Welcome to the first edition of the Hooniverse News in 201
23! Just like in 2011 and 2012, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in some opinion of mine, just because I can. This week:
2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet revealed
Bentley makes the GT Speed Convertible official
Mazda prices the 2014 6 at under $21,000
How Chevy Volt tool costs may be hurting dealers
Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelifted
Debuting ahead of the Detroit Auto Show (like many, many others) is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet. For the new model year, these 2-door E-Classes get mostly the same treatment as the four-door did a few weeks ago, which includes revised looks and some new equipment.
Like the E-Class sedan, the classic quad headlamps are ditched in favor of just two, but the styling of the two lamps are a bit different compared to the four-door’s. The rest of the front end is much more edgy than before and the back half of it is more or less the same as what we saw on the sedan but with a bit more fender flare. The interior is also reworked slightly on both models with improved ergonomics, and on the Cabriolet, Benz promises their soft top will keep the wind noise down when it’s up. Another thing buyers will notice inside is the updated standard equipment, which now includes attention assist and collision-prevention assist. New optional features like a stereo multipurpose camera, active park assist, and junction assist which detects crossing pedestrians and can increase the braking input are now available as well on both models.
Powertrain options are limited compared to the E-Class sedan and wagon, as only a base V6 producing 302 horsepower and a twin-turbo V8 producing 402 are available in America. Europe will likely get to choose between a variety of diesels as well. All engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox.
Pricing isn’t available yet, but Autoweek and their vast resources suggest pricing won’t differ much from what it is currently.
Source: Mercedes-Benz via Autoweek
Bentley makes the Continental GT Speed Convertible official
Last week, we brought you some leaked photos of Bentley’s 200+ mph Continental GT Speed Convertible with assumed information based off the GT Speed Coupe, but this week, we have all the official info we could ask for except the price tag – and yes, it’s still purple. Bentley’s open-top performance flagship will return later this year with new luxury features, styling changes to reflect the current Continental GT it’s based off of, and improved performance following its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show.
That improved performance comes from a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 producing 616 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque that peaks at just 2,000 RPM. Power is sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission that features wheel-mounted paddles and that power is controlled through a computer-controlled self-leveling air suspension with Continuous Damping Control and optional cross-drilled Carbon Silicon Carbide brakes that measure 16.5″ up front and 14″ in the rear. 0-60 mph comes in at just 4.1 seconds and 0-100 mph takes a little under 10 seconds while the top speed is 202 mph, making it the fastest four-seat convertible on the planet, again. Official EPA estimates claim 13 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with a combined mileage of 15, which may not be something to brag about, but that is still a considerable improvement over the last generation of Speed models.
Helping the car to look like it does 202 mph are several sporty touches to the exterior, like dark chrome trim on the grille, 21″ Speed alloy wheels, “rifled” exhaust tips, and ‘bold’ front winglets crafted in superformed aluminum. The hand-crafted interior is pure Bentley, as expected. Every GT Speed Convertible comes standard with the “Mulliner Driving Specification”, which includes diamond-quilted hide upholstery and some other things I’m sure. Dark tint aluminum ‘engine spin’ trim inspired by Le Mans-winning Bentleys of the 1920’s is offered only on Speed models, but buyers still have a variety of wood, satin, and carbon fiber trim to choose from. Nestled in that trim is Bentley’s latest infotainment system (for better or worse) that features satellite imagery, live traffic, and 15 GB of music storage.
2014 Mazda6 priced and rated by EPA
Mazda is kicking off their 2013 by launching sales of their redesigned 2014 Mazda6 at a new MSRP of $20,880. The very minor price increase gets you a much more complete and refined package, with standard equipment such as 17″ wheels, wheel-mounted audio controls, USB connectivity, and a SkyActiv 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 184 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque paired with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Part of Mazda’s goal in utilizing SkyActiv technology in every new Mazda6 is to increase fuel efficiency, so the EPA estimates for the base model are 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. Equip a 6-speed automatic and those numbers will jump up to 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Adding an automatic transmission also allows buyers to opt for a backup camera through a 5.8″ touch screen, Bluetooth, and other voice-command features.
Each of the three available trim levels will all use the same powertrain at launch. The range of features available in each trim level includes Blind-Spot Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support, Sirius satellite radio, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, bi-xenon HID headlamps, and i-ELOOP, a capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system. During the second half of the year, Mazda will also offer a 2.2-liter diesel engine on the 6, but we don’t have any official information regarding outputs or pricing for it.
Chevy Volt tool cost hurting dealers?
Our friends at Autoweek have published an interesting report detailing how one Chevy dealer (among others) is no longer selling Volts due to the cost of tools in relation to sales volume.
The one dealership they highlighted has sold exactly five Volts since its launch 2 years ago and decided that the $5,100 price for a tool necessary to service the plug-in hybrid just didn’t make sense to them business-wise. Other dealers facing this situation believe Chevrolet is trying to thin out smaller dealers so that only higher volume dealerships can continue selling Volts, but for now those are only allegations. It is important to note though that 2,614 dealerships were authorized to sell Volts last year but just 300 high-volume dealerships managed to sell 70% of all Volts that year. The other some 2,300 dealers could be the ones facing this dilemma.
A GM spokeswoman told Autoweek that forcing dealers to buy tools to service cars is “pretty standard” and mentioned that last year authorized Volt dealers had to spend $1,800 to $2,800 on Volt-specific tools. This new tool in question that dealers must buy is a battery depowering tool that drains the 435-lb Volt battery so that dealers can ship the battery pack back to GM for repairs, and that one component is nearly $5,000, not including the other parts to it.
Another dealer Autoweek talks about has also experienced low sales volume but has still opted to buy the tools in preparation for the Cadillac ELR which is based off the Volt and is arriving this Summer.