Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fuel Cell Technology Advances Even Further!

The 2012 Honda FCX. Image Courtesy of Honda.

Anyone who has enough common sense can see that running cars on fossil fuels is a practice that needs to be phased out. The big debate that's raging in the automotive industry right now is what's the best way to wean us off our use of fossil fuels. There are people who tout biodiesel as a great alternative, mostly because the tech is pretty well-developed and could be implemented quickly. A growing faction of the auto industry is putting their weight behind electric cars, especially with the recent success of the Tesla Model S.

For years and years many of the largest automakers in the world have been trying to crack what they consider the holy grail in alternative fuels: hydrogen fuel cells. These automakers feel that fuel cell technology is the future. Fuel cell cars drive more like internal combustion models. Gas stations can be outfitted to deliver hydrogen (this one is debatable, say many electric car proponents). The best part of hydrogen fuel cells is tailpipe emissions are only a small amount of water.

There have been big problems with developing the technology. Fuel cell vehicles have been pretty slow (although Honda's FCX was the first to solve that problem). Many have wondered how the hydrogen will be stored and transported.

Mercedes has recently tackled one of the big problems: size. Hydrogen fuel cells, like lithium ion batteries, take up quite a bit of space. Quite a while ago GM was playing around with fuel cell "skateboards" where the cells were built into the car's chassis, making it thick and heavy. Mercedes has developed a fuel cell engine that is the same size as an internal combustion engine, meaning fuel cell vehicles don't have to contain a huge array along the entire chassis. Just this week Mercedes announced it is teaming up with Nissan-Renault and Ford to mass produce fuel cell vehicles and begin pushing for most hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

The new and more compact Mercedes fuel cell engine. Image courtesy of Daimler.
What does this mean for the future of the automobile? Only time will tell for sure, but a development like this could put fuel cell vehicles in the hands of millions of drivers across the globe, significantly dropping the demand for oil. I'm sure this isn't the last of this story, so look for more developments in the future. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Entertaining Video of the Day: Guy in a Honda Has a Cargasm Over Three C7 Corvettes

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Photo courtesy General Motors.

The new C7 Corvette is picking up quite a bit of interest, both inside and outside the automotive world. Anyone who knows the difference between a wrench and their stick shift can tell a new generation of Corvette is a big deal.

And the C7 is a big deal, with numerous improvements over the C6. Of course, most people don't worry too much about what's under the skin of the new 'Vette, getting all hot and bothered over those new chiseled looks.

I'll be honest, the first time I see a C7 on the road I will be giving it a long hard look. The guy in the video below, who is riding in a late 90s Honda (either a Civic or Accord) doesn't just stare at three C7s on the road, but he makes the female driving the car stalk them as he has a cargasmic episode in the passenger seat. The best part of the video, by far, is the cheesy heavy metal music playing as a soundtrack (with lyrics about jumping on a tiger and whatnot). As the guy approaches the Corvettes once they're parked you can tell he's wobbly-legged and tongue-tied. Honestly, it's worth three minutes of your time.

Enjoy the video here:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Gear Season 19 Episode 1

Its back! and here is the link, you are welcome. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Denim, Denim, and a C7 Corvette Test Drive

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Photo courtesy General Motors.

Some guys get all the breaks. When it comes to the automotive world, that guy often seems to be Jay Leno -- yes, the comedian. There's a good reason why he gets so many perks in the automotive world. Have you see the guy's garage? He has one of the most amazing car collections in the world and a huge following of gearheads and even casual car appreciators. Every car company with a marketing team that has any sense knows this, so they grab any chance they can get to put Mr. Leno behind the wheel of one of their hot new cars.

GM isn't spending money on frivolous things like Super Bowl commercials. Instead, the automotive giant let Jay Leno be the first person who isn't a GM employee drive the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. I'll be honest, I'm still not sold on many of the design elements of the new 'Vette, but watching a denim-on-denim Jay Leno drive it makes me more excited to get behind the wheel of one. Watch the video below, then wipe the slobber off your keyboard and/or screen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

51st annual Pittsburgh World of Wheels

It's that time of year again kiddies. The start of the car show season in Pittsburgh. The 51st annual Pittsburgh World of Wheels begins this Friday, January 25th. We'll be covering the event in detail in case you can't make it. This year, hot rod legend Gene Winfield will be on hand performing a chop on a one lucky person's car.

