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Babies, Alpacalypse, and Satanic Willem Dafoe: The 2013 Super Bowl car ads

2013 Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl ad CLA-Class screenshotThe Super Bowl may still be the “Big Game,” but the commercials that run between plays have become almost as big an attraction. So big, in fact, that many of them have already aired. If you don’t want to get distracted from watching the Ravens and 49ers on Sunday, check out these Super Bowl car ads, which are already racking up page views on the Interwebs.

Audi: “Prom”

The classic high school nightmare, not having a date for prom, is remedied (sort of) by the Audi A6. Nothing apparently gets a teenage male’s testosterone flowing like a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and LED headlights.

Hyundai: “Epic Playdate”

If you buy a Hyundai Santa Fe, the Flaming Lips will follow you around and provide a soundtrack to your life. So you’d better think of interesting things to do, like hanging out with a sabertooth tiger, getting chased by bikers, and Zorbing, to make the most of it. Hyundai will actually show four ads during the Big Game; others will highlight the Sonata Turbo and Genesis sedan.

Kia: “Space Babies”

Kia is pitching itself as the car of choice for creative parents. In this imaginative ad, a Sorento-driving dad tries to dodge the question of where babies come from with a fantastic story about a faraway baby planet. The part about rockets penetrating the atmosphere was amusing… Or maybe we’re reading too much into this.

Lincoln: “#SteerTheScript”

Lincoln decided to go all 21st century with its commercial. With the help of Jimmy Fallon and his many followers, Lincoln compiled thousands of tweets about epic road trips under the #SteerTheScript hashtag. Unlike some more impatient car companies, Lincoln won’t air the finished product until Sunday night. So far, its teaser involves movie aliens, a wedding, and something called the “Alpacalypse.”

That doesn’t have much to do with cars, though. Lincoln’s ad will feature the MKZ, the brand’s Ford Fusion-based midsize luxury sedan.

Mercedes-Benz: “Soul”

Would you make a deal with the devil (played by Willem Dafoe) for the new 2013 CLA-Class, Mercedes’ stylish new compact “four-door coupe?” We’d probably hold out for an SLS AMG Black Series. The main character thinks his soul is worth more too: he declines when learning of the CLA’s $29,900 base price. That probably doesn’t buy the ability to keep up with Formula 1 cars, as the Satanic CLA does in one scene.

Toyota: “Wish Granted”

If the Flaming Lips aren’t your thing, how about a genie with your new SUV? Kudos to Toyota for sneaking a mention of the 2013 RAV4’s more car-like styling into a joke about a balding father’s desire to have his “spare tire” disappear. The realistic take on a young girl’s wish to be a princess was a little too ironic, though.

Volkswagen: “Get In, Get Happy”

Apparently, a Beetle can transform white office workers into rastas. Volkswagen’s ad features a man from Minnesota talking in a Jamaican accent, thanks to his car’s power to impart good vibes to him and anyone who rides in it. It’s a slightly creepy take on one of the world’s most un-creepy cars.

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Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive: Mercedes-AMG’s most powerful car runs on batteries
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive front three-quarter motion view

