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When Size Matters
Large and in charge. Big is beautiful. Size matters. Yes, there are endless clichés to support the notion that the bigger something is, the better it is. In the automotive kingdom, some vehicles not only adhere to this philosophy, but redefine it. We aren’t talking the puny realm of offerings like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or even Dodge Charger. No, this is for the serious four wheeled hippos. The cars where it is more fun to be in the backseat than the front seat.
If you have more money to burn than the average NFL Quarterback, then there are some serious vehicles you can buy that are seriously long. How about the 220.9-inch Phantom Coupe? Not long enough for you? You could upsize to the 239.8-inch Phantom extended-wheelbase sedan, or maybe the 242.7-inch Maybach 62?
But for the rest of us mere mortals, there are some sizable vehicles out there under $100,000. Heck, two of the top ten are even under $30,000. So we will now present to you the top ten vehicles that are longer than The Hobbit.
The current-generation Jaguar XJ has had underwhelming sales, as the flagship sedan is seeing less than half the sales of its closest competitors in the US. Both the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been outpacing the XJ on the market, and now the British automaker is mulling over what steps to take next for its replacement.
Over in the United Kingdom, Hertz has teamed up with Premiere Velocity in order to offer their customers the ability to rent some of the world’s finest exotic supercars. The list of exotics being offered is impressive including Lamborghini‘s LP560-4 Bicolore and Aventador, Porsche‘s Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet, Ferrari‘s 458 Italia, Range Rover‘s Evoque, Mercedes-Benz‘s Brabus S-Class and SLS AMG Roadster, Rolls-Royce’s Phantom and even McLaren’s MP4.
The full range of cars available is up on Hertz’s website and a 5-percent discount is offered when booking through http://www.hertzsupercars.com. Prices vary, but a C63 AMG for example is £201.25 a day ($314) while an Audi R8 is £362.25 ($565). Hertz wand Premiere will also offer customers with a bespoke meet, greet and delivery system at any agreed location whether it be their home, office, hotel or airport.
The requirements? Enough money, 25-years of age and no more than six points on their driver’s license.
Our spy photographers have done it again, this time finding the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the wild.
The S-Class is an important product for Mercedes, but this generation has the added burden of replacing the now-dead Maybach sedans, as well as acting as the flagship for Mercedes-Benz.
Expect to see VIPs, celebrities and African desposts chauffeured around in these starting in 2013. There’s a good bet your local hedge fund manager will have one, too.
Check out the video after the jump
12. Toyota Camry
While automakers and outside research firms publish sales figures and earnings reports on a regular basis, one metric we rarely get a glimpse of is how profitable each vehicle is. In an era of re-badging and platform sharing, one would think that the most profitable vehicles are those with a large number of derivatives to spread the cost around. But a new report from Bernstein Research suggests that two factors – price point and volume – are the keys to making big bucks off vehicles. And judging by the list, longevity seems to help as well.
Number 12 on the list is the Toyota Camry, and for good reason. The Camry has a number of factors in its favor – massive volumes, an accessible price point and its made in America (currency fluctuations, particularly a rise in the euro or yen, can make exports unprofitable). Bernstein’s report notes that high volume cars at a medium price point are one of the keys to profitability, and the Camry might be the textbook definition of this formula. The Camry’s twin, the Lexus ES350, was absent from the list, but no doubt earns its keep, as a gilded version of the Camry.
It created a lot of buzz when it was unveiled at Frankfurt back in September, yet the F-125! concept, besides showcasing possible future technologies such as a hydrogen-fuel cell powertrain, exotic construction materials and onboard telemetry, might also point to the direction large, executive cars may actually go if increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards remain on the cards.
Further emphasizing the fact that the F-125! might actually hint at future Mercedes S-Class models, Dr. Thomas Weber, head of R&D at Daimler AG (pictured with it above), said, in reference to the F-125! “this research car was built with the perspective of what does a car in 2025 look like?”
That’s far beyond the projection of most modern concept cars, which tend to either be trial balloons for upcoming production models, or hint at vehicles five to 10 years down the road.