There will also be a display of Batmobiles, the Munster Koach along with Butch Patrick, The ZZ Top Eliminator, Herbie the Love Bug, and much more. There is a special BeetleMania display with some of the finest Volkswagens in the city on display. The annual 1961 Extreme display of traditional hot rods, customs, rat rod and more. Drag City USA featuring nostalgia race cars. And two popular events, the Builder of the Year (Chuck Lombardo and California Street Rods) and the charity pinstripe auction benefiting the Autism Society.

So come on down to the David L Lawrence Convention Center this weekend. You won't regret it.

Volvo S60 Polestar Concept looking Smurfy in Jay Leno's Garage

Is it just us, or has Jay Leno's Garage evolved from an intimate, off-the-cuff video series designed to show off the late-night comedian's automobile collection into something a lot more ambitious and... mainstream? This isn't a complaint, exactly, as Leno has been putting out engaging videos at an increasingly furious pace. However, we can't help but note that the subjects have largely graduated from the funnyman's steam-powered eccentricities and forgotten classics to lots of new production and concept cars, often with automaker execs in tow. It's almost as if the series is turning into an internet version of his NBC talk show, one where bigwigs swing by to show off their latest projects as part of their publicity tours, only instead of new movies and albums, it's cars or the occasional motorcycle.

Such is the exactly case with Volvo's stonking S60 Polestar Concept, which makes its appearance in Jay's warehouse of wonders this week. Tuned by in-house skunkworks Polestar, the "Swedish Racing Blue" S60 has certainly been making the rounds as of late, with recent appearances near Leno's garage at the LA Auto Show and an Auto Motor und Sport track faceoff against the BMW M3 and Audi RS4 Avant.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Volvo is so keen to get its showcar in front of the cameras – last we heard, executives were seriously considering a small production run for their unlikely 508-horsepower, all-wheel drive sport sedan, though we continue to hear that realistic pricing is likely to be a roadblock.

Regardless of whether the S60 Polestar has a production future or not, we can't get enough of it. If you're like us, check out Leno's video below for more.

Original Article From:

The Fiat 500 Is Like a Go-Kart!

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. Photo credit Chrysler Group International LLC.

My first taste for car racing came to me the first time I climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart at the ripe old age of ten. I still enjoy kart racing, partly because the simplicity of the machine provides you feeling extremely connected with the track.

For anyone who has driven a Fiat 500 knows it is about as close as you can get to a street-legal kart. The car is small, handles tight and provides some punchy acceleration. The higher-performance Abarth gives a driver even more thrills and chills.

Someone decided to test just how much of a go-kart a Fiat 500 Abarth really is by racing it on a Detroit-area kart track. While the driver's skills are mediocre at best,you can clearly see from the video below that the little Italian car fits on the track quite well.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Car Saftey Technology

Mercedes-Benz wrong-way alert technology

To me, car safety technology is one of the most important features I look at when vehicle shopping.

Since my wife and baby were in a car accident several years ago, where the other driver shot out into traffic without looking both right and left, I've become a huge safety advocate. The car they were driving was totaled when the other car t-boned it, setting off the front airbags (it was a while ago, so no side curtain or side seat airbags). The car was not equipped with a sensor in the front passenger seat, so the airbag on that side deployed. Stupidly, the airbag was positioned so it smashed into the windshield, sending the glass spraying throughout the cabin of the car.

For those of you who don't know, in most collisions where a windshield breaks, the safety film on the glass actually holds all of the shards of glass in place. After that car accident, my wife found shards of glass sitting on our baby's neck. They both were fortunate enough to not be seriously injured in the accident, one that could easily have been much worse.

Back when Volvo first developed the seat belt, the Swedish automaker decided to broadcast the results of crash tests using a dummy strapped in with a seat belt and one that did not have one. The results, of course, were sobering. Volvo went one step further and broadcast the video on national television in the United States, causing an uproar among car owners. Back then, the Big Three tried to accuse Volvo of causing unnecessary panic in the public, among other things. Fortunately, most automakers today have started to realize the value of safety technology, to one extent or another.

