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The News for June 2nd, 2017

Greg Kachadurian June 2, 2017 The News! 12 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:

  • Lotus debuts the Elise Cup 250, the ultimate Elise

  • Ford creates limited edition Focus RS based on internet feedback

  • BMW adopts augmented reality for the 18th official Art Car project

  • Subaru all but confirms BRZ STI

  • Mercedes-AMG talks Project One specs

  • Honda Civic Type-R to allegedly start at $34K

  • What’s your automotive news?

Lotus Elise Cup 250

Remember that other fastest, most focused four-cylinder Lotus sports car you bought last year? HA! There’s a new fastest, most focused four-cylinder Lotus sports car now and that’s the Elise Cup 250 – assuming you live in UK, Germany, France, Italy, or Japan that is.

This Elise 250 is the latest car to receive the Cup treatment, meaning it goes as fast as it looks and only the essentials remain. Starting with the engine, 243 horsepower is generated from the mid-mounted 1.8-liter four-cylinder with a chargecooled supercharger and that’s paired with a slick six-speed manual – no automatic here. 0-60 mph happens in as little as 3.9 seconds and it doesn’t stop till 154 mph.

As is to be expected from Lotus, the chassis and suspension are fully reworked for the Cup model. The Cup 250 features fully independent double wishbone suspension and a front anti-roll bar coupled with Bilstein high-performance dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs front and rear.

AP Racing twin-piston front and Brembo single-piston rear calipers with 11.3″ rotors all around provide the stopping power. Ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels are wrapped in Yokohama Advan A048 LTS tires. Additional structural rigidity is provided by a T45 steel rollover bar.

The aero pack is optional and it adds all the carbon fiber pieces shown on the car here, including the front splitter, rear wing, and side boards. Other lightweight carbon fiber upgrades can be ordered too which can bring the car’s weight down to as little as 1,896 pounds – without all that, it’s a pig at 1,949 pounds.

But regardless of which options you get, Lotus calls it the best Elise ever and we have no reason to disagree. Prices start at £47,400 in the UK and from €62,600 in the rest of Europe.

[Source: Lotus]

Ford Focus RS Limited Edition

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a manufacturer actually read all the nonsensical arguing going on over their product on a car forum? Well wonder no longer and gaze upon the Focus RS Limited Edition, a slightly better and more exclusive RS reportedly inspired by feedback Ford gathered from car communities and forums.

No, it wasn’t dropped and it doesn’t have an LS now, but it does have a few new features requested by reasonable people. The only mechanical upgrade is a new Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential up front which controls torque flow to each front wheel independently. When mixed with other standard RS features like AWD and torque vectoring, it can help increase cornering speeds and make for smoother power delivery on the way out.

Ford reportedly studied Photoshop renderings when picking the new styling updates for it. They settled on having only two colors available – their signature Nitrous Blue and a new Race Red – and having new gloss black accents on the mirror caps, spoiler, and the entire roof. It rolls on standard 19″ painted alloy wheels. Sadly, they didn’t listen to every journalist ever and make the suspension more capable of handling rough roads.

There isn’t anything done to the interior besides new carbon fiber wrap on the door handles, handbrake lever, and boost gauge surround – that part they definitely picked up from the forums. The usual RS2 package is also standard which adds the black leather-trimmed Recaro seats with suede inserts, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a voice-activated navigation system.

Only 1,500 RS Limited Editions will ever be produced and 1,000 are going to the US and 500 are going to Canada. Pricing wasn’t announced but deliveries will start late 2017, and as Ford put it, it’s “the last opportunity to order the current generation Focus RS in North America”. New RS confirmed for 2018?

[Source: Ford]

BMW M6 GT3 Art Car #18

I guess even BMW was bored of the last M6 GTLM art car because they’ve commissioned another one, this time for the M6 GT3 (which based on their results in IMSA GTLM they might as well be the same thing). I already know what you’re thinking – “Greg, isn’t the art supposed to be on the car?”

On the 17 art cars before it, yes, all the pretty figures were in fact on the car. But this is the future and Chinese artist Cao Fei chose to use augmented and virtual reality to make her art car come to life.

Cao Fei is the youngest artist to contribute to the art car project (b. 1978) and this is how she described her creation:

To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the #18 Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind. We are entering a new age, where the mind directly controls objects and where thoughts can be transferred, such as unmanned operations and artificial intelligence. Which attitudes and temperaments hold the key to opening the gateway to the new age?

BMW adds, “Cao Fei’s work is a reflection on the speed of change in China, on tradition and future. With her BMW Art Car project, she delves into a trajectory spanning thousands of years, paying tribute to Asia’s ancient spiritual wisdom as it swiftly spreads out into the third millennium”.

And you won’t even know the art is there unless you have the “BMW Art Car #18” phone app. Otherwise, it’s just a plain race car shod in non-reflective carbon black. In a way, it’s the first interactive Art Car because you can walk around it and uncover the art hidden in plain sight. And when it races at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau GP on November 17th at the hands of BMW works driver Augusto Farfus, spectators will be trying to keep up with it at race pace to catch a glimpse of the art surrounding it. If you can see the Art Car in person, these pictures represent exactly what you’ll see.

I feel like this Art Car will be just as controversial as the last one (the car that had a picture of itself and FAST written on the side), but I think it’s infinitely cooler.

Also, I’m kidding about this being a reaction to Baldessari’s art car. Art Car #18 was announced three years ago.

[Source: BMW]

BLIPS

Confirming the BRZ STI would be like confirming Half Life 3 at this point, but that may just be what Subaru just did here. This quick tweet Subaru posted offers date of June 8th and a single teaser shot of an STI-branded spoiler on what can only be a BRZ. Of course we have no idea what will even be on the car besides the wing, but expect a full aero kit, new wheels, a reworked interior, and maybe like 15 more horsepower? Regardless of whether prayers for a turbocharger are answered, it looks like it’s happening guys! Half Life 3, maybe not so much.

[Source: Subaru via Autoweek]

Mercedes-AMG has a wicked new hypercar coming out called the Project One and they’ve given us some preliminary powertrain specs to build hype. As expected, it’ll use a mid-mounted 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 lifted straight from a Mercedes F1 car which produces an undisclosed amount of power, but likely over 700 horsepower. It redlines at 11,000 RPM and will idle at between 1,000 and 1,200 RPM. A split turbo design (also borrowed from F1) and a 107-horsepower electric motor can help spin the turbo whenever needed so as to completely eliminate turbo lag.

Another electric motor is mounted on the driveshaft and two more are positioned in the front wheels, making it four electric motors all together. The car is supposed to produce over 1,000 horsepower and have a 15 mile EV range. Additional important bits of info are a confirmed eight-speed single clutch automatic from Xtrac, 220 pounds worth of batteries lining the floor (keeping a low center of gravity), and a pushrod suspension. It’s going to be stupid fast and stupid expensive.

[Source: Mercedes-AMG via Autoweek]

As Jeff reported on yesterday, the Civic Type-R could have an MSRP of under $34K if a leaked window sticker is to be trusted. You can read up on that here if you haven’t already. But judging by the level of performance you’re getting, that seems extremely reasonable.

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]

  • Greg Kachadurian
  • GTXcellent

    Not an automotive project, but a marine one.
    My old Wards aluminum ‘Sea King’ 12 foot river boat is in need of serious, serious TLC. The transom was rotted and half the seats were as well.
    I’m almost done removing the shot wood (1 bench to go) and will start replacing with new this weekend. MN has outlawed the good marine plywood, so my plan is to use green-treated, but coat it with a waterproof sealer. I was initially thinking Herculiner or some other brand of roll-in bed liner, but the only color choices are color are black or black (and no, I’m not spending a couple of hundred on Durabak just to gain a different color). So, I might listen to the wise words of pitchman Phil Swift and try Flex Seal. Anyone have any experience with this As Seen on TV wonderproduct?

  • JayP

    I broke down and bought a bottle of Iron X… I think it was $30 for the middle size bottle.
    The track pads make the wheels look like hell and they cleaned up but they’re just a year old. Not sure if it was just me giving a crap about cleaning the wheels or if the cleaner worked.
    Tried it on the Vic’s wheels and they came out looking great. Except for the clearcoat coming off in spots, they look almost new. Next is the Ranger wheels. That will be the true test.

