2016 Mercedes AMG GT S: Rewriting what you think of Mercedes (CNET On Cars, Episode 79)
The Mercedes to change perception of Mercedes.
The amazing crash test that never happened.
And do we know self driving cars are really that safe.
It's time to check the tech.
We see cars differently.
We love them on the road and under the hood but also check the tech and.
And are known for telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is CNet On CARS.
Cnet on cars.
The show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
When I say Mercedes you think something luxurious with a little pomp, a little ostentatious perhaps.
After all it's the car that says you've arrived.
But now there's a new Mercedes out that says you arrived and you did so in a hurry.
Let's drive the all new 2016 Mercedes AMG GT S and check the tech.
Yep, this is a Mercedes.
One that could make you rethink what you think of the three pointed star.
Well if you're gonna have your new car look like anything, you could certainly do worse than having it look like that.
But in fact, the Mercedes AMG GTS goes head to head against a very different car.
The 911, specifically the 911 Turbo.
Let's compare them.
The Mercedes is 179 inches long, little les than 2 inches more than a Turbo.
103.5 inch wheel based, that's what you're really seeing.
A 7 inch longer spread between axles than a 911 Turbo and in weight they're within about a hundred pounds of each other.
The cabin of the GT is like a tight fitting Tom Ford store.
Darkly handsome, purposeful and taunt.
Did I mention it's tight in here?
This is what a performance console should look like.
Upper left is you're mode button, your own independent set comfort, sport, sport plus, and barely restrained race.
Start and stop behind that.
Stability control take it off at your own risk.
And independently adjust suspension compliance separate from the modes on the knob.
Behind the fan control you have your manual automatic gear box toggle, your blessed auto start stop defeat, and a mode switch for the exhaust, in your face or really in your face.
[SOUND] Too bad it sets so far back.
Much of it falls under your elbow instead of your hand.
The head unit is Mercedes Comand tech that we've seen before, no new ground being broken here, but I've really warmed up the configurable Mercedes favorites screen, which you access by either of two buttons on the controller.
It lets me set up what i think the home should be And does so very nicely.
It's also annoying that once you launch the powerful google online nab search app which has street view and other some other great tools.
The car's voice command text doesn't talk to it.
I gotta turn it out with the knob or I gotta use the hand writing pad.
Not bad but no cigar.
By the way early 2016 Mercedes will also start to add in Apple Car Play which we've shown you before into some of their models.
No word yet on when Android Auto will join.
Now up here in the very capacious engine bay is a very small engine.
A four litre twin turbo V8.
I mean it's itty bitty.
Front of it's about here, back of it's right about here.
It doesn't take up much room at all, but boy does it put out some good output.
Partly because it has twin turbos, and notice where they live, on top, in the valley, in the v between the heads.
Almost every other car with turbos puts them down on the planks alongside the head on the side of the block.
By doing so, the turbos are closer to the intake.
They're actually beating.
You get faster, sharper response from them that way.
This engine also has a dry sump.
That means it will not have much of a pan under it for oil, allowing it to sit down nice and low and giving you this nice arc of the hood.
That's only 17 less than a 911 Turbo, by the way.
479 pound-feet of torque goes out to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
Mounted in the back is a transaxle, to be correct.
And that's spanned by a carbon fiber drive shaft.
Super stiff, so swap.
And with that trans axle in the rear and this engine sitting right here about 5 inches behind the front axle line you get something akin to a mid engine car and certainly a lovely weight balance.
[NOISE] The best compliment that I can give to GT is that it drives like it looks.
That rounded muscular rear portrays the direct lag.
Less power and the only two wheels that get it.
The long prowl suggests the way the front end hunts a corner.
And those rear tips remind you with one of the best soundtracks in the business.
Jaguar does it louder, but AMG does it better.
The four driving modes are distinct and satisfying.
Altering power delivery, shift tightness, suspension behavior.
And if you option something called dynamic plus even changing the firmness of the engine and transmission mounts adaptedly.
[NOISE] On the downside are a few ergo issues.
It's like driving a tank, the pillars and rear quarter really kill visibility.
And the whole things just a bit too tight inside.
I'd get stir crazy about half way between San Francisco and LA.
That puts me in Kettleman City.
So, it's an issue.
A Mercedes A and G GTS starts at about $131,000 with destination and I'm gonna load it up with a lane tracking package for about $900.
Dynamic plus gives me those adaptive engine and transmission mounts.
Panoramic roof I'm going there for under $1300.
I'm not crazy about $5000 audio upgrades but if I'm gonna get the carbon Ceramic breaks.
In all I'm at about 150 grand done at CNET style.
Far from affordable but in certain avenues of autodom it's considered attainable.
And that's key to this car.
It is almost super car like but not at super car prices.
It's a hell of a lot of fun on the road.
You'll be hard-pressed to mistake it for anything else that you see on the road.
It is about one shoe size too small on the inside.
