• Geneva: 2016 Renault Megane Sport Tourer

    February 22, 2016

    Renault will introduce the fourth-generation Megane station wagon at next week’s Geneva Auto Show.

    Called Sport Tourer, the wagon is aimed right at the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and the Peugeot 308 SW. It’s identical to the Megane hatchback when viewed from the front, meaning it stands out from the outgoing model thanks to a more evocative design characterized by sharp headlights, LED daytime running lights that stretch well into the bumper, and a four-slat grille with a huge Renault emblem. The tail lamps are carried over from the hatchback, but a wrap-around rear window gives the wagon a floating roof.

    The cabin receives a tablet-like touch screen that runs the latest generation of Renault’s R-Link infotainment system, while buyers who want an added dose of tech can pay extra to get a digital instrument cluster. The dashboard’s layout has been simplified to give the Megane a cleaner look, and the cabin is built using materials that feel nicer than the ones found in the last-gen Megane.

    Technical details haven’t been announced yet, but it’s safe to bet the Megane Sport Tourer will launch with three- and four-cylinder gasoline- and diesel-burning engines borrowed from the Renault-Nissan parts bin. A more aggressive-looking GT model (pictured) will sit at the top of the range, but the wagon won’t spawn a full-blown Renaultsport-tuned model.

    The Renault Megane Sport Tourer will go on sale across Europe and in an array of overseas markets in the coming months. On the Renault stand in Geneva, the wagon will share the spotlight with the all-new Scenic MPV.

  • Supercharged 610-horse Callaway Camaro SC610 officially announced

    February 22, 2016

    The aftermarket hot rodders at Callaway have officially announced a supercharged Camaro good for 610 horsepower.

    A preview of the Callaway Camaro was released earlier this year, but at the time the horsepower figure given was an even 600. Since then, the company’s tuning wizards have squeezed out an additional 10 horses, giving birth to the Callaway Camaro SC610.

    The SC, naturally, refers to the GenThree TVS2300 supercharger bolted to the 6.2-liter V8. Working in conjunction with a cold air intake, reprogrammed engine computer, and a “TripleCooled” intercooler system made up of three individual intercoolers, an additional 155 ponies were added to the stock Camaro V8′s stable of 455. The 610 references not just the horsepower, but the 610 pound-feet of torque on tap.

    Cosmetically , the Callaway SC610 adds a carbon fiber engine cover, nine-spoke FlowForged wheels, and numerous examples of Callaway badging throughout. The SC610 treatment will be offered on both coupe and convertibles, with completed cars built at Callaway’s Connecticut shop starting at $54,290. For those who already have a Camaro and are looking for a weekend project, the kit itself can be had for $16,995.

  • Lawsuit filed against Mercedes-Benz alleging dirtier-than-advertised diesels

    February 22, 2016

    In the months after Volkswagen’s industry-rocking scandal, in which it was discovered to be cheating on emissions tests with purportedly “clean” diesels, the scrutiny has been dialed up on all automakers across the board. Now Mercedes-Benz is the defendant in a lawsuit alleging that its BlueTec diesels are cheating too.

    The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey, claims that Mercedes installed a device that that can turn off a system used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions during operation at cooler temperatures, reports Bloomberg. Specifics were not given, but the suit was brought by a Mercedes owner in Illinois and filed by agens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a firm that is also involved in the suit against Volkswagen.

    A spokesman for Benz parent company Daimler AG, Joerg Howe, denied the merits of the lawsuit, saying that “All our vehicles comply with regulatory frameworks” and rebuked the accusation as “baseless.” “All our vehicles are certified according to the laws.” Howe reaffirmed.

    Hagens Berman insists on the veracity of the allegation and quoted an article in German paper Der Spiegel, in which Mercedes acknowledged that the nitrogen oxide shut-off was done to protect the engine. Another study conducted independently by Dutch authorities discovered that in real world driving the Mercedes C220 contained more nitrogen oxide in its exhaust than it did in the lab.

    The suit says that the cold shut-off system was not disclosed to buyers, and that it was installed so that power and performance would not suffer.

  • Spied: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

    February 22, 2016

    A spy video shot in Germany has prematurely revealed the first-ever Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. Mercedes’ smallest ragtop is scheduled to make its public debut in a little over a week at the Geneva Auto Show.

    The Cabriolet is nearly identical to the 2017 C-Class Coupe that bowed in Frankfurt last September from the rocker panels up to the belt line. Beyond that, it gains a cloth soft top that quickly opens or closes at the push of a button. Much like the C-Class Coupe is a shrunken-down S-Class Coupe, the C-Class Cabriolet looks like a miniature version of the S-Class Cabriolet.

    Mechanically, the Cabriolet will be almost identical to the coupe. It will launch with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine tuned to send 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will be offered at an extra cost, and a six-cylinder engine — possibly a brand new straight-six sourced from the 2017 E-Class — will be added to the lineup a few months into the production run.

    A hot-rodded Cabriolet massaged by Mercedes-AMG will take on the topless BMW M4. Like its coupe and sedan siblings, it will be powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine rated at 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft. of torque in its most basic configuration. The C63 will be capable of hitting 60 mph from a stop in roughly four seconds before going on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

    The 2017 Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet will be introduced online in the next few days. It’s scheduled to land in showrooms nationwide this fall as a 2017 model.

  • Geneva: 2017 Maserati Levante

    February 22, 2016

    Following a leak, Maserati has published official pictures of the 2017 Levante, its first-ever SUV.

    Although inspired by the Kubang concept that debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s clear that Maserati designers have been tweaking the SUV’s look over the last five years. The production-intent Levante features a more serious looking front end with headlights that have adopted a horizontal treatment. A large, concave grille remains — complete with the Maserati logo on the middle — but the lower section of the utility vehicle’s bumper has been reworked for a more up-scale appearance.

    The side of the Levante features Maserati’s signature portholes, as well as a rear fender character line that mimic the ones found on the Quattroporte sedan. The rear of the Levante features a sharply-raked tailgate and sporty-looking quad exhaust outlets.

    Leaked interior shots reveal the Levante uses Maserati’s familiar cabin layout, including steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to reflect the SUV’s athletic nature. This particular model is outfitted with red leather that exemplifies Maserati’s Italian flair.

    Also leaked was a screen shot of the Levante’s option sheet. According to the leak, the Levante will be available in at least three different trim levels — 350, 430 and Diesel. The Levante 350 will use a turbocharged 3.0L V6 and will presumably pack 350 horsepower. It will be capable of accelerating from 0-62 in 6.3 seconds, with a top speed of 151mph. The Levante 430 will use the same 3.0L V6, but probably tuned to 430 horsepower. It will sprint from 0-62 in 5.2 seconds and have a 164mph top speed.

    The Levante Diesel, which will likely be limited to the European market, will use a 3.0L V6 of unspecified horsepower. The oil-burning Levante will be capable of accelerating from 0-62 in 6.9 seconds and will be capable of hitting 143mph. Although not listed, it’s believed that the Levante will also be available with a V8 engine tuned with input from Ferrari. That eight-cylinder model should be good for 580 horsepower.

    Be sure to check for more details when the Maserati Levante is presented in Geneva on March 1st.