Unapologetic as hell: Mercedes Benz S550 Cabriolet (CNET On Cars, Episode 102)
A big Benz cab.
Why carmakers are in love with 3D printing.
And five cars I won't miss.
It's time to check the tech.
[SOUND] We see cars differently.
We love them on the road and under the hood but also check the tech.
And are known for telling.
Like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is C Net on cars.
Welcome to C Net on cars.
The show all about high tech cars and modern- Modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
I'm sure glad we do our show here in California because it allows me to bring you a video of a convertible shot in December without a hint of irony.
And this one deserves to be seen.
This is Mercedes Largest open top car, an absolute miracle of open air engineering.
And it cuts quite the swath, whether you drive it to the yacht club, the country club or just about anywhere except around town, as we'll learn.
Let's go for a run in the 2017 S550 Cabriolet and check the tech.
In my line of work, you drive a lot of nice cars.
And I'll be honest with you, they do tend to start to blur together.
Until you get in this guy.
And then it takes you some place really special.
Now, I have to start these videos by pointing out the competitors of the car that I'm about to show you, but I don't think I can here.
BMW and Audi and Lexus, they don't do this.
Bentley does with a Continental Convertible, but that's what?
A hundred more at least.
Mercedes may have themselves their own niche with the S Cabrio.
Now call me a heretic, but I don't think this is the prettiest car from the rear, at least when the top is up.
It looks a little too much like a [UNKNOWN] on wheels.
But once you put the top down, everything changes.
They stop mocking you, and everyone realizes you just won the best weekend drive competition, for life.
Now notice this top will operate up to 31 miles per hour.
When it's down you'll reveal the two rear seat.
I put those in quote, it's more like bench with headwrap.
And they're not really practical.
Notice also that this top is really more like firmware than software.
It's almost as sturdy as a retractable.
Considering we've got a big convertible here, this trunk space isn't bad.
Now this divider reminds you the top has to go there when it goes down.
If you wanna commit to not having the trip down on your trip, this'll move out of the way and give you more space.
But what's the point of having the cabrio then?
Notice the design of this cabin.
It is not an accident that it looks a little bit like a high end yacht.
A little bit, hell.
A lot like a high end yacht.
The ivory upholstery doesn't hurt.
Of course, like an S, you've got two 12 inch LCDs.
It's just gonna be a matter of a couple of model years before those become just one piece of screen.
Nothing really interesting in the area of audio and media.
It's what they've had for years, and notably missing in the S class are Android Auto and Car [UNKNOWN], it'd be great for me.
Mercedes does a touchpad of course, you've got tension zoom, you press to click and in front of that, you've got the turn, kick and click knob as well.
A lot of ways to get things done, except touch screen.
The audio in the car you can tell from the grills everywhere is Burmester brand, a little high-end stuff, standard.
By the way they have this front-based system where the cowl of the car is a sub-woofer, the Mercedes thing.
This little vent here on the headrest up there, air scarf blows hot air on your neck when the top's down.
I love it.
And over there on the left of the steering wheel is a dumping ground of bad ergo, that set of buttons on the high upper left They're too small.
They're too close together and they're too far away.
The headlight switch down there is the stupidest ever invented.
It faces the floor.
I've had this car for two days, I still can't tell you what the different positions are, I just keep turning it till the lights come on.
And those seats on the door for seat heating and cooling and air scarf and all of that are kinda strangely hard to reach and hard to see the way they're angled.
Power is sort of traditionally liberal.
A biggish 4.7 liter V8 with a turbo on each bank couples to a 9-speed automatic on which, 7th, 8th, and 9th are overdrive.
That tells you something about this car's torque, but also about it's luxurious intended use Rear wheel drive only on the Cabrio unless you get an AMG model.
4,800 pounds gets up to 60 in 4.5 seconds while delivering 25 on the highway.
To be honest, those three numbers, in one sentence, are kind of a miracle.
Now as you might imagine, this car has great power on the road.
You saw the numbers on paper.
It doesn't feel nearly as heavy as it reads.
That's because it's, not just power, but it's real silky smooth power.
But that's when you really able to master throttling and get on some open road.
It's' a very different experience if your in-town or in stop-and-go traffic when this thing becomes a chore.
Because Mercedes likes to program the S class with a very high latency throttle.
I don't know why.
You dip into it and power doesn't arrive much.
For a while.
You lay off it and deceleration doesn't arrive much for a while.
It makes for a very disconnected driving experience, open road whole different story.
I've got two suspension settings and two power train settings and that's it.
You see that wind blocker behind me there.
That goes up and down with the push of a button here in the console.
There's another Blocker up here on top of the header of the windshield with the Airscarf, the heated seats, once you can find the right button.
Very comfortable in here with the top down.