However, given that the European Union, in it’s infinite wisdom, seems almost hell bent on outlawing large, gasoline engined cars (proposed smog standards for 2020 include a limit of 95 grams per km (5.4 ounces per mile – contrasting with around 154 g/km today) the F-125! could represent what you might get when walking into a Mercedes showroom and purchasing a S-Class, some two decades from now.
There’s no question, that in order to meet these ultra tough smog standards, electric drive and fuel cells will be part of the equation, though to meet the demands of future S-Class customers, particularly those of range and performance, Mercedes understands that new, unproven technologies will have to be employed.
One of them includes using a new Kevlar like material to store hydrogen in the vehicle’s body cavities instead of a conventional cylindrical tank, improving onboard capacity and help boosting the car’s range.
Yet another is using a lithium-sulphur battery to increase energy density and also boost performance and range. However, at present such technologies are very much in the infant stage, though Weber says that lithium-sulphur batteries might become more prevalent toward the end of the decade, even thought at that point, they’ll probably be relegated for use in small items, like power tools.
However, Tim Urquhart, a London based analyst with the firm IHS Global Insight, says that the F-125! doesn’t as much showcase the future of big cars, but rather how uncertain automakers are about them.
“Sometimes when an OEM is talking about these things, you take it with a pinch of salt,” he said. “In this car [the F-125!], I think they are trying to imagine what a vehicle of this type would be like in the long-term future.”
He also went on to state that for performance models and long legged GT cars, current thinking regarding EV technology simply isn’t the solution. “You’re not going to get a lithium-ion powered EV with internal combustion engine power and range. The chemistry won’t allow it.”
[Source: Automotive News]
During the U.N. General Assembly in New York City last week, a Mercedes-Benz S550 belonging to a diplomat from the United Arab Emirates was stolen after its driver went to get himself a cup of tea.
Ghulan Rehmani, a resident of Queens, New York, left the vehicle running after he went to a shop to grab himself a beverage. ”I was in there for only a minute, and when I came outside it was gone,” Rehmani said in an interview with the Global Post. “He made a U-turn, jumped the sidewalk and hit the building.”
The vehicle suffered a flat tire and some dented bodywork, while the thief remains at large.
[Source: Global Post]
To celebrate the 60 years that have passed since Mercedes first introduced the S-Class to the market, AMG has helped develop the 2012 S-Class Grand Edition.
The S-Class Grand Edition package will be available on the S250 CDI, S350 BlueTEC and the S350 BlueEFFICIENCY models in Europe. Each model will retain its stock power, with 204-hp from the S250 CDI, 258-hp from the S350 BlueTEC and 306-hp from the S350 BlueEFFICIENCY.
The exterior of the Grand Edition features a new front spoiler with LED daytime running lights and a new lower air intake. Side skirts and a new rear bumper with a rear apron round off the aesthetic modifications. The Grand Edition will also come with 19-inch AMG wheels while braking will feature 8-piston calipers in the front and 6-piston calipers in the rear.
For the inside, the steering wheel features leather, while the pedals have been swapped out for stainless steel pieces. Wood styling inserts are also used throughout the interior.
GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz 2012 S-Class Grand Edition
North Korea’s chronic food shortages are reported to be reaching levels similar to the 1994 famine that struck the isolated Asian nation, and Kim Jong-Il, the world’s best dressed hereditary communist dictator, couldn’t care less.
According to a report by North Korean affairs blog One Free Korea, the North Korean dictator was spotted in China being chauffeured in a Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard, an armored, extended-wheelbase S600 that costs $200,000 more than the Maybach limousines reportedly favored by Jong-Il.
Witnesses said that the two S600s were fitted with Beijing license plates, a common practice for vehicles exported from China to North Korea by air freight. Trade documents obtained by One Free Korea show that $3.1 million worth of unspecified European cars were exported from China to North Korea in 2010.
The blog also notes that one ton of corn costs $250 on the open market, meaning that the North Korean government could have purchased 13,000 tons of corn for its starving populace.
[Source: One Free Korea]
With the Vatican looking to expand their use of green technology, the next generation Popemobile is reportedly set to employ hybrid technology, although His Holiness would reportedly prefer a fully electric vehicle powered by solar panels.
