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The News for March 10th, 2017

Greg Kachadurian March 10, 2017 Geneva Motor Show, The News! 15 Comments

Welcome to the Hooniverse News – 2017 Geneva International Motor Show Recap! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week pretty much everything comes to us from one of the year’s biggest auto shows. It’s the show where all the dream cars come from and where heroes are made. It’s easy to dismiss Geneva as being too rich for people like us, but it’s okay to dream every once in a while, no? This week:

  • McLaren reveals groundbreaking new 720S and finally a new engine

  • Alpine A110 is the super lightweight sports coupe we’ve been waiting for

  • Aston Martin debuts new AMR sub brand of high(er) performance cars

  • Volvo and their all-new XC60 were the only sensible ones at Geneva

  • GM sells their European branch, including Opel, to PSA Group

  • Volkswagen Arteon is a stunning Passat CC replacement

  • Emerson Fittipaldi unveils his dream car with Pininfarina

  • Porsche 911 GT3 – now with the GT3 RS motor and a manual

  • Infiniti’s Project Black S explores new F1 tech in road cars

  • Renault built a 450 horsepower electric race car with a hatchback body

  • Other stories from the week

  • What’s your automotive news?

McLaren 720S

Not since the original MP4-12C has a McLaren been as new as this. Until now, they’ve all shared similar styling and have worked from the same engine among other parts. But as their now top-of-the-line Super Series enters its second generation, things have changed pretty dramatically. Replacing the long-serving 650S is the all-new 720S, which you can tell is better because the number is higher.

It gets that name from its 720 metric horsepower output, which translates to roughly 710 mechanical horsepower used in the states. That’s courtesy of their first totally new engine in years, the “M480T” 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. It represents a significant improvement in power and efficiency over the old 3.8-liter unit adapted and used in everything from the “baby” 540C to the monstrous P1. In fact, this first iteration of the new engine is only down a dozen or so horsepower from what the P1’s gas-only output was, but it has considerably more torque than the P1’s engine at 568 lb.-ft.

That power and torque is sent to the rear wheels only through their tried and true seven-speed SSG with paddle shifters. When it’s all working together, the 720S can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 2.8 seconds and it’ll be at 124 mph another 5 seconds later. Its top speed is rated at 212 mph.

Since it wouldn’t be a McLaren if it couldn’t control that power, it’ll feature their newest Proactive Chassis Control system which uses computer magic to extract the most out of the car’s mechanical grip while making it a balanced car suitable for daily use. Said mechanical grip comes from newly developed independent active dampers with dual wishbones and their responsive electro-hydraulic power steering. Standard carbon ceramic brake discs (15.4″ front, 15.0″ rear) and some powerful calipers can bring it down to a halt from 124 mph in just 4.6 seconds.

Much of the car’s impressive new performance capabilities can be credited to the new lightweight construction of the 720S. An all-new carbon fiber tub and upper structure, collectively called McLaren Monocage II, allows for an extremely rigid and lightweight car to be built around it. At its lightest (with no fluids), the car weighs as little as 2,829 pounds. When someone actually buys a 720S, it’ll weigh closer to 3,128 pounds with all fluids and most of its fuel.

The body built around the thing is mostly carbon fiber and some aluminum. The design itself is one that’s entirely new and will likely influence future designs for the next several years. Wind tunnel testing shaped most of the exterior, but designers kept it sleek and free of superfluous extras. They even eliminated the side intakes normally associated with mid-engine cars and replaced it with piping that allows air from the front to flow down its own channel through the doors and into the radiators.

The interior is also new, but in typical McLaren fashion is pretty simple and straightforward. Everything in there is designed with only the driver’s needs in mind. When on track, the digital gauge cluster can fold away, leaving only a thing digital strip to display a horizontal rev counter, the speed, and current gear for focused track work.

While we won’t know until Jeff gets to drive one, McLaren aimed to redefine what a supercar can accomplish with the 720S. From the rate at which it accelerates to the way it corners, it’ll be unlike anything from the Super Series they’ve built before. Deliveries commence this May and prices start at $284,745.

[Source: McLaren]

Alpine A110

Well, this is it. Alpine is back. The A110 has been fully revealed at Geneva and will be arriving at showrooms in continental Europe by the end of the year and then UK and Japan in 2018. At this point it’s still not known if this will be on sale in the US.

