Tag Archives: V8

Imagine Lifestyles Autocross Review

16 Sep

Many dream about driving or owning an exotic car. The aggressive looks, powerful engines and legendary names like Ferrari and Lamborghini are all something car nuts want. But unless you’re friends with the rich kid in the neighborhood or have plenty of disposable income your chance of getting into ones of these machines is slim at best. Unless of course you take part in something such as Imagine Lifestyles autocross event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

THE COMPANY

Imagine Lifestyles is a luxury rental and charter company based out of multiple major metropolitan locations throughout the United States; including Miami, New York and Chicago. Their website states they offer everything from exotic car and yacht rentals to private jet charter and concierge services. However, for this review we’ll stick to the automotive driving events, or as Imagine Lifestyles calls them “Ultimate Driving Experiences.”

What is Autocross?

For those who are unfamiliar with what autocross is, it consists of a series of cones that are set up in a relatively tight configuration. At autocross competition the goal is to navigate the course in the fastest time without hitting any of the cones. Imagine Lifestyles isn’t exactly like that. Yes, there are still cones and they are set up to form a course, but you’re not racing either the track or anyone else.

The Venue

The Imagine Lifestyles Boston autocross event was held at Gillette Stadium, a place known more for New England Patriots football than automotive events. Ideally the event would be held at a slightly larger open area in the area, such as the United States Army base at Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., a site for many autocrosses throughout the summer and fall months. However, since Devens is a popular location it was probably easier to rent out one of the large lots surrounding Gillette. I have taken part in Imagine Lifestyles’ autocross events twice, once in June and on Saturday. In both cases the track was set up in lot number 10, directly across from the main entrance from Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium.

The Cars

This is why you come to events like this, so they better be up to par. Thankfully all of the cars Imagine Lifestyle had at both events were what they should be. While walking to the entrance I even noticed a mobile detailing company cleaning one of the cars before it was set to take to the track. That’s a good thing because track time, from the bits of rubber from tires and other factors can do a number on a vehicle. All of the cars were in excellent working order and performed as expected. In addition to maintaining their vehicles they also had a decent lineup of different models and manufacturers to choose from. The event on Saturday only offered Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but among them was a Ferrari 599 GTB, two F430’s (one coupe and one spyder) and a F430 Scuderia. The Lamborghinis consisted of Gallardos, both hard and soft top. The one disappointing things was the fact that the Scuderia sat parked in the corner of the lot. I was hoping to drive it, and later learned that the vehicle was used later in the day when the weather improved. At the event in June there was a larger selection of manufacturers to choose from including an Audi R8, Mercedes SLS AMG in addition to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

The Driving Instructors

While you navigate the course you have a driving instructor in the passengers seat. Both instructors I drove with were both knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. Some of the staff claimed that the instructors are “professionals.” This title is somewhat misleading. You won’t find Michael Shumacher, Walter Rohrl or Tony Stewart giving you driving tips. They aren’t so much professional drivers as they as very experienced drivers who have been taking part in autocross and other high performance driving events for years. Professional might be a little stretch, but the instructors are all fully qualified for the job and provide useful information for getting around the track fast, safely and efficiently.

The Staff and Event

All of the individuals working at the Boston event were polite and performed well. There were plenty of “please” “thank you”  and “how was your ride.” The lines were relatively short and moved at a decent pace. On the Imagine Lifestyles website it says to allow adequate time (2-3 hours) from the time you arrive until you leave. The amount of time you wait will depend on what time you sign up for and what car you want to drive (Lamborghinis and Ferraris are popular). I have never waited even an hour and a half for the entire process. Sadly, the amount of time you spend driving the car all boils down to a couple minutes at most. The track isn’t very long and if you drive at a good pace the three laps goes by very quickly. You can purchase an additional three laps ($89), but even six laps doesn’t last long. The event takes place rain or shine, so if it pours (Saturday) then you just have to make the best of it.

