2021 Munich Motor Show

  • Continental Conti GreenConcept tyre debuts in Munich – uses over 50% sustainable materials, retreadable

    Continental has unveiled the Conti GreenConcept at this year’s IAA Mobility (also known as the Munich Motor Show), which is a conceptual study that leverages both current and emerging technologies when it comes to engineering sustainable tyres of passenger vehicles.

    The goal here is to minimise resource consumption across the tyre’s value chain, and to do so, the study addresses things like the sourcing and procurement of raw materials to the various stages of production, and even the ways to extend the service life of the tyre.

    According to Continental, more than 50% of the raw materials used to make the Conti GreenConcept come from either renewable sources or recycled. The company says this is an important step as it aims to fully transition to use sustainable raw materials by 2050. It also defined “sustainable” as being materials that originate from closed-loop cycles, have no harmful effects on people or the environment, responsibly sourced and climate-neutral across they entire supply chains.

    Going into detail, 35% of the eco-friendly tyre concept is made from renewable materials, including natural rubber from dandelions, silicate from the ash of rich husks, as well as vegetable oils and resins, all of which reduce the dependence on materials based on crude oil.

    The company says its global tyre-making plants are already making widespread use of materials such as recycled rubber or vegetable oils. In addition, it’s also looking to further the cultivation and processing of sustainable materials by working with partners to conduct intensive research into the use of Russian dandelion, which can be grown near its plants to lower carbon emissions from long-distance transport and conserve resources.

    Meanwhile, 17% of the Conti GreenConcept is made up of recycle materials like reclaimed steel and recovered carbon black. Furthermore, in an industry first, polyester from recycled PET bottles is also used as part of the company’s ContiRe.Tex technology, which it says will be gradually rolled out from 2022.

    The recycling process involving PET bottles doesn’t involve the usual intermediate chemical processing steps, but the resulting polyester yarn is then made functionally capable of handling the high mechanical forces that tyres are subjected to. For some figures, Continental says a typical passenger car tyre consists of roughly 400 grams of polyester yarn, and around 60 recycled PET bottles can be reused to manufacture a set of four tyres.

    Continental also worked with Kordsa to develop Cokoon dip technology, which enables eco-friendly bonding of textile reinforcements with rubber compounds. The open-source technology has been made available to all tyre industry players on a free-of-charge basis since 2019.

    Besides being more Earth-friendly to manufacture, Conti GreenContact is also 40% lighter than conventional tyres, weighing in at just 7.5 kg. This was made possible by an optimised tread pattern, a special sidewall and a new casing design with a weight-optimised core.

    Paired with a specially designed tread that boasts a rolling resistance that about 25% lower than class “A” – i.e., the best possible rating – under the EU Tyre Label system, the tyre concept is capable of providing greater mileage and lower carbon emissions on cars.

    To extend the service life of the tyre concept, Continental also engineered it so that it can be retreaded multiple times, with minimal investment in terms of time and materials. On the Conti GreenContact, you’ll find a green-coloured tread baseline that indicates the transition from tread to casing.

    Undamaged casings can be resued several times, and as the tread compound is made from 100% Taraxagum natural rubber derived from dandelions, if a tread is renewed three times, for example, this halves the amount of material used for a casing as seen in terms of its total mileage.

  • Obrist HyperHybrid – range-extended electric vehicle powertrain shown with engine “smoother than V12”

    We all know that the future is very much electric. With ever larger batteries and faster charging technologies, range anxiety is becoming less and less of an issue. But long-range electric vehicles are expensive to make, and the charging infrastructure is patchy at best – especially in developing countries.

    Austrian engineering firm Obrist has come up with a range-extended electric vehicle powertrain that it believes solves the problem. The HyperHybrid replaces the large and heavy EV battery with a smaller unit, plus an efficient 1.0 litre two-cylinder petrol engine that is claimed to meet new Euro 7 emissions regulations.

    Range extenders are usually conceived as an afterthought (the one previously used on the BMW i3 was a two-cylinder scooter engine, for example) and tend to run rough as a result, ruining the illusion of silence and serenity of an electric motor.

    Since the petrol generator doesn’t actually power the car, Obrist’s solution is to put the cylinders side-by-side, effectively creating two single-cylinder engines with counter-rotating crankshafts to balance each other out. A cloverleaf-shaped linear mass spring, an inertia-compensating flywheel and a damped gear set further reduce vibrations, while a steel case isolates the noise and heat of the engine from the outside.

    The result is a two-pot mill that the company says generates lower noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) than a V12. It is also claimed to deliver an energy efficiency figure of 50%, compared to 40% for the current Toyota Prius‘ 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle four-pot.

    Obrist says that the engine is capable of a combined fuel consumption figure of 3.3 litres per 100 km, and when powered by synthetic methanol and petrol from aFuel, the world’s first climate-positive energy carrier, the HyperHybrid is even claimed to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions of -24 grams per kilometre.

