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Porsche 911


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Summary

Porsche 911

The big three automotive icons - VW’s Beetle, the original Mini, and… the Porsche 911.

In continuous production for more than 50 years, a new, eighth-generation ‘992’ version of one of the world’s most recognisable cars has arrived in Australia.

Launching initially in rear-wheel drive Carrera S (CS) and all-wheel drive Carrera 4S (C4S) variants, the headline technical upgrades are more power with lower emissions, all alloy body panels (apart from the front and rear aprons), a new eight-speed ‘PDK’ dual-clutch transmission, a ‘Wet Mode’ driving program that supports the driver in the rain, and availability of ‘Night Vision’ using an intelligent thermal imaging camera.

But there’s so much more to the story.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.5L/100km
Seating4 seats

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

There are people who probably wish the Mercedes-Benz CLS would just go away. Call security, have it escorted off the premises. That’s probably because they don’t agree with its styling. For them, it’s not how a large four-door Mercedes-Benz should look, with its ‘rude’ coupe roofline. 

But for some of you those looks are exactly why you want it, and there’s enough of you out there for Mercedes-Benz to tell us at the launch of the new-generation CLS that the model is here to stay.

“You don’t surrender a segment… a vehicle has to do 100 units to justify bringing it – this will do 100 units no problem sat all,” were the exact words from Benz’s head of communications David McCarthy.

You could say Benz created the four-door coupe segment when it launched its first-generation CLS 14 years ago, triggering its rivals to fire back with their own four-door coupes - the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.

Far from surrendering, the CLS has evolved again with this third-generation bringing new engines and styling. So, what do you gain and what will you have to surrender (for lack of a better word) if you choose to go down the non-traditional route of the CLS?

I found out when I drove the new CLS 450 4Matic for the first time on Australian roads at its recent launch.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Porsche 9118.3/10

In designing a modern sports car, who’d hang the engine over the back wheels? This layout just shouldn’t work in the way it does, but Porsche has continued to evolve and hone the 911 to an incredibly fine point. It’s a simply superb sports car experience.

If it were our money, we'd go for the Carrera S coupe. Entry-price dollars with minimal penalty in terms of dynamics relative to the C4S.

Porsche 911 or Merc-AMG GT? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class8/10

The Mercedes-Benz CLS has proven to be a niche hero, creating a segment and then evolving into something even more elegant, while keeping its unique appeal. A beautiful, modern cabin and the new engine in the CLS 450 provides the swiftness to match those looks.

Do you wish the Mercedes-Benz CLS would just go away or do you think it's just perfect? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Also, check out Matt Campbell's video review from the CLS's international launch: 

Design

Porsche 9119/10

In designing a new 911 you’re effectively carrying the Porsche brand on your shoulders, and Porsche design chief Michael Mauer and his team have created a look that’s contemporary, yet unmistakably 911. Quality and attention to detail permeate every millimetre of this car.

The profile, though substantially larger, mirrors that of the 1963 ‘901’ original, with the car’s rear-engine layout a key driver in terms of stance and overall proportion.

First, the front and rear axles have been lengthened (45mm fr - 44mm rr) without any change to the wheelbase, so the car looks broader than ever before.

And for the time being, there’s no such thing as a ‘wide body’. In previous generations of the 911 successive iterations (AWD C4S, Turbo and GT versions) have offered wider bodies, particularly at the rear. But the CS is as wide at the haunches as the C4S.

One of the key external changes is a single LED light bar across the back of the car; a design signature across all current Porsche models. And I for one, love the old school typefaces used for the brand and model badgework.

Another shift is the move to staggered rims on the mainstream Carrera models, with 20-inch alloys up front and 21s at the rear, while the pop-up rear spoiler is a new design incorporating a large slice of the rear decklid and able to raise all the way to a full air-brake position.

The drag coefficient is a very respectable 0.29, and car-spotters will be pleased to know the RWD CS sports black louvers in the rear grille, while the AWD C4S swaps that out for chrome finish.

