The News for December 17th, 2021

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.

[Source: Audi]

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.

[Source: Genesis]

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).

[Source: Mazda]

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.

[Source: Toyota]

What’s your automotive news?

hooniverse news whats your naws

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.

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.

16 Comments

  1. Jeep got new shoes. Finally ditched those god-awful KO2s, and replaced them with Falken Wildpeak M/Ts. I’ve had Falken AT3Ws on my pickup for over a year now and really, really like them. So, I’m hoping these M/Ts are just as good – or better! I could have put the same AT3Ws on the Jeep, but I wanted a more aggressive look. So far, so good – we haven’t got any new snow since to try them out on, but, they seem to be pretty good on ice (especially for a M/T tire and much better than those BFGs). The best part though – no gravel throwing!

    Merry Christmas Hooniverse (god jul to the Norge contingent)!

    1. ‘Twas the night before Christmas…

      And I was out in the garage
      Trying to decide on some automotive triage –
      Should I fix my old car or the Missus?

      The Subaru needed two new head gaskets
      and F150 had shattered out a spark-plug
      While the Mini’s blown turbo had turned it into a slug.
      To fix the Jimmy’s ABS light or just black-tape mask it?

      I’d just opened a new beer and my Chilton’s as well
      When from up on the roof there came such a clatter
      I sprang up from my crawler to see what was the matter.
      Something odd in the air – Was that a Diesel engine I smelled?

      I walked outta the garage and looked up to the sky
      And what to my wondering eyes did appear
      But a giant bro truck with lots of cool off-road gear
      Natch, it was being driven by some big old bearded drunk guy

      He jake-braked on my roof-top on his giant mud tires
      And he slid really sideways in the slippery wet snow,
      Even though he was in 4 wheel low
      And the night air smelled like a bad clutch when ya fry her.

      His truck window was open and so I heard him shout
      “Damn tuner! damn turbo! damn stupid NOX kit! and damn K&N!”
      “You’d think this bastard’d run right at least now and then!”
      Then he rev’d up the engine and let that smoky clutch out!

      The truck went into to a spin right there up on that roof
      And so all the loose stuff in the truck bed flew through air
      And so a new boxed-up Holley nearly parted my hair!
      And this drunk, then he spun a few more circles, I think just for a goof.

      As he spun boxes flew out more and more!
      There were headers and camshafts and new magnesium wheels
      The place looked like a giant Rock-Auto super-closeout-big-deal!
      So soon the whole yard was littered with boxes galore!

      He finally straightened out and drove off into the night
      Big air horns honking and light bar ablaze
      And he soon disappeared in a coal-burner black haze
      Oh, and on the nose of his truck I swear was a tiny red led light.

      And that dear, is how I got all these cool new car parts
      And look! He remembered you as he was caperin’
      He brought you a “My Wife’s Hot!” really nice new red apron!
      Seems like yer really close to Santa’s big heart!

      Well, he finally upshifted and sped out of sight
      He was still shouting and cursing but I heard this real clear
      “Enjoy it now cause no payments til January next year!”
      “Oops, I mean Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

  2. I needed new tires, I checked Discount Tire, Discount Tire Direct, and Tire Rack, and each had a different price for the exact same tire. The one in stock locally was the most expensive. So I called the store to see if they match their own prices. Yep, I got to mix the lowest tire price with the lowest service price and with the cheapest certificates, and got them installed the next morning. I don’t think they look as aggressive as the ones that I replaced, but the old ones were discontinued, and nobody makes new tires that size except for race tires with a short lifespan.

    1. I am a loyal Discount Tire fan. I sort of feel obligated. Some years back I had them put some nice Michelin Pilot tires on 3 Series. I purchased their road hazard warranty. A month or so later I hit … something apparently…. at airport parking and came back from my trip to find both right side sidewalls cut (but not by vandalism). So, noticing this, it’s off to DT waving my little certificate. Initial reports were not good:

      “I’m sorry sir; these tires are unsafe to drive on and can’t be repaired.”
      It got worse:
      “These are special order and it’s going to take a week to get them shipped in.”
      Then it got great:
      “So we are going to lend you a pair of Continentals, and mount and them for free. When your Pilots arrive we will remove these and mount and balance the Pilots for free.”

      Hard not to be a loyal customer after that.

      1. I too love Discount Tire. I’ve sent … a lot … with them on various cars over probably 20+ years. Always the best price, they price match, even to the web, and they take good care of you. My wheels & tires for the Thunderbird came through them along with many sets of tires on many vehicles.

        Many years ago I bought the first set of tires for my Mazda3. I decided to take a chance on their house brand instead of something more expensive. They were terrible, absolutely the wrong tires for the car. After driving on them for maybe a week, I went back and talked to them about how I was disappointed. No questions asked, they credited me for those and ordered a set of Dunlops instead. I continued t drive on the others until the Dunlops came in.

        With my current BMW, they messed up and didn’t see that my full size spare was on the ground, even though it was a different style alloy (and I had told them) and ended up tossing my spare. When I pointed it out, they put the new tire on the proper wheel and a brand new (off brand) tire on my spare wheel at no cost to correct their mistake.

