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The News for July 28th, 2017

Greg Kachadurian July 28, 2017 The News! 14 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:

  • Rolls-Royce reveals all-new Phantom

  • Mercedes-AMG takes on GT4 customer racing

  • Ford confirms more power, quicker acceleration for 2018 Mustang

  • Acura opens up order books for NSX GT3 race car globally

  • Crowd-funded Viper ACR effort sets first quick ‘Ring time

  • What’s your automotive news?

Rolls-Royce Phantom

A nameplate that’s always been held to a higher regard than most others has been and always will be the Phantom, Rolls-Royce’s flagship luxury car since 1925. Even as tons of other luxury offerings come and go, the Phantom remains high up on the food chain looking down on everyone else, just as its owners do. But as other luxury cars continue to push the boundaries, Rolls-Royce has delivered a powerful strike back. It may not look like it at first glance, but they really pulled out all the stops on this one.

The eight-generation Phantom is helping to usher in a new future of Rolls-Royce platforms called The Architecture of Luxury. Simply put, future Rolls-Royces will no longer share platforms with BMW – or any other mass-produced luxury vehicle – as they’ve done with the Phantom VII and some other current models. Whatever the car (or SUV), Rolls-Royce will use their own architecture for it and will only partner with lower-volume, family-owned suppliers who can devote more care and attention to their products.

Early benefits of this new architecture include a 30% increase in rigidity over the last Phantom and an unspecified weight loss thanks to its all-aluminum construction. Long-term benefits include more scalability, efficient production of standard and long wheelbase versions, and more freedom of exterior surface design.

Speaking of, Phantom VIII’s design is definitely more evolution than revolution, but they’ve instead focused on leveraging the new architecture to produce a cleaner design. A new precision body joining process means there are fewer visible join lines between body panels, as if it was formed out of a single block of aluminum. It also still rocks the classic 2:1 proportions, featuring a small front and long rear overhangs and an upright front and flowing rear.

Up front, it gets a proper face lift by repositioning the redesigned stainless steel Pantheon grille (which is now integrated into the surrounding bodywork) and raising the Spirit of Ecstasy a half inch higher. The grille is flanked by new laserlight headlamps with a focused and confident expression.

Whether you choose to drive or be driven, the Phantom VIII will be one of the most luxurious spaces to occupy. Designers created a “detoxifying environment” free from distraction of the calmness and tranquility. Technology is hidden until required, surfaces are clean and uncluttered, and every little detail is made as pretty as possible. Rolls-Royce also promises it’ll be the quietest cabin of any car on the road. And yes, it still has the super cool Starlight Headliner, the largest one yet.

Should you choose to drive, you’ll be treated with “The Gallery”, a sort of art space that spans the instrument cluster and runs all the way across the dashboard. That includes your typical chrome surrounds for the new 12.3-inch TFT driver’s display and the analog clock, but also includes an actual piece of art that can be integrated into the dashboard. Because Rolls-Royce owners are really like this, buyers can commission a bespoke work of art to grace “The Gallery” in their Phantom for an added level of personalisation.

But if you aren’t interested in contemplating the hidden meaning of your dashboard as you drive, the new drivetrain should catch your attention. The heart of the Phantom VIII is a completely new twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12. With 563 horsepower and 664 lb.-ft. of torque (at just 1,700 RPM), it delivers a refined kick in the ass in any gear. That’s paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic with Satellite-Aided Transmission technology to help anticipate the right gear to be in.

Helping drives on the go is a new “Electronic Architecture” of safety features and in-car tech which is described as the largest electronic component ever produced by BMW Group (parent company). The features listed are the same ones you can find on any loaded BMW, which means it has more than anyone will ever need. In fact, that pretty much sums up this entire car – more than anyone will ever need. That of course won’t stop the world’s elite from buying two for each day of the week.

[Source: Rolls-Royce]

Mercedes-AMG GT4

And now for something completely different. Because customer-racing GT4 cars are so hot right now, Mercedes-Benz has revealed one of their own based on the road going AMG GT R. Designed to meet the requirements of international GT4 racing series, the AMG GT4 combines fully-matured racing technology (they’ve been doing this for a while) with the highest level of safety and efficiency. Their customer racing program has enjoyed success since 2010 and the SLS GT3 and more recently with the AMG GT3, so making a foray into the booming GT4 category seems logical.

This is a true production-based concept, meaning it has a fair bit in common with the road-legal car. The 4.0-liter biturbo V8 is lifted straight from the GT R and many other AMG products delivers up to 503 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque depending on BoP rules. It’s the first time this engine as gone racing (the AMG GT3 uses the old SLS GT3 engine) but it’s been extensively tested and developed to deliver long service intervals.

