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The News for August 25th, 2017

Greg Kachadurian August 25, 2017 The News! 24 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:

  • From California to Portofino, Ferrari’s new open-top GT car is here

  • Ariel is set to produce EV supercar with a microturbine range extender… for real

  • Audi adopts a confusing new naming scheme to fix non-existent problem

  • Polestar will reportedly debut 600-hp coupe next month

  • Hyundai gives Santa Cruz pickup the green light for production

  • Other coverage from the week

  • Hooniverse will be at Gridlife South!

  • What’s your automotive news?

2018 Ferrari Portofino

For decades, we’ve known Portofino as a gorgeous coastal town in Italy that’s popular with tourists. When coming up with a name for their latest open-top GT car, Ferrari felt the name Portofino became internationally synonymous with “elegance, sportiness, and understated luxury”. I’m not sure how a tiny Italian coastal village portrays sportiness, but regardless, that’s the name of their California replacement.

The Portofino is an evolution of the most recent California T and still has much of the same hardware, but it’s been made a bit better. It runs with a familiar 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 but has been updated with new pistons, con-rods, intake system design, and exhaust system. There’s about a 40 horsepower advantage, bringing the total up to 592 horsepower and 560 lb.-ft of torque.

Ferrari’s updates to this award-winning engine promise even sharper throttle response with even less lag, and when combined with Variable Boost Management, results in better performance in every gear. Fuel consumption is also down a bit and the weight is too, but they won’t say by how much.

Though it isn’t specifically mentioned, it’s likely to retain the same “F1” seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Portofino posts a tenth-of-a-second improvement in its 0-62 mph time at 3.5 seconds. It’s also a little bit faster too with a top speed exceeding 198 mph.

Engineers have worked to greatly improve the Portofino’s handling characteristics over the California T and have relied on new (to the platform) tech to do so. Ferrari’s third-generation electronic rear differential improves mechanical grip and stability at the limit. It’s also the first of the GT cars to feature electronic power steering for the purpose of allowing engineers to reduce the steering ratio by 7%, making it sharper but certainly not as communicative. Last but not least, its magnetorheological damping system is upgraded with dual-coil technology to reduce roll while simultaneously absorbing more bumps. All in all, it’ll be a more capable and stable car with superior ride comfort.

As for the styling… well, it’s certainly more eye-catching and aggressive than the California ever was. The silhouette formed by the retractable hard top gives off more of a fastback look when it’s up. Collaboration between the aerodynamics team and Ferrari Design led to certain things like larger grille openings up front, hidden intakes on the outside edge of the headlights, and air vents which open up along the side to force the air to go the way they want it to. As for the rest of the car, it seems Ferrari Design went crazy.

I miss Pininfarina.

The Portofino will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month and will likely enter production early to mid next year.

[Source: Ferrari via Autoweek]

Ariel HIPERCAR

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure if this is even a real thing. My “sources” are all saying it is and that the stats I’m about to share are legit, but I still don’t know if I believe it.

Ariel, the ones that make the ridiculously fun Atom and Nomad, are developing an EV that’ll be unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the road. It’s called the HIPERCAR and it crams up to four electric motors and a gas-powered microturbine engine to act as a range extender. It’s a similar concept to what Jaguar teased in the C-X75 concept we saw years ago, but what a £22 billion-a-year automotive giant gave up on is what Ariel is pushing to production.

The final product is still a few years out but we already have real pictures of the naked chassis with its electric motors and microturbine engine plus renderings for what the skin will look like. We also have specs… and good lord.

It’ll be available with either two or four electric motors which correlate to RWD and AWD, respectively. The four-motor model will produce a casual 1,180 horsepower and 1,327 lb.-ft. of torque, which is enough to propel the thing from 0-60 mph in 2.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 3.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of around 160 mph (practically Bugatti territory for EVs). The dual-motor model only produces 590 horsepower and will probably still go ridiculously quick. Depending on the configuration, you’re given a 56-kWh or 42-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

I’m not the one who cropped it like this, I swear.

Did I mention 0-100 mph in 3.8 seconds? With the car’s final debut planned for 2019, we’ll just have to wait and see if they can really pull this off. What a world we live in…

[Source: Ariel via Autoweek]

Audi’s Dumb New Naming Scheme

An Audi executive must have read my guide to understanding BMW’s nomenclature and thought “I can do better than that”. And by “better”, I of course mean unhinged levels of sheer stupidity.

Audi has come up with a new standardized nomenclature for the power output designations of its worldwide range of gas, diesel, and electric vehicles which will get tacked on to the unchanged model names (such as A4, Q7, etc). From now on, two extra digits added to the car’s name will signify its output in kilowatts (kW) in increments of five.

