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    Quick Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG


    • ITS HOW MUCH!?

    My eyes almost dropped out of my head as I reading through the window sticker on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. $63,815 as equipped?! ARE THEY SERIOUS?! I get the CLA45 AMG features one of the most one of the most powerful four-cylinders on sale and that AMG worked its magic all over the place. But almost $64,000?! This had better impress I thought as I got into the vehicle.

    Well the CLA45's exterior does. The shape is very much a downsized CLS-Class and that is very much a good thing. The long-flowing front end, high belt line, sculpting on the doors, and short rear make the CLA a standout in the entry-level luxury class. This gets amped up with AMG bits such as new side skirts, front bumper, mesh grille, and rear diffuser. The only part I didn't like was the optional nineteen-inch, sixteen-spoke wheels. I just felt it made the design look like its trying too hard. Stick with the standard wheels.

    The interior is another story. While Mercedes-Benz and AMG have tried their best to make CLA45 AMG feel very luxurious and premium, there are parts where some cheapness make an appearance. For example, certain trim pieces look and felt cheap. Then there is the optional COMMAND infotainment screen which looks like Mercedes-Benz stuck one of those TomTom portable navigation units on top of the dash.

    As I said at the beginning, the CLA45 AMG has one the most powerful four-cylinders available today. That four-cylinder happens to be a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. But when you get into it for the first time and hit the accelerator, there is this dead zone of power before the turbo spools up. Most likely this is an effort to improve fuel economy. Once the turbo does spool up, power comes in rapidly. This is accompanied by snorty engine note.

    But the achilles heel of the CLA45 AMG is the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The transmission hesitates when you're leaving a stop and seems to be confused of when it needs to up or downshift. I found that putting the transmission in the manual mode and using the paddles made it more enjoyable. I think if Mercedes-Benz had a bit more time to work on this dual-clutch transmission, it would be so much better.

    On the handling front, the CLA45 AMG features revised suspension setup from AMG and a all-wheel drive system. Paired together, they make CLA45 AMG a joy to play around in. Body motions are kept in check, and the all-wheel drive system works its magic to keep power flowing and the vehicle on course. Steering has a nice heft to it and the feedback is plentiful. The only item I wish Mercedes would add is some sort of adjustable dampers. While I felt the firm ride was perfect on the curvy bits, it would be too much if I had to drive this daily.

    The CLA45 AMG has some things I do like, such as the powertrain and looks. But other parts like the transmission and certain choices on the interior make me wonder why. Throw in that as-tested price, and the CLA45 AMG just seems too crazy for its own good.

    Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz Provided the CLA45 AMG for the MAMA Spring Rally

    Year: 2014

    Make: Mercedes-Benz

    Model: CLA

    Trim: CLA45 AMG

    Engine: 2.0L Inline-Four Turbocharged Engine

    Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Gearbox, All-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,500

    Torque @ RPM: 332 @ 1,250 to 4,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A

    Curb Weight: 3,494 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: N/A

    Base Price: $47,450

    As Tested Price: $63,815 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Black “Red Cut” Leather w/ AMG Performance Seats - $3,750

    Driver Assistance Package - $2,500

    Multimedia Package - $2,370

    Premium Package - $2,300

    Panorama Sunroof - $1,480

    PARKTRONIC with Advanced Parking Assist - $970

    19” 16-Spoke Alloy Wheel ~ Black - $850

    Mountain Gray Paint Color - $720

    AMG Performance Steering Wheel - $500

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    MB like BMW seems to have gone over the top in building over priced cheap auto's that only Badge snobs would pay for. They have Whored out their product line and need to clean house.

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    The only MB I have driven was a late '90s E430, and it too had distinct lags when hitting the gas AND in the brakes engaging. I see mercedes is still battling with the same engineering problems.

    $64K and the infotainment is optional?? HUGELY overpriced, esp when you consider the base car starts at $29K. MB hasn't come close to adding $35K worth of value to this. They're going to have to slap S-class incentives on this to move it beyond the initial impulse buyers.

    Edited by balthazar
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    I think $64k is insane for this car, if you took out the performance seats for $3,800 (which seems like a Porsche type option and price) and if they either made the premium package or multimedia package standard, then it gets down to $57k loaded, which I could see as reasonable.  I mean there are Nissan Maximas and Chevy Impalas priced over $40k, and a Chevy Tahoe can cost $70k loaded, so cars all over the place are over priced. 

