Benz SL Goes to 550 and 382
You don't want to mess with a good thing, so Mercedes didn't change too much about its 2007 Mercedes Benz SL550 roadster. Underneath the hood, a new 5.5-liter V-8 engine matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission compelled the name change from SL500 to SL550, although outside
The new engine produces 382 hp from those 5.5 liters, up 80 hp from the previous engine. Torque also gets a boost, moving up 52 lb-ft to 391. As you'd expect, this is a thoroughly modern and sophisticated chain-driven, double-overhead-cam engine with variable-valve timing to get the best balance between performance and efficiency.
Hooked to this engine is a new adaptive seven-speed automatic transmission called the 7G-Tronic, which comes with a sports system that includes paddle shifting on the steering wheel. It shifts smoother, but engineers say the shifts are also 30 percent faster.
The second generation of Mercedes' Active Body Control is installed to the SL550. It allows 60 percent more control of the suspension, to keep the car flat when the driving gets strenuous. The entire active suspension system and various brake assists work together to - well, they can't change the laws of physics, but they do extend the time until they take effect. The result is to make every driver better and safer without their even realizing it.
The appearance changes are subtle. A new front air dam, front grille, revised taillamps and redesigned door-entry sills, and a new 18-inch ten-spoke wheel are the extent of outside updates. Inside, the upgrades are the materials - new high-quality leather and some new colors, including black and red, and some new toys-and-trinkets like Sirius Satellite radio and hands-free telephone capability (you have to buy the Bluetooth or Multi Handset Interface separately).
To honor the 50th anniversary of the most famous of this line, the 300SL, the North American market will get an SL Roadster 50th Anniversary Edition. Just 550 of them will be sold, and they'll feature exclusive double five-spoke wheels, a brown leather and black ash trim interior, and a pewter-colored exterior.
Prices won't be released until closer to the April sale date, but expect the new SL550 it to go up about a percent or so. -David Schmidt
2006 Geneva Motor Show Preview, Part
I by Ian Norris
Enzo Wrecker Details Emerge
Earlier this week, TCConfidential told you about
the smashing crash-up of a Ferrari Enzo on the streets of
Group 1 Automotive, publicly-owned 95-store megadealer, overcame the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, plus reduced sales of domestic brands, and reported a fourth-quarter net income spurt of 44 percent as revenues for the full year 2005 rose to a record $5.96 billion. Houston-based Group 1 finished a year marked by a corporate reorganization plan with "meaningful improvements in our overall profit performance," said President and CEO Earl J. Hesterberg. As gross revenues advanced 9.8 percent for the year, a fourth-quarter net income of $16.2 million led to a yearly net of $70.3 million, or $2.90 a share.
The upbeat results prompted Group 1's board to declare its first-ever quarterly dividend, 13 cents a share, and Hesterberg to forecast a further guidance advance this year to $3.15-$3.45 a share if new-vehicle sales remain at the 17 million annualized level. Hesterberg said in an analyst and media conference call that luxury and import brands accounted for a company peak of 62.4 percent of new-vehicle sales in 2005, rising in the fourth quarter to 65.7 percent. Group 1 sales by brands were as follows for the year: Toyota/Lexus/Scion, 29.2 percent; Ford Motor Company brands, 18.5 percent; DaimlerChrysler, 14.8 percent; Nissan/Infiniti, 10.9 percent; GM brands, 9.8 percent; Honda/Acura, 9.6 percents; and others, 7.2 percent.
Group 1 acquired a Toyota/Lexus
McNabb Ditches Nissan for Benz
Add Mark McNabb to the list of
Nissan executives choosing other climes rather than moving with the Japanese
GM Names Newman as CFO
General Motors says that Mary Boland's replacement as CFO will be Mark Newman. Newman has served as the company's assistant treasurer since 2004, and has held posts in the company's Chinese operations as well. Boland left the CFO position two weeks ago, and had served as the brand manager for the Pontiac Bonneville.
Finalists Named in World Car of the Year
2006 Mazda Miata
* BMW 3-Series
* Honda Civic / Civic Hybrid
* Lexus IS
* Mazda MX-5
* Mercedes-Benz M-Class
* Mercedes-Benz S-Class
* Porsche Cayman S
* Suzuki Swift
* Volkswagen Passat
The winner will be chosen by secret ballots in late March. The winner will be announced at the New York Auto Show on April 13 during the show's press days. The panel of journalists also will choose a performance car, green car, and car design of the year.
FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., announced manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) today for the all-new 2007 Camry sedan…All this standard equipment adds up to excellent value with a base MSRP of $18,270, a decrease of $175 or 0.9 percent, for four-cylinder manual models, while the four-cylinder automatic models will carry an MSRP of $19,320, an increase of $45 or 0.2 percent. The Camry LE adds to this package a long list of additional features, including a remote keyless entry, eight-way-adjustable power driver's seat, and for V-6 models dual exhaust with chrome tips. Four-cylinder models will carry a base MSRP of $19,450, a decrease of $95 or 0.5 percent, for models with manual transmission. Models with automatic transmissions will be positioned at $20,500, or an increase of $125 or 0.6 percent. LE V-6 models will have a base MSRP of $23,040, or an increase of $260 or 1.1 percent. SE four-cylinder models with a manual transmission will have an MSRP of $20,790, an increase of $415 or 2.0 percent. The MSRP for automatic transmission models will be $21,790, an increase of $585 or 2.8 percent. SE models with a V-6 will start at $24,315, an increase of $290 or 1.2 percent.
|American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc.||AXL||17.01|
|Ballard Power Systems Inc.||BLDP||6.10|
|DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR)||DCX||55.77|
|Dura Automotive Systems||DRRA||2.37|
|Ford Motor Company||F||8.17|
|General Motors Corporation||GM||20.59|
|Goodyear Tire & Rubber||GT||14.59|
|Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||HMC||29.82|
|Johnson Controls Inc.||JCI||69.15|
|Magna International Inc.||MGA||73.61|
|Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||NSANY||23.42|
|Sonic Automotive Inc.||SAH||26.48|
|Sirius Satellite Radio||SIRI||5.22|
|Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR)||TM||107.76|
|TRW Automotive Holdings||TRW||27.80|
|Tower Automotive Inc.||TWRAQ.PK||0.069|
|United Auto Group Inc.||UAG||43.83|
|XM Satellite Radio Hold.||XMSR||22.24|