$50K-$60K

$50K-$60K

Back in 2001, the Lexus IS 300 debuted to give the Japanese automaker a competitor for the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class. The IS 350 took its place in 2006 with a revised body and a new, 3.5-liter engine. The IS 350 received yet another redesign in 2014, giving it a more modern design to better handle the growing and changing luxury sedan realm. Markets other than the U.S. received a hybrid IS 300h for the 2013 model year (same as the U.S.-Spec 2014 model year) and at the tail end of 2014, the UK earns a new trim for the IS 300h dubbed the Executive Edition.

The Lexus IS 300h is the kind of car that already speaks for itself. It looks good, and it has an impressive and efficient powertrain. But every so often, a highly regarded car like the IS 300h is still subject to more improvements. Not that any of us are complaining because an even better equipped IS 300h means a more attractive model for customers. That’s what happened here after Lexus introduced a new Executive Edition model to the IS 300h range. The changes aren’t significant enough to completely change the model’s aesthetics, but it’s still significant enough to warrant our applause.

With all these add-ons, the IS 300h Executive Edition only costs £33,385, which is about $57,000 based on exchange rates (7/1/2014). That represents an increase of just £3,390 ($5,780), which is affordable enough for some new digs.

Click past the jump to read more about the Lexus IS 300h Executive Edition.

The Volkswagen Amarok is one of the youngest pickup trucks on the mid-size market. Launched for the 2010 model year, and assembled in both Germany and Argentina, the truck is sold with a range of four engines across the world, three of which use diesel as fuel. Currently the Amarok is not available in the United States, but word has it Volkswagen is considering a North American introduction in the near future.

The fact that Volkswagen is not bringing the Amarok pickup truck to the United States has become increasingly frustrating lately. Especially with so many special editions and trims offered across Europe. The Canyon and the Dark Label editions are the first that come to mind, but we also dig the Power Concept , which could turn into a cool, sportier version of the pickup.

And to rub more salt in our wounds, Volkswagen is introducing a new high-spec model to sit atop the Amarok lineup for the 2014 model year. Dubbed Amarok Ultimate, the new truck borrows the well-equipped status of the Highline model it is based on, and features additional visual and tech upgrades meant to increase its appeal.

Making things even better is the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel unit that comes with it. The mill is available in two flavors, packing 138 horsepower and 177 horsepower, respectively. Like with the rest of the Amarok lineup, the only downside of the Ultimate is its exclusive double-cab body configuration. There’s also the hefty sticker, which is set at €34,770 and €41,376.30 respectively ($47,158 and $56,135 as of 06/12/2014).

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate.

The 2014 Worthersee Festival was packed with numerous high-performance machines and shiny concept cars , but there’s at least one certain pickup truck that literally rocked the Austrian event. We’re talking about the Volkswagen Amarok Power Concept, a truck created not just to showcase the company’s more aggressive side, but equipped with everything it needs to be the life of the party.

The most intriguing part about this pickup is the 5000-watt sound system and the DJ equipment fitted in its spacious bed. The gear includes a 92 Allen & Heath DJ kit, a Pioneer CDJ900NXS player, two Void Acoustics Impulse 3T speakers, a Stasys Xair subwoofer and six micro speakers. That’s more than enough to make a lot of noise while throwing a cool party at the beach.

Speaking of pumping, the party truck is fitted with a 3.0-liter, V-6, diesel engine that’s equally impressive in terms of performance. With help from a turbocharged unit, the oil-burner delivers 268 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, and launches the Amarok from a 0 to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 130 mph.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Volkswagen Amarok Power Concept.

I’d honestly not given the S5 much thought before this week. Why, when Audi offers up much flashier models like the R8, RS7, and upcoming TT? It wasn’t until I drove the 2014 S5 Coupe that I discovered this hidden gem in Audi’s lineup. It might not be the most powerful version of the coupe, but with 333 supercharged horses under its mile-long hood and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sending power to all four wheels, I found myself finding excuses to go for a drive.

It hit me midway through the week that my black-on-black tester with satin chrome accents looks like something Bruce Wayne would drive when not fighting crime in the Batmobile. Its two-door architecture, sleek profile, and menacing color scheme lends itself for the perfect, if not stereotypical, wealthy bachelor’s car. The techno-filled cockpit further solidifies my thoughts as I found myself impressed with the level of refinement in Audi’s MMI infotainment system.

