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[REVIEW] 2014 Range Rover Supercharged – Climb every mountain, ford every stream

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You know what they say about super heroes right? That you should never meet them because they may not live up to your expectation. That all those years of pent up excitement could be deflated in just an instant.

As a small boy, Land Rovers and Range Rovers were one of my very favourite vehicles. This continued well into my teens and, despite the trend towards swoopy looking SUVs, I still appreciated their chunky regal styling and British heritage.

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For the last 17 years, I’ve kept a Land Rover sales booklet that was clever disguised as a comprehensive “guide to SUVs” (of yester-year). Yes, I admit that it is in ridiculously pristine condition for its age, but for those who know me this will come as no surprise.

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How did I get it? When I was a teenager, I had requested some Range Rover brochures (via post, imagine that!) from Land Rover Canada and this was one of the items they sent to me.

But despite a short one day’s notice at giving the 2014 Range Rover Supercharged a go for a week, I decided to chance the risk of disappointment and graciously accept the keys.

Would my expectations be dashed as I got a chance to meet one of my childhood superheros? Keep reading to find out!

Heritage

Ah the Range Rover. It’s as British as English afternoon tea. It’s a vehicle adored by the jetset and those on the VIP list. Even Queen Elizabeth II drives one. It doesn’t get more British than that.

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When the first Land Rover vehicles appeared in 1948, off-road vehicles weren’t considered fashion statements. The term “lifestyle” or “crossover” had yet to be invented. These early Land Rovers – nicknamed “Landies” – were hard-working, tough vehicles capable of meeting almost every challenge.

They earned a reputation in remote villages around the world and eventually were sold in more than 120 countries except Antarctica (although Land Rover vehicles have journeyed there on expedition).

Land Rover’s Range Rover has often been regarded as the original luxury SUV and one of the finest luxury utility vehicles of all time. Designed by Charles Spencer King in the late 1960’s, Mr King brought his taste for speed (as a test driver/engineer of Rover) to the Range Rover.

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And so the Range Rover broke new ground when it was first unveiled. Equipped with a powerful V8 engine and a comfortable ride due to large tires and coil spring suspension – these were all firsts for a four-wheeler.

The vehicle was originally designed to leave London on Friday night for a 100 mph sprint to an country estate for a Saturday morning off-road pheasant hunt across the English countryside.

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Long story short, its design was so successful that a Range Rover was even featured in an early 1970s exhibition at the Louvre Museum as an example of exemplary industrial design.

Although the original Range Rover was a 1970’s child, the newest Range Rover definitely marries its retro looks with up to the minute engineering. Still a favourite with the country set, the Range Rover is now also the transport of diplomats, sheiks, footballers, and other celebrities.

The Exterior

Now in its fourth generation, codenamed the L405 and introduced for model year 2013, this latest Range Rover has been certainly continued to transform the fortunes of the Land Rover brand. Heck even in it’s 10th (and last) year of production, the outgoing model posted a record 21% increase in global sales.

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With its new state-of-the art new low-energy Solihull UK factory running 24/7 to keep up with demand, there is still a North American shortage of Range Rovers.

Customers are still happy to wait a few months for their “Landy” to arrive. It’s safe to say then, that the new design is a hit.

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Overseen by Chief Creative Officer and Design Director, Gerry McGovern, the all-new Range Rover has been re-engineered from the ground up. It has a clean and elegant shape derived from a fresh new interpretation of classic Range Rover design cues.

But it still has the side gills, the floating roof (with all black pillars), clamshell hood, split folding tailgate (now fully powered) and the squared-off chiseled front corners.

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It’s nice to see that despite ownership now resting with India’s Tata Motors, it’s still instantly recognizable as a Range Rover. However one that takes a significant step forward with a bold evolution of the model’s iconic design language.

Although traditionalists may find it tacky, I really liked the the new LED daytime running lights. Whether during the day or at night, it creates a very distinct light signature that is impossible to mistake.

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At just under 5m long, the new Range Rover has a very similar footprint to the outgoing model, but with a smoother and more streamline profile. In fact with a drag co-efficient of 0.34, this is also the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever.

Compared to the third generation model, the four generation’s roofline sits 20mm lower in access (entry) mode.

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The interior

To help you get into the sumptuous interior , a revised Access mode in the Air suspension system kneels the Range Rover low enough that running boards are really quite unnecessary.

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The luxurious new interior has a modern character incorporating distinctive Range Rover design cues. I’ve always liked the previous generation’s interior with its mix of high quality leather, real wood trim, and bright metal trim, so this new interior is simply an improvement.

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Designers set out to create an interior environment with a fresh and very contemporary treatment. The cabin retains the characteristic strong, architectural forms emphasised by clean and elegant surfaces fitted with the finest leathers and veneers. Satin or gloss metal trim around the air vents gives it the finishing touch.

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Building on the signature Range Rover interior architecture, the centrepiece of the cabin is the bold intersection between the strong horizontal elements of the instrument panel and the vertical lines of the centre stack.

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There is actual rear legroom now (up by almost 12cm), important for the chauffeur driven Chinese market where Land Rover hopes to sell lots of Range Rovers. There is even a remote switch for the rear passenger to move the front passenger seat forward! The rear seat climate control panel has been updated and is now even worthy of being inside a Bentley.

There isn’t an ounce of visible penny pinching anywhere in this cabin.

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The steering wheel is also probably one of the nicest ones I’ve seen in the industry. With its combination of heated leather/wood and beautiful aluminum turrets that house the controls on either side of the airbag, it’s just something that you know you can spend hours or indeed years using.

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For me though, the biggest visible change compared to the outgoing model is how much simpler it all is. Land Rover has really tried to clean up all of the knobs and dials that were on the previous version by integrating many of the functions into the 8” touchscreen headunit.

There are now only a few redundant hard button controls for the audio and climate control systems. In fact, the total switch count has been cut by half.

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Standard on all Range Rovers is also the Surround Camera System which uses five cameras situated around the vehicle to create an almost 360 degree view on the touchscreen.

There are two cameras located on the front bumper, one under each rearview mirror, and the backup camera.

The idea is that the screen views help to ensure that drivers don’t miss objects below their line of sight and also give vital views at blind intersections.

While the system works well enough in daylight conditions, it is let down by cameras that aren’t the best in image quality at night, and a headunit with not enough graphical processing capability.

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With one or two camera views displayed, the on-screen video quality is smooth and good enough. But add in the surround view display (where all 5 camera feeds are displayed) and the video feed looks more like watching video on the internet from 10 years ago over a dial-up connection.

