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:
Ford reveals lighter GT Competition Series for track day enthusiasts
The Ford Fiesta ST has a three-cylinder engine and a new look
Italdesign is in the business of building exclusive supercars
Volkswagen updates the e-Golf and improves its driving range
Carlos Ghosn steps down as Nissan CEO, will remain as an overseer
Land Rover confirms new Velar model coming to the Range Rover family
Jaguar-Land Rover adds three US tech startups to their tech incubator program
What’s your automotive news?
Ford GT Competition Series
Everybody knows that the new Ford GT is designed to dominate the world’s greatest race tracks, but sadly everyone also knows the exclusive near-half-million-dollar supercar won’t see nearly as much track time as it was developed for. With the Ford GT Competition Series that was just unveiled, owners won’t really have an excuse for skipping those anymore.
The GT in Competition Series spec takes a less is more approach to creating an even more track-focused car. It doesn’t rely on more power or a higher wing to make it faster; it relies only on added lightness through new materials and fewer accessories.
At the back is a Perspex acrylic engine hatch cover with a manual latch and carbon fiber prop rod and the bulkhead behind the driver is now a Gorilla Glass panel that’s about half as thick and much lighter than on other models. The carbon fiber wheels and titanium lug nuts that were options on the normal GT are standard equipment here.
Even in standard trim, the GT is already a relatively light car at just over 3,000 pounds, so the only other way to reduce weight even further is to take out whatever isn’t related to making it go fast. That means the radio and speakers, air conditioning, storage bins, and cup holders are deleted.
Helping it look more like a track day weapon is a single “lightweight” gloss carbon fiber stripe plus carbon fiber mirror caps and A-pillars. Additionally, the standard carbon fiber lower body trim is unpainted in Competition spec.
Inside it’s still all business with only the essential driver controls remaining. Ebony Alcantara suede is used on the seats, instrument panel, and headliner. More exposed carbon fiber on the center console, registers, and door sills plus anodized red paddle shifters give it a pretty sinister look.
As of now we don’t know how well these weight-saving measures paid off, but it should go far to help an already light car become even more so – only at the cost of being miserable if you live anywhere besides California.
If you happen to be at the Daytona 500 this weekend, you can see it in person just outside turn one. Everybody else can head to FordGT.com and play with the updated and probably broken car configurator [the Competition Series is available in six colors but the configurator won’t let you change it].
Ford Fiesta ST (Euro spec)
Months after Ford revealed the all-new Fiesta lineup as it will soon appear in European and maybe American showrooms, they finally introduced the updated ST as well. It comes with the same new look, added refinement, and slightly larger dimensions but with an all-new engine and its own performance-enhancing upgrades. The Fiesta ST that we’ll see on the other side of the Atlantic should be similar.
Power comes from an all-new three-cylinder, 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine – it sounds like a downgrade from the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the previous car, but it produces the same horsepower (197) and more torque (214 lb.-ft.) while also being more efficient. Turbocharging, high-pressure fuel injection, and twin-independent variable cam timing are some of the features responsible for allowing it to match and exceed a bigger engine’s output.
They anticipate a 6.7-second 0-62 time (it’s 7 seconds now) and C02 emissions as low as 114 g/km thanks to cylinder deactivation. At the moment, the new Fiesta’s three-cylinder engines are the only of its kind to feature cylinder deactivation. It’s also the first three-cylinder Ford Performance model and it’s also the first Fiesta to have selectable drive modes which optimizes engine, steering, and stability control for different conditions. Ford Performance-tuned suspension and an upgraded torque vectoring system are of course included.
In Europe, the Fiesta ST will be available as a three-door and five-door hatchback. When it eventually does come to the states, don’t hold your breath for a three-door model. They’ll show us our new Fiesta soon-ish.
[Source: Ford Europe]
Italdesign Automobili Speciali
One of Italy’s most well-known design and engineering firms is creating a new division for the purpose of building their own supercars in very limited numbers. The first car they showed off here doesn’t even have a name yet, but they’re planning on building just five of these with prices starting well over $1.5 million. Just because.
Since Italdesign was recently acquired by VW, they made good use of the best engine available to them for this car. It runs with the same 5.2-liter V10 used in the R8 V10 Plus but there’s no word on what gearbox it uses or how many wheels it sends power to. It’s all good enough to run a claimed 3.2-second 0-60 mph time and exceed 205 mph.
