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The News for March 23rd, 2012

Greg Kachadurian March 23, 2012 The News! 22 Comments


Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of all the automotive news you should care about without the fluff or the BS. Just all the facts and a few opinions of mine just because I can. This week:

  • Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG comes out to play with V12 power

  • Mercedes-Benz GLK gets a facelift

  • Scion FR-S pricing and EPA estimates

  • Datsun is back!

  • Mini celebrates 10 years in America


Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG

MB’s legendary SL lineup got a makeover just a matter of months ago and both Mercedes and their in-house insanity division, AMG, have been very busy picking up where the last-generation SL left off. First, the SL550 was shown with a new and improved V8 offering 429 horsepower which was then followed by the SL63 AMG with up to 564 horsepower on tap from a tuned-up V8. Now it’s the SL65’s turn to come out and play, and it’s brought along a new version of its trusty twin-turbocharged V12. 

The 2013 SL65 AMG uses the latest biturbo V12 from the parts bin that produces 621 horsepower and a maximum torque figure of 738 lb.-ft. Combine that with a new (for the SL65) 7-speed automatic transmission designed to not nuke itself with all that torque and an aluminum body that reduces weight by 254 pounds compared to the last generation, and you’ve got a grand tourer that can go from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 186 mph (probably electronically limited). Even though this monster uses a massive V12, it still comes equipped with an “Eco” mode and an automatic stop/start function to save fuel at stop lights to provide a “considerable” improvement in fuel economy. The fact that the old clunky 5-speed is gone in favor of a wide-ratio 7-speed gearbox also helps with fuel efficiency, I’m sure. AMG Sport suspension with multiple levels of comfort helps keep everything under control and the AMG rear-axle locking differential promises to do the exact opposite and promote huge, tire-shredding power slides instead.

People who actually buy a Mercedes-Benz to be comfortable will be pleased to know that most, if not all, of the standard SL’s creature comforts remain in the SL65, including lots of leather, an “AIRSCARF” heater thing at neck-level, an infotainment system paired with a Bang and Olufsen sound system, park assist, and something truly wonderful called “Magic Sky Control”… nothing more needs to be said.

– Except for the fact that it will be arriving in US dealerships this November. Seeing as how the standard SL550 starts at over $106,000, not too many of us will be able to afford one.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz GLK Facelift

Speaking of Mercedes-Benz, one of Rodeo Drive’s favorite little SUV/Crossover things just got a mid-life refresh. While just about everything stays the same, the few changes are big enough to notice.

New dynamic exterior lines aim to give the GLK a more athletic and less pointy look without having to completely change the “entry level vehicle’s” shape. The revised front fascia features newly designed headlamps and LED running lights that definitely weren’t stolen from Audi for a new look that isn’t quite as edgy as the last one. Inside, you still get tons of leather and luxurious goodies like Bluetooth, satellite radio, and an optional Harman Kardon surround sound system. New for the 2013 model year, however, the gear selector, which has been moved onto the steering column to save space for the multiple iced lattes in the center console.

Probably the only updates we care about come under the hood in the form of a new diesel engine. The new GLK can boast about having the most powerful 4-cylinder diesel engine in its class with 190 horsepower (you can boast with 190 hp?) and 369 lb.-ft. of torque (…oh) from a 2.1-liter inline-four. The same 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque is still available. Both engines are paired with a 7-speed automatic as standard and can send power to either the rear wheels or all four. The 2013 GLK350 (with the V6) will hit showrooms this summer while the GLK250 BlueTEC (with the diesel) will come early 2013.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

Scion FR-S Pricing + MPG Figures 

By now most of us are familiar with the Toyota GT-86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ, which are the results of a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota to built a simple driver’s car on a budget. The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, and lightweight sports coupe simply oozes with fun and driving pleasure – or at least that’s what we’re led to believe – and now at least one of them has a price tag and official EPA fuel economy figures.

The Scion FR-S, which is the same as the Toyota GT-86 sold everywhere else in the world, will officially start at a modest $24,200* when equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Buyers that want to “upgrade” to the 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rev-match will have to dish out another $1,100 when it goes on sale this spring in America. At this moment, the Subaru BRZ has not been priced, but you can expect it to be about the same since it pretty much is the same damn thing. *Prices do not include destination charges*. 