The Cost

When you purchase the package on a daily deal website such as GroupOn it says $500 value. It’s not worth that, nor would I recommend anyone pay that to take part in an event such as this. Prices vary. The first event in June cost $159, but that isn’t the only thing you have to pay for. Autocross track insurance is required for anyone who is going to drive. Cost ranges from $49, which gives you $50,000 in coverage with a $5,000 deductible, up to $99 that covers you for the entire cost of the vehicle ($250,000) and only has a $1,000 deductible. If this freaks you out don’t despair. There is really no need to buy anything except the basic $49 insurance. The only thing you can hit are rubber cones, a chain link fence and a few light poles (you would have to have thing go very wrong to hit the latter two.)

The Verdict

If you’re looking to get a special birthday, graduation or other unique gift for the car-crazed person in your life then this would be a good thing to get them. The cost, while not cheap is not going to break the bank either. The Boston location at Gillette Stadium is a good location due to its generally located in the state and isn’t overly far from the North Shore, South Shore, Cape Cod or Metro Boston. The cars are fun to drive and you leave with a satisfied feeling that makes you want to drive more. On a scale of one to 10 I’d give the Imagine Lifestyles autocross event a 7.5/10, with the main downsides being it cost some $$ and it doesn’t last long.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

2013 G63 AMG: The G-Class With Some Serious Grunt

20 Apr

2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Seven days after unveiling the six-figure-expensive 2013 G550 Mercedes has officially gone off the deep end with the introduction of the extremely costly, exclusive and powerful G63 AMG, the high-performance variant of the G-class. With its over-the-top performance and luxury, combined with its serious off-road capabilities the G63 AMG is like nothing else on the road. The G-class has always been in a league of its own, ever since it was first released in 1979. However, unlike the new G550 which varies ever-so-slightly from the previous generation the new G63 AMG has received significant exterior design changes making it all the more bad-ass.

Along with the SL65 AMG, which made its world premiere on April 4 at the 2012 New York International Auto Show the G63 features a signature high-gloss black “twin-blade” grille, making it much sharper and more aggressive looking than the standard G550 grille with four horizontal slats. Below the grille are large, masculine-shaped air inlets integrated into the bumper.  With its brutish appearance the front end looks leaps and bounds better than the 2011 G55 AMG, fulfilling the image conjured up when thinking of Mercedes’ box on wheels, and reinforcing the G-class’ reputation as the go-anywhere, do-anything vehicles in the manufacturer’s lineup. Rounding off the exterior changes are 9.5 x 20 five-spoke wheels finished in titanium gray, and a huge brake system consisting of six-piston fixed-calipers in front and single-calipers in the rear.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG with redesigned front grille and bumper: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Under the hood the new engine backs up the exterior styling with a V-8 growl. Unlike the 2011 G55 AMG that was a powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine capable of producing a peak of 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, the engineers at Mercedes-AMG have left supercharging on the shelf this time in favor of turbocharging. The new form of forced injection along with a slightly larger 5.5-liter V-8 has boosted the maximum output to 544 horsepower and 560 lb-ft. Besides the added output figures the new power plant allows the G63 to cover the 0-60 sprint in 5.3 seconds, one-tenth quicker than the G55.

544 horsepower, 5.5-liter BiTurbo V-8 in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Mercedes has claimed an overall efficiency improvement of up to 13 percent. That’s not spectacular, but when you can afford to spend well over six figures for an uber powerful SUV gas prices shouldn’t be a concern. The jump in fuel economy can be attributed to newly introduced spray-controlled gasoline direct injection and the same “Eco” stop/start function found on the majority of AMG’s gas-thirsty models.

The engine isn’t the only part of the drivetrain that has been updated. Gone is an outdated five-speed automatic and in its place is the AMG SPEEDSHIFT seven-speed automatic transmission with three driving modes; Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S) and Manual (M). The unit has been additionally beefed up with a new torque converter with centrifugal pendulum, friction-reducing bearing and transmission oil thermal management, just in case you want to take this baby off-road.

Designo leather interior in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

As with the new G550 the interior offers occupants a new instrument cluster and infotainment system. Unique to the G63 are AMG door sills illuminated in white and shift level with AMG logo. The seats are covered with designo leather upholstery with fluted leather door paneling, and customers have the option of a variety of trims including carbon fiber, champagne white lacquer or light brown satin poplar.