     

    My car has a bit of a dead zone in the pedal also, I think Mercedes just does that with a lot of cars, but it is good that they do or else my neck would be snapping back every time I hit the gas.  The other thing is Mercedes when in comfort setting on the transmission start in 2nd gear so they feel even more slow off the line, but I think it is done for comfort and the buyers over age 60.  On the CLA45 AMG they should include AirMatic, that would help with the suspension problem, that is an easy fix they have in house, so we'll see if they bother to do it.

     

    Personally I'd much rather have the coming C400 with the 339 hp turbo V6, and you can get Airmatic on that and an AMG appearance package and it would probably be closer to $50k.

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    I would take a good American auto with a V8 over any of the German turbo 4 bangers or 6 any day. I can expect a low cost maintenance and long life compared to the over priced imagined value of BMW or MB.

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    There aren't many American V8s left anymore.  Lincoln doesn't have any, Cadillac only has the CTS-V which is much bigger and wouldn't surprise me if the new one pushes $90,000.  So you have the 300C/Charger and Chevy SS which are all big cars and not really luxury cars either.  Hard to compare a Mustang or Camaro to a CLA45 AMG, since it is coupe vs sedan, non-luxury vs luxury, etc.

     

    I have a German V8 though and it is fabulous.  I wouldn't want a turbo 4 from any country.

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    dfelt didn't say "brand new".

     

    CLA isn't a luxury car, it's a FWD appliance with abundant cheapness, according to too many reviews. It's rock bottom pricing also precludes it from being classified as 'luxury' (insanity that the AMG version's tag is, aside).

     

    300C is much more appealing overall, IMO, primarily because it's not mistaken for a hyundai. 

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    dfelt didn't say "brand new".

     

    CLA isn't a luxury car, it's a FWD appliance with abundant cheapness, according to too many reviews. It's rock bottom pricing also precludes it from being classified as 'luxury' (insanity that the AMG version's tag is, aside).

     

    300C is much more appealing overall, IMO, primarily because it's not mistaken for a hyundai. 

    Your are right Balthazar, I did not say "Brand New", Still having my 2004 SRX with V6 and having spruced it up, it is going to my parents who need a solid roomy car for getting around in their old age.

     

    I have actually been look around for an AWD V8 SRX from the first generation as I love their boxy style, room inside and ease of working on them. Very Solid Reliable Luxury auto! :D

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    Hard to compare a 300C to a CLA, they are way different in size. That is like comparing an Impress WRX STi to a Chevy SS or Dodge Charger I doubt those are getting shopped too much.

    If we are talking used cars at $60k one could get a 3 year old M5 or E63.

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    Hard to compare a 300C to a CLA, they are way different in size. That is like comparing an Impress WRX STi to a Chevy SS or Dodge Charger I doubt those are getting shopped too much.

    If we are talking used cars at $60k one could get a 3 year old M5 or E63.

    Would rather own a CTS V as the cost of maintenance, repairs, etc would still be considerably less than either the over priced and over rated M5 or E63. The M3 is superior in many ways to the M5.

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    Most consumers BY FAR shop with budget as the prime criteria, not overall length.

    If we were in an era where cars ranged from 170" to 230", I could see it, but the 16" difference in these two (CLA & 300) is a non-issue.

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    So an Impress WRX and a Chevy Impala would be competitors? Or the ATS and Lacrosse are competitors? Obviously price is a big criteria, but size and driving characteristics of the car are nearly as important.

    The CLA AMG doesn't have a lot of direct competitors, but I do agree at $63k there are many better options new or used. If the CLA45 for $47k base included airmatic and the premium package standard it think it would he a good deal and if the loaded price was more like $55k I could see that. Personally I am not a CLA fan, I don't like the car much, but if an STi or Evo is $40 grand then I can sort of understand the CLA's price.

    Not sure also why everyone assumes Mercedes have such high repair costs when they are constantly near the top in 3rd party reliability studies. And look at resale value, a 200k mile Cadillac or Chrysler or Lincoln is worthless, I have seen 10 year old, 200k mile Mercedes selling for $12,000 or more.

