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International Engine of the Year 2009

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

engineoftheyear2009

Best New Engine of the Year

The category of newcomer engines, which included two from BMW was won by Porsche with their new 3.8-litre naturally aspirated flat six. It is rated at an impressive 385bhp max power, but that was not the factor that clinched its award. What impressed the judges most was how Porsche also got the engine to sip less fuel than its predecessor.

According to Marc Noordeloos of Automobile magazine, “Leave it to Porsche to build a near-400bhp engine that returns such impressive fuel economy. Enthusiasts should take comfort in the fact that the naturally aspirated engine may not be dying after all.”

Porsche attributes the impressive economy of this engine to the fact that it uses direct injection, brought over from the Cayenne. That, and a 200cc increase in engine capacity saw the 3.8 gain a healthy 30bhp over the outgoing 3.6 but emit 15% less CO2.

Results
points
1. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six DI (911) 144
2. BMW diesel 3-litre (330d, 730d, 530d, X3, X5) 122
3. BMW 4.4-litre DI Turbo (750i, X6) 120
4. Jaguar 5-litre V8 Supercharged (XF, XK) 112
5. Mercedes-Benz diesel 2.1-litre (BlueEfficiency C-Class, BlueEfficiency E-Class) 107
6. Audi 2-litre four-cylinder TFSI (Audi A4, A5, Q7, VW Scirocco, Golf GTI) 107

Green Engine of the Year

VW introduced the 1.4-litre twincharged EA111 engine back in 2006, but today the engine is still good enough to fend off challenges from Mercedes and BMW diesels in addition to hybrids from Honda and Ford.

The 1.3-litre IMA from  Honda pushed it real close, but ultimately lost out because of its massive power deficit in comparison to the TSI, which can be tuned to output as much as 178bhp.

FC and emission figures ultimately clinched it for the VW. When used in the Golf, the TSI emits 144 grams of CO2 for every kilometre traveled and consumes 6.2 litres of petrol for every one hundred. The Insight betters both these figures, but falls way short of the TSI’s impressive power output.

Results
points
1. Volkswagen 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger (VW Golf, Golf Variant, Scirocco, Eos, Jetta, Touran, Tiguan, Seat Ibiza Cupra) 205
2. Honda Hybrid 1.3-litre (Insight Civic) 203
3. BMW Diesel 2-litre Twin Turbo (123d) 147
4. BMW Diesel 3-litre Twin Turbo (335d, 535d, 635d, X3, X5, X6) 133
5. Mercedes-Benz Diesel 2.1-litre (BlueEfficiency E-Class, BlueEfficiency C-Class) 115
6. Ford Hybrid 2.5-litre (Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan) 82

Best Performance Engine

Taking the title of the Best Performance Engine is none other than the famous 6.2-litre V8 M156 of Mercedes-AMG, which powers everything currently slapped with the 63 AMG badge.

This naturally aspirated high-revver (7,200rpm redline) had to beat two BMW engines, and one each from Jaguar, Porsche and Ferrari to claim its prize.

Results
points
1. Mercedes-AMG 6.2-litre (CLK, S, SL, CL, CLS, ML) 109
2. BMW 5-litre V10 (M5, M6) 90
3. Jaguar 5-litre V8 Supercharged (XF, XK) 90
4. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six (GT3) 78
5. BMW 4-litre V8 (M3) 78
6. Ferrari 6-litre V12 (599 GTB) 77

761px-mercedes-benz_m156_engine_02a
Best Performance Engine: Mercedes-AMG M156 6.2 V8.

Sub 1-litre

The Sub 1-litre category is actually the best place for Japanese manufacturers to cari makan in these awards. As the Europeans tend to look at the bigger capacities, it leaves room for the Japanese to attack this segment unhindered.

Look no further, the only Japanese winner in this year’s award is here – Toyota’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder 1 KR-FE, which it also shares with the PSA Group. After narrowly winning this segment last year, the three-potter returned to trounce smart’s 799cc diesel into a distant second place.

