Mercedes tweener cribs C-Class dash, new Super Duty due next week, Herta’s road to F1 grows longer


Spied at ’Ring, Mercedes tweener coupe sports familiar cabin

Intake: Spy photographers have captured photos of a camouflaged Mercedes mule testing at the Nürburgring. It looks like a hardtop version of a forthcoming “tweener” model, expected to combine the C- and E-Class convertibles into a single, slightly sportier model bearing the CLE moniker. We saw the droptop version of this line-straddler last summer, also heavily camouflaged. This time around, the photographers managed to snag a few shots of the interior of the car, which … looks exactly like that of the new C-Class. That’s hardly a bad thing, if you like your cabins tech-savvy and a bit subdued. A tablet-style screen in the center stack handles infotainment and climate-control duties, and another screen nestled behind the steering wheel holds all relevant driving data. The rest of the body lines and exterior look fairly set to go, with a sportier stance than either the C- or E-Class, and a tighter front end, à la the new S-Class, which is usually the lodestar for M-B design. We expect the new CLE-Class to debut late this year or early next.

Exhaust: Neither sedans nor convertibles sell like they once did, so it’s not surprising that Mercedes has chosen to fuse the C-and E-Class convertibles into one model. BMW and Audi have both adopted similar, “more is better” strategies, splitting the droptop versions of long-standing nameplates into independent lines (the 4 Series and A5 family, respectively). Why shouldn’t Benz? Judging by this hardtop prototype, however, the CLE line won’t be droptop-only. Mercedes may even continue to offer the two-door C- and E-Classes coupes after this CLE coupe hits the market.  —Nathan Petroelje 

KTM fine-tunes 890 Adventure R for 2023

2023 KTM 890 ADV R

Intake: Model-year updates on motorcycles can be tough. “Bold new graphics” is a running joke for a reason. So, when KTM brought out the 2023 890 Adventure R, we were glad that the changes extend beyond the new, 450 Rally–inspired looks. Riders shopping KTM’s middleweight adventure (ADV) offering will also see a new 5-inch TFT dash, improved ABS components and suspension tuning, a new windshield for better airflow, and additional engine protection. The ABS updates include an off road mode which uses a 6D sensor to meter braking force based on angle, pitch, speed and general behavior of the motorcycle.

Exhaust: While most buyers want to see big power numbers or chassis changes, an experienced eye looks for changes like these, which fine-tune an already stout motorcycle. This middleweight ADV warrior looks like it should be a serious consideration for anyone shopping for capability and comfort who still wants flash and style. —Kyle Smith 

Ford teases Super Duty before unveiling next week

Intake: The official Twitter account for Ford Trucks posted an eleven-second teaser of the next generation F-series Super Duty pickup. We see the new headlight assembly, with a promise for more to see next Tuesday, September 27th.

Exhaust: Bold sound effects and rudimentary percussive beats always pair well with minimal information in a teaser video. Be it a movie trailer or a bigger truck that can tow an even bigger trailer, the folks behind this brief video have done their job. 10/10 would watch this trailer again before Tuesday. —Sajeev Mehta

Colton Herta’s long road to Formula 1 gets a little longer

2022 Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach colton herta
Long Beach, California: NTT IndyCar Series driver Colton Herta prepares for warm up laps on race day at the 2022 Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach on April 10, 2022. Getty Images | Greg Doherty

Intake: Red Bull has reportedly axed plans to back American IndyCar driver Colton Herta for a Formula 1 drive. The initial scheme could have seen the Californian replace Pierre Gasly next year at AlphaTauri, considered a feeder team for Red Bull’s main effort. Why abandon Herta? He hasn’t earned enough “points” to be awarded the FIA Super License required to drive in F1. (The FIA’s ranking system awards points for each driver’s accomplishments.) It can be argued that the FIA underrates accomplishments in the IndyCar series and possibly overrates races done in series overseas. Herta and Red Bull hoped Herta might be granted an exception, though Herta has said he really doesn’t want to enter F1 that way. The alternative is that he could race in an overseas series during IndyCar’s downtime, which started a week ago, and try to accumulate the necessary points. Herta turned 22 in March, so he has some shelf life in a series that values youth, but if F1 is going to happen for him, things need to move quickly.

Exhaust: It’s downright absurd that the American-owned Formula 1, with three races in the U.S. (Austin, Miami and soon, Las Vegas) has no U.S. driver. The publicity that Herta, or possibly IndyCar’s Josef Newgarden, would receive in the North American media would be enormous, but F1 and the FIA just can’t see that. Michael Andretti had the backing in place to start an American F1 team, but the 10 F1 team owners didn’t want to share the purse money with an 11th team, and so they blocked Andretti. The series’ popularity is soaring thanks in large part to the Netflix show Drive to Survive, but F1 is missing out on a soaring PR opportunity. —Steven Cole Smith

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