Mercedes-Benz is one of the leaders in safety tech (Volvo is still one, along with BMW, the VW group and others). Safety technology often is introduced near the top of the car food chain on models like the Mercedes S-Class or the BMW 7 Series, like the infrared and night vision technologies available on those cars Mercedes has announced the new S-Class and E-Class will both be outfitted with a system that will issue audible and visual warnings to drivers if they are traveling the wrong way on a road or freeway entrance. Sometimes people get turned around, especially in confusing downtown areas, and they don't see the "Wrong Way" signs. The car is outfitted with cameras that recognize such signs, literally reading them.

Self-driving cars are becoming more of a reality, which I view as just another piece of safety technology. Many of these cars will likely just enhance a driver's performance, stepping in when a driver doesn't react to an obstacle in time. There are quite a few cars on the market today that detect an impending collision and move the brake pads so they are almost touching the rotors, give the driver an audible and visual warning about the impending impact or even stop the car for the driver. Self-driving cars and other safety technology also means elderly drivers and those with medical conditions that impair their senses can still get around, but without putting everyone on the roads (and unfortunately sidewalks) at risk. I only see good in this technology.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ducati Streetfighter 848

How much for that Batmobile?

If you've ever wanted to be Bruce Wayne and play Batman, the first thing you need aside from a cape and mask is a Batmobile. But Batmobiles just don't grow on trees. And the real deal very rarely shows up for sale in your local auto trader. But last night that all changed. For the last few weeks it's been reported all over the net that George Barris was going to bring Batmobile #1. The original car built for the Batman TV series to the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction. And he sure didn't fail to bring the circus with him.

Built from the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, which Barris purchased for $1 from Ford Motor Co. , was transformed in a matter of weeks to the cost of $15,000 to play the part in the upcoming Batman TV series in 1966. As Barris put it, the car would go POW! with rocket launchers, BAM! with a chain slicer, ZAP! with an oil slick. All gadgets that would make even James Bond envious. The car eventually led to a handful of fiberglass back up cars being built as the Futura based car had a habit of breaking down on the set. After the show, Barris retained ownership of the car. But enough about that.

The folks at Barrett Jackson said this was a deal three years in the making. And they didn't fail to hype up the car once it was consigned. The Batmobile was definitely the star of the show. There were crowd surrounding the car while it was on display and flock of groupies followed the car and King George as it made its way to the auction block. The crowd on the block was just as impressive at over 20 deep. Craig Jackson and Steve Davis actually had to cut Barris off or he would have talked about the Batmobile for hours. When the bidding started it quickly rose to $1 million, then $2 million before stalling at $2.6 million. The reserve was lifted and bidding again took off. $3 million, $4 million. Two bidders, sitting one in front of the other still were going at it, when they decided to flip a coin for who would win. The winner, Rick Champagne was the winning bidder at $4.2 million dollars. Speed's cameras captured the whole soap opera, and quickly interviewed Champagne who told viewers he's been a buyer at Barrett Jackson for 15 years and he came with all intentions of buying the Batmobile for his collection. He joked that he plans to tear down a wall and park it in his living room.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dakar Rally 2013 Gallery 2

Teams work through the night to repair the cars after day one of the of the Dakar Rally on Jan. 5 in Pisco, Peru. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) 

Carlos Sainz and co-pilot Timo Gottshalk of team Buggy compete during the stage from Pisco to Nazca on day three of the Dakar Rally on Jan. 7 in Pisco, Peru. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) 

A man works on a truck during the rest day of the Dakar Rally competition in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, on Jan. 13. (Felipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency)

Robby Gordon is pictured next to his overturned truck in the sand during Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally between Nazca and Arequipa, Peru, on Jan. 8. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Riders compete during the Stage 1 of the Dakar Rally between Lima and Pisco, Peru, on Jan. 5. The rally will take place in Peru, Argentina and Chile from Jan. 5 to 20. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Chile's Claudio Rodriguez rides his Honda motorcycle during the second stage of the Dakar Rally on Jan. 6. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

Honda rider Gerard Farres Guell of Spain, left, and Honda rider Helder Rodrigues of Portugal, right, talk at the end of the special stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally's 5th stage from Arequipa, Peru, to Arica, Chile, on Jan. 9. (Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press) 

France's Vincent Guindani rides his Yamaha during the 9th stage of the Dakar Rally from San Miguel de Tucuman to Cordoba, Argentina, on Jan. 14. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

Brazil's Guilherme Spinelli is seen stuck in a flooded river during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally between Salta and Tucuman, Argentina, on Jan. 12. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

A man cleans a vehicle during the rest day of the Dakar Rally competition in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, on Jan. 13. (Felipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency) 

