance sport seats that feature more bolstering versus the standard thrones, more material selections, as well as the latest in luxury features with some lifted from the S-Class.

The main change here for 2016 is the C63’s performance hardware especially at the very heart of the beast, its potent V8 engine. The previous generation’s naturally aspirated 6.3 liter V8 (aka M156) was an enthusiasts dream and powered nearly all of AMG’s lineup during its time in production. However for the new C63, that iconic power-plant has been shelved in lieu of an all new twin turbocharged 4.0 liter V8 (M177) which is a close relative of the unit found in the recently unveiled AMG-GT sports car. Good for a solid 469 Mercedes-AMG C 63  (BR 205); 2014horsepower and an equally stout 479 lb-ft of torque, these figures are higher than the base AMG-GT, while also allowing it to out muscle its archenemy the 425 horsepower inline powered BMW M3. Buyers looking for even more muscle can opt for the C63 S model which equals the 503 horsepower wielded by the up-level GT S, but makes up for it by offering more torque ( 516 lb-ft versus the GT S’s 479 lb-ft). Regardless of which model is selected, both versions will route their power through a new 7 speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic transmission with no manual option in the cards. Despite this, the new transmission should please buyers with its lighting quick shifts as well as its high level of configurability.

Mercedes claims that the C63 S is capable of making the sprint to 60 mph in a swift 3.9 seconds, while the base model can accomplish the same task in a slightly slower 4.0 seconds flat. These are strong figures that are higher than many rivals that have eschewed V8’s and embraced less cylinders and turbocharging as their means of achieving performance. Expect these early figures to possibly change, especially when the full potential of this engine is truly known. Much of this potential is thanks in part to its new turbochargers which are placed inside the valley of the engine to make it more compact, while also increasing responsiveness at the same time since the exhaust gases have a more direct route to the turbines versus a conventional setup that requires the gases to navigate further up the engine which contributes to the annoying phenomenon known as turbo lag. In addition to the unqiue location of the turbochargers, the C63 also nabs the GT’s trick dynamic engine mounts which can alter their stiffness depending on various driving conditions stiffer for more spirited driving, and softer for comfort oriented cruising. Handling has also been honed to perfection, and the C63 now features a new aluminum intensive independent suspension system which cuts unsprung weight while also incorporating electronically adjustable  shocks that can be tuned to comfort or performance settings.

Balancing out its quest for raw muscle is the C63’s surprising level of efficiency, with Mercedes claiming that the 2016 C63 AMG will be the most fuel efficient V8 powered car in the performance sedan category.  A majority of the credit goes to a new C63 exclusive feature which will eventually trickle down to other AMG models in the near future. Known as the “Gliding Function”,  it allows the drive train to be decoupled from the engine if the Mercedes-AMG C 63  (BR 205); 2014driver lifts off the throttle at speeds between 37 and 99 mph. The company claims that the new feature as well as other tweaks allow the C63 to consume 32 percent less fuel than its predecessor though don’t expect figures that will make the Toyota Prius lose sleep anytime soon.

Look for the 2016 Mercedes C63 AMG to make its debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, with the first units slated to arrive in Mercedes showrooms sometime in March. Unlike other recent Benz offerings, look for both the base and S models to arrive at the same time with official pricing for both models being revealed closer to its official launch. Can the new V8 fill the lofty shoes of its M156 predecessor? Only time will tell but we can not wait for the chance to find out.

 

 

Cadillac To Seperate, Will Establish New HQ In New York City

As part of a bold and radical plan to support the overall extension of Cadillac, the brand revealed that it will operate as a separate business under brand CEO Johan de Nysschen with its new headquarters building slated to open in the Soho area of New York sometime in 2015.

Citing the additional freedom that the separation would give to its operations, GM’s president Dan Ammann claimed that this move was ” the next logical step….. in pursuit of further growth for Cadillac. This announcement as well as Cadillac’s plans for expansion come at an all important time for the brand especially with its recent sales woes, as well as the stiff and formidable challenge laid out by traditional rivals such as Audi and Mercedes Benz in the hotly contested luxury car segment where the Germans have always managed to be significantly ahead of Cadillac in overall sales numbers. The move will allow Cadillac greater autonomy over its own operations versus the amount it has currently which would help it achieve more of its expansion targets and goals long term, however this autonomy does have a flip side since Cadillac would have an increased level of responsibility for its actions and operations if some of these initiatives fail or under-perform expectations.

