The News for February 21st, 2020

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, Honda takes the Civic Type R back to its roots, Pagani goes nuts with the Imola, Aston Martin backs out of Le Mans Hypercar program with the Valkyrie because of poor finances but blames it on smarter prototype class rules instead, and Maserati is finally coming out with a replacement for the GranTurismo.

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

Civic Type R Limited Edition

Honda is doing something that far too few automakers are doing these days. They’re going back to their roots a little for a limited edition Civic Type R which I suspect will be in high demand. It carries a name which doesn’t insinuate much – it’s simply called the Civic Type R Limited Edition – but it’s got more than just limited numbers to its name. The Type R Limited Edition is a more track-focused variant that sacrifices some luxury for performance but remains a fully street-legal, daily-driver-friendly Civic. It takes everything brilliant about the Type R already and cuts weight, sharpens up the suspension, and brings you a little closer to the action.

Civic Type R Limited Edition

Its first party trick is a decent weight loss. It cuts 18 pounds of unsprung weight with new forged aluminum wheels from BBS. Honda drops another 28 pounds from it with reduced sound deadening and by removing the rear wiper and rear heater ducts. It’s not often that you see reduced sound deadening offered as a feature these days. Now that’s where the mentions of weight reduction end on the US media site; the European site goes further and claims that the infotainment system and air condition have been removed too. Because I’m writing this at one in the morning I can’t exactly reach out for clarification… so take that as you will.

Because handling can always be improved, Honda provides retuned dampers and recalibrated steering. The dampers should make better use of the unsprung weight and the aggressive Michelin Cup 2 tires that it comes with. The new steering calibration provides “maximum control and feedback”. Knowing what a set of Cup 2s can do to a car from experience, this thing is going to be ridiculous.

Civic Type R Limited Edition

The European model is shown, hence the infotainment and A/C delete

The rest of the car is pretty standard for the Type R. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder still peaks at 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The six-speed manual is still the only way you can get it. Oh… and it brings back Phoenix Yellow too over a red interior. All is right in the world of Type R again.

600 of these will come to the US while Europe receives 100. Prices aren’t available yet but good luck getting one anywhere near MSRP.

[Source: Honda]

Pagani Imola

Imola-NEUTRA-Ginevra-2020-NERO-DEF0004

Meanwhile at Pagani, their venerable Huayra supercar is getting a new performance variant that takes an already insane car a couple steps further. It’s enough of a jump in performance to warrant a totally different name too.

The Pagani Imola, named after the home of the old San Marino Grand Prix, is a track-focused but still street legal hypercar with some impressive numbers behind it. The same Mercedes-AMG 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 sits behind the driver, but power is increased to 827 horsepower and 811 lb.-ft. of torque. An Xtrac seven-speed automatic manual transmission sends it all to the rear wheels. It’ll have an easier time pushing the car around too thanks to some weight saving measures that bring dry weight down to 2,747 pounds. The car is built around a light carbon composite and titanium chassis and uses a new painting process to reduce weight by another 11 pounds in paint only.

Imola-NEUTRA-Ginevra-2020-NERO-DEF0014

Helping increase its abilities on track is more aggressive aero. Like the Huayra, the Imola features their innovative active aero solution comprising of four flaps – two front and two rear – which are integrated into the body. They extend and retract individually depending on what the car is doing. It can help it corner by raising one side or brake by raising them all. The Imola adds a larger fixed rear spoiler and more aggressive lower bodywork at the front, sides, and rear. Pagani admits that it isn’t an elegant car; that’s because it was designed as a test bed so to speak. A lot of the new features, especially in the aero department, were inspired by F1. A company known for form and function has admitted this one is all about function. When you’re only building five of them at $5.4 million a piece and all the buyers have already committed, you can make it look however you want.

[Source: Pagani via Autoweek]

Aston Martin halts Valkyrie Le Mans Hypercar program

Valkyrie_AMR_Pro

Endurance racing fans received an awful shock this week in regards to the future of the top-level prototype racing in the World Endurance Challenge. Aston Martin has halted their plans to produce a racing version of the Valkyrie which was set to compete in the new “Hypercar” class in the WEC. This class was the ACO’s and WEC’s attempt to replace the dying LMP1 category with a more production-based group of cars that opened the door to a wide range of competitors. Aston Martin’s promise to bring a V12-powered beauty like the Valkyrie to Le Mans was perhaps the single biggest selling point of the Hypercar class. And now it’s gone.

The reasoning is up for debate. Aston Martin blamed the ACO’s decision to allow for the far more reasonable DPi 2.0 formula that IMSA came up with to compete in Le Mans (now known as the LMDh class). For those that need a refresher, this was huge news because IMSA had proposed DPi 2.0 as the replacement for LMP1 because it would have been cheaper, easier to BoP, and was the more attractive class for more manufacturers. But ultimately the ACO and WEC went their own ways with Hypercar, and Toyota and Aston Martin were the first to commit to it. Later on, Glickenhaus, ByKolles, and even Peugeot had expressed interest. Meanwhile, manufacturers interested in DPi 2.0 were put off because they wanted to compete at Le Mans as well. This is why the recent and ongoing convergence talks on LMDh between the ACO and IMSA is such a huge deal. Since that announcement, several manufacturers have expressed interest in LMDh again, or at least confirmed they’re evaluating.