Dakar Rally 2013 Gallery 1

This year, racers in the Dakar Rally are more than halfway through their 8,000-mile journey. They travel via motorcycle, quad bike, car, or truck over extreme terrain in three countries in South America. Competitors and support crews come from more than 50 countries to challenge their mechanical, driving, and orienteering skills. The race kicked off in Lima on Jan. 5 and will wrap up this Sunday with the podium celebrations in Santiago, Chile. -- Lloyd Young

Argentinian Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue try to escape from a dune as they take part in the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally between Arica and Calama, Chile, on Jan. 10. (Frederic Le Floc'h /Dakar Rally)

Salvadoran Jorge Aguilar takes part in the sixth stage of Dakar Rally between Arica and Calama, Chile, on Jan. 10. (Felipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency)

Lucio Alvarez and co-driver Ronnie Graue of team Toyota compete in stage 9 from Tucuman to Cordoba during the 2013 Dakar Rally on Jan. 14 in Tucuman, Argentina. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Peruvian fans take pictures of the podium during the departure ceremony of the fifth South American edition of the Dakar Rally in Lima on Jan. 5. (Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images) #

Mitsubishi driver Francisco Leon, right, of Peru, waves a banner that reads in Spanish "I love you Peru" during the symbolic start of the Peru-Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally in Lima, Peru, on Jan. 5, 2013. The race of over 400 vehicles including cars, bikes, trucks and quads begins Saturday in Lima and finishes in Santiago, Chile on Jan. 20. (Karel Navarro/Associated Press) #

US driver Robby Gordon jumps from the podium in his Hummer during the departure ceremony of the fifth South American edition of the Dakar Rally in Lima on Jan. 5 (Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images) #

France's David Casteu rides his Yamaha during the Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally in Pisco, Peru, on Jan. 6. The rally will take place in Peru, Argentina and Chile from Jan. 5 to 20. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev overturns during the third stage of the Dakar Rally in the Nazca desert, about 450 km south of Lima, Peru, on Jan. 7. (Paolo Aguilar/European Pressphoto Agency) #

Ben Grabham of team HSE KTM Australia competes during the stage from Pisco to Pisco on day two of the 2013 Dakar Rally on Jan. 6 in Pisco, Peru. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) #

A woman jumps as France's Ronan Chabot and co-pilot Gilles Pillot compete with their SMG truck during the 3rd stage of the Dakar Rally from Pisco to Nazca on Jan. 7. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters) #

Lucra LC470 is the wildest car you've never heard of

It may very well be that you've never heard of boutique carmaker Lucra, nor its rather incredible LC470 roadster, but after watching this recent Motor Trend video detailing the car, you'll probably want to learn more.

Green Goblin styling to the side for a moment, a curb weight of less than 2,000 pounds and output of more than 600 horsepower are both impressive stats. Perhaps more impressive is the sound that the blistering car makes when driven in anger.

Click below, watch, drool and enjoy. We'll be busy on our end, too, trying to get the Lucra folks on the phone about a test drive, and inquiring about the still-more-bonkers car they're apparently planning for release this summer.

Porsche Museum highlights history of the 911 RSR

Porsche has amassed quite an impressive trophy case in just about every racing series it has ever entered, and one of its most dominant machines has to be the 911 RSR from the 1970s. Taking part in various GT-class competitions, the 911 RSR managed to take home three international and seven German victories in 1973, its very first year of competition.

Not one to downplay its racing successes, Porsche has released an informative video detailing the 911 RSR's impressive heritage. The 1973 RSR model owned by the Porsche Museum is detailed beautifully on video, and we have to say it looks absolutely stunning in its vintage Martini Racing livery.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is dressed to impress

The main focus of Mercedes-Benz's presence here at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show will be the fully redesigned 2014 E-Class (and its too-hot AMG counterpart), but the German automaker did bring along another tasty little morsel for a sneak preview. Meet the new 2014 CLA-Class – a swoopy compact sedan based on the already successful new A-Class hatchback that'll be arriving Stateside in September of this year. Mercedes-Benz introduced its new entry-level car to the world at Detroit's Westin Book Cadillac hotel, but the CLA won't be making an appearance under the lights of Cobo Hall. Instead, the company will be shipping its new four-door off to be officially debuted to the public at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin later this week, and its first official viewing at an auto show will be at the Geneva Motor Show.

