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The News for May 11th, 2018

Greg Kachadurian May 11, 2018 The News! 34 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 does the inevitable with all-new Cullinan SUV

  • BMW unveils new enthusiast-spec M5 Competition

  • Aston Martin sends off old Vantage with 600-hp V12 V600

  • Cadillac will kill ATS among other ‘old’ sedans, but will replace them

  • Aston Martin confirms ‘revolutionary’ electric SUV for 2021, entire internet groans

  • Aston Martin is taking the new Vantage racing in GT3 and GT4 spec

  • Nissan prices all-new Kicks compact crossover at well under $20K

  • Fire at supplier plant halts production of Ford F-150 and affects other manufacturers

  • What’s your automotive news?

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

“The super-luxury lifestyle is evolving”, says Rolls-Royce. “Luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world”, which I guess is something you can only do in a luxury SUV that’s slightly higher off the ground than a standard luxury car. It’s for that reason that Rolls were apparently asked to build something that could offer “uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture”. That something is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, but only if you’re too rich just buy a Range Rover instead which is the real correct choice for people who supposedly want “uncompromised luxury” with their daring “ventures”.

But anyway, Rolls-Royce’s attempt to cash in on market trends is yet another super luxury SUV that will supposedly define its segment. They acknowledge that the term SUV is applied to “anything with a two-box silhouette and the least suggestion of going off tarmac” – which is why their Culinary is “an authentic, three-box high-bodied all-terrain car”. You hear that, two-box silhouette plebs? This bitch has three boxes. That third box is in reference to the distinct environment they created for passengers which is isolated from the luggage area, unlike traditional and less civilized SUVs.

The Cunningham is built on an all-new aluminum “Architecture of Luxury” that we’ll see more of in the future. It’s what allowed for a rigid chassis and more design freedom, which was ultimately used to make what is likely the safest super luxury SUV design yet. It really does just look like a taller Rolls-Royce without suffering as much from the same kind of awkwardness we normally see when car styling is applied to an SUV – see early (or current) Porsche Cayenne, the Bentley Bent-a-guy, and the monstrosity known as the Lamborghini Urus.

Rolls-Royce says the Cumberbatch is aimed squarely at their customers who pursue sports or leisure hobbies that sometimes require driving off the beaten path. They say it’ll satisfy the adventurous urges owners may have and can absorb the savage landscape (speed bumps at the mall) so well that you simply float and let yourself get lost – that’s the work of their famous “Magic Carpet Ride” height-adjustable air suspension that’s been re-engineered for off-road use.

The Conan is the first Rolls to feature all-wheel-drive and all-wheel steer system which they promise will actually be useful off road. Probably not Range Rover levels of useful, but certainly plenty good enough for how real and non-theoretical Rolls-Royce owners will actually use them. The fact that they’re equipping it with Continental ContiSportContacts – a max performance summer tire – says it all.

The Rolls-Royce Cunnilingus can partake in various forms of off-road adventuring, like driving on a dirty road.

It’s powered by a 6.75-liter V12 with two turbochargers which offers 563 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque as early in the rev range as possible. Rolls-Royce isn’t one to quote 0-60 times, but the thing is only a hundred pounds or so away from weighing three tons so it’s probably nothing special. It has a limited top speed of 155 mph and they claim proper Rolls-Royce manners on the road that aren’t compromised by its sensational off-road ability.

To wrap this up, it’s an SUV by Rolls-Royce, plain and simple. They’ll tell you it can go anywhere and the press drives will certainly put it to the test, but you know the vast majority of these will only be parked in valet and sun-soaked driveways. It’s a mic drop moment from a leader in luxury that’s chasing the most lucrative market in the industry, and it’s gonna work. You’ll know it’s been launched when you start seeing it on the douchiest Instagram pages.

[Source: Rolls-Royce]

BMW M5 Competition

The latest BMW M5 may only be a year old but it’s already getting its first new variant, and it’s the kind that makes it go faster. The M5’s Competition specification returns with all of the performance enhancements that would be expected. More power, sharper handling, and other unique features build upon the already very capable M5.

BMW has been ramping up the presence of these Competition packages and are now making it into a separate product category within the M brand. With the previous M5, roughly 40% of all units sold were equipped with the Competition specification while it was available and I’m sure the numbers are close for the M3/M4 Competition as well. For the enthusiasts with pockets deep enough for a new M car, the extra upgrade to the Competition is a no-brainer.

This M5 Competition is now the most powerful M5 in company history thanks to a reworked 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 which now produces 617 hp and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. The eight-speed automatic was already quick but it now benefits from an additional oil cooler for track work. It still channels power through the new M xDrive system, which they proudly state was already up to the task of directing this extra power to either all four wheels or just the rear.

