It’s not often we’re this excited, but this week has been a very good one for the automobile industry.
The sector might’ve been relatively slow the past year, save for a handful of amazing launches such as the Gordon Murray T50 and Ford Mustang Mach 1. Yet in a week all those cars have been overshadowed by this new lot.
For starters, Maserati has shown us true Italian finesse with a hot-blooded supercar. The MC20 is poised to take on other Italian competitors when it hits the road, especially its dashing good looks and a 0-100kph time of less than 2.9 seconds. Meanwhile Mercedes-Benz has been busy with not only the new S-Class, but the unveiling of a secret project with one of the world’s most sought-after fashion designers today.
Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite off-roader gets kinder to the environment, while drama continues on the Formula 1 track as a team makes a 360-degree change in its branding.
Here’s all the car news you need to know this week:
Virgil Abloh re-imagines the G-Wagen as a race car
Virgil Abloh has a different way of looking at things, so when Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz’s chief designer officer approached the multi-hyphenate to transform one of its most iconic vehicles, he knew the result was going to be nothing short of well, interesting.
Named Project Geländenwagen, this G-Class sheds its recognisable silhouette for more exaggerated proportions, emphasising its monolithic character. Abloh’s signature ‘3-percent rule’ is applied here, with analogue gauges and F1-style steering wheel and seats within. The exterior is painted white and sanded by hand for “simplicity” and indicators, mirrors, and the bumper bar have been removed.
As an art piece, a replica of Project Geländewagen will be auctioned as part of the Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale, with proceeds going to a charity that supports international creative communities.
Mercedes-Benz also debuted its new S-Class
To say it’s been an exciting week for the boys at Stuttgart would be an understatement. The new flagship S-Class sedan continues to sit on the upper echelons of the brand’s line-up now more so than ever.
Within its new and extremely elegant lines and curves, the top-of-the-range sedan holds engines ranging from a 429hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six to a 496hp, 4.0-litre V8 Biturbo. Both are mild hybrids with EQ Boost and 48-volt technology, which lends the car even more kick whenever needed.
With luxury and tech at the forefront here, the cabin is complemented by the second generation of MBUX, which incorporates up to a quintet of screens amidst a space filled with expansive glass surfaces and sexy ambient lighting. The voice control system is just as seamless; simply say “Hey Mercedes”, and you’re on your way to enjoying music from the Burmester 4D surround-sound system ,which includes 30 speakers and eight resonators, with sound intensity tailored for each seat.
Of course, the quest for safety hasn’t been forgotten; the E-Active Body Control Suspension is a brilliant system that elevates occupants by raising the entire car within tenths of a second when it detects an impending side impact, subjecting the most robust structures of the vehicle to impact forces. Rear passenger airbags are also optional and an industry first.
Maserati unveils the MC20
Pick your jaws back up, folks. Maserati has flipped the narrative here with not another special edition Ghibli and Quattroporte, but a brand new two-seater, mid-engined supercar that looks phenomenal.
Named the Maserati Corse 2020 — or MC20 for short — the car is 100-percent built in Modena, whereas the MC12 of 2004 shared parts with Ferrari Enzo. In true Italian fashion, this fresh Trident release is a masterclass on proportions and lines, with wind-tunnel-carved aerodynamics that generate enough downforce to do away with a rear wing. In its place sits a fine carved lip spoiler that accentuates the porcelain-esque “Bianca Audace” paint. Did we mention butterfly doors?
Inside, the in-house “Nettuno” engine will be the most powerful V6 in production. The twin-turbo powertrain will generate 621hp and 729Nm of torque for a 0-100kph time of less than 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 325kph. The rear-driven car is mediated through a dual-clutch, eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a standard mechanical limited-slip differential or an optional electronic unit. The coupe will be followed later by convertible and electric versions.
The Land Rover Defender gets a plug-in hybrid
It didn’t feel that long since Land Rover took the wilderness by storm once again with its brand new Defender. Now, the all-terrain powerhouse will get upgrades, most notably in the form of a plug-in hybrid.
Only available in the long-wheelbase Defender 110 for now, this hybrid SUV’s 2.0-litre petrol engine is paired with a 105kW electric motor, giving it a 0-100kph time of 5.6 seconds to become the fastest Defender — for now. The P400e can travel a good 43km without its internal combustion engine, and can be charged to 80 percent in just half an hour with a 50kW rapid charger.
This hybrid can’t be specced with seven-seats and can’t tow quite as much its regular counterparts, but it’ll still do everything else with pizzazz, such as take you through up to 900mm of water.
Alpine enters Formula 1
If you were a fan of Renault’s Formula One team, you’re going to need new merch soon. The French team will take the name of Alpine from the 2021 season, lending a much-needed jolt of life to the brand’s sportier sibling.
This means that you won’t be seeing a yellow and black car next season, but a blue, white, and red one on the grid instead, with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon behind the wheel.
“Alpine brings a new meaning, new values and colours to the paddock with the spirit of competition from other worlds and French creative agility,” says team boss Cyril Abiteboul.
Rolls-Royce releases its new Ghost
As much as it was the epitome of ultimate luxury, the Ghost has always been undermined by the 7-Series platform it rode on, so for its second-generation 2021 model, Rolls-Royce has decided to remove any trace of BMW and build the car from ground up.
And so it shares the same Architecture of Luxury as the Cullinan and Phantom, and despite being all new is still a Ghost through and through, only longer, wider, and with a more minimalist approach. Still, expect tons of leather, plenty of starry-details and unadulterated comfort.
A 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine sits in place of the outgoing 6.6-litre one, powering the all-wheel drive with a remarkable 563hp and 850Nm of push — all of course, in near silence. So silent, in fact, that Rolls-Royce had to create a serene undertone for passengers who found this silence a bit too disorienting.
Other smart technology that’s been infused into this “baby” Rolls-Royce include satellite-aided transmission — which draws GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear in anticipation of its next move — and a camera system to monitor the road ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly.