The chunky new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

Mercedes Benz has been trying to retire the agricultural 33-year old G-Wagen for years, but people keep buying the damn thing. It’s replacement was supposed to be the GL series, a large and luxurious 7-seater seemingly tailor-made for an American extended family and the open freeway. Unfortunately it is an expensive and somewhat uninspiring vehicle with none of the style of its equally gargantuan German rival the Audi Q7. However it’s smaller brother the GL is a chunky and almost cute synthesis of the all-terrain vehicle paradigm and the current Mercedes-Benz style guide, especially after it’s 2013 model year refit.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

The first GLK had the feeling of an experiment on Mercedes’ part. A radically sharp and boxy shape with a single engine choice and a basic interior. A dalliance with the custom car community at launch suggested M-B were aiming the vehicle at “the youth”. This has changed.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

Car’s such as the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and most importantly the Range Rover Evoque have defined this segment that we might call “Affluent Mom”. There’s gold in them there hills and the full force of Mercedes-Benz design, styling and engineering teams has descended to craft the GLK into full membership of the company’s range.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

Naturally the oversized grill and snout are now in place together with the characteristic low air intakes below the lamp clusters. This being nominally an off-road vehicle we get a chromed sump guard rather than the usual front splitter.

Wheel arches are purposefully pumped and at the rear develop into a more cubist interpretation of the current Mercedes side swoop. Big rear taillights and another chromed under-plate complete the look.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

It’s on the chunky side of cute and compared to Audi & BMW offerings a little more masculine and American in intent. Although made in Germany the U.S. is clearly a major sales target – indeed the vehicle is not offered in some European markets, including the U.K. where the Evoque is sweeping all before it.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK interior

The interior has similarly graduated to the current range standard style, including big chunks of polished walnut, leather and the “jet engine” ventilation outlets from the range-topping SLS. The detailing is perhaps slightly less opulent than some of the sedans but any owner will feel they are driving a proper Mercedes-Benz and that’s clearly been a priority for the company.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK interior

One potentially cost-saving measure, or perhaps one just aimed at American Moms, is the use of a column mounted gear shift for the ubiquitous 7-speed auto box rather than the regular console-mounted stick and steering wheel paddles.

The GLK350 (2 wheel drive) and GLK350 4MATIC (4 wheel drive) are both powered by a fuel-efficient 3.5- liter direct-injection V6 gasoline engine generating 302 hp (225 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque from 3,500 to 5,250 rpm.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

This accelerates the GLK350 and GLK350 4MATIC from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Top speed is 130 mph. This new motor also features Mercedes-Benz’s ECO stop/start system for better fuel economy, particularly in city and suburban driving conditions. The GLK 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC boasts the most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine in the SUV world apparently. The direct-injection engine is rated at 190 hp (150 kW) and generates 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque from 2,143 cc.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

Even more frugal engine choices in the form of 4 wheel drive 220 BlueTEC and 2 wheel drive 200 & 220 BlueEfficiency diesels will be offered in Europe but not the U.S.

Vehicles will become available at the end of summer 2012 and European prices range from 36,000 euros to 50,000 euros including taxes while U.S. prices will come in at about $45,000 excluding taxes.

Mercedes-Benz 2012 GLK in AMG trim

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

The original and the modern interpretation

It’s fifty years ago since the Renault Alpine A110 Berlinette was introduced as one of the most beautiful road cars of its time, embodying light weight and sweet handling and furthering the long and successful Renault motorsport heritage by winning rallies all over the world.

The Renault Alpine A110-50 and the Renault Alpine A110

Not surprisingly, such a memorable automotive birthday has precipitated a very appealing concept car.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

The Renault Alpine A110-50, is a reinterpretation of the original Alpine’s key features in a thoroughly modern way. It has focussed on the most characteristic design features of the original A110 with newly sculpted flowing bodywork.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

Some of the other design features you can see carried across include the half-domed lamps becoming full LED yellow lighting and the 3D rear window which reveals the mid-rear engine.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

Air intakes on each side echo the ducts on the rear wheel arches of the original Berlinette.