    Two variants of the HyperHybrid are being proposed. The standard model comes with a 100 kW (134 hp) electric motor, a 40 kW (54 hp) petrol engine and a 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. A High Performance version switches that up to a 200 kW (268 hp) motor, a 90 kW (121 hp) turbocharged mill and a 25.9 kWh battery.

    Obrist has created a number of demonstrator vehicles, including one based on the Tesla Model 3 (another prototype, built on the Model Y, is on display at the ongoing Munich Motor Show). The company did not say if it had the standard or High Performance engine but did say that it was capable of an NEDC-rated fuel consumption figure of 0.97 litres per 100 km (2.01 litres per 100 km in the real world), CO2 emissions of 23 grams per kilometre and an all-electric range of 96 km on the WLTP cycle.

  • BMW i Vision Circular revealed in Munich – fully recycled and recyclable electric city car for 2040

    While Mercedes-Benz was busy revealing five production and near-production electric vehicles at the ongoing Munich Motor Show, BMW’s attention at its home expo was placed firmly in the far future. The company is exploring the concept of sustainability and a circular economy, with its main exhibit being the aptly-named BMW i Vision Circular – a whimsical compact car concept designed for the year 2040.

    Producing zero-emission electric vehicles is all well and good, but carbon neutrality is about so much more than that, says BMW. In addition to using renewable energy at its factories, it is also looking at increasing the use of recycled or “secondary” materials – the amount of reused materials in every BMW is set to increase from the current 30% to 50% in the near future.

    But the i Vision Concept goes much further than that – the aim is to develop a car that is made out of 100% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. This is achievable through the use of certified bio-based raw materials and the aforementioned secondary materials, with even the solid-state battery being able to be fully recycled at the end of its life and using far fewer valuable resources.

    To do that, BMW rethought the entire design process of its cars, structured around four principles – Re:think, which reevaluates the processes and manufacturing technologies of each vehicle by taking into account the end of the product’s lifecycle, as well as the familiar Re:duce, Re:use and Re:cycle.

    This wedge-shaped hatchback uses these concepts to pare back the design while keeping the traditional BMW styling cues. At the front, the trademark double kidney grille and quadruple headlights have been merged to form a single graphic, dispensing with the usual chrome trim. A linear illuminated graphic brings those iconic features to life and is repeated throughout the car.

    Elsewhere, the deep central bonnet channel (which houses the driver assistance sensors and can be easily disassembled) features an engraved BMW roundel on its aluminium surface, while the model badge is also laser-etched; both these elements eliminate the need for separate enamel and chrome emblems. Further down, the recycled plastic chin spoiler features a distinctive “marbled” look similar to chopped carbon.

    Along the side, the Vision Circular features a simple one-box profile and clean side surfacing, along with car-forward proportions that give the car a more dynamic aesthetic. This is enhanced by the wheels, which are pushed to the far corners of the car and sit within prominently flared wheel arches for a strong stance. The flush glazing features an illuminated Hofmeister kink with the same line graphic as the front – it can be used to show vehicular information and guide users towards the openers for the suicide doors.

    Moving to the rear, you’ll find a dark glass tailgate with integrated taillights (again with the line graphic), a central antenna/brake light fin, a concave lower section and jutting recycled plastic bumpers. The exterior surfaces are mostly made from recycled aluminium and forgoes a paint coating in favour of an anodised gold finish. The steel rear end has been blued using a heat treatment to provide a contrasting gradient.

    The sustainability aspect extends to the tyres, which are made from certified natural rubber with specks of coloured recycled rubber that add strength and provide a terrazzo effect. They wrap the slatted aerodynamic wheels which have been designed to minimise material use, with a hollow centre aiding brake cooling. The rollers are attached using amusingly-named “joyful fusion” fasteners which are also found elsewhere.

    Inside, the theme continues with the use of raw materials and new joining techniques that eliminate the use of glue – simplifying the dismantling and sorting of components. The parts and materials are 3D printed to minimise waste and offcuts, with what little surplus material being fed back into the production cycle.

    The cabin has been designed to be light and airy, with an unusual taupe colour scheme mixed with bits of grey, anodised gold metal trim and a mint green floor and side panels. Taking centre stage on the V-shaped dashboard is a massive 3D-printed crystal, illuminated with a nerve-like structure underneath; users can interact with the structure. It is framed by sustainable wood and anodised aluminium.

    Instead of the usual screens, information is projected onto the bottom of the windscreen, spanning its entire width. The driver can manipulate this head-up display using touchpads located on the steering wheel which, by the way, is 3D-printed using bio-based materials such as the wood powder shown here. The “Shy Tech” first seen on the iX SUV is featured on the Vision Circular as well, with hidden-until-lit haptic touch controls that give rise to a rather unfortunately-named “phygital experience”.