While the S5 might be better suited to a Bruce Wayne kind of lifestyle, it still performed decently enough when the time came to chauffeur the kids around. Yes, a full-sized child seat fits in the back seat. Ingress and egress was made easier by a quick-release lever on the front seatbacks that allowed the chairs to move forward without losing its last position. It afforded just enough room for crawling back to buckle the kiddo.

But a minivan this thing is not. The S5 is more at home on twisty, backcountry roads and making time on the interstate. Its demeanor changes with the driver’s mood – even without changing the Audi Drive Select system. The S5 makes a great grand touring car capable of long-distance travel and short distance track runs.

Click past the jump for the full review

Our spy photographers confirmed last month’s rumor about Mercedes-Benz working on a brand-new C-Class to fill the gap between the C400 and the more powerful C63 AMG . This confirmation comes by way of a wagon version of the C450 AMG Sport stretching its legs in Germany.

Caught completely undisguised, the second-brawniest current-generation C-Class Wagon sports a more aggressive front bumper that doesn’t stray too far from the piece seen on the regular model and an AMG-style grille that carries just one horizontal bar.

Around back, the differences are less noticeable, with only a dual-exhaust system catching our eyes. The wagon also benefits from a different set of wheels that are similar to some we’ve seen recently from AMG. The "4MATIC" badge on the rear hatch suggests the C450 AMG Sport will arrive with all-wheel-drive.

Scheduled to hit the market sometime in 2015, both the sedan and wagon versions of the C450 will carry a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6. This engine puts out 329 horsepower in the C400 model, so it wouldn’t shocked us to see the hotter C450 AMG Sport carry more than 370 ponies.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mercedes C450 Sport AMG Wagon.

Gran Turismo’s Vision Gran Turismo series of concepts is slowly taking shape and another automaker has come out and released its creative work.

Joining in on the fun is Volkswagen with its Vision Gran Turismo Concept . And if we’re into picking among the best of what we’ve seen, it’s hard to go against what looks like a pretty sick roadster that actually bears resemblance to one of Volkswagen’s production models, specifically the Scirocco .

This is what the creative forces at Volkswagen thought of when they were asked to build a concept for the video game franchise. It’s not that the car looks good; it’s that it looks exceptionally good, one we hope Volkswagen decides to build as an actual production car in the future.

It retains most of the essential characteristics of the brand’s sports hatch and wraps it up in a sportier package, one that features a dramatically low windshield, a swooping front end, new headlights, and lest we forget, the sickest set of wheels we’ve seen among all the Vision Gran Turismo Concept cars that have come out.

Updated 05/23/2014: Volkswagen revealed the first details and specs on the Vision Gran Turismo Concept, just a few days before the car’s official debut on May 28th at the Worthersee Festival in Austria.

Updated 05/28/2014: Volkswagen unveiled a new video (above) revealing the new Vision Gran Turismo Concept in action and it surely looks fast! A new set of images were also dropped by the developers of the Gran Turismo game. Enjoy!

Updated 05/29/2014: Volkswagen unveiled the new Vision Gran Turismo Concept - or GTI Roadster - at the Worthersee Festival. Click past the jump to find out the new details.

Click past the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Vision Gran Turismo Concept

Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to hybrid technology, but the German automaker has yet to implement it on a large scale throughout its lineup, using it only on the S-Class and the E-Class up until now.

That’s about to change next year when the Stuttgart-based automaker plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the brand-new C-Class . Expected to hit the market under the C350 Plug-In Hybrid name, the sedan will rely on a powertrain that brings together a turbocharged four-cylinder unit, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery.

Details are still under wraps, but Mercedes is likely to drop in its 2.0-liter conventional engine, which is good for 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the standard C-Class. Little is known about the electric motor set to be paired with the four-pot, but word has it we’ll be seeing an extra 70 horsepower and at least 140 pound-feet of torque coming from it.

The combo should enable the C-Class Plug-In Hybrid to return at least 78 mpg, making it one of the most fuel efficient sedans on the market. The grand unveiling could take place at the Paris Motor Show this fall, with the first units to hit dealerships in 2015.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mercedes C-Class Plug-In Hybrid.