Results
points
1. Toyota 1-litre three-cylinder (Aygo, IQ, Yaris/Vitz, Citroën C1, Peugeot 107, Subaru Justy) 318
2. Smart Diesel 799cc (Smart Fortwo) 216
3. Mitsubishi 999cc turbo (Smart Fortwo) 214
4. Opel 1-litre three-cylinder twinport (Opel Agila, Corsa,
Suzuki Splash
)
149
5. Mitsubishi 999cc three-cylinder (Smart Fortwo) 82
6. Kia 1-litre four-cylinder (Picanto) 73

800px-toyota_1kr-fe_engine_001
Sub 1-litre: Toyota 1KR-FE

1-litre to 1.4-litre

The 1.0-1.4 segment sees a VW one-two finish, with two of its 1.4 TSI powerplants occupying the top two berths in this category. The very same engine that took home the Green Engine of the Year award, the EA111, now bags the 1.0-1.4 category as well.

Results
points
1. Volkswagen 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger (Golf, Golf Variant,
Scirocco, Eos, Jetta, Touran, Tiguan, Seat Ibiza Cupra
)
293
2. Volkswagen 1.4-litre TSI Turbo (Golf, Golf Plus, Golf Variant,
Scirocco, Eos, Jetta, Passat, Skoda Octavia, Audi A3,
Seat Leon, Altea, Škoda Superb
)
154
3. Fiat 1.4-litre Turbo (Fiat Abarth 500, Abarth Grande Punto,
Linea, Bravo, Lancia Delta, Alfa Romeo Mito
)
147
4. Honda Hybrid 1.3-litre (Insight, Civic) 136
5. BMW-PSA 1.4-litre stop/start (Mini One, One Clubman) 83
6. Fiat-GM Diesel 1.3-litre (Ford Ka, Fiat 500, Panda, Grande
Punto, Qubo, Linea, Doblo. Musa, Lancia Ypsilon, Opel Agila/Suzuki Splash, Opel Meriva, Tigra, Combo, Corsa, Astra, Suzuki Ignis
)
75

1.4-litre to 1.8-litre

A piece of news that is certain to excite our 308 forummers in Autoworld, the turbocharged version BMW-PSA Prince 1.6-litre engine under their hoods havs won this segment for the third year running, comfortably beating the Toyota Prius 1.8-litre hybrid.

For this award, the version of the engine tested churned 175hp of power and 260Nm of torque, which is the specification level for the 308 GT and the Mini Cooper S.

Third place is taken by another engine that has also seen a reasonable amount of action in Malaysia, Audi’s 1.8-litre TFSI found in the likes of the A4, TT, Skoda Superb and VW Passat.

Results
points
1. BMW-PSA 1.6-litre Turbo (Mini Cooper S, Clubman,
Peugeot 207, 308
)
253
2. Toyota Hybrid 1.8-litre (Prius) 198
3. Audi 1.8-litre TFSI (Audi A4, A3, A5, TT, Seat León, Altea,
Toledo, Skoda Octavia, Superb, VW Passat
)
184
4. Mercedes-Benz 1.8-litre turbo (BlueEfficiency E-Class) 135
5. Opel 1.6-litre turbo (Corsa, Astra, Insignia) 59
6. Fiat Diesel 1.6-litre JTD (Alfa Romeo Mito, Fiat Bravo,
Lancia Delta
)

2539329519_333d41ee45
1.4-litre to 1.8-litre: BMW-PSA Prince

1.8-litre to 2.0-litre

Last year’s winner of the 1.8-2.0 category, Audi’s EA 113 2.0-litre TFSI engine, was finally deposed of its crown, ironically by its successor, the EA 888, another 2.0-litre TFSI engine available in power outputs ranging from 178 to 208bhp, and capable of up to 350Nm of torque.

The EA113, meanwhile, occupies third place, with the BMW N47 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel of the 123d sits between the two Audi powerplants at second. A special mention goes to Subaru for having its first diesel engine even nominated in the category.

Results
points
1. Audi 2-litre TFSI (Audi A4, A5, Q5, VW Scirocco, Golf GTI) 220
2. BMW Diesel 2-litre Twin Turbo (123d) 190
3. Audi 2-litre four-cylinder TFSI (Audi A6, A3, TT, VW Tiguan,
Eos, Jetta, Tiguan, Škoda Octavia, Seat Altea, León, Exeo
)
98
4. Mercedes-Benz 1.8-litre BlueEfficiency (E-Class) 96
5. Honda 2-litre four-cylinder (S2000) 92
6. Subaru Diesel 2-litre (Impreza, Outlook, Forester) 91

bb070417038
1.8-litre to 2.0-litre: Audi EA888 2.0 TFSI

2.0-litre to 2.5-litre

Winning in the 2.0-2.5 category was the new 2.1-litre diesel from Mercedes-Benz introduced in the W212 E-class. Featuring twin-turbos, piezo-electric direct injection, Stuttgart’s latest oil-burner is available in three states of tune – 134bhp, 168bhp and 201bhp.

