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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35 combines power and practicality

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

If the Subaru WRX isn’t mature enough and the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA35 isn’t practical enough, where can an auto enthusiast turn?

The answer is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35 with its boxier, shrunken-down GLS-Class profile and hot hatch powertrain.

This compact performance crossover SUV applies the AMG formula to the GLA-Class’s larger, boxier sibling, the GLB, adding power, an angrier look, and an expensive price tag.

I spent a week with the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35 hauling the kids around town, picking up groceries, and getting a second COVID-19 shot (hooray, science!). Here’s where it hit and where it missed.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Hit: B stands for Brick

The GLB is based on the hatchback-like GLA but with a longer wheelbase and a boxier SUV look. The upright greenhouse, squared-off rear end, and stepped roofline give it an SUV-like look despite its low ride height. AMG bits include the Panamericana grille above the front splitter up front and a rear diffuser with an integrated dual exhaust in back. To my eye, however, the GLB35 looks like a late-’90s Subaru Forester with modern STI bits. You’ll never unsee that now.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Miss: Crawling isn’t its thing

The GLB-Class isn’t made for rock crawling, but the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission in my tester wasn’t particularly a fan of crawling at slow speeds in the preschool pickup line. The clutch engagement shuddered lightly and wasn’t as smooth in low-speed operation as Mercedes-Benz’s 9-speed automatic transmission. The quicker 9-speed works well in other AMG-badged models, but it’s only offered for longitudinal applications.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Hit: Properly sized wheels

The 2021 GLB35 is available with wheels as large as 21 inches. My tester was supposed to be equipped with the available $1,050 AMG twin 5-spoke matte black 20-inchers, but it rode on more practical $300 matte black 19-inch 10-spoke aluminum wheels wrapped in Pirelli PZero 255/50R19 winter tires. While the winter tires added a bit more noise to the ride, the smaller wheel diameter and larger tire profile gave the GLB35’s adaptive suspension less work to do on Midwest expansion joints and broken pavement. This is the softer ride I prefer, and they even looked great thanks in part to an inner ring that almost perfectly outlined each brake rotor.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Miss: Where’s the tint?

Most crossover SUVs sold in the U.S. have tinted glass on the rear doors and hatch, but not the GLB lineup. Due to its ground clearance, the EPA classifies the GLB-class as a mid-size station wagon, and that prevents it from being imported with factory tint. Everything else that looks like this is tinted, so the GLB looks odd. Tint protects the interior from UV rays and keeps passengers cooler in the summer.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Hit: Great visibility

The upright greenhouse gives the GLB a lot of glass. Combine this with thin A-pillars and a low-set dashboard and the GLB35 has terrific visibility in an era of form over function that creates blind spots.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35

Miss: Expensive little thing

The GLB35 ups the output of the GLB250’s turbo-4 from 221 hp and 258 lb-ft to 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It also ups the base price from $39,100 to $50,550. My tester cost $64,110 thanks to a laundry list of options including the $1,500 panoramic sunroof, a $1,700 driver-assistance package with a host of active safety features, and $1,450 for the red and black leather interior. You could buy a legendary vault-like W126 S-Class from the late ’80s/early ’90s for the price of my tester’s options. It requires a careful hand to keep the options from driving the GLB35’s price into orbit.

Part hot hatch, part luxury crossover SUV, and absolutely expensive, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35 exists for those who want a boxier, more practical GLA35.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB35
Base price: $39,100
Price as tested: $64,110
EPA fuel economy: 21/26/23 mpg
The hits: Great visibility, traditional brick-like design, low dashboard
The misses: Transmission doesn’t like to crawl, lacks tint, confused as to what it is, expensive

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Audi to launch last car with internal-combustion engine in 2026

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Markus Duesmann

Audi CEO Markus Duesmann used Tuesday’s Climate Neutrality Foundation conference in Berlin to confirm the automaker’s plans to transition to a fully electric lineup.

Duesmann said Audi will launch its final car equipped with an internal-combustion engine in 2026. Beyond this date, the automaker will only launch electric vehicles, he said.

Audi expects to finally stop selling vehicles equipped with an internal-combustion engine (including hybrids) by 2033 though may push this date further out depending on market conditions. According to Duesmann, there may still be demand in some markets, particularly China, for vehicles with internal-combustion engines beyond 2033.

Markus Duesmann

By eventually moving to a fully electric lineup, Audi will dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. The automaker aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest.

Audi is joining a growing consortium of automakers committed to switching to electric lineups within a decade. Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Bentley as early as last November confirmed to make the switch by 2030. The most aggressive among established automakers is Jaguar which in February said it will be an electric-only brand by as early as 2025.

By that 2025 date, Audi aims to have more than 20 electric vehicles in its lineup. Already on sale are the E-Tron, E-Tron Sportback, and E-Tron GT, and arriving soon are the Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron.

Audi A6 E-Tron Concept - 2021 Shanghai auto show

Audi A6 E-Tron Concept – 2021 Shanghai auto show

And further down the pipeline is a Q6 E-Tron due in 2022 and an A6 E-Tron due in 2023, as well as a technological flagship that may go by the name Q9 E-Tron that’s due in 2025. The new A6 E-Tron which will be sold alongside the gas-powered A6 was previewed in April with a thinly veiled concept.

