Theme Week: 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG Designo

No 1% household is complete without the obligatory SUV. Most opt for the Range Rover; actually I think they are mandatory in certain neighborhoods. In a sea of generic luxury SUVs, how does one stand out with the valet at the yacht club? Enter the solution: the G55 AMG.

Normally I’d be tempted to discuss the 504 bhp supercharged AMG V8, or the G55’s off-road prowess, but these things are inconsequential to the 1%. Rather I feel the need to point out the “look at me” AMG styling that will turn heads all over town, the plush Nappa leather, and the navigation system that offers Zagat ratings for restaurants…you know the important things.

This arctic white G-Wagen for sale in Chicago, IL, is a god among men in the SUV market.

 

2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG Designo on eBay

The G-Class is powered by a 382-horsepower, 5.5L V8, while the high-performance G55 AMG gets a supercharged version good for 500 hp. The G55 can dash to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz. Fuel economy isn’t stellar, but it’s reasonable considering what the G-Class was built for: 12 mpg city and 15 highway. The AMG version achieves 11 city and 13 highway. Thanks to a serious mechanical 4-wheel-drive system, complemented by modern electronics, the G-Class has the goods for serious off-roading as well as simply taking on slippery road conditions. The system comes with three differential locks to distribute power in whatever way is best for the conditions. On- or off-road, traction is aided by the electronic stability control system, which also helps distribute power left to right. The G-Class is an old-style, truck-like SUV in look and feel, yet its interior is appointed with top-notch luxury materials, including premium leather, burl walnut trim and wood and leather trim elsewhere. The G55 AMG adds a Nappa leather interior and natural maple trim, plus 5-spoke wheels, special chrome trim, and illuminated doorsills on the outside. Inside, the G-Class provides a very upright driving position that’s quite different than in any other vehicle from the brand’s lineup; back seats have enough room for adults, but they’re not as easily reconfigurable for cargo compared to most modern SUVs. Also, the back door is hinged on the side rather than the top. Cruise control, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, rear heated seats and a parking assistant are included with the G550, as well as a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated multi-contour front seats. The latest version of Mercedes-Benz COMAND screen-based interface is included on the G55 AMG, plus voice controls, a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface. There’s also a premium, 610-watt harman/kardon audio system that also features an SD memory card slot, iPod connectivity and Sirius satellite radio and HD radio tuners. The navigation system includes a 40-GB hard drive as well as live traffic info and Zagat restaurant ratings.

These are growing on me, and have become one of my favorite SUVs out there. The blend of luxury, off-road capability, and AMG muscle is untouchable on today’s market. The Arctic White over black leather is my favorite combo for this mainly because it’s not a common combo on these; you usually see black or silver. With an MSRP of over $130K, this barely used G-Wagen is priced reasonably; vs. a new one…I sure hope the dealer takes cash.

-Brian

 

2007 Audi S8

If you ask any average car guy what his ideal sports sedan would be, you’ll likely get an overwhelming response of M5, maybe a few true BMW guys that will say Alpina B7, and of course there would be the remaining AMG guys, but few would even respond with S8.

The S8 is the forgotten soul in the sports sedan scene, but why is that, the rarity?  the subtlety?

Whatever the reason this is one of the most overlooked sports sedans, and these days one of the best bargains out there (thank you depreciation).  With an original MSRP of over $90K, these cars are a bargain for both a sports car, and a luxury sedan.  With 450HP, the 2 ton S8 would do 60mph in 4.9 seconds, so it was no slouch, however in a market where the E60 M5 boasts 500HP, and a run to 60 in 4.5 seconds, the S8 was just plain out gunned…on paper at least.

What most overlooked in the S8, was the fact that this was a solidly reliable, every day car.  Sure you could daily drive an M5, but being from the Northeast, I know what 500hp, and RWD do in the snow….nothing.  Quattro is what set the S8 apart, and what makes it an all-around performer in the real world.