The A110 is a true successor to the original Berlinette and was designed to follow its core principles from the very beginning. It’s a car designed with compact dimensions to be lightweight and agile. A heavy use of aluminum in its platform and body means it tops the scales at 2,380 pounds before options are added.

The engine that’ll be singing behind your ear is a new 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. It’s more than just a parts bin special though as Alpine and Renault Sport engineers customized it specifically for the A110. It has a specific air intake, turbocharger, exhaust system, and engine tune to develop around 250 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

As a result of its respectable power and very light structure, 0-62 mph happens in 4.5 seconds.

The only potentially sad news for enthusiasts here is that a Getrag seven-speed DCT is the only available gearbox. But I’m sure if enough of us professional journalists complain in our coverage, they’ll do absolutely nothing. #ImDoingMyPart

The A110 rides on double wishbone front and rear suspension which is designed to perform just as well on the street as on track. Brembo all-aluminum brake calipers designed for Alpine with an integrated rear parking brake actuator (a world first) and 12.6″ discs all around provide the stopping power. It rolls on 18-inch lightweight forged aluminum wheels provided by Otto Fuchs.

Saving the best for last, that design. It stays very true to the concepts shown last year and is probably the least changed concept-to-production car I’ve ever seen. Besides the fact that it looks very pretty, it’s also very aerodynamic. It has a completely flat floor and a functional diffuser under the rear bumper. Additionally, air inlets at the front bumper create a curtain along the front wheel wells to improve airflow around the front wheels and reduce drag.

As a result, no rear spoiler is needed as it approaches its limited top speed of 155 mph and its drag coefficient is among the lowest in the segment at 0.32.

The car shown here is a Premiere Edition A110 and is a limited-run package that ticks all the options and adds a couple bespoke details. The first 1,955 A110s delivered will be in this specification and a few more trims will be available that’s sold out. French pricing on the Premiere Edition A110s 58,500 Euros or about $62,000.

[Source: Alpine]

Aston Martin AMR

Aston Martin has been playing with the idea of building more high performance versions of their cars in limited numbers for several years now, and each time they have, every single one was sold out. Special cars like the Vantage GT8 and GT12 paved the way for a new sub brand focused purely on making Astons go faster.

That sub brand is called AMR for Aston Martin Racing and every high(er) performance version Aston will be branded as an AMR creation. It’s the same deal as Mercedes-AMG or BMW M, but with cars that are already special and powerful from the get go. the first two cars to get the AMR treatment are the Rapide S and Vantage, but eventually every Aston Martin will have an AMR model.

The Rapide AMR formula starts with a 591-horsepower version of its naturally-aspirated 6.0-liter V12 plus upgraded suspension and more powerful brakes. It’ll top out at 210 mph and has a full aero kit that might alter the way air flows over the car. It sports a new grille, a front splitter, side sills, rear diffuser, and a rear decklid spoiler.

21″ alloy wheels and a striking Stirling green and lime green/yellow paint combo cap off the car’s updated exterior. Inside there’s also more carbon fiber and suede upholstery with lime green/yellow accents as well. Only 210 of these Rapide AMRs will be produced.

Meanwhile, the Vantage gets full track preparation by AMR. The Vantage AMR Pro is not street legal by account of its racing-derived V8 borrowed from the Vantage GT4 race car. It produces 500 horsepower and is backed up by adjustable racing suspension and race car-like bodywork to go with it. Just seven of these will exist.

So if you love your Aston Martins but want one that can handle track days, the AMR versions will be the ones to buy.

[Source: Aston Martin via Autoweek]

Volvo XC60

Leave it to Volvo to be the sensible ones amongst the flashiness of Geneva. It’s been a long time coming, but they’ve finally come out with an all-new XC60. The premium midsize SUV enters its second generation as the bestselling vehicle in its class in Europe with nearly a million units globally to account for 30% of Volvo’s yearly sales. Needless to say, they didn’t slack with this one.

Like the smart people they are, Volvo designers borrowed heavily from the bigger XC90’s internet-breaking style. The XC60 is “not designed to look down on others but to drive”, said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design at Volvo. He also adds that “the exterior has an athletic sculpture with a subtle, timeless quality. The interior is a masterful composition of well-resolved architecture, beautiful materials and the very latest technology – all perfectly blended together”. Sounds about right.

The XC60’s powertrain range is also extensively updated with diesel, gas, and gas-electric options. Two diesel options will be available at launch (in some markets at least) with 190 horsepower (D4) and 235 horsepower (D5) outputs. Gas options include the T5 with 254 horsepower and the supercharged and turbocharged T6 with 320 horsepower. Finally, there’s the T8 plug-in hybrid option at the top of the range with the T6 engine and additional electric motors that produce a total of 407 horsepower.