Bottom line, I could spend all day in this car as long as it's not a day spent in town in stop and go traffic.
Okay, we're gonna start with our S550 Cab.
By the way, the baby of the S-Cab.
You've got two AMGs above this.
That's another story.
This guy starts off at about 133 delivered.
I like the premium package for 3500 bucks.
Those are all things I'll use all the time.
There's an additional Burmester sound system that has 3D surrounds.
I don't think so.
Night View Assist?
I remain unconvinced.
The screen's in the wrong place.
So that'll save you $2300.
The Driver Assistance Package, though not pioneering.
It's a bunch of active driver assists and well priced.
You can get Swarovski crystal headlights for the oil billionaire in all of us.
Mercedes has more connection plans than Verizon.
Absurd in their complexity.
I'll leave that to you.
And the very best option for this car cost $25 but they call the Flexible Cargo Stabilizer.
A thing that keeps whatever shape thing you got in the trunk from sliding around.
So about a $138 done CNET style without going stupid style in a car that's a category of one how do you judge the value Let's just say if you can afford it, you will like it.
And you'll also wish the weekends were longer.
Full details on that S550, and there's a lot to it, await you over at TheRoadShow.com.
Now when I come back, I'm gonna take you inside a windowless hive of 3D printing activity that will help us see why carmakers are so agog for that technology.
When CNET on Cars returns.
Mercedes Benz van unit has a team in Silicon Valley working on how to make delivery vans more than a dumb box on wheels.
Sure the drivers have a lot of connectivity, special mobile devices, and sophisticated routing.
The back of the van a dumb box.
We'll call it cargo sensor system.
Christopher Cazanchen of Mercedes Benz has been rapidly iterating smart load floors.
This is actually a new vision for a floor.
What is this?
Literally, a floor of tiles.
And each tile has a weight sensor in it, in order to track cargo.
And the system will track where they're placing the package, and how well the vehicle is being utilized without additional feedback.
So show me what's inside one of these tiles.
We have some load cells to take the weight data.
So these things sense weight, in the corners.
We have a strip of LEDs on the corner.
That's what makes the lights we saw.
And the boards control all this-
With a radio to send it out.
So why start to know, with a vision like this, not just the raw amount of weight in the vehicle, which
We gonna kinda do now.
But what��s interesting is what's where and where did it move?
When did it leave the vehicle?
Exactly, because we're so precise with our weight tracking, we could tell which parcel is where, it's not limited to just you place a package here and now it must be here, we're actively tracking these parcels
Mercedes wants to come up with similar new innovations for a slew of industries that use its vans.
That means moving fast, and in a lot of directions.
You can't produce this fast with old technique.
We were able to make these fast and not only make the whole thing fast, but make the parts
That came to this makes it exceed the parts that fail The parts that didn't fit for this design to kinda move through and end up here.
Is this classic Silicon Valley fail hard, fail fast, move on?
Enter 3D printing by their partner Fathom in Oakland, California.
If you think that they do is just a bigger version of your 3D printer.
The application for these printers.
Are more so on the industrial side than on the consumer side.
I think we went through this high cycle.
Everyone thought there would be a printer in every single home.
It never really made sense.
Rich Stump and Michelle Mihevc are co-founders of FATHOM 3D in Oakland, California.
They began selling 3D printers but now they make things with By fills prototypes for Mercedes.
So at that we focus on the outside-in approach versus the inside-out approach.
Focusing on how a product should function versus how it should be made allows us to push the limits of manufacturing and product development.
Let's take a fast walk around Fathom and see
Some cool 3D printers.
And first of all, this is all known by the pros as additive manufacturing because you create by precisely adding materials instead of precisely removing it as with traditional metal plastic or wood machining.
First step is FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling.
This is the closest relative to the amateur 3D printer.
Strings of plastic guided by a precision chip infused layer by layer.
The pro machines use more types and better materials and you'll see they often build little support structures as they go as well.
Here the white conical parts are just there to support the black parts which are the product.
But all of it was built the machine goes along.
Which brings us to PolyJet which also feeds through a nozzle but in this case using liquid not plastic thread.
The way that this process starts is you start with a liquid photopolymer material that gets jetted out through the modified inkjet printhead very precisely and gives you these parts a very smooth surface benefits, and high dimensional aspect.
Here's a flashlight that's got a grippy part, a hard shell, a flexible button.
Yeah, if you press a button, it actually works.
It actually works.
[LAUGH] And this is printed, this case, as a piece.
SLA, or stereolithography, dates back to the mid-80s.
It's kind of the original, but still fascinating.
This is a photopolymer resin.
And what happens is that it's cured with a UV light.
And that can shoot into different depths Of this material and make something harden up inside there.
Yeah, one of the benefits of this technology that make very large parts.
And it's also very smooth surface finish.
