Review: 2012 Mercedes SLK350 Convertible

Luxury roadsters have always been niche vehicles. With the economic implosion over the last decade, that niche has become even smaller. Last year the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 each sold less than 3,500 units on our shores, down from over 10,000 each back in 2006 and Canadian sales are roughly a tenth of that. While Mercedes is likely crying in their delicious geflügelsuppe, roadster shoppers benefit by being able to drive one of the most exclusive Mercedes models available on our shores. While the last model awkwardly aped the unholy union of a Mercdes F1 car and a bottlenose dolphin, the new model sells itself with sexy new sheet metal, 29 MPG on the highway and a $54,800 base price.

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Porsche: Why Build The "Baby Boxster" When We Have A "Baby Cayenne"?

Do you badly want a new mid-engined Porsche? Is the Boxster/Cayman combo still a bit rich for your blood, given the weak economy? Chances are you have been waiting patiently for news about Porsche’s “Baby Boxster,” the long-discussed, entry-level, flat-four-powered version of Volkswagen’s Bluesport concept. The sad news: you may be waiting quite a bit longer. In an interview with the FT Deutschland, Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller says

There is no decision to develop this car into production. The decision is due soon, but they may well drag on into next year

Why? Well that’s easy: Porsche’s number one priority is to remain the world’s most profitable automaker, with “at least” a 15% operating margin and a 21% return on capital. And it can hit its 200k sales by 2018 goal without adding a sixth or seventh model… thanks to the fact that its fifth model is an entry-level SUV, called the Cajun.

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What's Wrong With This Picture: Jaguar's 11-Year Itch Edition

Slightly over 11 years ago, Jaguar set the car world’s heart a-flutter with the sleek, stunning F-Type concept. Shortly thereafter they said they’d build it, and relentless hype (including a totally unconvincing C&D “ First Drive Review” featuring no actual driving impressions) followed. As the years dragged on, it soon became clear that Jaguar would not be building the achingly gorgeous sub-XK roadster (a decision that Robert Farago called “a shocking miscalculation“). But now, with mules already prowling the British countryside, a new baby Jag roadster concept is coming to the Frankfurt Auto Show… and Jaguar tells Autocar it will be a “precursor” to the coming production model. As a big fan of Ian Callum’s work, I’m sure it will look absolutely delicious… but if this somehow turns out to be another F-Type-style tease, Jaguar will be dead to me forever. [UPDATE: video preview after the jump]

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Hyundai/Kia Developing Small Rear-Drive Platform, Kia Roadster Coming First

With VW wading into the budget roadster segment with its forthcoming BlueSport mid-engine roadster, it seems that Kia wants in on the action as well. Reports are surfacing in Europe and the US that the Korean automaker is making good on Peter Schreyer’s threats, and is developing its first roadster since it bought up the tooling and IP for Lotus’s front-drive Elan, which it sold in Korea between 1996 and 1999.

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Review: 2011 Jaguar XKR

In 2007 Jaguar started the most intensive make-over in the brand’s history with the redesigned XK. While the look was drop-dead gorgeous, the interior was more evolution than revolution when you consider the direction the XF and new XJ have taken. Now that the world has managed to catch its breath after the shock of the XF and XJ’s ultra-chic modern styling, Jaguar decided to give the XK a thorough refresh in 2010.

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Review: 2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

There’s a great playground in Berkeley, near the Rose Garden, that has a two-story tall twisted and banked concrete slide down the side of a hill, of the sort that cities would never build again in our modern liability-freaked danger-averse era. Blissfully unaware of this, the local kids use torn-up cardboard boxes to reduce their friction and go even faster. While I watched, one kid went sailing off the end, landing flat on his back. He stood up and did a high-five with one of his friends, grinning from ear to ear. “That was hella cool!”

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What's Wrong With This Picture: Tesla Roadster Take 2.5 Edition
There I was yesterday, nattering away about how Tesla can’t keep its focus, unaware that Tesla was releasing “Version 2.5” of its Roadster…
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What's Wrong With This Picture: MINI's Growing Family Edition

MINI’s new six-model lineup gets an early preview, as the Cooper, Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster meet up outside MINI’s plant in Oxford, England. The Countryman SUV won’t arrive in the states until February 2011, with the Coupe and Roadster following by six and 12 months respectively.

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What's Wrong With This Picture: A Solstice For Alfa's Dark Night Of The Soul Edition
With all the drama surrounding Alfa Romeo’s future, it’s heartening to see that the brand is still taking the time to work on core competencies l…
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What's Wrong With Tesla? How Much Time Do You Have?

I’ve been warned before by the B&B not to read too much into the forward-looking statements in SEC filings, especially the ones where companies ruminate over all the things that could still go wrong with their struggling firms. These legal disclosures of worst-case-scenarios often reflect unlikely scenarios and can be downright misleading, so we held off from diving too deep into Tesla’s IPO S-1 filing [complete document here]. Others around the web have jumped in without compunction, and this week has yielded a steady drip of troubling revelations. It’s a wild and woolly collection of issues, but given that people are going to be asked to invest in this nightmare of a company, it’s only fair that we give the grievances an airing.

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Tesla's Profit Claims Are Lies
We overlooked a key point in our write-up on Tesla’s IPO plans: the profits Elon Musk has been touting are a mirage. As this balance sheet from Tesla&r…
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Wild Ass Rumor Of The Day: Meet the 1 Series-based Roadster
Think the new Z4 is a bloated boulevard cruiser unworthy of the roadster-implying Z badge? We’d tend to agree. Which is why we were chuffed to see rend…
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  • Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
  • Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
  • Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
  • Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
  • VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?