And what a shame that is. We spent a few hours ogling the new CLA and it's sort of sad that show-goers in Detroit this week won't be able to do the same. It's an impossibly pretty car from every single angle, Mercedes-Benz showing it off here in a deep red and a flat gray, the latter with optional sport appearance goodies. Part of that attractiveness is thanks to how stylishly slippery the CLA is – it boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.23, making it the most aerodynamic series production vehicle in the world. (Take that, Prius!)

It's a nicely proportioned thing, too. It's roughly the same size as a C-Class, and the four-door coupe language works quite well here in a smaller package. Mercedes designers have done a fantastic job with this sleek design on the larger CLS, and it's arguably even better-looking here on this little guy. You really need to see the CLA in person to realize just how good it looks.When the 2014 CLA-Class launches in the United States this fall, it will initially come only in CLA250 guise, packing a turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four good for 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive will be standard, but Mercedes-Benz will also be offering a retuned version of its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The company says that its AMG performance arm was heavily involved in the development of this new 4Matic architecture, and if that's the case, there's reason to expect good things. We'll have to wait a little longer for the full-on AMG package, previewed by the A45 AMG hatchback in Europe.

Inside, the CLA boasts the same levels of refinement found across its current lineup, and while you might think the cabin is a bit cramped – especially in the back – that isn't the case. No, those rear seats aren't what we'd call capacious (our apologies to taller passengers), but they aren't all that bad. And regardless, the interior is a comfy, cushy place.

Mercedes-Benz is hoping to attract a whole host of new buyers with the CLA-Class – people who would never have considered shopping the luxury automaker in the past. If the early accomplishments of the A-Class overseas are any indication (Mercedes-Benz says its launch of the A-Class was one of the most successful in the company's history), then perhaps this same magic can happen in the States with the CLA. And with pricing expected to fall around $30,000, that might not be too far-fetched of a thought.

The Style Rebel

MONTVALE, NJ – Mercedes-Benz is expanding its lineup with the all-new 2014 CLA-Class. The new four-door coupe is a style rebel that takes its design cues from the CLS, whose design concept has inspired more than its fair share of imitators since its debut in Detroit in 2003. This brand new vehicle features world-leading aerodynamics, avant-garde coupe design and with 4MATIC all-wheel drive (available Spring 2014). With its frameless doors, the four-door coupe seamlessly carries the design of the Concept Style Coupe into series production. The new model features COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST as a standard feature. At speeds above 4 mph, this radar-based braking system is able to warn the driver of obstacles and to anticipate braking force when the driver steps on the brake pedal. The all-new 2014 CLA250 arrives in U.S. dealerships Fall 2013.

"The response to the Concept Style Coupe was overwhelming. The most frequent comment by far was 'Please put this car into series production.' That's precisely what we are doing now," notes Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management for Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "The CLA is a car that does not confuse 'mid-size' with 'mid-quality'. Its sporty design underscores the sporty side of the Mercedes-Benz brand."

The sporty CLA comes with a powerful turbocharged engine generating 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, as well as sport suspension and available 4MATIC all- wheel drive. The technical highlights of this new design icon include a new world record in aerodynamics for series production automobiles (Cd value: 0.23) and a wide range of driver assistance systems, including advanced COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST.

This radar-based assistance system provides the driver with visual and acoustic warnings of identified obstacles and primes Brake Assist for adaptive braking. Brake Assist is initiated as soon as the driver steps hard on the brake pedal. When the system identifies a risk of collision, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST calculates the precise braking force ideally needed to avoid an accident and makes the best possible use of any distance remaining. Adaptive Braking Assist activates at speeds of just 4 mph and gives trailing vehicles as much time as possible to also react accordingly and avoid another accident.

There are four special equipment packages and a series of standalone options for individualizing the striking compact four-door coupe (length/width/height: 182.3/80.0/56.6 inches). In keeping with the digital lifestyle of the CLA's social media-savvy target group, smartphones can also be fully integrated into the vehicle's display and operating system via mbrace2, which is standard equipment.

Following a brief appearance on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the CLA will celebrate its official world premiere at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin (January 15 to 18, 2013). The new CLA will arrive at U.S. dealerships in September 2013.