The G63 AMG certainly isn’t a vehicle for everyone. If you don’t like showing off to the Jones’ across the street or refuse to make frequent visits to the gas station then this four-wheeled, all-wheel-drive monster might not be the right cup of tea. However, if the G63 AMG suits your fancy then just be prepared to pay. As with the G550, no official pricing has been announced, but based on the 2011 G55 AMG expect for the G63 AMG to have a base MSRP of at least $125,000 when it goes on sale in August.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Mercedes’ G-Class Gets a Slight Revamp for the 2013 Model Year

12 Apr

2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

One week after Mercedes-Benz unveiled their newly resigned GL-class at the 2012 New York International Auto Show the German manufacturer is back at it, this time with the mother of all luxury SUVs the G-class.

Upon seeing the photos of the new G-class those familiar with Mercedes’ original all-terrain vehicle might be struck with the lack of changes to the exterior styling, and you would be correct in saying nearly nothing has changed to this road-going box on wheels. While most vehicles get significant upgrades and improvements when undergoing serious redesigns it’s obvious the G-class is not one of those vehicles, especially considering the fact that it has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1979. LED running lights and side mirrors give the 2013 G-class a slightly updated appearance, but it’s so minor many with untrained eyes would probably not even notice the difference. The high-performance G63 AMG receives the added bonus of 20-inch wheels complete with painted red brake calipers and an AMG-specific radiator grille, but that’s it in terms of exterior variation.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

While the oh-so-familiar exterior might leave some unimpressed, one only need to glance into the passenger cabin to see the real changes that make the 2013 G-class markedly different from its predecessor, most of which have taken place in the immediate vicinity of the driver.

The instrument cluster and center console have been totally revamped and redesigned when compared to the previous generation G-class. The instrument cluster is made up of two round gauges, behind which lies a TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display screen that acts as a controller for the COMAND infotainment system. At the top-center of the center console is a large screen that offers occupants luxurious amenities like DVD changer, navigation system with special off-road functions, voice-operated controls and wireless Bluetooth connection. Rounding out the technological features are DISTRONIC PLUS, blind spot assist and PARKTRONIC with a reversing camera.

New instrument cluster in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Although the aforementioned instrument cluster and center console have varied from the 2012 model, two distinct design features have remained intact. These include the characteristic G-class grab handle located on the passenger side directly above the glove compartment and the three buttons operating the three corresponding locking differentials that the driver can engage when navigating through difficult terrain.

Newly redesigned interior in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Along with the interior, under the hood is yet another place where you can find differentiation. The standard G550 has retained a 5.5-liter V-8 engine, now producing an additional six horsepower for a peak output of 388. Peak torque has remained unchanged at 391 lb-ft. Power is transferred to the road via a seven-speed automatic, different from the previous five-speed automatic.

Despite the small improvements in the standard V-8, the high-performance G63 AMG has a completely new power plant propelling it down the road. Out is a 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 and in its place is a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged unit. The new engine produces a maximum of 544 HP and 560 lb-ft of torque along with an “Eco” stop/start function that seems to be making its way into nearly every new Mercedes that makes its way onto the market. The tiny increase in displacement and the addition of turbos results in a 44 HP and 34 lb-ft improvement over the old engine. Badging has also changed from G55 AMG to G63 AMG for new high-performing G-class.

The three buttons for the three locking differentials in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

The G-class is definitely a vehicle that is capable of tackling on-road or off-road duties. Unlike the GLK, M and GL classes, the G-class is the Mercedes you want to be in when going off-road. When you combine technology such as the three locking differentials and the torque-crazy V-8 engines in both the G550 and G63 AMG you get a focused and purpose-orientated vehicle that is really capable of fulfilling its hefty claims and backing up its history of being Mercedes’ primer SUV.

With all of this luxury and capability on-board don’t expect for either of these luxury SUVs to come cheap. No official figures for the 2013 G-class have been released, but judging by the 2012 model customers can expect to spend in excess of $107,975 for the G550 and $124,450 for the G63 AMG when they going on sale this August.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class. Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

2013 SL63 AMG Unleashed Before Geneva Auto Show

22 Feb

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: Photo Courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America

Remember the days when it used to take a manufacturer months, if not years to develop a high-performance variant of a model? Well, in anticipation of the 2012 Geneva Auto Show the new SL63 AMG has been unveiled just five weeks after the SL550 made its initial debut.

