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The News for March 3rd, 2017

Greg Kachadurian March 3, 2017 The News! 25 Comments

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:

  • Land Rover debuts new Velar to expand Range Rover line

  • Chevrolet combines ZL1 and 1LE for a world-beating Camaro

  • Infiniti teases an ERS-equipped Q60

  • Porsche is bringing a new two-seater to Geneva next week

  • Lamborghini smashes ‘Ring record with upcoming Huracan [update: maybe?]

  • [UPDATE] RUF is bringing a completely in-house supercar to Geneva

  • Other stories from the week

  • What’s your automotive news?

Range Rover Velar

This week, Land Rover introduced one of their most anticipated new models – the Range Rover Velar. Fitting in between the RR Evoque and RR Sport, the all-new mid-size SUV will aim to offer luxury, refinement, technology, and all-terrain capability as it’s never been seen before in the segment as only Land Rover can do.

The Velar is a new creation from the ground up which was built using Land Rover’s Lightweight Aluminum Architecture and designed around “reductionism” inside and out – in English, you could say it’s a design that’s pure and not exaggerated in any way. The final product is instantly recognizable as a modern Range Rover with its floating, horizontal feature lines, floating roof line, and continuous waistline. On a finer level, the LED headlights are the most slender to ever appear on a production Land Rover and it utilizes flush deployable door handles to help give it the lowest drag coefficient of the bunch.

Its interior was designed to be a sort of calming sanctuary with generous space, fine materials, and more of that #reductionism in its design. There’s not a whole lot to really distinguish it from any other Range Rover’s interior, but one interesting fact is that they’d likely encourage you to opt for the more sustainable premium textile seat materials over the leather. The Dapple Grey woolen upholstery material pictured above was developed together with Kvadrat, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of high-quality design textiles.

Now what’s a Range Rover without loads of tech crammed into it? Not a Range Rover. Fortunately, the Velar has a new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two ten-inch touchscreens that de-clutter the dash. Electronics that can save a life include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue-Assist, and an Adaptive Speed Limiter.

As for the more important hardware, it’ll be available with a variety of gas, diesel, four-cylinder, and six-cylinder models around the world. The base engine is a gas-powered Ingenium 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 247 horsepower while its diesel counterpart produces 317 lb.-ft. of torque. The range-topping engine is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 which pumps out 380 horsepower and enables a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds. All Velars are equipped with a ZF eight-speed automatic and their signature all-wheel drive as standard.

V6 models come standard with an air ride suspension that’s also optional on four-cylinder Velars. When equipped, it can provide up to 9.88 inches of ground clearance and a wading depth of 25.59 inches as opposed to 8.38 inches and 23.62 inches, respectively with standard coil springs. Land Rover’s standard issue Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control driver aid systems are also present. So if you feel like getting your 22″ split-spoke wheels with their diamond-turned finish a little dirty, it’ll be very easy to do.

The Range Rover Velar can partake in various off-roader-like activities, such as driving up a dusty hill.

US pricing for the Velar starts at $49,900 for the 2.0T gas and goes waaay up from there. The diesel will be available in the US but not on the most basic sub-50K trim level; the cheapest way to get a diesel Velar is to shell out $56,200. The supercharged V6 models start at $64,200. With all the options and packages they have available, this is easily an $80,000 mid-size SUV. It’ll arrive at US retailers by the end of the year.

[Source: Land Rover]

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

With the groundbreaking sixth-generation Camaro, Chevrolet has effectively turned the 1LE name into an all-conquering, track-oriented performance package. The gen-5 Camaros were separated into their own performance trims, starting with 1LE, then ZL1, and finally Z/28 with each getting faster and more hardcore. But because rules are for pansies, they’ve now decided to combine those performance packages to elevate the Camaro to new heights. Say hello to the Camaro ZL1 1LE. It has more characters after Camaro now so it’s better.

This is perhaps the best Camaro for track days until the Z/28 comes out. It’s a ZL1, which was already fast, made much faster. It keeps its 650-horsepower supercharged LT4 V8, the six-speed manual with rev match, Brembo brakes, and even its air conditioning and heated seats. But it gains more aggressive aero, adjustable suspension, sticker tires, and still loses weight with the addition of the 1LE package.