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    The main problem is asking $64K for a FWD-based econocar that starts at $29K! Even at $55K, that's still trying to convince buyers it actually has $25K of additions over the base car- not remotely worth it. It should be $40-45K, right in the STI/Evo range since it's on the same level.

    ATS & LaCrosse could be compared, of course, if the prices are comparable (I have not checked). The OEMs don't look at it that way, but you have to face the reality of how these cars are used- the exact same way; slogging thru traffic to the office & the mall.

    The theory that people just absolutely cannot look at two cars that are 16" or so apart in OL would be enormous trouble for those marketers that continually spin the concept that buyers "trade up" thru a brand's lineup. If that were true, perhaps the best plan of attack IS to make a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7-series all within 5 inches of each other.... because going by your position, no one who owned an e-class would EVER consider an s-class. ;) 

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    The main problem is asking $64K for a FWD-based econocar that starts at $29K! Even at $55K, that's still trying to convince buyers it actually has $25K of additions over the base car- not remotely worth it. It should be $40-45K, right in the STI/Evo range since it's on the same level.

    So what about the Cadillac ELR?  That is a $76k FWD econo car.  The CLA is definitely a cut above the STi and Evo, those cars have no luxury features really and basic interiors.  The CLA starts more than $10k above an Impreza, I can easily see a CLA AMG costing $50k, but at $60k I think Mercedes themselves have better options.

     

    The CLA45 does get 23/31 mpg, that is pretty good for a 355 hp car, so I do have to give it credit there.  I have also seen car magazines with the 0-60 time clocked at 4.2 to 4.5 seconds, that is pretty fast.  There aren't many 4 doors pulling 0-60 in the low 4's, so when you think of it that way, it isn't such a rip off.  Still not a car I'd buy though, but there will be a market for it.

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    ELR is a stunner in & out, but I sure would have liked to see a Tesla-esque performance out of it to justify the price better. It's world's nicer in & out than the CLA, tho, from what I've seen & read. But the tag is too high there, too.

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    So an Impress WRX and a Chevy Impala would be competitors? Or the ATS and Lacrosse are competitors? Obviously price is a big criteria, but size and driving characteristics of the car are nearly as important.

    The CLA AMG doesn't have a lot of direct competitors, but I do agree at $63k there are many better options new or used. If the CLA45 for $47k base included airmatic and the premium package standard it think it would he a good deal and if the loaded price was more like $55k I could see that. Personally I am not a CLA fan, I don't like the car much, but if an STi or Evo is $40 grand then I can sort of understand the CLA's price.

    Not sure also why everyone assumes Mercedes have such high repair costs when they are constantly near the top in 3rd party reliability studies. And look at resale value, a 200k mile Cadillac or Chrysler or Lincoln is worthless, I have seen 10 year old, 200k mile Mercedes selling for $12,000 or more.

    You must live in a special market as Mercedes and BMW over 100K sell side by side with Chevy, Ford, Buicks. I have not seen them hold higher resell values like what you state.

     

    In regards to repairs, the average tune up on BMW and MB runs 1500 compared to 500 for a cadillac and others. The one thing I hear all the time from coworkers is how much they complain about the cost of maintenance and repairs. When you compare them to Cadillac or even Infiniti and Lexus, BMW and MB are at the top in regards to repairs and maintenance. I have to assume this is one reason they tend to cover all maintenance now for the first 50K miles but then so does cadillac and others.

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    ELR is a stunner in & out, but I sure would have liked to see a Tesla-esque performance out of it to justify the price better. It's world's nicer in & out than the CLA, tho, from what I've seen & read. But the tag is too high there, too.

    I have test drove the ELR along with the VOLT and they are Night and Day different beast and I agree with you the inside is so nice you cannot compare the two. The ELR beats the CLA's hands down as a superior car and superior interior.

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    Does the ELR go 0-60 in 4.2 seconds?  Superior depends on what you are looking for, if you want performance, the ELR is no good.  If you want a luxury car, then you aren't buying a CLA AMG when you can get an E-class for that money.

     

    I will say the Mercedes dealer charges a lot, but I think a lot of dealers do and the Mercedes dealer always gives you a free loaner car which is nice.  But my car has a 13,000 mile oil change interval, there is spark plug replacement every 100,000 miles and engine coolant every 150,000 miles, and air and fuel filters are the same as any other car, transmission fluid is every 40,000 miles.  Pretty standard stuff and you don't need to go to a dealer for that.