In second place is the 2.5-litre five-pot motor found in the Audi TT RS, recently previewed here in Autoworld Blog, capable of producing 340bhp and 450Nm. Also among the nominees, but finishing last, is the Honda 2.4-litre K24 engine, which in Malaysia’s market sees action in the Accord and Odyssey.

Results
points
1. Mercedes-Benz Diesel 2.1-litre (BlueEfficiency E-Class,
BlueEfficiency C-Class
)
225
2. Audi 2.5-litre five-cylinder Turbo (Audi TT RS) 180
3. Subaru 2.5-litre flat-four Turbo (Forester, Impreza, Legacy) 144
4. Peugeot-Citroën-Ford Diesel 2.2-litre (Citroën C5, C6, C8, Peugeot 407, 607, 807, Citroën C-Crosser, Land Rover Freelander, Mitsubishi Outlander, Peugeot 4007, Ford Mondeo, S-Max, Galaxy, Jaguar X-Type) 131
5. BMW 2.5-litre DI six-cylinder (Z4) 121
6. Honda 2.4-litre four-cylinder (Element, CR-V, Edix, Elysion,
Odyssey, Accord/Acura TSX, Accord USA
)

2.5-litre to 3.0-litre

Here is a category dominated by BMW for the past three years. Two time overall winner of the International Engine of the Year Award (in 2007 and 2008), the BMW N54B30 3.0-litre direct injection twin turbo engine continues to dominate this category for the third year running.

The N54 was BMW’s first turbocharged petrol engine since 1980, but it certainly was worth the wait. Lag free turbo response ensures a healthy 302bhp on tap with 400Nm of peak torque available pretty much all the time.

A distant second is another BMW 3.0-litre twin turbo engine, but a diesel powered variant, one that has seen action in the 335d, 535d, 635d, X3, X5 and X6, the M57. In the 35d state of tune, this engine outputs 282hp peak power and a whopping 580Nm of peak torque.

Results
points
1. BMW 3-litre DI Twin Turbo (135, 335, X6, Z4, 730) 345
2. BMW Diesel 3-litre Twin Turbo (335d, 535d, 635d, X3, X5, X6) 250
3. Audi 3-litre DI Supercharged (S4) 125
4. Porsche 2.9-litre flat-six DI (Boxster, Cayman) 103
5. Audi/VW Diesel 3-litre V6 (A4, A5, A6, A6 allroad, A8, Q7, VW Touareg, Phaeton, Porsche Cayenne) 88
6. Jaguar/Ford/PSA Diesel 3-litre (XF) 83

feb17bmw_1
2.5-litre to 3.0-litre: NMW N54

3.0-litre to 4.0-litre

After being upstaged by the Mercedes-AMG 6.2-litre monster in the Best Performance Engine category, the S65B40 4.0-litre V8 of the BMW M3 redeems some pride by comfortably beating two Porsche 3.8-litre flat six engines to take the 3-to-4 litre category.

Producing 414bhp at its 8,250rpm redline, the S65 replaces the highly successful S54B32 of the E46 M3. The S54 has left a tough act to follow, having walloped this category for no less than six times during its career. For the S65, this is its second victory in this category after winning it in 2008, ensuring BMW’s continued dominance in this segment.

Results
points
1. BMW 4-litre V8 (M3) 319
2. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six DI (911) 156
3. Porsche 3.8-litre flat six (GT3) 148
4. Nissan 3.8-litre Twin Turbo (GT-R) 130
5. Porsche 3.4-litre flat-six (Boxster, Cayman S) 83
6. Toyota Hybrid 3.5-litre V6 (Lexus GS450h, RX, Toyota Crown) 70

bmw_s65_engine
3.0-litre to 4.0-litre: BMW S65B40

Above 4.0-litre

Mercedes and AMG reassume centerstage for the Above-4 category, with the 6.2 V8 M156 returning to shrug off challenges from two BMW powerplants, a Jag, a Cadillac, and a somewhat darkhorse in the form of a Lexus hybrid.