The new Popemobile will be based off the next-generation Mercedes ML-Class, and used a hybrid system with a 10kw electric motor and a gasoline V6 engine good for a 60 horsepower boost. The same powertrain, fitted in an S-Class prototype, is good for 18.5 miles of purely electric driving, and considering the standard range and speeds of the Popemobile, it should be more than adequate for papal duties.
[Source: New York Times]
We knew it was just a matter of time once Apple introduced its next-generation of products (most noticeably the iPad 2) that Brabus would be updating their iBusiness package on Mercedes-Benz‘s S-Class luxury sedan. Geared towards becoming the world’s fastest mobile office, Brabus stepped up their game some more on their Brabus 800 iBusiness 2.0 demo car, pushing out 800-hp and 1,047 ft-lbs of torque, giving it a top speed of 219-mph.
The heart of the iBusiness 2.0 is essentially in the excess use of Apple technology throughout the cabin. A Mac Mini is installed in a leather-lined tray in the trunk, connected to a 15.2-inch TFT display that is revealed from the alcantara headliner. The display is also hooked up to be an auxiliary display to the two iPad 2s that can be found on the adjustable custom tables found behind each front seat. Along with each tablet is an Apple bluetooth keyboard, giving its passengers full control to work on the road.
An Internet connection is always ready on the go also thanks to Brabus outfitting the S-Class with UMTS and HDSPA networking. Brabus has even developed their own app, allowing the iPad 2s in the backseat to control Mercedes’ COMAND system that’s normally taken care of by the front driver and passenger. Oh yeah, a 64GB iPod Touch can be found in the rear center console to adjust what tunes are being blasted through the S-Class or Sennheiser’s Noise Gard headphones.
The iBusiness 2.0 conversion is available for any S-Class model, from the S 350 to the S 65. Obviously the gaudy 800-hp is only available for the twin-turbo V12, but hey, some people might rather get to their destination a little slower with all the gadgets available to them. Angry Birds anyone?
Official press release available after the break.
GALLERY: Brabus iBusiness 2.0 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Those looking to modify Mercedes-Benz‘s S-Class should do so with caution. A luxury sedan with the prestige of Mercedes’ S-Class shouldn’t sport any extreme modifications and it looks like Inden Design has taken notes. Designed by Joachim Inden, the S500 sedan received a facelift from an S65 AMG with some very detailed modifications, making it a very clean and complete package.
Along with the S65 AMG front end, Inden Design further modified the front end, side skirts and rear diffuser to reflect their style. Daytime running lights were also installed while the taillights and mirrors were refinished. Accent the entire package with a charcoal-gray matte wrap and you’ve got one clean luxury sedan.
Not surprisingly, Inden Design also went to work underneath the hood, giving their S-Class the power to back up its good looks. Horsepower is now 420-hp, up from 306-hp. No real details were released on how the power gain was achieved, but Inden Design does disclose that the vehicle sports a new stainless steel exhaust system featuring AMG tailpipes.
Brakes were swapped in from an S600 model while a set of 20-inch wheels adorn each corner. The vehicle was then lowered just shy of 2-inches to complete the aesthetics.
Inside, the S-Class receives more luxury refinement with the A, B and C Pillars, headliner, dashboard and door panels reupholstered in two-tone leather and black Alcantara. The wood accents have been replaced with black carbon counterparts.
No pricing was announced.
Official press release available after the break.
GALLERY: Inden Design Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Fans of old school Mercedes-Benz diesels can rejoice, as M-B is adding yet another oil-burner to its North American lineup. The 2012 S350 BlueTec 4MATC will bow at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.
Featuring Mercedes’ stellar BlueTEC V6 turbodiesel engine and the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, the S350 will put out 210 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque with an estimated 29 mpg on the highway.
Although the S350 is being positioned as the “entry-level” S-Class, beneath the S400 Hybrid and S550 V8, is there any real reason, aside from vanity, to buy one of the more powerful variants. Unless you’re going for an S63 AMG or the ultra-opulent S600 V12, it’s hard to see why one would opt for anything but the BlueTEC.
Look for more on the S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC Monday, January 10th with AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. Until then, get more on all the debuts at our Detroit Auto Show Preview here.
