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:
The Bentley Continental Supersports returns faster than ever
Faraday Future finally reveals a car they *want* to produce, the FF 91
Subaru updates the 2018 WRX and WRX STI with an all-new car still a few years out
Chrysler says “how do you do, fellow kids?” with the Portal Concept
Ford confirms eight new hybrids/EVs by 2021, including hybrid Mustang, and cancels Mexico plant
McLaren confirms 650S replacement is coming to Geneva this year
What’s your automotive news?
Bentley Continental Supersports
We’re kicking things off this year properly by talking about the fastest new car of the year thus far. It’s the new Bentley Continental Supersports, a super high performance model that hasn’t been seen since the last generation Continental was replaced a few years ago. But it’s returning this year with more power than any production Bentley before it.
As with all Supersports before it, this big and luxurious grand tourer is defined by its massive power and the brutal speeds it can achieve. Power comes from a six-liter twin-turbocharged W12 with port injection, redesigned turbos, new charge-air cooling, and an updated cranktrain for a total of 700 horserpower and 750 lb.-ft. of torque. A ZF eight-speed automatic with paddles sends that force to Bentley’s rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. That all translates into a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 209 mph, which is apparently good enough to make it the fastest four-seat luxury car in the world.
Keeping in mind that this is literally a 5,000 pound car that can go over 200 mph, Bentley also threw on massive Carbon Silicone Carbide, cross drilled brake discs that measure 16.5″ front and 14″ rear. Also helping to ensure this mass goes where you want it to go, they’ve borrowed the torque vectoring system from the old Continental GT3 R and further enhanced it for the Supersports. It also rides on a lower and stiffer dynamic suspension to improve body control while still maintaining ride quality fit for a Bentley.
Because the Supersports can never look like any other old Bentley, they’ve added new front and rear bumper designs with a carbon fiber splitter and diffuser, respectively. It also gets new 21″ forged alloy wheels in two finishes, bonnet vents and side sill extensions in carbon fiber, gloss black front wing vents, and a rifled tailpipe design also in gloss black. There’s also a new rear spoiler, a more aggressive front splitter, and titanium exhaust as optional extras. There’s even an option for a carbon fiber engine cover, just in case you wanted to burn a few thousand dollars to save a couple more pounds on your 5,000-pound car.
The interior on the new Supersports looks similar enough to other new Continentals, but it is the only one offered with tri-tone leather and Alcantara upholstery and chequered carbon fiber fascia panels. The seats also look more plush and comfy as you’d expect from a Bentley compared to the carbon fiber-backed buckets that were in the old car. I guess they realized nobody was taking these to the track.
The Bentley Continental Supersports is available as both a hard top coupe and a convertible. Pricing isn’t available yet, like anyone cares.
Faraday Future FF 91
And now for something more practical, less noisy, and less confidence inspiring. Faraday Future, one of the dozen or so new car company startups that want to beat Tesla and be loved by millennials and stuff, finally revealed a
car mobility solution they actually intend to produce. In a long and boring press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that I tried to watch before ultimately getting bored and playing Titanfall 2 instead, Faraday Future told us they were serious, ignored their financial trouble over their first factory, and showed us their vision for the future.
It’s called the FF 91 (FF “nine one”) and it’s “a new species” designed to be electric, forward-thinking, and highly personalized. Whatever this “new species” is, it’s an interesting combination of spaciousness (courtesy of a big minivan-like shell), impressive performance, world-beating EV capabilities, and connectivity that makes this unlike any other mobility solution that might go on sale. Faraday Future hasn’t given us very many reasons to trust them lately, so grains of salt (or a one pound salt lick) for this next section.
The car they showed us has a 130kWh battery paired up with three individual motors (two at each rear wheel, one up front) producing a claimed 1,050 horsepower and 1,328 lb.-ft. of torque. 0-60 mph happens in 2.39 seconds. What happens after 60 mph is anyone’s guess.
