SUV for Maserati

Maserati reveals first ever SUV

Maserati has revealed the first SUV to ever be released by the legendary car maker in its 100 year history, with the Levante set to make its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 1.

The new model completes the existing range of saloon and sports cars, extending the offering together with the Quattroporte, Ghibli, GranTurismo and GranCabrio models.

The design of the Levante features clear associations with the Maserati brand and its distinctive Italian character: the aggressive front introduces new, tapered headlights separated into two elements, with the upper headlight unit connected to the radiator grille.

Maserati’s design signature is clearly visible on the sides: the three iconic air vents on the front wings, the trapezoidal C-pillar with the Saetta logo and the large, frame less door windows. The rear is dominated by the strongly tapered back window and streamlined shape, both typical of a high-performance sports car.

At a technical level, the Levante’s chassis is designed to combine the outstanding on-road performance typical of every Maserati with unrivaled handling even on very low-grip surfaces and an excellent off-road performance and ride.

The new SUV boasts a high level of content as standard, with all versions featuring: sophisticated electronic suspension with controlled damping and air springs, which can be set on several levels, Q4 intelligent all-wheel drive and eight speed automatic transmission specially calibrated for the brand’s new SUV.

When it comes to power units, the Levante is equipped with both petrol and diesel engines that are all Euro6-compliant. The Maserati Levante launch is planned for this northern spring in Europe, to be followed by the rest of the world and arriving in Australian and New Zealand early in 2017.


Mercedes-AMG releases new A 45 S and CLA 45 S; GLE 63 (S) Coupé

2020 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S
2020 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S

NOT one, not even two, but three models from Mercedes-AMG have been launched, two of which are available in Australia right now, including the new A 45 S and CLA 45 S. The GLE 63 (S) Coupé has also been unveiled in Germany.

The highly anticipated new generation Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+ hatch and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ four door coupé turn up the power, posture and performance, continuing to improve upon the legacy of the previous generation.

At the heart of the 45 models sits a turbocharged four cylinder engine generating an incredible 310kW of power and 500Nm of torque. That power plant is paired with the new AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT-8G 8-speed dual clutch transmission.

The A 45 S 4MATIC+ sprints from zero to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds (CLA 45 S 4MATIC+: 4.0 seconds). Active, fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive distributes power to rear axle wheels selectively via torque control.

Significantly, it enables excellent traction and creates the parameters for the spectacular new ‘Drift’ mode. It’s all thanks to a new rear axle differential featuring two multi-disc clutches, one for each rear wheel.

Also impressive is a carefully balanced torque curve and a high maximum engine speed (up to 7200rpm). The transmission has been configured for spontaneous acceleration in all speed ranges as well.

Depending on the selected driving mode, the driver receives a specific drive configuration with different accelerator and gearshift characteristics. The standard RACE-START function also allows maximum acceleration from stationary, in a highly emotive experience.

The result is consistently optimum traction, even in adverse road conditions. In a racetrack environment, this sophisticated solution enables extreme cornering manoeuvres, which makes power-sliding possible, for even more driving pleasure.

The new Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+ is designed with overt visual cues to its sporting prowess, including an AMG-specific radiator grille with a wider, lower contour and 12 vertical louvres, a clear indicator of AMG Performance family membership.

Wider front wings with flared wheel arches create space for the wider front axle, underlining an athletic appearance in combination with the front apron featuring a distinctive jet wing design.

Inside, the ground-breaking MBUX infotainment system first seen on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch features sporty AMG specific design, sophisticated details and displays in emotionally appealing representations, rendered in brilliant 3D graphics.

This includes a race timer, a G-meter, engine data plus individual AMG displays such as visualisation of the driving programs, AMG TRACK PACE (the racetrack-specific virtual race engineer) and telemetry data.

The A 45 S 4MATIC+ features a Burmester surround sound audio system, an AMG Performance steering wheel in black DINAMICA micro-fibre with contrasting yellow top stitching, and heated electric sports seats in two-tone leather with identical stitching.

