Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
All-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger confirmed
New Opel Insignia/Holden Commodore revealed and are 100% identical
Audi launches first vehicle traffic light information system in Las Vegas
500th LaFerrari raises $7 million for Italian earthquake victims
Alfa Romeo confirms US pricing for the new Giulia
Lexus teases all-new LS ahead of Detroit reveal
Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing continue their partnership as AM-RB 001s sell out
What’s your automotive news?
Dodge Challenger GT
There’s a new Challenger model launching this winter and it’s the model best-equipped to deal with the conditions it’s launching into. The rumors were true… Dodge is selling an all-wheel-drive Challenger.
It’s called the Challenger GT and FCA calls it the “World’s First and Only All-wheel-drive American Muscle Coupe“. That’s a potentially controversial claim for two reasons. Firstly, the Ferguson Mustang did all-wheel drive in 1965, though granted it was a prototype limited to handful of units. Secondly, the Challenger GT is only available with a V6 and an automatic gearbox. I mean, it looks like a muscle car and goes quicker than most of its predecessors, but I can’t imagine many people on the internets are going to call a V6 auto a “muscle car”.
But internet speak aside, Dodge is trying to sell this as a Challenger you can use year round no matter where you live, whether it be up north, out in the mountains, or someplace where it sometimes rains. It uses the same all-wheel-drive system found in the Charger AWD model and features an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect to aid with fuel efficiency when the conditions are right. Dodge says the transition between 100% RWD and AWD happens seamlessly without driver interaction. Along with the mechanical grip that the AWD system brings, Dodge has also added a new Vehicle Dynamic Control system which works alongside the normal stability control system to further assist on slippery surfaces.
Because it would probably be hard to manage 707 horsepower on snow, AWD is only available with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 286 lb.-ft. of torque and the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic gearbox. I’d like to think they would consider a V8 option at some point, as I’m sure most of the MOPAR fans would, but this is what we get for now.
It gets other equipment like nineteen-inch aluminum wheels with Hyper Black finish and P235/55R19 BSW all-season performance tires, projector fog lamps, a deck-lid rear spoiler, rear park assist, and the government-mandated backup camera. Inside it has standard Nappa leather with heated and ventilated front seats, an 8.4″ Uconnect touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six Alpine speakers with a 276-watt amplifier. You can also opt for the GT Interior Package which adds performance Nappa leather seats with Alcantara inserts (available on the V6 for the first time) and three more Alpine speakers with some more wattage for $995.
Dodge’s commuter-friendly Challenger GT is scheduled to enter production next January and will go on sale Q1 2017 with prices starting at $33,395.
Opel Insignia/Holden Commodore
Some of GM’s international brands made some big news this week by revealing a new platform that will soon be badge engineered around the world. It was revealed nearly simultaneously as an Opel Insignia in Europe and a Holden Commodore in Australia, two virtually identical midsize sedans that share a platform with the Chevrolet Malibu. We’re very likely to see this design pop up in Chevrolet or maybe even Buick dealers in the near future.
They both look pretty nice but they are nearly 100% identical. The grille badge and the paint are the only things different about those two cars above. You thought I was joking about them being badge engineered, but nope, not with these two. The last Commodores had so much personality about them, but that’s all been replaced by a new corporate standard. They’ve replaced Shirtless Thursdays with business casual. It’s a good-looking standard, but it’s still a standard. The interior does go a bit more upscale for the better though. Both cars have a much more elegant space with new infotainment options that include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto over a frameless touchscreen. The only major difference between the two is one has the wheel on the wrong side.
The Insignia will be fully revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next year so we should know more about the Holden by then too, and maybe a US counterpart while they’re at it. Holden did announce its powertrain, and it’s not good news for hoons down under. The car that was once a V8-powered, RWD enthusiast’s dream is now powered by GM’s turbocharged four-cylinder or a V6 paired with FWD and AWD drivetrains, respectively. Not exactly what I call inspirational or fun, but it’ll be enough to get the job done… and that’s really it. This isn’t to say there will never be another performance version, but it’s not likely we’ll ever see a true HSV variant again. To our friends down under… hang in there. And buy used if you want to have fun.
[Source: Holden, Opel via Autoweek]
Audi launches Traffic Light Information in Las Vegas
Audi has launched the first ever Vehicle-to-Infrastructure technology in the US this week with the debut of the Traffic Light Information system. Available on select Audi A4, Q7, and Allroad models manufactured after June 1st, 2016 and in Las Vegas only (for now), this system allows for the city’s traffic light management system to communicate with these cars through an on-board 4G LTE data connection.
As of now, the only bit of info this gives the drivers is the time remaining until the light in front of them turns green, visible from a the instrument cluster or a heads up display if equipped. More features are on the way, including vehicle start/stop integration (where the engine automatically shuts off at a red light and turns on just before it goes green), optimized routing with the navigation system based on the traffic signals, and predictive services such as presenting the driver with a speed recommendation designed to maximize the number of green lights one can make in sequence.
This is technology that could very well be key to a future where shitty drivers aren’t allowed to take control of a car, especially when they eventually share this with other manufacturers to improve city traffic patterns.
Ferrari just auctioned off their 500th LaFerrari for $7 million. The auction took place at last weekend’s Finali Mondiali event in Daytona (which you can read about here), and as previously reported, benefifts Italian earthquake victims. Ferrari only intended to build 499 of the hard top hypercar, but they happily added a 500th for the sole purpose of attracting a huge bid for a great cause. It certainly worked. The 500th car has a special plaque in the cabin, a white “dream line” that accents the exterior, and a small Italian tricolore on the hood and rear window.
[Source: Ferrari via Autoweek]
Alfa Romeo has confirmed US pricing for the 2017 Giulia range. The cheapest way to get in the newest Italian sedan is to go for the base Giulia with a 2.0-liter turbo four with 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque for $37,995. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, it’s no slouch even as a base model. $39,995 gets you the Giulia Ti which shares the same drivetrain with the base car but gets loads of other premium features included. Then there’s the big one – the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The fastest Alfa Romeo sedan ever, the one with the 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 and 505 horsepower, starts at $72,000. That puts it in an interesting spot; it’s ~$10K more expensive than the BMW M3 it gets compared against a lot and is within a few hundred bucks of the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, which also has about the same power. Buyers in that segment are about to have a really tough choice to make. Woe is them.
Lexus is bringing the all-new LS to Detroit, 28 years after the original LS 400 debuted at NAIAS and gave birth to the brand. The fifth-generation LS is teased by this sort of cutaway image which tells us two things: the spindle grille remains and [BREAKSCLUSIVE] it has a suspension. You heard it here first. Whatever they end up with, it’ll be the flagship Lexus sedan for 90 countries. The only thing they mentioned about the styling is that it’ll have a coupe-like silhouette (which only means the rear seat headroom will suck). When the full car is revealed in Detroit next month, I’ll be sure to bring you more on it.
As Aston Marin and Red Bull Racing confirm their ongoing partnership for 2017, they’ve also announced the AM-RB 001 are all sold out. They planned 150 of these future hypercars and so far we only have the concept they revealed earlier in the year and some absolutely ridiculous numbers to go by, but those 150 people are sure to have one stellar machine when it eventually launches. In the meantime, Red Bull’s F1 cars will continue to wear the Aston Martin wings as they continue their technical partnership, sharing innovative ideas, and building brand awareness throughout the world. If they can produce something as epic as that first concept they showed us, they’ll have all the brand awareness they could ever ask for.
[Source: Aston Martin]
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.
[Image © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]