Results
points
1. Mercedes-AMG 6.2-litre (CLK, S, SL, CL, CLS, ML) 162
2. BMW 5-litre V10 (M5, M6) 133
3. Jaguar 5-litre V8 Supercharged (XF, XK) 120
4. BMW 4.4-litre DI Turbo (750i, X6) 114
5. Cadillac 6.2-litre V8 Supercharged (CTS-V) 70
6. Lexus Hybrid 5-litre V8 (LS600h) 62

INTERNATIONAL ENGINE OF THE YEAR 2009

After deciding the respective categories, judges then form a shortlist from the winner of each category to ultimately decide the winner of the International Engine of the Year award.

For 2009, the tiny 1.4-litre EA111 TSI powerplant from Volkswagen took on defeated the mighty N54 from BMW, ending the Bavarians’ four-year monopoly of the top prize. It wasn’t easy for the little guy though, as the defending champion fought it all the way, in the end losing only by four judging points.

Results
points
1. Volkswagen 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger (VW Golf, Golf Variant, Scirocco, Eos, Jetta, Touran, Tiguan, Seat Ibiza Cupra) 354
2. BMW 3-litre DI Twin Turbo (135, 335, X6, Z4, 730) 350
3. Audi 2-litre TFSI (Audi A4, A5, Q5, VW Scirocco, Golf GTI) 220
4. Mercedes-Benz Diesel 2.1-litre (BlueEfficiency C-Class, BlueEfficiency E-Class) 203
5. BMW 4-litre V8 (M3) 203
6. Mercedes-AMG 6.2-litre (CLK, S, SL, CL, CLS, ML) 114
7. BMW-PSA 1.6-litre Turbo (Mini Cooper S, Clubman, Peugeot 207 308, Mini John Cooper Works) 107
8. Toyota 1-litre (Aygo, IQ, Yaris/Vitz, Citroën C1, Peugeot 107, Subaru Justy) 74

DB2007AU00877
INTERNATIONAL ENGINE OF THE YEAR 2009: Volkswagen EA111

News Bytes (10/6/2009)

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Audi increases market share in Asia-Pac and Europe.

Audi continues to soar in the face of the current global recession, with the new Q5, recently launched in Malaysia, driving sales. For May 2009, about 82,800 Audis were sold world wide, a 6.1% decrease from May 2008. Nevertheless, they did increase their overall market share in Europe, going from 3.7% in May 2008 to 3.95 in May 2009.

In the US, market share also rose, as they posted the smallest decline (yes, that’s considered good news) among the premium brands. However, the best of the news came from their China operations, as they smashed sales records for the third consecutive month.

Q5080283
Q5 drives sales for Audi.

BMW sells more than 109,000 vehicles in May

Over in Munich, the BMW Group also posted some impressive figures, with 109,042 vehicles sold world wide. This figures, of course, includes that of MINI and Rolls-Royce. However, it should be noted that this figure still represented an 18.3% decline from the previous year.

Out of the 109,042 cars sold last month, 90,643 wore BMW badges, with the new Z4 raking up 2,365 sales in its first month. MINI, meanwhile, raked up 18,348 sales worldwide (down 19.1% from last year), with Malaysia mentioned as one of the countries where sales actually grew for the sub-brand.

bmwsalesmay09

P90045398
Z4 off to a strong start.

Merc posts increased sales in Germany.

With all the good news coming from Munich and Ingolstadt, Mercedes couldn’t resist in posting their share of the good news as well, as they recorded an 11% increase in sales back home. Worldwide sales declined by 12% from May 2008, as the Mercedes-Benz, AMG, smart and Maybach brands all combined to deliver 97,300 sales worldwide, compared to 111,100 for May 2008.

The new W212 E-class has been very well-received in Germany, being the market leader back in their homeland, and contributing to their increase in sales. Also well-received is new S400 HYBRID, which is accounting for 15% of S-class sales.

689954_1243855_6658_4984_08c1311_199
E-class once again the market leader in Germany.

What Car? Green Car Awards 2009

Ok, don’t be confused. For those of you who don’t know, this is refering to the Green Car Awards 2009 organised by the British auto magazine What Car? (name complete with question mark). Get it? Good. The winners are:

Supermini: Fiat 500 Start&Stop
Price: £9700 CO2: 113g/km Average economy: 58.9 mpg

Small family car: Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe S
Price: £17,495 CO2: 104g/km Average economy: 72.4mpg

Family car: Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D T2
Price: £17,545 CO2: 135g/km Average economy 55.4 mpg

Executive car: BMW 318d ES
Price: £24, 235 CO2: 123g/km Average economy 60.1 mpg

MPV: Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi SX EGS
Price: £19,095 CO2: 140g/km Average economy 53.3 mpg