There’s also comfort control, brushed aluminium trim, key-less go and start, ambient lighting featuring 64 colours, dark tinted privacy glass and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Standard safety includes the driving assistance package plus, active distance assist with cross traffic assist, active lane change assist, and the parking package, which features a 360-degree camera, and LED headlights with adaptive high beam.

It retails for $93,600 plus on-roads. It’s coupe sibling, the new Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+, scores a wider front track, giving it a naturally self-assured stance. It means it doesn’t require the same frontal flares as the A 45 S 4MATIC+ too.

The CLA 45 S does share the AMG-specific radiator grille with the A45 S, but sports an expressive appearance all its own with jet-like external air inlets that show a family relationship with the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé.

At the rear, the CLA 45 S scores a diffuser with four individual fins, and a boot lid-mounted spoiler. Its 19-inch diameter AMG alloy wheels are nine inches wide. The CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ otherwise shares the same high level of specification as the A 45 S 4MATIC+.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ retails for $111,200 plus on-road costs. Both vehicles are on sale now.

Back in the motherland, an elegant and electrified coupé with superb agility and driving dynamics, and high traction all-wheel drive has been revealed, with the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 (S) 4MATIC+ Coupé.

At the heart of the performance SUV Coupé is the AMG 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine, which has been electrified with an EQ Boost starter alternator and a 48-volt on board electrical system to deliver a particularly immediate response at start-up.

The base model delivers an output of 420kW, while the S variant offers an impressive 450kW. Agility is guaranteed by the AMG ride control+ air-sprung suspension, with active ride control providing roll stabilisation.

The fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive and the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G 9-speed automatic transmission, complete the package. The MHEV hybrid system adds an additional 16kW of temporary power and 250Nm of torque.

Visually, the exterior features an AMG specific radiator grille and special AMG exhaust system, with two rectangular high gloss chrome-plated twin tailpipe trim elements. The S variant gets fluted versions of the same trim elements.

Further individualisation options are available in the AMG Night package, including heat-insulating, dark-tinted windows, a front splitter, front and rear apron trim, inserts in the side skirts, mirror caps and window frames in dignified black.

In addition, the twin tailpipe trim elements are finished in elegant high gloss black. The typical look and feel of the brand is continued in the high quality interior of the GLE 63 Coupé, which is characterised by a resolutely sporty ambience.

The AMG seats are upholstered in Nappa leather, and provide optimum lateral support and have an AMG specific seat pattern layout, with an “AMG” badge in the front backrests. Other leather variants are optionally available.

The S variant is further identified by its grey seat belts and contrasting seat top stitching in silver grey. Individually adjustable ambient lighting comes as standard, with a three spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles also on board.

In the base model, the steering wheel rim is lined in black Nappa leather, and in the S variant in Nappa leather/DINAMICA micro fibre. Both feature a black 12-o’clock marking, and AMG steering wheel buttons for instant access to go fast settings.

The centre console includes an AMG specific control unit with additional switches that are used to regulate the 3-stage ESP, the manual transmission mode, the adaptive damping system, the optional AMG Performance exhaust system and the vehicle ride level.

There’s also AMG brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs, and door sill panels and black floor mats with “AMG” lettering. A wide range of high quality interior trim elements are available for further individualisation of the interior.

Further information, pricing and options will be announced closer to its Australian launch, later in the year.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ CoupeMercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ Coupe
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC+ Coupe


Production of the third generation Bentley Flying Spur gets underway

2020 Bentley Flying Spur
2020 Bentley Flying Spur

IT shares only its name with its predecessor, but the third generation of Bentley’s luxury four-door Flying Spur grand tourer is now in handcrafted production, with the first customers receiving their cars in early 2020.

The all new model delivers the duality of sports sedan agility and modern limousine refinement, and is a technological tour de force of innovation, connectivity, passenger comfort and driver excitement.

Designed, engineered and built in Great Britain, the new Spur has undergone more than 1.6 million kilometres of development testing.