If you’re confused as to why Aston Martin is blaming LMDh as the reason for halting (or more likely scrapping all together) the Valkyrie race car, so is everyone else. It would not have changed their ability to compete at Le Mans, it just would have given them more competition and the option to build a cheaper LMDh car with a spec chassis and hybrid system. There would have been Balance of Performance adjustments to keep everyone on the same level, but that’s it. Nobody would have stopped them from taking the Valkyrie to Le Mans and they wouldn’t have had to change anything (given what we currently know about LMDh). The real reason is most likely regarding their recent financial woes and a change of direction from the man who just gave them $239 million, Lawrence Stroll. If you recognize that name, it’s because he has a son in Formula 1. He also wants a new Aston Martin F1 team next year and knows just the guy for the role of lead driver. Aston Martin can’t afford to do Hypercar and Formula 1, so you know which program Stroll made them cut.

It’s a tragedy on many levels. We’ll never see the Valkyrie race at Le Mans. The once somewhat promising Hypercar class seems dead before it was even supposed to start as you now have Toyota and Peugeot reconsidering. And if not for Aston Martin, we could have already had a unified prototype class as confirmed by Sportscar365. To have Aston back out of Hypercar after being such strong proponents for it is… well, a dick move. The world was calling for a unified prototype class that could race in the two largest endurance series on the planet while operating on a much lower budget. IMSA had it figured out with DPi 2.0, but ACO/WEC had enough commitments at the time to make Hypercar happen and abandon convergence talks with IMSA. And now they’re cancelling the single most exciting race car program of the decade so they can become another moving chicane for Mercedes.

If you want to read more professional insight into this whole situation, I recommend these takes from Sportscar365 and Marshall Pruett over at Racer.

[Sources: Racer, Sportscar365Autoblog]

Maserati to finally debut new supercar this May

maserati mc20 logo

The Maserati GranTurismo is finally, finally getting a successor after being in production largely unchanged since 2007 until late last year. Maserati confirmed on Twitter that their “new era” begins in May when they reveal the MC20, which they’re calling a “super sports car to reconnect us to our racing heritage”. That’s unfortunately all we really know at this point. The return of the MC prefix is a promising sign. The fact that we’re getting any new Maserati sports car is a promising sign. I’ll be following this story closely.

[Source: Maserati]

What’s your automotive news?

hooniverse

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.

30 Comments

  1. I look forward to driving the Type-R Limited Edition. The regular Type R is a great drive, but I wish Honda would do what Subaru did with the STI Limited and offer a version that tones down the crazy. Smaller spoiler, less scoops and ducts and lines, it’s all a bit much for a daily driver.

    I actually had a group of pedestrians at a light point at the R I was driving and shake their head. It was just a press loaner, so I didn’t care. But if I had dropped $35K+ I might have shrunk down in my seat a bit. Many will say “duuude, I don’t care what other people think” and if that’s really true, good for you! Most do.

  2. I look forward to driving the Type-R Limited Edition. The regular Type R is a great drive, but I wish Honda would do what Subaru did with the STI Limited and offer a version that tones down the crazy. Smaller spoiler, less scoops and ducts and lines, it’s all a bit much for a daily driver.

    I actually had a group of pedestrians at a light point at the R I was driving and shake their head. It was just a press loaner, so I didn’t care. But if I had dropped $35K+ I might have shrunk down in my seat a bit. Many will say “duuude, I don’t care what other people think” and if that’s really true, good for you! Most do.

  3. Last weekend I went to Sequim, WA, to buy a very-likely-rebuildable example of the correct model of 16hp Tecumseh engine to replace the 12hp Tecumseh in my HMV Freeway. Soon I will be unstoppable!

    I should probably check the brakes at some point.

    1. If you have to rebuild the engine anyway, would you put it back 100% stock, or try to hotrod an extra horsepower out of it?

    2. Anyone who can easily and affordably increase their car’s horsepower by 33% would be a fool not to do so.

      1. Actually it has E-Z-Go brakes, which is not the most comforting name in this application.

        My understanding is that most Freeways originally came with the 16hp version anyway. The 12hp option was essentially a marketing gimmick to allow the company to claim 100 mpg at a steady 40 mph on level ground, even though in reality 50 mpg is already optimistic under those conditions even with the smaller engine.

          1. It’s the brand of golf cart with which the Freeway shares brake parts. This means I can still get parts, but my advice is not ever to get on a mailing list for golf cart parts. Seeing some of the weirder aftermarket items is entertaining at first but the catalogs never stop coming. I’m reasonably certain they’re still arriving at my previous address.

          2. It’s the brand of golf cart with which the Freeway shares brake parts. This means I can still get parts, but my advice is not ever to get on a mailing list for golf cart parts. Seeing some of the weirder aftermarket items is entertaining at first but the catalogs never stop coming. I’m reasonably certain they’re still arriving at my previous address.

