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Mercedes taking “big” to new heights

There used to be a limit to how much you could spend on a sport-utility vehicle, with the Range Rover holding the high ground pretty much all on its own. However, with the top luxury sedans now selling for six figures and exotic supercars for seven, the elite class of SUV’s is following suit. Porsche already makes an SUV and soon so will Lamborghini, Bentley and Maserati, with Aston Martin, Spyker and even Rolls-Royce considering getting in on the action. But this auto…this is the new king of the hill.

As it is, the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG is about as high up the market as it gets. The German automaker took its Gelandewagen workhorse (which has been produced since 1979) and handed it over to its AMG performance division, fitting it with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 producing a whopping 537 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. Only the G65 can out-class it with its 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12.

Just in case the “standard” G63 AMG isn’t enough, Mercedes has taken it a step further (or an axle further anyway) with this new G63 6×6. The difference, as you can see, is that the 6×6 packs an extra set of wheels — very large wheels at that, wearing 37-inch tires — to give the G-Wagen even more traction. The six-wheel-drive system is derived from the military version, but takes it into more upscale territory. Instead of a wagon body-style, the G63 AMG 6×6 also has an extended pickup bed, lined with bamboo. The interior, meanwhile, is upholstered in leather and Alcantara micro-suede for an unsurpassably luxurious ride. The finished product measures some 19 feet long and weighs over four tons.

Mercedes isn’t saying how many it will build, but sources indicate it could produce 20 or 30 per year if it sees enough demand. Pricing also hasn’t been released yet but it is expected to be the second most expensive model in its line-up, behind the $450,000 SLS Electric Drive supercar.


India rolls out new sports car: Avanti by DC Design

India will soon have its very own sports car, as local design firm DC Design plans to start production of its mid-engine Avanti coupe, which was revealed in concept form at last year’s Delhi Auto Expo.
DC Design, led by designer and entrepreneur Dilip Chhabria, is looking to establish a new manufacturing facility in Gujarat, in India’s west, and could have the facility online as early as 2014.

The information was revealed during an interview between Chhabria and India’s The Economic Times, which was first picked up Autoblog.

In the interview, Chhabria said he would like to build the Avanti in a limited run of 3,500 examples, with pricing for the car ranging from about “25-30 lakh rupees” (approximately $46,000-$55,000).

Only one engine has been announced for the Avanti so far, a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Drive goes to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and helping with the handling is double wishbone suspension with coil-over shocks.

Under its skin sits a tubular spaceframe chassis, presumably made from steel, and the curb weight is said to be 3,443 pounds. As previously reported, the car’s panels are aluminum.

DC Design already has a network of stores in India to start selling the Avanti. In addition to its design work, the company also manufactures and sells automotive accessories and has its own coach building business. If the Avanti proves successful, DC Design hopes to follow it up with a high-performance SUV.


New Range Rover Sport Starting at Under $64k!

There are many new players in the luxury SUV game. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, Cadillac, Lincoln…even Porsche makes a crossover these days. But back in the day before every premium automaker and its sister-company was making high-riding sport-utilities, there was only one name in the game: Range Rover.

While the recently (and comprehensively) updated flagship Range Rover still utters the last word in high-end luxury SUVs, to ward off the constant onslaught of the pretenders to the throne charging from all sides, Land Rover has expanded the Range Rover brand into an array of new models. The Evoque has driven the brand into new territory, but in between the two comes the new Range Rover Sport.

Launched just weeks ago at the New York International Auto Show — where James Bond himself, actor Daniel Craig, drove the car onto the stage for a reported fee of a cool million — the new Range Rover Sport picks up where the previous model left off with a host of improvements.

For one thing, the new Range Rover Sport weighs a good 800 pounds less than its disproportionately heavy predecessor (and 100 pounds lighter than its big brother) thanks to its new aluminum chassis. Coupled with a more aerodynamic shape, the sprightlier weight will undoubtedly help the luxury SUV in all areas of its driving dynamics, performance and fuel economy, whether you choose the 340-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 or the 510-horse 5.0-liter V8. Both are supercharged and drive through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels.

That svelter shape draws styling from both the larger Range Rover and the smaller Evoque, and rides on a wheelbase that’s a solid seven inches longer than the model it replaces, to the benefit of interior space. The cabin is fitted with the latest technologies and high-quality materials you’d expect of a premium product from Jaguar Land Rover, and also gains a third row of seating for carpooling duties or a triple date down at the country club.

Pricing starts at under $64,000 for the six-cylinder Range Rover Sport SE, and climbs to over $93,000 for the top-of-the-line Autobiography model.


The New 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray!

The Corvette Stingray Convertible will start from $56,995.