    Inspired by modern furniture, the seats feature an anodised aluminium frame, as well as seat shells and a velvet-like fabric upholstery made from recycled plastics. The pews also feature the “joyful fusion” quick release fasteners that can also be found on the dashboard, making disassembly easier; at the rear, the upholstery is woven onto the frame using a cord. Individual headrest speakers let each occupant listen to their own music, while the omission of a centre console heightens the impression of roominess.

    Also helping to lighten up the cabin is the large glass roof, with the windscreen header pushed far back (à la Citroën’s Picasso models) providing an open air feel for the front passengers and a slim mechanical shade for rear passengers. The latter uses two sliding glass panels with the same linear graphic as the exterior, providing up to 100% shading and requiring no increase in roof height.

    On the doors, the illuminated Hofmeister kink is repeated on the inside and houses the window switches, door openers and roof sunshade controls. This forms the only electronic component on the doors, making it easy to remove as a single module. In the C-pillars sit lamps made out of the iX’s glass iDrive controller.

    The circular concept doesn’t just apply to the materials – the Vision Circular also features bidirectional charging capability, enabling it to feed energy back into the grid to help it meet peaks in power demand. The car can also upload data from its sensors to the cloud (with the user’s consent, of course), enabling vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication that provides more precise traffic flow and traffic light information for more efficient driving and speed recommendations.

    Speaking of driving, the Vision Circular uses sounds created by famed composer Hans Zimmer and BMW Group’s creative sound designer Renzo Vitale – the duo have previously worked on sounds for production BMW i models such as the i4 and iX. They experimented with samples and loops of sound elements from outside and inside the car, creating a new spectrum of sounds inspired by the Vision Circular itself.

  • Mercedes-Benz Concept EQG debuts – previews an all-electric G-Class; 4 electric motors, 2-speed gearbox

    Joining the many world premieres by Mercedes-Benz at IAA Mobility 2021 (aka the Munich Motor Show) is the Concept EQG, but before we proceed further, a little backstory. When the second-generation G-Class was first unveiled in Detroit in January 2018, Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger was present on stage to chat with then Daimler AG board chairman Dieter Zetsche.

    At the time, the Terminator and Predator killer elicited a rather surprising promise from Zetsche that the upcoming electrification of all model series in the Mercedes-Benz stable would include the G-Class. Now, three and a half years later, the German carmaker is making good on this promise to Mr Freeze, and the Concept EQG serves as a near-production study of an all-electric G-Class.

    Design-wise, the Concept EQG adopts the regular G-Class’ angular silhouette, but with plenty of distinctive touches to mark it out as an EQ project, while giving some serious cyberpunk vibes. First up, the front grille has been swapped out for a black panel with an illuminated border and blue rounded squares (adorably called a squircle pattern).

    Below the grille is a slim intake, while further down, the lower apron features inlets that sport a squircle mesh design. The headlamps are familiar-looking items, although they do receive additional garnish to match the new grille.

    Lighting is a big part of the Concept EQG’s design, as you’ll find white illuminated circles on the exterior mirror housings, while the illuminated side stripes make the robust exterior protective strips stand out visually. At the rear, the usual round spare wheel cover has been replaced with a lockable storage box, which is styled to look like a wallbox charger, and comes with illuminated accents to match with everything else that glows white on the outside.

    Mercedes-Benz says you can use the box to store a charging cable, but we’re certain you can shove in a tyre repair kit too. Since there’s no engine under the bonnet, perhaps we’ll get even more storage space in the vacant lot too.

    Finishing touches include a set of 22-inch polished aluminium alloy wheels that look properly imposing, while the two-tone paint finish of gloss black on top and gloss aluminum beam on the bottom give the vehicle a striking appearance.

    The company is also particularly proud of the flat roof rack in high-gloss black, which boasts a centrally shaped “G” and a thin LED light strip to remind you that even though this is an EV, it’s still up to the task when it comes to demanding off-road activities. No interior shots just yet, but expect it to be like the exterior: similar to the G-Class but with EQ cues.

    Mercedes-Benz says the concept uses the same ladder-frame construction as the regular G-Class, but the suspension setup of an independent setup at the front axle and a rigid rear axle has been tweaked to allow for the integration of the electric drive system.

    Said system is made up of four electric motors located close to the wheels and are individually controllable, but that’s not all. The company also says as with any real 4×4, the Concept EQG’s off-road reduction can be activated via a shiftable two-speed gearbox for confidence off-road.

    It adds that an electric drive system is a good fit for an off-roader like the G-Class, as the batteries integrated into the ladder frame will result in low centre of gravity. The instant torque delivered by electric motors also help with pulling power and controllability. No mention about the added weight that comes with said batteries and electric motors, or even range for that matter.

    Ahead of the production version’s debut, prototypes of the fully electric G-Class will tackle a 5.6-km test track on the 1,445-metre high Schöckl mountain in Graz, which features gradients of up to 60 degrees. Only when the engineers are satisfied will the EQG get the “Schöckl proved” quality certificate that is obligatory for the W463 series.