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It is surprisingly pixelated, choppy, and the touchscreen becomes a bit laggy.  A small disappointment considering that my 2014 Nissan Pathfinder press vehicle, which cost less than half the Range Rover’s sticker price, had better camera picture quality and an easier-to-use interface.

But all is not bad with the system because its Towing Assist mode is absolutely fantastic. Not only does it help the driver to line-up the tow ball to the trailer’s hitch receiver with 100% accuracy each time, but it also equips the driver with lines to show the angle of the trailer when reversing.

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More impressive is the 12.3” LCD unit that replaces the traditional gauge cluster for the driver. This virtual instrument panel uses the same technology found in high-quality computer laptops and can be both personalized and adapted to suit various driving conditions or driver preferences.

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During night time driving, the instrument panel’s “torchlight” setting can highlights only the essential information on the speedometer and odometer.

When driving offroad, key dynamic information can be displayed in the middle of the screen to complementing the main touchscreen display. Rather than it being a distraction, I found that it delivered very valuable ‘at a glance’ vehicle status information.

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The interior is packed with a full suite of premium features to provide both front and rear seat passengers with the same peerless luxury experience.

Their well-being is assured by the latest interior technologies for comfort, convenience and seamless connectivity. The new and improved features include:

  • Convenience – premium features including keyless entry, soft door close with power latching, power upper liftgate and lower tailgate, front cooler compartment
  • High-end audio – exclusive Meridian surround sound music systems with audiophile-quality sound
  • Climate control – all-new best-in-class climate control systems, including the powerful new premium four-zone system
  • Luxurious seating – upgraded seating with luxurious new features such as multi-mode massage for the front heated/ventilated seats
  • Interior illumination – the latest LED illumination for subtle and sophisticated ambient lighting, including the ability to change the colour scheme to suit the driver’s mood

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To help customers to create their perfect bespoke vehicle, the unique luxury ambience of the new Range Rover can be extensively tailored with an indulgent palette of colours, finishes and special details, from the immaculately-trimmed colour-themed interiors of the exclusive Autobiography series.

Aside from my complaints about the Surround view cameras and the underpowered headunit, my only other quibbles are that while the Piano Black wood trim look gorgeous, dust and scratches show up easily. I would suggest a patterned wood trim instead.

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Also, the hard cargo cover shelf was very finicky to fold-out after it has been stowed away. I spent several minutes in the cold and dark trying to assemble it properly from its fully retracted position (courtesy of the previous journalist).

As a special note, I’m delighted to see that the split folding lift/tailgate is now power operated. It has got to be the fastest mechanism in the industry too. A far cry for the slow beeping hydraulic rams from other vehicles I’ve tested.

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One of my good friends, an existing Range Rover Supercharged owner, also noted that the lower tailgate portion is now thoughtfully sculpted inwards so that owners can lean in and reach further into the cargo area.

So how does it ride and drive?

There’s nothing like the driving experience of the Range Rover. These cars hit new heights when the third generation was launched back in 2002.

Now you can see them on every corner of every corner in the world. Even people who own Bentleys, Rolls Royces, or Ferraris will likely have a Range Rover as a daily driver.

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Although the Range Rover is big, it doesn’t take you long to get used to it to dial into the luxury ride. The Command Driving Position, which provides drivers with a supreme sense of confidence and control whatever the road conditions, is an essential part of the Range Rover DNA.

Like its predecessors, the new Range Rover places the driver in an elevated, upright seating position which offers class-leading all-round visibility. The sense of control offered by the elevated driving position is enhanced by the vehicle’s outboard seating location with clear visibility to the side, and outstanding forward visibility over the characteristic sunken profile of the clamshell hood.

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Unlike previous generations of the Range Rover, the L405 is built on an all-aluminum unibody structure, a first for an SUV. This has resulted in a claimed 700 pounds of weight reduction!

Did I feel the weight difference compared to the previous Range Rover Supercharged? Absolutely! While this is still a 5250lbs SUV, it is shockingly nimble with its new rigid lightweight chassis and Land Rover’s latest active air suspension setup with dynamic anti-roll bars.

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While there is no stiffer user-selectable sport mode for the air suspension, I was able to drive the vehicle at a much quicker pace and with much higher confidence than I expected on my usual test loop (with lots of elevation changes and narrow twisty roads with mixed surfaces).

All of this is thanks to a clever new system called two-channel Dynamic Response. It uses electrohydraulic anti-roll bars to counteract bodyroll through the twisty bits and can work on both the front and rear axles independently.

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In short, the system’s control module constantly monitors inputs from a pair of accelerometers – mounted at roof and chassis level respectively – plus steering angle and vehicle speed.

When cornering forces are detected, electronically actuated pressure control valves apply a hydraulically generated rotational torque to the anti-roll bars to oppose the lateral cornering force.

With cornering forces of up to 0.4g, the Dynamic Response system will almost entirely neutralise body roll. Go past this set point and the system will allow some controlled progressive lean to occur to warn you to ease off. This is still a tall vehicle after all.

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By altering the stiffness front to rear, Dynamic Response can also improve comfort on uneven road surfaces by reducing ‘head toss’ induced by undulating pavement and pitch movements.

With 510hp and 461 ft-lbs of torque, the supercharged 5.0L V8 motor basically screams “You want power, I’ll give you enough power to feel as if you have a bee sting right on your bum cheeks”.

Combined with its diet, this Range Rover Supercharged hustles as if the Queen herself had gathered up her skirt and was saying “Alright, we’re late, let’s make a dash for it”. Of course this is fictitious as the Queen, being famously punctual, is never late. Your Majesty, if you’re reading this, I apologize for making such a crass joke at your expense.

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But it’s not the power or the intelligence of the 8 speed ZF transmission that makes it impressive when you put your foot down. It’s the surprise of the power and the quickness of the shifts. When you drive a Lamborghini or a Porsche, you expect it to accelerate quickly, to hustle down the road.

But when you bury your right foot into the Range Rover’s throttle pedal, you’re simply not ready for the savagery. The overwhelming wave of torque that pushes you into your seat will shock you into a fit of giggles.

But yet the Range Rover is quiet, comfortable, beautifully air conditioned and heated.

Let me be clear thought. Despite having over 500hp, the Range Rover doesn’t encourage you to be sporty or aggressive. It’s just so…nice!

The benefit of the new aluminium chassis is also in fuel economy gains. Land Rover claims an improvement of 9% despite being quicker to accelerate than ever before.

