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The News for August 11th, 2017

Greg Kachadurian August 11, 2017 The News! 45 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:

  • Chevrolet introduces next year’s Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car

  • Mazda announces breakthrough engine technology to be sold by 2019

  • Infiniti will fuse old and new with retro-inspired concept car

  • Jeep prices Grand Cherokee Trackhawk at $85,900

  • Subaru breaks four-door sedan lap record with tuned WRX STI

  • Jaguar XE SV Project 8 to make American debut at Monterey Car Week

  • What’s your automotive news?

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car

As the sorely underappreciated Chevrolet SS rides off into the sunset, a replacement for its role in Chevy’s NASCAR program was needed for the 2018 season and beyond. Rather than go back to the Impala, Chevy is going big. NASCAR fans, say hello to the Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car that’ll be attacking your ear drums at a speedway near you next year.

It’s the first time that a Camaro has been adapted for use in NASCAR’s top cup series (not including the Camaro SS in the XFINITY Series), so it’s only fitting that the fastest Camaro on the market is the one chosen. Because NASCAR is such a specialized series now, it’s safe to assume that none of the actual ZL1’s hardware will be in the cup car and chances are everything beneath the skin will be identical to this year’s SS Cup Car or just lightly updated to 2018 regulations.

But at least it’ll look closer to the road car than before. Chevrolet engineers used computational fluid dynamics analysis and reduced-scale and full-scale wind-tunnel testing to optimize aerodynamic performance while still maintaining the ZL1’s design character. Indeed, the ZL1’s electric shaver-like grille is accurately represented here (even if only half of it is actually open to air flow), the carbon fiber hood insert is carried over, and the car’s sharp and muscular lines are at least somewhat preserved despite having to adhere to the series regulations. It’s still not as close to stock as many fans would like, but at least it looks really cool.

The 2018 Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car will be fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Germain Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Leavine Family Racing, and maybe more in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It’ll join the Camaro SS that’s been racing in the XFINITY Series since 2013.

[Source: Chevrolet]

Mazda details long term plans, perfects HCCI engines

Still waiting for a new RX, Mazda…

This week, Mazda made a big announcement which highlighted their long term plans to use driving pleasure to help solve issues facing people, the earth, and society. While acknowledging rapid changes in the automotive industry, they provided an overview of how they’ll make rapid changes of their own looking as far ahead as 2030 and as close as 2019.

In an effort to “create a sustainable future in which people and cars coexist with a bountiful, beautiful earth”, they’ll focus on expanding carbon-cutting measures over a vehicle’s entire life span. The goal is to cut it by 50% (compared to 2010 levels) by 2030 and by 90% by 2050. Like pretty much everyone else, they’ll start electrifying cars with hybrid tech (which can now be borrowed from Toyota) in 2019 in regions that will use it the most. However, they’re also striving to perfect the internal combustion engine which will be detailed later.

Other long-term goals include beginning tests of their “human-centered” Mazda Co-Pilot autonomous driving concept by 2020 and introducing it to production models by 2025, developing a ride-sharing business model, and expanding their i-ACTIVSENSE safety features to different markets.

Exclusive artist’s rendering of the new SKYACTIV-X engine

But this is where things get really interesting. Mazda mentioned they were striving to perfect the ICE while adding electric power to help make their cars even cleaner, but the ICE they’re about to introduce will play a key part in that carbon reduction. Mazda announced SKYACTIV-X, the world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition, will be in their production cars by 2019. For those of us wondering what Toyota was gaining by partnering with Mazda and throwing money at them, this is probably it.

Similar to a diesel engine which uses compression to ignite the fuel/air mixture, this homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine has been something that no other automaker (with much larger budgets than Mazda) has been able to perfect. Mazda’s proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition overcomes the two major issues that others couldn’t get around: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition when the compression alone won’t work (such as low temperatures).

The result is a gasoline engine with nearly all the benefits of a diesel engine, but with cleaner gas emissions. Compression ignition allows for a super lean burn that can provide a 20-30% improvement in efficiency over the current SKYACTIV-G engine lineup, a 35-45% improvement over their 2008-model engine with the same displacement, and can meet or exceed their latest diesel engines.

And when combined with a supercharger, they say SKYACTIV-X can deliver “unprecedented” engine response and a 10-30% torque increase over SKYACTIV-G engines. In the real world, this all translates to high efficiency across a wide range of revs and engine loads, more freedom in the selection of gear ratios, superior fuel economy, and better driving performance.