    “Wherever market conditions permit, Mercedes-Benz will be ready to go fully electric by the end of the decade,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Daimler AG and COO of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

    “With this strategic step from ‘electric first’ to ‘electric only’, including sustainable production and the CO2-neutral life cycle of our batteries, we are accelerating the transformation to a zero-emission and software-driven future. We want to inspire our customers to switch to electric mobility with convincing products. An icon like the G-Class fulfils this task perfectly,” he added.

  • Mercedes-AMG EQS53 4Matic+ revealed – brand’s first performance EV receives up to 761 PS and 1,020 Nm

    This is the new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+, which has made its debut just ahead of this year’s IAA Mobility event (otherwise known as the Munich Motor Show), and becomes the performance sub-brand’s first fully electric vehicle.

    Related to the regular EQS that was revealed in April, the AMG EV comes with a fully-variable AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system courtesy of two electric motor, one at each axle. In base form, the e-motors output a total of 658 PS (649 hp or 484 kW) and 950 Nm of torque, which is a step up from the non-AMG EQS 580 4Matic that can only muster up 523 PS (516 hp or 385 kW) and 855 Nm.

    Unsurprisingly, the EQS 53 4Matic+ offers better acceleration, taking just 3.4 seconds to get from 0-100 km/h compared to the EQS 580 4Matic that requires 4.3 seconds. The top speed is also slightly higher at 220 km/h instead of 210 km/h.

    To ensure optimum traction, the all-wheel drive system continuously monitors the driving situation (torque is checked 10,000 times per minute) and distributes torque between the axles. In Comfort mode, the system aims to maximise efficiency, but with Sport and Sport+, it becomes more rear-biased in the “interests of greater lateral dynamics.”

    If more power is what you want, the company offers an optional AMG Dynamic Plus package that sees the outputs go up to 761 PS (751 hp or 560 kW) and 1,020 Nm, available in Race Start mode with a boost function. In this case, the century sprint time is further reduced to 3.4 seconds, while the top speed is bumped up to 250 km/h.

    According to Mercedes-AMG, the strong outputs come courtesy of model-specific e-motors that feature new windings, stronger currents and new actuation via inverters with specially developed software. The company also implemented a more robust thermal concept to ensure the performance is consistent, with the highlight being a so-called “water lance” in the shaft of the rotor to cool it.

    Other initiatives include special ribs on the stator and the needle-shaped pin-fin structure on the inverter, which are made of ceramics. There’s also an additional transmission oil cooler that not only keeps the transmission cool during hard driving, but also warms the fluids if needed during cold driving.

    Besides delivering power, the drivetrain also boasts energy recuperation up to 300 kW when braking, with the driver being able to adjust the level of recuperation. There are three stages selectable via switches on the steering wheel, and with the optional Drive Pilot, deceleration is automatic in response to detected vehicles ahead until they come to a standstill, like when coming up to traffic lights.

    Energy recuperated is returned to the 400-volt, 107.8-kWh lithium-ion battery, which uses 10% less cobalt content. While the usable energy content is the same as the EQS 580 4Matic, the AMG model gets specific wiring to support its high-performance capabilities, which follow the selected drive mode.

    The AMG EQS ships as standard with an 11-kW onboard AC charger, which can be upgraded to a unit capable of 22 kW. The car also supports DC fast charging up to 200 kW, which, with a capable charger, can regain up to an additional 300 km of range in just 15 minutes. A fully charged battery will provide up to 580 km of WLTP-rated range, significantly less than the EQS 580 4Matic’s 676 km.

    Other similarities include the four-link front and multi-link rear suspension setup, although the AMG EQS gets the AMG Ride Control+ system that combines air suspension with adaptive, electronically controlled dampers.

    The air suspension system is derived from the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, with two pressure relief valves that allow for greater adjustability of the damping force, as the rebound and compression stages are controlled independently of each other.

    Also included is rear-axle steering of up to nine degrees, enhancing the agility and turning circle of the big sedan significantly. This operates at speeds below 60 km/h, after which the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the front ones for a virtually extended wheelbase.

    Rounding off the handling aspects of the AMG EQS is a compound brake system comprising of 415-mm discs and six-piston callipers at the front, while the rear gets 378-mm discs and single-piston callipers. With the optional ceramic package, the discs get the more resilient compound, with the fronts upgraded to 440 mm in diameter.

    Design-wise, the EQS 53 4Matic+ looks largely like a regular EQS with the AMG Line appearance package, but with AMG-specific touches to make it stand out. Up front, you’ll find the Panamericana design on the black panel grille, accompanied by AMG lettering, while the front fenders carry the 4Matic+ badge on them.

