New Mercedes-Benz People Movers - The Space Race

June 15, 2010
As the sleek Mercedes-Benz CLS is to regular four-door sedans, so is the recently unveiled Shooting Break concept related to traditional "shooting brake" station wagons. Never mind the concept label: this low-slung, high-style wagon will be a companion model to the redesigned CLS four-door coupe that debuts this fall. The production version of the Shooting Break should appear one year later, but U.S. sales are unlikely.
1007 04+mercedes Benz Shooting Break Concept+side View
With rivals Audi and BMW spreading hatchback models throughout their lineups, Mercedes is also adding another people mover, this one based on the forthcoming new C-class that is due in 2014. Allegedly inspired by the Honda Skydeck concept, the new entry is supposed to combine the roominess and flexibility of a minivan with the driver appeal of a wagon. True, that was also the brief of the disappointing R-class, but it's hoped that the smaller, prettier new entry, which may be badged CLR, will do better. The design features an elevated roofline (midway between a C-class wagon and an R-class), an extended rear overhang and wraparound tailgate (more upright than those from Audi and BMW), and power-operated rear sliding doors. The CLR will be a five-seater, with a staggered rear-seat configuration that accommodates three adults without shoulder contact. 4Matic all-wheel drive and a height-adjustable suspension will also be part of the program. The engine range will be topped by a twin-turbo V-6 good for 400 hp in AMG trim; a hybrid module that adds 20 hp may be standard equipment, and a plug-in hybrid might be an option.
The next S-class features an all-hybrid engine lineup, and the V-12 checks out.
The next-generation S-class - set to debut in 2012 and rendered here by our illustrator - will feature an evolutionary new design. The controversial wheel-arch extensions disappear, as do the heavy-handed trunk lid and the beefy bumpers. Fresh accents include LEDs integrated into the headlamps, a more upright grille, and more of those random, lateral swooshes that seem to be part of every future Benz. The bigger news is under the hood, as all S-class models will have hybrid powertrains and a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The power output of the small electric motor varies from 20 to 40 hp. For those with a greener conscience, Mercedes will also offer a plug-in hybrid, which increases electric boost to between 60 and 120 hp, depending on the engine it's paired with. Almost all the gasoline engines are new, including a direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 (producing about 300 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque); a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 (350 hp/390 lb-ft); a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 (400 hp/445 lb-ft); and a 5.5-liter V-8 (510 hp/590 lb-ft). Good news for the power-mad: the S63 AMG's output climbs from 518 hp to about 565 hp. The not-so-good news: it appears that the twelve-cylinder engines are history. On the latter point, one wonders - can Audi, BMW, and Aston Martin be far behind?


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