This nameless supercar will be seen for the first time in person at the Geneva Motor Show and all five examples are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Once that’s done, expect to see another series within two years and another two years after. Italdesign’s plan calls for new limited models (with no more than nine of each built) every 18-24 months targeted primarily to collectors.
Along the way there could also be slightly less exclusive models limited to 99 units each that could be sold with other VW Group badges, as their partnership allows for. So we could theoretically see a limited run Lamborghini or Audi supercar that’s designed, built, and engineered by Italdesign. At least one Italian design firm is doing well.
[Source: Italdesign Automobili Speciali via Autoweek]
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf
And now for something completely different. Volkswagen announced an updated all-electric e-Golf available from this Spring with improved driving range and faster charging.
VW is using a new lithium-ion battery with a 35.8 kWh capacity (compared to 24.2 kWh on the current car) in the new e-Golf which helps bring up the total driving range to 125 miles per charge. The current e-Golf can only go 83 miles, so this is a good improvement.
A new 100kW electric motor also provides more power and a higher top speed. That brings 134 horsepower, 214 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 93 mph top speed to the new e-Golf. 0-60 mph is run in a blistering 9.6 seconds now as well.
Additionally, the 7.2 kW onboard charger is now standard on SE and SEL Premium trims, enabling charging in as little as six hours from a 240V charging station. When equipped with an optional DC Fast Charging feature, it can charge up to 80% capacity within an hour. Assuming charging costs of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour, the EPA has estimated an annual fuel cost of $550.
So if you were in the market for a new electric compact ideal for commuting but wanted more than what the old e-Golf offered, here you go. But if you can make do with an 83 mile range and longer charging times, you can pick up a 2016 e-Golf for stupid cheap right now.
Carlos Ghosn has stepped down as Nissan Motor Company’s CEO. His replacement was confirmed to be Hiroto Saikawa who was already a co-CEO with Ghosn. He isn’t totally gone though and will still play a huge role in the company he helped save. A statement from Ghosn explained that he “will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance”. We can expect Ghosn to devote more time and energy into Mitsubishi in particular because they’re the ones who need saving the most right now. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is now the fourth largest of its kind, so Ghosn and others will have strong support as they try to make Mitsubishi suck less.
[Source: Automotive News]
Land Rover has confirmed with a teaser image that a new model is coming. The Range Rover Velar will fill the gap between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport and we’ll get to see the whole thing at the New York International Auto Show on March 1st. Land Rover Chief Design Officer, Gerry McGovern, said: “We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover. It brings a new dimension of glamour, modernity and elegance to the brand. The Range Rover Velar changes everything.” Sounds interesting to me. And the name Velar is derived from the original Range Rover prototypes of 1969. More as we get it…
[Source: Land Rover]
Land Rover announced three tech startups will be joining their Tech Incubator program this year. The relatively new program seeks to encourage, promote, and support new automotive, mobility, and connected car technologies being developed by U.S. startups, of which there are plenty. Each quarter, three new startups are hosted for a six-month period and are generously provided resources to further develop their tech and adapt it for real world use within the industry, and maybe even within Jaguar-Land Rover. The three companies just added to the program are HAAS Alert, Mycroft, and OpConnect.
HAAS Alert is a platform for connected cars and “smart” cities which allows first responders and other city services to send alerts to nearby drivers and reroute navigation systems as needed. Mycroft is AI hardware that uses open source software to can recognize natural language and respond to voice commands. Finally, OpConnect sells and operates EV charging stations – fitting given the recent I-Pace announcement. It’ll be interesting to see what these three startups can accomplish with Jaguar-Land Rover’s support – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see their tech/services integrate with a future Jag/Rover lineup. If you or someone you know runs an American tech startup, you’re/they’re encouraged to apply at www.f6s.com/jlrtechincubator for a spot on the next cohort.
[Source: Jaguar-Land Rover]
stories story from the week
We’re now trying to cover big stories throughout the week as they happen, but things were a bit hectic this week for me and others were busy. So the only other big story to catch up on is Aston Martin’s Red Bull Racing Edition Vantages designed to celebrate their innovation partnership with Red Bull Racing. It’s an expensive expression for the ultimate F1 fan. Read all about it right here.
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 © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]