Meant to represent the hierarchy of performance within each model series, these extra two numbers will add “clarity and logic”. It’s really easy and clear and logical, guys. If you see a 30 badge stuck on an A3, it means its engine produces between 81 and 96 kW. To the same effect, 45 signifies a power output between 169 and 185 kW.

Each block of horsepower, which for all we know is chosen completely at random, is associated with a number. 30 is the lowest and 70 is the highest, which is reserved for the cars with over 400 kW.

High-performance S, RS, and R8 models are not affected by this. It’s also worth noting that these numbers will still be followed by their engine technology designation, being TFSI, TDI, g-tron, and e-tron.

So my question is, what does this actually solve? All this new nomenclature impacts is the standard A sedans and Q SUVs, many of which only have a few engine options globally and just one in the US. Was it really so hard to say “A4 2.0 TFSI” and will saying “A4 45 TFSI” be any easier? Did anyone really get confused by the old system? In fact, most people will just say the model name and literally nothing else because that’s likely all they care about. They certainly won’t care about two extra numbers that cryptically suggest its power output.

With BMW at least, the two trailing numbers in their badges actually correlate to a specific engine with a consistent output across every model. Even though they don’t exactly represent the engine displacement as they used to, you still know what to expect from a 340i once you’ve learned the engine codes in your market (and it’s super easy in America). With this system, the badge A3 35 TFSI doesn’t mean much of anything unless you’ve memorized what output range is represented by each number between 30 and 70 in increments of five. Even then, the badge will give you 20-30 horsepower range. Every BMW carrying the -30i designation makes the same amount of power.

In effort to make something that was never hard or illogical a little easier and more logical, they’ve replaced two numbers that meant something with two numbers which mean a whole lot less. It accomplishes nothing, but I’m sure it gave some executive an opportunity to pretend they were helping.

This madness starts with the A8 in the next few months and will be rolled out to all applicable model lines by next summer.

[Source: Audi]

BLIPS

Volvo’s Polestar will reportedly bring a powerful new concept coupe to Frankfurt next month. In a report published by Autocar, the concept is described as having a mostly carbon body of Polestar’s own design and with a heavily modified gas-electric powertrain sourced from Volvo. Likely based on the twin-engine T8 powertrain, with the turbocharged and supercharged four-banger gas engine, it’ll produce around 600 horsepower. Polestar is owned by Volvo but is acting as a standalone brand with their own badges. As Volvo looks to expand the use of hybrids and EVs in their fleet, Polestar is working on ways to make that tech go faster with their own cars. We’re expecting to see Polestar’s first in-house creation next month and more within the next couple years. This is about to get real good…

[Source: Autocar]

Hyundai has approved a new pickup is on the way to help bolster sales. The confirmation came in a Reuters interview with vice president of corporate and product planning, Michael J. O’Brien. The truck will be similar to the Santa Cruz concept revealed in Chicago back in 2015, Michael said, which we can assume means it’ll be a Honda Ridgeline competitor and not so much a heavy-duty workhorse as we can expect from the Big Three, Toyota, and Nissan. It’s expected to launch in 2020 and a few other SUVs and crossovers will have joined by then as well, all with the idea of reversing the sales decline they’re experiencing. More SUVs should fix that.

[Source: Reuters via Autoweek]

Other Coverage From the Week

Two pretty big stories broke this week and we were too excited to wait till Friday to talk about it. First off, BMW revealed the all-new 2018 M5 with 600 horsepower, less weight, and a neat AWD system that can disconnect at will for super happy drift fun time. I’ve got all the things you need to know and more about it right here.

On the other end of the spectrum, some details and CAD renderings of the upcoming Jeep Wrangler-based pickup were leaked. Ross talked through it all of it and geeked out almost as hard as I did with the M5 coverage.

Hooniverse Will be at Gridlife South!

By the time this goes live, Gridlife South will have kicked off at Road Atlanta and Bradley and I will be there! From today through Sunday, tons of HPDEs, time attacks, drifting, and music is on the schedule and we’ll be doing our best to experience it all… or I will at least. Bradley was tasked with making sure other esteemed members of the media don’t do anything stupid, like last year. If you’re around, come tell us how much we suck. Otherwise, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live-ish coverage. I’ll have a complete recap up sometime next week.

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]

  • Audi is trying to solve the “problem” that some engines with identical displacement may have different output. Also, a range of different drivetrain concepts can be compared and regecognize…. Ah shove it,what am I trying to defend here.

    • So why not have 2.0a, 2.0b, 2.0c or whatever suffix Audi sees as coolest? Perhaps E, S and T, each signifying a different run on the horsepower ladder?

      Or, if it really matters, just slap a badge with the actual kW figure on it.

      Utterly baffling.

      • Maymar

        I think they’d better serve their customers by just printing the MSRP as a badge.

