2004 Los Angeles Auto Show Page 2

December 30, 2003

Benz CLS 500 Coming in '05

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

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At the L.A. Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz announced that the Vision CLS four door coupe that was unveiled in September as a design study at the Frankfurt Auto Show will go into production. The new coupe will fill the gap between the CLK and the CL. The CLS is based on the C-class and the CL on the S-class. The CLS is technically based on the E-Class.

The production version will be launched in March at the Geneva Auto Show and a month later in New York. The CLS is expected to arrive in European dealerships by the end of 2004. It is expected in the U.S. in the first half of 2005.

The CLS will have to compete with BMW’s new 6-Series coupe, but has two doors more than its fellow countryman. Mercedes uses 85 percent of the components of the E-Class, such as Airmatic air suspension, SBC electronic braking and bi-xenon projector beam lights with active-curve technology. The body is 193.3 inches long, 72.8 inches wide and 54.7 inches high. The wheelbase is the same as of the E-Class, 112.4 inches. The luggage compartment has 16.6 cubic feet more space than any other coupe in the class. The Vision CLS is equipped with 19-inch wheels with 235/35 tires in the front and 285/30 in the rear.

The CLS 500 will be powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 with 304 hp that is teamed to the new G7-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission that was especially developed for the Mercedes V-8 engines. The G7-Tronic helps reduce gas consumption and emissions and provides improved acceleration from 0-60 mph. Even more improvement is reached in the acceleration from 40-80 mph. A 5.5-liter AMG V-8 with 476 hp will be available in a later stage. —Henny Hemmes

Elise to Arrive in U.S. in May 2004

2005 Lotus Elise

2005 Lotus Elise

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Lotus has confirmed its plan to export the Elise to the American market in May 2005. The Elise is the first new Lotus for North America since the debut of the 1990 Elan. The Esprit V-8 debuted in 1996 and the last batch of less than 100 cars will still be available next year.

With the Elise the British marque hopes to attract longtime Lotus enthusiasts. This model went on sale in Europe in 1996 as the twin brother of the Speedster, from GM’s European Opel division. More than 17,000 units have been sold since.

The Elise uses a Toyota 1.8-liter in-line four engine with 190 hp and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It reaches a top of 150 mph. The engine works together with a six-speed manual gearbox.

The car will be priced at $39,985. U.S. buyers have the possibility to customize the Elise with a Touring pack for $1350, which includes among others leather seats, power windows, an upgraded audiosystem, a double insulated soft top and additional sound damping. Also available is a Sports Pack ($2480) with larger aluminium wheels, a track-tuned suspension and specific Yokohama tires. A hard top will be available for $1475.

Lotus Cars USA hopes to sell 2400 Elises on an annual basis through its 38 dealers in 29 major U.S. markets. —Henny Hemmes

Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata Gets 178 HP

2004 Mazda Mazdaspeed Miata

2004 Mazda Mazdaspeed Miata

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Today Mazda unveiled the Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It is the tenth new model for Mazda in twelve months. The Mazdaspeed Miata has 1500 different parts compared to the base version. Under the hood is the well-known 1.8-liter engine that got revised heads and the assistance of a turbocharger to generate 178 hp at 6000 rpm, up 25 percent from the normally aspirated Miata. New is the use of ball bearings instead of floating bearings for the turbo.

The turbo engine generates 166 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm (up 33 percent) and is teamed to a six-speed stick shift transmission. Furthermore this Miata has a different differential and a tuned suspension. The car has been lowered 7 mm and uses 17-inch wheels and high-performance Toyo tires.

A new front fascia, rear lid spoiler and a new diffuser mark the exterior. The two-tone cloth interior, a new instrument cluster and center stack are the most significant interior changes.
The Mazdaspeed Miata will go on sale in the spring and is priced at $25,500 with cloth interior and $26,200 with a leather interior. —Henny Hemmes

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