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    Does anyone do 0-60 in 4.3 seconds in regular driving? When that becomes relevant to sales I guess that will be the ELR's issue... but in the meantime I think its poor sales performance has more to do with the fact that it is a $79000 coupe.

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    The CLA45 is a Cruze/Focus competitor?  It is faster than a CTS V-sport.  Last I checked the Cruze couldn't do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and the CLA interior is a lot nicer than a Focus.  The CLA45 is probably the only car on the market that has over 350 hp, does 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds and gets over 30 mpg.  Off the top of my head I can't think of any other car that can claim that, especially not a sedan.  I think $64k is too much for one, but I think $70,000 for a Tahoe is too much, and $42,000 for a Nissan Maxima is too much; there are a lot of over priced cars out there.

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    The CLA45 is a Cruze/Focus competitor?  It is faster than a CTS V-sport.  Last I checked the Cruze couldn't do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and the CLA interior is a lot nicer than a Focus.  The CLA45 is probably the only car on the market that has over 350 hp, does 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds and gets over 30 mpg.  Off the top of my head I can't think of any other car that can claim that, especially not a sedan.  I think $64k is too much for one, but I think $70,000 for a Tahoe is too much, and $42,000 for a Nissan Maxima is too much; there are a lot of over priced cars out there.

     

    WHO THE F CARES!?!

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      Press Release is on Page 2
      Stuttgart.  From unpaved tracks to steep, serpentine snow-bound roads, the new E-Class All-Terrain can tackle routes where conventional estates have to give up, thanks to greater ground clearance and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Rugged styling and flared wheel arches also give it a tough look. The E-Class All-Terrain makes its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show 2016. The first cars will arrive in the UK from spring 2017, while pricing and specification will be announced in early 2017.
      “No E-Class has ever been as versatile as the All-Terrain. The new model combines a striking look in SUV style with the intelligent space concept of the estate. This is coupled with lots of innovative safety features and the multi-award-winning E-Class interior,” said Ola Källenius, Member of the Daimler management board responsible for Sales and Marketing of Mercedes Benz Cars. “With 4MATIC all-wheel drive as a standard feature and increased ground clearance thanks to the AIR BODY CONTROL multi-chamber air suspension, the All-Terrain is a flexible all-rounder – for unpaved roads, family and leisure time.”
      Thanks to off-road styling elements the All-Terrain has a powerful and robust appearance which also distinguishes it from the classic estate. Dynamism and modern luxury unite to make the All-Terrain an ambassador for the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of the sensuous clarity that defines modern luxury.
      An eye-catching feature of the front is the SUV-style two-fin grille with the star integrated in the centre. The distinctive front bumper and lower panelling, electroplated in silver-chrome, also contribute to the robust appearance. The top part of the three-part front bumper is painted in the body colour and the lower part comes in grained black plastic.
      At the side, the black wheel arch covers are a distinctive feature that emphasise the car’s all-terrain character. This also applies to the black side skirt that features a chrome trip strip. Three exclusive alloy wheel sets in 19- and 20-inch formats with higher sidewalls give the vehicle a confident look, greater ground clearance and enhanced comfort on rough roads.
      The All-Terrain also features a model-specific three-part bumper at the rear with the top part painted in body colour and the lower part in grained black plastic. Further features typical of an SUV include robust load sill protection and an underbody guard electroplated in silver-chrome.
      The interior includes aluminium-carbon look trim that is exclusive to the All-Terrain, stainless steel sports pedals and floor mats with All-Terrain lettering. The equipment is based on the AVANTGARDE interior line, while EXCLUSIVE and designo appointments are optionally available [UK details are to be confirmed]. The new model boasts all the load compartment flexibility of the E-Class estate, such as the rear seat cargo position and a standard 40:20:40 split-folding rear seat back. All E-Class innovations relating to safety, comfort and convenience are available.
      The All-Terrain will be launched as an E 220 d 4MATIC (143 kW/194 hp) with the newly developed four-cylinder diesel engine. A short time later a variant with a six-cylinder diesel engine will follow. Both models come with the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.
      Technical data at a glance:
      E 220 d 4MATIC Number of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line Displacement (cc) 1950 Rated output (kW/hp at rpm) 143/194 at 3800 Rated torque (Nm at rpm) 400 at 1600-2800 Combined NEDC fuel consumption (l/100 km) 5.1–5.2 Combined CO2 emissions (g/km) 137-139 Efficiency class A Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 8.0 Top speed (km/h) 232 Figures for version with 9G-TRONIC,
      The All-Terrain has DYNAMIC SELECT as standard. This enables five driving programmes to be selected with different engine, transmission, ESP® and steering characteristics. A special model-specific feature is the All-Terrain driving programme, which offers settings for off-road driving and was derived from the GLE. The even more comfortable suspension configuration and the large wheels with higher sidewalls noticeably further increase ride comfort on rough roads compared with the E-Class.
      Selecting the All-Terrain driving programme with the driving programme switch raises the chassis via the standard AIR BODY CONTROL by +20 mm up to a speed of 35 km/h. The thresholds for ESP®, active yaw control and acceleration skid control (ASR) are adjusted accordingly. The All-Terrain driving programme has a special indicator in the vehicle display. Information displayed there includes the steering angle, the vehicle level (position of the air suspension), the angle of slope and the angle of inclination, the accelerator/brake position and a compass.
      Thanks to air suspension three levels from 0 to +35 mm are selectable. Independent of the driving programme the highest level can also be selected manually with the level button on the centre console. The E-Class All-Terrain is 29 millimetres higher than the E-Class Estate – 14 mm of which is due to the tyres’ larger height/width ratio and 15 mm to the normal driving level of the air suspension. The ground clearance is 121 to 156 mm.