Mazda basically just confirmed supercharged cars with super efficient gas engines will be in dealerships in 2019. While other automakers are relying solely on batteries and smaller gas engines to reduce emissions, Mazda is supercharging Miatas and relying on better gas engines.

If there’s anything to take away from all this, Mazda wants to save the world by making cars more fun to drive.

[Source: Mazda]

Infiniti bringing retro prototype to Pebble Beach

Infiniti will bring an interesting new – or old – concept to Pebble Beach next week. Even though Infiniti is too young to have ever produced a bias ply-era race car back in the day, they’re doing that now based on these two teaser shots.

Perhaps for no reason other than “it’d be cool”, Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Infiniti Global Design, posed this question:

“What if we found a car, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in the barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years? What if in this car we found the seed of passion planted during our first Japanese Grand Prix and the power and artistry of INFINITI today? What would this discovery look like?”

It’s a heritage-inspired concept that “captures the ingenuity and adventure” of the early days of motorsports and combines it with Infiniti’s “Powerful Elegance” contemporary design language. They think of it as the culmination of a journey back to their roots and forward again. They say it’ll have some EV tech, as is to be expected, and will be wrapped in a shell formed by the hands and hearts of hundreds of craftsmen.

We’ll know exactly what it looks like next week at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but this could be the prettiest thing they’ve ever done. More as I have it…

[Source: Infiniti]

BLIPS

We’re one step closer to a dream come true following Jeep’s confirmed pricing on the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. The Hellcat-powered Jeep will start at $85,900 and it’s on sale now at your friendly neighborhood Jeep dealer. For reference, it’s a lot more than the MSRP of any of the other Hellcats, including the Demon (before ridiculous dealer markups), but apparently SUVs command a premium these days. For a 707-horsepower SUV with loads of luxury features, a 3.5-second 0-60 time, and an 11.6-second quarter-mile, is it worth it? By the time you’re done with options, you could probably get a used Challenger Hellcat and a normal Grand Cherokee.

[Source: FCA]

Though it’s far from a production car, Subaru just broke a Nürburgring lap record for sedans and they have (some of) the video to prove itWith a highly modified Subaru WRX STI Type RA that was built by Prodrive (starting with a standard car), driver Richie Stanaway set a new four-door lap record of 6:57.5. That’s within half-a-second of the Porsche 918 Spyder. The point was to show what a Subaru can do in time attack trim with a 75mm turbo at 25 psi and more than 600 horsepower and not to claim it’s a new production car record or anything, just for four-door sedans. It’s not super significant given the extensive modifications, but it’s cool nonetheless.

[Source: Subaru]

Jaguar is bringing their latest XE SV Project 8 to Monterey Car Week for its North American debut. It’ll be the first time it’s shown publicly on this side of the Atlantic, so if you’re planning on heading over to Monterey next week (you should), you can catch it at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, The Quail, and Exotics on Cannery Row.

[Source: Jaguar]

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]

  • My automotive news is that I’m hitting the road tomorrow for the Monterey Car Weeeeeak Lemons Rally. This year’s route is from Seaside, CA, to Seattle and back, which means I’m about to drive from Seattle to Seaside in order to drive from Seaside to Seattle to Seaside, then back home to Seattle. Fun!

    • Greg Kachadurian

      That’s awesome. Good luck! I wish I was making it out there again this year, but I can’t 🙁 I know Bradley is though, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be doing that rally too.

      • Thanks! I’d hoped to drive my Volvo this year but it’s still giving me difficulties so it looks like I’ll have to switch to my Austin Allegro for greater reliability.

        • Rover 1

          This is absolutely GUARANTEED to be the first time that this statement has appeared ANYWHERE in the world !!!!!

          (To be quite frank, I’m not sure how many exclamation points to use.)

  • dukeisduke

    The 17yo daughter totaled her 2010 Kia Forte Koup (5-speed manual!) last week, so less than six months after buying it, we’re shopping for a replacement. The top contender appears to be a 2011 Koup with 89k (6-speed manual), although the dealer looks a little sketchy, it may have a dented driver’s door (hard to tell from the pictures), and the engine looks to be a replacement (“FORTE 2010” in paint marker on the cam cover). A runner-up is a 2011 Forte5 with 87k (with automatic, which she doesn’t want) which looks better.

    She was stuck on Jeep Libertys and Patriots for awhile, but I’m not fond of newer Chrysler products.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      Oh that sucks but I’m glad she’s okay. Is that first Forte a salvage or something? That’s odd. I wonder if they’ll let you take it to a dealer for a PPI.