Down the road from Fathom is Carbon 3D.
They've developed a fascinating technique that starts with a vat of polymer, not unlike SLA.
We just saw, but uses precisely aimed UV light and carefully controlled presence of oxygen at the bottom of that pool to determine the fused shape that comes out of it.
It's really fast and the parts are multi-directionally a single pieces, not made of discernible layers.
Ford is an early explorer of this technology.
Back at Fathom, there are two techniques that are related by the fact that they fuse powdered material together.
SLS or Selective Laser Sintering uses nylon powder.
And DLMS or Direct Metal Laser Sintering, obviously, uses metal powder.
Both do their work in a high temperature chamber.
And the laser is just there to add a touch more heat at the precise moment which tips the material to its fusing point.
Okay, I think I've saved the best for last.
In a room by itself off the main floor is this thing from a company called Nano Dimensions in Israel.
It's called the Dragonfly 2020.
It deserves the fanciful name because what it does is amazing.
It does this.
Now you may say, that's just a printed circuit board.
But that was made as a piece.
This thing prints the board, the substrate, as well as the traces on the surface, as well as the interconnects between both sides or multiple layers all as a printed object.
This could revolutionize the way electronics is prototyped to rapidly test physical circuit design.
[INAUDIBLE] And in the deep future, this might even open the door to printing components.
Printing LED's, printing IC's, printing OLED's screens.
It' s not found in the market yet, but it's being develop for a couple of places.
This guy for now is so rare.
They are killing the world.
One of them right here at fathom.
So you really getting a look at the future.
Else something comes out fully baked and very complex.
Best part of the show is always your part of this show, when I take a bunch od your emails.
Let's get started here.
This one comes in from Gerald Bee He's got want it everyone should listen to he says, I have an Audi RS5, hop little car by the way, which has direct injection.
I read that engines that have direct vs port injection have a tendency to build up a lot of carbon that may impact performance and I might to take it in for cleaning every to 20-30k miles.
He asked is it true that all direct injection engines have this problem It is certainly suspected that many of them do, Gerald.
This is kinda the dirty little secret, literally, of direct injection's main imperfection.
So where's what happens, in direct injection, the point where fuel and air are put in the cylinder is moved later.
It's down in the cylinder.
As a result, that fuel air mixture doesn't blow by the intake valve on its way to the cylinder.
The downside is, that fuel-air mixture is a nice little agent.
And, in traditional engines, it keeps the valves clean.
In DI engines, it doesn't get a chance to.
So, the issue is, carbon will build up on the intake valve.
Cuz, engines are full of carbon.
They're all about combustion all the time.
And that can cause a more clogged breathing path and some reduced acceleration in performing.
Some auto makers have got adjustments in their timing so the intake valves are less exposed to carbon fouling.
That can impact performance so I doubt your RS5 is making that kind of sacrifice.
Others will recommend you use certain fuels or that you do occasionally run a liquid chemical clean which is usually not invasive.
Doesn't involve taking the engine apart In some cases, folks report having to take their engines apart to get the job done right.
I want you to do this.
I want you to spend $27 and go over to ALDATAdiy and you can sign up there for an account, where you can look up all the TSBs, the Technical Service Bulletins, that apply to your car.
And if there is a recommendation of any kind from the factory about how to deal with this.
It will be posted there.
That's the best way to proceed.
Okay, next email is a twofer, two similar questions, two different cars, both are Fords.
First one's from Eric J who says I'm looking to buy a Fiesta ST in the near future and noticed it's hard to find one that doesn't have factory navigation.
With cars coming out with CarPlay and Android Auto, he asks, is there still a purpose for this option or is it just becoming another way for dealers to squeeze a few more Franklins out of us?
And Brian F. says I have a 16 F-150 and I've been eagerly awaiting a SYNC 3.
That's the SYNC 3 head unit.
Update to get Apply CarPlay.
Unfortunately, he says he can't seem to find out anything about when this will take place.
Other than by the end of the year.
Did Ford have anything new to tell you about this at the recent Los Angeles auto show?
Okay, now, both new guys are on a Ford platform.
F-150, Fiesta, could not be much more different on the Ford platform, but they have that in common.
Sync 3. So I can tell you this, Ford has confirmed that they do have the update coming for the F150 for example as of end of this year, but they have basic applies to any of the Ford cars that have the Sync 3 platform, because Sync 3 has a lot of commonality cross all the different implementations.
It may look a little different in terms of physical presence in the dash But that core software is the same.
This is a nice trend in the auto biz, because it allows automakers to rev a whole fleet of cars of different nameplates as they get new features that can be bumped out either over the air or via a USB, or hopefully not via a dealership visit.
[INAUDIBLE] But that maybe a path.