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    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00

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    • By William Maley
      Previous Page Next Page Auto show season is upon us and automakers are beginning to reveal their various debuts. For example, Mercedes-AMG has pulled the curtain back on the AMG GT and GT-C Roadsters that will officially debut at the Paris Motor Show later this month.
      Like the GT coupe, the GT Roadster feature the same 4.0L biturbo V8 with different states of tune. The GT Roadster punches out 469 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, and the GT-C features 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet. Those with keen eyes will note the two roadsters produce more power than their coupe counterparts (GT: 456 horsepower and 443 pound-feet; GT-S: 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet). Why? Our hunch is due to the added weight. Mercedes isn't disclosing that information at the moment. Both come paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch Speedshift transmission. 0-60 mph times are 3.9 seconds for the GT and 3.7 for the GT-C. 
      The GT-C is an interesting beast. It features remapped programming, a performance exhaust system, a wider rear track, electronic limited-slip differential, and rear-wheel steering. With all of the parts, the GT-C roadster appears to appeal to those hardcore folks who want to put the top down.
      The GT Roadster uses a soft-top that is available in three colors. The top can be put down or up in 11 seconds and at speed up to 31 mph. There is also the active air management system that uses vertical louvers behind the front grille. At low speeds, the louvers close to reduce drag. At higher speeds, the louvers open to provide additional cooling.
      “With our two Roadster models, we are strategically expanding the AMG GT family by two exciting variants. With the AMG GT C Roadster, we are also introducing a new model variant to which we have transferred main performance-related components from our top sports car, the AMG GT R. The result: a highly dynamic driving experience in a very exclusive ambience, coupled with that pure roadster feeling,” said Tobias Moers, chairman of Mercedes-AMG in a statement.
      Mercedes says the AMG GT Roadster will arrive in the U.S. next fall.
      Source: Mercedes-AMG 
      Press Release is on Page 2
      The new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
      Open-top driving performance September 14, 2016 - Affalterbach.
      Mercedes-AMG is blowing even more fresh air into the AMG GT family. Shortly after the world premiere of the AMG GT R, AMG is presenting two exciting roadster variants of the two-seater sports car. Alongside the AMG GT Roadster, the AMG GT C Roadster enhances the portfolio with a completely new model variant. With an output of 550 hp and peak torque of 502 lb-ft, the AMG GT C is the most powerful new Roadster variant and uses some of the technical refinements of the AMG GT R. These include active rear axle steering and the electronically controlled rear axle locking differential. In combination with AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension, the AMG GT C Roadster guarantees dynamic performance at the very highest level. The AMG GT C Roadster also takes its lead from the top AMG GT R sports car where muscular proportions are concerned: the wider rear fenders create space for a wider track and wider wheels at the rear axle, allowing for excellent traction and even higher cornering speeds. The variable performance exhaust system also ensures an authentic V8 sound from the AMG Roadster.
      The new Roadsters make hallmark AMG driving performance an even more intensive experience. "With our two Roadster models, we are strategically expanding the AMG GT family by two exciting variants. With the AMG GT C Roadster, we are also introducing a new model variant to which we have transferred main performance-related components from our top sports car, the AMG GT R. The result: a highly dynamic driving experience in a very exclusive ambience, coupled with that pure roadster feeling," says Tobias Moers, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
      With the two Roadster variants the Mercedes-AMG GT family has now increased to five members. The two new sports cars with fabric soft tops likewise have the technical genes for which AMG is famous. These include a lightweight and torsionally rigid aluminum bodyshell plus powerful and efficient V8 biturbo engines. The entry level into the Roadster world is the AMG GT with an output of 469 hp.
      The AMG GT C Roadster adds a completely new output level. With 550 hp it is the more powerful of the two new open-top sports cars.
      Technical data at a glance:
        Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster Engine 4.0-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers and direct injection 4.0-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers and direct injection Displacement 3,982 cc 3,982 cc Output 469 hp at 6,000 rpm 550 hp at 5,750-6,750 rpm Peak torque 465 lb-ft at 1,700-5,000 rpm 502 lb-ft at 1,900-5,750 rpm Drive system Rear-wheel drive Rear-wheel drive Transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT® DCT 7-speed dual-clutch transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT® DCT 7-speed dual-clutch transmission Acceleration 0-60 mph 3.9 s 3.7 s Top speed 188 mph 196 mph Rear-axle limited-slip differential mechanical electronically controlled Suspension AMG Sport Suspension AMG RIDE CONTROL Sport Suspension with adaptive, adjustable damping Wheels front / rear 9.0" x 19" / 11" x 19" 9.0" x 19" / 12.0" x 20" Tires front / rear 255/35 R 19 / 
      295/35 R 19 265/35 R19 / 
      305/30 R 20 Brake discs front/rear 14.2" / 14.2" 15.4" / 14.2" Transmission modes four: C, S, S+, I five: C, S, S+, I, RACE The AMG GT C Roadster not only delivers more output and torque, it also impresses with numerous technical highlights from the Mercedes-AMG GT R for even more dynamic performance. Like the AMG GT R, the AMG GT C Roadster is recognizable by its wide, muscular rear end and large wheels. Other technical measures include the wider rear track and active rear axle steering.
      The AMG GT C Roadster is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery and has more exclusive appointments. Standard features include a Nappa leather interior, AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather/DINAMICA microfiber and the additional transmission mode "RACE."
      Fully automatic: the weight-optimized fabric soft top
      Both Roadsters are quickly transformed from coupes to open-top sports cars. The fabric roof opens and closes in around eleven seconds, and can do this at speeds of up to 31 mph. The three soft top colors (black, red and beige) can be chosen to suit the eleven exterior and ten interior colors. The three-layered fabric soft top is supported by a lightweight magnesium/steel/aluminum structure which helps to keep the center of gravity low. Additional rollover protection is provided by an integrated aluminum cross-member with rollover bars.
      New output level: the handcrafted AMG 4.0L V8 biturbo engine
      With the AMG GT C Roadster, Mercedes-AMG is introducing a further output level of the handcrafted 4.0L V8 biturbo engine, thereby underlining the exclusive character of the new model. At 550 hp, the peak output is 47 hp above that of the AMG GT S and 27 hp below the Mercedes-AMG GT R. The maximum torque of 502 lb-ft is available from 1,900 to 5,750 rpm. A sprint from zero to 60 mph is achieved in 3.7 seconds, accelerating on to a top speed of 196 mph.
      The AMG GT Roadster has an output of 469 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. This variant accelerates to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and to a top speed of 188 mph.
      The eight-cylinder engine thrills with its immediate response, a linear, finely controllable power delivery and powerful acceleration in all rpm ranges. The handcrafted AMG 4.0L V8 biturbo engine comes with well-proven twin turbocharging, with the two turbochargers not located outside on the cylinder banks, but rather between them in the V of the cylinders. The advantages of the "hot inner V" configuration include a compact engine design, spontaneous response from the turbochargers and low exhaust emissions thanks to optimum air flow for the close-coupled catalytic converters.
      Also adapted: the dual-clutch transmission
      The developers have also adapted the seven-speed dual clutch transmission in a transaxle arrangement at the rear axle to the new power level of the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster by modifying the hardware and software. The first gear of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT® DCT 7-speed sport transmission has a higher ratio, while seventh gear and the final drive have a lower ratio. This makes for even more agile acceleration and very fast responses to sudden accelerator movements.
      The driver is able to set the AMG GT Roadster to his/her individual requirements using the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT controller. The three transmission modes "C" (Comfort), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport Plus) and the individually programmable setup "I" (Individual) allow a broad range of driving experiences from comfortable to very sporty.
      The transmission mode "RACE" is additionally available for the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster. This mode optimally adjusts the shift strategy of the dual clutch transmission to the needs of the racetrack – very fast shift speeds and highly emotional engine sound are included. By pressing the separate "M" button in the center console, the driver can activate the manual transmission mode.