At the front, a recessed channel at the top of the bonnet (front boot lid) is a tip of the hat to early 911 generations, the headlights look the same as the out-going model but they’re LED (four types offered), and electric pop-out door handles are flush fit.

Inside, the dash design will be immediately familiar to early 911 owners. Parallel horizontal lines define its upper and lower edges, with a sleek 10.9-inch multimedia screen neatly integrated in the centre, and five toggle style-buttons underneath facilitating the switch between key functions.

The instrument display allows for a classic 911 five dial arrangement, or multiple other layouts to be configured across two 7.0-inch “freeform” screens sitting either side of a fixed analogue tachometer in the centre. It’s beautifully executed.

The steering wheel is new, with a drive mode dial sprouting from the four o’clock position on ‘Sport Chrono’ equipped cars, and marginally lighter redesigned seats trimmed in partial leather look as good as they feel (especially with the standard houndstooth-style cloth inserts).


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class9/10

The new-generation CLS has arrived looking slipperier than a cake of soap on the bottom of the bath. This model has always had svelte styling, but things have become even smoother with Benz’s design chief Gorden Wagener insisting more lines be removed in the creation of this latest version.

So, while there’s the familiar profile of that roof tapering down into the boot lid, the long rear overhang and that sliver of a window opening arching and turning down sharply at the rear, it's a more flowing design now that there are less edges to break it all up.

A new ‘shark nose’ grille opening, and broad bonnet adds a hunk of muscle car toughness to the CLS’s face. But it’s refined thuggery, with that single-louvered ‘diamond studded’ grille flanked by flush-mounted headlights. The tail-lights, too, are so contoured to the body around them they look painted on.

As CarsGuide senior editor Matt Campbell pointed out in his review of the CLS at the international launch, the car looks far better in the metal than it does in any photo.

The CLS is based on the E-Class, sharing its platform and technology, but it’s about 20mm longer (at 4988mm) end-to-end. That’s almost 50mm longer than the previous generation CLS, too. At just over 1.4m tall the CLS is low-slung but wide at 1.9m across (almost 2.1m including mirrors).

The CLS’s cabin mirrors that of the E-Class, too, with a sweeping dashboard which flows through into the doors, two large landscape displays for your instruments and media, an oversupply of air vents and some darn sexy lighting. It’s a luxurious, stylish, comfortable, but snug setting cocooned by padded leather and polished surfaces.

The Australian CLS has been fitted standard with the AMG interior and exterior packages.

You can pick from 11 colours – eight of which are no-cost options and include, 'Polar White', 'Obsidian Black', 'Iridium Silver', 'Citrine Brown', 'Graphite Grey' and 'Cavansite Blue'. Optional colours include 'Hyacinth Red' and 'Selenite Grey Magno'.

Practicality

Porsche 9117/10

So, there’s practicality, and then there’s sports car practicality. The latter balances all the smile-inducing dynamic ability you’d expect, with space for luggage and the stuff of everyday life, on a sliding scale from pathetic to liveable.

The 911’s needle is bouncing up against the liveable end of the dial because it’s actually a four-seater, with more than toothbrush and undies cargo capacity.

Yes, it’s a ‘2+2’ with the back seats best for kids or very occasional and short-term adult accommodation. But talk to a 911 owner and despite the limited rear legroom they’ll tell you about dropping the kids off at pre-school, or that time they had to take friends home after a party. Those extra spots are incredibly handy.

As well as that, the rear backrests flip forward to create a broad storage platform, supplementing the 132-litre (front) boot.

Generous boot dimensions mean it’s big enough to swallow a weekend-for-two’s worth of soft bags, or even small hard suitcases, not to mention a modest grocery shop if the need arises.

In the cabin, increased interior dimensions mean front seat occupants are provided with 12mm of extra headroom despite the car growing only 4.0mm taller overall. Part of that trick is the front seats being mounted 5.0mm lower and the cushions being slightly thinner. There’s heaps of room.