  • outback_ute

    The Lotus Elise really is the modern-day Seven! Only changed as much as it needs to be for 20 years now. Mind you the Seven shows no signs of going away…

    The AMG Project One looks to be an interesting addition to the hypercar world and the closest to an F1 drivetrain on the road since I think Maserati in the 1950s when the 250F F1 car had the same engine and layout as the road cars. The only other car that comes close that I can think of would be the Ferrari F50 which had an engine ‘related’ to the F1 V12, with​ an honourable mention to the Oldsmobile engine block in the first Brabham Repco 600-series engines.

  • Picked up the 5.2m Vivaro today. Not an engaging driver, but conveying a lifestyle facet : A sports car is a car that can hold all your sports gear.

    Also, project One idling at 1.2krpm: my 944 does that when warm, too – nothing to write home about.

  • kogashiwa

    Test drove an Ioniq this week. It’s one of those cars that looks better in person, I think. It looks actually very cool in person, definitely the best looking car Hyundai makes now if you ask me. The guy I was with said “it looks like a four door CRX” and well, I hadn’t thought about it but it really does. Also, spacious in a Saab* liftback kind of way. Comfortable ride and fairly quiet on the highway. Ride was marred by a bit of wallowing over irregular pavement when pressing on, but most people would never notice. Lots of grip, not a lot of handling; probably par for the course. The DCT acted exactly like a normal automatic, no concerns there but nothing to shout about either. There’s a quite disconcerting hesitation from a standstill when the start-stop system has done the stop bit. Drivetrain altogether feels a bit rubbery, but putting the shifter into “sport” mode seems to change the throttle mapping, giving it a much more lively and connected feeling. Still shifts on its own even in manual mode though, if it deems necessary. And still actually fairly slow although in the sport mode it feels reasonably quick.

    Overall that sounds a bit negative but I actually really liked it. The weak points are those that a normal driver would never encounter. Since I drive like a normal person most of the time, that 4.1 l/100km highway fuel economy is still tempting me to buy**. But for the times I don’t I’m not sure if I’d have the patience for it.

    I wish they’d put the Elantra Sport drivetrain in the Ioniq, and sharpen up the handling a bit; that would be a very compelling package, even if it did miss the point completely.

    *I never know whether I’m actually supposed to use all-caps so I just alternate.
    **Yes I’m aware I’ll never make up the purchase price. But my thinking is more that I would like to be able to make longer trips without having to think about it so much. A 300km average run to Winnipeg and back for me costs me about $35 in my IS300. The Ioniq would be less than $12. It’s self-delusional math but it works for me … maybe.

    • outback_ute

      Ah yes, the old story of buying a new car to save money on fuel. If you were going to replace the IS300 anyway, then yes, but otherwise the even the monthly cost of the car would surely pay for many trips?

      • kogashiwa

        You’re absolutely right, but the issue is the IS is a hail-damaged insurance write-off now, so it’s essentially worth next to nothing, and it needs quite a bit of money put into it on the mechanical side (just scheduled maintenance, runs perfect, but timing belt/water pump is very overdue, and needs both summer and winter tires, and front suspension is worn). I’d even consider that, and I may still, but the insurance regulations are such that being a hail damaged car, if it gets in any more claims, it’s status changes to unrepairable. So I think, not fully decided but, I think it’s best I replace it. And I’ve never yet had a new car, so…

  • Maymar

    Wait, they’re sending 500 of a hardcore, really expensive, manual-only Ford hatchback to Canada when they can only justify 1000 for the US? I don’t know if the assumption is that Ford performance enthusiasts up here are more likely to daily an AWD hatch than a Mustang, or if we’re going to luck out and these are going to clog dealer lots for a couple years, and eventually get blown out at fire sale prices.

  • CraigSu

    I see Lotus has decided that the path to success is to adopt the Porsche 911 sales and marketing model.

    • I really do get fed up with the constant slew of “Ultimate” Elises.

      Here’s my tip for the future – One day, soon, there’ll be an Elise ‘more ultimate’ than the Cup 250.

      • kogashiwa

        I think the ultimate Elise might be the Ariel Atom.