Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Audi shows off Ken Block’s new ride, Genesis gives us more details on the G90, Mazda introduces small updates for 2022 MX-5, and Toyota shows off over a dozen new EVs as they set targets for 2030.
Audi S1 Hoonitron
A few months back, the world’s most famous slidey boi announced a new partnership with Audi. The move for Ken Block came after several years of working with Ford on several Gymkhana films and one very badass Hoonicorn. For Ken, Audi was always a brand he looked up to as a fan of rallying. So he jumped on an opportunity to begin a relationship with them – this week we’re finally seeing what’s in store for them.
Audi revealed the star of the next Gymkhana film (tentatively being called Elektrikhana) – the Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron. The S1 Hoonitron as most are calling it is one-off electric race car which draws a clear inspiration from the legendary Audi Sport Quattro S1 that tackled Pikes Peak, one of the cars that Ken reveres the most.
“The collaboration with Audi is a very special partnership for me. The brand and its passion for motorsport motivated me to get into rallying,” says Ken Block. “That Audi has now developed this car for me and my team, and has joined us in our next project, has made a dream come true for me. The Hoonitron is writing the next chapter in our history and taking our Gymkhana story into the future.”
The car’s spectacular aerodynamics are drawn straight from the famous Pikes Peak competition car but modernized. And that’s not the only modernized thing about it. Two electric motors split between the axles provides monstrous AWD power, but just how much remains a mystery. After his first test session with the car, Ken said “spinning into a donut at 150 km/h directly from standstill – just using my right foot – is an all-new experience for me”. So it’s going to be fast. The car is built on a carbon fiber chassis and is fully compliant with the FIA’s safety regulations.
Audi says we should see the fruits of their labor (and that of the Hoonigan production team) in the coming months. The Gymkhana series has earned hundreds of millions of views, if not more, on YouTube over the past decade or so. It’s big enough that several one-off Fords were built and upgraded for the series, and now it’s big enough that Audi Sport themselves have built one. This Elektrikhana film is one we’re not gonna want to miss.
Genesis shows more of the G90
The all-new Genesis G90 was partially revealed a few weeks back with nothing but exterior shots to entice us. This week we’ve got more of the story with interior shots and most of the technical details.
For words on the stunning exterior, check out my coverage from two weeks ago. I’ll focus first on that interior. Genesis applied their “Beauty of White Space” ethos to “perfectly harmonize new technologies with analog sensitivities”. It’s a cabin that has many of the familiar luxuries of wide open spaces with a crap load of leather and some impressive new tech. The center console features glass and aluminum materials for all the various switches and buttons. Two sunroofs, one for each row of seats, can be controlled independently and mood lighting can be applied as well. The car is available in normal and extended wheelbases, so they designed it to be enjoyed by drivers and those with chauffeurs alike. Rear seat occupants will have seats with the “finest materials” and the ability to recline.
Powering this luxury flagship is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 producing 375 horsepower and 391 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s paired to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. They don’t go into details about its performance but they do mention the three braking modes available which lets drivers control the braking force for their preference. That includes a new Chauffeur braking mode which probably reduces the initial bite of the brakes and makes coming to a full stop more gentle.
The car also features multi-chamber air suspension that is height adjustable. It will hunker down at speed for greater efficiency and also ensure that the vehicle ride height is unchanged when loaded with passengers and luggage. It’s also a crucial element in a new system which scans the road 100 meters ahead for bumps and adjusts the suspension in anticipation. It also features noise cancellation against wind and road noise, a fingerprint sensor for keyless ignition, a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and I shit you not, a fragrance system with 3 scents to choose from. The seats are “ergo-relaxing” with 10 air cells on the seat back and two on the cushion which support four massaging modes. This also allows the side bolsters to fully retract whenever you’re getting in or out of the G90.
This is only scratching the surface of what this car has to offer. The result of all this is a driving/riding experience that will likely hold up against any German counterpart. Pricing and US availability have not been announced yet.
2022 Mazda MX-5
Good news! There’s a [sort of] new Miata on the horizon. Mazda has announced a few updates coming for next year’s answer to everything. There isn’t a ton new, but one nice new feature, new colors, and some shuffling of the trim levels are coming.
The big new feature is Kinematic Posture Control which aims to reduce body roll and make it feel a little more nimble. It works by applying a little bit of inside rear braking during high-G cornering, which pulls down on that corner to reduce body roll. The same is applied while under acceleration to enhance the limited slip effect. We’ll have to wait for journalists to tell us how effective this is, but Mazda claims they’ve significantly enhanced the driving characteristics of an already fun car without adding any weight.
The 2022 MX-5 is available in three trims – Sport, Club, and Grand Touring. Each level offers a little more creature comforts and performance than the last. Other than the new Platinum Quartz Metallic paint and Terracotta Nappa leather options, there isn’t really anything else new. The main difference now is that the manual transmission is now mandatory on the Sport and Club models. The only way to get an automatic is to go up to the Grand Touring. Prices start at $27,300 for the Sport, $30,800 for the Club, and $32,300 for the Grand Touring automatic – add $500 for the manual, which is a bit odd. The RF hard top model is only available as a Club with Brembo BBS Recaro package for $38,200 and as a Grand Touring for $35,000 (automatic)/$35,550 (manual).
Toyota previews over a dozen new EVs
I guess Toyota got tired of some people criticizing them for not taking EVs seriously enough. This week Akio Toyoda shared new goals and commitments around battery electric vehicles in particular. Accompanying this announcement was a rendering of 16 new EVs that we hadn’t seen yet. We can see what they have in mind for Toyota and Lexus in the coming decade.
Toyota will continue to develop and offer hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell vehicles, and battery electric vehicles. This announcement focuses mainly on those BEVs. They predict that by 2030, global sales of BEVs will reach 3.5 million vehicles annually. Within that same timeframe, Toyota will offer 30 BEV models across the Toyota and Lexus brands globally with more on the way. The goal is to offer BEVs in all segments. As we can see from the images, they mean all segments.
We can pick up on the usual suspects – sedans and crossovers of all sizes. But we can also see an electric Tundra, a small SUV that looks like a Bronco Sport competitor, a sleek coupe that could be a new Lexus LC, and a small mid-engine sports car which could be an MR2. Toyota doesn’t mention any of the cars in here by name, so we’ll just have to wait and see as they begin to roll these out to the public.
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.