2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA teased ahead of 2019 CES

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Teaser for 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA debuting at 2019 CES

Teaser for 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA debuting at 2019 CES

Mercedes-Benz will use next month’s 2019 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for the world debut of its redesigned CLA. The car is expected in showrooms next summer as a 2020 model and will serve as a sportier alternative to the similarly sized A-Class sedan which launches for 2019.

A teaser shot provides a glimpse at the new CLA’s coupe-like profile. Our own spy shots of prototypes provide a much better look and suggest that the car will resemble a scaled-down version of the CLS.

All Mercedes will say about the car is that it will feature an enhanced version of the smartphone-like infotainment system known as MBUX. The system only made its debut this year in the A-Class.

Among the new features added is an assistant that identifies operation requests on the basis of movements (most likely hand gestures). There’s also augmented reality for navigation and an ability to understand indirect voice commands. Mercedes also mentions something called the Energizing Coach which will provide the driver with fitness recommendations.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

We already know the new CLA rides on the MFA2 front-wheel-drive platform shared with the A-Class. We also know that the Mercedes-AMG division is working on a sporty CLA35 and high-performance CLA45.

It’s still too early to talk pricing but expect the new CLA to come in at roughly the same $33,000 starting price as the current model. The A-Class sedan is expected to be priced from about $30,000, which is where the current CLA started when it was introduced for 2014.

The 2019 CES runs from January 8-11. Mercedes will also use the show for the local launch of the 2020 EQC electric SUV and Vision Urbanetic self-driving van concept. Mercedes parent company Daimler will also use CES to provide an update on its progress in the area of self-driving trucks.

To follow our CES coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Edition: Suicide doors are back

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Next year, 80 2019 Lincoln Continental owners will bring back memories of Lincoln’s 1960s glory days when they open their car’s doors.

That’s because coach doors, more popularly known as suicide doors, will return with the limited edition 2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Edition for the first time since 1969

Lincoln made the iconic design’s return official on Monday, and Black Label dealerships across the U.S. can now take customer orders.

ALSO SEE: Lincoln’s next act: this time it’s a marathon

Even with the doors closed, the Coach Edition looks like something different. The already large sedan receives a 6-inch stretch, and the electronic-opening rear door handles sit next to the front door handles.

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition

The look is very different when the rear doors swing open rearward up to 90 degrees for easy ingress and egress.

Inside, the Continental Coach Edition has seating for four and a new flow-through center console in the rear seat.

The few who find themselves in the back seat will find more than enough legroom, stowable tray tables with tablet holders, audio and climate system controls on a small digital screen, and a wireless charging pad.

The Coach Edition Continental starts life like any other Continental and rolls off the Flat Rock assembly line in Michigan. It’s then sent with a package of parts to be installed, including longer rear doors, to coach-builder Cabot in Boston.

CHECK OUT: 2019 Lincoln Continental gets more features, higher prices

Cabot slices the Continental in half just aft of the B-pillar and adds 6 inches to the frame to lengthen the Continental’s wheelbase. Once back together, the longer rear-hinged doors and Cabot-built custom flow-through center console are installed.

Each Continental Coach Edition will receive a special rear door sill plate with the build number, and a plaque in the rear center console that can be customized for each customer.

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition

All Continental Coach Editions will be powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque sent to all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Buyers can choose any Continental Black Label exterior color, but only its Chalet and Thoroughbred interior color schemes are offered on the Coach Edition.

READ: Forget E: Lincoln opts for “Grand Touring” to denote electrified vehicles

Only 80 2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Editions will be produced, but the special edition will return for the 2020 model year. Quantities will still be limited, but the number has not yet been determined.

Tim Sterling, Lincoln Continental chief engineer, told Motor Authority it would be possible for Lincoln to put the coach doors into mass production, but not on the current Continental’s wheelbase.

The limited edition 2019 Continental Coach Edition will cost just north of $100,000. It will roll into dealerships in July 2019.

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2021 Audi Q4 spy shots

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It was in early 2017 that Audi first confirmed plans to add a Q4 to its lineup, and now we have the first spy shots.

The Q4 is a compact crossover SUV with a coupe-like profile based on the same structure as the recently redesigned Q3. Its main targets are the BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Audi previewed the vehicle in 2014 with its TT Offroad concept. Audi was unable to call the concept a Q4 because the rights to the name were owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though the situation has since changed and the production model spawned has been confirmed as a Q4.

The design has evolved considerably since the TT Offroad was first shown. The spy shots show that the Q4 wears distinct styling cues to set it apart from the TT. The final result should resemble a scaled-down Q8.

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

The mechancials, along with most of the interior design, have been lifted directly from the Q3. This means the latest version of Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, front-wheel drive as standard with available all-wheel drive, and a range of turbocharged inline-4s each coming with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The Q4 is yet to be announced for the United States but we’ll likely see it arrive with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 delivering 252 horsepower. And since Audi no longer offers manual transmissions here, the dual-clutch ‘box is all we’ll see.

A high-performance RS Q4 is a strong possibility given Audi’s work on a new generation of the RS Q3. This model would feature a turbocharged inline-4 with 400 hp or more.

Audi should unveil the Q4 in the second half of 2019. We’ll likely see it launched locally for the 2021 model year.

Former McLaren design boss joins Lilium flying taxi startup

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Frank Stephenson shocked many when he stepped down from the lead design role at McLaren in early 2017. It turned out he wanted to apply his design skills in an entirely new segment: flying taxis.

The renowned designer, responsible for cars like the McLaren P1 and 650S (and in earlier roles the first generation of the modern Mini, the first BMW X5, the Maserati MC12, and Ferrari 430), in April was confirmed as the design chief for Lilium.

The German startup is working on an electric vehicle capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). The idea is that a fleet of the low-flying craft would provide an on-demand ride-hail service in congested cities between key hubs. Think of it as Uber of the skies.

A total 36 electrically driven propellers are embedded into the wing flaps, enabling an effortless transition from hover mode into horizontal flight. The controls would be fully autonomous, with the vehicle able to provide a total range of 186 miles and travel at speeds of up to 186 mph. Lilium is touting 90 percent better efficiency than current short range air travel solutions. Lilium’s design is also said to be much quieter.

Frank Stephenson

Frank Stephenson

It’s still early days, but Lilium successfully conducted a maiden test flight in April 2017 of its first model, the Jet. The company also raised $90 million in last round of funding and last week announced it has hired fellow industry bigwigs such as Mirko Reuter, formerly head of autonomous driving at Audi, and Jakob Waeschenbach, formerly head of equipment installation at Airbus. In their new roles at Lilium, Reuter is leading autonomous flight development and Waeschenbach aircraft assembly.

While the Lilium Jet isn’t exactly a flying car, we could envisage it potentially becoming a flying car if a folding-wing design and driven wheels can be implemented. Now just imagine it looking as exotic as one of Stephenson’s supercar designs.

“My last job was as high up as you could be in the car design world. The obvious question was, what next?” Stephenson said of his new role. “Lilium is going to revolutionize city travel by moving journeys from the ground into the sky; the technology that they have already developed is truly mind boggling.”