Off-road Capability

It has been widely reported that fewer than 10% of SUV owners take their vehicles off-road. But according to Land Rover, approximately 25% of their customers use their vehicles for off-road adventures.

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Since there is only one Range Rover Supercharged press car out west here though, I was eager to return the vehicle undamaged for my fellow journalists.

Therefore my most ambitious impression of being Sir Edmund Hillary (the New Zealand explorer and mountaineer) was thus limited to a private estate where I could get above the tree line to see this view. Fantastic isn’t it?

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As such, I took Land Rover’s claims of the Range Rover’s improved off-road prowess as being truthful.

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I was impressed that the aforementioned Dynamic Response system even automatically detects off-road conditions reduces the level of roll compensation at speeds below 40 km/hr in order to provide greater axle articulation and tire contact with the terrain.

The system is also able to detect a side slope of greater than 11 degrees and locks the antiroll bars for increased stability.

As on previous Range Rovers, the four-corner air suspension is able optimize the vehicle’s versatility off-road by offering variable ride height (with more than 12 inches of ground clearance). The air springs are cross-linked for maximum axle articulation.

With a permanent 4WD system (with a 50/50 torque split front/rear) and a two speed transfer box with low range gearing, the Range Rover is also available with an active rear locking differential.

Controlling all of these advanced 4WD and suspension systems is the latest generation of Land Rover’s multi-award winning Terrain Response 2 system.

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This system is now able to automatically detect the type of terrain the vehicle is traversing and seamlessly optimise traction and performance abilities for the prevailing conditions. It uses a number of inputs, including ambient temperature, engine torque, transmission gear, suspension travel and even altitude to determine over what type of surface it is traveling. Very smart.

But the driver is still able to manually choose from a set of distinct operating modes including General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl with a twist of the rotary switch. Pushing down the top of the rotary control selects the Auto mode.

In a nutshell, depending on the mode, Terrain Response 2 calculates the optimum settings necessary for uninterrupted travel across whatever terrain you are on. It does this by instructing the various systems of the car – including the transfer case, transmission, torque delivery, ABS and traction control settings – to alter their parameters accordingly.

If you’re in the wrong mode, the system is even smart enough to suggest if another mode is more appropriate.

Engineers have also applied the same sort of intelligence to the air intake system, and repositioned it to the top of the front fenders. Known as the Queen Mary intakes due to their resemblance to the famous British oceanliner, this clever bit of engineering has increased the wading depth of the Range Rover to an unmatched 900 mm (about 3 feet of water).

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All of this off-roadability confirms that the 2014 Range Rover is still a true Land Rover, not just a flashy luxury SUV.

Wrap-up

Is all the hype around this latest generation Range Rover worthy of the accolade “the very best of British”? Does it put the “great” back in “Great Britain”? I think so.

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The 2014 Range Rover Supercharged looks great and drives even better. It is contemporary, fresh, and clearly highly desirable. At an as tested price of over $125,000 it’s all those little bits of character and heritage that have to make a car look handsome and feel beautiful. If you’re in the market for a luxury SUV, you really have to sample the glamour and capability for yourself.

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And although the Range Rover is now the ultimate four-wheeled status symbol to a generation of rappers, professional athletes, celebrities, and striving suburbanites, it has lost none of its Land Rover DNA.

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Despite a few quibbles, I have to say that the Range Rover still remains one of my favourite vehicles of all time. This is high praise but I can honestly say that despite its flaws, I hold it in the same high level of regard as the Jaguar F-type S that I reviewed a couple of months ago.

What other vehicle can you think of that can take you to the far corners of the earth while in the safety, comfort, and class of a Rolls Royce?

So in closing I’m happy to report that I did meet my superhero and indeed got to hang out with “him” for a week, I definitely got to thoroughly learn his strengths and weakness true and through.

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However while parting is such sweet sorrow, I have to say that I was far from disappointed.

Some good stories do have a happy ending after all!

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Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as Edmunds.com, BenzWorld.org since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all. When he’s not reading or writing about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town. You can contact him at Andrew (at) surrey604.com

Automobiles

[REVIEW] 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD wagon

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Can you believe that Volvo’s “Cross Country” badge is now more than 20 years old? While we’ve got to hand it to AMC’s Eagle 4×4 wagon and the Subaru Outback for inventing the jacked-up wagon design, Volvo can arguably also be considered one of the pioneers of the format.

Although Volvo sells its V60 wagon in both regular and Cross Country trim levels, in Canada, the larger and more upscale V90 can only be had in rugged Cross Country form.

Sitting at the top of Volvo’s “V” wagon range, the V90 doesn’t mess too much with a formula which has worked for the brand (and others) for over two decades now. With a raised ride height, all-wheel-drive, and rugged body cladding, the 2022 Volvo V90 B6 AWD Cross Country is a direct competitor with the only other almost full-sized off-road-y wagon in its class, the Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain wagon.

No doubt both the big Benz and the big Volvo are designed with the same points in mind. That is to create a neat compromise between a family car while yet being stylish, practical, and with the ability to take on a light trail without so much as breaking a sweat.

But will the Volvo stand out over and above its competition? Let’s take a closer look.

On the inside

Volvo’s XC90 SUV has won many awards globally since its introduction. Spec-for-spec, the V90 Cross Country is cheaper to buy than the equivalent XC90, though it lacks a third row.

Step into the V90 Cross Country’s roomy interior and you’ll find a gorgeous crisply tailored cabin designed in a simplistic and minimalist Scandinavian fashion. The silver Bowers & Wilkins speaker grilles add some premium highlights to the otherwise dark interior.

Every surface is essentially soft-touch, fine-grained wood, or satin metal accents. The knurled starter knob adds some delightful tactile feel to the interior and there are other small easter eggs such as the tiny Swedish flag sewn into the front passenger seatback seam. “Since 1959” is stamped into the seatbelt buckle, a nod towards the year in which Volvo introduced seatbelts.

Volvo has a long-held reputation for excellent seats and the V90 Cross Country does not disappoint. With multiple adjustments, a great deal of width, good padding, the front seat cushions provided excellent support for long drives. Based on previous experience, a broad range of body types should fit.

Surprisingly, I found access to the rear seats a bit more difficult than the Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain wagon. Due to the Volvo’s rear door openings being relatively short, the footpath into the back seat is fairly narrow. The door sills are also quite high, presumably due to crash protection, so there may be a bit of fancy footwork required for taller passengers.

Thankfully, the V90 Cross Country’s taller ride height makes it easier to exit and egress than the lower S90 sedan that the wagon is based on.