Fast forward 5 years, introduce the bargain of the used sport sedan market.

2007 Audi S8 on eBay

 

Thank you for taking a moment to visit our latest Certified Audi offering. This 2007 Audi S8 has been pampered since birth and it shows. It is still covered by another 4 years and 30,000 miles of warranty, something you can’t say for many 2007 automobiles. This car comes to you accident free and ready to drive.

If you think there’s no point spending almost $100,000 for something with a 450-horsepower Lamborghini-sourced V-10 engine no one notices, then read no further. Audi’s new S8 isn’t for you. But if you like the idea of a big, fast, elegantly tailored limousine that slips effortlessly–and rapidly–under the radar, you’ll love this car. In an era when AMG Benzes are getting bolder and brassier with every model and BMW’s M cars are heading for techno-overkill, the subtle new S8 is the stealth-fighter of sport sedans.

You see, the S8 is a selfish pleasure. Nail the gas and that direct-injection, 5.2-liter V-10 emits a deep, velvety growl–a smooth-jazz remix of the Lamborghini Gallardo’s mighty bellow–and gives a satisfying shove between the shoulder blades. You can fan the Tiptronic paddles on the six-speed automatic if you like, but it’s better to let the computer do the thinking and allow the tach needle to kiss 7100 rpm on the upshifts, the engine clearing its throat with a soft whump! between each ratio.

Keep your right foot buried, and you’ll hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and 100 mph in 12.0 and nail the standing quarter mile in 13.4 seconds at 105.6 mph. No, it isn’t nosebleed-quick like an S65 Benz (for the record, AMG’s ueber-limo nails 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, 100 in 9.3, and the standing quarter in 12.4 seconds at 116.5 mph, blowing the doors off a Porsche 911 Carrera S in the process). But there’s a crispness and flair to the big Audi’s power delivery that betrays the Italian soul buried deep in the machine.

That is the engine, of course. The basic architecture is shared with Lamborghini’s 513-horsepower, 5.0-liter Gallardo V-10, but the bores have been enlarged to boost capacity. Forged connecting rods allow a 7200-prm redline, and offset crankpins permit an even 72-degree firing cadence, smoothed further by a balance shaft located in the center of the block. The engine uses Audi’s FSI direct-injection system, which pumps fuel directly into each combustion chamber at high pressure, allowing a compression ratio of 12.5:1 and more efficient combustion. The result is not only a healthy 450 horsepower at 7000 rpm, but also, thanks to the variable intake manifold, a useful 398 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm.

Why a V-10? Audi claims it’s the perfect compromise between a V-12, which would need a longer block and suffer from more internal friction from the additional cylinders, valves, etc., and a V-8, which would be more compact, but would have larger, heavier pistons and wouldn’t rev as freely as a result. Offset bores mean the engine is just 26.9 inches long, with all ancillaries attached. Just as well, because most of it is hanging out ahead of the front axle.

Only dedicated Audiphiles will note the S8’s unique 20-inch alloys, quad exhaust (somewhat more tastefully executed than the bazookas you find peeking out from under the rear bumper of an AMG Benz), and trademark alloy-finish exterior mirrors. The discreet S8 moniker on the trunk and V-10 badges on each flank don’t exactly scream for attention. But that’s what makes this car so appealing. The S8 is for the driver who doesn’t have to show off–and knows it.

 

With V10 Lambo power, Quattro AWD, and finished in black, with the black leather interior, this S8 pushes all of the right buttons.  At 67K miles, I’d be hesitant to take on the maintenance of this monster; however this car is CPO to 100K which calms the nerves when getting in to a car like this.  The $39,995 this S8 is priced just a tick below retail, and it’s priced right where a comparable M5 would be.  So 5 years later, it seems as though all of those things that caused buyers to overlook the S8; the rarity, subtlety, in my eyes make it the most desirable option in the used sports sedan market.

-Brian