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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.