Tag Archives: Mercedes

Fail – Mercedes Branded Dodge Dakota Cold Weather Testing

Drew over at Cheers and Gears has been talking about a rumored Mercedes branded Dodge Dakota undergoing cold weather testing near him. He was finally able to snap a pic of this huge piece of fail. I must say, it’s worse than I imagined.

[Cheers and Gears]

Fail – Mercedes-Benz 190E Converted Into A Crossover SUV

In Russia, we make SUV out of car! No, seriously, someone in Russia has decided to take this innocent Mercedes-Benz 190E and convert it into a SUV?

You might be saying to yourself: gee that 190E looks awfully short. Well that is because the owner chopped the rear end and then raised the ride height. That was just for starters.

One the vehicle was done being chopped and raised, fake bull bars made out of what appears to be PVC piping, were fitted around the vehicle. You know, for protection.

Once the “protection” was in place, it appears that the off-roader was painted in Rhino Liner? It is described as a “stealth paint job,” whatever that means.

Finishing off this piece of awesome is the rear mounted spare tire and headlight guards.

The vehicle is apparently dubbed the “E90.”

So you decide, is this a piece of awesome, or some horrible project gone wrong.

[Auto Motto]

Review – 2010 Dodge Charger SRT8

The Dodge Charger hit the scene back in 2005 and made quite a splash.  That splash was two fold:  firstly the fact that many people were less then thrilled that the Charger name was applied to a four door sedan.  If you remember, the original Dodge Charger was a 2 door.  The second part was the bold and in your face styling, which was fresh and really spoke to many people.  The Charger has now been on the market since 2005 with only a few major changes (depending on how you look at it).  So lets dive in and see how this once-popular muscle car has fared.

The Charger has a bold styling that can be described as chunky by some.  The SRT8 kicks it up a notch, but in a subtle way.  The hood has an integrated scoop that is functional, funneling outside air into the engine bay to keep that large engine nice and cool.  The front end is lower to the ground and slightly more aggressive.  There is a belt line that runs from the top of the headlights down the side into the rear “haunches” that begin at the rear of the back doors.  These haunches go over the rear wheels and into the tail lights.  The tail lights are one piece but they have been refreshed and now have four (two on each side) circles.  The trunk has a small but raised spoiler.  It is tasteful, but I still wonder if I would want it on my SRT8.  The spoiler is attached by four bolts and I think it could be removed (not that I tried).  The wheels are 20-inches, and ride on low profile tires.  My favorite line on the whole car is the intersection of the belt line and the shoulders in the rear.  It almost looks like a lightning bolt.

The interior was originally a horrible mess.  The materials when the car launched were all hard plastic.  I am not talking about just any plastic.  We are talking about plastic that even Lego would reject for quality control.  Back in 2008, a mild refresh fixed that, and everything you touch and even most things you do not are now soft touch.  Very little hard plastic is still left.  The belt line is high, which makes it feel smaller then it really is.  Sight lines are surprisingly good.  The interior has tons of space both in the front and back.  The rear seats fold down almost flat – the bolsters prevent them from being perfectly flat.  That said, it is nice to see that they are able to fold.  This increases functionality for hauling large items.  The seats were very well bolstered and more then comfortable.  The bolsters are leather and the center of the seat is a suede-like material that keeps you from sliding when driving aggressively.

The SRT8 is powered by not just any HEMI but the HEMI.  The 6.1 liter HEMI puts out 425 horsepower and 420 pound feet to the rear wheels.  The power is channeled through a one-choice five-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities.  No manual is offered, though how cool would it be if they offered the pistol grip six-speed from the Challenger?  This engine just sounds terrific. You literally just want to slam the gas to hear it over and over again.  Of course you would expect with this amount of power this car has, mileage suffers- -and you would be correct.  It is rated by the EPA at 13/19 mpg, I saw an average of 14.3 mpg with a mix of city and suburb driving.

This car drives like a big sports car.  Wait – well not like just any sports car.  This is not a Porsche, rather this is a large car.  It will push in the corners and you will feel its weight.  That said, it is very composed. It drives European-like which should be no surprise, because the basic frame and transmission is a hand-me-down from the 1999 generation Mercedes Benz E Class (W210).