SUV: Lexus RX450h SE-L
Price: £50,460 CO2: 148g/km Average economy 44.8 mpg

Sports car: Mini Cooper S
Price: £16,575 CO2: 149g/km Average economy 46.6 mpg

Luxury car: Audi A8 2.8 V6 FSI SE
Price: £49,970 CO2: 199g/km Average economy 34.0 mpg

Technology: Vauxhall Ampera

Editors Award: Tesla

Overall Winner: Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe S

19502_1_5
The winning car:
Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe S

New Ford Escape coming soon to Malaysia

Ford is set to unveil the facelifted Escape for our shores this week. Autoworld will be bringing you the latest details as soon as we get them. Stay tuned for this one.


Daimler and Tesla go into Strategic Partnership

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Daimler AG and Tesla Motors Inc have recently announced a solidification of their partnership, with the Stuttgart outfit acquiring a 10% stake in the rising electric car maker. The companies have already been working closely together to integrate 1,000 units of Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries and charging systems into Daimler’s electric smart fortwo, due to commence production later this year in smart’s assembly plant in Hambach, France.

Daimler AG 
Tesla Roadster with electric drive smart fortwo.

This collaboration will see Daimler place Prof. Herbert Kohler, Vice President of its E-Drive and Future Mobility division among Tesla’s board of directors. The scope of their collaboration shall include the development of battery systems, electric drive systems and individual vehicle projects.

Daimler AG
The bosses at the press conference.

From this partnership, Tesla stands to benefit from having access to Daimler’s expertise in the areas of engineering, production and supply chain, allowing them to, hopefully, get the upcoming Model S onto the production line quicker.

On Daimler’s side, this move keeps them inline with their electric vehicle policy. Plans are already afoot in the company to industrialize lithium-ion technology. Currently, Daimler is the only manufacturer that has all of developing, producing and marketing of batteries for electric vehicles under one roof. Since 2007, they have been having 100 smart electric cars running around in London undergoing trials.

Eventually, electric propulsion will be appearing in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. A fuel-cell powered B-class will commence small-series production this year, while the first battery powered Merc is set for introduction next year. By 2012, all smart and Mercedes electric vehicles will be powered by Daimler’s in-house produced lithium-ion batteries.

Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks of 2009

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Some hours ago, someone in a press room in Stuttgart put together a news release to announce to the world that the W204 Mercedes-Benz C-class was named in as one of 2009′s Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), adding another star to the C-class’ cap after receiving a five star rating by EuroNCAP. In essence, the IIHS’ crash test IS the United States’ answer to the EuroNCAP.

In the IIHS crash tests, cars are subject to frontal and side crashes, besides a rear impact test where evaluations to the cars’ protection against neck injury are evaluated. According to Mercedes, the W204 scored ‘top marks’ for each of the criteria, but whether the term is defined to mean maximum marks or highest marks among competitors could not be ascertained.

The US spec C-class which was tested had seven airbags, belt tensioners, belt force limiters and NECK PRO crash-responsive head restraints fitted as standard. Buyers can also opt for an anticipatory occupant protection system (dubbed PRESAFE) which pre-activates certain safety systems when it anticipates a collision to be imminent – a system that Mercedes claims would reduce the impact on occupants by as much as 40%.

Merc C-class, one of 72 Top Safety Picks of 2009
Merc C-class, one of 72 Top Safety Picks of 2009

But, I was not going to just take Mercedes’ side of the story, and thus I went on to examine the claims at the IIHS’ official website (link here) where they listed no fewer than 72 Top Safety Picks for 2009 with another 26 ‘also-rans’. Here they are: (cars sold in Malaysia highlighted in bold)

Large cars
Acura RL
Audi A6
Cadillac CTS
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Mercury Sable
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Acura TL, TSX
Audi A3, A4
BMW 3 series 4-door models
Ford Fusion
with optional electronic stability control
Honda Accord 4-door models
Mercedes C class
Mercury Milan
with optional electronic stability control
Saab 9-3
Subaru Legacy
(previously sold in Malaysia)
Volkswagen Jetta, Passat

Midsize convertibles
Saab 9-3
Volkswagen Eos
Volvo C70

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Mitsubishi Lancer with optional electronic stability control
Scion xB
Subaru Impreza
with optional electronic stability control
Toyota Corolla with optional electronic stability control
Volkswagen Rabbit (VW Golf)