There will likely also be an A4 E-Tron as part of the next-generation A4 family, though Audi is yet to confirm plans for one.

To ensure adequate charging infrastructure, Audi is working with other companies to promote the expansion of renewable energy sources and public charging stations. Audi is also testing the waters with its own line of premium charging stations that can be booked in advance.

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Modern electric Bus starts testing

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2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz production model test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Volkswagen’s electric successor to the iconic Microbus based on 2017’s ID Buzz concept vehicle has finally been spotted testing, albeit at a very early stage of the development.

Our spy shots show a test mule, where the new mechanical package is hidden beneath a makeshift body, in this case the modified body a T6-generation VW Transporter/Multivan.

It’s hard to spot exterior differences but it looks like the ID Buzz test mule’s wheelbase is slightly shorter than the wheelbase of the standard Transporter. Two wheelbase lengths are planned for the production model, with the United States expected to receive the longer version as standard. A shot of the interior reveals dash controls borrowed from existing VW ID models like the ID.4 compact crossover sold here and ID.3 compact hatch sold overseas.

2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz production model test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The final design is likely to be tweaked significantly from what you see here and may have already been previewed in a teaser sketch of a self-driving ID Buzz (shown below) that’s slated to enter a commercial taxi service in 2025. The service will be run by VW Group’s Moia mobility division using a self-driving system developed by Argo AI, which VW Group is a major shareholder of.

The ID Buzz, which will likely be called something along the lines of ID.7 or ID.8 in production guise, is due to start sales in Europe in 2022. Unfortunately it won’t reach the United States until 2023, meaning it will likely arrive as a 2024 model. That’s a year later than originally promised.

VW has been hinting at a modern Bus for years. In fact, the automaker rolled out the first concept for one as far back as 2001. Now production is finally happening. The production will be handled at a Volkswagen Group plant in Hanover, Germany, which is being upgraded to handle electric vehicles. The plant is where VW currently builds its T-series van, the true successor to the Microbus.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz AD self-driving car prototype

Volkswagen ID.Buzz AD self-driving car prototype

The T-series earlier in June spawned the new T7 generation in passenger-oriented Multivan guise. The T7 van, which is based on VW Group’s MQB platform, will be sold alongside the ID Buzz. The ID Buzz will ride on VW Group’s MEB battery-electric platform.

Look for a base model with around 201 hp and rear-wheel drive. Above this should sit a 302-hp model with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. The biggest battery option should offer close to 300 miles of range.

Like the ID Buzz concept, the production version will have its batteries in the floor, allowing short overhangs front and rear, and a compact van footprint. Both passenger and commercial versions are planned, the latter previewed by 2018’s ID Buzz Cargo concept. The U.S. is only expected to receive the passenger version.

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Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster honors oldest Aston in existence

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Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

It’s been 100 years since chassis number 3, now known as A3, rolled out of Aston Martin’s first facility at Abingdon Road in Kensington, London. It was the third car ever produced by Aston Martin.

To celebrate the centenary of A3, the HWM Aston Martin dealership in Walton on Thames, Surrey, collaborated with the Aston Martin Heritage Trust & Museum (AMHT) to commission three modern cars dubbed A3 Vantage Roadsters, which are now for sale.

The cost of each of these limited-edition roadsters wasn’t released, and they will all likely be sold in England.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

The original A3

The car now known as A3 was originally driven by company co-founder Lionel Martin, and it was acquired by the AMHT in 2002. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder side-valve engine with 11 hp. It set several records including an 84.5 mph run in 1923 at the Brooklands Circuit. A3 recently underwent a restoration to bring it as close to original factory condition as possible by Ecurie Bertelli, a renowned pre-war Aston Martin specialist.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

A3 Vantage Roadster

Each of the three new A3 Vantage Roadsters features a black square mesh grille insert and a bright aluminum surround with a heritage badge inspired by the original A3 model. Another nod to the original is the gill inserts in the front fenders. They feature exposed aluminum panels that were hand polished by Bertelli, engraved with “NO_3,” and outfitted with fixed saddle leather straps. Unique 20-inch lightweight forged aluminum wheels painted gloss black were designed for these cars, and they hide bronze brake calipers.

The interior of the A3 Vantage Roadster features perforated seats with the heritage Aston Martin script embroidered on the center console lid. The Obsidian Black interior contrasts with brass trim and Chestnut Tan accents and stitching.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

A3 Vantage Roadsters will be powered by the Vantage Roadster’s standard Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The A3 Vantage Roadster will be shown to the public for the first time on Saturday, June 26 at the Dallas Burston Polo Club in Southam, Warwickshire. A display of pre-war Aston Martin and Lagonda models, Feltham-era D2 cars, plus DB4, DB5, DB6, DBS models will also be on hand, as will V-8-powered cars from 1969-2000, the DB7, the V12 Vanquish, the One-77, and the Vulcan.

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