I actually was moving when the Charger SRT8 was in my possession.  I used this vehicle to see just how practical it was in daily service.  The seats folding down helped and the trunk swallowed a surprisingly large amount of boxes.  The subwoofer in the corner of the trunk did eat into some of the cargo space, but that is minimal.  The practicality of this vehicle was demonstrated in spades.

Alright so what do we have here?  Well, it is practical for a sports car.  A large trunk and large interior while still going like a bat out of hell.  I already know what you are going to say – but Joel it gets crappy gas mileage.  To that I say this – it gets no worse then my Jeep and many other SUV’s that Americans love, yet it is a heck of a lot more fun to drive.  This Charger SRT8 was fully loaded and had a sticker price of $43,730 and that is a lot of coin.  You can get any of the other new muscle cars such as the new Chevrolet Camaro SS or Ford Mustang GT with just as much power, better fuel economy and for a lot less coin.  But they do not have four doors.  It is all about what you need and or want.  I would say this is a great family sedan for the guy that simply wants fast but can not compromise and get a two door. With the Pontiac G8 GXP now dead and gone, this is one of the cheapest four-door sports sedans that houses over 400 hp.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Chrysler

First Drive – 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S

Back in the days of yore if someone suggested there would be a Porsche SUV you would be laughed out of the room but not before getting slapped in the face.  Flash forward to the current year and the best selling model in the Porsche line up is a SUV!  Whoa how did that happen?  It is simple really; a small 2 door car coupe/convertible/etc is not practical for everyone.  To build on that success Porsche figured why not build a four door “sports” car.  People seem to want to purchase a Porsche and some people care about practicality.  The two combined equals a need for more then just two door sports cars.  Now we have a new four door (it is really a five door but more on that later) Porsche sedan.  The real question I had was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?

The exterior of the Panamera is recognizable as a Porsche without question.  The front end has styling elements that make it look like an enormous redone 911.  The two round headlights have LED strips hanging below them on the bumper.  The LED strips are day time running lights and at night the same housing has another set of lights that come on.  These act as fog lights or driving lights in a sense.  The side profile has nice sculpting from right behind the front fenders down the side.  The rear is what is truly controversial.  Let’s just get something out of the way quickly.  I like this car.  I like the way it looks.  I am apparently weird and I am ok with that.  Ok now moving on, the rear is what some call hunch backed or carrying too much baggage.  Some are saying it is droopy.  Call it what you want but I see Porsche design in it.  This car is nothing short of huge.  It is right around the size of a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 to mention a few.  Technically speaking the Panamera is a five door since the rear does not have a trunk lid rather a rear hatch.  The quad exhaust peak out from the rear to remind you of the power that lurks in the engine bay both on the naturally aspirated V8 and the Twin Turbo V8.

The interior is not quite as controversial as the exterior.  It is pure sporting luxury.  The seats are comfortable and supportive.  They hug you in all the right places.  These are not barcaloungers and no they will not massage you.  They are meant to hold you in place firmly.  The center console between the driver and passenger runs the length of the car.  In the front it rises up and meets the PCM (Porsche Communication Management System).  This design cue is somewhat similar to the center stack in the Carrera GT.  That center stack houses a dizzying array of buttons though they are all clearly marked and clumped together by function.  The PCM is a touch screen along with plenty of buttons to choose from to help operate it.  This was definitely a complex system but I was able to use it without the owners manual though others in this segment have easier systems to operate.  The interior fit and finish is definitely without question up to Porsche standards if not raising the bar within the company.

The engine in this car was a 4.8 liter direct injected V8 pumping out 400 hp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels.  Since this was a Panamera 4S all wheel drive was standard.  The one choice transmission was Porsches newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) dual clutch transmission.  Launch control is activated by pushing the sport plus button then hitting the brake and then the gas.  You get a visual confirmation launch control is activated and let go of the brake.  You will hear a noise and then suddenly all four wheels grab the pavement and launch the car.  You are thrown back into your seat as the car launches hard and fast.  (PSA – Do this on an empty road two lane road).  You can use the transmission in full automatic mode or shift yourself using the buttons (hate those things) or by moving the gear shift to the manual gate.  The 911 Turbo is getting true paddles this year so hopefully they will trickle down and replace those buttons.  The car without question handles like a true Porsche.  Yes I have driven a different Porsche recently and yes, this does handle differently.  It is a big car, but with that said, the faster you go the smaller the car seems.  It shrinks as you go around corners and off ramps.  It shrugs off speed.  Handling is very impressive.

