The News for August 26th, 2016

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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 drops the top on the Vanquish Zagato because they could

  • Tesla reveals Model S P100D with more range and power

  • Mazda has reportedly approved the RX-9 for production

  • Ford offering a free* driving academy for Focus RS buyers

  • EPA is considering a higher octane mandate

  • What’s your automotive news?

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante

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There’s sort of an unwritten rule within the automotive industry which states that any successful new car must be followed up with a convertible version where possible. The latest collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato is the Vanquish Zagato, a rare and desperately pretty grand tourer, and has certainly been successful in terms of customer demand and all the nice things people on the interwebs say about it. Therefore, convertible.
Aston Martin dropped the top on the Vanquish Zagato Volante at Pebble Beach last Friday (hours after the news ran… of course) and confirmed the extreme customer demand is what convinced them to release a convertible Zagato car. Only two other Aston Martin-Zagato projects have ever been released as convertibles, those being the V8 Vantage Volante from 1987 and the DB AR1 from 2003. As with those examples, the Vanquish Zagato Volante will be produced in extremely limited numbers. Just 99 Volantes will be produced, as with the coupes.
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Other than the unique Zagato roof line found on the coupe, the Volante doesn’t miss out on any of the other goodness that made the other Vanquish Zagato such a stunner. The rest of the body apart from the rear deck is identical to the coupe. Same classic Aston Martin proportions, same fine details, same massive grille.
It also keeps that same 6.0-liter naturally-aspirated V12, which according to this release produces 592 bhp. The press release I got for the production-ready Vanquish Zagato coupe claimed 576 bhp where the concept claimed 592 bhp. Either way, the Volante takes 3.7 seconds to hit 60mph from a stand still as opposed to the 3.5 seconds in the coupe. Is that power figure a typo? Did the coupe actually have 592 bhp all along and they just lied to us? Is the Volante really still slower than the coupe even though it has more power? I thought about reaching out to Aston Martin for a comment on this yuge scandal, but I figured nobody really gives a shit.
Deliveries begin sometime in 2017.
[Source: Aston Martin]

Tesla Model S P100D

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Tesla has revealed a new range-topping Model S with a larger battery and more power. The Tesla Model S P100D gets a new 100kWh battery which Elon says is the most complex battery they’ve created yet, but the end result is the quickest Model S to date. The Model X will also get this new battery at some point, but nobody cares about that one.
Tesla claims 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds when equipped with Ludicrous mode, a number which puts it right in line with the world’s greatest supercars. Tesla points out that only the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder were able to beat it, but both of those cannot be bought new (unless Ferrari allows you to buy the LaFerrari Spyder) and that they’re two-seaters with very little luggage space (yeah, no shit). But there’s no denying that the quickest production car in the world will soon be the Model S P100D, an electric sedan which can seat up to seven (five adults, two children).
A number which probably matters to more EV buyers than a 0-60 time is the range. Fortunately, that’s improved quite a bit as well on the P100D. It’s been rated by the EPA at 315 miles, making it the first EV to officially break 300 miles on the EPA cycle.
They didn’t talk MSRP on the P100D Ludicrous, but they did say buyers who have not yet taken delivery of their P90D Ludicrous can upgrade to the 100kWh pack for $10,000. Existing P90D Ludicrous owners can do the same for $20,000 because there are additional costs associated with recycling the old battery. As new, there’s no way this won’t be deep into the $100,000 range.
Even Tesla admits it’s expensive but emphasized that sales on the P100D help them ramp up their production lines so they can actually deliver those hundreds of thousands of Model 3s people are expecting sometime before they die.
[Source: Tesla]