    The AMG EQS keeps the same 0.23 drag coefficient as the regular EQS, but small tweaks help to maximise efficiency during slow and dynamic driving. These include a front splitter, flics and fins on the air intakes, air curtains on the bumper, AMG side sill panels, a rear diffuser with six fins, a larger rear spoiler, plus 21- or 22-inch aerodynamic wheels in Aero or Heritage designs.

    Inside, it’s again familiar territory save for the AMG seats with individual graphics, Artico man-made leather upholstery, Microcut microfibre and red contrast topstitching. As an alternative, customers can also specify Nappa leather for the seat covers. Other items include an AMG performance steering wheel, along with sports pedals, floor mats and door sill trims with AMG branding.

    The Mercedes-Benz User Experience Hyperscreen (MBUX Hyperscreen) is also carried over and continues to feature three screens placed across the dashboard. Naturally, there are additional functions here specific to the AMG model, including the AMG Dynamic Select driving modes.

    Drivers will also be able to play around with the AMG Sound Experience with two versions – Authentic and Performance (available with AMG Dynamic Plus) – to generate sounds matching the tonality of intensity of the current driving status. No shortage of options too, with the AMG Night Package Dark Chrome, red brake callipers, AMG carbon trim elements, AMG Track Pace all available at a cost.

  • Mercedes-Benz EQE revealed – electric E-Class equivalent is a smaller EQS with 292 PS, 660 km range

    Mercedes-Benz has just mounted a full electric offensive ahead of today’s Munich Motor Show, revealing not one, not two, but five zero-emissions vehicles. By far the most important of these is this, the EQE – a dedicated electric sedan that sits a rung below the EQS and is thus more affordable.

    This electric equivalent of the E-Class rides on the same Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA) as its larger sibling and shares many of the same components, technologies and design details. On the outside, the EQS bears a striking resemblance to the EQS, incorporating the EQ brand’s trademark “one bow” mono-box form, cab-forward proportions and short overhangs.

    The “one bow” term refers to the unbroken sweeping line that runs from the front end through the glasshouse to the rear, with the A- and C-pillars pushed far forwards and rearwards to maximise cabin roominess. That much is evident when you look at the EQE’s slightly oddball dimensions.

    Despite being around the same size as a CLS (4,946 mm long, 1,961 wide and 1,512 mm tall) and having a wheelbase 90 mm shorter than the EQS’, the distance between the front and rear wheels is still a not-insignificant 3,120 mm, which is longer than a standard W223 S-Class. It’s no surprise, then, that the EQE offers an 80 mm longer interior and 27 mm more front shoulder room than the current W213 E-Class.

    At the front, the “Black Panel” incorporates the large closed-off grille (optionally available with an illuminated pattern featuring tiny three-pointed stars) and shapely trapezoidal headlights. Unlike the EQS, you can’t get a light strip on top of the grille to join the headlights, but the latter has daytime running lights that form a cross shape as part of the Digital Light option.

    As per the new S-Class and EQS, the high-end headlights uses 1.3 million micro-mirrors to deliver over 2.6 million pixels of resolution. This allows them to project warnings, road signs and guide lines on the road ahead, as well as highlighting pedestrians and providing more precise high beam blocking. The grille hides the driving assistance sensors, while a flap on the front left fender covers the windscreen washer filler.

    Moving to the side, the clean surfacing, door skin-mounted side mirrors, pop-out door handles and aerodynamically-optimised 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels combine with the front end seals and smooth underbody to improve aero efficiency – although Mercedes declined to release a drag coefficient figure. Extensive sealing along the sides (including around the frameless windows) and foam-filled body cavities also help reduce wind noise, further minimised through the optional acoustic glass front side windows.

    The rear end houses the full-width LED taillights with the EQS’ three-dimensional helix design, along with a prominent spoiler lip. For the first time, the aerials are hidden underneath the bodywork, helping to further clean up the design. Electric Art and AMG Line styling packages are available, the latter adding the usual aggressive front and rear bumpers.

    Stepping inside (through the optional automatically-opening driver’s door), you’ll find that the EQE again takes after the EQS, with the optional full-width MBUX Hyperscreen taking centre stage. This consists of a 12.3-inch instrument display, a 17.7-inch OLED centre touchscreen and another 12.3-inch OLED passenger touchscreen, all covered by a single piece of scratch-resistant glass.

    The latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) incorporates the climate controls and features a “zero layer” context-sensitive interface, with suggestions popping up at certain times thanks to artificial intelligence. The front passenger can also watch videos or TV or browse the Internet through their own screen; a camera detects if the driver is looking over and dims the display.

    The “Hey Mercedes” voice control system has also been improved, now being able to distinguish between different occupant voices and allowing you to answer a phone call without needing the activation phrase and manipulate smart home devices. Music streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music and, more recently, Apple Music are also integrated into the infotainment system.

