Luxury auto news

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Mercedes reveals armored S600 Guard

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury

2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard

It's not every day that Mercedes rolls out a new S-Class, but when it does, Benz usually makes the most of it. Since revealing the latest W222-generation model just last year, the Silver Star automaker has revealed a steady stream of variants, including sedans, coupes and AMG models. You can bet there will be more to come, including Pullman and Maybach versions to make Mercedes' flagship model even more luxurious, but for some buyers there can be no greater luxury than safety. And for just such buyers, Mercedes has now revealed the new S600 Guard.

Joining the E-Guard, M-Guard and G500 Guard, the new S600 Guard offers what Mercedes claims are unprecedented levels of ballistic protection. Rather than buying an existing S-Class and sending it for retrofitting, the German automaker fits it with components made of aramide, polyethylene and a special steel compound right on the assembly line. It also gets polycarbonate-coated glass and underbody reinforcement to make the S600 Guard the first vehicle to meet the top VR9 level of ballistic certification against firearms and explosives.

Despite all the modifications, the S600 Guard is said to be virtually indistinguishable from a standard S-Class, and provides the same level of comfort you'd expect from the flagship Mercedes. The cabin can be configured in either four- or five-seat layouts, and in addition to all the usual luxuries, Mercedes has equipped the S600 Guard with opaque roller blinds, opaque roller blinds, a panic alarm system, automatic fire suppression system, emergency fresh air system and beefed-up hydraulic power windows.

The S600 Guard is powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 as the standard S600 with 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque channeled through a seven-speed automatic transmission. You can expect performance to be more lethargic due to the added weight, however, with the top speed electronically limited to 130 miles per hour. Mercedes also gives the armored sedan a recalibrated air suspension, larger brakes and Michelin PAX run-flat tires with tire pressure monitoring system.

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Rolls-Royce developing new convertible

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Rolls Royce, Luxury

Rolls-Royce Wraith convertible prototype

Rolls-Royce is not a company that makes a lot of different vehicles, but of the ones it does, it tends to offer several versions. That's how we end up with sedan, long-wheelbase, coupe and (in the former's case) convertible versions of the Phantom and Ghost. And now Goodwood has confirmed development of another model.

Although details in the press release below are few and far between, it does promise to "deliver effortless, open-top touring... with an engaging and exhilarating driving experience." CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös added: "We are currently developing an exciting and thoroughly contemporary interpretation of a pinnacle drophead tourer which will introduce even more discerning men and women to Rolls-Royce ownership."

What that tells us is that the new model - set to reach showrooms "by mid-2016" - will be a convertible that's exciting to drive and more youthful than the Phantom Drophead Coupe. In other words, and in all likelihood, we're looking at the convertible version of the Ghost-based Wraith fastback (like the one we recently spotted undergoing testing, pictured above). Expect it, then, to carry the same 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12, but with the added rush of wind in your hair.

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Mercedes' AMG Sport line to spread across lineup

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport Estate

If you want a performance-oriented Audi but can't stretch to an RS model, you can go for an S instead. If you want a performance-oriented BMW but can't stretch to a full M car, you can go for an M Performance model instead. If you want a performance-oriented Mercedes but can't stretch to an AMG model... you're out of luck. But you won't be for long, as circulating reports indicate that Benz is planning to launch a second line of AMG Sport models.

As we reported a few months ago, Mercedes is preparing to launch a C450 AMG Sport to slot in between the new C400 and upcoming C63 AMG, with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing around 367 horsepower - a few dozen horses more than the C400 but still a hundred or so shy of the C63. The model was subsequently spotted in wagon guise, pictured above.

The C-Class won't be the only one to get the AMG Sport treatment, however. Autocar reports that, while not all Mercedes models are slated at first to get the mid-level performance upgrade, many models will - including the A-, E-, S-, M, GL, GLK and GLA-Class models, as well as the upcoming MLC crossover coupe.

While they won't all get the same engine, each AMG Sport model is expected to undergo a similar transformation, with upgraded suspensions, wider tracks, reprogrammed electronics and more. Expect both gasoline and diesel versions to be offered (at least in certain markets), taking Mercedes into performance diesel territory for the first time to rival BMW's trio of M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d as well as Audi's SQ5 TDI and (currently concept-only) RS5 TDI.