And it fundamentally helped change what everyone thinks Mercedes is.
If you want some more on that AMG GT S check out Wayne Cunningham's take on it over at cars.cnet.com.
But when we talk about self-driving cars you naturally assume that means it's a much safer car right?
I mean that is the single big idea behind moving this way with technology.
Yet do we have proof?
Or is it mostly assumption?
I've definitely done thinking on this for the smarter driver.
When CNet on cars continues.
33,000 people died in 2014 in US road accidents, another 26,000 in the EU, vast numbers, unequalled in rate by any other means of transportation.
So the main selling point for self driving cars early has been a dramatic reduction in accidents.
However, in their first million or so miles of real-world testing on public roads, they've yet to stake a claim to that hope.
A new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute look at the data from the early self-drivers fielded by Google, Audi, At Delphi.
The inconvenient truth?
These early self-drivers have a higher accident rate than their human-driven counterparts.
There are three more nuanced takeaways however for the smarter driver.
First of all, the accidents that self-driving cars are involved in tend to be minor.
And let's face it, we've gotta get over this sci fi ideal that self driving-cars will never crash, and embrace the reality that they will crash less often and with less severity.
Secondly, the self-driving car accidents so far have not been the self-driving car's fault.
It's been the other guys, the humans.
Oh Gy god.
Now that will change of course if these cars propagate into the real world market and the hands of non-trained professionals who aren't official company testers.
And certainly the miles driven so far by self-driving cars are under optimal conditions.
The current state of cars that rely on sensors around the vehicle to see and read every situation Really can't hack it through heavy snow or hail or even a wicked thunderstorm.
[NOISE] [INAUDIBLE] at University of Michigan also point out they're probably some awkward teenage years ahead.
When the earliest commercial of self driven cars will be basically surrounded and outnumbered by human driven cars.
They with their hard We with our fuzzy logic, it's gonna make for some unpredictable results.
Bottom line is we get these early indications of the efficacy of self driving cars for reducing accidents.
It pays to double check the reality of what the goal Complete accident reduction, or merely a dramatic improvement in fatalities at least in some situations.
Welcome back to cnet on cars, coming to you from our home at the Montane motor club, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
While automotive crash tests to figure out how safe vehicles are are a dramatic Tangible way to understand how, when, and where a car will deform when it hits something that ain't gonna move.
But it does seem like a rather 20th century process doesn't it?
What if the whole thing could be turned into basically a high resolution video game?
Makes for a fascinating Car Tech 101.
It's part of the automotive landscape.
New cars crashed.
With great precision and measurement to determine how they'll behave when you do the same thing to them with far less precision and intention.
But the setup is exacting and tedious.
A given car can only be crashed once and there isn't time to crash every model of every year of every make of car.
Enter virtual crashing testing, which stands to perhaps revolutionize this spectacle of auto crash worthiness.
Cars and their parts are all designed on computers these days via CAD, computer aided design.
A design is just a file of data, that same data which consists of every part, every panel, every rivet, **** and weld and even the amount of gas in the tank along with any crash you can imagine Can be fed into a computer.
A serious computer running 10,000 cores across 200 or so CPUs and GPUs.
Turn of the lights, come back in 10 or 20 hours, and see the crash that never happened.
It's amazing to look at the realism, but more important are these three gains.
It's repeatable, No cars were harmed in this collision.
That means you can run it over and over with the cost and setup time of real tests removed.
You can peel back or make invisible any portion of the car to see how a given subassembly performs in real time.
Can't do that with a real crash test.
And it's variable.
Find a weakness, Redesign that area by a cad, upload the new design data.
Run the crash again, see if it's now fixed.
No need to retool and create a new part for another crash test.
So why are we still crashing cars for real?
Well virtual crash tests aren't complete.
They are about 90% plus accurate and data full a gap that should be closable.
Risk does move slowly, car makers, insurers, and regulators aren't the types to jump overnight to a new method where our lives are involved.
It still takes too long, that half a day to a day of data processing per crash test needs to To come down, and widespread adoption is needed.
Not every car maker uses this technology, nor are they using a standardized version of it.
Nonetheless virtual crash testing looks like it may do to the world of crash worthiness what the computer did to photography.
In a moment, your e-mail, does working on your car put you in hot water?
And who makes the best quality cars, when CNET On Cars continues.
I had some doubts whether or not the XV could handle what we were going to throw at it.
But it did remarkably well.
It took on every challenge we threw at it and came out unscathed.
It's comforting to know that during the inevitable zombie apocalypse there are going to be vehicles out there are able to take us to where we need without having to rely on roads, and I for one celebrate that fact.
From the Xcar team of CNet UK at cnet.com/xcar.
Welcome back to CNet on cars I'm Brian Cooley.
Here's the part of the show that I really like.
Taking some of your emails.
First one this time comes in from Dr. Ron in Reno who says some of us like to add equipment to our cars.