        I don’t always shop there, but nearly always. It has to be a time crunch or a very good deal for me to go somewhere else.

      2. They have their good moments, but it’s hit or miss with me. When I first replaced the tires on the Eldo, they charged me the whole installation fee, including a charge for new valve stems, but never installed them (those are an oddball part that only specialty places stock) and didn’t tell me they had not installed them. On a different trip that required lugcentric balancing, I called ahead of time to ask if they could do it, and I wasted a trip because they inaccurately told me they could, but did not have the equipment.

  3. I haven’t ridden the Africa Twin in over a month. It developed a problem native to the ’16 and ’17 bikes that have a different throttle body. The bikes will develop a high idle, which isn’t a problem unless you have the kookie DCT transmission, which will refuse to engage. This turns you into a 500 lb high idling brick.

    This happened once before and a trip to the dealer for an ECU reset that cleared it up. (No charge!). Then it happened again a week later.

    Second time around I decided to try the folk remedies I’d read about on the forums. This included swapping in a new Idle Air Control Valve (IACV) but didn’t bring the idle down. So, back to the dealer. The first time I was able to ride it with the high idle, but it was sketchy getting it into gear, this time it went there on a tow truck ($175!)

    The dealer called last Friday to say they reset the ECU again and got the idle back down, but wanted to ride it around a bunch to see if it happens again. I’m hoping the new IACV and reset ECU are the end of this. There are a couple other owners who have cleared it up with that combination. I was hoping to hear from them this weekend, but so far no news.

    And the Econoline?
    Same as it ever was.

    1. you may find yourself begins the wheel of a large cargo van
      and you may ask yourself
      HEY. KID. WANT SOME CANDY

  4. Speaking of tires, I’m not sure if everyone has heard but Discount Tire is purchasing Tire Rack. There has been speculation about what changes may occur because of it. It appears that it means they may be shutting down their ASAP tire mobile installation service. A month or so ago I bought some tires for our SUV and they prompted that as an option at that time. Last night I was helping my Future SIL select some tires for their SUV and surprisingly ASAP tire was not an option. Going to their website directly it shows not available in your area yet. However the day I learned of the announcement I followed one of their trucks and they have been advertising it on the VOLTA free charger as the local Walgreens for over a year.

  5. I feel compelled to say that I have not purchased any new tires, which I usually do at a discount towards the end of the season, based on some publication’s diligent testing results. It’s been a few weeks since one of these publications has published their list of best new cars of 2021, ranked, and I’ve been scratching my head, diligently, since:

    1: Hyundai Ioniq 5
    2: Tesla Model Y
    3: Cupra Born
    4: Kia EV6
    5: Volkswagen ID.4
    6: Skoda Enyaq
    7: Ford Mustang Mach-E
    8: Nio ES8
    9: BMW iX
    10: BYD Tang

    Not that I disagree so much, but the Hyundai vs Kia thing is a nut. The Ioniq 5 “wins” due to being prettier (!?) and having a sliding rear bench. While I believe the Kia’s much nicer interior (without a display that is off-white and thus doesn’t reflect in the windscreen + more buttons) and more engaging chassis outweigh those points considerably. Teslastans have been making their “sEcOnD pLaCe?”-face ever since. Finding Nio and BYD, totally unproven brands in our market, on the list, is also all sorts of exciting.

    Anyway, we have put our new car purchase on hold. Can’t have a charger at the bottom of our steep driveway, and none of the neighbours are willing to sell a neat little square of land up there. Heating the driveway is so wasteful, it’s out of the question, as is sliding up and down on chains on a daily basis. We have a plan C and D, but that’ll require long discussions with our power provider.

    Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for another year of entertainment, education and a sense of community!

    1. Why can’t you have a Charger at the bottom of the driveway? With a few minor modifications, I think it could get back up to the top.

          1. Honestly, I would have gone for that, because I can live with insane solutions. But there’s another neighbour up there and no place to mount a winch or just a hook. Given we live in the middle of nowhere, it’s strange how we are totally surrounded by people with other interests.

  6. After cleaning and photographing the BMW, I drove it this week a couple of times after driving the Tundra mostly for a couple of weeks and discovered two things. The first was rediscovering what a joy it is to drive. Such a perfect balance of ride and handling. The second was that the airbag warning light was on. After a bit of research, I now own a BMW airbag diagnostic tool. I really didn’t want to buy a specialty tool for a car I’m preparing to sell, but the $25 it cost was cheaper than getting it diagnosed somewhere.

    So this weekend I’ll hopefully get the light reset and that will fix it.

    Last Sunday I had to fix 3 of the family cars (2 are no longer actually mine!) My youngest’s Protege needed a headlight and taillight, the middle’s Protege (now hers) got a replacement horn from the debris strike a while back and a HVAC fan resistor and the oldest’s Accord got new batteries in the remote fob.

    1. That is pretty darn cheap for a tool like that. Once you sell the car you could always throw it in the glove box for the buyer or put it on E-bat for $20 and get most of your money back.

      Sounds like you’ve been keeping busy.

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