How does it ride and drive?

Under the hood of the 2022 V90 Cross Country B6 wagon is the latest variant of Volvo’s 2.0-litre direct-injected supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Unlike the previous 316 horsepower T6 setup which incorporated a turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger, the B6 powerplant produces 295 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from its combination of turbocharging, electrically driven supercharging, and a 48-volt mild hybrid system.

Although the system produces less power than before, the mild-hybrid system ensures no lag at all upon throttle pedal application. Engine restarts from the start-stop system are also extremely smooth, much more so than before. This complex arrangement of forced induction, combined by the 8-speed transmission, delivered grunt in a much smoother and refined manner compared to the T6 powerplant.

Like other Volvos, the V90 Cross Country AWD uses a BorgWarner/Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system. A special “Off-Road” mode (similar to Mercedes’ “All Terrain” mode) lightens the steering and activates a low speed algorithm designed to enhance engine braking. Volvo says that this ensures better traction in slippery conditions.

Ride-wise, the V90 Cross Country’s combination of chunky tires and 2.37 inches of extra suspension travel aids in it absorbing big bumps extremely well. Ruts and potholes are handled with ease and the wagon is likely to be more capable than most owners would ever need it to be. There is a bit more pitch and wallow in sharp corners, but that’s likely to be less of a concern for buyers of this class of vehicle.

While the V90 is a competent cruiser, its chassis doesn’t offer quite the same level of agility, composure, or handling compared to the air sprung 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain wagon that I recently tested.

Technology updates

Volvo was one of the first to incorporate a Tesla-like iPad sized portrait orientated infotainment touchscreen into their cars. After several years of trying to refine their Sensus infotainment system, they’ve decided to partner with Google in using the Android Automotive Operating System.

While much faster than the Sensus interface, I can’t help but feel that the Android Automotive interface is too simplistic now, lacking many of the shortcuts and graphical textures that made the Sensus system feel premium. My test vehicle’s system did not have Apple Carplay integration, though Volvo Canada says that this will be released in a future update. Alas, the fantastic knurled drive mode selector scroll wheel has also been eliminated.

All Volvo V90 Cross Country wagons come with a digital instrument display which is clear and easy to read. However, unless you’ve had the benefit of playing around with Volvo’s system in-depth, the user interface is slightly confusing to navigate at first blush. Most cars with digital instrument panels these days are also far more flexible and user-configurable than Volvo’s, which almost seems basic in comparison.

Fortunately, the optionally available heads-up display is useful and effective at displaying speed and other information relevant to the driver.

As Volvo has a deep-rooted reputation for making safe cars, it’s no surprise that the V90’s sedan sibling, the Volvo S90, was awarded with an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

Part of the reason for this top-grade rating was not just the expected safety suite of forward collision warning, lane departure warning and low and high-speed emergency braking. Volvo also includes run-off-road protection, which pretensions seatbelts to hold occupants in place if the car rolls over, and deformable seats that minimise spinal injuries in the event of a serious crash. Blindspot warning, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross traffic alert are also standard equipment.

Another simple but effective system is Volvo’s rear seat belt reminder. It displays a graphic depicting everyone’s seating position and buckle status. If a belted rear passenger decides to unbuckle while the car is in motion, the graphic re-appears along with a persistent audible alert until re-buckling occurs.

Final thoughts

Comfortable, quiet, well-dampened, capable, safe. These are the five words in which I’d use to describe the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD wagon in a pinch.

With the new and relaxed B6 powerplant, a high quality interior, and well-suppressed wind noise, the V90 Cross Country is a very pleasant way of eating up long distances and a great alternative to the ubiquitous luxury SUV.

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Automobiles

[REVIEW] 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic All-Terrain wagon

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Ever since Crocodile Dundee introduced the Subaru Outback wagon, many have come to accept the lifted wagon body style as a smart alternative to an SUV. With the Outback wagon having a long-running reputation, other manufacturers have borrowed from the proven formula over the years.

Audi was one of the first to jump in, with their A6 Allroad introduced over 20 years ago, as was Volvo with their “Cross Country” wagons. And now, Mercedes-Benz is the latest manufacturer to jump in, albeit late to the party, with their latest E-class wagon.

In order to make the E-class wagon a bit more rough and ready and less wagon-y, the boffins at Benz have taken the latest 2022 E450 wagon and dubbed it the E450 All-Terrain. Presumably this name will attract those looking for an upmarket Subaru Outback, and as an alternative to the the smaller Audi Allroad which is based on the compact A4 platform versus the mid-sized A6 platform of the original 1999 Audi Allroad.

How is it different?

Although station wagons were found on many a suburban driveway in the 1970 to 90’s, punters decided that they were sort of lame when the SUV came out.

These days, the more off-road-y wagons are making a strong comeback, and given that my parents’ family car when growing up was a Mercedes-Benz 300TE wagon, I have a special place in my heart for any sort of Mercedes-Benz wagon.

Aside from the Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon, the E450 All-Terrain is the only way that wagon fans can satisfy their wagon-needs in Canada. There is no “standard” version of the wagon sold any longer.

The addition of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain wagon comes alongside a refresh to the company’s entire E-class line-up. While mostly cosmetic, the requisite nips and tucks to the bumpers, headlights, taillights have been made. Inside, the infotainment system has been revised with the latest version of the MBUX system, but the rest has mostly been left alone.

In order to match the SUV-cues, All-Terrain wagons come standard with plastic fender flares and additional body cladding. There is also a signature All-Terrain front grille and a chromed skid plate. My test vehicle was fitted with the standard 19-inch wheels, but larger 20-inchers are optional extras.

Ground clearance is also greater, with the E450 All-Terrain sitting 1.2 inches higher thanks to Mercedes Airmatic air springs all-around. The system can raise slightly for additional ground clearance at lower speeds.

Under the hood, gone is the twin-turbo V6, replaced with a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six cylinder paired with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, similar to that in the GLE450 SUV. Although the output of 362 horsepower and 369 lbs-ft of torque matches that of the outgoing V6, the starter-generator mild-hybrid system can add another 21 horses. This system is dubbed “EQ Boost”.

Mercedes says that their EQ Boost technology helps to electrify vehicles intelligently and cost-effectively by increasing the performance and efficiency of a conventional internal combustion engine without the complexity and expense of a full-hybrid system.