And because it’s a Volvo, it comes with expanded safety tech as well. Their City Safety system is standard and can be upgraded to feature Steer Assist which can help steer out of the way of a head-on collision or mitigate its impact. Their blind spot monitoring system can also use Steer Assist to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions. Volvo’s semi-autonomous driver assistance system can also be added.

Pricing on the XC60 is not available yet, but we’ll know soon. It goes into production this April.

[Source: Volvo]

GM sells Opel, Vauxhall to PSA Group

Dis is mine now.

General Motors is making a bit of a shift in their priorities and have decided to sell off their European brands as a result. Opel, Vauxhall, and GM Financial’s European operations have been officially sold to France’s PSA Group for ~$2.3 billion. They’ll be joining Peugeot, Citroën, and DS Automobiles under the PSA Group to help it become the 2nd largest automotive company in Europe.

GM explained the move by saying they’ll be able to raise the stock price and deliver greater value to shareholders, or something. They also said it was in response to their changing momentum towards reshaping mobility within North America and China, their two most important markets, which meant increased focus and resources was crucial to executing their new vision as effectively as possible. But also increased value to shareholders. Another contributing factor to the decision was Europe’s changing geopolitical and regulatory climate which they didn’t want to deal with anymore.

PSA Group is very optimistic about their acquisition and intends to support Opel and Vauxhall as they capitalize on their respective brand identities. “We are proud to join forces with Opel/Vauxhall and are deeply committed to continuing to develop this great company and accelerating its turnaround,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman of the Managing Board of PSA.

Opel and Vauxhall get new loving parents and GM can boast about their rising stock price in the year-end report. Everybody wins?

[News source: GM | Image source: Autoweek because it was too good to not use]

BLIPS

Volkswagen rolled out their replacement for the Passat CC with a car that might have the most interesting design they’ve done in years. The Arteon is a four-door, five-passenger “coupe” with the space and comfort of a premium sedan but with fastback styling. Three TSI petrol engines and three TDI diesels will launch in some markets with each paired to a seven-speed DSG with 4Motion AWD as an option. Yep.

[Source: Volkswagen]

Racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi always wanted to build a track-ready GT car. Gran Turismo gave him an excuse and Pininfarina gave him a hand. He unveiled his dream car at Geneva, called the Fittipaldi EF7 Vision Gran Turismo, which will soon be a part of Gran Turismo Sport as a free download. A supercar done his way, it’s a fast and forgiving track monster with a powerful naturally-aspirated V8, racing gearbox, racing suspension, and powerful braking system developed by HWA AG. It’s all built around a carbon monocoque chassis and wears aggressive and flowing bodywork that sort of mimics a shark, as inspired by Fittipaldi. It’s a beast of a car that follows no rules except Fittipaldi’s. A limited number will be built by Pininfarina and owners will get private coaching by Fittipaldi in their cars upon delivery.

[Source: Pininfarina]

The Porsche 911 GT3 receives a few big updates for its 991.2 mid-life refresh. Unlike the other 991.2s before it, it remains naturally aspirated but gets an upgrade of its own in the form of a 500-horsepower 4.0-liter flat six, likely the same one found in the current 911 GT3 RS. It’s 25 horsepower bump compared to the prior model and the engine is “virtually unchanged” from the 911 GT3 Cup. A seven-speed PDK is still available but – perhaps the biggest news – it gets a six-speed manual again. Other than that, a few chassis tweaks here and some updated aero there and you’ve got yourself a 991.2 GT3.

[Source: Porsche]

It’s an odd name, but Infiniti’s Project Black S sports an impressive mix of F1 technology that hasn’t been seen on a road car before. It’s a Q60 Coupe that was further developed with Renault Sport F1 to see how current F1 energy recovery tech could be adapted for street use. Two types of motor generator units (MGU) are used – one harvests energy from braking as on other cars (MGU-K) and the other is fitted to the turbocharger to harvest heat energy from exhaust gases (MGU-H). It’s the MGU-H unit that makes this different from any other road car before it. The recovered energy is stored in high-rate discharge lithium-ion batteries and the power is deployed to rotate the crankshaft and turbocharger turbine blades more quickly. Boosted HP and torque figures weren’t released. While Infiniti and Renault Sport F1 continue to analyze how practical something like this could be in a road car, they’re also taking public interest into consideration.