It borrows a pneumatically-operated six-speed sequential gearbox in transaxle formation from the AMG GT3 and also features an adjustable differential. As with the engine, the gearbox is designed for ease of service and rebuilds.

Because race car, the bodywork and chassis is comprised of a mix of carbon fiber and aluminum to keep the weight down as much as possible. It’s all built around the same super rigid and lightweight aluminum spaceframe chassis as the AMG GT R. With all the additional safety features and larger fuel cell in place, the GT4’s weight is approximately 3,064 pounds, depending on BoP of course.

The high-strength steel roll cage isn’t the only safety feature here though. It also has an extraction hatch, powerful fire extinguishing system, and an FIA-homologated carbon driver safety cell that can also be extended to an optional passenger seat.

As customer GT4 racing booms, team owners suddenly find themselves with a lot of tantalizing options. Audi, BMW, McLaren, and now Mercedes-AMG have all revealed new GT4 cars just within the last year. Regardless of which one sells the best, the fans win with a more diverse (and gorgeous) field than ever. In the US, look for the AMG GT4 to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA Continental SportsCar Championship starting next year. Pricing starts at €198,850 ($232,000).

[Source: Mercedes-AMG via RACER]

2018 Ford Mustang is gonna be quick

As Ford is preparing to roll out the face lifted 2018 Mustang, they’ve detailed some of the big performance gains coming to both the V8 and EcoBoost model. Not only is there more power available in each, but there’s also a new ten-speed automatic available and a new feature to make the most of it.

The Mustang GT will run with a redeveloped 5.0-liter V8 capable of up to 460 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 435 hp and 400 lb.-ft.) thanks to new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection. Meanwhile, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder generates 310 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque (a 30 lb.-ft. gain).

A six-speed manual is standard with both engines, but when you opt for the ten-speed automatic it’ll come with a nice perk. Drag Strip mode, one of five driver-selectable driving modes, optimizes the car’s straight-line performance through the ten-speed’s quick shifting times and prevents a loss of power and torque when you’re shifting.

A Mustang GT equipped with the Performance Pack (includes Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires) and the ten-speed in Drag Strip mode can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under four seconds. When equipped with the same packages, the EcoBoost Mustang does that sprint in under five seconds.

If you’ve ever wanted to say your Mustang is quicker to 60 than a Porsche 911 Carerra, now’s your chance. Deliveries will commence this fall. Pricing info and the online configurator is all available here.

[Source: Ford]

Acura NSX GT3 goes on sale globally

Acura’s stunning NSX GT3 race car will soon be offered to customer racing teams around the world ahead of the 2018 season, meaning more fans will have a chance to see this beautiful thing in action. With 50,000 miles of on-track development under its belt and two victories in its inaugural season, global GT3 race teams will have another great option going forward. The carbon-bodied NSX GT3 gets its chassis built on the same assembly line as the other road-going NSXs in Ohio and is then finished with competition-spec hardware by JAS Motorsports in Italy. Pricing starts at €465,000 ($543,000).

The production-based 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 racing engine (also built alongside the road car engines in Ohio) uses the same design specifications as the road car and is paired with a six-speed sequential gearbox. It produces however much power the series allows (the max was not specified) and it acts without the road car’s hybrid system. It’s a pure, lightweight, RWD NSX that many – myself included – want to see recreated on a road-legal NSX.

As of now it only races in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and Pirelli World Challenge in America, but it’ll be eligible for the Blancpain GT Series, 24 Hours Nürburgring, Super GT GT300 class, Australian GT Championship, and the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2018. If any of those racing series are local to you, the NSX GT3 is something to look forward to. It was one of the coolest cars in the field on its debut at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona this year.

[Source: Acura | Images © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

Dodge Viper ACR sets first Nürburgring lap time

As we speak, a Dodge Viper ACR is preparing to set a record around the fearsome Nürburgring Nordschleife. It’s not a factory-backed effort, rather one that was crowd-funded by Viper enthusiasts and done with cars provided by Viper Exchange. Road & Track is following the team around in Germany as they prepare to do what Dodge wouldn’t.

The first time they were able to post with no traffic and a dry track was a 7:03.45, a blazingly quick time set by Dominik Farnbacher (who used to race the Viper professionally in ALMS and WSCC here in America). The conditions this week have been far from ideal, but they’re sticking around and hope to have another crack at it by the end of the week. I’ll try to update this story or post a separate update when they get that chance. The time they have now is good enough to be the fourth fastest production road car, according to nurburgringlaptimes.com.

Here’s hoping they get the right conditions for an even quicker lap. An effort like this, one put together and backed by true enthusiasts, deserves all the success they can get.

[Source: Road & Track]

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]