The most noticeable upgrades are the carbon fiber rear wing, specific air deflectors, and front dive planes. None of that is there for show.

It also makes use of Chevy’s new favorite suspension tech, Multimatic’s racing-derived Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers front and rear for exceptional control. The ride height is adjustable up front as are the front camber plates and rear stabilizer bar. These are all designed to be quickly tweaked at the track just before your session and before hitting the road for home.

Unique to the ZL1 1LE are new lightweight forged aluminum wheels that are an inch wider but an inch smaller than standard ZL1 wheels all around. Those are wrapped in exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires that were designed specifically for the car. It can deliver lateral grip up to 1.10g, it warms up more quickly, and is designed to be more consistent as you turn laps. The entire wheel and tire package saves 1.5 pounds of weight at each corner despite the footprint growing by 10%.

Finally, they’ve figured out how to cut weight without getting rid of AC and anything that makes you comfortable. The aforementioned wheels and dampers cut a decent bit of weight from the standard ZL1, but they went a bit further by running with a thinner rear glass and a fixed-back rear seat. That all cuts about 60 pounds out of the car. And did I mention you get to keep the AC and Bose sound system at no additional charge?

The ZL1 1LE will go on sale later this year but pricing hasn’t been announced yet. I’m sure the MSRP won’t matter regardless because of “Market Value Adjustment” over the next year.

[Source: Chevrolet]

Infiniti Project Black S

Infiniti saw how much fun Aston Martin were having with their old BFFs, Red Bull F1, and decided to follow up with a collaboration of their own. They’ve been partnered with the RenaultSport F1 team since 2016 (which makes more sense given the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and all) and are showing off their first big collaboration together at the Geneva Motor Show.

It’s called Project Black S and to put it lightly, it’s a radical interpretation of the Q60 coupe. Its SEMA-worthy aero kit isn’t even the highlight of this car. The car’s centerpiece is the thing you can’t see: KERS.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System that was pioneered on modern F1 cars has been adapted for road use within this one-off Q60 (probably), although they dropped the word Kinetic in the press materials so it may work a bit differently. KERS implies energy recovery through braking, but ERS might imply energy recovery through other means. Sadly, that still won’t fix their terrible electric power steering.

However their fancy “Energy Recovery System” works, they say it’s a system that doesn’t yet exist in a road car. KERS literally exists in several road cars already. As one of our motorsports gurus pointed out, it might be using a turbocharger-driven ERS instead, which really would be a first. Further clarification will likely be given next week at Geneva but I’ll update this post if they’re willing to clarify ahead of time for me.

Regardless, they’ll use this interesting concept to gauge public interest in possible high-performance Infinitis in the future. So if you’re in Geneva next week, go and be interested in it.

[Source: Infiniti]

BLIPS

Porsche will unveil a “motorsport-derived” two-seater at Geneva next week. As reported on by that one guy with all the ruined Porsches on The Drive, the mysterious new model will offer an “intensive connection between everyday driving and the racetrack”. It could be a Cayman GT4 RS, a new 718 RS Spyder, or a Cayenne GT3 RS. We’ll definitely keep you in the loop with this one. In the meantime, check out Brad’s expert analysis on what it could be.

[Source: The Drive]

Another day, another Nürburgring track record. This time it’s the coveted production car that was seemingly smashed by a new Lamborghini of all things. The upcoming, still camouflaged Huracan Peformante ran the ‘ring in 6:52 to beat the reigning champ, the Porsche 918 Spyder, by several seconds. It’s a stunning flying lap set by company test driver, Marco Mapelli, that’s worth checking out.

[UPDATE: After you watch the video (or not), also check out some compelling arguments about how this could be an exaggerated result. BridgeToGantry.com and Misha Charoudin on YouTube have arguments for how this just doesn’t add up. Grab the popcorn and read/watch.]

RUF will be bringing their first ever road car that was designed, engineered, and manufactured in-house to Geneva next week. They’ve been famous for taking in factory-fresh Porsches and reworking them to be faster and generally cooler, but they’ve never had a car that was 100% (more or less) their own. No other preliminary details were given, but they did mention it’s all been done in the “spirit of the 1987 RUF Yellow Bird”. Massive turbos confirmed. It’ll debut at Geneva next Tuesday and I will definitely be bringing you more on that one.

