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2008 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance


On August 3, I finally returned to one of my favorite summer events, the annual Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. Held the first weekend of August every year since 1979, this Concours is one of the premier events of its type. Not quite as prestigious as the Pebble Beach Concours happening the weekend of August 16 (yes, the same weekend as Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise), Meadow Brook has earned a strong reputation. For me, it’s simply a chance to wander among cars from storied brands of today and yesterday. Delahaye, Packard, Auburn, Duesenburg, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Peugeot, Ferrari, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Rolls-Royce, the list goes on and on.


As you enter the Concours d’Elegance, the show starts.

Meadow Brook is home to a mansion of the same name built by the widow of John Dodge, one of the two Dodge brothers that helped establish the automotive industry we know today. The home and its property now belongs to Oakland University. Aside from the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating the automobile as an art from, the event’s purpose is to raise funds for upkeep of the 88,000-square-foot mansion and its grounds. Seems a fitting choice of fundraising event.

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Top Brands in Vehicle Satisfaction for 2008


Each year AutoPacific identifies the Brand and individual vehicles that top all others in vehicle satisfaction: The Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck. Owner satisfaction is measured across 46 specific areas related to a vehicle’s operation, comfort, safety and the overall purchase/lease experience. The 2008 ratings reflect input from 33,500 buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September through December 2007.


2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award top brand honors went to Cadillac, while other luxury brands such as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche also had strong showings. But what does it mean to have a top brand? Though calculations single out one brand as having the highest overall score, each individual attribute also has its own top scorer. Sometimes the detail underneath it all can have just as much, if not more, meaning than the final outcome.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Wins AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Luxury Car



For the second year in a row, owners in the Premium Luxury Car segment have crowned the Mercedes-Benz S-Class an Ideal Vehicle. The same S-Class that has become synonymous with safety, style, and performance won out over Audi, Lexus, and Infiniti, among others, by receiving higher ratings for exterior styling, interior lighting, passenger room, ride, handling, safety, ingress/egress, interior storage and an level of technology.

Posted in: Awards, Mercedes-Benz

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards


IVA main.jpg

Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.

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Mercedes Benz S-Class Wins AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Premium Luxury Car Segment


S-Class VSA.jpg

When the Mercedes-Benz S-Class beat out tough competitors such as the Lexus LS, Acura RL and Cadillac STS, owners made it clear that they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else. The S-Class was bought on its Reputation and the Mercedes-Benz’s Brand Reputation. It received high marks from owners in several areas, including Braking, Handling, and Fun to Drive. Even though owners would like better Fuel Economy/Gas Mileage in this large, powerful car, they were very satisfied with its Size and Driver’s Seat Comfort.

Posted in: Awards, Mercedes-Benz

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards



Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.

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Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK FREESIDE: Baby Benz SUV


Only the night before the official reveal at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz borrowed Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Modern Art for a media sneak preview of their Vision GLK FREESIDE. Presented by Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche, the concept is not a hypothetical exercise. This C-Class-based small SUV will be in showrooms in January 2009. Dr. Zetsche reminded us the C-Class has grown up since the sedan was first known as the Baby Benz, but the GLK will be the baby of Mercedes SUV family. Pricing is far from decided, but expect it to closely overlay the C-Class.


The Vision GLK FREESIDE is being shown with two different faces and different interior accents, though both have the same running gear and engine. There are also two colors, one a dramatic matte-finish white excellent for showing up the complex surfacing of this small SUV. Differences between the two Visions include front fascia, wheels, and interior trim. One conveys a more luxurious, sophisticated on-road personality while the other looks tougher and more capable, though still clearly a high-end compact SUV. The more capable-looking of the two is the one pictured here, and seems to be the favorite. It is possible that Mercedes offer both, in a strategy similar to offering both modern and traditional faces for the C-Class.

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2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK: Light Update


Freshened Look and Improved V6 Engines for Baby Benz Roadster
Among the vehicles due on Mercedes-Benz2008 North American International Auto Show stand this January is a revised SLK. Sales are slated for April 2008.


2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350

The updated SLK sports a revised nose and rear fascia, strengthening the car’s visual ties to the big bad SLR McLaren supercar, and a few changes to the interior. The V6 engines are updated for more power and reduced emissions, though AMG’s 5.5L V8 goes unchanged. At least in the States, models sporting the 3.0L V6 will be badged SLK 300 (instead of SLK 280). The U.S. lineup still skips the European four-cylinder option, with the 2009 range going from 228HP 3.0L V6 SLK 300 to 300HP 3.5L V6 SLK 350 to top-dog V8 SLK 55 AMG.

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG

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VehicleVoice#75 – The Oldest Mercedes Still on the Road?


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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: The Color this Fall Was Green


I spent two days crisscrossing the massive Frankfurt auto show, and the focus on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and “green” solutions could not be missed. Very few manufacturers were not talking about fuel economy gains in their powertrain lineup and many announced hybrid plans or showed hybrid concepts. What we’re seeing here is the culmination of years of research, rather than fiberglass what-if models. Many of these hybrids or other technology-based solutions will be on the roads later this decade.


Mercedes-Benz will, during the 2009CY, offer a hybrid powertrain in the S-Class and the M-Class, while a smart fortwo mild hybrid system goes on sale in October. Porsche gave updated the Cayenne’s diesel for more power but also promises a parallel series hybrid using the existing 3.6L V6 by the end of 2010CY. General Motors took the system shown under the Chevrolet Volt in January, replaced the gasoline engine with a diesel one, and created the Opel Flextreme as well as showing off an Opel Corsa Hybrid. Volvo put a plug-in hybrid into the C30 to create the Recharge concept. Land Rover is adding stop-start systems in 2009CY, and Audi will bring a hybrid to the Q7.

Small cars are more prevalent on international roads and therefore more prevalent at auto shows outside the United States. Toyota brought us the iQ, Volkswagen the up!, and Ford the Verve. Renault’s latest Twingo was on the show floor as well, though this was not its debut.


Notable exceptions to the small and green game were Ferrari and the 430 Scuderia (introduced by Michael Schumacher himself), the Aston Martin DBS (officially introduced at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance), the Bentley Continental GTS Speed, the Lamborghini Reventon (of which only twenty will be made, with a price tag around $1.4 million), and Maserati.


Day two of Frankfurt’s show holds most of the supplier press conferences, leaving us a chance to take photos and see some general reaction. Frankfurt’s convention center has 10 halls, with at least seven of them holding the major manufacturers and others holding aftermarket and supplier stands. Walking the full show requires much time and comfortable shows and several hours. Interest was strong in the Mercedes-Benz F700 Concept (previewing the next S-Class), the Audi A4, Opel’s Flextreme, Ford’s Verve and Kuga, and Jaguar’s XF. Peugeot and Citroen concepts, the 308RCZ and the Airscape, saw plenty of attention, as did Nissan’s very odd-looking Mixim.


The Volkswagen Tiguan stand was flocked with people getting a chance to get in and crawl around the new model, with plenty also checking out the up! city car. Interestingly, every time I went through hall 6, home to Italian makes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati as well as Porsche and Hyundai it was completely mobbed. On the other hand, Kia’s Kee coupe concept and BMW’s X6 concepts didn’t seem to grab attendees as much.


While going green may be good for us, hybrid systems and new engine developments don’t make for great pictures or put the enthusiasm into driving that a great-looking design can. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more detailed coverage of many of these. Stay tuned.

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