Introduced at last year’s SEMA Show , the 2014 Corvette Stingray Pacific Concept was Chevrolet’s idea of customizing the C7 Corvette to look like a race car , without applying any powertrain modifications or taking its road-legal status away. Finished in a flashy, "look at me!" Torch Red exterior with a pair of Satin Black racing stripes across its nose, hood and rear end, the Corvette Pacific Concept took center stage in Las Vegas and, apparently, all that attention prompted Chevrolet to roll out a similar package for the 2015 Corvette Stingray Coupe .

Unlike the Atlantic Design Package that adds a few exterior updates and almost no cabin upgrades, the Pacific Design Package is more extensive and aimed at customers that either like to take their Corvette at the track or enjoy the racing-oriented appearance.

Before we jump to the details, we’d like to point out that the Pacific Design Package is exclusive to Z51-equipped coupes in either 2LT and 3LT trim. And like any 2015 Corvette Stingray, it can be ordered with the all-new eight-speed automatic tranny with paddle shifters and the Performance Data Recorder.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pacific Design Package.

As you may recall, at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show we had our first look at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class L , the most recent and longest member of the brand-new C-Class family. The sedan will go on sale later this year, but, to our disappointment, it won’t make it to the U.S., being a China-exclusive model.

Today, a report coming from Autocar says the C-Class lineup is set to expand even more, with a performance-oriented sedan to join the ranks next year. This time we’re not talking about yet another AMG-prepped midsize, but a vehicle that will fill the large gap between the C400 model and the brawny C63 AMG that should break cover later in 2014.

Details are scarce at the time of this writing, but the aforementioned source states the new model will be launched with the C450 AMG Sport moniker and with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine under the hood. In order for the sportier C-Class to bridge the wide gap between the 329-horsepower C400 and the 450-horsepower (estimated) C63 AMG , the Germans will increase the V-6’s output to about 372 horses.

As the name suggests, the C450 is not an official AMG model, but it’s being developed in collaboration with the company’s performance arm. It appears that the C450 AMG Sport will also be offered in an optional 4MATIC configuration, which is very likely to cross the Pond into North American dealerships.

Note: Mercedes C63 AMG rendering shown here.

Click past the jump to read more about the upcoming Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport.

Source: AutoCar

If a couple of weeks ago we were talking about how the new, beefed up C63 AMG will also get coupe, convertible and wagon versions , now we have to refocus our attention on the regular C-Class model and its brand-new family member, the C-Class Long.

Specifically developed for the Chinese market, where additional legroom is highly appreciated, the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Long broke cover at the Beijing Auto Show , the country’s most important automotive event for the year.

We’re not at all shocked that the elongated C-Class showed up this month, given that the vehicle has been confirmed since last year, but we’re pleasantly surprised to find out that the China -exclusive model is a full 80 mm (3.1 inches) longer than the standard version. For the record, Audi] added only 60 mm (2.4 inches) to the A4 when it created the A4L.

As the model kept its overhangs intact, the entire length of the C-Class L sits in a 2,920-mm (115-inch) long wheelbase, giving it a longer wheelbase than the regular Mercedes-Benz E-Class . The additional room the longer wheelbase spawns in the cabin is obviously available in the rear compartment, where passengers will be able to sit more comfortably and stretch their legs further before hitting the front seats.

Speaking of which, the front passenger’s seat can be adjusted from the rear for further legroom or to compensate for the extra 25 mm (1 inch) added to the rear bench.

The Germans have yet to reveal too many details, but they did mention the C-Class Long will be offered with two different exterior designs. The tame model will come with the classic front grille with the company’s star mounted on the hood, while the more aggressive version, dubbed the "Sport Sedan," will carry numerous AMG body components, including a front apron, sill panels and a diffuser-like rear skirt.

There’s no specific word on what engines will be motivating the C-Class L, but the company said the base model will get 156 horsepower, while the range-topping version can be equipped with a unit that delivers as much as 367 horsepower. This means that there will be at least a C 180L, which will cover the 156-horsepower version. As for the 367-horsepower version, the only Chinese-spec engine close to that is the 360-horsepower, 2.0-liter from the CLA45 AMG, and it is doubtful that this engine will be in a long-wheelbase cruiser, like the C-Class L.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mercedes C-Class L.


Back to top