The particular Panamera 4S I was in had quite a few option packages.  I will skip going through them all though the options rang up to a total of $17,550.  That was on top of the base price of a Panamera 4S which starts at $93,800.  When all is said and done the total sticker price out the door would be $112,325.  That is a lot of coin, but the reality of it is that the Panamera is in the thick of it with the rest of the high priced luxury cars.

The original question was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?  This car is a true Porsche.  Sure many Porschephile’s will say this is not a true Porsche because it weighs nearly 4,300 lbs and has four doors (by the way, that is light for a car this big).  My only question to them is: have you driven one? While it will not be for everyone the reality of it is simple, higher volume selling vehicles like the Cayenne and possibly the Panamera help keep the lights on for future development of lower volume cars like the 911 and whatever the next halo car might be.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership

Mercedes Introduces New More Fuel Efficient V6 & V8 Engines

Surel,y I can not be the only one to say about freaking time!  That said, you know what they say, better late then never.  These new engines should make them class competitive in both power and fuel economy.

Quick facts to note-

  • Mercedes-Benz says its upcoming 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 and 3.5-liter V6 will post big gains in fuel economy and power.
  • The 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 is rated at 435 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, with a 22 percent improvement in fuel economy.
  • 3.5-liter V6 makes 306 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque with a 24 percent jump in fuel economy.

Press release-

STUTTGART, Germany — Mercedes-Benz announced today that its upcoming 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 and 3.5-liter V6 will post gas-electric hybrid-like jumps in fuel economy, 22 percent and 24 percent respectively. The engines will deliver more power, too.

Those numbers are not official EPA numbers, but are Mercedes’ own estimates. Further since a chunk of that fuel economy comes from the company newly standard start/stop system, it’s not likely to show up as quite as great a fuel economy improvement on U.S.-market window stickers since the EPA’s current testing standard doesn’t really reflect the improved real-world economy that comes from this type of system.

The new V8 is a direct-injected twin-turbo unit of 4663 cc displacement. According to Mercedes, the engine, which will appear first in the CL-Class coupe and S-Class sedan this fall, will pump out a healthy 435 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, up 12 percent and 32 percent respectively. Thanks to the direct injection system, Mercedes can run the engine at 10.5:1 compression ratio.

The V6 starts with a new architecture. It goes from a 90 degree V angle to 60 degrees. I has all-new intake and exhaust and will make 306 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes claims that an S350 (a model we do not get in the U.S.) will achieve 24 percent better fuel economy than the old S350. Again, a large part of the improvement comes from the standard stop/start system. No word on when or in what model the new V6 will debut.

Another element of both new engines (and one that should be reflected in EPA fuel economy numbers) is the addition of ancillary units that consume less of the engine’s power. These include water pump, oil pump and fuel pump. Both motors will also come with intelligent generation management systems

Source- Edmunds Inside Line

Cars & Café – May 1, 2010

Ford GT

Another month of spring has come upon us and that means another Cars & Café gathering on a Saturday morning.  The coffee was flowing and everyone seemed very happy to see Kylee from Imola Motorsports pull in with the doughnut holes in the backseat of Kevin’s M5.  This month, rain was not in the forecast and the cars started flowing in early and fast.  By 8:30 the lot was full and people were already parking cars up on the hill.

My Father & My 300ZX

Some of the notable cars from last month made repeat appearances including the VW Bus and the Scion XB with the LED lights.  In fact, the XB parked next to our 300ZX.  On Friday night I saw a Subaru WRX that looked like it was on its way to a rally but, in fact, it was being pulled out of where it is kept for Cars and Café.  The WRX was literally kitted out and looked rally ready.  Two really nice last generation Toyota Supra’s were in attendance along with two Ford GT’s that seem to be regulars at the event.  Two Audi R8 V10’s pulled in along with two 4.2 V8 models.  Of course the myriad of Porsches, Audi’s and Mercedes were lined up.  Two BMW 8 Series made it out along with an M Coupe.  A custom 1978 Porsche 924 was revealed at the show and I must say it looked terrific.

Audi R8 V10

Custom 1978 Porsche 924

The AutoMotorPlex has been hard at work on newest build out of new buildings.  They are in the process of building out new garages currently.  As you can see in the picture, it looks like the heated floors are being laid out now (that is just a guess).