The significant change in geography is the first major step undertaken by Cadillac under the guidance of de Nysschen (who assumed the helm back in August) but this is not the first time that de Nysschen has moved a brand away from its parent company. During his tenure at Infiniti, de Nysschen was the architect behind Infiniti’s move from Nissan’s Japan based headquarters, to a separate facility in Hong Kong as part of a similar expansion plan he launched prior to his appointment at Cadillac. The move is also not unprecedented with rival Ford taking similar action to move its expansive Premier Auto Group luxury portfolio (Aston Martin, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury,) from its headquarters in Dearborn, to a facility in Irvine, CA several years ago. Unfortunately the plan ultimately derailed thanks mainly in part to the collapse and subsequent sale of PAG during the great recession, as well as the company’s decision to move Lincoln back to Dearborn which put the final nails in the coffin of the Irvine facility.

While its headquarters will move from Detroit to the Big Apple, it is not a compete shift for Cadillac since its technical operations will still be based and operated in Michigan. In addition, the brand is still deciding which staff will make the trip to New York, and which will stay at their current locations in Michigan. While a mass exodus is highly unlikely, look for a small group of staff to be sent to New York in the near future to oversee basic operations in the Soho based building, as well as helping the brand with the long term transition process.

 

Review: 2013 Morgan 3 Wheeler

When I first laid my eyes on the Morgan 3 Wheeler back in 2011, there was something in me that felt drawn to the car. Maybe it was the fact that it was so simplistic and pure? or maybe it was because of its eccentric three wheeled design? While many may scoff and point out how crazy the very thought of owning a minimalist car like this is, it’s no secret that Morgan’s little trike has been a hot seller since its debut with over 1000 of them produced. With my search of a second “summer car” underway (among other things), I decided to visit my local Morgan dealer in Birmingham Michigan to find out if it did indeed earn a place in my garage, as well as whether it could follow in the footsteps of its three wheeled ancestors which helped establish the company into the bespoke auto manufacturer it is today. Has it succeeded in both of those objectives? Read on to find out.

The exterior styling of my dark green 2013 tester (2014 models receive minimal updates) certainly succeeded in being a tempting piece of eye candy with many passersby either rolling down their windows or walking up to the car to get a closer look. While it lacked the over the top graphic packages found on other 3 wheelers, it still managed to look slick and IMG_8911handsome in its own discreet way. The torpedo/beetle back aluminum paneled shape of the 3 Wheeler hides a steel tubular chassis which makes up the sturdy backbone of the car. this backbone is in turn encompassed by an Ash wood frame (a trademark Morgan cue) which is not only lightweight, but also offers excellent durability and rigidity. The front fascia is a minimalist exercise in function with the exposed air cooled V-Twin engine serving as the visual center piece of the car. The engine’s center mounted position also aides in keeping the engine cool during spirited driving. Retro inspired front headlights and rudimentary turn signals round out the look and help the tiny Morgan have a unique visual presence at night.

The rear fascia is also an exercise in function and in addition to hiding the third wheel from view, it also features a small trunk which has enough room for the Tonneau cover as well as a few small bags. Bigger items (such as my camera bag or a picnic basket) are either best left at home or on your passengers lap, though the passenger floor well does serve as a handy extra cargo area when it is not being used for hauling people. the car’s low profile helps it hug IMG_8912the road like a spirited terrier, but  it can also be a major disadvantage in city driving especially when stopped at a stop light where bigger cars and trucks serve as formidable obstacles to frontal view. That said it is pretty cool to be able to see the exposed suspension and steering components doing their respective jobs while out on the road which adds to the overall appeal.

