A biweekly round-up of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Details of all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class leak out
In the 40 odd years since it first took to the roads, Mercedes-Benz's flagship executive sedan has been first in class for classy firsts. First car to feature satellite navigation, first to have airbags, first to have three-point seatbelts.
With the latest generation due to bow as a 2014 model, anticipations are high for what M-B describes as "the best automobile in the world." Not the fastest, not the most fuel-efficient, and not the most capable off-road: just the best premium four-door you can buy.
What's new for the S-Class? Along with refreshed, yet traditionally conservative exterior styling, there's an all-new interior design that's more luxurious than ever. Mercedes has also done away with analog instruments, replacing the S-Class's speedometer and tachometer with twin high-resolution colour displays.
However, it's hard to be first with firsts as all auto manufacturers compete to cram even more technology into the car. While the new S-Class has seatbelts with airbags, so too does the lowly Ford Explorer.
Well, you won't find 14 massaging air cushions in your Ford, will you? No, and nor will you see anything like Mercedes' new climate control system, which has the ability to detect offensive odours and either neutralize them using ionization or flip the switch of an active perfuming system.
Finally, he who dealt it need no longer have smelt it.
Honda says cheerio to new Odyssey
Queen of the minivan segment, the Honda Odyssey is one of those vehicles that you can't help but like. Just don't tell anyone I said that - minivans are bad for streetcred.
High trim level Odysseys are a bit like flying business class, with plenty of room, a cushy ride, DVD players for the kids and all kinds of powered goodies. Their backseats also go from being shiny and new to being semi-toxic wastelands in the blink of an eye, as crumbs, french fries, raisins and cereal all get ground into the carpet. Not to mention grubby little paws dirtying up the upholstery.
Perhaps recognizing the somewhat compostey nature of parental driving duties, Honda has teased next week's New York Auto-show launch of their new minivan (the seven-seater MDX is also due soon) with a cheeky image: the word "Odyssey" spelt out in little round "O"s.
Expect a few new clever features from Honda, but really, some sort of integrated vacuum system would be nice to see.
Cadillac announces twin-turbo V-6
With the new CTS due to launch sometime in the next week or so, Cadillac is poised to fan the flames of the excitement that sprang up around the launch of their sporty compact sedan, the ATS.
Having won kudos for being more BMW-like than BMW's best efforts, the ATS is a pretty convincing argument that Cadillac is doing a good job of changing their brand image from Goodfellas to gearheads. Forgive me for thinking it would be even better with a great big American V-8 stuffed under the hood.
Right now, the CTS is available with either a decently powered 3.6-litre V-6, or a fire-breathing supercharged V-8 in the V models. There's quite a gap between them, and folks who want a little more zip without the horrible fuel-economy of the forced-induction cars have wandered over to Audi and BMW.
Doubtless the new CTS will come with some pretty angular styling and, as is a usual Cadillac signature, a trapezoidal front grille like the Science World dome flattened out. Behind that grille? A base 2.0-litre turbo, the carry-over V-6, possibly eventually the super V-8, but also a twin-turbo V-6.
GM is stating the new engine will produce 420 h.p. and, when bolted to a new eight-speed transmission, produce 0-100 kilometres per hour times in the mid-four-second range. That's not far off the rear-drive-only V-Series, and better yet, the twin-turbo '6 should still return around 9.5 litres/100 kilometres.
It all sounds great on paper, but this surely means the ATS-V won't get a V-8. A shame that even Cadillac can't be bothered making the big, simple V-8 sedan a winning sales combination.
Corvette versus Viper: Shots fired in all-American rivalry
Ordinarily, motoring magazines are quick to line GM's Corvette up against the best that Europe has to offer. 'Vette vs. 911; 'Vette vs. Lamborghini; 'Vette vs Audi R8.
It makes for a great story - the best in American brute-force against high-tech German engineering or capricious Italian steel. More often than not, the plastic-fantastic 'Vette rises above its shoddy interior and redneck image and wipes the floor with its high-dollar foes. Fun stuff.
But over at Dodge/Chrysler, the SRT department has been putting out some seriously kick-ass machinery, and their new Viper is even more brash than the 'Vette. Neither one is the type to shy away from a showdown, so the 'Vette and the Viper have been locked in pitched battle at tracks like Laguna Seca.
So far, the story has skewed towards the venerable ZR1 'Vette, which insists on putting down seriously quick lap times, even on its way out the door. The Viper's no shrinking violet though, and Dodge's SRT division has just released a new Time Attack version that's the fastest Viper yet.
Will it be victorious in the latest match-up? Maybe, but what of the upcoming Stingray seventh-gen Corvette and its eventual highest-performance variants? Time to make some popcorn!
Watch this space for all the week's best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to brakingnews@gmail. com. Follow Brendan on Twitter @brendan_ mcaleer.