Monthly Archives: October 2016

Mercedes Benz Previews X-Class Pickup

Following years of rampant speculation and rumors regarding the notion of a three pointed star pickup truck. Mercedes Benz has lifted the veil off of the Concept X-Class which is allegedly a ‘concrete outlook’ on a production version of the firm’s first ever pickup truck.

 

 

The two trucks on hand at the unveiling show off the two distinct styling motifs that will define the new model. The off road oriented “adventurer” X-Class features a sporty yellow-green paint job and features a lifted suspension, knobby off road tires, and protective cladding on key points of the truck. The adventurer even comes equipped with a winch, though we will wait until it can be used in the real world before issuing a final verdict on its full capabilities.

The ‘explorer’ model on the other hand arrives as the decidedly more on road oriented variant and shares much of its cues with existing Mercedes Benz offerings. Benz designers went for more posh with this truck and equipped it with 22-inch chrome wheels as well as a snazzy white metallic paint job. The end result is an X-Class that is decidedly more upscale, and should please buyers looking for utility that can still have a styling statement.

 

 

The interior of both trucks also showcase the flexibility that exists in the X-Class. The ‘explorer’s’ interior focuses on luxury and features warm colors as well as healthy amounts of wood trim that helps add new dashes of elegance to the functional cabin. Annoyingly the screen for the infotainment system is still not formally integrated into the dashboard like other luxury offerings, but look for it to still deliver sharp clarity and quick inputs regardless.

Meanwhile the ‘adventurer’ goes for all out brawn, and carries over the exterior’s green hue and incorporates more supportive seating. The center stack shares much of the ‘explorer’s’ layout but Mercedes designers gave it more aluminium accents and even equipped it with a portable fire extinguisher or extra safety.

The platform for the X-Class is borrowed from the Nissan NP300 Navara pickup truck, and makes it a traditional body on frame rig. The Navara also is shared with Renault where it is known as the Renault Alaskan. Look for the production version of the X-Class to tone down the wild styling elements somewhat especially the radical tail light design on the tailgate. As expected from a Mercedes Benz offering, look for some unique elements to remain intact though the bespoke truck will unlikely stray too far from its Navara roots.

 

 

Mercedes stopped short of revealing a full suite of engines for the pickup but did confirm that the range topping variant will be powered by a V6 diesel engine. The model will also feature the company’s familiar 4-MATIC all-wheel drive system which should prove to be a valuable asset on the off-road minded ‘adventurer’ while giving the ‘explorer’ the confidence it needs to tackle snowy weather conditions. It is unknown what other engines will see duty in the X-Class but with the Navara offering a four cylinder exclusive lineup, look for Benz to use its own engines including a petrol burning V6 as well as its own four cylinders.

“Our future X-Class will be a pickup that knows no compromise,” promised Mercedes-Benz Vans CEO Volker Morhinweg. “Ladder type frame, high torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us.”

The X-Class is expected to launch later next year and will focus on buyers in Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Australia and Europe. However the company neither confirmed or denied the prospect of bringing the truck to the U.S. market, and personally we think that it should not make the trip across the pond. This is mainly due to the near absolute domination of the segment that is enjoyed by the domestic Big Three as well as the costs of importing and marketing the truck to U.S. buyers which would most likely outweigh any form of profit made from the relatively niche level of sales that the X-Class would experience in this country.

BMW Showcases 2018 5 Series

Following a recent leak that exposed it in the flesh, BMW has formally unveiled the 2018 BMW 5 Series sedan which is expected to land in BMW showrooms in February and represent the 7th iteration of the company’s iconic full size sport sedan.

While the 2018 5 Series is technically an all new model, at least in theory. It is actually more of an evolutionary update for the car versus an outright revolutionary redesign. This is apparent when one looks at the basic shape whichp90237234_highres_the-new-bmw-5-series features standard Adaptive LED headlights as well as shorter front and rear overhangs. Thankfully the car still retains the traditional BMW cues that we have come to expect from the brand including the circular headlights, as well as the twin kidney front grilles.

The interior of the 2018 5 Series is also familiar to owners of the current car, but BMW engineers have given the new 5 Series several technological updates to make it stand out in its crowded segment. For instance, the car now features the p90237270_highres_the-new-bmw-5-seriessame gesture control system that made its debut in the flagship 7 Series while the updated iDrive system benefits from an all new 10.25 inch infotainment screen that comes bundled with an iDrive 6.0 touchpad controller. Comfort also approaches 7 Series territory thanks to the new front seats that incorporate massage functions along with standard seat heat.

When the 2018 5 Series arrives in dealer lots, the festivities will be led by the 530i which features a turbocharged four cylinder good for 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims that these figures are enough to make the car sprint to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

The 540i will serve as the flagship 5 Series model at launch with performance coming from a turbocharged six cylinder engine that’s good for 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Naturally this helps lower the 0 to 60 time to 4.7 seconds and should p90237201_highres_the-new-bmw-5-seriesplease buyers looking for more fun out of their purchase. This will also allow the 540i to be on par with rivals such as the Jaguar XF, Audi A6, and the Cadillac CTS. Both models can be equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system and a separate M Sport package. This particular package includes an aerodynamic package, Shadowline exterior trim, a lowered M suspension, and stylish 19-inch wheels.  Both engines will be paired with an eight speed automatic transmission that borrows the same navigation assisted shift technology used in the 7 Series as well as the Rolls Royce Ghost.