BLIPS

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Mazda has reportedly green-lit the RX Vision concept and its rotary engine according to a report in a Japanese magazine which was obtained by Motoring which was obtained by Autoweek which I stumbled across at 2:00am the morning this is going live. The concept many are assuming to have previewed the RX-9 was revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show last year and it broke the internet. The feedback Mazda received was very positive, so positive that its board of directors formally approved the design, engineering, and production of the latest RX sports car. As Motoring points out, the RX-9 name is something that Mazda has already trademarked so it’s confirmed they’re at least thinking about it in some capacity. Preliminary thoughts are that it’ll weigh under 2,800 pounds, will be powered by a dual-rotor 1.6-liter engine, could have twin-turbochargers, and would theoretically have between 300 and 400 horsepower with numerous grains of salt taken. We could see another RX-9 concept as early as next year with production models hitting dealerships by 2020. Between this and the thought of a Toyota Supra revival, we have a lot to look forward to.
[Source: Everyone via Autoweek]
Ford Focus RS
Ford is offering a free* driving school to anyone who buys a new Focus RS. The RS Adrenaline Academy is not unlike the Ford Focus ST Octane Academy they launched a few years ago. The instruction is free, cars and safety equipment are provided, and it’s at the wonderful Utah Motorsports Campus (formerly Miller Motorsports Park) in Grantsville, Utah. There will be classroom sessions and on-track exercises led by professional driving instructors who will guide buyers through the four driving modes (including Drift Mode) and explore the capabilities of this street-legal rally car. Travel and lodging is something drivers will have to take care of, but all instruction is included in the Focus RS purchase price. Those interested should consult rsadrenalineacademy.com more information on how to enroll.
And while we’re on the topic of Ford Performance, they announced last week that Ford GT production will extend to another two years and add an additional 500 units, bringing the total up to 1,000. If you’re a Ford collector and avid Hawaiian shirt wearer or a popular YouTuber, Ford may be in touch soon.
[Source: Ford via Autoweek]
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EPA considering higher octane fuel mandate according to a report from Automotive News/Autoweek. This is in response to the rise of turbochargers, direct injection, and higher compression engines. The proposed benefit would be better fuel economy, reduced emissions, and of course better performance. This won’t happen any time soon though as it needs to wait until the next set of fuel economy and emissions standards take effect after 2025. Many automakers have been bringing this up to the EPA and it seems that they’re starting to listen. They’re all using Europe as an example where octane ratings are between 95 and 100 most of the time, based on the RON scale. Dan Nicholson, General Motors’ vice president of global propulsion systems, told Automotive News that he expects most engines would receive a 5% boost in fuel economy if we had the same higher octane gas as Europe. Now there is the matter of price since premium fuel here is considerably higher than regular fuel, but Automotive News believes the mandate will make the price difference between premium and regular evaporate pretty quickly. Official talks among the EPA and the industry are still a few years out at best so there’s plenty of time to procrastinate and do nothing.
[Source: Autoweek]

 What’s your automotive news?

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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]

I'm the guy that spoiled the site with all the new car stuff. Hooniverse News Editor since 2011, amateur motorsport photographer, sim racer, and mountain road enthusiast.

0 Comments

  1. Ok, the SS is always considered the greatest car that nobody is buying, but it’s amazing how truly rare this car is. Courtesy of GM Customer Care and the SS fanboi site, http://www.ssforums.com, here’s an abbreviated breakdown of the 2016 model run.
    2202 customer orders plus an additional 19 internal GM cars for a total of 2221. Of those, far and away the most popular color, with over 1/3 is black. Followed by white, blue, 200 cars are Some Like It Hot red, silver, Red Hot, Mystic Green, Regal Peacock Green and the rarest color with only 37 built, Jungle Green. They further break down numbers to specific options under each color. MiSSus GTXcellent’s car: Some Like It Hot red, with no sunroof, no spare tire, and manual transmission is………. 1 of 5!!!!! 5 whole cars in the entire world built to those specifications. The rarest car is a 1 of 1 Regal Peacock Green with no sunroof, no spare, and automatic. There were no Jungle Green cars built without a sunroof or spare. Some other tidbits – 86% of the SS have sunroofs and a very sizeable 32% (711 cars) had a manual.
    I hope nothing ever happens to this car, because we’ll obviously never be able to replace it. Side note, I ordered snow tires and winter rims (BBS SR) this week – it’s northern Minnesota, I might need to put them on any day now!

      1. I can’t remember.
        A very good friend of mine owns the tire shop in town (we were in each others weddings) so I get all of my rubber and wheels through him. We chatted a few months ago about getting a winter setup and I told him to go ahead and order. He told me what he was going to order, but I honestly can’t recall. I want to say they were Blizzak LM-60. I know he had an off-size of Hakkapeliitta 8s that I could have had for less than cost – some dude ordered them and then backed out of the deal but the size was just a little too small. I’ll let you know for sure when they come.