    Elsewhere, you’ll find a slim air vent band that wraps around the dashboard, as well as turbine-style side vents. As standard, the interior is upholstered in Neotex, said to combine the feel of nubuck leather and neoprene, matched with either wood trim or an illuminated tristar pattern. The 64-colour ambient lighting system can also provide visual feedback for autonomous emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.

    Speaking of which, these features come as standard as part of the Driving Assistance Package, with the optional Driving Assistance Package Plus adding the usual Distronic adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist and lane change assist, among others. Smartphone-enabled remote parking assist and memory parking assist (which remembers how to get in and out of a garage, for example) can also be specified, as can the pre-installation for Intelligent Parking Pilot, a Level 4 autonomous parking system.

    Just two variants will be made available from launch, with Stuttgart only detailing one of those models – an EQE 350 with a single rear motor producing 215 kW (292 PS) and 530 Nm of torque. Further variants are planned, including 4Matic dual-motor all-wheel drive models and a performance version with around 500 kW (680 PS). A 90 kWh lithium-ion battery provides a WLTP-rated range of between 545 and 660 km, with the Navigate with Electric Intelligence function taking into account charging stations to provide the fastest route.

    The EQE can accept up to 22 kW of AC charging, enabling the battery to be juiced up in 4.25 hours (8.25 hours with an 11 kW charger). Alternatively, you can plug the car in with up to 170 kW of DC fast charging power, topping up the battery in 32 minutes and providing up to 250 km of extra range in just 15 minutes. The battery itself is made up of less than 10% cobalt, making it more sustainable.

    Suspension consists of a four-link front axle and a multilink setup at the rear, with Airmatic air suspension and rear-wheel steering (up to ten degrees) available as an option. Global sales of the EQE will commence starting from the middle of next year.

  • Audi grandsphere concept revealed, previews electric A8 replacement – PPE platform, 720 PS, 750 km range

    In the run-up to the Munich Motor Show, Audi revealed the second instalment of its “sphere” trio of concepts, the grandsphere. This luxurious large fastback differs from the earlier skysphere by being a production preview – the car is tipped to sire an electric replacement for the A8 flagship, due out in 2024.

    As per the earlier skysphere, the “sphere” part of the grandsphere’s name refers to the interior, which takes pride of precedence in the design process – now that cars are becoming electric and Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities are on the horizon. In particular, the latter has freed up plenty of possibilities inside, with the steering wheel and pedals able to be folded away when not required.

    The driver and passengers are welcomed by the automatically-opening suicide doors and personalised displays and ambient lighting. Once inside, you’ll find that the traditional luxury car interior design has been turned on its head – instead of the boss’ seat being at the back, the focus is now firmly on the front seats, which have the best views, the most freedom of movement and access to the infotainment system.

    Speaking of which, the system can detect the identity of the people walking in the car and can adjust settings for the seats and climate control to suit, as well as resuming services (such as media streaming and news) that were previously used by each person. Gesture controls are also taken to the next level – users can manipulate the system simply by looking at the specific menu function and using hand gestures to remotely rotate the MMI knob on the front doors, handy for when your seat is reclined.

    Indeed, the front occupants are able to lie in a lap of luxury – the heavily-bolstered individual chairs can be reclined up to 60 degrees in autonomous driving mode and are enhanced with cabin scenting and Mazda MX-5-style in-seat speakers. Other passengers are relegated to the two-seater rear bench with integrated side armrests as part of the grandsphere’s 2+2 interior layout.

    Sustainable materials take centre stage on the inside – instead from the usual leather, the grandsphere utilises wool and synthetic fabric upholstery, augmented with metal trim. The full-width infotainment displays are projected onto the hornbeam wood veneer dashboard and disappear when not in use. Concealed under a metallic cover between the front seats is an onboard cooler with two glasses and a specially designed bottle.

    Despite the inside-out design philosophy, the grandsphere is certainly not a minger on the outside, sporting a dramatic sweeping roofline and muscular shoulders. It’s also huge – at 5.35 metres long, two metres wide and 1.39 metres tall and with a 3.19 metre wheelbase, the car comprehensively shades even the long-wheelbase A8 in every dimension bar height.

    At the front, you’ll find a concave hexagonal version of Audi’s Singleframe grille, illuminated under a transpired cover and flanked by slim trapezoidal headlights. The latter’s graphics are inspired by the interlocking four-ringed logo and are reminiscent of pupils, giving the grandsphere concept a sharp gaze – a design that is mirrored at the rear of the car.

    Along the sides, the short front overhang and the forward-pushed windscreen have been made possible thanks to the electric powertrain, although the lines emanating from the front of the car stretch far along the flanks to visually lengthen the bonnet. A second shoulder line runs around the entirety of the grandsphere, broken up by the large wheel wells hiding 23-inch six-split-spoke alloy wheels. These rollers hark back to the 1991 Avus concept while also featuring a lightweight motorsport-inspired aesthetic.