Minicar
Honda Fit with optional electronic stability control (Honda Jazz)

Minivans
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Entourage
Kia Sedona

Large SUVs
Audi Q7
Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
GMC Acadia
Saturn Outlook

Midsize SUVs
Acura MDX, RDX
BMW X3, X5
Ford Edge, Flex, Taurus X
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe, Veracruz
Infiniti EX35
Lincoln MKX
Mercedes M class
Nissan Murano
(only unofficially availabe in Malaysia)
Saturn VUE
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota FJ Cruiser, Highlander
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Ford Escape (new generation not sold in Malaysia)
Honda CR-V, Element
Mazda Tribute
Mercury Mariner
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Tiguan

Large pickups
Ford F-150
Honda Ridgeline
Toyota Tundra

Small pickup
Toyota Tacoma (Toyota Hilux)

ALSO-RANS
These 26 vehicles earn good ratings in front and side crash tests. They have ESC, standard or optional. They would be 2009 Top Safety Pick winners if their seat/head restraints also earn good ratings:

Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler Sebring, Sebring convertible, Town & Country
Dodge Avenger, Grand Caravan
Infiniti G35, M35
Kia Amanti
Lexus ES, GS, IS
Mazda CX-7, CX-9
Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, Endeavor
Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Quest, Xterra
Saturn AURA
Smart Fortwo
Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Prius, Sienna

Over 1.1m three-pointed stars sold in 2008

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

As of November, Mercedes-Benz have sold a combined total of 1,158,200 cars for the year 2008, a slight from 1,169,900 cars from the corresponding period in 2007. The credit crunch is just only beginning to hit, as the picture gets gloomier if you zoom in closer to examine the sales in November alone, which stood at 84,500 cars compared to 113,000 in Nov 2007.

The said figures, obtained from a press released dated 5 Dec 2008, covered all of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, smart and Maybach cars. Merc-badged cars accounted for the bulk of the numbers, and they are dropping, selling a combined total of 1,034,700 for Jan-Nov 2008 (1,079,400 for Jan-Nov 2007) and 74,400 for Nov 2008 alone (102,700 for Nov 2007).

Fortunately for Merc, the smarts registered improved numbers, with a total of 123,500 sold thus far this year (90,500 for Jan-Nov 2007) and 10,100 of them sold in Nov 2008 (10,300 for Nov 2007, so not much change there). The soaring fuel prices in the early half of the year, and the collapsing global economic climate definitely had everything to do with this, as consumers seek to purchase smaller, more economical cars.

There is still a bit more good news for Merc, as there are now more than 500,000 units of the new W204 C-Class sold, with 408,100 of them sold this year alone. The wagon variant, not officially available in Malaysia, found 5,400 buyers in November 2008 (1,800 for Nov 2007), while (according to the press release anyway) the sedan maintained its position as the worldwide market leader in its segment since the beginning of the year.

Recently added to the W204 lineup is the C350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY (Merc’s emphasis on the word ‘efficiency’), which features second generation gasoline direct injection. Fed with a diet of premium fuel, Merc claims an astonishing consumption figure of 8.3l / 100km from the 288bhp 3,498cc V6 engine. In comparison, the run of the mill C350 is rated at a mere 268bhp and consumes 14% more fuel.

The next BlueEFFICIENCY variant will come from the S-Class in the form of the S320 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, which is gives an even more amazing consumption figure of 7.6l / 100km. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel powerplant is rated to produce 235bhp and a not inconsiderable 540Nm of torque. It is coupled with the 7G-Tronic, that has standstill decoupling, a feature designed to totally disconnect the transmission from the engine (think stepping the clutch in a manual), to spare it from the trouble of overcoming the hydrodynamic resistance in the torque converter. This improves fuel consumption (by how much, I don’t know) and also reduces noise and vibration during idling.

Whatever their motivations were, the decisions by the European authorities to impose stringent emission and consumption requirements in their cars has had the positive effect of driving car manufacturers to come up with products that are easy on both the environment and our wallet. This is doubly useful when you consider the current shape of the worldwide economy.

I am afraid we have really yet to see the full effects of the global financial meltdown. In the car world, we have already seen Honda pulling out of F1 and the American motor giants on the brink of a collapse of epic proportions. Mercedes should survive, but are unlikely to be unscathed. Don’t be surprised if the figure in next year’s edition of this report features one digit less.

Mercedes-Benz C-class
Strong sales for 2008, let’s see if they can hold it for 2009.