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The News for April 8th, 2016

V12 VantageS_Manual_060416_5 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. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:

  • Aston Martin Vantage lineup gets the best kind of updates for MY2017

  • Audi packs more tech and new engines into the A3

  • Ford updates GT350 options list, adds new colors

  • Chevrolet’s first Grand Sport to be auctioned off for charity

  • Ed Welburn, veteran VP of GM Global Design, announces retirement

  • What’s your automotive news?

2017 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTS

05-aston-martin-vantage-gts Aston Martin has been selling the Vantage relatively unchanged since 2005 and they’re adamant on finding new ways to move units for as long as possible. It may get old compared to other cars in its price range, but it never really gets old in our hearts. A couple of key changes being made to the 2017 model year Vantages should help keep the burning desire alive. Aston Martin has announced two significant changes that affect both the V8 and V12 models and they’re certainly ones that’ll make the enthusiasts happy. Starting with the V8 Vantage first, the big news is that the existing V8 Vantage portfolio will be consolidated into a single new offering, the V8 Vantage GTS. This replaces the V8 Vantage, V8 Vantage S, and V8 Vantage GT and will be available as both a coupe and a roadster. To ensure there’s a V8 Vantage that suits everyone’s character, the new GTS can be ordered as a Sport Edition or a Lux Edition, both of which take adVantage of the base car’s capabilities in both areas. Each car still runs brilliantly with the 4.7-liter V8 producing 430 horsepower and one incredible exhaust note. The Sport Edition (pictured above) features an extensive use of carbon fiber and black paint for exterior trim for a bold and contemporary aesthetic, which is how car designers say “it looks sportier now”. Topping off the visual differences are graphite five-spoke wheels and black textured finish exhaust pipes. Dynamically, the Sport Edition benefits from standard Sport Suspension which sharpens everything up. Its sport-oriented theme continues inside where Obsidian Black or Argento Grey leather seating with Alcantara or Leather inserts set the tone. Sport Editions also come with an Alcatara-trimmed steering wheel, a carbon fiber center console fascia, and black rotary controls. 20-aston-martin-vantage-gts The Lux Edition, which unfortunately wasn’t included in the press images, takes on a more classic theme to highlight the style and mature sports GT capabilities of the V8 Vantage. Various exterior styling elements are now finished in gloss black and trimmed with bright metal while the five-spoke wheels and exhaust tipes are now a brighter silver. The Lux Editions of course come with a more pliable Comfort Suspension for long distance GT’ing. Its interior is less Alcantara and more leather – much more leather. Buyers get a wide range of hide colors to choose from and the trim on the center console is a classier piano black. Another perk of opting for the Lux Edition is a standard 1000W Bang & Olufsen sound system. [Source: Aston Martin]

2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

V12 VantageS_Manual_060416_14 And now on to the big one… the V12 Vantage S. This model made its debut just a few years ago and it became the only way to buy a V12-powered Vantage. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it came with more power, greater capabilities, and better refinement. If there was one thing that didn’t make it perfect – and there was – it was that the manual transmission was never an option on the V12 Vantage S, which meant that no V12 Vantage could be had with one. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal if the automated manual gearbox didn’t attract hate from nearly every reviewer that experienced it. But it did get hate, so it kind of was a big deal. The only reason I mention that is because that’s precisely what they’ve addressed with the 2017 V12 Vantage S. V12 VantageS_Manual_060416_9 No, it’s not a new automatic gearbox… it’s a manual! And not just any manual either. It’s a seven-speed dog-leg manual gearbox. You’d be forgiven for not knowing the term (or would you?) because it’s been years since one was offered in a road car, but first gear is in a “dog-leg” position, or where second gear would normally be. The idea is that it keeps the most commonly used gears in the double H pattern, making it ideal for track duties. I personally can’t even remember the last production car to offer a dog-leg… maybe the Lamborghini Diablo? Anyway, the new, classic manual gearbox has another trick in the form of the AMSHIFT system. It adds auto rev-matching and no lift upshift capabilities and can be turned off at will. It’s the perfect transmission for the 6.0-liter, 563 horsepower V12 it’s paired with. The only downside is that only 100 of these manuals are coming to America. Even with limited numbers, this is still a series production model. Those that want it just need to tick the manual option when ordering and hope to not be too late. One last update that’s shared across all 2017 Vantages is the addition of Aston Martin’s AMi III infotainment system. The unit contains greatly enhanced navigation and Apple CarPlay integration. Pricing on the 2017 Vantage lineup has not been finalized yet. [Source: Aston Martin]