Bentley Motors board member Peter Bosch described the new Flying Spur as a leap forward in combining state of the art high technology with a modern ultra-luxurious interior and exterior.

“Every single example is an artisanal piece of art, handcrafted using the finest, authentic materials and surfaces that are unmistakably Bentley. The car truly delivers the duality of sports sedan agility and contemporary limousine refinement.”

The most advanced Bentley ever built, every single vehicle goes through a process that sees nearly 200 people handcraft every Flying Spur, through 84 different assembly stages at the company’s factory in Crewe.

Completely reinvented in 2019 to showcase a more purposeful and emotional design, the new look four door luxury sedan features an athletic stance thanks to an extended wheelbase, while a retractable Bentley ‘Flying B’ mascot makes its first appearance.

The cabin is unmistakably Bentley, with contemporary design lines flowing from the new wing-themed fascia through the passenger areas. Optimal comfort and style are delivered by completely new-design fluted leather seats, with diamond quilting throughout.

In the front, the unique Bentley rotating display is the central feature of an exquisitely crafted dashboard, while the centre piece of the rear seat experience is a state-of-the-art detachable touchscreen remote control that can operate all the major functions.

The application of light plays an integral part in the Flying Spur experience too, with a panoramic glass sunroof that stretches the full length of the roof and an innovative multi-configuration mood lighting system both available.

Three superlative audio systems, including a range-topping 2,200W Naim system, will equally satisfy those seeking the ultimate aural thrill. A wide range of advanced connectivity features are also available, as are cutting-edge driver assistance systems.

These include a night vision infra-red camera, traffic assist, and a head-up display, while electronic all-wheel steering is used for the first time in a Bentley, combining with active all-wheel drive and Bentley’s dynamic ride electric anti-roll system.

The new Flying Spur is powered by an enhanced version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12, which sets the benchmark in performance, agility and dynamism for the segment.

Mated to an advanced dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, it has a top speed of 333km/h and can run the 0-100km/h spring in 3.8 seconds.


Prius just wants to have fun

Gen 4 Prius is looking for fun

BY now, we all know what the Prius is. It’s Toyota’s iconic hybrid car, and well, it’s had a bit of a reputation for being, how should we put this, bland and oddly lacking in style.

But all that is about to change, with Toyota advancing the pioneering status of its iconic Prius hybrid car by revealing a fourth-generation model that debuts a futuristic design, fun-to-drive dynamics and an impressive gain to fuel economy.

Unveiled at a special event in Las Vegas ahead of its international motor-show debut in Frankfurt next week and an Australian launch early in 2016, the new Prius exterior has completely evolved.

It features a dramatic low-slung silhouette that is approximately 60mm longer, 15mm wider and 20mm lower, delivering a much more planted on-road presence with a lower centre of gravity and more space for occupants and their luggage.

The bonnet is lower and the most distinctive Prius cue – the roof peak – has been moved forward, creating an athletic shape inspired by a runner in the starting blocks.

The sporty theme for the new Prius is accentuated by the Toyota emblem in the front grille sitting at exactly the same height as on Toyota’s 86 sports car. It is flanked by new headlamps that minimise frontal area while providing a striking light display that helps define the vehicle’s distinctive character.

Bold character lines run along the side from the front fenders – one just above the sill that sweeps up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease morphs into the rear spoiler, which has been lowered. Striking rear combination lamps express the distinctive lines of the Prius from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides.

Exterior colours include an “Emotional Red”, which utilises a newly developed treatment process to achieve a deep and vibrant lustre. The new Prius interior also embraces Toyota’s concept of “Iconic Human-tech” with a strong presence that adopts advanced technology complemented by features that are functional, fun and have high visual impact.

Owners will be rewarded with the comfort and utility offered by a wrap-around cockpit, form-hugging seat design, easy-to-use controls and increased visibility. A sense of quality and space is created through the wide instrument panel with its layered construction that clearly defines the “display zone”, separating it from the “control zone” which is now closer to the driver.