The style rebel - exterior design

Its sporty proportions and powerfully dynamic design language featuring the interaction of concave and convex surfaces give this four-door coupe its distinctive look. The CLA carries the avant-garde design of the Concept Style Coupe into series production almost 1:1.

Striking features include the hood with its power domes and the diamond-look grille. The arrangement of the headlights and LEDs behind the headlamp lens evokes the characteristic "flame effect" for the optional daytime running lights and indicators. This light signature is a key aspect of the car's energetic look and shapes a new, youthful Mercedes face.

A number of details indicate that the design of the CLA represents a further development of the modern classic Mercedes-Benz CLS. Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side - the front structural edge above the fenders flows toward the rear in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel toward the rear. Together, these lines lend depth and dynamism to the side profile.

The design of the rear end emphasizes the width of the CLA, expressing power and athleticism with the interaction of convex and concave surfaces and edges. The gently sloping roof contour and pronounced curve of the rear window retain the CLA's coupe-style character. The athletic look of the rear end comes from the drawn-in C-pillars paired with the shoulder muscle above the rear wheel arches. The tail lights are framed by the muscular shoulder lines extending into the back while the horizontal light layout emphasizes the car's powerful and visually striking breadth.

A large panorama sunroof is available as a standalone option. It consists of a fixed polycarbonate cover at the front, a glass moving panel and side trim elements to match the glass look. The visual effect is of a glass surface that extends all the way from the front to the rear windshield.

Premium look-and-feel - the interior

The exterior's progressive, sporty appearance also carries through to the vehicle interior. Anthracite surface finish is available as the standard trim. Additional trim options include burl walnut wood, black ash wood and aluminum.

The instrument panel incorporates five air vents. The outer rings of the vents are done in a high-quality galvanized finish, while a galvanized insert controls the direction of airflow. The free-standing display is set in black piano-lacquer trim and edged with a flush-fitting silver frame.

(Wind) resistance is futile - a new record Cd figure

With a Cd figure of 0.23, the CLA sets a new benchmark among not only Mercedes models, but also all series-production vehicles. The frontal surface area, Cd x A - which is crucial to aerodynamic resistance – also leads the field at 5.49 sq. ft.

The good air flow characteristics, which have a major impact on fuel consumption under everyday driving conditions, are the result of extensive aerodynamic optimization. These include a low A-pillar shoulder with adapted A-pillar geometry, aerodynamically optimized exterior mirrors, low-drag wheel trims and serrated wheel spoilers on the front and rear wheel arches.

Extensive underbody cladding, additional cladding at the center of the rear axle, an aerodynamically optimized muffler and a diffuser improve the flow of air beneath the underbody.

Smart safety - advanced assistance systems

An extensive array of standard and optional driver assistance systems in the CLA is available to the driver. Standard features include ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection and radar-based COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with adaptive Brake Assist, which offers collision protection in the CLA from speeds of just 4 mph.

The optional Driver Assistance package also offers DISTRONIC, as well as familiar safety systems including Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. PARKTRONIC with Advance Parking Assist enables autonomous parking in parallel and perpendicular parking spaces and is available as a standalone option.

Precision handling - the chassis and suspension

The CLA's running gear features McPherson strut suspension at the front and independent multilink suspension at the rear. Three control arms and one trailing arm at each of the rear wheels enable longitudinal and transverse forces to be handled separately. Specific to the CLA is the flexible decoupling of the rear axle sub-frame for improved ride characteristics. The wheel mounts and spring guides are made from aluminum in order to reduce unsprung masses. Standard equipment includes the Mercedes-Benz Sport Suspension for sporty yet comfortable handling.

The CLA also comes as standard with electromechanical power steering. Compared with conventional systems, this power steering system offers improved driver feedback and makes an important contribution to overall efficiency, as the power steering function draws energy only under active steering. It also facilitates various steering assistance functions activated by the ESP® control unit. These include counter-steering in the event of oversteer, corrective steering when braking on road surfaces with differing levels of grip (split-friction braking), minimization of torque steer and compensation for crosswinds and road gradients.

Both the front wheel drive and 4MATIC variants of the CLA250 are delivered on 17-inch, 5-spoke, two-tone wheels clad in all-season, run-flat tires. The Sport Package offers 18-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels and adds Sport body styling plus perforated front discs.

High levels of traction and outstanding agility - 4MATIC all-wheel drive

The Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is also available with a new generation of the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system featuring fully variable torque distribution. Like the other 4MATIC variants, this completely new development boasts high levels of traction and outstanding agility combined with excellent safety and energy efficiency.