The new line, to be jointly developed by Mercedes and its AMG performance division, would also give the Silver Star a three-tiered performance line-up, starting with the new AMG Sport line, followed by the AMG range and topping out with the AMG S models.

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TFLcar going from Prague to Pebble in a Tatra [w/videos]

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Sedans/Saloons, Euro, Videos, Luxury, Read This

Tatra 603

Today, the Tatra brand is best known for its heavy-duty trucks that carry goods all over Europe, but their legacy as a carmaker is a bit less celebrated, especially in the US. That's a shame, because the Czech company's legacy includes some of the oddest passenger vehicles to ever hit the roads. Case in point: the Tatra 603. With four lights in its round grille, the sedan has a face only a mother could love, but things get truly odd in the rear where you find an air-cooled, V8 engine.

Coincidentally, the Tatra is getting a special class dedicated to it at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Auto journalist Roman Mica and the rest of the team from The Fast Lane Car decided on a wickedly cool project to coincide with the event. They bought a 1968 Tatra 603 in Liberec, Czech Republic, with the goal of driving it across a continent and a half, all the way to Pebble Beach. The undertaking has a personal touch too because Mica was actually born in the former Czechoslovakia and fled the country as a child in 1968 after the communists invaded.

The site is documenting the whole endeavor, which it calls Prague to Pebble or Bust, on video and is posting them online. If you're a fan of quirky old cars or what it takes to live with them, you really need to check this series out. You can check out the project page here to see all of the videos so far. Scroll down to watch the episodes where the team picks up the car in Europe, its arrival in the US and a brief mechanical look.

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2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Driving, Luxury

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Save for a few years of its century-plus existence, Cadillac has offered its unique brand of American elegance in two-door, fixed-roof bodystyles. Most of these cars were big, floaty barges, of course, though its most recent offering was the wedge-shaped CTS Coupe. But whereas the CTS Coupe was a statement car - angular and severe, with somewhat limited appeal except to design snobs and provocateurs - the ATS Coupe represents a return to form for Cadillac, with a proper three-box (engine-cabin-trunk) body and a slightly lower price point that should broaden its appeal among a larger swath of the market.

Generally speaking, the 2015 ATS Coupe is a two-door version of the sporty ATS Sedan, though, surprisingly, the only common exterior components are the hood, headlamps, and sundry trim pieces on the front fascia (which features a slightly larger grille, a wider lower air intake, and the redesigned, laurel-less Cadillac crest). Even the mirrors are different. The body stretches 0.8 inches in length and 1.4 inches in width, the roof is 1.1 inches lower and the rear windscreen slopes at a flatter, sleeker angle. Interestingly, the windowsills are actually quite a bit lower, further slimming the car.

Thanks to its 0.8-inch wider front and rear wheel tracks as well as more tumblehome in the C-pillar area, the coupe sits lower and looks more planted than the ATS sedan, particularly from the rear three-quarter view. Filling the wheel wells is a family of slick 18x8-inch wheels, with 18x9-inchers coming on the rear axle of performance models. Even if all those changes haven't resulted in a wholly new look the way the CTS Coupe departs from its sedan progeny, the ATS two-door is a truly beautiful car that looks considerably better on the road than on a show stand. And for that, Cadillac deserves mighty praise.

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What you missed on 8.4.2014

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Trucks/Pickups, Supercars, Luxury

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: 2015 Acura TLX

Our man Michael Harley takes his turn behind the wheel of the brand-new Acura TLX and finds it a better car than either the TSX or TL, both of which it replaces in the automaker's lineup. Read the full review to find out the how and the why, and to see if it has what it takes to compete in such a hotly contested segment.

Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burns while hot-weather testing

Yikes! Our intrepid spy shooters captured these images of a 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burning to the ground out in Death Valley. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. The truck, as you can see, did not fare so well. Ford is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Hennessey Venom F5 gunning for 290 mph and 1,400 horsepower

How fast is fast enough? Well, we suppose that depends on who you ask. John Hennessey, for instance, has his sights set on 290 freaking miles per hour, and to achieve such ludicrous velocity, he's planning to pack 1,400 horsepower in the engine bay of his upcoming Venom F5. A total of 30 examples are planned. Get in line now.

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Mercedes S600 Pullman revealed in patent photos

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Design/Style, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman

Attention heads of state and other potentates: your next car is here. Patent photos for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman have leaked online showing the ultimate interpretation of Merc's S-Class range.