The interior also follows the simplistic approach of its ancestors and unlike many modern cars which have become laden with various electronic gadgetry and amenities, the 3 Wheeler is a welcome trip back to the past with its function over form styling. While it does lack things such as a navigation system, radio, windshield, heated steering wheel, airbags, and other electronic toys. It makes up for it by presenting the driver with a minimalistic but performance oriented layout which is largely easy to use and manipulate thanks in part to its vintage style toggle switches that operate the lights and the horn. The lone exceptions are the turn signal stalk and the “bomb release” style start button which require dextrous fingers to operate, and their small size also makes them hard to spot the first few times.

The low slung sides of the 3 Wheeler (as well as its lack of a roof) do offer easy entry and ingress though occupants with longer legs will still have to do a gymnastics act to formally enter the car, though the removable steering wheel does help ease entry for the driver somewhat. Once fully nestled into the cabin, the 3 Wheeler is a surprisingly comfortable place to be (albeit a tad cramped). While the seats are non adjustable, Morgan has added power adjustable pedals foIMG_8914r 2014 to help fit drivers of various heights though the cramped foot well and the relatively close spacing of the pedals still require small shoes to avoid hitting two pedals at once. The gauges are simple analog units and are easy to read with the speedometer on the left and the tachometer on the right. The meaty steering wheel is also fun to manipulate (a wood steering wheel can be fitted as an option) but with the speedometer partially blocked by the fore-mentioned wheel, the traditional 10 and 2 position is out of the question and it is actually easier to use the old school 20 past 8 position. The standard pleated red leather seats in my tester were comfortable and offered a good amount of support though it did lack some of the bolstering that is more commonplace in other track day cars such as the Caterham 7. Buyers looking for more comfort can order quilted leather seats as well as built in seat heaters to help keep warm during chilly autumn drives.

Performance for the 3 Wheeler comes from a spirited 2.0 liter V-Twin engine from S&S which makes 116 horsepower, and produces a lovely soundtrack when at full song. This may not seem like a large amount of horsepower when compared with more conventional offerings, but considering that the Morgan weighs in at a feather weight 1200 lbs, it is more than enough to get the job done. However while the engine is a spirited partner, newcomers to the 3 Wheeler that are not familiar with motorcycle type engines will face a IMG_8915brief learning curve getting their feet acclimated to the rev happy nature of this engine. The clutch and throttle delivery require a delicate foot balance, and it takes a few minutes of practice (as well as a few occasional over revs of the engine) to get things just right. Once you do perfect this mechanical ballet, the Morgan delivers spirited acceleration especially while its Mazda MX-5 sourced six speed manual delivers smooth and accurate shifts and the shifter is ergonomically placed close to the driver which is perfect for quick down and up shifts. Fuel economy is also quite good at 33mpg which should allow the 3 Wheeler to lap up plenty of miles on the open road before it needs a drink of premium fuel. The engine is at its happiest in the 3,000 to 5,400 RPM range where the power comes at you like a well time hammer shot.

Handling is also very accurate and secure with a good amount of grip from the skinny front tires though the car’s tendency to understeer when cornering hard (due to the weight of the engine) does require an attentive hand on the wheel to prevent the 3 Wheeler from going off course. Speaking of the steering wheel, it does deliver an excellent amount of feedback and information to the driver and the lack of power assist is only noticeable at low speeds. Parking the 3 Wheeler is also a breeze though the wide turning circle (due to the tight clearance of the front wheels in regards to the engine) can make some maneuvers a bit challenging. The ride is surprisingly smooth for such a small car with the front wheels doing a good job smoothing out most road imperfections, the rear suspension around the third wheel however is firmer and large potholes will be more than happy to remind you of that fact if you hit one. When it comes time to bring the 3 Wheeler to a stop, the brake pedal offers good feel and bite. However, the lack of ESP and ABS forces you to plan ahead and balance out how much foot action you use in applying the brakes (discs up front, drum in the rear). In my case, I discovered that braking in a slight pulse pattern (learned in a non ABS equipped pickup truck in my youth) was the most effective way to reign the Morgan in from speed.