On the inside

At 4.95 metres in length, the Mercedes E450 All-Terrain wagon’s most natural competitor is the Volvo V90 Cross Country wagon. Both are nearly full-sized, and both have interiors that drip in luxury finishings and technology that are befitting of their over $80,000 base prices. Audi’s All-Road wagon and the Subaru Outback are comparably cheaper but also smaller.

The E-Class wagon’s boxy styling allows for a party trick which is all but a rarity in today’s cars. Look under the E450 All-Terrain’s cargo floor and you’ll find a pair of foldaway rear-facing jump seats. Given that there is a large cargo area – 64 cu.ft when the rear seats are folded, or 35 cu ft with the rear seats up – there is just enough room to make the rear facing jump seats work.

Indeed, I have fond memories of riding in my parents’ wagon in said jump seats, though a quick seat (or attempt to) fit in the cargo area quickly reminded me that I was no longer an 11 year old. My 5 year old nephew, on the other hand, loved the novelty of facing backwards even though the vehicle was stationary. Clearly these seats are for children only, and or very small adults.

Mercedes has cleverly fitted these seats with head restraints (which stow away under the floor) and three point seatbelts as well.

The rest of the E450 All-Terrain was standard Mercedes-Benz corporate fare, which is to say that it all feels right. The optional leather or MB-Tex leatherette seats are the typical Mercedes-Benz standard of supportive, comfortable, and firm enough for cross-country hauls. As expected, they can be heated and or ventilated depending on the boxes that you check-off on the options list.

Open-pore wood trim is standard equipment, as is the 64 colour ambient light system with a seemingly umteen amount of colour themes. You can even select them to illuminate various areas in different colours or have the system cycle through the themes dynamically.

How does it ride and drive?

If you can’t stomach the me-too trend of going for an SUV, the E-class All-Terrain mixes enough wagon and SUV quality to produce a compromise that is worth having.

The wagon’s inherent lower centre-of-gravity, simply because it’s based on a car platform, simply means that the E450 All-Terrain feels more planted around the twisties versus something like a Mercedes-Benz GLC or GLE SUV.

Mercedes-Benz has succeeded if intends for the changes to the E-class wagon to appeal to someone who is looking for the ability to do some light off-roading while being sportier than an SUV. Yet, the All-Terrain is as comfortable and relaxing after a four-hour stint behind the wheel compared to a standard E-class sedan.

On my favourite backroads, the E-class’ fundamentally well-sorted out chassis shines through despite the increase in ride height. Little has been done to spoil the base car’s balance.

In Comfort mode, there is more rolling into corners but it’s far from cumbersome. Part of the trade-off is also in slightly more aggressive tires with taller sidewalls. If the going gets more ribbon-like, Sport mode seems to tighten everything up by the appropriate amount, with the right amount of dampening and a bearable ride.

Sport mode also sharpens the throttle pedal response, heavies up the steering feel, and holds the engine revs a bit longer. The EQ Boost system also seems to step in a bit more aggressively.

Another part of the reason for the All-Terrain’s surefootedness is Mercedes-Benz’s permanent 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The system is rear-biased front-to-rear torque split of 31:69. A new five-mode Dynamic Select system adds a new All-Terrain setting not found on other E-classes.

Mercedes says that selecting this mode increases the ride height by a further 0.78 inches at speeds up to 30 km/hr, and also optimises the stability and traction control systems for lower-grip surfaces.

Final thoughts

While the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain wagon is unlikely to be called “fun”, it did everything that I asked of it.

From hauling passengers in style, comfort, and luxury, this 5+2 passenger vehicle is a compelling and yet often forgotten rival to Mercedes’ own GLE, as well as other SUVs in the market.

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[REVIEW] 2022 Honda Civic Touring sedan

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While you might think that lower production luxury cars cost more to engineer than mass production compact cars, the opposite is reality. For example, the 10th generation Civic was said to have cost Honda more money, time and effort than other new models in their history.

And yet, while starting from a clean slate is never easy or inexpensive, we’re now in the 11th generation of the Honda Civic. A lot has changed since the first Civic went on sale in North America in the early 1970’s for under $3,000. However, Honda is still offering the Civic as both a sedan and a hatchback.

The Civic is Honda’s longest-running automotive nameplate, with more than 2.25 million cars sold in Canada since it was introduced here in 1973. Moreover, the Civic has been built at Honda of Canada Mfg facility in Allison, Ontario continuously since 1988. This is longer than any other Honda plant in the world currently producing the model.

Each generation of Civic has been more grown up than the previous, and this 11th generation car carries on the tradition by offering a more subdued appearance akin to its big brother Accord.

What’s new?

Although the previous generation Civic was offered as a coupe, this longer is the case due to declining sales of that variant. The 11th generation Civic is all-new, with a redesigned body. It is now only offered in North America as a four door hatchback (which we will review in a future article), as well as the sedan as tested in this review.

While the Civic is still considered technically considered a compact sedan, this latest version is larger, more substantial, and more upscale than its predecessors.

It’s not difficult to see why then, despite the SUV/crossover craze, the Honda Civic is still at the top of the Canadian passenger car sales segment. 43,556 units of this all-new 11th generation Civics were sold in 2021, allowing it to maintain the number one position as Canada’s best-selling car for the 24th consecutive year.

Aside from the more Accord-esque styling queues, Honda has improved the ride and handling, with the interior featuring the requisite new features, nicer materials, and new technology.
Despite compact car competitors, such as the Mazda 3, offering all-wheel-drive on their line-up, Honda insists that the Civic will continue to be front-wheel drive only.

It’s all grown-up

Honda says that the 2022 Civic Sedan is “a modern expression of classic Civic values, inside and out”. Built using what Honda describes as their “Man Maximum / Machine minimum Philosophy” (aka M/M), the design concept is supposed to use technology and design to serve the needs of the occupants.

What this marketing jargon translates into is a “thin and light” body design with a low hood, front fenders, and a low horizontal beltline. Your eyes aren’t tricking you if you think that the Civic appears bigger.

This is due to the bottom of the windshield pillars being moved rearward by 50mm, elongating the hood and stretching the Civic’s silhouette compared to the previous generation car.

Behind the new front bumper skin is a new bumper beam safety plate that has been designed to decrease leg injuries. The longer hood also has an embossed inner structure designed to improve pedestrian head protection performance.

Honda says that the new lower character line that rises through the rear doors is supposed to provide for an enhanced sense of motion. I’m not so sure if it is as exciting as the marketing-speak describes, but the car does look good regardless, even though it is slightly derivative of the Accord’s styling (not a bad thing to imitate).