This month the organizers had something special in store. Many left the AutoMotorPlex for the first annual drag day immediately after the event.  The group traveled to Eau Claire, WI to Rock Falls Raceway.  Sadly, I could not attend due to a prior commitment though I heard it was a blast.

With more cars than last month and terrific weather, we are already off to a great start to the season.  Next month promises to be even better as the weather warms up more.

Is Saab Reaching With The New 2010 9-5 Pricing?

The all-new 2010 Saab 9-5 is almost here.  Yesterday, the pricing was announced and I was shocked at first.  The lineup will be launching with the range-topping Aero model, with a sticker price of $49,990.  That is a hefty chunk of money, and a nice increase to the Aero’s price.  Though this is a much larger and modern vehicle, the last generation 9-5 Aero started at $41,425 (not that anyone actually paid that price).  The Aero will be coming standard with the 2.8 liter turbo V6 putting out 300 horsepower via Saab’s XWD, which is an all-wheel drive system that features Haldex’s trick torque vectoring.  They mentioned it will feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, so apparently the Aero model (at least at launch) will not have a manual transmission.  The Aero model should go on sale in July.  The entry-level model will feature Saab’s 2.0-liter turbo and will have a base price of “under $40,000.”  That is all that was announced for the pricing on that model for now – it should be arriving soon after the Aero model.

With the increased dimensions of the new 9-5 and upgraded content (available heads up display, cooled glovebox, lane departure warning, and many others) the question is the pricing.  This is deep into midsize luxury territory.  With the 9-5 being priced right in the middle of the new Infiniti M37x, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and the Audi A6 3.0T, can it compete?  Is the price too high?  This car will likely have many things at that price level that the competition might not (though we have not yet seen the ordering sheet and option pricing).  Time will tell how this new vehicle fares, but without question Saab enthusiasts have been waiting for a rebirth of their brand and this might be the car to start that.

Autobird Podcast – Esp 23: “CAFE Episode”

Episode 23 starts by discussing what CAFE standards are and also what the next generation standards will be along with when they are going into affect.  Moving into the garage we talk about the GMC Acadia I was in for the past week along with the Chevrolet Traverse Colin was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured an ad telling Canadians to stop urinating on the planet. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing CAFE standards and solutions to meet those standards.  We mainly talk about different materials used in building cars currently and possibly in the future.

Last we discuss the past week on our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.  The week in review included- my editorial on the Koreans Are Coming, and the first Mpls Cars & Cafe of the season.  Cheers and Gears had a post on the 2016 CAFE standards.  Colin had posts about Canadian sales numbers and a post about Engineering Speed by the one and only William Maley.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Review- 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Americans have a love hate relationship with station wagons. They love to hate them. I personally have never understood this phenomenon. Most car guys will tell you they think wagons are awesome. They combine the cargo hauling versatility of a SUV with the driving dynamics of a sedan. In Europe, station wagons are sold by the truck load. European fuel prices are higher then in the United States, so they never had the love affair we Americans had with the SUV.


The CTS Sport Wagon was in development before the crash of the economy and General Motors bankruptcy. The original plan was to export the bulk of the Sport Wagons to Europe where hopefully it would be a success and directly take on the European wagons from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Since diesels are more popular in Europe they were also going to make the main engine choice a new 2.9 liter diesel. Since those plans obviously are not going to pan out the future of the Sport Wagon will ride on the American public. The diesel engine is not being offered here unfortunately.

The Sport Wagon is truly good looking. The sharp looks and great stance are attributed to the form over function school of thought. The roof line is raked giving off the sporty appearance and stance. Combine that roofline with a raked rear hatch and you have a rear opening that can not take tall objects. The things that stand out to people that asked me about the car are the three foot long tail lights that are reminiscent of the tail fins of older Cadillacs, and the 19 inch wheels, which are optional. The tail lights are fully LED with light pipes running down the outside edge. Light pipes are also used in the headlights on the upper trim cars.


The car has many winning characteristics. The rear hatch is power operated and can be set with a knob on the drivers door to open full, 3/4, or off. This can come in handy if you have a garage with a low ceiling or possibly shorter and can not reach the hatch when fully opened. The interior is lifted directly from the CTS sedan. The Sport Wagon has a great cargo management system in the rear hatch. There is a storage bin under the floor in the rear end that can hold things from public view. With the rear seats folded flat you have an ample 58 feet of cargo space.