        • wunno sev

          “the 2017 Audi lineup includes paragons of design and technology like the I’m Rich, the I’m Fast, the I’m A Tech Douche, and the I Have Unusual Yet Refined Tastes, and I Also Wear Turtlenecks”

        • Greg Kachadurian

          That’s perfect

      • This is done for the salescreatures much more than the customers.

    • outback_ute

      Also because they don’t want to put smaller displacement badges on future generation cars. BMW and Mercedes are basically already doing this, there are only a handful of badges that actually reflect actual engine capacity.

    • CraigSu

      Does this mean Audi is going to put the horsepower rating on the back for the US market ’cause ‘Murica ain’t metric? Of course not, that would make too much sense. Instead we would have to multiply by what, 6.7 instead of 5?

      • outback_ute

        Yep looks like it is arbitrary and non-linear to boot. It’s about the vibe, man – how very un-German lol

  • wunno sev

    i’ve had it a week and the SRS light is already coming on in my new-to-me W124 E320 coupe. i knew what i was getting into, but i’d hoped for a longer honeymoon.

    on the bright side, new headlight lenses! and i can get new seat covers for $300. this car will be a bunch of really satisfying $150-300 fixes that will bankrupt me because of how necessary they all feel.

    • wunno sev

      and my permanent-rolling-project car, uncharacteristically, is behaving: last week i made a little prototype panel to strap some boost control components down and ran some 3/16″ steel tubing to plumb it all together, and then i went and bought that mercedes, which distracted me. today i put the Volvo back together and took it for a spin. man, that thing is fast! i’d completely forgotten.

      about $50 in materials will let me make the final product out of aluminum plate and stainless tubing, which will look much nicer and be more durable. i’m willing to invest time and money for that.

    • Rover 1

      It’s most likely a seatbelt sensor fault, possibly caused by a loose/broken connection under either one of the front seats, specially on cars where the seats haven’t been used in a while. Check the red plug under the driver’s seat. Run a diagnostic.

      See page 247-248 of http://www.w124performance.com/docs/…Guide_Ed.B.pdf

  • Sjalabais

    Stupid behavior, stupid problem: For the first time ever, I ran dry the window washing fluid. After a refill, it only washes the front lights, but not my window. So the controls and pump work. There’s no leak in the tank or lines. Nothing seems to be clogged either. My mechanic presented my favourite advice: “Wait and do nothing, it’ll come back”. Well, so far it hasn’t…any smart ideas on how to return to a fully functioning window washer?

    • Try pulling the rubber hose off the nozzle and see if fluid comes out when you spray. It’s possible the nozzles got plugged with a little junk from the bottom of the jug. It’s an easy test anyway.

      • Sjalabais

        Thanks for the tip! I just tried that and the line is dry. The fluid container is so ridiculously inaccessible though that I’ll postpone checking the other end for now…
        https://s2.postimg.org/m02s9sz3d/IMG_20170827_132119.jpg
        Also, my wife thinks this might be a punishment by the car gods for ordering Aqua Pel.

    • Thanks! I don’t follow BaT closely, so I’d missed it.

    • Scoutdude

      As mentioned the gunk in the bottom of the container may have clogged the line to the windshield nozzles. The quick fix is to hold your fingers over the head light nozzles while your wife operates the system for several seconds continously. If that doesn’t work try pulling the hose where it splits to go to the windshield nozzles and repeat the spraying with the fingers over the headlight sprayers.

      • Sjalabais

        Will apply pressure, got it!

  • outback_ute

    Does anyone else think the Ariel looks like a Transformers logo in the shot with the red background?

  • 1slowvw

    Did you know that for 200$ you can buy a 480xxxkm “lightly used former drivers ed car. Then all you need to do is select the oldest least desirable turbo gear from a few friends garages and with a weekends work you have a turbo tercel.

    Updates in a few weeks from the drag strip.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/26cb503e21360df8e5d3b87a58d930527eef62779e42057510e1c69d738d845a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4d6d5d607f2882e72536f1c770dff9dfba986e3aec6e5f51fea2549852efe0af.jpg

  • CraigSu

    Hey, Ferrari, that’s a really nice Mazda MX-5 RF you’ve got there!

  • Fuhrman16

    After putting it off for most of the summer, I’ve finally gotten around to fixing my broken Lemons car. And by fixing I mean replacing the motor, which has uneven compression and a cracked engine block. So far I’ve managed to wrangle the engine out of the car. Fun fact, a Mitsubishi 1.5L Orion series engine only has three bolts and a locating pin mounting it to the transmission.
    Now the question is whether to try and make one good engine out of the two broken ones I have, or just buy another one from the junkyard? Most likely will wind up doing both.

    • 1slowvw

      If a long block is available and cheap why not throw it in. I’m all for throwing stuff together but if both of your existing engines failed then who is to say whether other internal parts haven’t been compromised?

  • peugeotdude505

    I put my 400E on craigslist last week. Only had one person come see it so far.