    At the rear, the glasshouse is drawn inward, terminating in a vertical rear windscreen and a large glass spoiler that continues the expansive glass roof. This contributes to the airiness of the cabin in concert with the angled upper side windows, visually separated via a chrome strip and the side-view cameras. Taking a leaf from the AI:CON concept from 2017, these windows will be carried over to production, said Audi.

    The aforementioned MMI control knob and the seamless integration of smartphone apps are also features actual buyers will be able to experience, the company added. As will the underpinnings – the grandsphere rides on the Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE), a development of the J1 architecture that forms the basis of the e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan.

    Under the skin sits an electric motor on each axle, providing quattro all-wheel drive and a total system output of 530 kW (720 PS) and 960 Nm of torque. So equipped, the massive grandsphere can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in under four seconds, while the flat 120 kWh lithium-ion battery enables a range of up to 750 km.

    The 800-volt electric architecture also allows for up to 270 kW of DC fast charging (the same as the e-tron GT), which can fill the battery from five to 80% in under 25 minutes. Put it in another way, you can add up to 300 km of additional range in just ten minutes.

    Suspension is handled by a five-link axle at the front and a multilink setup at the rear, both made from aluminium. Also fitted is single-chamber active air suspension, using a front camera and the navigation system to read the surface of the road ahead and electromechanical actuators that can push up or pull down each wheel separately, providing individual corner control. The grandsphere also comes with adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering.

    The skysphere and grandsphere concept will be followed by the urbansphere, which will be shown next year. That car will be able to fit more than two occupants and appears to take the form of a futuristic SUV.

  • Mercedes-AMG GT63S E Performance revealed – first AMG PHEV with 843 PS, 1,470 Nm, 12 km EV range

    After years of rumours and teasers, Mercedes-AMG is finally diving head-first into the world of electrification with the new GT 63 S E Performance. No, this plug-in hybrid doesn’t bear the oft-reported GT 73 moniker, but rest assured that this is indeed the 800-plus horsepower monster you were promised.

    Sitting at the apex of the GT 4-Door Coupé lineup, the new GT 63 S is the first V8-powered model in the facelifted range and the first Affalterbach car to bear the new E Performance nameplate. Under the bonnet sits the returning M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, pushing out the same 639 PS from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm and 900 Nm of torque between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm. So far, so normal.

    But it’s at the back where this AMG diverges from the script. Here, you’ll find a P3 electric motor, making 150 kW (204 PS) and 320 Nm and driving the rear wheels through an electronic limited-slip differential and a two-speed transmission. The latter engages second gear at around 140 km/h to enable the motor to continue providing motive power at higher speeds.

    A second propshaft enables some torque to be sent back up to the front wheels, providing all-wheel drive and the world’s most expensive game of connect the dots. A second electric motor, a 10 kW (14 PS) belt-driven starter-generator, is wedged between the engine and the nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT 9G automatic gearbox, powering the ancillaries in case the main battery is low in charge.

    The net result of all this added complication is an astonishing power figure of 843 PS and a towering 1,470 Nm, making this the most powerful AMG model in series production. So equipped, the new GT 63 S sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, smashes the 200 km/h barrier in under ten seconds and hits a top speed of 316 km/h.

    Of course, the car can drive on electric power alone, but the liquid-cooled rear-mounted lithium-ion battery isn’t very big, with a capacity of only 6.1 kWh. Mercedes-AMG says it is designed for fast power delivery rather than range, producing 70 kW (95 PS) continuously and the full 150 kW for up to ten seconds.

    As such, the all-electric range of the GT 63 S is only 12 km (at speeds of up to 130 km/h), although the battery weighs only 89 kg as a result. No charging times were shared, but the car is capable of accepting up to 3.7 kW of AC power through its on-board charger.

    The AMG Dynamic Select drive mode selector has Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ Race, Slippery and Individual settings. The car defaults to Comfort and starts silently, although it does play an engine startup sound through the speakers. There’s also an acoustic warning system mandated by law, with a specially-developed sound playing through the exterior and interior speakers at low speeds.

    As you move up the order from Sport to Race, the GT 63 S gradually unlocks more and more electric power while also sharpening the throttle response, gearshifts, steering and suspension. There are also four levels of regenerative braking, from zero to full one-pedal driving, with Race mode defaulting to the standard Level 1.

    The GT 63 S comes as standard with AMG Ride Control+ multi-chamber air suspension with revised adaptive dampers. You’ll also find carbon ceramic brakes with discs that measure 420 mm in diameter at the front and 380 mm at the rear, clamped by gold six-piston front callipers.

    Not much separates the GT 63 S from lesser six-cylinder models. Aside from the charging port on the rear bumper, it also comes with gloss black shrouds over the corner air intakes, dual chrome slats and a redesigned centre inlet with another pair of (fake) ducts – although this can also be specified on the less well-endowed siblings. The new fluted trapezoidal quad exhausts are unique to the V8, however.