IMG_1855The interior is literally lifted from the CTS sedan. Soft touch materials abound and soft white ambient lighting at night the interior is a win. The generously sized touch screen navigation rises from the dash when the vehicle is started (when chosen to have the settings that way). The navigation unit in the Sport Wagon is hard drive based. Rendering of the map was snappy and the street names were clean and crisp. Live traffic and weather is provided through your XM satellite radio connection.

The vehicle I had was the top of the line 3.6L Premium with optional 19 inch wheel package and optional crystal red tintcoat paint. The sticker price on this car was $55,630. The Sport Wagon has a starting price of $39,830 before destination charges. The summer performance tires were replaced with snow tires from Bridgestone. The Blizzaks handled well though added some tire noise. That is to be expected of snow tires. The Sport Wagon I had was rear wheel drive though all wheel drive is optional in all trims. Also optioned on this vehicle was the FE3 sport suspension which feels very European and more specifically German.


The Sport Wagon has two engine choices. I had the optional 3.6 liter V6, which features direct injection. This larger V6 puts out 304 hp and 273 lb-ft. The standard 3.0 liter V6 also features direct injection while only putting out 270 hp and 223 lb-ft. Both the 3.6 liter and 3.0 liter are rated at 18/26 mpg. With no sacrifice in fuel mileage, I would recommend optioning for the larger engine. Both engines mate to a six speed automatic transmission. The transmission operates fine in normal driving though, it hesitates for a second to kick down a gear when the throttle is slammed for passing. Moving the shifter to the right puts the transmission in sport mode. This fixes the aforementioned problem. Downshifts are quick and up shifts are not had until red line. Much sportier dynamics are had out of the transmission in sport mode. You can also shift manually with the buttons on the back of the steering wheel or by moving the gear shift.


GM lists the competition for the Sport Wagon as the Audi A4 and A6 Avants, BMW 5 series wagon, and the Mercedes E class wagon. When looking at the competition the Cadillac is definitely class competitive. It feels right in between the A4 and A6 Avants in size. The new Sport Wagon is a great extension for the CTS line and with the coupe coming next year, the line is only going to get better. The wagon aspect adds a dash more versatility without losing the driving dynamics that make the CTS such a great vehicle. With dashing good looks and a fun to drive ratio that is surprising for a wagon, this is one Cadillac that Americans can and hopefully will love.

Full Disclosure- This vehicle was provided by General Motors press fleet for review

Officially Official- 2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

With all the news buzzing around about the Frankfurt Motor Show last week I almost forgot about a very important product launch in Korea the new Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai has played second fiddle to Camry, Accord, and the other major plays in the mid-size car market for a few years now. They are no longer content being that guy. They are looking to shake things up. The new 2011 Sonata will continue what Hyundai has started with from the Genesis sedan and Genesis Coupe over the last two years. Sleeker, sexier, and more curvaceous, the new Sonata has gone under the knife for a complete redo and is coming out swinging at the champs. Upon first glance you must say it is a looker. Taking the four door coupe theme started by the Mercedes CLS and continued on by the Volkswagen CC, the new Sonata has a short rear deck and fast roof line.

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Arriving here sometime next year the new Sonata will feature initially two engine choices with a hybrid joining the mix about a year after. The base vehicle will have a upgraded 2.4 4 cylinder featuring direct injection. The 4 cylinder will probably be putting out close to 200 hp. Also available will be a V6 option. The both engines will most likely feature 6 speed transmissions. The Sonata remains front wheel drive with no all wheel drive option currently offered.

2011 Hyundai Sonata Interior

2011 Hyundai Sonata Interior

The mid-size sedan segment has been heating up as of late and this makes it that much hotter. The fact remains this car mimics styling cues of cars with much higher price tags. Hyundai has said while official pricing is not available yet, pricing should be similar to Korean pricing on the Sonata which ranges from high teens to mid twenties. The US spec version and more details should debut at the L.A. Auto Show or Detroit Auto Show. This is definitely one mid-size sedan to keep an eye on not to mention Toyota Camry should be worried.

2011 Hyundai Sonata Interior Center Stack

2011 Hyundai Sonata Interior Center Stack