      Pure sound: the AMG Performance Exhaust System
      The AMG GT C Roadster is equipped with the AMG Performance Exhaust System as standard to obtain an even more emotional sound experience. Two variably adjustable flaps modulate the exhaust note of the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster authentically and directly. The flaps open and close depending on the selected AMG DRIVE SELECT mode, although they can also be controlled individually using a separate button in the AMG DRIVE UNIT. In the "Comfort" and "Sport" settings, the low-frequency sound typical of a V8 is designed for comfort. In "Sport+" and "RACE" modes the sound composition is far more emotional. The variable AMG Performance Exhaust System is also available as an option for the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster.
      Also for the Roadster models: active air management system from the AMG GT R
      The two AMG Roadster variants have adopted a special technical highlight from the AMG GT R: the active air management system. Vertical louvers located in the lower area directly behind the front fascia can be opened and closed by an electric motor in around one second. This ensures that the cooling performance is according to need. Always achieving the optimum position requires highly intelligent and fast control.
      During normal driving with no increased cooling requirement, the louvers are closed to reduce aerodynamic drag and specifically conduct the air to the underbody. Only when certain components reach predefined temperatures and the air requirement is particularly high do the louvers open to allow the maximum cooling airflow to the heat exchangers.
      Highly expressive: athletic exterior design
      From the expressive AMG Panamericana grille to the long, muscular hood and the wide rear end, the two-seater guarantees a pure sports car experience even when stationary. The striking AMG Panamericana grille underlines the motor racing heritage: 15 chrome-plated, vertical bars echo the look of the current Mercedes-AMG GT3 customer sports racing car. The new front bumper emphasizes the car's width and gives it an athletic appearance on the road. Large outer air inlets ensure the supply of cooling air to the engine and the pronounced shoulder line is suggestive of a tensed muscle, enhancing the impression of sheer power and athleticism in combination with the new 19-inch and 20-inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a 5-twin-spoke design.
      Muscular with an emphasis on width: the rear end
      The rear end also features numerous, conspicuous innovations. The new aluminum fenders of the AMG GT C Roadster widen the open-top two-seater by 2.25-inches compared to the AMG GT Roadster, making it the same width as the AMG GT R. Compared to the AMG GT Roadster the muscular form also creates space for larger wheels and a wider track. Both measures make for traction while allowing higher cornering speeds. The likewise wider contours at the AMG GT C Roadster's rear bumper improve airflow at the rear with large outer air vents. Both Roadster variants feature a rear spoiler integrated into the trunk lid which can be electrically extended and retracted at defined speeds, depending on the selected transmission mode.
      Greater rigidity and low weight: Intelligent material mix
      Mercedes-AMG also uses an intelligent material mix for the body structure of the AMG GT and GT C Roadster. Various aluminum alloys are used for the chassis and body and magnesium is used for the front deck. This extremely light element at the front reduces the inertia ahead of the front axle, thus improving agility.
      The already rigid bodyshell structure has been specifically reinforced further to take account of the car's design as a roadster: side skirts with greater wall thicknesses and more chambers make the structure more rigid. The dashboard support is braced against the windscreen surround by additional struts and a strut tower brace between the soft top and the tank reinforces the rear axle. A cross-member behind the seats supports the fixed roll-over protection system.
      The trunk lid is particularly light, thanks to an innovative composite material. The load-bearing structure is of SMC (Sheet Molding Compound) with carbon fiber. These high-tech plastics excel with their light weight, great strength and first-class surface condition. These innovative materials were developed by the Mercedes-Benz TEC factory in Sindelfingen and brought to production maturity together with the AMG specialists in Affalterbach. This material combination is used for the first time in the new AMG Roadsters.
      The AMG lightweight construction experts have also used a composite material for the wheel-catching struts. 50 percent lighter than the equivalent in steel, these composite components help to guide the front wheels onto the side members as part of the intended crash kinematics in an accident, and to hold them there.