Day-to-day stuff includes a fixed cupholder at the bottom of the centre console, and a pop-out device at the end of the dash on the passenger side. Door pockets are slim, but they’re there, and will accept small water bottles laid on their side.

A medium-size glove box is a welcome addition, as are multiple connectivity/power options including two USB ports in a small console storage box, and a 12-volt outlet in the passenger footwell. There are also clothes hooks on the front seat backrests and on the B-pillars.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class7/10

Remember how I said you were going to have to surrender something if you wanted a CLS? Well, yes, you’ve have to surrender your hard-earned money, but you’ll also have to give up quite a bit of practicality.

That swooping roofline makes entry into the front seats a bit precarious for people of my height (191cm) trying to swing themselves into the cockpit without clocking their heads on the A-pillar.

The impracticality only gets worse with entry into the back seats, and legroom in there for me is tight, too.

I can only just sit behind my driving position thanks to the contoured seat backs. Headroom is also limited.

It’s worth pointing out that this time the CLS is a five-seater – the previous generation sat just four.

Storage isn’t bad, running to a deep centre console bin with a split lid, there are two cupholders up front and another two in the rear fold-down armrest along with another covered drawer, and all doors have small bottle holders.

The CLS’s boot capacity is 520 litres, and the rear seats fold 40/20/40 to provide extra space.

Price and features

Porsche 9118/10

The new 911 is offered initially in rear-wheel drive Carrera S, and all-wheel drive Carrera 4S versions with a new eight-speed ‘PDK’ dual-clutch transmission only. Pricing for soft top cabriolet variants has been set with arrival timing to be confirmed.

Base ‘non S’ Carrera models, and the option of a seven-speed manual gearbox an all models will be available later in 2019.

Launch pricing, before on-road costs, ranges from an rrp of $265,000 for the Carrera S Coupe, through $286,500 for the Carrera S Cabriolet, on to $281,800 for the Carrera 4S Coupe, right up to $302,600 for the Carrera 4S Cabriolet. So, very much the premium sports car experience, then.

And despite the rarefied air the 911 flies in there’s some serious competition in the same space, although they all circulate at a slightly higher financial altitude.

In ascending order the key competitive set includes, the BMW M6 ($292,600), Jaguar F-Type V8 SVR AWD ($295,578), Nissan GT-R Nismo ($299,000), Merc-AMG GT S ($301,129), McLaren 540C ($325,000), and if you’re willing to cough up a few extra bucks a month, the entry-level Audi R8 ($367,000).

And aside from the new 911’s comprehensive safety and performance packages, which we’ll cover in later sections, the standard features list is an impressive roll-call.

It kicks off with partial leather trim, complete with chequered flag style cloth inserts, over heated 14-way electrically-adjustable sports seats (with memory package), a leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, ‘Porsche Communication Management’ (audio, navigation, communication and assistance systems), 12-speaker Bose Surround Sound-audio (including digital radio), Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto), keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers, LED auto headlights, the characteristic ‘4-point’ LED daytime running lights plus LED tail-lights, the ‘Carrera S’ alloy wheels, active cruise control, the 10.9-inch multimedia screen, and twin 7.0-inch digital instrument screens.

The options list is also long. For example, ‘Night Vision Assist’ using an intelligent thermal imaging camera to bring the darkness to light is a $4900 extra, and a Burmester ‘High-End Surround Sound System’ will set you back $6700.

Available standard colours are white, black, red and yellow, with optional metallics covering white, black, grey, mid-blue, dark-blue, dark-grey, silver and a deep green. ‘Special’ optional colours include a full-bodied red, and soft grey, as well as ‘70s-inspired orange, close to aqua blue and lime green. And I’m sure if you really wanted it, Porsche would finish your 911 in pink, brown, or gold.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class8/10

Benz has dropped the 250d grade, which means you can no longer have your CLS with a diesel engine. That also means the new entry fee is higher with the CLS 350 kicking the line-up off at $136,900 (list price).