The 0-60 mph time drops to 3.1 seconds and 0-124 mph now takes just 10.8 seconds.

The M5 Competition also benefits from a model-specific flap-controlled exhaust system, new engine mounts with a stiffer spring rate, a 7mm drop in ride height, increased negative front camber, a more firm anti-roll bar at the back, and 10% stiffer springs all around. It’s a series of little changes that they claim will have a noticeable impact on the way this car moves and feels. Every Competition spec they’ve made in recent years has worked as advertised so it’s probably the same situation here.

Visually the M5 Competition is differentiated by unique 20″ light alloy wheels and darker exterior trim pieces. And special floor mats with model-specific piping which alone is worth the $110,995 price of admission – that’s about $8,400 more than the standard M5. Production begins in July.

[Source: BMW]

Aston Martin Vantage V600

After twelve years of service, the old Aston Martin Vantage we all knew and loved has been fully replaced by the new Vantage line that’s just starting to roll out to dealers. But even as the car was hitting the press fleet and the race track in WEC, they were working on one last hurrah for the platform that’s served the brand since 2005. It’s a special project named the V600, which – like the V8 Vantage V600 from 20 years ago – is the most extreme road-going Vantage possible.

Aston’s specialty vehicle customization service, Q, received a commission for just 14 examples of a V12-powered Vantage V600 that was then designed, engineered, and hand-built without compromise. Built off the now discontinued platform, it’s designed to squeeze every bit of performance out of it while taking advantage of its more analog approach.

A heavily reworked 6.0-liter naturally-aspirated V12 now cranks out 600 horsepower and it’s paired with the seven-speed manual transmission that debuted on the V12 Vantage S. No turbochargers or AMG-sourced transmissions here, just a mighty V12 and a dog-leg gearbox.

The bespoke body is all carbon fiber and features reimagined side strakes, a new grille, and the same kind of bulging bonnet as seen on the old V600. It rides on center-locking forged and machined aluminum wheels and is graced with some new materials in the cabin.

As their last analog sports cars ride off into the sunset, these 14 cars will forever be known as the very last examples of something Aston Martin did so well. The new cars may be faster and more effective, but a car like this proves they may not necessarily be better by all definitions.

Though the cars were built on commission, they are apparently available for sale to anyone not thwarted by the lack of a list price. It’s a shame these 14 cars will likely never be seen in public.

[Source: Aston Martin]

BLIPS

Cadillac has announced they will discontinue the ATS sedan by the end of the year and the ATS coupe will likely follow next year. But don’t panic just yet because the backstory Cadillac provided is a bit different than we’ve seen from related stories lately. The report from Automotive News contains a fairly reassuring quote from a Cadillac spokesperson, who said production is “ending due to extensive plant upgrades, expansion and re-tooling to prepare for the next generation of Cadillac sedans” which will consist of three sedans in total. The ATS, CTS, and XTS will eventually all be replaced by two new sedans of varying sizes and prices with the newer CT6 remaining as the sedan flagship. So the ATS (among others) is dying, but it’s being replaced by… something. It may not be a direct replacement in its exact category, but it’s in a better situation than most other American sedans right now.

[Source: Automotive News]

Hey guys look Aston Martin is going to “revolutionize the luxury SUV”, which is something that’s been said at least a million times now by everyone. The way they plan to do it though is way better and at least 17% more revolutionary than everyone else’s. Their plan is to introduce the “first emission-free Luxury Battery Electric SUV to market”. By adding the ‘Luxury’ part they can pretend that the Tesla Model X doesn’t already exist. It will be unveiled in 2021, hopefully with a roofline that can sustain human life.

[Source: Aston Martin]

In happier Aston Martin news, the new Vantage will return to GT3 and GT4 racing with customer teams. Aston Martin’s customer racing program first kicked off with the first Vantage race cars 12 years ago and they still continue to succeed in various series around the world, but it’s time to pass the torch to the new generation. The existing V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 will be replaced by the all-new V8 Vantage GT3 and GT4 car. Both cars will use the same race-prepped 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that just debuted in the factory-backed V8 Vantage GTE last weekend in the WEC. In total, Aston Martin built 42 GT3 cars and 124 GT4 cars on the old Vantage platform, so I’d imagine there are a lot of teams waiting in line for this one.

[Source: Aston Martin]

In news that may actually matter to some readers here, Nissan just priced the Kicks at $18,965 (including destination). This compact crossover replaces the Juke with less polarizing styling and more standard features. There are three trim levels available and the range-topping Kicks SR starts at $21,265 with destination. All come equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT and front-wheel drive. It has 125 hp and 115 lb.-ft. of torque to work with and it can manage a combined 33 mpg. You can get your kicks starting later this spring.

