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Mercedes-Benz X-Class: What is America missing out on?

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Mercedes-Benz’s foray into the pickup truck market begins in earnest with their new luxury X-Class. As the new truck begins to arrive into international markets, what is the US missing out on?

In a landscape dominated by giants, the American mid-size truck market often comes in second best in sales compared to its full-sized counterparts. While the US mid-size truck options will receive a bit of a shakeup with the return of the Ford Ranger in 2019, international markets will get the European brand’s first attempt at luxurifying the pickup truck.

Named the X-Class, the Mercedes-Benz truck boasts the same chassis as the Nissan Navara but will come complete with additional Mercedes features and tech not available on its donor car. The X-Class comes with four engine options, one petrol and three diesel, badged with Mercedes-Benz’s familiar naming structure- X200, X220d, X250d, X350d. The latter features a 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine that pumps out 255hp and 550nm of torque, but will only arrive a few months after the rest of the offerings go on sale.

The first batch of trucks recently arrived here in Australia and will come in three grades, Pure, Progressive, and its highest trim level, Power.  Mercedes Benz has promised that the X-Class will lead the line in luxury pick up trucks, offering up a slew of nice trimmings that should entice those who want a little luxury to go with their off-roading. The Power level trim will come with its seats upholstered in man-made Artico leather, LED hi-po headlights, Mercedes Benz’s COMMAND infotainment system, a 360-degree camera and PARKTRONIC assist.  In Australia, the X-Class can boast that it is the first truck to feature as standard, autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Paying more for the pointed star

The X-Class will come at a premium of course, with the added features and finish demanding a higher price point than competitor brands in the segment. In Australia, the X-Class kicks off its pricing for its base X220d at $45,450 ($35,418 in US dollars) before it skyrockets up to a pricy $64,500 ($50,300 in USD) for the X250d in Power trim. This is before they release the X350d pricing, which is expected to be north of the 70k mark. It all seems a little bit expensive for a utility vehicle whose segment leaders in Australia ask for about $60,000 in their highest specs. This is all before you add expensive options like genuine leather seats or A-Class styling (each asking for more than a thousand bucks a pop).

To compare, if you go to the Chevy website and build and price a Colorado, spec’d in its Midnight Edition with additional Sat Nav, a year’s worth of On-Star support and for fun, a Cat-Back exhaust, it comes to USD$41,630. I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose, I’d pick the bowtie over the pointed star any day.

An UnAmerican truck

It’s no surprise that Mercedes Benz has said the US market isn’t an option for its X-Class at present time. You could say that while the Colorado, the returning Ranger, the GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma hold a unique spot in the truck market in the United States, there really is only one grand winner in the overall truck segment. The land of the free, the home of the brave, is well and truly the domain of the F-150. Large trucks continue to dominate sales in the United States, with Ford’s F-Series and Chevy’s Silverado leading all car sales in the United States. Ram Trucks round off the top four with only the Nissan Rogue sneaking into the top three. A European brand releasing an expensive truck into an established segment is probably a battle Mercedes Benz knows it can’t win at the moment.

So is America missing out on the X-Class?

The short answer is no. Even here in Australia, there are other trucks probably better value for money. Especially since the X-Class itself shares a platform with another brand that has already carved out its niche here.

If someday the X-Class makes its way to American shores and you’re given the option to buy an X-Class over a Colorado, a new Ranger or a Tacoma, would you? Probably not.

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Rare Ferrari GTO sells for record $70 million

How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams?

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How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams? What about a one-of-a-kind beauty that you see driving past your prestige dealer? How about a rare 1963 Ferrari GTO?

If you are Dave MacNeil, the answer to the latter, is USD $70 million. MacNeil, who is the CEO of automotive weather guard company WeatherTech, shelled out the record amount for a rare Ferrari.

It is no ordinary rare Ferrari of course. While already limited to 39 builds, this particular one, chassis number 4153 GT, is special. The car won the 1964 Tour de France motor race and finished fourth at Le Mans in 1963.

Records Broken

The $70 million paid by MacNeil eclipses the previous record for the Ferrari GTO. In 2013, a GTO was sold for a then record $53 million.

The Ferrari GTO is powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine and is one of only 39 built between 1962-1964.

MacNeil joins an exclusive group of GTO owners that include Ralph Lauren and Walmart heir Rob Walton.

How much is too much?

When you are in the same tax bracket as the Ralph Laurens and Walmarts of the world, perhaps there really isn’t a price that is too much for a prized automobile. It is truly rarefied air when the cars in your collection exceed seven digits a piece. For the rest of us, it seems utterly ridiculous of course. Collectors however, do see the worth of these incredibly rare vehicles.

How would you rather spend $70 million? I would definitely buy an expensive sports car, but one for considerably less.

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Camaro coming to Australia as an automatic only

The Chevrolet Camaro is officially coming to Australia this year as an import from Holden Special Vehicles. Excitement may have been tempered slightly with its expected high price, and its auto-only option.

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With the demise of local manufacturing, Australian buyers looking for grunt outside of expensive European options have flocked to the Ford Mustang. Almost 10,000 ‘Stangs were sold last year, which is enough proof that, while Australians don’t make affordable muscle cars anymore, they still want to buy them.

Holden, without a flagship V8 for the first time in decades, is turning to its parent company GM for a much needed boost. Holden’s performance arm, Holden Special Vehicles, announced earlier that the Chevy Camaro, in its 2SS trim, will be made available this year.

Good News and Bad News

That’s definitely the good news portion of it. While the thrill of locally made, hotted-up Commodores have been put to bed, the Camaro is more than a worthy successor. HSV have announced the specs for the 2SS for Australia, proving that it’ll pack quite the punch to satisfy the cravings of auto enthusiasts and muscle car fans.

The Australian 2SS Camaros will come with a 6.2-litre Gen 5 LT1 V8, packing 454hp (339kW) and 455 ft-lb of torque (617Nm). It will have Brembo brakes, a bi-modal exhaust, tons of technology and a variety of colour options.

So what is bad news here? Well, the Camaros have started arriving in Australia in your factory standard left-hand drive version. They are being converted to right-hand drive by HSV, which will add a hefty bump to the price tag. While no official numbers have been released just yet, speculation is that the price will come in around USD$60,400 (AUD$80,000). That’s almost $20k more than made-for-Australia Mustangs. HSV says they will be looking to keep numbers at 1,000 units a year, well below that of Ford’s current Mustang sales.

Another sticking point for performance enthusiasts is that the Australian Camaros will be available with an automatic transmission only. I know that probably stings, so I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Equipped with paddle shifters, it’ll be mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, which means the Camaro will be based on the outgoing 2018 model, and not the new 2019.

Still a Winner

Time will tell how the factory-backed Camaro will do. European performance cars have done pretty well with automatic transmissions, so it shouldn’t really hurt that much. While on the pricey side, the Camaro will still be far more affordable than an Audi RS or BMW M-series. It is a just a shame that this particular car, one that is aimed at filling in some lofty Commodore shoes, comes a little shackled from the get-go.

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