Chicago Auto Show 2020

Metris Weekender draws inspiration from Mercedes-Benz's past

There's overlanding and then there's overlanding in style in the Metris Weekender.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its first pop-up camper for the U.S. market at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. Drawing inspiration on models of the past, the Metris Weekender camper van features a wide range of convenience features with an updated, modern design.

This Weekender is intended to be adaptable to a variety of needs. Whether you're traveling cross country, heading out for a weekend getaway, or simply taking a day trip to the mountains, the Weekender adds to the experience.

Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender Owners can pop out and pop up tents of the Metris Weekender.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Standard features include an elevating roof with sleeping room for two, an integrated spring system, two-inch memory foam mattress, three windows, and extra USB ports for lights and charging. There's additional sleeping room from the multipurpose rear bench seat, which opens into a bed for two.

If it's not sleeping accommodations but cargo room, that same bench seat helps adapt the Weekender for cargo. It moves along a rail into four locations to accommodate a variety of needs. Available roof racks are perfect for surfboards, skis, and larger items and the Weekender can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The front seats swivel 180 degrees to turn the interior into a living space where everyone can easily interact. The Weekender will get you where you need to go, and then make it quick and easy to set up camp and relax.

Optional features make the Weekender even more versatile with off-grid power and integrated solar panels. There's upgraded audio and navigation to make the trip more fun and a range of personalization options with 200 available 3M wraps from which to choose.

Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender The model has room for sleeping, dining, and riding.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

An available eight-foot awning is ideal for lounging in the shade and offering rain protection while bug screens for the rear hatch and sliding doors keep insects away. There's also a tent that attaches to the rear lift gate offering extra space and privacy and even an available pullout rear kitchen.

The Metris Weekender offers comprehensive safety that includes crosswind assist, load adaptive electronic stability, and attention assist along with good fuel economy so longer trips are easier on the family budget. Its 15,000-mile service interval lets you drive further before you need to schedule maintenance.

Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender The Weekender makes sleeping over easy with an available fold-out bed.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Customers can order the Weekender from any authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer starting this spring. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Two British brands are coming together to launch a new project.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

The two companies have performance-oriented contemporary design in common, but that's not all. British car company Lotus has begun working with Savile Row outfitter and bespoke tailor Norton & Sons on a new project.

For now, both companies have been relatively mum on what they're working on, but a few key details have snuck out. The first of which is that they say their creation is "For the Drivers". A clue and a tagline in one.

There are promises that the creation will, "incorporate both brands' core values of light-weighting, performance-oriented contemporary design and sporting durability." They'll make an official announcement later this year.

Lotus x Norton & Sons Norton & Sons is located on London's famed Savile Row.Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Lotus has been undergoing a brand renaissance since new shareholders and management took over in 2018. In its heyday, the company had the Elan, which was recently voted as one of Britain's best classic cars, had vehicles featured in James Bond films, and was winning at the racetrack with enough frequency to claim a level of dominance.

Recently, the company has made plans for a quick and electrified future. They announced that the Lotus Evija hypercar has enter its initial build stage.

On the more pedestrian end of the spectrum, the Evora has gotten a cheaper, more daily-driver-focused variant and Elise Classic Heritage Editions were shown for the first time.

Norton & Sons was founded in 1821 and celebrates its bicentennial next year. It has clothed some of history's most stylish and inspiring men, including Hollywood legends such as actor Cary Grant, British royalty including King Edward VII, and performance pioneers such as Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the speed of sound.

Patrick Grant, Director of Norton & Sons, said: "The year I was born Lotus won the Formula 1 Constructors' Championship. Growing up it was the definitive British sports car brand. James Bond drove a Lotus Esprit and it was the car that every kid in the playground dreamed of owning. Colin Chapman is revered as an engineering icon, a pioneer and an entrepreneur of exceptional personal style. Norton & Sons has a long tradition of making for sportsmen and pioneers, so Lotus and Norton & Sons feels like a perfect fit."

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Maserati is promising an electrified future for its brand.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

In his prom "Divine Comedy," Italian author Dante Alighieri wrote, "From a little spark may burst a flame." It is fitting that Italian automaker Maserati is using a spark to tease its future.

That future includes a completely redesigned Maserati Ghibli Hybrid. Maserati has also been showing a pre-production version of the car under wraps on a tour though Italy calling it the MC20. It was designed and engineered at the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, Italy.

Maserati electrification 2020 As part of its announcement, Maserati shared images of its headquarters being hit by simulated lightning.Photo courtesy of Maserati

That bit about being straight from Italy is important to the brand. Despite being owned by a company headquartered in the Netherlands (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) that is about to merge with a company headquartered in France (PSA Group), the Maserati team has been given the freedom to design using Italian sports car DNA.

That Italian sports car DNA will be merging with a hybrid powertrain in a move all about sparking Maserati sales. For its part, the company is calling it, "the first in a line of new vehicles at the vanguard of a new era for Maserati." The's a next chapter, if you will.

Throughout 2020, Maserati is expected to strengthen its position in the luxury electric vehicles market as it works to allocate more of its production space to electrified cars.

The Ghibli Hybrid goes first, later this year. The Maserati GranTurismo and GranCabriolet will begin production in 2021 as the automaker's first all-electric cars. The next-gen GranTurismo and GranCabrio will be built at the Mirafiori production hub.

Maserati's Modena facility is in the process of a remodel, which will allow it to be modified enough to begin producing what the company is calling a "super sports car" in 2020.The Ghibli Hybrid will have the first hybrid engine in the history of the marque.

A forthcoming Maserati utility vehicle is set to be built at Cassino in 2021. The automaker is already teasing the model saying that it is, "intended to play a leading role for the brand, thanks to its innovative technologies." Technological innovation is not something Maserati has been known for lately so this could be a welcome change.

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