[Source: Infiniti]

Renault might have had the coolest concept at the show with this Zoe E-Sport. It’s an electric three-door city car that packs a punch like no other. Two electric motors, one at each axle, provide upwards of 450 horsepower to all four wheels and have enough of a charge to go some 250 miles under normal conditions. The whole car is more like a race car wearing a city car’s skin; a tubular frame chassis built by TORK Engineering is the foundation and an all-carbon skin makes it look pretty. It also has four way adjustable dampers from ÖHLINS and a double-wishbone suspension to keep it under control as it rockets to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds. This awesome little electric hatchback is meant to show Renault’s commitment to further developing EVs and to see what’s possible. If this is what the future holds, maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

[Source: Renault]

Other stories from the week

There was plenty more to talk about at Geneva besides what was crammed in here. Fortunately, Kamil and I have been bringing you coverage on some of the bigger stories more or less as they happened. We have additional coverage on the Lamborghini Huracán Performante, the RUF CTR, Honda Civic Type-R, and the vastly superior Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Saloon and Touring. Give those cars a look if you haven’t already. Geneva absolutely delivered this year I’d say.

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]

  • ptschett
    • GTXcellent

      How much lead time?

      • ptschett

        Could be as quick as 5-6 weeks, less time than it took me to decide on some of the options (so it’s “easy” for them to say, I guess?) This’ll be my 3rd ordered Mopar of 4 I’ve bought, the 2010 Challenger was the one off the lot (and that car was one of those ‘it’s the last week of July and 20 more cars need to get sold’ kind of deals a person can luck into sometimes.)

    • Ross Ballot

      Excellent choice. Hopefully it serves you well. Nothing like a solid pickup.

    • Desmo

      I dislike anything Chrysler. My fav salescode are:
      WTF and GTFO.

      • ptschett

        I’m sure we can agree that code BBQ is good though.

  • Ross Ballot

    A good week for car news it was indeed. Gotta say, Geneva is quickly rising to the top of my list of favorite Auto Shows. There were some seriously good reveals this year.

  • Sjalabais

    The Arteon looks pretty sharp. Yet what a letdown the rear view is. How do front and rear end go together?
    http://overdrive.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Volkswagen-Arteon-rear.jpg

    • Zentropy

      Looks handsome (despite that metallic yellow paint), but I fear it will be underpowered. VW doesn’t seem to be putting enough grunt under the hood these days.

  • bv911

    Ha-ha, the new GT3 engine is actually even betterer than the “old” RS engine!

    PistonHeads has a full “geek out” with Preuninger:

    http://www.pistonheads.com/news/ph-germancars/andreas-preuninger-on-the-new-gt3/35880

    Between that and the fact that they added a third pedal option, I’m forgetting about the recent lapses in judgement their parent company has made…

  • Monkey10is

    Sad news: The death of John Surtees, the only man to hold both the Formula 1 and world motorcycle titles. A true, modest, hero.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/10/john-surtees-formula-one-dies

    • outback_ute

      Thanks for the link. Everybody knows that he won the world championship in both cars and motorcycles (4 times), but how about the Isle of Man TT 4 times and the CanAm championship as well?

      Nobody will ever match his achievements.

  • Zentropy

    I was excited to see the production Alpine translate so well from the concept, but the DCT-only transmission is a disappointment.

  • outback_ute

    Is it just me who can’t see how PSA will gain by doubling-down on Europe, and not adding significantly to their global presence, with the Opel purchase?

    I also wonder how many of the Rüsselsheim design centre staff will end up back in the States – gotta design the next generation of GM cars somehow.

  • wunno sev

    Volvo’s new sedans and wagons are, in modern-Volvo tradition, still nice-but-too-expensive. but i hafta say, their SUV offerings of late really do seem genuinely competitive. i’d rather have an XC90 than whatever Audi, Mercedes, and BMW are offering, even at the same price. the XC60 seems to be in that same boat: distinctly Volvo, but without the perception that it should cost much less than its contemporaries.

    as a longtime fan of the brand, it’s disappointing that this is the only way for them to rake filthy amounts of kronor. but if this lets them pump out V90s and S60 CCs for me to ogle, then by all means, let’s get more XCs out the door. it’s the same lament Porsche fans had fifteen years ago, and i think the giant piles of money in Porsche’s accounts – and resultant badass cars and technologies – have helped them come to terms with it by now.