2017 Audi A3

Audi A3 Sportback One of the most successful cars in Audi’s portfolio is the A3 compact, which is why it’s getting several pretty significant updates for its midlife refresh. Every new A3 sedan, Sportback (five door), and Cabriolet will receive updated styling, new engines, and new tech to keep it near the top of the charts. As far as styling goes, the changes are few but the impact is actually noticeable for once. Starting with the front, it features a broader grille with sharper contours, redesigned headlights, and a more aggressive and pronounced lower fascia. The rear benefits from a new diffuser and redesigned tail lights as well. The A3 also gets new equipment lines, meaning packages can be ordered that add a host of features and can affect exterior styling in some way, not unlike how BMW has different “lines” as well for their cars. Audi A3 Sedan The big news inside is the addition of Audi’s groundbreaking Virtual Cockpit which first debuted on the all-new TT. That comprises of a 12.3-inch diagonal TFT screen which shows relevant driver information in two configurable views. The “classic” mode shows your typical speedo and tach as two large dials with other info arranged around them. In infotainment mode though, the screen is dominated by other information the driver could summon, like navigation, media, or telephone controls, while the tach and speedo are minimized but still visible below. Ideally, it would make it easier for the driver to see what’s most important at any given moment, and thanks to wheel-mounted controls, less distracting… maybe. Either way, the new A3 will have your back with loads of new driver assistance programs. Updated lane keep assist and frontal impact protection (including predictive pedestrian protection) are joined by brand new traffic jam assist, rear cross traffic assist, and a few other things that all end with “assist”. Audi A3 In total, there are six engines launching with the new A3 across various markets – including three diesels… heh. Assuming the diesels aren’t coming to America, the gas engines we could see are a new 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo with 115 horsepower, a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder with 150 horsepower, and a completely new 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 190 horsepower. For those that want a little more power than that, the S3 is still a thing, fortunately. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder in that one produces 310 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. All other variants of the A3, including the S3, A3 Sportback e-tron, and Sportback g-tron receive all the same updates along with their own unique powertrains. The new A3 starts rolling out in Germany this summer and presumably elsewhere shortly thereafter. [Source: Audi]

2017 Ford Shelby GT350

2017 Ford Shelby GT350 & GT350R in new colors Anyone that’s driven a new Ford Shelby GT350 or GT350R agrees that it’s pretty much the best thing ever. I’ve hardly seen anything negative being said about it from those actually driving, but that doesn’t mean Ford couldn’t find ways to improve upon it based on the feedback they were getting anyway. Apparently, most of the complaints were regarding packages and color options. For 2017, all GT350s will come standard with the Track Package and buyers will no longer have to miss out on other options because of it. Track Package adds an aluminum tower-to-tower brace, high-downforce decklid spoiler, coolers for the oil, transmission, and differential, and MagneRide damping. They’ve also added new packages that can be ordered on top of the Track Package, those being an Electronics Package with SYNC-3 and a nine-speaker audio system and the Convenience Package which adds more comfortable leather-trimmed seats on top of that. The Electronics Package is also available on the GT350R in some form. Two existing paint options are being dropped while three new ones are added to the color wheel. Deep Impact Blue and Competition Orange are replaced by Ruby Red Metallic, Lightning Blue, and Grabber Blue. There’s no word on whether or not the new standard features raise the price at all, but I would guess they would. However I do know that it’s irrelevant because there’s no way you’re getting a GT350 anywhere near MSRP anyway. [Source: Ford]

First Corvette Grand Sport going to auction

c7grandsport When the new Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport was announced with a Collector’s Edition, I just knew it would come to this… and it did. Your chance to own the first watch some rich guy in a Hawaiian shirt with C2 Corvettes on it outbid another rich guy in a Hawaiian shirt with Woodies on it and buy the first Grand Sport Collector’s Edition is at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, FL. All proceeds will benefit Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, an integrated center of research, patient care, and education with the goal of ridding the world of cancer. The Grand Sport that rolls across the auction block will be VIN #001, meaning it’s the first Grand Sport reaching private hands which also happens to have an aptly named package on it. The Collector’s Package is a limited-run edition with Watkins Glen Grey Metallic paint, Tension Blue hash marks on the fender, satin black full-length stripes, black wheels, and an exclusive Tension Blue interior. Other than a special badge and a 3D representation of the original Grand Sport embossed in the headrests to make someone feel special, everything else is carried over from the normal Grand Sport, which seems like an awesome car in its own right. It’s a Corvette Z06 minus the LT4, basically. Your chance to engage in the drama of people yelling numbers quickly at each other begins today at 6 PM EST in Palm Beach, FL. Those unable to attend may bid online at To register, call 480-421-6694 or email Since this is a charity sale, Barrett-Jackson will waive all buyer and seller fees. The person that out-Hawaiian-shirts the other will receive a letter of authenticity so they feel extra special. [Source: Chevrolet]

GM Design’s Ed Welburn set to retire

cq5dam.web.1280.1280 Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design, announced he will retire on July 1st after his 44 year career with the company. He has led GM Design regionally since 2003 and globally since 2005. During his time as VP, he arguably became one of the most important execs in the entire company. GM was very different when he assumed the role. Designs were relatively bland and not terribly inspiring and you could  buy the same car four different ways. The GM he’s retiring from is stronger and much, much prettier thanks to him and the 2,500 people worldwide he led. His successor is Michael Simcoe, a 33-year veteran of GM Design and vice president of GM International Design, based in Australia and Korea. GM put together a neat timeline of his career which shows highlights and various photos of his work. It started in 1958 when he wrote a letter to GM asking how to become a car designer and joining as an intern three years later. It ended with the Opel GT Concept and the Buick Avista Concept just months apart. Not a bad career, I’d say. I also highly recommend reading this Automotive News article which covers just how important he was for GM, from globalization to his immense attention to detail. [Sources: GM, Automotive News via JelloPicnic]

What’s your automotive news?

whatsyourautomotivenaws 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 © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

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