The new SL63 AMG is lighter, more powerful and is up to 30 percent more efficient than its predecessor. Much like the Porsche 911 (991), Mercedes’ most iconic drop-top has turned to an aluminum bodyshell, reducing overall weight by 275 pounds, counteracting the added technological and safety features that contribute to a greater load. Now, the SL63 AMG is not a light car by any means. With a curb weight of 4,059 pounds it weighs just 500 pounds less than a full-size Chevrolet Silverado 1500.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: Photo Courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America

Less mass to accelerate is always a good thing when it comes to a vehicle’s performance, but its even better when less is combined with more, namely in the form of horsepower and torque. For the first time the SL63 AMG will be available with two different power outputs. A standard SL63 AMG comes equipped with the same 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 found in the CLS63, E63 and CL63 AMGs. In its tamest form the hand-built, power plant cranks out 530 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 590 lb-ft of torque from 2000-4500 rpm.

For most, this would be more than enough. But if you want to experience the engine’s full potential you can opt for the optional AMG Performance Package. This boosts the output from 530 hp and 590 lb-ft to 557 hp and 664 lb-ft. The added horsepower and torque aids in 0-60 times too, allowing the SL63 AMG to accelerate to the mark in 4.1 seconds, one tenth quicker than without the package. Other changes include AMG performance steering wheel, limited slip differential and red-painted brake calipers.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: Photo Courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America

Putting the power to the rear wheels is the familiar seven-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT sport transmission found in the majority of AMG models. The four driving modes; Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S) , Sport plus (S+) and Manual (M) work in conjunction with a revised and upgraded AMG sport suspension and a new electro-mechanical steering system. Additional options include a locking rear differential, AMG performance suspension and ceramic high performance compound brakes and an increased top speed from 155 to 186 mph.

Exterior design has maintained largely the same as the previous generation. The front has a lower and streamlined appearance. The grill is still emblazoned with the oversized three-point silver star, but fog lights integrated into the lower grill have been replaced with sleek LEDs below the headlights. The rear of the 2013 SL63 AMG has changed more than the front, with taillights that are almost entirely red in color. The rear diffuser has been significantly reduced in size, and the AMG sport exhaust tips have changed from round to a trapezoidal shape.

The SL63 AMG will go on sale later this year. If you’re looking for a premium luxury roadster with plenty of creature comforts, and performance that will keep pace with all but the fastest Porsches, this might be the vehicle for you. However, you better have deep pockets. Although no pricing has been announced you can expect a base MSRP in-excess on $140,000.

Interior of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG: Photo Courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

POLL: Naturally Aspirated or Forced Injection?

15 Aug

By Matt McCarron

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series Unveiled

23 Jul

By Matt McCarron

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series: Courtesy MB North America.

Just days after Mercedes AMG revealed their all-new powerful and fuel efficient, naturally aspirated V8 engine the M152, they have unveiled an all-new vehicle.

The 2012 C63 AMG coupe Black Series is the most powerful C-Class ever produced and has the performance to back up its aggressive styling and looks. As with the other three Black Series models that have been released since 2006, the 2012 C63 Black Series is a no-holds-barred version of AMG’s regular C63 coupe.

Unlike the fuel efficient 5.5-liter in the 2012 SLK55 the engine in the C63 Black Series is designed with one thing in mind, high performance. The 6.2-liter, naturally aspirated V8 cranks out a whopping 510 hp at 6,800 rpm and 457 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm, accelerating the two-door from 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. This power and torque is handled by the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports gearbox, with four driving modes including the fastest “Sport Plus” and “Manual” modes for lightning quick shifts.

6.2-liter V8 engine producing 510 hp: Courtesy MB North America.

Numerous styling and engineering cues were taking directly from the racetrack in an attempt to save weight and make the C63 AMG coupe Black Series as aerodynamic as possible.

The AMG Aerodynamics Package includes exterior winglets and a fixed spoiler at the rear. Both pieces are made from carbon-fiber and help to increase the downforce at the front and rear axle. Accompanying the weight-saving carbon-fiber elements are lightweight alloy wheels. The 19-inch titanium gray wheels use a special forging process that results in a weight reduction of 24.2 pounds when compared to conventional wheels. To make the special forged wheels perform to their maximum one might opt for the AMG Track Package. This package is made up of Dunlop sport tires measuring 255/35 R 19 in the front and 285/30 R 19 in the rear, and aid to increase the overall grip of the vehicle during spirited driving on road or at track days.