While the Morgan does deliver a good noise and decent handling its easy to forget the main point of a 3 Wheeler which is not about raw muscle or setting speed records (there are other cars that are more than happy to fill that role), rather, its to experience the full unbridled joy of driving. On that front the Morgan is truly in its comfort zone exposing the driver and their lucky passenger to an all encompassing soundtrack, as well as the elements (make sure to watch the weather report before going for a drive) which all combine to create a unqiue grin producing experience. The raw air hitting your face at 30 mph will make it feel like your going 60 mph, while its lack of driver aides forces you to be more deliberate in your motions while also allowing you to tune into the car’s limits more effectively at the same time. The Morgan is an engaging spirited car that requires you to work hard to access its full potential as well as learning its handling limits. But once you do get it all mastered, it makes you feel more confident as well as more accomplished behind the wheel which is always a good thing.

Pricing for the 2014 Morgan 3 Wheeler starts out at $52,263 for a lightly optioned example like my tester (which rang in at a slightly cheaper $51,900) but optional extras such as an upgraded interior, graphics pack, and other goodies can make the price climb past $70,000. This high pricing ladder does put the little 3 Wheeler against more conventional cars that offer more power, practicality, and features. That said, they cannot match the exclusivity as well as the unqiue appearance of the 3 Wheeler while its one of a kind driving experience will make you want to come back for more. That’s certainly the case with me, and I look forward to the day when I can amass the funds needed to own one of my very own (a task that is currently ongoing thanks to side projects and my extreme frugality).

 

A special thank you to the kind folks at Auto Europe in Birmingham Michigan for allowing me to check out the Morgan 3 Wheeler as well as the opportunity to drive and interact with the one featured in this review.

 

Mercedes Showcases 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT Supercar, Brings New Engine To AMG Lineup

Following a steady stream of teasers as well as an equal amount of leaks, Mercedes Benz has taken the veil off the 2016 Mercedes AMG-GT sports car. The second car designed in-house by AMG, it aims to take on the Porsche 911 with a elegant mixture of style and performance when it makes its debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October.

The exterior styling of the GT is a mixture of modern and retro cues with the front fascia designed to be a subtle visual homage to the legendary 300 SLR racer of the 1950’s with telltale cues such as its elongated headlights, slightly raised wheel arches, as well as the Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014trademark oval shaped single slat radiator grille. The profile will look familiar to fans of the SLS, but unlike that car, the lines are softer with more curves while its silhouette is more reminiscent of a sleek fast back versus that of a traditional coupe. The rear fascia is also softer than the SLS’s, but tail lamps borrowed from the recently unveiled S-Class Coupe, as well as the SLS esque appearance give it a balanced yet purposeful look.

Meanwhile the GT’s platform may have been borrowed from the outgoing SLS, but Benz engineers have shortened it and also made several key changes to make it stand out from other Benz offerings. A notable change is the doors which have eschewed the SLS’s futuristic gullwing setup in favor of conventional units which not only increase the car’s torsional rigidity, but also eliminate the heft and unnecessary mass created by the gullwing doors (a common problem for doors of that type). Other lightweight materials in its construction help the GT shed even more weight and allow it to weigh as light as 3,400 lbs when configured to its lightest specification. As a bonus Mercedes did confirm that a droptop version is production ready, however, it will most likely stay as a near production concept due to the company’s fears that it will steal the sales spotlight from the SL Roadster. This move is understandable since the Jaguar F-Type did steal sales from the XK roadster when it first debuted, with the latter eventually being axed from the lineup due to the sudden decrease in demand. Obviously Mercedes Benz marketing wanted to avoid a similar situation with the SL especially with the roadsters role as a flagship halo model.

The interior of the GT unfortunately is not as fluid and slick as the exterior and while the instrument panel successfully pulls off the company’s familiar two pod lMercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014ayout and features a nice looking built in touchscreen, the center console is a glorified mess that looks like a button covered rock climbing wall that’s rising out of the car. The company for its part claims the button arraignment (called the Drive Unit) is supposed to be based off the V8’s cylinder arraignment, but to us it looks unnecessarily busy and awkward when viewed from some angles. That aside, we do like the meaty three spoke steering wheel as well as the seats which should do a good job delivering plenty of support to occupants during spirited driving.