Also, the guys at Autoblog came across official EPA fuel economy estimates for both the FR-S and the BRZ, and they are as follows: 22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway with the manual transmission; “close to” 25 mpg / 34 mpg highway with the automatic transmission. I’d say that’s respectable for a 2.0-liter Boxer four-banger with 200 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque.

Sources: Scion / EPA via Autoblog  


– mostly. While the historic name is back, it won’t necessarily be back everywhere, at least not here. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced Datsun’s return would be used to provide a “sustainable motoring experience” to high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, and Russia. Nissan’s third brand will commence sales in those three markets by 2014 and will most-likely feature econoboxes sustainable, cost-effective vehicles that we’ll never see stateside. You know, the same kind of thing they could have sold with a Nissan badge just as easily. Also, they got a nifty new Datsun badge, which can be seen above.  Be sure to let us know how excited/disappointed you are about Datsun’s triumphant return in the comments.

Source: Nissan Motor Co.

Mini Celebrates 10 Years in America

On March 22nd, Mini marked their 10th successful year in the North American market. So there you go. The brand’s first dealership opened its doors in San Francisco way back in 2002 when the national average for a gallon of gas was cheap enough to allow Hummer H2s and Ford Excursions to rule the road. Of course, back then there was only one model on sale, whereas today they have six with plenty more on the way. Now, 112 dealerships sell those six models as opposed to 66 back in 2002 and one in every 5 vehicles BMW Group sells in the US is a Mini. Not bad given the fact that many analysts didn’t expect Mini to live this long when BMW first resurrected the name.

Right now it isn’t clear how many special edition Minis will be conceived as a result of this, but it’s safe to say we’ll see something special very soon. They do love their special editions these days. So congratulations, Mini!   

Source: Mini

  • Number_Six

    Okay. No! Yes! Okay. No!

  • Deartháir

    With incentives, a Mustang starts at $21,300 up here. I'm having a hard time getting excited about the Scion.

  • 1000nm!!!

  • What does Mercedes call that blue? It is fantastic. Just like very other deep blue manufactures have these days.

    I remember reading long ago that the FR-S was going to be like a base package, and the BRZ would have navigation-type bells and whistles. The BRZ will probably be right under $28k, I think, but only Subaru knows.

    • GregKachadurian

      I too think that blue is fantastic, but they didn't say what the color is called.

      And in Japan and parts of Europe, Toyota (and probably Subaru too) will sell very basic GT86s and BRZs. I'm talking steel wheels and no A/C kind of basic and it will be just for guys that want to turn them into racecars or drifting machines, yet they'll still have the nicely-equipped models for normal people. Right now I do not know if either brand's car will be nicer than the other and I don't think we'll be seeing bare bones Scions and Subies here.

      • Oh. Man. I would totally take a stripper BRZ in primer. That would be fantastic.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      It might be Lunar Blue Metallic. I had to configure a CL550, none of MB's configurators I checked had the R231 yet.

  • Number_Six

    It was interesting having a V-6 Mustang last week: it felt like a big luxury car compared to the RX-8. I was really impressed with the car overall (and it sounds amazing in a tunnel) but it's such a different animal from my car, and presumably the FR-Z, that it would take some heavy thinking for me to choose one over the other.

  • TurboBrick

    I want to be happy that Datsun is back, but I know at the same time that instead of reproduction 510's they will be building Micras and other Tata Nano looking things.

    • Devin

      Would a Dacia by any other name smell as cheap?

    • e46christopher

      Imagine a FR-S type philosophy with a 510 inspired body. Especially the wagon version. A guy can dream, right?

      • TurboBrick

        Does it also have a diesel, stick shift and brown paint? Vent windows? At what point do we go from dreaming to having a psychotic episode?

      • Or you could, you know, go buy a 510 wagon.

  • pj134
  • Fester812

    Isn't that what Datsun has always been?

    The name Nissan uses to disassociate it's products from it's global Nissan Brand until they get established in new markets.

    • Devin

      Nope. The naming conventions for the Nissan company are overly complicated, but basically the Datsun brand was the one the company thought would be strongest when exports started, was already the brand used on the core product worldwide, including Japan, and it didn't have negative connotations from WWII. Eventually new leadership wanted to shift to using the Nissan brand worldwide, leading to the change.

  • RegalRegalia

    Also, we all agree that the facelift for the SL is about 20x uglier than it was before they started messing with it. Right?

    • GregKachadurian

      Agreed. The rest of the car looks pretty good to me though.