For that base price, you’ll get the 2014 Corvette Stingray with:

Seating with lightweight magnesium frames for exceptional support, and 8-way power adjustment
Five-position Drive Mode Selector that tailors up to 12 vehicle attributes
New seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching
6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine with direct injection, Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system
Carbon fiber hood on all models, and a carbon fiber removable roof panel on coupes
Aluminum frame that is 99 pounds lighter and 57 percent stiffer than previous model’s structure
Advanced high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
Dual, eight-inch configurable driver/infotainment screens, with next-generation Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system and rear vision camera
Bose 9-speaker audio system with SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and SD card and auxiliary input jack
Keyless access with push-button start
Power tilt/telescope steering wheel
An all-new, fully electronic top on the convertibles, that can be lowered remotely using the key fob

Several packages are available, upgrading equipment and interior materials. Those include the following equipment, as specified on the 2014 Stingray Convertible shown at the 2013 New York Auto show:

3LT interior package, with leather-wrapped interior ($8,005)
Z51 Performance Package ($2,800)
Competition sports seats ($2,495)
Exposed-carbon-fiber roof panel ($1,995)
Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management ($1,795)
Dual-mode exhaust system ($1,195)
Carbon fiber interior trim ($995)
Sueded, microfiber-wrapped upper interior trim ($995)
Red-painted calipers ($595)
Black-painted wheels ($495)
The 3LT package includes: navigation; Napa leather seating; leather-wrapped dash and instrument panel, console, and door panels; a Bose 10-speaker surround sound system; color heads-up display; plus heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and bolster adjustment.

A Z51 Performance package is also available, adding 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels; transmission cooling; high-performance gear ratios; up-sized slotted brake rotors with cooling ducts; an electronic limited-slip differential with cooler; improved chassis tuning; and Chevy’s Performance Traction Management system. Magnetic Ride Control dampers are also available.

When fitted with the Z51 package, Chevy claims the Stingray is capable of a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds and more than 1 g in lateral grip.

More packages and prices will likely be released as the 2014 Corvette Stingray draws nearer its sales launch this fall.

Vulcano V-12 Supercar Sneak Peek!

One of the standouts of last weekend’s 2013 Shanghai Auto Show was a stunning supercar concept from Italian-owned but Shanghai-based design firm Icona.

The concept carried the Vulcano name, which is Italian for “volcano,” and its lines were penned by French designer Samuel Chuffart, a former employee of illustrious design firm Bertone as well as automakers Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan.

Construction of the concept, meanwhile, was handled by Italian firm Cecomp and its powertrains (yes, there are two separate designs) developed by former Scuderia Ferrari engineer Claudio Lombardi.

Until now, Icona has stated only that the Vulcano was developed as a styling exercise to showcase the company’s talents. In fact, it was originally conceived as a one-off.

However, since its reveal in Shanghai a few days ago, Icona has confirmed that production of the Vulcano was being considered and that no more than five examples will ever be built.

The aim of the design was to combine supercar performance with everyday usability. Its sensual and yet dramatically sharp shape is consistent with its extreme performance capability, yet it is said to be docile and controllable around town.

In addition, a hybrid system developed for the car means zero-emission driving is possible for short distances, which is quickly becoming a necessity for some of the major cities in Europe.

As mentioned, there are two separate powertrain designs for the Vulcano. The more powerful, called the H-Turismo, couples a 790-horsepower V-12 with an electric motor integrated with the car’s automated manual gearbox. This boosts output to 950 horsepower, all of which is delivered to the rear wheels. Thanks to launch control technology, Icona promises that the Vulcano H-Turismo will sprint from 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds, not the 2.0 seconds previously announced by the company.

The alternative powertrain is another hybrid, although with a more complex through-the-road setup. This setup is called the H-Competizione and uses a 550-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-6 engine to drive the rear wheels, and a pair of electric motors driving the front wheels and bringing peak output to a total 870 horsepower. The Vulcano H-Competizione will cover the 0-62 mph sprint in 2.9 seconds and has the added traction of all-wheel drive.

Samuel ChuffartThe H-Turismo version tips the scales at just over 3,500 pounds while the H-Competizione, due to its extra electric motor and heavier battery, weighs just over 3,600 pounds.

Top speed for both models is 217 mph.

Why the two powertrains? Icona says the H-Turismo setup is an ode to the grand tourers of yesteryear, albeit with some modern technology, while the H-Competizione, as its name suggests, is designed with motorsport in mind and features the latest in racing technology.

And for anyone thinking the powertrains are just vaporware, Icona’s technology partner, AIPA, led by Lombardi, has already successfully tested the technology in mules based on the World Rally-winning Lancia 037 from the 1980s (video of one of the mules can be viewed here).

Underneath the Vulcano’s beautiful carbon fiber body is a custom aluminum extruded chassis, with the engine mounted up front and the gearbox at the rear. The suspension features a double-wishbone design with coil-springs all around.

The wheels are a custom set from California’s Modulare Forged and are shod with Pirelli P Zero tires. The brakes, meanwhile, come from Brembo and feature carbon ceramic discs and chunky six-piston calipers.

Icona Vulcano conceptIcona says it went with a front-engine layout as this was determined to be more practical for everyday driving. Of course, the Vulcano is a custom-made car, so all options will be discussed individually with the client.

Inside the Vulcano, you’ll find plenty of carbon fiber and two adjustable bucket seats. Trim options include Alcantara and fine leathers.

There is a large touch-screen display that offers control of most of the vehicle functions and plenty of storage bins for both the driver and passenger.

With Icona promising to limit production of the Vulcano to just five units in total, we suggest to contact them quickly if you’d like to see one in your driveway.


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