[Source: RUF | Image source: wheelsage.org]

Other news stories from the week

It definitely hasn’t been a slow news week. Over the last couple days, I also covered Alpine’s gorgeous production-ready A110 that’ll take on the Cayman and Alfa 4C in style. Head here for a little more information but more details will arrive next week at Geneva.

Additionally, Porsche did the thing. They’re actually building a real Panamera wagon. It’s now the only way to buy a Panamera. More info 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]

  • 0A5599

    In last week’s Friday challenge, we were asked for our selections of two cars at an aggregate budget of $30k. I picked a Lotus 7 clone with a supercharger for fun days, and a Roadmaster wagon for daily/tow duty.

    Saturday I went to look at a wagon that popped up on Craigslist Friday afternoon, and two days ago it followed me home. LT1-powered, with a plastic forest worth of fake woodgrain on the sides, riding on Impala SS rims. It does have a hitch, but I’m going to have to save up a few more bucks to be able to buy the Lotus to go behind it.

    • Alff

      Pics

    • Sjalabais

      The Roadmaster is a legit transportation choice on the Money Mustache forum. You’ll be a millionaire in no time.

  • Inliner

    “and it utilizes flush deployable door handles”

    We all know that Land Rover’s electrics are the most reliable in the business.

    Also, 22-inch wheels, on a mid-size SUV?!?
    I’ll be feeling the schadenfreude when the owners have to replace tires.

    • ptschett

      Fashion apparently will not be sated until the tire/wheel ratio is like a rubber band stretched around a pickle jar lid. Those aren’t far off in proportion from the wheels & tires on the late-model Maserati Quattroporte Q4 I saw parked in front of the local Chevy dealer a few weeks ago.

    • outback_ute

      Land Rover, let’s see the smooth underside before we start boasting how the door handles improve the aerodynamics!

      They don’t necessarily need to be electric, flush door handles have been used since the 50s on a few Italian cars, if not 30s. I suppose these days a simple spring loaded catch would not be complex enough for RR buyers…

    • They will be schadenfroh when I’m trying to obtain tires for my puny 16″ wheels, which are already upgraded from 15”….

    • Sjalabais

      A local paper test of the Kia Niro hybrid, which has earned my appreciation for its thoroughly smart approach to building a car, was written around ridicule about its sensibility. Among the sentences that made me want to beat the articles author was: “The Niro’s wheels are too small and look ridiculous”.

      We live in a crazy world of wonky, mad priorities. But that’s not news, is it?

      Part of the writeup though was a bit of appreciation of a perfect hybrid setup and good utilization of space, with a simple, working design.

  • Inliner

    Regarding the Q60, the front end is rather messy – you have the chrome (or chrome-effect) mesh in the grille, and black plasticky mesh in the lower vents, and they really clash.

    • outback_ute

      The huge amount of creases and cut lines with no harmony between them don’t help either. It’s like they had a brain storming session and then decided to use all the ideas.

  • ptschett

    I test drove a Ram 1500 today with the less-luxurious of the two trim levels I’m considering (Big Horn, vs. Laramie) and am thinking the Big Horn is nice enough for me and the girls I go out with. I’d be looking at a price about $10,000 less than sticker, between the current incentives and the discount I get for working for FCA’s tractor and truck-making sibling.

  • Jeff Glucker

    Five part video series coming on the HoonTruck, so that’s fun!

    Over the recent long weekend, Tim and I swapped in a new cam, changed valve seals, fabbed up exhaust, and put in a new clutch.