Performance for the GT will come from an all new 4.0 liter twin turbocharged V8 with dry sump lubrication. Known formally as M178, the engine will eventually trickle down to other members of the AMG lineup and replace the familiar but thirsty naturally aspirated 6.2 liter V8 currently in production. In the GT, this unique engine will be produced in two different tunes with the standard model producing a healthy 456 horsepower, and 443 lb-ft of torque. While no solid official performance figured were released, Mercedes did release some early preliminary data that claims the car can make the sprint from 0 to 60mph in a swift 3.9 seconds before topping out at 189 mph.

Meanwhile speed freaks looking for more power can opt for the GT-S model which is aimed at the 911 Turbo and is capable of producing a thunderous  503 horsepower, and an equally stout 479 lb-ft of torque which is enough to allow the S model to sprint to 60mph in 3.7 seconds, and reach a top speed of 193 mph. Regardless of which model is chosen, Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014they will all feature a seven speed dual clutch automatic transmission with built in locking differential. A manual is not in the cards, and this omission is puzzling since the 911 does offer a seven speed manual gearbox for enthusiasts as does its cheaper rival the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The Stingray also makes more power in both Z06 and base trims than the Benz which when paired with its cheaper price opens up a very compelling cross shop situation.

The GT’s handling behavior is honed to sharpness thanks to a four corner mounted double wishbone suspension that features aluminum forged components for reduced weight. The GT-S takes things a step further by adding standard adjustable dampening technology to its list of performance goodies to enhance its track slaying abilities even further. As expected from a Benz-AMG product, there are a multitude of ways to enhance the driving experience including forged wheels, and carbon ceramic brakes. However a Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014favorite of ours is the new Dynamic Plus package for GT-S models. The package features dynamically adjustable engine and transmission mounts which can be soft and stable during cruising and low speed driving, but can also stiffen up during spirited driving if needed. Other package exclusive goodies include a stiffened suspension, increased negative camber at the front wheels, revised power steering system, and special Track and M (Manual) modes for the seven speed transmission.

 

Look for the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT to make its official debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October before arriving here in the U.S. in spring of 2015 with the base GT arriving a year later. Pricing has not been announced but expect base prices to begin at just under $100,000 which is on par with rivals such as the F-Type R, as well as its benchmark target the Porsche 911 coupe.

 

 

Jaguar’s XE Sport Sedan Bares Its Claws Ahead Of Paris Debut, Brings New Technology, Style To Segment

Following the untimely release of several leaked images, Jaguar has released the full set of details about the 2016 Jaguar XE which will not only be the entry level member of Jaguars sedan lineup, but also at long last give the company a compact luxury sedan that can properly take on iconic rivals such as the Merecdes C-class, Audi A4, and the benchmark BMW 3-Series sedan, while perhaps serving as much needed atonement for the horribly executed X-type sedan which was nothing more than a Ford Mondeo in a faux Jaguar fur coat.

As mentioned in our prior articles on this model, the exterior styling of the XE borrows many styling elements from its big siblings the XF and XJ especially with the sleek elongated headlights as well as the rectangular corporate chrome grille. The rear fascia of the XE is a bit more conservative in its presentation, but tail lights with a hint of F-Type influence add some flair while a prominent Jaguar emblem and a discreet rear spoiler round out the look and allow the XE to standout from rivals. While Jaguar chose to feature the top tier XE-S in today’s release, look for lesser trims to still have a distinct (albeit toned jaguar_xe_s_dynamic_02down) visual identity when they roll onto dealer lots.  Regardless of trim choice, the 3,250 lb XE (the lightest Jaguar sedan ever built) will follow recent Jaguar tradition and be crafted largely out of aluminum and other lightweight materials to help reduce weight and enhance driving dynamics at the same time. As a neat bonus, they also allow the XE to have the highest torsional rigidity of any Jaguar sedan ever built an impressive achievement.

