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How the station wagons from Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche stack up

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Among a certain set, a station wagon is the ultimate luxury.

This may come as a surprise. But upscale versions of the ‘70s staple combine the athleticism of a sports car with the practicality of an SUV. They also carry a price premium higher than their sedan siblings.

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And they are far more rare. Barely 1% of all new cars sold in the US in 2019 were station wagons—quite a contrast from the 10% of the car market they represented in 1976 at the height of their popularity. The closest BMW comes to offering a station wagon in the US right now is the X2, which is more like a hot hatch than a wagon.

The remaining few options, however, are incredible. The three at the top of the heap when it comes to performance, luxury, and design are the 2021 Audi RS 6 Avant ($109 000), the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 ($112 450), and the 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo ($183 000). Each one can rightfully claim all-around, above-par excellence. None of them are perfect, and they cost a lot more than the likes of the $26 000 Subaru Outback and $41 000 Volvo V60. But for their category, they come pretty close.

The most important thing to know is which one is right for you. Here’s a deeper look about how they compare against each other.

Audi RS 6 Avant

Inside: The interior in each of these wagons is thoughtfully designed and well-built, with a practically minded mix of touchscreens and buttons that offer tactile feedback. But Audi’s RS 6 Avant offers the most modern appeal of the three. The brand did an exceptional job of streamlining its cabin with smartly angled and responsive touchscreens, ergonomic paddles for shifting, clever honeycomb stitching on the seats, and knobs for controlling the technology systems.

The lighting is soft and relaxing and lends an aura of cool. There’s 59.3 cubic feet of rear space with the rear seats folded, second only to the 64 cubic feet of space in the Mercedes AMG E 63. One cool extra: The RS 6 Avant has a motion-activated control that opens the tailgate when you swipe your foot underneath it—helpful for opening the back with your arms full.

Performance: The RS 6 Avant comes in with 591 horsepower, the least of the group, and its 3.5-second sprint from zero to 60 mph is the slowest among the three as well. However, I found its eight-speed, all-wheel-drive, abnormally nimble handling, balanced body, and perfectly calibrated ceramic brakes to be a real joy to drive. It feels more refined, more civilised, than the serpent-quick Porsche and bludgeon-lookalike AMG.

Another bonus is one of those launch-control buttons that allows you to disengage the car’s safety systems and shoot to 100 mph in just over seven seconds from a standstill. Not that you’ll need it in the school pick-up line, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Exterior: With its gaping front fascia, nipped-in sides, low stance, and massive 22-inch wheels, the Audi has the most striking curb appeal of the three wagons in question here. It even bears a passing resemblance to the Lamborghini Urus — thanks to the sculpted doors, the HD Matrix LED headlights with laser lights, and darkened trim in addition to the blacked-out front. The Nardo gray paint job, which is exclusive to the RS 6 Avant, amplifies the glowering look.

Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 

Inside: If storage space is your main focus, the Mercedes AMG E 63 offers the most: 64 cubic feet in the rear with the seats down. The car really separates itself from the others, though, in the sporty feel of the interior, with near-bucket seats, 64-color ambient lighting, “AMG”-illuminated door sills, and the piece de resistance—a 12.3-inch, high-resolution central display. When combined with the equally large digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, it looks like some sort of futuristic surfboard.

Performance: At 602 horsepower, the AMG E 63 wagon isn’t far behind the abilities of the Porsche’s ridiculously powerful 620 hp. The 3.4 second zero-to-60 mph time is also the second-fastest of the trio.

Perhaps more important, it feels more aggressive than the others from behind the wheel because of its exceptional V8 engine, silky-smooth nine-speed transmission, and massive sport brakes that bite the instant you tap them. (The 627 pound-feet of torque don’t hurt, either.) It bores down the road with a raw, roaring intensity unmatched by the Porsche.

Exterior: The AMG E 63 offers a strong visual appeal as well, though it looks more like a heavy German sledge than a Lamborghini. It is two inches longer and more than an inch thinner than the Audi, with a new, reshaped grille that has vertical slats and a larger Mercedes logo in the middle.

The headlights are completely remodeled. A redesigned rear diffuser and new 20-inch wheels give the whole thing a more svelte, aerodynamic, Darth Vader-like design than the edgier Audi. When I drove it, the most comments I got from people were about the matte blue paint job. It looks so unusual, they often assumed it a specialized wrap instead of a factory-option exterior.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo

Inside: The Panamera offers 49 cubic feet of space—the least of this group. But it makes up for that in other ways. In the Porsche, the long center console that holds the shifter, divides the cabin, and leads up into the dashboard is what you’ll remember most.

The Porsche technology feels the least futuristic of the bunch, with less interior lighting and the standard Porsche steering wheel and knobs we are used to seeing in other Porsche vehicles. Then again, for many people that old-school look is preferred.

Performance: Anyone back in the wagon heyday of the 1970s would have been dumbfounded to hear that the Porsche Panamera wagon has 620 horsepower. Until just a decade ago, that sort of power wallop was reserved for only the top supercars, not lowly grocery getters. Now, that’s good enough to beat the rest of the bunch in terms of sheer power and force.

Porsche beats all comers too in the zero-to-60 mph sprint—a supercar-fast 2.9 seconds, compared to 3.4 seconds in the Mercedes and 3.5 seconds in the Audi. What’s more, Porsche has rear-axle steering, ceramic composite brakes, adaptive air suspension, and four extreme drive modes that pack an incredible punch.

Exterior: The rounded-at-the-edges Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo looks virtually indistinguishable from the “normal” Panamera sedan, which by turn looks like a super stretched-out 911 — not exactly stunning. At 198.8 inches long, it’s the longest wagon of them all, but that doesn’t translate into the most storage space.

The Final Verdict

The main outlier among the Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche wagons is how much they cost. With a starting price of $183 000, the Porsche demands considerably more than the other two, which, as you’ll recall, comes to $109 000 for the Audi and $112,450 for the Mercedes.

For those who must have the on-paper most powerful, quickest wagon available in the US, the money will be worth it. But plenty of people will value the raw performance and space of the Mercedes and the cool elegance of the Audi. Any performance difference is negligible, at best. The best way to tell what you prefer? Go out and test-drive all three.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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