        1. LM-60’s would be great! We evaluated both those and the LM-32’s on the snow and ice. The 60’s are more of a pure winter tire with a more agressvie tread pattern/siping but ended up going with the 32’s (still good, but a better compromise for cold dry roads as well as snow/ice because of the stiffer tread blocks) because Bridgestone killed the 60’s for the SS tire sizes. So if you have the 60’s, I’m guessing the date codes on the sidewall will be pretty old.
          I had Nokian’s on my Mini and never had any complaints, so the Hakkipe… hakipell… Hockey Pucks should do pretty well, too. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e08d51430705c6192b95cb752fe2b2e80b5b1dc4ddeccbaab95468d0cb28e04.jpg

    1. Wow that is a pretty small number, probably fewer than the number of HSV’s sold here. A good percentage of manuals though.

    2. Going to be watching these closely in a few years. Selfishly hoping they don’t hold resale as well as the G8 GXPs are, but know that’s unlikely. Love the SS’s…

    1. On the other hand, if Borgward produce an electric P100 Combi with a range of 300 miles for $15000 or so, I’d be very interested…

  2. It doesn’t appear people are making them (yet), but I really want a model of the gorgeous RX Vision concept (or, well, the real thing).

  3. Re:EPA octane ratings.
    For those of you not familiar with the ‘European RON’ ratings, the EPA are introducing an equivalent scale intended to be clearer to US consumers.
    EPA RON levels will be as follows:
    1 ‘RONald McDonald’ (regular pump fuel),
    2 ‘RON Burgundy’ (higher octane, for performance cars and tuned motors, classy)
    3 ‘RONALD Reagan’ (‘Murica f**k yeah, quarter-mile heroes only – may void your warranty)
    /probably not true.

    1. Of course RONald Reagan is only available in trickle-down quantities to us commoners, whereas RONald McDonald will be available everywhere but may be hazardous to your health if consumed in large quantities.

  4. Sort of news: How does the RegularCarGuy make a lacklustre and…eh…boring video of a vehicle that should offer a lot of wriggle room for jokes, social commentary and technical insights? Unusual.

    1. I’ve never really tuned into Mr Regular for his technical insights – it’s never really been his strong suit. As for the social commentary, I wonder if that’s a matter of the C303 being so foreign? He’d probably have a lot more to work with if it was a Humvee.

      1. Makes sense. The last one I saw was about the Kia Spectra, which I found to be a total highlight of RCG-clips. I guess the contrast was just too big to enjoy this one.

  5. I drained the transmission fluid on my 900 today; what came out smelled like a cross between gear oil, axle grease, sulfur, and baby shit. Proceeded to flush it twice and refill with SAAB/Opel MTF-0063 and whattya know, third gear synchro behaves now, the shifter is 10x easier to move, and the diff is nice and quiet.

  6. Higher octane is a thing I can get behind. I am deeply tired of pulling up to gas stations in small towns to find a “choice” of 87 E0 or 87 E10 when driving a car that really should use 89 at a minimum and is happier yet on 91. (From here, 93 seems to be a cruel myth perpetuated by people who live close to oceans.) We should be using ethanol in moderate doses to increase the octane rating on good grades of gasoline, not to make 83/84-octane garbage marketable.

    1. Do you experience knocking? We used to be able to buy ROZ 98 everywhere, and some stations like Shell even offered 100 or 102 octane gas. There was no market for it. Now it’s ROZ 95 or diesel everywhere. I know it’s not the same octane standard, but it’s a similar market mechanism: Reduce choice, raise profits. Makes sense for a regulator to at least look at it.

      1. It depends on the car; the Challenger derates itself if it’s using less than 89 but gets a little better fuel economy & performance on 91, the Thunderbird knocks on 87 in the summer so I prefer to give it 89, and the Dakota is fine with 87. (If I remember correctly the equivalent European grades have a number 3-4 higher than the US number.)

        1. I ran 87 in my Challenger (R/T 6spd) for 99% of the 45,000 miles I put on it before trading it in. It ran great on the lower stuff, I noticed no performance trade-off, but then again I wasn’t doing any timed runs or anything. Got great MPG too, 24 combined…

          1. I was the opposite way with my old 6-speed manual car: it got 91 as a rule per the owner’s manual, 89 with restricted hoonage and 87 only if I had absolutely no choice. I averaged more like 20 MPG and 20,000 miles per set of tires, though (and I short-shifted the heck out of it if I was stuck behind normal i.e. slow people). In the new 8-speed car I wouldn’t notice the performance difference of varying fuels except that I know my gas mileage from the smartphone app I use to track maintenance intervals, and I usually have the instantaneous engine torque virtual gauge displayed in the cluster center screen.

          2. I was pleasantly surprised by the MPG. 20 combined is good as well…just goes to show fuel economy is *heavily* dependent upon how the car is driven

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