When is a “spy shot” not a “spy shot”?
Because you’re reading Wheels.ca, you probably want to know about the latest and greatest in the car world, right? Keep track of what’s not only new today, but what’s coming down the pipe as well. It’s the reason why publications will pay big money for so-called “spy shots” of yet-to-be-released models, usually nabbed in “secret” testing facilities or far-off, remote places on the globe. But some automakers have taken it upon themselves to turn the tables on the spies themselves. The latest is Mercedes-Benz, which recently released its own “spy shots” of a refreshed SLK being “tested” in Death Valley (above left), due in showrooms some time in 2011 as a 2012 model.
Why would Mercedes—and other automakers—do this? Doesn’t it want to keep its car under wraps until its debut, rumoured to be at next Spring's Geneva show? Well, that depends…
On a car like the SLK, that was really “all-new” four years ago, it’s a known entity. Slated for a mid-cycle refresh, with the usual exterior and interior upgrades, the new version isn't planned to be all that groundbreaking.
In fact, these most recent corporate “spy shots” were released primarily to promote the SLK’s only “new” feature (right), an all-glass insert in its retractable hardtop that can be made either transparent or darkened. In fact, media like myself were given a demo of the technology at the recent post-Paris auto show launch of the 2012 ‘Benz CLS.
My guess is, these first SLK “spy shots” are just the beginning of what will more than likely is a half-year striptease of the new raodster. Next will be images of the car wrapped in the obligatory camo-wrap, free of the fake body panels seen in this iteration. Then there will be the mysterious “spy video” of the two-seater (probably the AMG version) hurtling around Germany’s Nürburgring racetrack. Finally, we’ll see a so-called SLK Vision “concept” at an auto show, essentially the production car itself, save for some fancy wheels, paint and bodywork.
What do you think?
Do you see any value in these corporately contrived “spy” images?
Or do you snub your nose these types of corporate releases, knowing they are just another piece of the company’s marketing campaign?