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a production version of its SLS AMG E-Cell electric sports car at the Paris Motor Show. Called the SLS AMG Electric Drive, it’s the most powerful car Mercedes-Benz AMG has ever built.
Replacing the SLS AMG’s 6.2-liter V8 are four electric motors, connected to an “axially-arranged” transmission and a 60-kWh lithium ion battery pack. The transmission, which Mercedes calls AMG Torque Dynamics, makes the electric SLS all-wheel drive and can power or brake wheels individually depending on conditions.
Combined, the four motors produce 740 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. That’s much more than the gasoline-powered 2013 SLS AMG GT, which produces 583 hp and 489 lb-ft. It also makes the SLS AMG Electric Drive more powerful than a Lamborghini Aventador.
With so much power on tap, it’s not surprising that Mercedes is claiming the SLS AMG Electric Drive as the world’s fastest production electric vehicle. The company says its gull-winged creation will do 0 to 62 mph (o-100 kph) in 3.9 seconds, and reach a limited top speed of 155 mph. That makes the electric SLS much slower than the SLS GT, despite the extra power. The SLS AMG GT will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 197 mph.
So far, the only serious competition for the SLS AMG Electric Drive is the Audi R8 e-tron. The Audi’s top speed is limited to 125 mph, although a test car’s was raised to 155 mph for a record-setting Nürburgring lap.
The liquid-cooled battery pack consists of 864 individual cells in 12 modules, and was developed by the same people who made the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) regenerative braking for Mercedes’ Formula 1 cars.
A full charge from a standard European household outlet takes 20 hours, but Mercedes will offer a 22 kW quick charger that cuts charge time down to three hours. The SLS AMG Electric Drive has a 155-mile range, although it probably won’t get that far if driven enthusiastically.
If the car does run out of juice on the highway, that bright blue paint (an Electric Drive exclusive) should alert passers by to the driver’s plight. Besides the paint, there is little to distinguish the Electric Drive from a regular SLS AMG coupe. The electric SLS get a carbon fiber front splitter, a rear diffuser, and a grille with “bionic honeycomb-shaped” vents.
However, under the skin, there are more significant modifications. The body is a carbon fiber monocoque bonded to the stock SLS’ aluminum chassis. To accommodate the electric drivetrain, the regular SLS’ double-wishbone suspension was replaced with a multi-link setup.
The AMG engineers also needed to recreate an important aspect of the V8 SLS: sound. Electric motors are very quiet, and that is a problem for both pedestrians (who won’t hear it coming) and drivers (who will miss out on the aural experience). AMG designed different sounds for startup, wide-open throttle, and cruising, which play through the car’s speakers.
The SLS AMG Electric Drive goes on sale in Europe next year for roughly $536,000, or more than 2.5 times the cost of a regular SLS. Green speed is possible, but it doesn’t come cheap.

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Italdesign Giugiaro Brivido combines Italian styling with German engineering

Cars often come loaded with national stereotypes. Italian cars are known for being achingly beautiful, and frustratingly unreliable. The reverse is true of German cars: they are designed and built with fanatical attention to detail, but lack charisma. What if you could have the best of both worlds: a German car with Italian styling?
The latest concept car from Italian styling house Italdesign Giugiaro shows what such a car might be like. Called the Brivido, it was unveiled at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Volkswagen recently bought a majority share of Italdesign, so the Brivido rides on a VW platform.
The Brivido is a four-seat GT car with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Unlike rival Pininfarina, Italdesign did not follow the trend of coupe-like sedans; their car only has two doors. The gull wings make quite a statement, and the roof is almost entirely glass. Italdesign says this design improves visibility while making the cabin more pleasant.
The rest of the car is just as dramatic, with short overhangs, a sleek roofline, and slivers of LEDs for headlights. Instead of side view mirrors, Brivido sports tiny cameras that fold into the fenders. The body is made of aluminum and carbon fiber to make it as light as possible.
The interior design is as clever as the exterior is striking. The driver gets touchpads on the steering wheel to operate the sound system, climate control, and more, while the passenger gets their own instrument panel with trip information and controls for the entertainment systems. The car also has an iPad dock built into the dashboard.
Underneath the styling and technology is a VW-sourced chassis with a 360 hp 3.0-liter V6, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor. Italdesign says the combination is good for a 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) run of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 171 mph.
The Brivido makes a pretty good case for a future collaboration between Volkswagen and Italdesign. The German company (along with corporate sibling Audi) helped improve the quality of brands such like Lamborghini and Bentley, so the concept has already been applied to real-world vehicles.
Among the German companies, VW could use an infusion of style the most. With the redesigned Jetta and Passat, the company went for sheer mass appeal at the cost of style or uniqueness. The Passat may be the perfect car for most people, but it’s basically a German Camry. It competes against great-looking cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and 2013 Ford Fusion. With its bland styling, how can the Passat stand out in this competitive segment?
The Brivido is just a concept car, but it shows what the marriage of German engineering and Italian styling can produce. It could also foreshadow a world-beater from Volkswagen.

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Tesla Cybertruck prototype spotted with minor changes
A Tesla Cybertruck prototype.

What appears to be a new Tesla Cybertruck prototype has been spotted testing on public roads.

As relayed by Electrek, Twitter user Greg posted a photo Thursday showing a Cybertruck with a different front-end design from what we've seen previously. The front bumper has a more distinct rectangular opening, possibly for cooling. This prototype also has triangular side mirrors, as opposed to the squared-off ones seen previously.

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