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It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for May 17, 2013. The all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Chevrolet City Express, a twin-turbo Cadillac XTS, the European market comes up for air, and Infiniti's halo car gambit - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
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01. 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Debuts
The next-generation 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been unveiled in Germany, and while it's still too early to drive the full-size sedan Mercedes-Benz has been gracious enough to provide a raft of details concerning its flagship model. Longer and wider than the 2013 edition, the S-Class gains a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V-8 that produces 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, a new 'Magic Body Control' suspension that reacts to the road ahead by way of a continuous video feed, a pair of 12.3-inch LCD screens up front, and close to half-a-dozen rear seating configurations. The S-Class, which hits the U.S. market in September of 2013, is also stuffed with 300 cabin LEDs and offers such exotic options as massaging seats and heated armrests.
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02. Nissan Gives GM A Small Van Assist
What do you do when everyone else has a small utility van to sell and you are left flogging full-size behemoths based on yesterday's technology? If you are General Motors, you dip into the badge-engineering bin and strike a deal with a competitor willing to take the risk that you'll steal some of its sales thunder. Enter the Chevrolet City Express, a re-badged Nissan NV200 compact van that will make it to Chevy showrooms for the 2015 model year. Powered by a four-cylinder engine, the City Express is identical to the NV200 save for a few minor styling tweaks. GM has yet to discuss whether an in-house van development program is underway to eventually replace the NV200-based model.
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03. 2014 Cadillac XTS Goes Twin-Turbo
The twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 engine that had already been slated for use with the re-designed 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan will also pull duty under the hood of the 2014 Cadillac XTS. The full-size Cadillac XTS makes use of a naturally-aspirated version of the 3.6-liter mill as its base power plant. In twin-turbo trim, the motor generates 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, a significant performance upgrade for the largest Cadillac money can buy. No word on whether the engine will be available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive trims, although a six-speed automatic transmission - not the eight-speed offered with the CTS - will be standard with the unit.
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04. European Market Takes A Break From Implosion
It's been a year and a half of free-fall for the European automotive market, a shrinking of new car sales that has seen several prominent Continental brands flail about in search of a financial solution to their growing insolvency. The plummet to the bottom appears to have ended with April's sales figures, which showed a tiny, but much-needed two percent increase in the amount of metal moved to new customers. That two percent number faces down a 10 percent decrease in sales during the first quarter of 2013, but there is some optimism that the European slide has at least stabilized, if not reversed its course.
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05. Infiniti Boss Says 'Yes' To Potential Flagship, Sports Car
Autocar is reporting that Infiniti's interest in a halo sports car may have been re-piqued. The vehicle would most likely make use of a hybrid drivetrain, albeit one that has been tweaked for maximum performance rather than reduced environmental impact. Styling could be derived from the recent Emerg-E concept, or the Essence concept of several years ago, each of which contributed to current Infiniti styling cues. Even more intriguing is the idea of a full-size flagship luxury sedan from Infiniti, which would take on the likes of the BMW 7 Series and the Lexus LS, but at a more affordable price point.
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