The components of the new 4MATIC include the power take-off to the rear axle, which is integrated into the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, and the rear-axle gear set with an integrated electro-hydraulic, multi-disc clutch. This set-up enables fully variable distribution of drive between the front and rear axles. Additional benefits of this design are a lower system weight than that of competitor systems, as well as a high degree of efficiency.

All set for the future – a powerful and efficient drive

The CLA250 and CLA250 4MATIC both feature Mercedes-Benz's 2.0-liter four- cylinder gasoline engine with 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It comes with the ECO stop/start function as standard for added gas mileage and is mated to the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission for an outstanding combination of sporty performance and comfort.
"Always on" - multimedia systems

The latest generation of multimedia systems in the CLA provides a wide array of functions, apps and graphics.

Like all models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the CLA comes with the brand's acclaimed connectivity service mbrace2, providing users with an extensive range of online and concierge services and apps all linking seamlessly to smartphones for use inside and outside the car. By using cloud technology, mbrace2 is always up to date and offers users wide-ranging and flexible access to content.

The CLA250 and CLA250 4MATIC both include the 5.8-inch display and Bluetooth as standard equipment. The central controller provides an all-access pass to an abundance of advanced technology. This can be upgraded to the 7- inch display with the Multimedia package featuring the COMAND system with hard-drive navigation, voice control, an SD card slot, an in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD changer, a 10GB music register, a rearview camera and SiriusXM Traffic & Weather.

Premium comfort – additional equipment options

As well as the Multimedia package and Driver Assistance package, the CLA250 and CLA250 4MATIC are also available with the Premium package for an even higher level of comfort and convenience. Its features include an iPod/MP3 media interface, SiriusXM satellite radio, the harman/kardon LOGIC 7 surround sound system, heated front seats, auto dimming mirrors, integrated garage door opener, dual-zone climate control and a compass.

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Mini John Cooper Works Paceman is a potent little hot hatch in a fat suit

If there's one thing we're never going to complain about, it's that Mini has found it necessary to put the John Cooper Works treatment on every single one of its models. We love the JCW package across the board, and the final installment of the high-performance chapter (for now, anyway) comes in the form of the John Cooper Works Paceman, debuting here at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

The John Cooper Works formula hasn't been altered in any way here, and like the JCW Countryman on which the Paceman is based, it comes standard with Mini's All4 all-wheel-drive system. We're sure it'll be a total hoot, and with 218 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque on tap, how could it not?


13.09.2012 -- A sporty new exterior design, lowered suspension for a dynamic ride and an exciting reinterpretation of the familiar interior – feast your eyes on the all-new MINI Paceman, set for UK launch in March 2013.

Styled as a coupé interpretation of the Countryman, four versions will be available when it arrives in showrooms next spring, including the MINI Cooper S Paceman which will have a 0-62mph of just 7.5 seconds. The seventh unique member of the family, it will sell alongside the Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Coupé and Roadster.

Packed with MINI character and obvious design cues which tie it to the rest of the range, the three-door Paceman's unique exterior styling is what immediately catches the eye. Built on the Countryman platform, bumper to bumper the car is 4,109 mm (4,115mm for MINI Cooper S Paceman and Cooper SD Paceman), which makes it almost identical in size to its sibling.

With a contemporary and expressive body shape, the Paceman has been created to appeal to a new type of design-conscious customer. The prominent horizontal lines and dynamic curved surfaces give the promise of sporting performance, yet there is an elegant simplicity to the overall form of the car.

The upright front grille, complete with hexagonal radiator grille and broad chrome surround, gives the Paceman genuine presence. Its coupé-style stretched side profile features long doors, while the blacked-out pillars create a 'floating' roof concept, as already seen on the MINI Coupé. Available in either black, white or body colour, the roof gently slopes towards the rear of the car, ending at the integrated spoiler. The horizontal arrangement of the rear lights, which accentuates the car's width, is a first for MINI. The Paceman is the only member of the brand's line-up to be identified by a rear nameplate.

The car's interior has been designed specifically for this model. Its highlight is the innovative rear seat, which has been styled around a lounge concept. Two individual chairs provide generous levels of head, shoulder and knee room with outstanding comfort and support. Armrests have been integrated into the rear trim. A two-section version of the MINI Centre Rail storage and attachment system – first seen in the Countryman – comes as standard. A full-length variant is available as an option.