That the manufacturer only offered on a more expensive model or not at all
Case and point, he says.
I put BMW's own night vision system into his 2016 328i sports wagon.
That's a model that doesn't offer BMW night vision.
He says he used an independent shop After the dealer said they wouldn't do it and told him it would void his warranty.
He says they did have to sacrifice my cup holders to make room for the LCD screen.
You can see in some of those photos there where he put the screen and where he put the front sensor.
He says, could you explain to your audience How the 1975 Moss-Magnuson Warranty Act affects consumers who choose to add options or obtain service not approved or provided by the manufacturer.
Interesting topic, Ron.
This is so big and wavy I'm actually gonna do a whole Car Tech 101 on it in our next episode, episode 80.
For the meantime, let me give you a couple of quick pointers here on the three entities that have something to say about this.
First of all, as you mentioned, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, this one's enforced by the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission here in the US.
What Magnuson-Moss says is you don't have to use factory parts, and you don't have to go to the dealer to get your work done to keep your car in warranty.
The caveat to that is, if you go use after market parts that are crap, or go to a lousy independent shop
And either of those cause damage to the car, that is not under warranty.
The next one I want to tell you about is what's called CPE Insurance.
This is customer-provided equipment.
So in insurance industry terms, you are insured in your insurance policy for the stuff that the factory put on the car.
If you go and say add a fancy tire and wheel package to your car, or put on a completely cool stainless aftermarket exhaust.
And that gets damaged in a collision.
It may not be covered.
The insurance strictly covers what was put there by the factory for the most part.
Anything substantial beyond that may not be.
In your coverage.
You gotta look for the CPE language in your policy, and or see if your insurer requires you to take out a separate CPE writer to cover the specific things you've added.
It's kind of like adding jewelry to your home insurance policy.
You know how that works.
You gotta sometimes do declared special coverage above and beyond the basis.
And the third and final one here is more of an outlier, but becoming a big topic lately, and that is the DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Which has lately been interpreted to say, if you go into a car and change its firmware, its software that lives on chips, you are in theory breaking the DMCA.
You're breaking a copyright law that says you can't reverse engineer or hack into that kind of technology, that intellectual property.
Which the car maker has burned into the chips in our car.
The most recent interpretations though are saying you have a right to at least go into the firm ware to diagnose the ar and work in the code of the vehicle.
You don't have to stay out of there and leave it to the dealer.
But a lot of this stuff is being tested and figured out right now.
We'll talk more about it In Car Tech 101, 80 in our next episode.
Next email comes in from Justin D., who writes in about car quality.
He says, when I was younger, my father used to talk about how Japanese cars were so superior to American ones.
According According to him it had something to do with the superior attitude of the Japanese when it came to manufacturing.
Is that still the case now?
I know what you're talking about.
There has long been a halo around Japanese quality.
It began back in the late 60s and early 70s, when this twofer happened.
Japanese cars came here with great fuel economy, right about the time we started getting hit with these oil embargos and fuel crises.
Secondly, Japanese cars were built extremely well to try and enter this competitive market at a time when American quality was undisputedly getting really slopping.
Move forward today, decades later.
You'll still find that the Japanese makes get the best grades from let's say Consumer Reports.
For long term reliability.
I mean, look at the list, and you'll find Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Scion, Subaru, overweight in the top ratings.
That said, I can tell you from my experience that cars are increasingly occupying a narrower and narrower band of quality.
There isn't a lot of junk out there anymore.
There have been major gains by the American makes.
There are three reasons why quality has gotten so good in cars, from what I see, from our technology point of view.
Let me run these down for you briefly.
First of all is the era of digitization in design and manufacturing of cars.
Cars are designed on computers and car components are milled and shaped and often made by computers.
You get extremely good repeatability.
And the actual production of those parts is highly precise with very close tolerances because of the digitization and computerization of manufacturing and design.
The next big factor are the Tier 1 Suppliers.
Your car maker doesn't make a lot of the parts that go into your car.
They use what are called Tier 1 Suppliers, enormous companies that are experts at making axles, cylinder heads.
Speakers, seats, whatever it may be.
And as a result of that specialty, and the fact that they've got global audiences.
So, they've got a consistency in practice.
Excellent parts go into cars these days.
And the third thing is electronics.
As cars became more and more electronic, starting with electronic fuel injection, going back what 30 something years.
To the fact that almost everything's electronically run and monitored now, in a vehicle.
You've got an awful lot of precision and a lot of intelligence in the vehicle that can keep things running right without you having to fuss with it, and constantly taking the car in to get it tuned by a human.
Thanks for watching.
I really appreciate you being here.
Hope you enjoyed this episode.
Keep those emails coming; they are the backbone of this show.
And if you haven't been there lately, head over to CNETonCars.com, where you'll find some great archives of our segments.
Like Car Tech 101 and Smarter Driver.
I'll see you next time we check the tech.