Editor-in-Chief's Note: I have heard from two Chrysler insiders intimately familiar with the Viper program insisting that I got it wrong about the Viper in last week's column. Each email - sent separately - basically corroborated each other's view, that it wasn't Marchionne who sent the Viper down the wrong path, but it was Ralph Gilles who egregiously mishandled the latest version of the car, dumbing it down at every crucial juncture. I have subsequently verified from other sources that Gilles made bad decision after bad decision, including putting the maliciously inept Beth Paretta in charge of marketing, which was a disastrous choice by any measure and one of the biggest reasons the program failed. The other chief reason? The Chrysler dealers are completely ill-equipped to sell the car and that no matter what kind of effort the True Believers on the Viper program put forth, the dealers are so bad and so out of place that they were over-matched in even attempting to sell the Viper. I'll add this too - rumors that the car is heading for the scrap heap are not unfounded, particularly given the reverential treatment and coverage that the Hellcat Challenger is getting. So, I stand corrected. - PMD
The Mercedes-Benz S550 PLUG-IN HYBRID is now available. According to the manufacturer, the 5,093 lb. V6 biturbo-powered sedan has a total system output of 436 hp and 479 lb-ft torque, accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds and can drive up to 20 miles on pure electric power. The high-voltage lithium-ion battery has an energy content of 8.7 kWh and can be externally recharged via the charging socket in the right side of the rear bumper.
(Images courtesy of Bentley)
Bentley has introduced a new pinnacle flagship, the new sport-oriented Mulsanne Speed. The luxury sport machine is powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 with 530HP (537 PS/395 kW) and 811 lb.ft of torque (1,100 Nm). The package includes driver selectable sports suspension and steering on demand. Zero to 60 mph is achieved in 4.8 seconds (0‑100 km/h in 4.9 seconds) and the top speed is 190 mph (305 km/h), according to Bentley. They're also promising a 13% gain in efficiency, which translates into a range extended by 50 miles (80 km).
The Mulliner Driving Specification interior features are fitted as standard on the Mulsanne Speed. Customers choose from 24 different hide colors, in six different color splits and ten different veneers (seven are extra cost options) .
The Mulsanne Speed will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show on Thursday, October 2, and will be available for customer delivery this winter.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us in a 2014 Audi A6 TDI quattro Tiptronic. In comparison to the BMW 535d that we had a couple of weeks ago, this Audi is lighter on its feet, faster and a bit noisier. The appeal of these modern diesel-powered vehicles is apparent. If you're happy with gobs of low-end torque and not interested in high-winding performance, the mileage of this Audi (24 mpg city/38 highway) is indeed impressive. I'm not sold on one for my every day driver, however. - PMD
2014 Audi A6 TDI quattro Tiptronic: $67,295 ($57,500 Base Price; Glacier White Metallic; Black Interior; Fine grain Ash natural inlays; 3.0-liter TDI V6 with 240HP and 428 lbs-ft of torque; quattro permanent all-wheel drive system; Eight-speed Tiptronic transmission; 18" 5-V-spoke-design wheels with 245/45 all-season tires; Audi drive select; Electronic Stabilization Control; Disc brakes front and rear with ABS; Electromechanical vehicle speed-sensitive power steering; Power glass sunroof; Rain and light sensor; leather seating surfaces; 8-way power, heated, front seats with driver lumbar support and driver memory; Split-folding rear seat; Three-zone automatic climate control; 4-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls; Tilt & telescoping adjustable steering column; Auto-dimming interior mirror; 7" color Driver Information System; Audi advanced key; Garage door opener (HomeLink); Preparation for mobile phone (Bluetooth); Audi music interface with iPod cable; SIRIUS Satellite radio with three-month complimentary subscription; Audi MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch; Audi connect with six month subscription; Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lamps; Driver Assistance Package - Audi adaptive cruise control, Audi pre sense plus, Audi active lane assist, Top View camera system - $2,800; A6 Prestige Model - S line exterior, Four-zone climate control, Ambient lighting plus with LED, Bose Sound System, Front seat ventilation, Power adjustable steering column with memory, Auto-dimming and power folding heated exterior mirrors, Audi adaptive light & cornering light, Audi side assist - $2,800; 19" Sport Package - 19" 5-double-spoke wheels, all-season tires, 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles - $1,500; Black Optic Package - 20" 5-arm Rotor-design wheels, Titanium finish (supercedes 19" Sport Package wheels), Summer tires, High Gloss Black package - $1,300; Front filler panel; Destination charge, $895)
Adherence to Brand Image: If you're looking for Truth in Engineering, this is it. This machine utilizes technological lessons learned from Audi's all-conquering, Le Mans-winning TDI race cars. Seamless, torque-y and quick, this turbo-diesel Audi is very impressive. - PMD
Letter from L.A.
By Tom Pease
Beverly Hills. My main car died. Being at sixes and sevens and having a job that involves a commute of basically getting up meant that replacing it wasn't really an issue. So I joined a car sharing service. I have the card in my wallet and have used it about three times in the past year, and am am considering canceling it. Why? It's not the availability of the cars - they're there, and apparently well used. It's not the selection of cars (although the first time I reserved at the last minute the Mini Cooper Convertible I put in for was changed to a Hyundai Sonata, which was sort of like ordering tuna tartare and getting a microwave burrito, but to their credit, they gave me the car and extra time for free). It's because I am cheap.
If I am renting a car by the hour I want to rent it to to drive. I don't want to pay $12 an hour to park it. So I have used the car sharing service for trips to Ikea and the like that I know would be less than 20 minutes in the store, but for stuff where I'm going to be indoors for hours? No thanks.
Meanwhile, LA Metro bumped up fares on the bus system, which means that the monthly pass that will actually get you anywhere is now over $1300 a year. Which makes that ancient hoopty look like a better deal...