  • GTXcellent

    Just a few random musings: The MiSSus and I just got back to our sleepy little town from a sunshine escape in a warmer climate. The trip required us to drive down to MN’s metro region – I can understand the appeal of an automatic transmission. My left hip still hurts from the stop-go-stop-barely go-stop again traffic. Definitely gives me pause and to feel a little sorry for everyone stuck living in an urban environment. Secondly, our rental was a brand new Nissan Sentra. Does anyone in the ‘Verse own such an automobile appliance? If so, can I ask why? That crap-wagon truly defines transportation versus driving. Terrible seating position. No acceleration, terrible handling, and please don’t get me started on that CVT. Seriously, my 25 year old snowmobile has a better belt/clutch system. Back at the ranch, last evening I noticed a wet spot under the driver’s rear shock on the SS. It wasn’t melting snow that got tracked in the garage – the shock is leaking. What’s quite interesting, is that in perusing the SS forum, this is far from a unique circumstance. It seems to actually be an almost common occurrence, and it’s always the driver’s side rear shock. Very weird given the shocks are the same part number left and right. Oh well, covered under warranty so no worries there.

    • Inliner

      That’s why I don’t understand Nissan’s strong sales or general appeal. They don’t have the legendary reputation or high resale of Toyota or Honda, nor the style, handling, or engagement of Mazda, nor the high value and long warranty of Hyundai or Kia, nor the new engines in Fords or Chevrolets.

      The only reason I could think of is that they sell to every subprime buyer out there, and to fleets.

      • ptschett

        The last three or four times my sister’s been home to visit from New Jersey she’s had a Nissan for a rental, one or another of their droopy looking sedans in some dreary shade of gray.

    • Maymar

      I think Nissan benefits from being lumped in with Toyota and Honda as Japanese, but also builds spacious cars with decent feature content, and has lots of dealers that target low-credit buyers.

      But yeah, they’re pretty underwheming. Although, not that I liked it much, but the Rogue I spent a couple days with recently had a higher quality interior than slightly older Nissans. There might be hope (not much though).

  • Greg Kachadurian

    Last weekend I experienced my most unpleasant rental car. It was a new-ish Yaris five door with absolutely no options.

    The most immediate problem was the driving position… I felt two feet too tall for the car. The pedals were too close to me and I couldn’t move them. The steering wheel was too far away and it didn’t telescope. A golf cart has a better driving position. Also the door mirrors were old school because they were manually-adjustable but there was no way to adjust them from inside car. I had to push the edges of each mirror to adjust them. I’ve never seen that on a modern car even without power adjustment.

    Then probably the biggest problem was that the radio didn’t work. It was Toyota’s touch screen radio system that is standard on all their cars now, but the thing was glitched so bad that FM radio didn’t work. The touch screen was slow to respond and FM radio only came on for a couple seconds before it beeped and shut off.

    So it was awkward to drive and they somehow fucked up something as simple as an FM radio. But despite all the driving around Baltimore I did (it was a lot) and all the times I matted the throttle out of frustration (also a lot), I only used up four gallons of gas. So that was good. Everything else was bad. But what else could I ask from a $19/day rental?

    • JayP

      I was given a rent Yaris once. I took the POS back telling them it’s a friggin’ road hazard.

    • outback_ute

      That is interesting. The specs for the Yaris in Australia show standard electric mirrors and tilt/telescope steering adjustment.

      Apart from wondering at what point it costs more to have two separate systems vs unit manufacturing costs, it really seems like a stupid move by the rental company to have cars specced that way. Buy Kias instead or something.

  • JayP

    I gave up trying to fix the Vic. I worked on taking the fuel line bracket for 4 hours and was sick of it all.
    Put it back together and had it towed to the shop. Had them replace the suspension too. Name it, it was replaced.

    Got it back after a week. Like a new car now.

    BUT!! I tried to start the car on Monday night and the dash/lights/everything failed. No start. Finally turned over and started. Did that again later that night.

    I just spent $$$$$ on the damn thing and it’s crapping out?
    Turned out the positive clamp wasn’t tight. Whew.

    In the week driving the truck, what dildos people are when a cop-lookin’ car isn’t around.

  • I drove a 250kUSD 911 today, and got to drift a Cheyenne hybrid in the snow. Both events felt awkward. More in a Last Call once I have a grown up, tactile keyboard.

  • Monkey10is

    “…This is perhaps the best Camaro for track days until the Z/28 comes out.”

    You mean; “until the ZL11LEZ/28 comes out.”?

    • Greg Kachadurian

      SS2ZL11LEZ/28ZR1IROC Grand Sport. My god they’re turning into the next BMW…

    • outback_ute

      Are they even going to do another 7-litre engine? What will the Z/28 be otherwise?