If you just looked at the Pullman dead-on from the front or rear, you might not notice too many differences compared to the stock S600 because the styling is almost identical. However, once you see that profile, you know there's something very special here. The sedan still packs four doors but with additional windows along the side to gaze outward upon your subjects. They're sure to see you, too, because, according to Carscoops, this princely S-Class is about 21-feet long. That makes it even bigger than the massive Maybach 62 and the previous S600 Pullman Guard. While these shots don't show the inside, it supposedly offers room for eight with two in the cockpit partitioned away from six others in the rear with facing rows of seats.

Mercedes is rumored to not actually build the Pullman itself. Instead, the automaker might hand off production duties to noted tuner Brabus to handle the needs of this über-luxury sedan's wealthy clients. It needs to keep them satisfied, too, because the asking price for the armored version is rumored to be $1 million.

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2015 Acura TLX

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Acura, Driving, Luxury

2015 Acura TLX

Immediately after landing at Washington's Dulles airport, an Acura representative handed me the keys to a 2014 TSX with fewer than 180 miles on its clock. The four-cylinder engine started and I pointed its signature beak towards a destination in Middleburg, VA. It was a curious move by the Japanese automaker, especially considering that I had flown no less than 2,300 miles to drive the discontinued vehicle's ostensible successor, the all-new 2015 Acura TLX.

Yet spending a solid 40 minutes with a sparkling-new version of the outgoing model that still smelled showroom fresh, allowed me an opportunity to scrutinize the dropped sedan and remind myself why it had never really blown me away - it was good at doing many things, but truly great at doing none.

Time with the TSX also started me thinking about the Acura TL, the second model that the TLX will effectively replace. I have better memories of the slightly larger sedan, especially the SH-AWD 6MT trim - it's a solid driver's car - but it, too, fell short in areas where competitors, including the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, excelled.

As I pulled up to the hotel a short while later, it became clear that Acura had some work to do. Its task over the next 48 hours would be to persuade me that its clean-sheet TLX was not only a worthy replacement for the TL and TSX, but a competitive player in this fiercely contested segment.

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Final Lexus IS F rolls off assembly line in Japan, bound for US

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Plants/Manufacturing, Lexus, Luxury

Lexus IS F

We knew this day would come, but it's nonetheless a bit of a sad one for Lexus enthusiasts as the very last example of the IS F has rolled off the assembly line in Tahara, Japan. Decked out in its trademark bright blue, the final IS F is destined for a customer right here in the United States.

Far from just another now-defunct model in an endless succession, the IS F marked the first time that Lexus did a proper performance model, debuting in production guise at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show alongside the LFA concept long before the latter entered production and took the idea of the high-performance Lexus even further. The IS F may not have sold in huge numbers, but it definitely marked a milestone for Toyota's luxury division.

Don't cry too much, however, as the new RC F that effectively takes its place packs an even mightier punch. While both are powered by essentially the same 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels, the outgoing sedan's 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque is easily outgunned by the new coupe's 450 hp and 383 lb-ft.

The news was posted on Facebook by Yikihiko Yaguchi, the Toyota performance engineer responsible for both the IS F and RC F. Now, feel free to join us in a moment of silence...

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BMW 6 Series Convertible gets a little work done for 2015

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, BMW, Luxury

BMW 6 Series Convertible spy shots

Truth be told, I've never really found the modern BMW 6 Series to be a particularly attractive car, in Coupe, Convertible, or sedan Gran Coupe forms. This current generation certainly looks a whole lot better than the Bangle-fied Six that came before it to my eyes, but on the whole, I find much of the car's design to be fussy and awkward. There's a new 6 Series on the way, scheduled to arrive sometime in 2017 or 2018, but to hold us over until then, BMW is freshening its current range, as evidenced by this convertible prototype our trusty spies recently caught testing.

Will the changes to the current 6 Series be an improvement? Perhaps. Up front, there are restyled headlamps and a new front bumper, and at the rear, BMW has redesigned the LED taillamps to bring them more in line with the rest of the company's offerings. Aside from those modest tweaks, we don't expect much more to change on the Big Six - the interior will likely carry over with some minor tweaks (or new colors), and it's possible the powertrains could be massaged gently for gains in either power, efficiency, or both.

Whether you think this new look is pretty or not, this freshened 6 Series will likely debut sometime next year, while BMW's engineers and designers craft the all-new version. See it from several angles in our gallery, above.

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