    Inside, the greater GT 4-Door Coupé lineup gets new double-spoke AMG flat-bottomed steering wheel and the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, the latter featuring hybrid-specific displays on the GT 63 S.

  • 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class All-Terrain revealed – new X206 wagon gets SUV looks, rides 40 mm higher

    Given that SUVs are all the rage these days, it’s no surprise that Mercedes-Benz wants some of that magic to rub off its new C-Class. So here is the All-Terrain version of the compact executive model, the second such use of the name since it debuted on the E-Class in 2016.

    As with that model, the recipe is pretty simple – take the wagon version (in this case, the S206) and slap on some black plastic body cladding and fender flares and decorative chrome front and rear skid plates, in addition to raising the ride height by 40 mm. Setting the X206 further apart from its road-biased sibling are a slotted single-louvre grille and a chrome-plated load sill guard at the rear.

    The increased ground clearance comes courtesy of both a raised suspension and larger tyres, the latter wrapped around wheels that measure between 17 and 19 inches in diameter. Passive comfort dampers are fitted as standard, with the four-link front axle also featuring larger steering knuckles.

    Inside, the All-Terrain comes as standard with an Avantgarde interior, incorporating a round silver-trimmed steering wheel and sports seats with either black, macchiato beige or siena brown upholstery. Unique to the All-Terrain is the dedicated off-road screen on the freestanding 10.25-inch digital instrument display and the optional 12.3-inch variant, showing the vehicle’s inclination, steering angle, coordinates and compass.

    The wealth of technologies from the standard C-Class are available here, of course, many of which have been derived from the latest W223 S-Class. These include the Digital Light headlamps with guide line and warning projection, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), a massive 11.9-inch portrait centre touchscreen and an improved Driving Assistance Package.

    At launch, the All-Terrain will be available with one petrol and diesel variant. The C 300 utilises Mercedes’ new M254 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 258 PS and 400 Nm of torque. No mention of what diesel variant will be offered, but the regular C-Class is available in 163 PS/380 Nm C 200 d, 200 PS/440 Nm C 220 d and 265 PS/550 Nm C 300 d forms, all powered by the same OM654 2.0 litre oil burner.

    All models will come with a 20 PS/200 Nm 48-volt mild hybrid system, a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox and, fittingly for a car called the All-Terrain, 4Matic all-wheel drive. Specific to the All-Terrain are two additional drive modes for the Dynamic Select system – Offroad for driving on dirt roads, gravel or sand and Offroad+ with hill descent control.

  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class All-Terrain revealed tomorrow; EQE, AMG PHEV, Maybach EQS SUV due for Munich

    Mercedes-Benz is slowly but surely expanding the W206 C-Class lineup, with the sedan and the S206 wagon already revealed. The company has confirmed that a brand new variant, the All-Terrain, will be the next to be revealed, with the covers due to be pulled off the car tomorrow.

    This will mark the first time the All-Terrain badge finds its way to the C-Class, having made its debut on the current E-Class. Essentially, the longroof model will receive a raised ride height, black protective body cladding and skid plates to give it a quasi-SUV look and a modicum of off-road capability.

    Spy photographer Wilco Blok has already posted some screenshots of a reveal video on Instagram, showing these additions on the C-Class Estate body, together with some snazzy five-spoke two-tone alloys. Expect 4Matic all-wheel drive to be fitted as standard.

    The company has also confirmed several other model debuts planned next month ahead of the Munich Motor Show. The first of these will be a Mercedes-AMG plug-in hybrid model under the new E Performance banner, and while its exact identity has not been made known, it will likely be the GT 73, coming nearly three months after the facelifted GT 4-Door Coupé.

    The new range-topping model is expected to pair the ubiquitous M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 with a new P3 plug-in hybrid system. The latter will reportedly add an extra 204 PS and 363 Nm to deliver a total system output of at least 800 PS and over 1,000 Nm. The production AMG One hypercar should also make an appearance, given that customer deliveries are finally slated to kick off later this year.

    Following these models will be a whole slew of cars on September 5, including the fully-electric EQE. The smaller sibling to the EQS will feature much of the same technologies, including the full-width Hyperscreen display. It will also be built on the same Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA).

    The AMG and Mercedes-Maybach sub-brands are also expected to enter a new era of electrification on the same day, both showing their versions of EQ vehicles. The former has been seen testing a fettled EQS that is rumoured to be powered with at least one motor on each axle, pushing out an astonishing 761 PS; it’s likely that this is the car that will be making its world premiere in Munich.

    Meanwhile, Maybach will present a concept version of the EQS SUV, having already teased it last month. The luxurious show car will preview the flagship electric crossover, due to be revealed sometime next year together with the EQE SUV. Last but not least, smart will unveil a concept electric SUV that will preview a production model coming further down the line, developed in partnership with Geely.


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Last Updated 23 Mar 2023