Despite not being easily visible, the undercarriage of the C63 AMG Black Series is just as focused as the exterior. This particular Black Series features a specially designed AMG sports coil-over suspension, along with a locking rear-axle differential as standard. The coil-over suspension allows the driver to choose a number of different settings and options to suit the individual’s specific needs and demands. The differential lock also enables the operator to choose from various setups depending on their driving conditions.

Rear View of 2012 MB C63 AMG Coupe Black Series: Courtesy MB North America.

Finishing off the C63 AMG Black Series is the motorsport-inspired interior. The two front AMG sport seats keep the occupants secure and planted during even the most demanding driving conditions. Interior sections such as the red seat belts and dashboard finished in high-gloss black piano lacquer give sharp contrast to the steering wheel, seats, door trim, door armrests, center console and shift lever, all of which feature red stitching.

The 2012 C63 AMG coupe Black Series made its world premiere today at the famous Nurburgring and is scheduled to make its debut in the U.S. beginning in early 2012.

Interior 2012 Merc C63 AMG Coupe Black Series: Courtesy MB North America.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

The V8 is definitely not dead: The power of eight with the efficiency of four

22 Jul

By Matt McCarron

The eight-cylinder engine. Its characteristics has become synonymous with high horsepower, frame-twisting amounts of torque and speed. However, with fuel economy and overall efficiency becoming more important with each passing day, how much longer does the venerable V8 have in a world full of fuel-sipping four-cylinders?

Thankfully all the power-hungry, speed-loving enthusiasts need not be afraid. Yesterday Mercedes AMG announced the creation of an all-new naturally aspirated V8 engine, designated internally as the M152. The new V8 will make its world debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September, and will power the new 2012 SLK55 AMG, the only vehicle in its segment to feature a eight-cylinder engine.

All-new 5.5-liter Mercedes AMG engine

The M152 is the equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with two completely different personalities. The new AMG-derived V8 delivers impressive horsepower and torque figures expected from a hand-built AMG engine, but with a twist. And no, the twist does not refer to the amount of torque inflicted on the frame, rather that the M152 delivers the efficiency of a four-cylinder engine.

One might ask how this combination of power and efficiency is possible. The answer is both simple and highly complex, with technology, and lots of it.

Engineers at Mercedes’ high performance headquarters have incorporated their AMG Cylinder Management cylinder shut-off system into this new V8. The result of this technology is an engine that is capable of producing 415 hp at 6,800 rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. Not only does this engine produce an additional 60 hp and 22 lb-ft when compare to its predecessor, but it is 30 percent more fuel efficient.

When designing the M152 AMG engineers took ideas and inspiration from the twin turbo 5.5-liter M157 that powers the likes of the CL63 and S63 AMG. The displacement of both engines is identical, along with the ECO stop/start system. However the M152 differs from its forced induction cousin with a different air intake, cylinder heads, modified valve drive, an adapted oil supply system and an optimized crankcase.

The AMG Cylinder Management cylinder shut-off system is a perfect example of just how much technology is going into today’s high-end automobiles in a never-ending attempt to make them more fuel efficient without sacrificing overall performance. To understand how this improved fuel economy is achieve you need to understand how a system like AMG’s cylinder shut-off system works.

When driving in the Controlled Efficiency “C” transmission mode, cylinders two, three, five and eight in the M152 are cut off during partial load. This is available when the engine is operation between 800 and 3,600 rpm. During this range the engine still produces a minimum of 170 lb-ft of torque when running on only four cylinders. If and when the driver feels they need more power and reaches the 3,600 rpm plateau the engine engages the additional four cylinder in less than 30 milliseconds.

The technology placed in the M152 is remarkable, especially when you consider that many of the advanced systems making their way into passenger vehicles were, up until a few years ago, strictly reserved for million dollar race cars. As the auto industry makes its way further into the 21st century it will continue to have to innovate and improve to start ahead of new restrictions and regulations. However, if the M152 proves anything it is that world class performance and fuel efficiency to match can coexist.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com