Now, the thing about that's also really interesting, is that the feds, just a week ago, rolled out to new guide line about how they want mobile devices and cars to work with each other to reduce distraction.
And one of their big pushes is for near universal pairing.
To take place so that phones will automatically project themselves onto your car's dash when you get in the car.
And to project a limited set of things from your phone that are relevant to driving, so you're not scrolling Facebook feeds or flicking through Tinder.
Now they don't specifically mention CarPlay and Android Auto, but that's almost exactly what they're describing.
So this new federal set of guidelines may give those platforms a push.
Across more car makers.
Okay, our last one comes in from John in Ghana who says, I want to know if there are cars that have electronics that can survive floods.
This one does sound good.
Are there any manufacturers he says who have such a technology?
John, I know where you're going and you're thinking about a lot of the recent smartphones that have come out.
Recent Iphones or Galaxies that are either largely or completely waterproof.
It's been kind of a micro trend in smart phones the last year or so.
That's phones, cars are different.
The answer shortly is no.
I don't know of any car that claims or even remotely promises.
To have its electronics survive a flood or even other systems for that matter, even mechanical parts.
Floods and cars don't go well together.
As a result, you absolutely wanna make sure that you find out if a vehicle's got any flood history.
I don't know the process in Ghana or the organizations or insurance groups you can look up those records on.
There is a flood title search.
Here in the US, you might have something similar in your country.
But I would absolutely avoid any car that's been submerged, especially nowadays with all these electronics and very delicate multipoint connectors that connect all these wiring harnesses together.
They don't like water at all, especially if it's water that has sediment pollution, or worst of all Salt in it.
So, this is a simple one.
You see a car that's even remotely likely to have been wet beyond the hubs, you gotta run away.
Coming up, we're saying goodbye to an unusual number of cars as we round a new year.
I'll count down the top five that I won't give another thought, when CNET on Cars returns.
We seem to have an unusually large crop of cars that are driving off into the sunset as we turn the corner from 2016 to 2017.
Now Some of these I'm gonna miss, like the lovely uncouth Dodge Viper or the constantly unappreciated Scion TC.
But for the most part, carmakers kill off their babies for good reasons and here are five examples.
Number 5 is not a car but a whole set of cars from Hyundai.
Their high end vehicles.
Genesis and Equus.
What a mess this was.
You had the Genesis Coupe which really printed Fast and Furious.
Then you have the Genesis Sedan which printed much more AARP.
And then you have the Hyundai Equus which was also a luxury Sedan.
How did that differ from the Genesis Sedan?
And how could that sports car in the Sedan both be Genesis?
Was a mess!
And by the way guys, when you go to launch a new car brand, The last thing you should do is pull out your high school Latin dictionary.
[SOUND] Number four is the Honda CR-Z.
Now, I'm not a hater here, but I'm not a liker either, and neither were you.
This thing sold so badly it was collectible in year one.
So much potential here, though.
But all Honda ever gave us was this wimpy little hybrid stick Could not cash the check that its looks wrote.
[SOUND] Number 3 is a two-fer.
The Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200.
They're not identical cars but they're close enough that I can tell them both in one breath, don't let the garage door hit you in the ****.
When the first Dart arrived at our CNET driveway, I had such high hopes for it.
And I realized it was gonna be a big hit within 30 minutes.
A big hit in rental fleets.
[SOUND] Number 2 is our old friend the Volkswagen EOS.
Now, you know things aren't gonna go well when I start my video by rebadging the car and not complimentarily.
I think this might also been the car where the line ugly is included at no extra cost was first heard.
This thing did almost everything wrong.
It was miserable to drive.
And VW's usual crap cab in tech made too many sacrifices for it's drop top.
And whether that top was up or down, it's just look dumpy from the back.
Now I thought they cancel this car over a year ago.
But tt just kept trickling out.
VW's website makes it clear that will now stop.
Number one is the Cadillac ELR.
Folks often ask me "hey, in your line of work, what's the worst car you ever drove?".
This one comes to mind pretty frequently.
The started off with re-engineered Chevy bolt.
At a price that was absolutely outrageous.
They lay their cut it to mere insulting.
But the bottom line this vehicle never deserved to be born.>> It's pursuit of looks rendered the backseat more useless than those in the 9/11.
And the car featured the worst braking field I've ever driven.
Bad enough to just ruin driving entirely.
This guy proves that just because you find a pile of manure, doesn't mean there's a pony nearby.
Thanks for watching.
I hope you enjoyed this episode, really appreciate you being here with us for yet another year in 2016 as we wrap up the year and look forward to 17, which by the way will start off with our special next episode wrapping up the consumer electronic show and the North American International auto show in Detroit.
That's always just about our most jam-packed tech-dripping show.
So get ready for that next time I see ya.
And that'll be the next time we check the tech.