      • dukeisduke

        The Carfax is clean, so I guess it’s possible that the original engine got toasted (missed shift or who knows). We didn’t end up looking at any Kias, but instead Jeep Libertys and Patriots. There was one ’05 Liberty Sport on a BHPH lot (4WD/V6/5-speed manual) with 136k, for $3500. CarGurus calls it a “Good Deal”, but it was so incredibly nasty inside that it looked like someone had lived in it, at the bottom of a lake. The interior and carpet were filthy, and the back seat was covered in dog hair, and the hair was down in the gaps, seat pivots, etc. I felt like it needed a hazmat team to clean it, and I needed shots after touching it. We looked at a few nasty cars today, and some that looked like golf balls (hail damage).

        We’ve got one to look at tomorrow (on a new car dealer’s used car lot), and some more to look at in the coming days.

        • Sjalabais

          Not a good start. A bit baffling that a dealer wouldn’t clean a car like that. Or get it cleaned for an amount that goes right into the sales price under “ease of sale”. Why did you abandon the Kia’s? And don’t you look at private deals, only dealers? In that case, why?

  • ptschett

    If the street Camaro had window openings as big as the NASCAR version, I’d think about buying one next time I’m in the market. (Not that I have much room to talk with my Challenger…)

    I took today off work and spent the morning and an hour of the afternoon finishing the teardown on the KLR650. After I’m sufficiently cooled off, I’ll go back out and load the metal parts up in my pickup and haul it off to a metal recycling place.

    • It’s funny how a long, long time ago, that greenhouse was a simulcrum of the sporty coupes (and Taurus) built by any of the Big Three (much like Toyota’s NASCAR V8). Now, even with some stylish, riveted in window fillers (a la Le Sabre Grand National) the greenhouse represents NASCAR more than any production coupe.

    • outback_ute

      First thing I thought of, and seeing it beside the road version is a chutzpah moment

  • Greg Kachadurian

    This week I got to learn whether my E90 was at risk for catching fire or not. I guess a recent string of BMW fires got media attention, so a guy in a BMW group on Facebook told all E90-E93 owners about a possible fire hazard in the blower motor wiring. Apparently they can get so hot that they melt and ignite the fabric insulation in the panel that hides it all.

    If you happen to own a BMW from this generation or know someone that does, pop the panel underneath the glove box (only need a T20 Torx for that) and look at the wiring around the blower motor and the insulation on the inside of that panel for signs of burning shit. Mine fortunately looked okay despite some discoloration on the insulation (according to the OP), but that’s something we should check every oil change. Let’s just say I spent more time in the truck this week 🙂

    • Sjalabais

      “Check every oil check” – isn’t there a preventive replacement?

  • GTXcellent

    Is anyone else having issues with Chrome and Hooniverse? I had to go through Explorer, to see anything newer than Kamil’s 4Runner. Even the back way through DISQUS isn’t current. Don’t even get me started on our tablet at home – when I try to check out the ‘Verse I get a message that it doesn’t support my browser and to try Chrome! That’s what browser I’m using! Stupid technology and my cave man abilities.
    Auto related – still waiting for the boys to wrap up a couple of their other projects so they can get my overhead door on my shed installed. It’s also the MiSSus’ birthday coming up – I decided my gift will be an all-day detail of her car. Wash, clay bar, wax/sealant, wheels/tires and full on interior job. I’m going to try Chemical Guys interior products: cleaner, conditioner, and dry-to-touch protectant. The internet seems to really like their products, so they must be good – we’ll see.

    • Sjalabais

      Using Opera for Android, the front page never automatically updates. I have to refresh to get new content.

    • Maymar

      I’ve been having ongoing issues with Hooniverse and Chrome on multiple computers. I find if I use the url hooniverse.com/YYYY/MM/DD (obviously, using the current date), it mostly works.

      • That’s a lot to ask from a mobile phone user, but indeed does the trick.

    • onrails

      Yes! It’s running a day or so behind for me. If I go to the Facebook page, I can see the latest, but not through the normal page on Chrome.

    • engineerd

      Yup. I’m in the habit of hitting Shift+F5 every time I visit to force it to load and ignore the cache.

  • Sjalabais

    So that blue Jaguar with a wing and blue Subaru with a wing do look pretty similar. Did you wait to post them together like this, or am I just in a conspiratorial mood?

  • JayP
    • Greg Kachadurian

      Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have loads of disposable income because I’d totally buy this. That’s amazing

      • JayP

        This is worth more than the sum of its parts.