You’ll be rewarded with a decent amount of equipment for the outlay, though. Coming standard on the CLS 350 are those two 12.3-inch screens, a head-up display, a 13-speaker Burmester stereo, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Autodigital radio, surround view camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 'Brown Ash' wood trim on the centre console, wheel-mounted shifting paddles, AMG exterior and interior packages, auto-parking20-inch AMG wheels, air suspension, proximity key and privacy glass.

The CLS 450 4Matic lists for $155,529 and adds air filtering in the cabin, power closing doors, a sports exhaust system and all-wheel drive.

At the top of the three-grade range is the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+ for $179,529. The extra money buys you nappa leather upholstery, wireless charging, the ‘Night’ body kit, an AMG exhaust system, and of course, a lot more grunt which you can read about below.

Engine & trans

Porsche 9119/10

The 911’s rear-mounted, all-alloy 3.0-litre, twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine now features high-pressure piezo injectors and bigger turbos for more power (+22kW) and torque (+30Nm), with outputs reading 331kW (444 horsepower) at 6500rpm and 530Nm from 2300-5000rpm.

Not only are the turbos bigger, they’re now mirrored and rotate in opposite directions, where they were previously identical and spinning the same way. It’s all about balance and evening out charge pressure.

The turbo wastegate valves are now operated by electric stepper motors rather than vacuum for faster pressure control, with maximum boost set at 1.2bar.

Porsche’s ‘VarioCam Plus’ variable valve timing and lift system, operating on the intake and outlet side cams and the intake valves, is now able to de-throttle the engine under partial load to save fuel.

A new eight-speed ‘PDK’ dual-clutch transmission packs a completely revised gear set, and the final drive ratio is longer. Maximum speed (a lazy 308km/h in the CS) is achieved in sixth gear.

The front diff in the AWD C4S is now water-cooled for improved durability, with the map-controlled multi-plate clutch able to deliver a maximum 50:50 front to rear variable torque split, although Porsche says that would only ever happen on snow and ice.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class8/10

If you’ve skipped straight to this bit you’ll have missed news that there’s no longer a diesel engine in the CLS line-up. Instead you have a choice of three petrol engines – one for each grade and all of them are new to the model.

The CLS 350 has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine producing 220kW/400Nm. That grunt is delivered to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic.

The CLS 450 4Matic has a 270kW/500Nm 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbo and like the Mercedes-AMG 53 above it has an integrated electric motor called an EQ Boost. While it’s a hybrid system of sorts the electric motor doesn’t drive the wheels, instead it recuperates kinetic energy and charges the battery.

The CLS 450 uses the nine-speed auto, as well, and is all-wheel drive.

The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic has the same transmission and engine as the CLS450 but has been given a heftier twin-scroll turbo charging system and tuned to produce even more grunt at 320kW/520Nm. The 'EQ Boost' performs the same function as in the CLS 450, but also provides power to an electric turbocharger. The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic is also all-wheel drive and uses a nine-speed automatic.

Fuel consumption

Porsche 9118/10

Of course, Porsche claims improved fuel economy and lower emissions to go along with the 911’s boosted performance.

Stated fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 9.5L/100km in the CS, and 9.6L/100km in the C4S. Hardly frugal, but not bad for cars with such huge performance potential.

CO2 emissions are rated at 216g/km for the CS and 219g/km for the C4S, and the standard auto stop-start function is relatively subtle.

Minimum fuel requirement is 98 RON premium unleaded. You’ll need 64 litres of it to fill the CS’s tank, and 67 litres to brim the C4S.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class8/10

This is a good place to remind you (again) that only one CLS grade was available to drive at the Australian launch – the CLS 450, and we were only given the claimed fuel economy figures for that model.

After 197km through, on a route that bumper to bumpered its way out of Melbourne CBD and headed the long way to the airport via Woodend. our car’s trip computer was reporting close to an average of 10.0L/100km.

Driving

Porsche 91110/10

The local 911 launch program took in open rural roads in McLaren Vale (south-east of Adelaide), South Australia and The Bend Motorsport Park, a slick new facility privately developed from Mitsubishi Australia’s former proving ground at Tailem Bend.

Over two days we were able to push the CS and C4S coupe as hard as we dared, and let’s get it out of the way up front, the new 911 is fast.

With the optional Sport Chrono package the roughly 1.5-tonne C4S will accelerate from 0-100kmh in just 3.4 sec. Even in its ‘slowest’ non-Chrono CS form that number only drops by three tenths.

On top of these performance figures it also manages to magic up an engine and exhaust sound that’s a beat-for-beat match for naturally aspirated 911 flat sixes of old. There’s no synthetic skulduggery here, just skilful manipulation of the exhaust system, getting a pitch-perfect amount of gas past the turbos into grateful ear drums.

The 3.0-litre flat six produces its maximum 530Nm of torque from 2300-5000rpm, with peak power (331kW) taking over at 6500rpm. The fat mid-range pushes you firmly back in your seat with a simple squeeze of the right-hand pedal, and the engine’s revvy nature makes the temptation to visit the 7500rpm rev ceiling almost irresistible.

Porsche knows its way around a dual-clutch transmission, and the new eight-speed PDK delivers rapid fire, positive shifts up and down the ratios, with the slender alloy wheel-mounted paddles adding to the immediacy and fun.

A big question is, in its creep from small and light to bigger and heavier has the 911 lost its ability to form a direct and intimate relationship with its driver. After all, thanks to added safety and performance hardware this car’s a full half tonne heavier than the ‘901’ original. The answer is an emphatic no.

The strut front, multi-link rear suspension set-up continues, with active dampers (PASM) and active anti-roll bars standard. In Comfort mode the 911 rides incredibly well, even over the coarse chip rural surfaces covered on the launch. Despite monster Goodyear Eagle F1 high-performance rubber (245/35 20 fr - 305/30 21 rr) general noise, vibration and harshness levels are impressively low.

But switch up into the more dynamic modes and you’ll really start to bond with the new 911. The slightly quicker electrically-assisted steering points beautifully, with the variable assistance ramping up in superbly linear fashion.

I remember widespread hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth when Porsche moved the 911 to electric steering. No need to have worried, road feel is even more present in this latest gen version.

Hot lapping The Bend’s 4.95km International Circuit (one of four layouts available) amplified the new car’s abilities, not to mention its ergonomic excellence.

‘Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus’ (PTV Plus) packs in an electronically regulated rear diff lock with fully variable torque distribution and the car opens up a clear conversation as the limits of adhesion arrive.

Basically, the new 911 turns go-fast wannabes into track-day super heroes, its every movement felt immediately through the fingertips and seat of the pants. Speaking of which, the standard sports front seats are brilliant, and the new design steering wheel is perfect.

It remains balanced and predictable at speeds that would have the constabulary locking the cell door and throwing away the key, steady and easily steerable with the throttle through hold-your-breath quick corners.

There's precious little difference between the CS and C4S. Yes, the AWD car grips even harder at the front end, but the rear-drive car feels lighter in the nose and that bit more responsive to steering input. Really, there's not a struck match in it. 

Then there’s the brakes, and oh how good they are. A ceramic composite brake package (complete with black calipers) is a $20,500 option. I’d advise buying a Yaris SX as a weekday runabout instead because the standard stoppers are brilliant.

Huge ventilated cast iron rotors (350mm front and rear) are clamped by red six-piston monobloc calipers at the front and four piston units at the rear. Despite lap after hot lap (tailing various tame racing drivers) the left pedal lost none its response or effectiveness. Amazing.

We also got to play with Wet Mode through a simple figure eight exercise on a soaking skid pan, and it makes a distinct difference without shutting down the fun. Yes, the throttle’s softer, but the engine still revs freely, the car remaining stable and predictable in what equated to torrential conditions.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class8/10

A reminder again, folks – Mercedes-Benz only had the CLS 450 available to drive. Okay? On with the review…

Nobody likes a traffic jam, apart from maybe taxi drivers. But sitting in a CLS deep in Melbourne’s CBD, stuck in road-work-infested roads, choked with cars going nowhere was as pleasant as the experience could be. 