The new Civic’s wider rear track is emphasised by stronger rear haunches, wider LED taillamps, and an aerodynamically efficient trailing edge of the trunk lid.

Speaking of LED lighting, Honda has used it extensively for the headlamps, daytime running lamps, parking lights, and fog lights. The new LED headlamps are excellent, casting a wide and white beam which is effective in lighting up the road ahead even in inclement weather.

Back to basics on the inside

Inside, gone are the days of the multi-level dashboards and cubbies from Civics in the past. You’ll find an uncluttered cabin design heralding back from the days of the very early-generation Civics.

Nowhere better can you see this change than in the top of the Civic’s instrument panel which has been redesigned with minimum cutlines to reduce both visual distraction sand windshield reflections. In my eyes, this is a welcome improvement that fits in well with the premium new exterior design.

Remember the windshield A-pillars that have been moved back by 50 mm? That change, combined with the low hood, flat dashboard, and tucked away windshield wipers, has improved forward visibility with more clearly defined corners. It’s easier to place the Civic’s edges than ever before during parking situations. The low cowl height is matched with the door’s sills and carries through to the rear doors.

Perhaps the most striking interior element is the new metal honeycomb mesh accent that stretches from door to door and across the dash. This accent clever hides the air vents while still creating a dramatic visual separation between the infotainment system and climate controls.

The metal-look HVAC controls feel high-quality. Overall, all of the switchgear has a distinctly more expensive feel to it. Honda says that they’ve even paid attention to smallest details, such as a new premium centre control trim that is specifically designed to hide fingerprints and smudges to help maintain a high-end appearance.

For anyone that has suffered through the scratches in the piano black plastic trim of vehicles in the same class, this subtle but significant innovation will certainly be welcome.

All Civics also benefit from a new generation seat design, with a new frame designed to enhance comfort on long drives.

Technology

My top-of-the-range 2022 Civic Touring sedan debuts with Honda’s all-new 9-inch high definition touchscreen infotainment system. This new touchscreen is the largest ever in any Honda vehicle, and the system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While it has taken Honda several tries to get the touchscreen right, I’m happy to say that they’ve nailed this one out of the park with the combination of touchscreen, soft buttons, and hard button controls.

The Civic now builds upon the foundation laid by the Display audio system in other Honda models such as the Odyssey, Pilot, Passport, and Accord.

The physical volume knob, simplified user-interface design, and cleanly designed icons make the system easy-to-use even for those new to the Civic. I particularly appreciated the effort that has been made to simplify the system’s navigational structure with fewer menus. The hard buttons for Home and Back functions were nice to have when toggling through the menu screens when wearing gloves.

Standard on my Touring-trim model is also the first use of Bose audio in a Civic, with Bose Centrepoint 2 and Bose SurroundStage digital signal processing.

On the safety front, this latest generation Civic earned a U.S. IIHS Top Safety Pick + Rating. This is in part thanks to all 2022 Civic trims receiving new frontal airbags designed to better control head motions in certain types of crash, thereby better reducing conditions associated with brain injury.

The driver’s airbag uses a new donut-shaped structure to cradle and hold the head to reduce rotation, and the passenger front airbag uses a innovative new three-chamber design to achieve a similar result.

The standard Honda Sensing suite of active driver-aids include a new single-camera system which is capable of more quickly and accurately identifying pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.

My 2022 Honda Civic Touring tester was also further enhanced with expanded driver-assistive tech, including features normally found in premium brands.

In addition to the now ubiquitous automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist, there is also a Traffic Jam Assist feature. I noticed that the Adaptive Cruise Control system has also been improved with more natural brake applications and quicker response times.

The Civic, for the first time, now features Low-Speed Braking Control, and front and rear false-start prevention.

So, how does it drive?

There are two engine choices available for the 2022 Honda Civic: a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder (as equipped on my Touring test car) and a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder. Both engines have outputs of 180 horsepower and 158 horsepower respectively. Torque figures are 177 lb-ft at 1,700 to 4,500 rpm, and 138 ft-lb at 4,200 rpms respectively.

I found the turbocharged engine more than adequate for its class, with strong initial acceleration off the line. The wide torque band was appreciated in passing maneuvers regardless of speed. I’d suspect that the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre wouldn’t be quite as flexible.

Both engines are paired with Honda’s latest CVT transmission, uniquely tuned for each engine. The CVT paired with the turbocharged engine has improved torque converter performance and Step-Shift programming which does a pretty darn good job at simulating actual gears. This eliminates much of the rubberbanding sensation commonly found in conventional CVTs.

In addition to the standard Normal and Eco driving modes, 2.0L Sport and 1.5L Touring trims of the 2022 Civics now feature a user-selectable Sport mode. Using a toggle switch on the centre console, the new Sport mode alters the drive ratios and mapping for a sportier feel and changes the meter lighting to red. Eco mode reduces throttle and transmission sensitivity, as well as air conditioning output to help preserve fuel efficiency.

Handling is nimble, with little body roll and quick steering.The Civic felt capable, secure, and sporty for a compact car. No doubt this is thanks to a stiffer body structure and the additional 35 mm of wheelbase versus the previous-gen Civic.

Road noise, a former complaint of other Civics, was nicely muted even at highway speeds. But one caveat is that my top Touring trim had added sound insulation. Reviews from other auto journalists have stated that lower-trim Civics could also benefit from this added insulation, so be sure to test drive different trim levels.

If you’re looking for more performance and better handling, you’ll have to step-up for the Civic Si model, which once again represents the sportiest Civic in the range till high performance Civic R makes its debut. The Si is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and a 200 horsepower turbocharged engine.

Final thoughts

35 years later and with nearly 11 million units produced in North America (5.3 million of which have been in Canada), the 11th generation Civic appears poised to continue its success with Canadians looking for a reliable compact car.

Later this year, the all-new Honda Civic Type R will be officially unveiled. This highly anticipated model will be the best performing Type R ever, capping the current 11th generation Honda Civic model line-up.

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[REVIEW] 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 4Matic

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For decades, people at the very top – be they CEOs of international companies, presidents of nations, or royalty – travel in Mercedes-Benz S-classes. Often dubbed the “best car in the world”, Mercedes-Benz has long since launched their latest in luxury, technology, and design on this model, their flagship product.

And now, there is a new one. When I say new, I really do mean new in every respect. After all, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S-class is supposed to represent the pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz brand.

As expected, there is the requisite new body, new engine, new suspension, new interior heights of luxury, and the latest technology.

Mercedes-Benz continues to expand the S-class range to include Mercedes-AMG models and now also even more luxurious Mercedes-Maybach models.