A new, stiffer platform – the first developed under Toyota’s New Generation Architecture (TNGA) program – is at the heart of revolutionary improvements that support a more responsive driving experience and enhanced occupant protection.

In keeping with the Prius name which means “front runner”, the new-generation car continues to build on its eco-car DNA with technical breakthroughs including the world’s most thermally efficient petrol engine at 40 per cent. This remarkable achievement, which provides a significant improvement in fuel efficiency, is due to the adoption of new or substantially revised components that were effectively blueprinted to the finest limits and tolerances.

Engineers also succeeded with a comprehensive program of size and weight reductions for major hybrid components while maintaining overall performance, confirming Prius as the global pacesetter in hybrid technology. The cutting-edge development program for the new Prius also focused on a more responsive drive experience achieved through a lower centre of gravity, newly developed double-wishbone rear suspension and a more rigid body.

The all-new rear double wishbone suspension produces a better connection to the road, providing greater control and feedback in all driving conditions. A more rigid body helps improve responsiveness while cornering without sacrificing ride quality or occupant comfort.

The next-generation Prius will make available a package of electronic safety assistance aids including a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high beam and active cruise control. Pricing and further details will be available closer to launch.


UPDATED: Fiat Chrysler withdraws from proposed merger with Groupe Renault

FCA and Groupe Renault could merge
Merger talks begin between FCA and Groupe Renault

June 6, 2019: In an official statement released today, the Board of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has resolved to withdraw with immediate effect from its merger proposal with Groupe Renault.

The statement reads:

FCA remains firmly convinced of the compelling, transformational rationale of a proposal that has been widely appreciated since it was submitted, the structure and terms of which were carefully balanced to deliver substantial benefits to all parties.

However it has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.

FCA expresses its sincere thanks to Groupe Renault, in particular to its Chairman and its Chief Executive Officer, and also to the Alliance partners at Nissan Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, for their constructive engagement on all aspects of FCA’s proposal.

FCA will continue to deliver on its commitments through the implementation of its independent strategy.

May 28, 2019: IN a move that would create the third largest automotive group in the world, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) yesterday proposed a 50/50 merger with Groupe Renault, and collaboration with its alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi.

In response, Renault’s Board of Directors met today to examine the proposal it received from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) regarding a potential merger, said to be valued at more than $50 billion, between the two automotive giants.

“After careful review of the terms of FCA’s friendly proposal, the Board of Directors [has] decided to study with interest the opportunity of such a business combination, comforting Groupe Renault’s manufacturing footprint and creating additional value for the Alliance,” a statement from Renault reads.

According to a prepared statement, released by FCA yesterday, the proposal follows initial discussions between the two companies to identify products and regions where they could collaborate, and reads:

The case for combining the businesses is also strengthened by the need to take bold decisions to capture at scale the opportunities created by the transformation of the auto industry in areas like connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving.

The combined business would sell approximately 8.7 million vehicles annually, would be a world leader in EV technologies, premium brands, SUVs, pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles and would have a broader and more balanced global presence.

The benefits of the proposed transaction are not predicated on plant closures, but would be achieved through more capital efficient investment in common global vehicle platforms, architectures, power trains and technologies.

Under the terms of the proposal, shareholders in each company would receive an equivalent equity stake in the combined company. The combination would be carried out as a merger transaction under a Dutch parent company.

The Board of the combined entity would initially be composed of 11 members, with the majority being independent and with equal representation of four members each for both FCA and Groupe Renault, as well as one nominee from Nissan.

The new parent company would be listed on the Borsa Italiana (Milan), Euronext (Paris) and the New York Stock Exchange. Benefits flowing equally to current FCA and Groupe Renault shareholders.

The combined entity, if it were to include Renault’s Nissan and Mitsubishi alliance, would have a potential global sales footprint of more than 15 million vehicles.

FCA and Groupe Renault have advised they will keep the market informed of any progress in the potential merger.