Plush seats, pretty lighting, air filtered and fragranced, air suspension cushioning the patchy tarmac underneath as we wriggled our way north towards Mount Macedon and country roads.

If you read another review calling out a large degree of wind noise filtering into the cabin, they’re right and wrong. See, the weather was apocalyptic as we hit the motorway. Trees doubled over kind of windy, and sure you could hear it rushing past the windows when we were at 110km/h, but you could also hear it clearly when we were at 30km/h.

I like gadgets and so it was about 15 seconds into the motorway stint that I tested out the active cruise control, and automatic lane changing, which works near perfectly.

As the roads became more winding, I switched drive modes to 'Sport', firming up the suspension and steering, at the same time prompting the transmission to kick back into a lower gear.

This is a stable-feeling car, well balanced and effortless to steer. Smoothness is a word for everything it does, including covering the ground quickly.

While that acceleration is rapid, it’s not quite exhilarating, and the engine note under load is a little high pitched for a thug like this.

CLSs of the past were known for being a bit more aggressive and feistier, but this one seems to have mellowed in its third generation. I don’t see any issues with this. There are other angrier Benzs if that’s your thing.

Safety

Porsche 9118/10

Although the new 911 hasn’t been given a safety rating by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, you could argue its exceptional dynamic ability represents one giant, five-star safety feature. But specific active techology includes ABS, BA, forward collision warning, lane change assist, stability and traction control, and AEB (operating up to 85km/h).

You’ll also pick up a reversing camera, ‘Parking Distance Control’ (front and rear) and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

The standard ‘Wet Mode’ uses sensors in the wheel arches to pick up the sound of water splashing off the tyres. It then preconditions the brakes and other control systems as it warns the driver, who can then push a button or use the rotary dial on the steering wheel (‘Sport Chrono’ package) to change modes.

Once activated, Wet Mode connects ‘Porsche Stability Management’ (PSM), ‘Porsche Traction Management’ (PTM), the car’s adjustable aerodynamics, and the ‘Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) Plus’ system, to set the car up for best possible stability.

At 90km/h and above, the rear spoiler goes to its "maximum downforce" position, the engine cooling flaps open, the accelerator pedal response is flattened off and Sport mode can’t activated. Read all about how it feels in the ‘What’s it like to drive?’ section.

But if all that fails to side-step a crash the airbag count runs to six (dual front, dual front side and dual thorax). And both rear seat positions incorporate top tether and ISOFIX anchors for child seat/baby capsule location.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class9/10

The second generation CLS was never crash tested and this new one has yet to be as well. So, while it hasn’t been given an ANCAP star rating, given it shares so much with the five-star rated E-Class we’d expect it to score nothing less than that, too.

Along with nine airbags, ABS, and traction and stability control the level of advanced safety equipment onboard the new CLS is seriously impressive. There’s the 'Driving Assistance package Plus' which brings AEB with cross traffic function, evasive steering, blind spot warning with an active function and lane keeping assistance.

For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top ether anchor points.

Ownership

Porsche 9117/10

The 911 is covered by Porsche’s three year/unlimited km warranty, with paint covered for the same period, and a 12-year (unlimited km) anti-corrosion warranty also included. Certainly off the mainstream pace, but possibly modified by the number if kays a 911 is likely to travel over time.

Porsche Roadside Assist provides 24/7/365 coverage for the life of the warranty, and after the warranty runs out is renewed for 12 months every time the vehicle is serviced at an authorised Porsche dealer, and the main service interval is 12 months/15,000km.

No capped price servicing is available, with final costs determined at the dealer level (in line with variable labour costs by state/territory).


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class7/10

The CLS is covered by Mercedes-Benz’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12months/25,000km for the CLS 350 and CLS 450, while the CLS 53, like all AMGs needs to visit at 12month/20,000km intervals.

Mercedes-Benz says a capped price servicing plan will be available, but has yet to release the prices. We’ll update this as soon as the costs have been announced.