GALLERY: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC
Mercedes-Benz will replace its current Active Body Control with a new system to improve ride and handling, under the name “Magic Body Control”. The system is based on a 20 year old technology that originated in high-level auto racing, until it was banned for being too potent.
“It had its first try back at the start of the 1990s with the Sauber Mercedes team of the World Sports car Championship Group C and a young driver named Michael Schumacher,” said Mercedes Vice President Hans Multhaupt. Using special bushings and hydraulic technology, the MBC system, co-developed with ZF, will eliminate up to 80 percent of the typical Noise, Vibration and Harshness seen on large cars.
The system is expected to debut around 2013, in time for the next generation S-Class and SL-Class cars.
[Source: Inside Line]
Jaguar‘s sleek new XJ flagship has been declared Car of the Year by Professional Driver Magazine. The buff book for livery drivers chose the XJL 3.0 diesel, as “judges loved the XJ’s looks, its beautiful and distinctive interior and outstanding driving dynamics.”
The XJ bested perennial favorites like the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the competition, which carries significant weight due to the fact that most large luxury sedans are purchased by car services.
Jaguar offers substantial support for chauffeurs and other livery drivers in the UK, with insurance programs and the promise of a similar vehicle when their main car is in for servicing.
In a perverse insight into how the world works, a study conducted by the British Columbia Automotive Association has concluded that the only hybrid that pays back its owners with any kind of economic benefit is the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid.
According to the BCAA, the study takes into account how much one pays for the hybrid over a conventional gas model. With the S-Class Hybrid costing $5,000 less than the S450, the next model up, the BCAA figures that you’d be able to spend the difference on gas and other consumables, even if the car only uses a mild hybrid system.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
[Source: BCAA via Green Car Reports]
Cadillac‘s current flagships, the DTS and STS sedans are overpriced and underwhelming in today’s marketplace. The proposed XTS concept is a sharp looking vehicle but is apparently not premium enough to compete with the big dogs, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 750i and Audi A8.
Soon-to-be-departed GM CEO Ed Whitacre apparently ordered Cadillac to get to work on a flagship capable of returning the brand to its former standing as “Standard Of The World”. But with the XTS slated to arrive in 2014 or later, we could be waiting a long time for a big Caddy.
Packing the all new 5.5L twin turbo V8, the S63 will put out between 544 horsepower and 571 horsepower with the optional AMG performance pack. M0st incredible is the combined 22 mpg Mercedes-Benz claims will be achieved with the new motor and their new AMG Speedshift 7-speed automatic, which uses a clutch pack rather than a traditional torque converter to put the power to the ground.
Fun new technology includes a system called Torque Vector Braking which works to reduce understeer and “automatic crosswind stabilization”, for those times when the wind will blow around a 2.5 ton Teutonic brute on the highway. A 1200 watt Bang & Olfusen stereo will help you play Wagner as you pass traffic in the right lane.
For those who enjoy collecting endangered animal pelts and consider offshore banking a hobby, the S65 AMG returns again with a 6.5L twin turbo V12 making a belligerent 630 horsepower and 737 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes-Benz didn’t state whether the S65 will come with Torque Vector Braking, but if it does, the top 1% should be able to enjoy some tail-out shennaigans when the car goes on sale later this year.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
Mercedes-Benz diesels have a fearsome reputation for being some of the toughest cars on the road. While most vintage German machinery has been sent to the scrap heap due to astronomical repair bills or oxidization, there are a number of diesel powered Mercedes-Benz cars from as far back as 1972 still kicking around, thanks to a cult following and bank-vault build quality.
There hasn’t been a diesel S-Class sold here since the mid-1990′s, but in 2011, Mercedes is set to bring it back a big diesel-powered sedan, with the S350 Bluetec. Packaged with Mercedes-Benz 4Matic system, the S350 will put out 210 horsepower and 400 lb-ft, with AdBlue urea injection cutting down those legendary diesel emissions.
Americans haven’t been too enthusiastic about diesels in passenger cars, but a majority of the Mercedes-Benz SUVs in Canada are diesel powered, and we suspect that the S350 Bluetec, combined with standard all-wheel drive, will be very popular north of the border, and possibly the Snow Belt states.
[Source: Car and Driver]