Concept Cars

Meet the Vision Mercedes Simplex

The Vision Mercedes Simplex is a fresh take on old meets new.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

To cross the road, you should first look one way then the other. A glance tells you what is coming and what has passed by. That same idea is what has inspired the Vision Mercedes Simplex, a concept vehicle and sculpture by Mercedes-Benz.

"Only a brand that is as strong as Mercedes-Benz is capable of the physical symbiosis of history and future. The 'Vision Mercedes Simplex' symbolizes the transformation of the brand-specific luxury of Mercedes-Benz", said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Mercedes-Benz.

Vision Mercedes Simplex tire axle The new concept car plays on old themes, reminding the audience of the company's automotive heritage.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Simplex, as Mercedes refers to it, redefines the historic look of a car for the modern era. It's a two-seater with freestanding wheels. Designers point to the vertical color separation between the white front section and the black rear section to show the historic side of the vehicle while transparent rims and sleek aerodynamic attributes are from the modern playbook.

At the vehicle's front is a rose gold radiator frame, which pays homage to the bronze radiator rings of years past. Inside the ring is a digital display of the classic Mercedes script.

Vision Mercedes Simplex buttons Sleek, simple controls are apparent on the dash.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There is no windscreen, nor any doors. There are simple switches in the cabin area, where focus is nearly purely on the wheel, so the driver can theoretically focus exclusively on the road ahead. Remember those days? Driving in its purest expression.

Vision Mercedes Simplex steering wheel The model took design influence from yachts.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The car's steering wheel was based on nautical and racing design. Finishes are emblematic of those lifestyles with contrasting colors, soothing color schemes, and high-end finishes. The car's bench seat features hand-made Chesterfield quilting. Its azure blue is inspired by the colors of the Côte d'Azur.

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Blacksford keeps their RVs near airports for easy in/out access

Photo courtesy of Blacksford

Want to overland but lack the necessary overlanding automobile? Have no fear, Blacksford is here!

Blacksford is a new recreational vehicle rental business that offers everything from a full-stocked Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to Winnebagos. The company charges customers per night with an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles; no generator fees; bedding, bath, and kitchen supplies; Wi-Fi; an annual pass to national parks; and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Blacksford Mercedes-Benz Sprinter The models come stocks and the company is able to curate an adventure experience for you.Photo courtesy of Blacksford

The company was founded by tech entrepreneur Jonathan Distad, the founder of Zinovo, a company that offers support for Salesforce Managed Services. Blacksford also offers support, with the ability for travelers to get assistance curating road trip experiences. The RV rental company can connect them with vetted campsites, guides, and other hand-picked attractions.

Currently, the company offers vehicles from airports in Las Vegas, Nevada; Bozeman, Montana; and Denver, Colorado. The company has plans to expand to an additional dozen or more airports in the next two years. Blacksford is the only RV rental business based exclusively out of airports.

Rentals are available for daily or weekly rates. Additionally, multi-month mini leases are also available.

Prices start at just $199 per day. Renters are able to choose their own adventure or opt for a more curated itinerary. The company is able to provision your vehicle prior to your arrival.

Blacksford Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Renters have the ability to choose the vehicle that is right for them.Photo courtesy of Blacksford

"From the seamless online experience to our fully-stocked vehicles and all-inclusive prices, this is what the RV rental process should be like," said Distad. "We greet you at your airport gate, load your bags, onboard you virtually so you don't have to spend hours getting to know your RV, and offer 24-hour roadside assistance. Our RV rental process is easy, and there is no nickel-and-diming like so many of our competitors."

For more information visit Blacksford.com.

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The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a lesson in balance - speed meets comfort, power meets easy drivability.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

When a model wears the AMG badge, it's a signal that it is a driver's car. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is no exception to that rule. But, driving is about more than just having a competent engine. It's in these small details where the model falters.

The looks of the C63 S are rather standard fare for a Mercedes sedan. It's smart, buttoned up, ready to take you where you want to go. It fits in nearly everywhere but doesn't quite stand out.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The profile of the model reveals a strong and confident design.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has installed a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine under the hood of the car. It produces 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That's more than plenty. When you get on the throttle, in any of the car's drive settings (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Race) it roars to life (more so if you push the button for the more aggressive exhaust note).

The nine-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and opting for the full paddle shifter experience is equally as smooth. What isn't smooth is the automatic stop-start functionality. Thankfully the quick push of a button on the center console turns that off ASAP.

Though the car's steering is spot on, its limited slip differential is less limited in its slip than is comforting when pulling out quickly from a stop. Off the line, it's a gem but turning the corner from a stop is another story. One could argue that getting on it in corner isn't what you're going to do on a daily basis if you own the car, but one doesn't simply buy a C63 S to take it easy.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Even when driving in Comfort mode, the driver's information display can showcase the car's power output and camber of the road. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's some cool features that you won't see on any model outside the Mercedes lineup in the U.S. The high beams turn on in a pattern similar to drawing back a curtain, and reveal a fantastic amount of illumination. A dial on one side of the AMG Performance steering wheel quickly and easily turns to adjust the drive mode while buttons on the other side allow you to easily adjust the suspension and exhaust.

That steering wheel comes made of half carbon fiber (from 10 to two and four to eight) while the remaining sections are covered in Dinamica suede. The suede bits are fine, but when the summer sun heats up that carbon fiber, it feels like a plasma cutter to the hands (and legs if you happen to bump it while wearing shorts).

This isn't aided at all by the air conditioning, which requires the car to be in gear and running (preferably in a forward motion) before it even thinks about dispensing cool air.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The car's seats are equal parts comfortable and sporty.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The C-Class is a compact car. It's interior is spacious for the first row passengers but the second-row seats can get a bit squished if you're tall. The AMG Performance sport seats are comfortable enough for everyday use but also hold you tight enough that should you choose to carve some corners you won't have to worry about wiggling around in the seat.

The car's safety technology works as advertised except that the traffic sign reading function has a hard time telling the difference between 55 mph and 65 mph at night. Active Speed Limit Assist is part of the Driver Assistance Package ($1,700 upgrade) on the model and while the issue shouldn't stop you from getting the package, it's something to be aware of.

The rest of the C63 S is as expected. Handing is engaging, fuel economy isn't fantastic, and upholstery and appointments are equal parts attractive and appropriate for the car's price point.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The back end of the model is rather status quo for the company's model line.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

About that price point. The tester came in a shade over $96,000 – the base MSRP is $75,700. That's a price for someone who really wants that car. They're not in the market to comparison shop and there's nothing wrong with that.

For the price of the C63 S as tested, you can get a fairly nice Porsche 911 or a BMW M2 Competition and a vacation. The biggest advantage the C63 S has over those is a a second set of doors and a usable back row – and that is quite the advantage for many buyers.

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