• Mercedes-Benz unveils facelifted 2015 CLS

    June 18, 2014
    Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the facelifted 2015 CLS-Class.

    The updated second-generation CLS gains a moderately updated front fascia that falls in line with Mercedes’ latest design language. The modifications include a revised single-slat radiator grille inspired by the CLA-Class, a more aggressive bumper and new headlights that incorporate Active Multibeam II technology.

    Similar to Audi’s Matrix Beam lights, Active Multibeam II uses 24 individually-controlled LEDs to automatically adjust the lighting pattern so that the high beams can be left on even if a car is coming the other way. Active Multibeam II will not be offered in the United States because the technology is banned by a 1968 regulation.

    The CLS’ rear end remains roughly unchanged save for a slightly revamped bumper and refreshed tail lamps. A selection of new alloy wheel designs and exterior colors round out the list of exterior modifications.

    Inside, the most noteworthy modification is the addition of a display screen that pops out from the top of the dashboard, a setup that allows engineers to update the screen without having to fully redesign the center stack. Also used in the latest C-Class, the screen runs the latest generation of Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system.

    In Europe, the CLS gains new gasoline- and diesel-burning engines that comply with the strict Euro 6 emission norms set to come into effect next September. Mercedes-Benz has not published technical details about the U.S.-spec 2015 CLS, but it will return better fuel economy than the 2014 model thanks in part to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

    The facelifted CLS-Class will go on sale in the United States next fall as a 2015 model. Pricing information and fuel economy figures will be published closer to the four-door coupe’s on-sale date.

  • Volvo to sell Chinese-built long-wheelbase S60 in U.S.

    June 18, 2014
    Volvo parent company Geely has announced it is preparing to export a long-wheelbase version of the S60 sedan from China to the United States.

    Called S60L, the stretched sedan will be built next to its Chinese-spec counterpart in a new factory located in the southeastern city of Chengdu. Volvo has not detailed what market-specific modifications it will make to the sedan.

    Geely explains exporting cars from China to the United States makes sense from a business standpoint.

    “The dollar and the yuan have the best relationship, a more stable relationship than the euro and the dollar,” said one of the company’s executives.

    The long-wheelbase S60 will also be sold in other markets such as Russia as well as a handful of countries in Latin America and Asia. All told, Volvo hopes to export 10,000 examples of the Chinese-built S60L each year.

    Geely has not provided a precise time frame for when the S60L will reach U.S. shores, but it will likely debut at a major U.S. auto show early next year and go on sale shortly after as either a 2015 or a 2016 model.

    More Space, More Luxury
    The Chinese-spec S60L is 3.1 inches longer than the regular S60, allowing it to provide extra space for the rear passengers. Wheelbase aside, it is identical to the regular S60 sold around the world save for minor details such as a discreet, model-specific L emblem affixed to the trunk lid.

    S60L buyers can choose from a wide array of gasoline-burning engines ranging from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that churns out 200 horsepower to a 300-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. All engines are exclusively bolted to automatic transmissions.

  • Ferrari considering V6 for 458 replacement?

    June 18, 2014

    Though an updated 458 Italia with a new twin-turbo V8 is right around the corner, Ferrari is already thinking about the next generation of the mid-engined supercar.

    Citing sources familiar with Maranello’s plans, Automobile reports that Ferrari is considering replacing the 458 with not one but two new, closely-related models – a conventional V8-powered variant, and a smaller, slightly less expensive V6-engined derivative.

    While far from a sure thing at this point, if Ferrari decides to go down the two-model path, expect the V6 to be slightly shorter in wheelbase and/or overall length than the V8. The six-cylinder motor would likely pack twin turbochargers and displace 2.9 liters, thereby side stepping 3.0-liter taxes in the increasingly important Chinese market. Rumors point to output in the neighborhood of 500 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque, leaving plenty of room for V8, which will presumably top the 670 ponies of the 458′s upcoming twin-turbo 3.9-liter engine.

    Given its somewhat pared-down nature, the V6 could receive an updated, seven-speed version of Ferrari’s traditional gated manual transmission derived from the company’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

    Weight for both models will reportedly be held down by the expanded implementation of carbon fiber and other lightweight composites, while a flexible modular structure will make possible the size differences between the two.

    If – and that’s a big if – Ferrari decides to green-light the project, the 458 successors could arrive in the 2019 – 2020 timeframe.

  • NY law allows Tesla direct sales; similar bill moves forward in NJ

    June 18, 2014
    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that allows Tesla Motors to directly sell to consumers in the state. A similar bill has also been approved by the New Jersey assembly.

    The California-based startup successfully reached a compromise with several dealership organizations in New York, allowing the company to keep its five retail outlets in the state and open four more in the future.

    New York’s franchised auto dealers and manufacturers as well as innovative companies like Tesla are critical to our state’s economy, and this bill ensures that both sides will thrive and be able to grow the market for cutting edge zero emission vehicles,” Cuomo said in a statement.

    Dealer lobbyists had initially pushed for an outright ban on direct sales in the state, forcing Tesla to sell its cars elsewhere, however the groups agreed to a compromise after political and public opinion swayed against applying dealer franchise laws in a way that limited competition with a newcomer.

    Tesla faced a slightly different battle in New Jersey, where it had operated several sales outlets until state officials declined to renew its retail licenses amid pressure from lobbyists. Some legislators were willing to draft new legislation to formally allow the company to restart direct sales in the state, and the bill has now moved to the state senate for a vote.

    The company faces several parallel battles in other states, though the direct-sales model has generally been publicly supported by politicians from both sides of the aisle once the conflict comes to light in each case.

  • 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer gains new CVT, more content

    June 18, 2014

    An all-new design way back in 2007, the Mitsubishi Lancer is one of the oldest compacts on the market, but a handful of updates for 2015 should spruce up the aging model somewhat.

    Chief among the changes is a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a ratio spread that’s roughly analogous to a seven-speed automatic. Available with the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder as a $900 dollar option, replacing the standard five-speed manual, the CVT will likely improve the Lancer’s fuel economy, though we’ll have to wait for official ratings to be sure.

    At present, the CVT-equipped Lancer is rated at 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, figures that put it near the back of pack in terms of segment efficiency.

    Other model year news includes the addition of new content in the way of standard features and options packages.

    The entry-level Lancer ES benefits from a new Value Package that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, soft-touch upper door panel trim, chrome interior door handles, a reworked instrument cluster display and Mitsubishi’s FUSE connectivity system.

    The Lancer SE AWC, which brings a 168 horsepower 2.4-liter four and all-wheel-drive, gains all of the kit from the Value Package in addition to a six-speaker sound system a new model-specific front fascia. The Lancer GT benefits from new white contrast seat and door stitching and a new Sun and Sound Package with a sunroof, HID headlights and a nine-speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system.

    The Lancer GT receives the aforementioned HID headlights and Rock Fosgate audio setup, while also getting 18-inch dark alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights, rain sensing windshield wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirrors.

    All 2015 Lancers gain new heated side view mirrors with turn indicators.

    Pricing for the 2015 Lancer, which will continue to be offered in sedan and Sportback bodystyles, has not yet been announced. Exactly what the new model year will hold in store for the Lancer Evolution is also unknown.