[Source: Nissan]

A fire at a major supplier has halted some production lines at Ford, GM, BMW, FCA, and Mercedes-Benz. The production lines that seem to have been impacted the most are the lines that are most important to Ford right now – the F-150 and Superduty lines. Ford has idled F-150 production until May 14th, but that date may change as the supplier – Meridian Magnesium Products of America – tries to recover. They supply parts to pretty much all of Ford’s SUVs but only the trucks are immediately impacted. Though the impact on Ford is the largest, they aren’t alone. Autoweek reports that GM is halting full size van production, FCA is adjusting schedules for Pacifica production, and BMW and Mercedes-Benz report various production interruptions as well. Of course the ones who are affected the most are the thousands of auto workers who just had their shifts cancelled for at least a week.

[Source: Autoweek]

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 © 2018 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

  • Rental recap: Renault Captur with not enough HP (under 100hp). I was astonished to hear that this is only like 17kGBP, with satnav, automatic side mirrors, cruise control, AC and whatnot. Drove better than the Ford CUV I had last year, but needed a gear less every time you pressed the accelerator pedal.
    Most annoying design feature: four lugs on a 5-symmetric design that doesn’t respect the bolt circle.
    http://cdn2.autoexpress.co.uk/sites/autoexpressuk/files/styles/gallery_adv/public/2017/09/dsc_9705.jpg

    • On the news: 3x Aston, 1x RR, Cadillac: that’s my Hooniverse! Also kudos for acknowledgement of the workers’ shifts being cancelled, usually people only point out delayed delivery.

    • Toaster

      That is atrocious, but Renault does this a lot these days. What makes it worse is that Renault over the years had some really cool, far-out geometric designs.
      I reckon this, bolt circle nonewithstanding, would actually work better as a 4 spoke. wouldn’t look as sporty from afar, but then, this is a Captur, the most milquetoast of small crossovers on the road.

      • outback_ute

        I don’t agree, apart from some of the ‘geometric’ designs in the 80s I don’t think there have been many good looking 4 spoke wheels, and the ones I’m referring to weren’t really spokes (eg Saab Aztecs)

        • Toaster

          Alfa melber major.
          R11 turbo alloys
          Citroen BX GTi alloys.

          Or if you want more modern and spoke-y, the citroen range of 8 spokes on the Cactus works quite well on this type of car.

          The moment you would make this 4 spoke it would look like a split cruziform, and fall for me on the geometric side of things, which is good. Not sporty, but fitting for a little french runabout.

    • Kudos to Renault for recognizing that 5 spoke designs look better than 4 spokes, but if you aren’t going to pony up for the 5 lug hubs then you should hide the lugs under a larger center cap.

    • Fuhrman16

      That is just poor design. Can’t believe that passed the board.

  • Sjalabais

    Our Camry finally got its new exhaust this week. The Toyota original – three parts, two catalysators, one sound damper – ticks in at 3500$. The one from the bay of E was one sixth that, and, according to my mechanic, looks decent.

    One of the civil engineers at my job bought himself a Mazda CX5 15 months ago. I applauded that choice, it’s even brown and a diesel. But this week, he had to change the complete brake setup – disks, calipers, some of the fishbones even – due to rust. Like most civil engineers, he is always right dammit, cough, so I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when he teared down the Mazda customer department.

    On the news…the RR grille is just overdue for a replacement. Why do they still try to incorporate a ’30s design feature when everything else seems to scream: “Look, I’m hip, only for rich folks!”. Not a beautiful car.

    • Alff

      Is beauty a consideration in new car design? I see very little evidence in support.

      • Sjalabais

        I’d argue that the current “grab attention”-design isn’t necessarily beautiful, but some manufacturers do at least try to put out something coherent – without throwing a somewhat traditional design language over board. Look at Mazda or Volvo.

        The Rolls Royce looks like a Touareg/Range Rover meshup with a dash of Soviet bling – and that same old grille added. It just doesn’t fit the rest of the car at all, imho. So I’m done with RR. Totally done.

        • kogashiwa

          That’s pretty generous. It looks like an inflated Nissan Prairie.

          Possibly the only vehicle on the road more vulgar than an Escalade. Spirit of Ecstasy, indeed.

          • I like the “Russian bling” Sjalabais mentioned, can we keep that?

            • Batshitbox

              Not Russian bling…Soviet bling. That bit of lexical dissonance caught my eye, too. I never would have thought of anything soviet as having bling, and the soviet era ended long before the word bling became popular, but I have to honor Sjalabais for creating a word-cocktail uniquely suited to the tastes of Hooniverse and Atomic Toasters commentators.

