Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in a little opinion of mine, just because I can. This week, even more cars are being revealed the weekend before the Geneva Motor Show:
Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale gains power and two seats
An Aston Martin Rapide as a long-roof is a thing now
Volkswagen brings the GTI into the 7th generation
Toyota drops info, photos of the FT-86 Open concept
Nissan expands Nismo’s global duties, more cars on the way
Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale
If you wanted the top-of-the-line GranTurismo MC Stradale, you had to make due with only two seats rather than the four seats any other GranTurismo offers. For some it made sense that the most performance-oriented car in Maserati’s current lineup ditched the rear seats, but for others it was a drawback. Just a few days before the Geneva Motor Show, however, Maserati has announced they’re giving the 2014 MC Stradale the level of practicality that only two small back seats can provide.
In addition to the back seats, the MC Stradale will also receive a full carbon fiber hood, 20″ sport wheels, massive carbon ceramic brakes, and more carbon fiber exterior accents to let everyone know you still have Lamborghini Countach posters on your bedroom wall - not that there’s anything wrong with that. The MC Stradale will use the same 4.7-liter V8 found in every new GranTurismo, but this one has its output increased to 460 horsepower and a 6-speed automatic gearbox that provides quicker shifts. Maserati is claiming a top speed of 188 mph.
No pricing or availability info was disclosed. The current MC Stradale is a Europe-only offering but they haven’t mentioned if that will change yet.
Source: Maserati via Autoweek
Bertone’s Aston Martin Rapide
Ever wondered what an Aston Martin Rapide would look like as a long-roof? An unnamed British car collector did, too, which is why he/she tasked Italian design house Bertone with creating a one-off example for a private collection. Fortunately, that collector is letting Bertone show it off at the Geneva Motor Show first.
The long-roof-ification process has added more cargo space while keeping the back seats intact, but those seats now fold down and are covered by a sliding electronic cover to turn the whole back end of the car into a flat storage space. The car also keeps its 6.0-liter V12 and the new face revealed earlier this year, but with added intakes and flare at both ends.
Fun fact: this year is the 60 year anniversary of Bertone’s first Aston-based project(s) and guests of the Geneva Motor Show will also see an updated version of the Aston Martin Jet 2 shooting brake from 2004.
Source: Aston Martin via Autoweek
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7
Starting this May, German buyers (and eventually everyone else) will be able to order the 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk7), which returns with more power, more efficiency, and more standard features than ever before. Just like the Golf GTD we saw last week, this new GTI is based off the 7-th generation Golf currently on sale in Europe. Eventually the 7th-gen Golf and the GTI (and possibly the GTD) will make their way across the pond, but they haven’t really specified when that will happen.
Quite a lot is new for the Mk7 GTI, including the choice of two power levels for the first time ever. The GTI utilizes a 2.0-liter TSI four-banger that produces 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque in standard trim, but when you opt for the factory-installed Performance Pack, you’re given an additional 10 horsepower. That package also includes larger brakes and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential. The sub-3,000-pound hatch is driven by the front wheels and comes with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. 0-62 mph takes 6.5 seconds or 6.4 seconds with the Performance Pack while top speed is limited to 155 in both. The improved power doesn’t affect fuel efficiency the way you think it would, as it jumps up to about 37 mpg in standard trim – the Performance Pack reduces mileage by .6 mpg.
The GTI can be visually distinguished by sporty body accents all around, 17″ wheels, red brake calipers, and dual chrome exhaust tips. Inside, occupants are treated to sport bucket seats (still available in plaid), sport steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, and ambient lighting. New standard features include park assist, a touchscreen infotainment system, heated seats, and a progressive steering system, which can alter the steering input required for various situations.
Germans can pick one up this May for €28,350 ($36,855).
Toyota FT-86 Open
A while back we reported on the possibility of a drop-top Toyota GT-86 being shown at Geneva, and this week those reports turned out to be true. The FT-86 nameplate designates this car’s status as a concept car, but Toyota seems pretty serious about pushing this through to production. Presumably, we’ll be seeing this soon in Toyota (Scion for us yanks) and Subaru dealerships.
According to this design study, a production-ready GT-86 convertible would use an electronically-folding soft top to save weight and optimize trunk space. The brilliant white body is contrasted by the navy blue soft-top and that color theme continues inside along with yellow stitching and floor mats. As we all know, when you cut off the roof of a car, it can suffer from a lack of rigidity which can kill the balance and fun of a car. Toyota realizes that is the last thing GT-86 want, so they made it clear they’re still evaluating the car’s stiffness and will continue to improve it until the engineers decide it’s ready for production.
Nissan expanding Nismo division
This past week, Nissan announced their plans to expand the role of Nismo as an exclusive global performance road car and motorsport brand. With the opening of a new global headquarters and development center in Yokohama, Japan, Nismo is gearing up to enhance more Nissan road cars than ever before, starting with “at least” one new performance-oriented Nismo model per year for a certain period of time. They ultimately plan to have a Nismo product for every car in the Nissan lineup, including the GT-R.
They’ve already got a head start with the Juke Nismo, which is already on sale in Japan and Europe and will launch in the U.S. later this month. They’ll also be at the Geneva Motor Show with a new 370Z Nismo for European markets similar to the one revealed in Chicago last month (pictured). Nismo will also assume full responsibility of Nissan’s global motorsports program.