For this review, we’ll be sampling the mid-level version of the personal limo for the ultra-wealthy, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 4Matic.

Have the very best of Mercedes’ engineers, designers, and craftspersons created another technological tour-de-force? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s new

Now in its seven-generation, this all-new S-class can still be regarded as the iconic flagship of the brand. That being said, after almost half a century of existence, the lines have blurred a little whole lot in the luxury marketplace, including the shift to electric vehicles and consumers still favouring SUVs.

It’s no surprise then that there is a Mercedes-Maybach version of the GLS SUV, with the “S” part of the nomenclature added on purposely to draw upon the association with the success and status from the S-class.

While we live in confusing times these days, the S-class is still supposed to be the company’s most important brand exercise and the epitome of the company’s latest tagline of “The Best or Nothing”. With electric vehicles now manded by many countries within the next decade, we’re at the cusp of a changeover for both the auto industry and the consumer. Mercedes themselves have launched the “EQS580”, once again borrowing on the “S” nomenclature. Yet, both models exist simultaneously, for now anyway.

The 2022 S580 is a good example of this leading edge of the wave towards electrification of traditional ICE vehicles. Look no further than its impressive 48 volt mild-hybrid Mercedes EQ Boost technology, unbelievably opulent creature comforts (along with eye watering option list prices), and an impressive array of electronic and infotainment technology. This includes 3D OLED displays to facial recognition technology to a GPS navigation system with augmented reality.

While V8 engines seem to be on their way out, Mercedes-Benz has managed to keep one under the hood of the S580 in the form of a 4.0-litre 496 horsepower twin-turbo V8.

Like every S-class of recent vintage, every model rides on the Airmatic air suspension system. Optionally available is the E-Active Body Control system, which has a “curve” function that leans the cars into corners so as to reduce the centrifugal forces of going around a corner. For the first time ever, there is also a rear-wheel steering system that helps the big Benz to maneuver easily in tight spaces.

Interior: Comfort and Technology

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz S-class introduces a whole new corporate dash design, which we have already seen replicated in the all-new 2023 C-class and the upcoming GLC-class.

Gone is the wide central touchscreen, replaced by an even more massive centre touchscreen with an aspect ratio that is more squarish than it is rectangular. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is fitted in front of the driver, but alas my test vehicle S580 wasn’t equipped with the 3D OLED screen nor the enhanced oversized heads-up display which is said to show navigation directions, via moving arrows, in augmented reality.

Wherever you look you’ll find multi-coloured and control responsive ambient lighting, leather, wood, chrome, satin metal finishes, and screens screens screens. Even if you don’t opt for the rear system, as with my S580 test vehicle, there is a rear centre console mounted Android tablet which can be used to control various functions for the rear seating area.

To make it easier to buckle your seatbelts at night, the seatbelt anchors are even lit. Opt for the optional executive rear seating package and the rear anchor point will also motorise up to make it easier for the buckle to be inserted into the slot. You won’t think you’ll need it till you use it for the first time!

Naturally, both front and rear seats are heated (and ventilated), as are the steering wheel and armrests. There are more intricate massage programs versus the model’s predecessor, for, both front and rear. Even the headrests can be spec’ed out with special pillows, rivalling the comfortable beds pillows you’ll find at high end hotels.

As you would expect, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 is equipped with every advanced safety feature and then some. There is the usual cocoon of airbags that one would expect, but also airbags mounted in the front seatbacks for the rear passengers, and one mounted in the centre between the driver and front passenger. This new centre airbag is designed to deploy in a severe side impact, reducing the risk of front occupants cracking heads.

Moreover, aside from forward collision warning and mitigation, blindspot warning, lane departure warning, the latter two systems can also provide corrective action if so desired. The blindspot warning system even ties into the vehicle’s door locks, warning about a vehicle or bicycle passing should someone attempt to open the door into the path of either.

Ride and handling

My 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 4Matic test vehicle was equipped with the latest system dubbed E-Active Body Control. Falling under the company’s “Innovation by Intelligence” umbrella, the system uses the 48-volt architecture and a network of over 20 sensors, five computer processors, and a stereo camera system to corroborate inputs at 1,000 times per second.

The Road Surface Scan system uses the stereo camera to proactively look at the road ahead, detecting changes in the road as small as two millimetres. This allows the system to predictively adjust the suspension ahead of time, readying it for a bump that is coming versus reacting to one that has already occurred. The feeling is a bit uncanny as ride motion over speed bumps are significantly muted by almost 80 per cent.

The same E-Active Body Control system has a safety party trick called “Impulse Side”. When tied into the side-mounted radar sensors, the system has the ability to recognise a potential side impact and raise the vehicle by 3.14 inches (80 mm) in just tenths of a second. As the side rocker panel sill is the strongest part of the car, there is potentially less intrusion into the passenger safety cell in the event of a side impact.

Despite the S580 being a massive car, the chauffeur doesn’t have to have all the fun. It feels surprisingly sporty, even in non-AMG form, and handles incredibly well in-spite of its size. Quick steering and good steering feel inspires confidence, even without the optional rear steering system, and S580’s permanent 4matic all-wheel-drive system worked flawlessly in poor weather conditions including during heavy snowfall.

The twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine and Mercedes’ 9-Gtronic automatic transmission are an incredibly well-matched pair, able to deliver both strong, push-you-into-the-seatback acceleration or graceful slow-speed departures with little fuss and few hiccups. Acceleration comes on quickly with a mere dip into the throttle pedal.

Final thoughts

It’s difficult to be disappointed whether you’re riding in the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580 as a driver or a passenger. There is a reason why you still see leaders arriving in S-classes and significantly less so in competitors’ vehicles of the same class and size.

While its days as an executive limo, at least in its traditional form, may be numbered thanks to Mercedes’ EQ-line-up of fully electric vehicles, I doubt that Mercedes-Benz will retire the legendary “S-class” name badge anytime soon.

No doubt the S-class will continue to live on as the best car in the world, in any way, shape or form.

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[REVIEW] 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 4MATIC coupe

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Mercedes-Benz has had a long history with B-pillarless coupe. Starting from the 1968 Stoker/8 Coupe with its frameless and fully retractable side windows, the B-pillarless design was intended to create a generous and less restricted overall appearance. In 1992, AMG got involved in tweaking what was then known as the W124 300CE E-Class-based coupe.

If we look back at the timeline, from a 51 percent takeover in 1998, the influence of Mercedes-Benz continued to grow until AMG became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz in 2005.