But perhaps the most important thing in any EV is its range and charging times. Faraday Future says the FF 91 has an EPA-estimated 378 mile range under normal driving conditions. They also say the range goes up to around 480 miles if you’re just cruising at a steady 55 mph. As of now, no other EV currently on sale has those kinds of stats, but that’ll probably change pretty soon. They also claim to have the fastest charging rates anywhere with up to 500 miles of range per hour of charging, but the included home charger works at a rate of 50% charge in 4.5 hours on a 240V outlet.
As for the actual driving/riding experience, they promise world-class comfort for the passengers in the back at least. People lucky enough to ride back there have reclining seats that put you in the biomechanically and ergonomically optimal seating position for comfort. They’re also heated, cooled, and massaging. No word on what the front seats have… they’re probably lawn chairs for all we know. The panoramic roof and all the rear and side windows have PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) glass that can provide instant tinting and privacy with a tap on the glass.
They want the FF 91 to be the smartest, most connected mobility solution in the world and they had some interesting ideas on how to achieve that…
Through its strategic partnership with LeEco, a global Internet company that seamlessly blends devices, content, applications and distribution into a first-of-its kind ecosystem, FF 91 offers the ultimate in-car connectivity. FF EcoSystem integrates users’ digital lives into FF 91, giving access to the apps and content, while learning user’s preferences over time to create a smarter, more personalized experience.
Integrating digital lives into a car doesn’t sound that pleasant, unless you like being Rick Rolled on your way to work. But on a serious note, you have to create an FFID user profile to unlock all the features of this thing. It keeps track of your favorite music, preferred temperatures, driving behaviors, etc. to create a seamless user experience across all other mythical Faraday Future products in the future, and it knows who you are through facial recognition. If you ever wanted to unlock a car with your face, here you go.
Ultimately, they want this to be fully autonomous and have laid the foundation with a huge array of sensors and cameras. It features retractable 3D lidar, ten HD cameras, thirteen long and short range radars, and twelve ultrasonic sensors. The only autonomous feature they showed was Driverless Valet, a feature that allows for the FF 91 to find a spot, park itself, and then come back to you when you’re ready to go. They tried demonstrating this twice: the first time it worked, albeit really slowly, and the second time it wouldn’t move at all.
It’s an interesting car full of promise from a company that has been making a lot of other promises, but if you want in, they’re taking reservations now. It’s free to register your interest, but I’d imagine at some point they’ll ask for a deposit so they can afford to build the factory for these things. They say the FF 91 will enter production in 2018… we’ll see.
[Source: Faraday Future, Autoweek]
2018 Subaru WRX and WRX STI
A fully redesigned and reengineered WRX is still a few years out, but Subaru is steadily making improvements to the existing platform to hold us over. The 2018 WRX and WRX STI will reach dealers this spring with a variety of performance, comfort, design, and safety enhancements.
A few of those updates are shared between both models, including the restyled front fascia which promotes a sportier attitude with a more pronounced grille and a larger lower grille opening. It also has redesigned steering responsive LED headlamps for enhanced nighttime visibility (WRX Limited and STI only) and roof rack mounting brackets for drivers with active lifestyles (or those who pretend to have one).
The WRX gets an updated suspension setup that allows for better handling characteristics while also promoting a more comfortable ride. When ordered with the standard six-speed manual, drivers should notice a significantly enhanced shifter feel thanks to a new synchro design and reduced friction along with smoother clutch take-up. The electric power steering system it uses has also been reworked to provide a more natural feel. The EPS unit itself has even been made lighter.
The WRX also has a new optional Performance Package for the WRX Premium (pictured above). It features Recaro 8-way power seats, red-painted brake calipers and upgraded JURID brake pads, eighteen-inch double-spoke wheels, and it deletes the moonroof to reduce weight.
The WRX STI gets even more updates of its own to further capitalize on the improved foundation it’s built upon. It too features updated suspension but it also runs with a revised DCCD AWD system that offers quicker and smoother responses. Additionally, it boasts more stopping power thanks to its significantly upgraded Brembo Performance Brake System with stronger monoblock six-piston calipers up front (which are painted green now, presumably to match the driver’s vape juice), monoblock two-piston calipers out back, and larger, drilled rotors all around for better heat dissipation. It stops harder, has better brake feel, and fades less. Basically, they made it faster without adding any power. It also has a new multi-spoke wheel design which I think looks quite good.