              • Sjalabais

                This quickly spirals into a kitchen session of deep philosophy, but didn’t the need for bling come into being due to the restrictedness of bling in Soviet times? Only the fewest few would bling themselves in Soviet times – cue the unrestricted use of chrome on GAZ and ZIL vehicles. Be it the three stripes of Adidas, gold necklaces, whale penis hide: It’s the cyclical antidote to “everybody equal”. You guys are right though, “Russian bling” is more on the spot, if you realize how tsarist beauty already was Versailles turned to 11.

          • Vairship

            Spirit of XTC?

            • Batshitbox

              Yes! When you’re King For A Day you can drive one down Respectable Street and have 1-2-3-4-5 Senses Working Overtime

          • outback_ute

            The Prairie reference is spot on! Like the first Porsche Cayenne which I thought was a scaled-up Daihatsu Sirion.

            The RR grille is a pretty poor imitation of the real grille IMO, but it seems they are afraid to move on.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7207b5d8a06bff8100ff5474d920d4e5dc1afcd8a6d9e5e6ed39b73a13148da.jpg

    • Batshitbox

      Civil Engineers are always right dammit except on that crucial day when they decide to quit majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

    • Zentropy

      I agree. The RR grille is decades overdue for a re-design. I realize the grille hides/protects the radiator, but it shouldn’t look like one.

  • Alff

    Freaking vibration problem persists in the Subaru despite heroic measures. Replaced to date tires, wheels, rotors/calipers/master, balljoints, inner & outer tie rods, rack bushings, wheel bearings, driveshaft, drive axles, control arm bushings, struts, sway bar end links. It has an intermittent vibration at freeway speeds felt in the seat and in steering wheel. At times the vibration is quite strong. This is apparently a characteristic issue for various Subaru models and years.

    I hate surrender but I’m about at my wit’s end with this one. May have to dump it – it’s not going to fetch what it should be worth with all of the maintenance done. Never again, Subaru.

    • P161911

      Find the best tire shop in town, the one the race car guys and the exotic car guys use. Take it there and have the tires dynamically balanced and maybe a 4 wheel alignment. I know of one in the Atlanta area.

      • Alff

        Good suggestion. RFB is on the list.

  • Fred

    I’ve got an idea for a Top Gear episode, take that RR SUV on a off road adventure. The jokes are just too easy.

    • The typical buyer would probably do exactly that, and call the helicopter when it broke down.

    • outback_ute

      A couple of years ago I had a tour around the Holden proving ground and one part that stood out from the modern standard road surfaces was a section with 8″ rocks set in a concrete road (so 4-6″ bumps). We drove on it for about 20m before pulling off to the side, because low profile tyres just get destroyed on it, yet in the 1950s it was part of the testing for regular sedans.

  • So, RR created a new platform that would give them greater design freedom and then made Constipation look exactly like a tall wagon version of their sedan?

    I get the impression that they are both catering to and trolling their customers at the same.

    • Toaster

      Their design language with the upright grille, the massive proportions and the angular lines works much better on an SUV than Porsches or Lamborghinis, so something like this was both expected and pretty much the only way to go.
      Still would have preferred a Phantom wagon to the Cunnilingus, mind you.

  • Vairship

    Well, it’s not automotive news but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. When there’s too much ice in winter in Finland to get aboard ships using a pilot boat, there’s always another way: http://youtu.be/QzG3JXzjILE (don’t miss the pilot “boat” at the end heading back to shore).

    • Batshitbox

      Awesome. I recently read Crossing The Bar by San Francisco Bar Pilot Paul Lobo and I knew those cats frequently did some real nutty shit to get on and off a freighter.

  • Maymar

    So, I drove an ATS (V and regular 3.6) and Camaro nearly back to back this week, and the ATS highlights why I’m so disappointed with the Camaro. The ATS is by no means a dowdy looking car (it might be flawed in some ways that largely don’t matter to me, but it’s not exceedingly staunch and upright), but it has normal sized mirrors and half-decent visibility, and drives about the same (give or take) as the mobile pillbox. On the other hand, ATSs are a decent used deal, so I can’t be too disappointed. Just, if GM decides to do a retro 2nd gen, it can’t come soon enough.

    Also, the Lacrosse feels more enthusiastic to drive than the Regal. Go figure.

  • I_Borgward
  • ptschett

    My understanding was that civil engineers built targets & mechanical engineers built weapons systems.

    (Meanwhile I’m happily being a degreed agricultural engineer designing mechanical parts of machinery that’s most useful for the construction of civil engineers’ designs…)