      Derived from motorsport: the AMG Sport Suspension
      The AMG Sport Suspension likewise confirms the motor racing heritage of the new AMG Roadsters. Wishbones, steering knuckles and hub carriers on the front and rear axle are manufactured entirely out of forged aluminum to reduce the unsprung mass. The wheels are also guided by double wishbones. The resulting precision in camber and track allows high cornering speeds and gives the driver optimum, highly precise road feedback right up to the very high cornering limits.
      In the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster, the sport suspension is combined with AMG RIDE CONTROL continuously variable, adaptive damping system. The system is electronically controlled and automatically adapts the damping on each wheel to the current handling situation, speed and road conditions.
      Even more agility: active rear axle steering from the AMG GT R
      As standard, the new Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster responds even more sensitively thanks to the active rear axle steering that had its debut in the Mercedes-AMG GT R. The system offers an ideal combination of agility and stability - handling characteristics that are normally in direct conflict.
      Up to a speed of 62 mph, the rear wheels are turned in the opposite direction to the front wheels, resulting in significantly higher agility and increased driving pleasure with less steering input. In day-to-day driving the driver also benefits from a reduced turning circle.
      Once the speed of the AMG GT C Roadster exceeds 62 mph, the system turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels, this noticeably improves handling stability. At the same time, the lateral force on the rear wheels builds up considerably faster when changing direction, which makes the response to steering inputs quicker. The driver also notices the high grip and stability of the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster during rapid changes of direction, without the usual tendency for the rear to break out.
      On board as standard: the rear-axle locking differential
      As standard the AMG GT C Roadster is equipped with an electronically controlled locking differential at the rear axle (The Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster comes with a mechanical locking differential), which is integrated into the compact transmission housing. Its sensitive and rapid control elevates the physical handling limits to a new level. It not only further improves the grip of the driven wheels, but also increases cornering speeds at the limit.
      High quality and exclusivity: the interior
      The interior design echoes the design lines of the exterior. The dashboard places an extreme emphasis on width, creating an impression of a powerful wing. High beltlines, concave door panels, dynamically rising center console and low seat position perfectly integrate the driver into the cockpit. The new, light-colored interior in Macchiato Beige Exclusive Nappa leather is available for the first time, lending the open-top sports car even more individuality and exclusivity.
      More lateral support and comfort: AMG Performance seats
      The optionally available AMG Performance seats provide even more lateral support with more heavily contoured backrest and seat cushion side bolsters. For the first time the AMG performance seat is also optionally available with the AIRSCARF® neck-level heating system, which makes open-air driving enjoyable even when the outside temperature is low. The air vent is seamlessly integrated into the seat's head restraint area. To meet the individual preferences of customers, the temperature of the warm airflow can be set in three stages.
      Customers wishing to enjoy comfortable temperatures even on very hot summer days will also opt for seat climate control, which is also available exclusively for the AMG Performance seat for the first time. The intensity of the cooling can also be set in three stages.
      Impressive sound in the interior: Externed Coupled Subwoofer
      The Burmester® Sound System and Burmester® High-End Sound System ensure a very special musical experience in the AMG GT Roadster. Both systems benefit from an innovation developed jointly by AMG and Burmester®: the Externed Coupled Subwoofer (ECS). This new bass sound reproduction system with an extremely low bass range turns the open two-seater into a mobile concert stage.
      Instead of a subwoofer box of limited dimensions, ECS uses the entire interior as a bass box. This is made possible by a special aperture in the right rear wheel arch. The subwoofer is connected to the bodyshell via this aperture, transmitting the impressive sound.
      The Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster will arrive in US dealers by fall of 2017.
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