The interior of the XE follows the F-Type school of design (versus the X-Types mishmash of cheap plastic and sloppily placed wood) and features performance inspired items such as a three spoke steering wheel, analog gauges, and a function over form center stack that features a built in color touchscreen, driver centric buttons, and the bulk of the climate controls. Traditional single hue interior colors are available, but for more adrenaline Jag_XE_S_Image_080914_22_LowResoriented buyers, a two tone scheme is optional, and looks sharp especially in the red/black combo featured here. The interior also boasts two new features that will make their respective debuts for the first time in the XE. The first is Jaguar’s new infotainment system called InControl Touch. Operated via the eight inch touchscreen, the new software groups the car’s audio, navigation, climate, and connectivity functions into a single unit which improves ergonomics. Jaguar also claims that many of the functions of this system can also be operated via voice commands.

The second feature is the company’s In Control Apps system which was created to seamlessly integrate with Apple and Android equipped smartphones to further enhance the entertainment experience. Passengers can access most of their phones features on the Jag_XE_S_Image_080914_21_LowRestouchscreen while also using XE exclusive apps to book a hotel room, check traffic conditions etc. Lastly a laser operated heads up display system is available and features a configurable color display screen that can display speed, cruise control settings, navigation directions, as well as traffic sign recognition which is fast becoming a popular feature in this segment.

Performance will also be an XE strong suit with a trio of engines which aim to make the XE a formidable feline when out on the road. The range topping XE-S (pictured) wields the familiar 3.0 liter supercharged V6 found in the XF, XJ, and F-Type which is good for 340 horsepower and a swift 4.9 second 0 to 60 time. This engine not only makes slightly more horsepower than the BMW 335i and the Cadillac ATS in 3.6 liter guise, but its 0 to 60 time is Jag_XE_S_Image_080914_09_LowResalso better than the fore-mentioned Bavarian, and even ties the 0 to 60 figure posted by the equally potent  Audi S4 as well. Meanwhile lesser XE models will feature  2.0 liter four cylinder engines based on the new “Ingenium” family with a diesel version being a Europe only exclusive. While Jaguar did not release official horsepower figures for these engines, look for that information to be revealed closer to the XE’s official launch.

The XE-S will come equipped with ZF’s eight speed automatic transmission which also see’s duty in other JLR (Jaguar Land rover) models and is on par with similar units offered by BMW and Lexus. A six speed manual will also be available for other XE variants, but it is unclear if it will make the voyage to our shores here in the U.S. Rear wheel drive will be the standard drive configuration across the board initially, but Jaguar did state that the XE’s unqiue modular platform is “accepting” of all-wheel drive systems which could mean an AWD model is in the cards. In the meantime the XE will feature a tweaked traction control system called “All Surface Progress Control” (ASPC).  While it will not win awards for having the most creative name in history,  ASPC makes up for its grammatical blandness by working as a low speed cruise control which allows the XE to navigate rough weather conditions without any form of pedal input from the driver a neat feature, though it will be interesting to see how it fares against the brutal winters experienced in snow belt states where AWD equipped vehicles are very common.

Look for the 2016 Jaguar XE to make its public debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October with deliveries expected to begin in the United Kingdom later this year. Meanwhile U.S. customers will have to wait until 2016 for the first units to arrive on our shores as 2017 models. Look for more detailed information regarding pricing, optional equipment, and other goodies to be unveiled closer to its Paris debut.

 

 

2016 Mazda Miata Debuts New Styling, Weight Saving Measures

Following a slew of teasers, as well as the announcement that iconic band Duran Duran was providing the tunes for its anticipated debut, Mazda took the wraps off the next chapter of its iconic Miata (aka MX-5 roadster) the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 roadster at a packed event in Monterey Calaifornia earlier this evening with tunes provided by iconic band Duran Duran.

The fourth generation MX-5 (known internally as the ND) ushers in a new styling direction for the fabled Miata, while also shedding weight at the same time which should please Miata loyalists. Before we talk about the car’s diet, lets take a moment to look at the first P1J08460lthing that pops out to the eye when gazing upon this new MX-5 and that’s its new set of stylish clothes. Mazda stylists made ample use of some of the design cues and themes that made their original debut on the Kodo concept car and as a result the MX-5 now boasts a much more assertive appearance especially at the front fascia where stylists did away with much of the dopey “happy face look” that defined the last generation MX-5 (NC).