The Paceman is a strict four-seater, though practicality has not been sacrificed. Folding down the rear seats expands the rear load-carrying capacity from 330 litres to a maximum of 1,080 litres. Access is via a large and high-opening tailgate, offering extra practicality for owners.

In the front, the raised seating position gives the driver and passenger an excellent view in every direction. The instrument panel includes many familiar components, including the large round central speedo. However, its black surround and decorative inner rings in high-gloss black or chrome are new, as are the redesigned air vent surrounds. Buttons for the windows, which have been toggle switches below the speedo on every MINI to date, have moved to the door trim panel.

MINI's trademark go-kart handling will be a key part of the Paceman's appeal, enhanced by the optional all-wheel drive transmission. Lowered sports suspension as standard will help provide customers with an outstanding driving experience, though regular suspension and ride height are available as a no-cost option.

From launch, Paceman customers will have the choice of four powerful four-cylinder engines, two petrol and two diesel. All come with a six-speed manual gearbox, or the optional six-speed automatic with Steptronic function for manual control.

For petrol buyers, the MINI Cooper Paceman features a 1.6-litre 122bhp unit offering a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, fuel economy of 47.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 140 g/km. The MINI Cooper S Paceman uses the same engine, tuned to deliver 184bhp. It will sprint to 62mph in 7.5 seconds. Fuel economy is 46.3mpg and emissions are 143g/km.

For those who prefer diesel, the MINI Cooper D Paceman uses a 1.6-litre 112bhp turbocharged engine with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds. It will provide owners with a frugal 64.2mpg fuel economy and 115g/km emissions. The flagship diesel is the MINI Cooper SD Paceman, which gets a 2.0-litre 143bhp engine. Its 0-62mph time is 9.2 seconds. Fuel economy is 61.4mpg with an emissions figure of 122g/km.

For buyers who want the reassuring grip that comes with four-wheel drive, MINI's ALL4 system is available on the Cooper D, SD and Cooper S Paceman, models. And for those seeking the ultimate in MINI performance and desirability, a John Cooper Works Paceman version is in development.

Under the Paceman's body shell, sophisticated chassis technology includes MacPherson spring struts and forged cross members at the front axle, a multi-link rear axle and electric power steering with Servotronic function. These combine to provide a sure-footed yet dynamic driving experience. Extra fun can be summoned via the sport button, optional on Cooper and Cooper D, which tweaks the engine's responses and the power assistance provided by the steering.

Driver aids include Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) as standard across the range, with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) including Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) on the MINI Cooper S Paceman, Cooper SD Paceman and Cooper D Paceman ALL4. Light alloy wheels in 16-inch and 17-inch sizes are standard, with 18-inch or 19-inch on the options list.

The state-of-the-art powertrain and suspension technology is married to MINI's acclaimed MINIMALISM environmental systems, which are fitted as standard. They include Auto Start/Stop, Shift Point Display, Brake Energy Regeneration and on-demand operation of ancillary units, all of which help cut fuel use and reduce emissions.

Outstanding occupant protection is provided by an extensive range of safety equipment including front and side airbags. Side curtain airbags are fitted in both the front and back. ISOFIX child seat attachments in the rear and a tyre pressure warning are on every Paceman.

Other standard equipment includes air conditioning, powered door mirrors and front sports seats. Popular options will include Xenon Adaptive Headlights, Park Distance Control, an electrically operated glass roof plus the MINI navigation system. Advanced infotainment functions are available via MINI Connected. A range of optional equipment packages will also be available providing customers excellent value and helping to promote strong residual values.

Eight exterior paint shades are available including the new Brilliant Copper and Blazing Red. Starlight Blue also previously unseen and unique to the Paceman. As always with MINI, personalisation is expected to be very popular and there is an extensive choice of bonnet stripes, upholstery variants, interior surfaces and Colour Lines.

It will go sale on 16 March 2013 with prices starting at just £18,970 on the road.

About the BMW Group

The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI, Husqvarna Motorcycles and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 29 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

In 2011, the BMW Group sold about 1.67 million cars and more than 113,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax for the financial year 2011 was euro 7.38 billion on revenues amounting to euro 68.82 billion. At 31 December 2011, the BMW Group had a workforce of approximately 100,000 employees.

The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last seven years.