        Trust me. I’m looking at credit cards.

    • outback_ute

      So is that ok road registered with no airbag? Oh and I wonder why CV not Mustang, or do you think just “why not”/”because”?

      • JayP

        I’d think it would depend on the state inspection.
        In my area, I think it would pass as long as there are no CELs lit up.

        The “why not?” is strong with this one.

        • outback_ute

          There isn’t a regular inspection here, only when a car is bought/sold, but that doesn’t mean the police don’t issue defect notices for illegal modifications. A missing airbag is pretty obvious when talking to the driver.

          • JayP

            That’s the way it is in rural Tn. I used to drive my MG to school on race slicks. But DFW, state inspections where any lit light is a failure.

            • outback_ute

              Race slicks would be hard to talk your way out of a ticket for here, if you were spotted. Another consideration is an insurance company would use it as an excuse not to pay a claim.

      • In my neck of the woods, Arkansas, no inspection. This looks like a great mountain road car, kinda like the old moonshiner’s sedans ala Thunder Road.

    • Fuhrman16

      Man, I would rock that in a heartbeat if I had the cash.

  • kogashiwa

    No news today, just a photo.

    It’s been a long, strange journey for this R33 Skyline – from someone’s sparkling new pride and joy in the land of sakura and sake, to a deteriorating skeleton behind a barn in Manitoba. Who can tell what it’s seen from then till now? And what did it feel like the instant it knew it had been given up on?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/80fd3d85bf87515747bb86edc32dda3744207590702655dfc1240e64ec2b5006.jpg

  • Rover 1

    HCCI has been looked at by some other manufacturers. It’s rumoured to be quite prevalent in F1.
    http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/f1/f1-s-power-secret

    Honda had a production motorcycle, the EXP-2 in 1995 that used the technology in a ‘semi’ two-stroke engine.

    Mercedes Benz calls their version DiesOtto https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DiesOtto

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/Honda_EXP-2_1995.jpg/220px-Honda_EXP-2_1995.jpg

  • jeepjeff

    My life has turned into an episode of Roadkill. Admittedly, I invited this by buying a Gremlin with the intent of prepping it for the Monterey Car Weeeeeak Lemons Rally knowing full well that I would be spending the end of July working on and racing the Ranchero (see Tim’s PCSOTU for how that turned out: http://hooniverse.com/2017/08/07/project-car-sotu-the-ranchero-2-0/ TL;DR: super awesome).

    The Gremlin has been fighting me every step of the way, much more so than either Ranchero ever did. So now, I’m at that part of the Roadkill episode where they turn to the camera list a bajillion things they have to complete in 12 hours.

    I have until ~8am Tuesday morning to be in Seaside, CA with the car. I have a motel booked just outside of town for Monday night, so my soft deadline is Monday afternoon/evening to hit the road. So, roughly 60 hours. In that time I need to:

    * Put the rear axle back in the car
    * Put the front suspension back on with new bushings all around
    * Wheel bearings & disc brake conversion for the front
    * Install a pertronix ignition kit
    * Install new brake master cylinder
    * Bleed brakes
    * Oil change
    * Transmission fluid change
    * mod the new wheels to accept the volcano hubcaps
    * Install CB Radio and audio amplifier
    * Install new seat belts
    * Install seat covers
    * Pack.
    * Attend a wedding Sunday morning

    Things that aren’t on the list: rear main seal. It’s a bit leaky. AMC inline sixes like to do that.

    I am totally stoked.

    • outback_ute

      That’s a long list, good luck!

    • You could do without some bullets (i.e. mod the wheels)… It’s monday afternoon here already, so: How did it go? Made it to the wedding, did they say “I do”?

      • jeepjeff

        The equivalent of “I do” happened (it was a Jeeish ceremony). Still plugging away at the car. It’s early Monday morning here. A bunch of the bullets are getting dropped. I’m still hoping to mod the wheels, because AMC.

        • You can just bring the volcanos for static display.
          Do the mod in the lot, in the grass at the show?
          Doesn’t have to drive with them at all yet?

          • Did you ever see that kind of cheating on Roadkill? Exactly!

  • I got the new to me OEM cat back exhaust put on the RSX and got the wide band O2 sensor changed. The good news is that the CEL went out, the bad news is it’s still low on power. Likely a bad cat.

    The muffler shop that put the parts on is a 40 year old independent shop that still bends and welds their own pipes. Great guys, fast and cheap. Really neat place.

    http://www.madhattercolumbus.com