Although today AMG is known to the vast majority of younger car fans as the Mercedes-Benz sports department, the fact that this company from Affalterbach was once an independent tuning company has been almost forgotten in many places. Officially, the present day name of the division is now “Mercedes-AMG”.

Before the cooperation agreement came into force, AMG took a 300CE (E-Class coupe) and fettled it with their specially tuned 6.0-litre V8 from the S-Class and SL. Featuring 381 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, this car was aptly named “The Hammer” and accelerated to 100 km/hr in just 5 seconds. Even by modern day standards that is an impressive time.

With only twelve such cars produced, the Hammers are highly sought after by AMG collectors today.

Is the E53 coupe a Modern day AMG Hammer?

It has taken until this latest generation of E-Class coupe for Mercedes-AMG to be involved once again with an E-Class.

Mercedes’ newish 53-badged AMG vehicles are supposed to represent a perfect halfway point between the standard models and the much more expensive fire-breathing 63 variants. While it’s not a full-blooded eight-cylinder kind of AMG, since there are no plans for a 63 version of the E-Class coupe, this is currently the most powerful model that you can get in either E-Class coupe or convertible form.

To differentiate the 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 coupe from its non-AMG stablemate, the former is marked by unique tailpipes, AMG badging, the new Panamericana-grille with vertical chrome slats, and unique AMG 20” wheels.

The large outer air inlet grille features two transverse louvres and a new front splitter. The grille also features inner Air Curtains, giving an overall aerodynamic advantage, and a subtle similarity to the AMG GT sports car family.

Kitted out in black and blacked out wheels, my car’s “murdered out” looked positively aggressive.

Under the hood is the now familiar 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder twin scroll turbocharged engine mated with an electric-starter-alternator combo for 48 volt mild-hybrid assistance. Known as EQ Boost, this system can boost fuel efficiency slightly but is really more designed to eliminate turbo lag.

The electric hybrid technology can add 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque on its own to supplement the high-tech inline-6 which produces 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 to 5,800 rpms.

With power flowing to all four wheels via a 9-speed AMG Speedshift dual-clutch automatic transmission and the company’s 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system, 0 to 100 km/hr runs can be accomplished in just 4.4 seconds, a whole 0.6 seconds quicker than the mighty “Hammer”.

The AMG DYNAMIC SELECT modes lets drivers fine-tune the E53’s performance via controls on the console or the standard steering-wheel AMG DRIVE UNIT. Five driving modes, one customizable, adapt the throttle, shifting, chassis and more from Slippery to Sport+.

The fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ can send torque to the wheels that can best turn traction into action. From launch grip to cornering, 4MATIC+ can go from 50/50 front/rear, up to 100% rear-wheel-drive.

My car’s optional AMG Sport Exhaust, included in the AMG Driver’s Package, turns the rise and ebb of rpm into a rousing soundtrack. With multimode internal flaps, the different drive modes and the exhaust button lets you heighten the crescendos, or tone them down.

How does it drive?

All this tech and all of these numbers translate into impressive performance in the real-world. While the E53 coupe lacks the V8 engine and exhaust soundtrack of the AMG 63-models, the way the E53 coupe builds speed is still very impressive. Sure, it won’t pin you back in your seat like its four door E63s sibling, but it’s still very involving. The E53’s exhaust is rather unique but still pleasing under hard acceleration, particularly in Sport+ mode.

The car’s AMG RIDE CONTROL+ turns pressurized air into agility by adapting within milliseconds to changing roads, loads, and the modes of AMG DYNAMIC SELECT. It’s self-lowering and self-leveling and totally automated. At speed, the system gently supports the body while leaving it largely impervious to body roll.

Although it might be a mild-hybrid system, the E53 does not have the ability to cruise around emissions-free around town. Apart from the improved responses, you rarely notice the EQ Boost system working its magic. Aside from the very visible EQ Boost digital gauge in the speedo, you might notice that the engine shuts down earlier than you might imagine as you come to a halt.

My test vehicle was fitted with Mercedes’ semi-automomous driving system which now features a steering wheel sensor mat to recognise if you’re “hands-on”. If the driver does not have their hands on the steering wheel for a certain time, a warning is displayed in subsequent annoyance until Emergency Brake Assist.

Compared to other Mercedes models, I found the system too sensitive, frequently telling me to keep my hands on the wheel when they were already indeed on the steering wheel.

Aside from these little niggles, the E53 coupe is perfectly at home cruising at 200 km/hr on the autobahn or carving up some backroads on the weekend. You could easily drive this car from dusk till dawn and still feel relaxed on the other end. In this sense, it is a proper E-Class.

On the inside

Although the cabin is shared with other E-Class models, the extensive optional carbon fibre trim fitted to my test vehicle was drop dead gorgeous. It truly brings a different vibe to the cabin when compared to the open pore wood trim option that was fitted to my 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63s wagon test vehicle.

The sporty and comfortable seats provide strong lateral support which translates into comfort during long drives. They come in either Artico man-made leather or Dinamica microfibre in black with an AMG-specific design, red contrasting topstitching and the AMG badge, characteristic for the 53 models.

Aside from the AMG Drive Control unit on the latest AMG Steering wheel, the AMG badging in the virtual dashboard and the AMG apps in the MBUX Infotainment system, there is little else to give the game away (on the inside anyway) that this is special AMG model.

Some people may like this, but others may subscribe to the thinking from BMW’s M Division. That is to say that M cars have a bit more glitz, glamour, and pantomime.

The 2022 E53 coupe’s four seats and a 435-litre trunk give it more than adequate practicality for four adults and their luggage. There are all the accoutrements you could possibly need, from seatbelt extenders, to heated/ventilated seats.

Curiously, Mercedes-AMG also chose to leave in the AirScarf neck warmer option from the E-Class cabriolet. While this system is designed to warm-up passengers during top-down motoring, it was nonetheless a welcome but unexpected addition to the E53 coupe.

On that point, the addition of 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive also means that the E53 coupe is an all-weather vehicle, able to hit the ski chalets’ snow covered driveways or the golf course with equal comfort and presence.

Final thoughts

While it may lack the exclusivity of the 300CE Hammer, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 4matic+ coupe is worthy at taking up the baton as the latest AMG four-seater two-door E-Class coupe.

Although coupes and cabriolets are sold in relatively small numbers compared to SUVs, this vehicle seems to be a worthy successor to continue Mercedes-Benz’s long tradition of producing sporty and elegant two-door cars with style and performance.

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