Lots of attention was given to the interior on both models where upgraded cabin materials, redesigned interior door grips, cup holders in the rear seat armrest, faster remote trunk opening, and a quieter cabin aim to make it easier to live with every day. The center multi-function display is now on a clearer 5.9″ screen as standard while the optional Starlink multimedia unit on WRX Premium models grows to 7 inches.
Subaru also revised the front structure of both models for enhanced frontal collision performance. On the WRX Limited, their driver assistance tech package now features automatic vehicle hill hold and an EyeSight Assist Monitor which projects alerts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road without missing any important info from the car.
So it’s not the completely redesigned WRX with that long-awaited new engine the internet was hoping for, but it’s still a WRX with lots of improvements made elsewhere. This should be enough to hold us over for a while.
No pricing info was released.
Chrysler Portal Concept
Chrysler was at CES to debut a futuristic concept of their own. It’s called the Portal and they opened the press conference with the tagline “created by millennials for millennials”. As a millennial, I hate this thing and the people it was designed for already.
Buzzwords aside, the Portal Concept is another minivan-like EV that features loads of integrated tech to keep everyone inside connected and is intended to be autonomous. It has a 100kWh battery which is good for 250 miles of driving range and a DC Fast Charge function that can draw enough power to go another 150 miles in less than 2o minutes. There’s no word on how much power or torque is expected to reach the front wheels because millennials don’t care about that.
And because millennials don’t care about driving, the steering wheel can be collapsed to give control to the Portal’s SAE Level Three semi-autonomous systems, which owners will assume means it’s fully autonomous and can do everything on its own without help. Chrysler says it can be upgraded to a Level Four, fully autonomous system in the future.
They say the portal was designed from the inside out, so the cabin is open, serene, and serves as a “third space” that provides an alternate environment between work and home. Six seats are mounted on tracks embedded in the floor to allow them to move the length of the vehicle or be removed out the rear completely. And if the seats are too far apart, there’s an in-car intercom system so nobody has to raise their voice to talk to each other.
Should passengers become bored of the other people in the car, they offer seamless integration with compatible user devices, up to eight docking stations for charging, and an array of screens that can be moved around the cabin for people to zone out with. Like the FF 91, it uses facial recognition to enhance the cabin experience to your personal tastes. It’s part convenient but mostly creepy. But one neat feature that every car could use is Personal Zoned Audio which enhances the sound and directionality of approaching emergency vehicles.
So to sum this up, it’s a futuristic, semi-autonomous, sort of ugly minivan thing with lots of neat tech that allows you to unlock it with your nose and ignore all the people around you while trying [probably too hard] to be a millennial’s wet dream. They’ve not talked about production plans for this car yet, but I can almost guarantee that they’ll bring something similar to market in the coming years. Until then, I’m sorry that my generation is being used to make cars lame.
This week, Ford confirmed seven of their thirteen planned global electrified vehicles coming in the next five years. The new electrified vehicles are as follows: a new fully electric SUV with at least 300 miles of range, a high-volume hybrid autonomous vehicle designed for ride hailing/sharing, a hybrid F-150, a hybrid Mustang, a Transit Connect plug-in hybrid, and two new pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles. Helping to make all this possible is a $700 million investment to expand Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan that will directly add another 700 jobs. Interestingly, that $700 million came from the $1.6 billion they were planning on investing in a new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico before they cancelled it in this same announcement. As I learn more about each of these new EVs and hybrids due before 2021, I’ll be sure to fill you in.
McLaren will be bringing the newest Super Series car to the Geneva Motor Show this March – here is its carbon fiber Monocage II body structure. This new central body structure will serve as the foundation for the 650S replacement, allegedly known internally as the P14. It’s stronger than the last generation’s core and is light enough to translate to a final curb weight of about 2,829 pounds, making the new car the lightest in its class. The next Super Series should be spectacular and I’ll be bringing you more in the Geneva Motor Show recap.
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]