The right-hand duct is for gearbox cooling, the left for the engine bay.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

Produced by Faster, the carbon-fibre bodywork features a new shade of blue which refreshes and reinterprets the famous original ‘Alpine Blue’.

One of the most interesting aspects of the reinterpretation is the shape – unlike the original which was built before ground effects design was invented, the aerodynamic efficiency of the A110-50 is largely generated by ground effect.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

At the front, a splitter hidden in the bumper generates low pressure, which results in significant aerodynamic downforce.

At the rear, a diffuser accelerates air flow beneath the floor. Ground effect therefore accounts for more than one-third of the car’s downforce, with the rest coming from an adjustable rear wing.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

The research and design of this air flow was conducted using Computational Fluid Dynamics, a cutting-edge technology used particularly in F1. CFD involves studying movements of a fluid, or their effects, by resolving digitally the equations which govern the fluid.

This technique was used by Renault Sport Technologies primarily in order to fine-tune the aerodynamics and study the behaviour of the New Mégane Trophy as a function of air flow.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

Every opening panel does so with dynamics worthy of the finest GTs, with the bonnet hinged at the front and the engine bay cover opening towards the rear. The doors feature a scissor motion.

Produced with the renowned expertise of Renault Sport Technologies, the Renault Alpine A110-50 concept car is imbued with the world of motorsport.

It benefits from the experience gained from the racing Mégane Trophy by using the same technical platform.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

Developed on the same technical platform as Mégane Trophy, the Renault Alpine A110-50 concept car also boasts the same chief technical characteristics.

It runs the Renault V4Y engine block, a 3.5 litre 24-valve 400hp V6 mounted in a mid-rear position.

The crankcase (semi-wet), moving parts (pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft), valve train (camshafts and valve springs) and exhaust system are specific compared to the version featured on productions models.

Renault reinterprets the Alpine A110 to commemorate its 50th Birthday

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

THe BMW i brand will debut its third-concept – following the i8 and the i3 – at the 2012 New York Auto Show next week. Known as the BMW i8 Concept Spyder, the concept is just a drop top version of the i8, loses the two rear seats and offers some sexy convertible looks.

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

“Among the most eye-catching features of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are the upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a range of purpose-oriented on-board equipment including electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate,” BMW said in a statement. “The sports car is based around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, itself underpinned by a lightweight modular construction and the use of high-quality high-tech materials.”

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

Power for the BMW i8 Spyder Concept comes from the same setup as the coupe. A 131-hp electric-motor drives the front axle while a 1.5 liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine making 220-hp and 221 lb-ft of torque moves the rear axle. Together, the system produced 349-hp and 405 lb-ft of torque.

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

Mated to a twin-speed transmission, the BMW i8 Spyder Concept runs from 0 to 62 mph in less than 5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. On a full charge of its lithium-ion battery, the BMW i8 provides all-electric driving range of approximately 20 miles with a total range of around 400 miles. BMW says that the two-seater burns just three litres of petrol per 100 kilometers, which comes out to around 78 miles per gallon.

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

So will it enter production? Most likely. One thing you can tell when you compare the i8 coupe to the i8 spider, is that the latter seems to be closer to a production version.

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

We’ll bring you live images next week from the 2012 New York Auto Show.

BMW i8 Spyder Concept

Specifications: BMW i8 Concept Spyder:

  • Length/Height/Width: L 4480 mm, H 1208 mm, W 1922 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2650 mm
  • No. of seats: 2
  • Kerb weight: 1630 kg
  • Top speed: 250 km/h (155 mph) electr. governed
  • Acceleration: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) 5 s 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph) 4.0 s
  • System output TwinPower Turbo engine: 260 kW / 550 Nm 164 kW / 300 Nm
  • Fuel consumption (EU cycle): 3 l/100km / 94 mpg imp
  •  eDrive
  • output electric motor: 96 kW
  • electric range: approx. 27-30 km (17 – 19 miles)
  • battery charge time: standard: 1.45 h for 100% charge approx.
  • Luggage compartment: 100 litres

BMW i8 Spyder Concept