While the grin is still present, the headlights now feature a narrower look than before that amps up the aggression factor, while a sloping grille also adds charactP1J08459ler, and contributes to the overall blend of angles and creases scattered throughout the car. The rear fascia features circular tail lights, but the turn signal lamps curve around the rear of the car, adding a much needed dollup of aggression while balancing out the look at the same time. The end result is a balanced yet modern styling presentation that is decidedly less cute and cuddly than the last generation car, but it accomplishes this without resorting to an overly retro theme which was the case with the first generation Miata.

While the styling of the 2016 MX-5 will certainly serve to turn plenty of heads when it passes by on the road, the cars purpose in life is to be driven in a spirited manner, and on that front Mazda engineers delivered shedding nearly 220 lbs of excess flab from the MX-5 P1J08472lwhich reverses the noticeable weight gain seen in previous iterations of the Miata. Overall this means that the 2016 MX-5 should weigh in at a slim and trim 2,200 lb when all is said and done which should work wonders for the car’s already slick handling behavior. While Mazda did not reveal official engine and power-train information for the 2016 MX-5, expect the basic if it ain’t broke don’t fix it formula to remain the same as before which means rear wheel drive, and a small four cylinder engine hooked up to a six speed manual gearbox (with an automatic optional). Meanwhile look for fuel economy to slightly improve as well thanks to its built in SkyActiv emissions technology. As is the case with other Miatas, this latest iteration will be focused primarily on handling versus producing big gobs of power which is fine with us.

Look for more details to slowly emerge over the next few months, and stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 as they become available.

 

Nissan’s Andy Palmer Named New CEO Of Aston Martin

In a move that is sure to be a big blow for Nissan, Aston Martin revealed that it has named Nissan brand chief Andy Palmer as its new CEO who will replace former CEO Ulrich Bez when he takes the reigns at Aston in September following a brief transition period.

Palmers appointment by the 101 year old British sports car maker ends a nine month period where the company had no one to lead the helm at the top of management, which was caused by Bez’s departure at the end of 2013, when he left the company after his 70th birthday.  In a statement released by a Japanese analyst to the trade journal Automotive News, the analyst revealed that Palmers departure represents a big blow for Nissan mainly because of Palmers crucial role as a key figure in constructing and implementing the brand’s current model strategy. In addition Palmer was also a key player in the development and planning of the Nissan Leaf electric car, and was also a big supporter of autonomous vehicles.

To make matters worse for Nissan, Palmer is the fourth senior executive to leave Nissan-Renault during the last 13 months in what could be a sign of mounting frustration with the leadership of current Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. COO Carlos Tavares was the first to quit in August of 2013 when he became the new CEO of rival French firm PSA Peugot-Citroen, that was followed by alliance communications chief Simon Sproule’s departure to Tesla in April, as well as the sudden and unexpected departure of Infiniti brand chief Johan De Nysschen to GM’s Cadillac brand late last month. This recent spate of departures could indicate that Ghosn has an iron grip on the top jobs in the alliance, and that all four men felt there was little chance of surpassing Ghosn to become the next CEO.

As for Palmer, he faces the formidable challenge of fully revamping numerous aspects of Aston Martin’s operations to help the company not only become more profitable, but to also make it a much more serious contender to established luxury rivals Maserati and Bentley. Currently Aston Martin (which is partially backed by Mercedes Benze’s parent company Daimler.) is a small player in the marketplace, but has begun making investments aimed at helping the company launch new models while also upgrading its engine, transmission and chassis lineups to allow the company to be on par with others in its elite market segment.

Despite some analysts predicting that the shift from one of the biggest and most powerful automakers in the world to a much smaller niche company is a lofty challenge that may be too much for Palmer to overcome. Aston Martin is confident that it has found the right man for the job stating “We’re delighted that Andy will join us as our new CEO at this important time at Aston Martin. “Andy’s wealth of experience on the global automotive stage in marketing and sales, engineering and technology, and luxury and brand management will be instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward through its most significant and ambitious period of investment to date.”

In a separate announcement, Nissan revealed that it has tapped Renault vice president Phillpe Klein to fill the seat left by Palmer while also affirming that Palmer’s departure will not affect the way it operates with company spokesman Chris Keefe claiming that “Palmer’s departure will not adversely affect the way the company does business”.