BMW claims that this latest 5 Series will have sharper handling than its predecessors, and this is mainly due to a revised suspension package as well as lightweight materials that help the car shed 137 pounds of excess flab from its flanks. In addition an optional rear steering system can be equipped to both rear and all wheel drive models which should prove to be especially handy in tight cornering as well as twisty roads.

The 2018 5 Series was also designed to surround its occupants with safety and on that front comes equipped with an extensive suite of safety features. These include active cruise control with stop and go, active lane departure warning, and semi-automated steering. BMW claims that the bulk of these systems will work at speeds between 0-130 mph.  This new suite of features allows the 5 Series to outshine many of its rivals, and highlights the recent advancements BMW has made in safety technology over the past several years.

Like most luxury cars, BMW’s all new 5 Series comes with an integrated navigation system, however the 5 Series does have one unique trump card up its sleeve that many of its rivals don’t have. BMW representatives claim that the system is capable of learning your driving habits. This means that if you diverge from a route that was suggested by the system, it can adapt and suggest the new route as its default choice the next time the same destination is selected. It adds a human element to the system, and could be a benchmark that many competitors will eventually add to their systems over the next few years.

Look for BMW to unveil pricing as well as final fuel economy figures closer to its 2017 introduction, with its debut taking place at a future auto show.

 

GMC Unveils 2500 HD All Terrain X

The off-road pickup truck segment has seen a spike in growth recently with Ram unveiling the 2500 Power Wagon, the recently launched V6 powered Ford F-150 Raptor, and the iconic Jeep Wrangler. General Motors looks to take a slice of this potent sales pie for itself, and has unveiled the 2017 GMC Sierra 2500 HD All Terrain X.

Following on the heels of the recently launched Canyon and Sierra 1500 All Terrain X, the beefy 2500 variant aims to go toe to toe with the Ram Power Wagon, and on paper it appears to have the goods to do just that. The exterior styling continues the all black motif 2500 HD All Terrain Xthat has defined GMC’s off-road models and includes the blacked out front grille surround, 18-inch aluminium wheels, as well as its black hued four-inch side steps. The truck also features a black sports bar that further emphasizes its rugged intentions.

The interior of this bruiser is also a clever mix of elegance and functionality and comes equipped with a heated steering wheel, adjustable pedals, rear view camera, and blacked out leather seats with front seat heat. Speaking of the seats, we are happy that GMC chose a more tasteful design for the thrones versus the decidedly more garish looking tire tread style cues that defines the Power Wagon’s seats. Rounding out this is GM’s eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features the latest iteration of IntelliLink.

Performance for the 2500 HD All Terrain X is shared with the standard 2500 4×4 model, and comes equipped with two different engine choices. The base engine is a 6.0 liter V8, but look for the majority of buyers to go with the 6.6 liter Duramax turbodiesel engine which 2500 HD All Terrain X fender shotbrings 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. The All Terrain package also includes meaty Goodyear Duratec off road tires, GM’s off road focused Z71 suspension, an Eaton locking differential, and package exclusive underbody shielding. This should allow the X to keep up with the Power Wagon on rugged backwoods trails, and please buyers looking for an alternative to the Ram.

GMC has not released formal pricing or launch details for the 2500 HD All Terrain X, but look for the truck to possibly make its debut either at the LA Auto Show or the North American International Auto Show in January.

Kia Considering All Electric Version Of Nero CUV

With the launch of the hybrid version of the Niro CUV, a new report suggests that Kia is considering an all electric version of the Niro in a bid to help it nab sales as well as increase Kia’s reputation and pedigree in the growing green car segment.

This comes from a statement released by Kia Motors operating chief Tae-Hyun-Oh who revealed in an interview with the British publication Car Dealer magazine that the Niro’s size, utility, as well as stricter emissions laws could force the Korean firm to build a Niro EV. Kia’s sister company Hyundai already sells the Tuscon Fuel Cell crossover in limited markets, as such Kia could also be considering a fuel cell car in order to further expand the brand’s experience in this segment even further.

Currently the Niro has done relatively well for Kia with the brand selling roughly 1,000 units to customers since it made its formal debut in dealer lots back in August. The all-electric version of the Niro would be underpinned on the same platform as the Kia Ioniq. The Ioniq was designed to feature hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric variants with all three part of a unified “three pronged attack” that was designed to help maximize the Ioniq’s exposure in the marketplace. The all electric version of the Ioniq made its debut in South Korea and is expected to make its way to the U.S. before the end of 2016. When it eventually arrives, the car will feature a 28 kilowatt-hour battery pack that provides a driving range of about 110 miles on a single charge.

At the moment, Kia sells an all electric version of the Soul crossover in select markets. That model has a 93 mile driving range but it could increase thanks to a 2018 refresh that Kia has planned for the Soul. This boost would allow the Soul EV to better compete against rivals like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.

Look for the momentum of this project to hinge on sales of the Niro hybrid and whether they are high enough to justify expanding the Niro family especially as an all electric vehicle which tends to make development expensive.