  4. I look forward to driving the Type-R Limited Edition. The regular Type R is a great drive, but I wish Honda would do what Subaru did with the STI Limited and offer a version that tones down the crazy. Smaller spoiler, less scoops and ducts and lines, it’s all a bit much for a daily driver.

    I actually had a group of pedestrians at a light point at the R I was driving and shake their head. It was just a press loaner, so I didn’t care. But if I had dropped $35K+ I might have shrunk down in my seat a bit. Many will say “duuude, I don’t care what other people think” and if that’s really true, good for you! Most do.

    1. I typically detest yellow on cars in general, but it works for that Type R. I just think it’s a shame that the car is so mechanically brilliant, but is saddled with such ridiculous styling. I’m one of those people that doesn’t care what others think about my choices, but I couldn’t personally tolerate the ugliness of that thing in my driveway.

  5. The DRZ400 has been sold. This leaves me with the old Laverda and the new Africa Twin, and the Econoline. Proceeds from the DRZ will go towards my upcoming ride across Canada, and towards buying a Whitehall rowing boat. Though, I may have to wait ’til the Laverda sells before getting a boat.

    Dirt biking was fun, but it was going to break one or more of my precious, antique bones eventually. Rowing is much lower impact, if you don’t drown.

    1. Do you have an ad posted somewhere for the Laverda? Or at least some pictures? Not that I’m in the market now, but I’ve always wanted a Laverda. Some day…

    2. I’m gonna miss the Calgary Stampede, but maybe I can catch a show by Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans. I’ll be going from Calgary to Saskatoon and up to The Pas, Manitoba on my way to Maine.

  6. News from the Fun Fact Dpt.: 14% of all EVs in Norway were brought to a shop due to damages in 2019, that’s significantly more than the still high number of 9% of ICE cars. Tesla has the owners who crash the most, at an insane rate of 21% of all registered cars. Opel, Citroën and Peugeot cars are brought in the least (possibly because they are also worth the least?). EVs are driven mostly in cities, and have a sudden delivery of power – that might increase their chances of dings and crashes.

    Random winter driving photos:
    https://i.ibb.co/0ChbZw5/IMG-20200221-223401.jpg
    https://i.ibb.co/5jmpkgv/IMG-20200221-223309.jpg
    https://i.ibb.co/fnyChNT/IMG-20200221-223150.jpg

    1. Pretty scenery there. I’m curious what percentage of cars in Norway are AWD, or does the driving population simply embrace winter tires?

      1. Winter tires are mandatory. Personally, I think AWD is not necessary on normal roads – as braking and steering are still the same. It can be very helpful for people who live at the end of steep private roads or who own remote cabins though.

  7. Maybe I am missing some of the subtleties, but I am a little surprised that so much of the anger at the LMHypercar situation is being directed Aston Martin’s way: Whilst AM’s financial situation is definitely a major part of the decision, surely ACO & WEC also should own up to the mess they have made of the formula intended to replace and better LMP1.

    It was ACO/WEC who were not happy facing their top class being populated only by brands such as Oreca, Onroak, Rebellion or ByKolles; whilst these teams are well known by fans of WEC, they have no name-recognition outside that. ACO/WEC wanted a formula that would tempt in Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Toyota etc.. All of these companies were at the time touting new hypercar concepts. Ignoring that each company had taken a different technical path to their ‘hypercar’ — hence it would be very difficult to equalise them for competition — AOC/WEC saw an opportunity. They didn’t seem to care that it messed up the chances of agreeing class convergence with IMSA.

    Some of these manufacturers who expressed an interest in the LMH category have dropped out due to the timescale they need to develop the car (Mercedes), some have just gone very quiet (Brabham anyone?), others because of the details of the formula (Gordon Murray’s T50 wasn’t going to develop into an LMH because it would have to give up three of its key design principles — the ICE drive train with only ‘mild hybrid’ assistance, light weight and active aero).

    So at the start of this year LMH had only Toyota, Aston Martin and — possibly — Glickenhaus confirmed as entrants. Facing the risk of a sparse field ACO backtracked an decided to allow the LMDh cars to compete in the same class. They undercut their three LMH entrants by enabling others to come in much more cheaply, with already proven and reliable cars and compete on an equal basis (equal because of the inevitable Balance of Performance).

    I don’t see why the hypercar manufacturers would be expected to stand for this?

    The owners of Aston faced a choice: Short of money, did they focus their money in a formula where they competed with Toyota, SCG and a load of prototype manufacturers; or in a formula where they competed with Ferrari & Mercedes? Whilst everyone rightly questions whether Racing Point/Aston Martin is really going to be able to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes you can see why they chose to invest in F1 rather than a moribund class in WEC.

    Maybe I have missed something? But I see ACO as being at least as culpable in this as Aston Martin.

  8. Haven’t yet figured out what ails my wagon, but I also only had about 2 hours this whole week to work on it. Swapped the cam position sensors and cleaned the vanos solenoids, no change. Tried to access the screens for the solenoids, but haven’t been able to get to them yet. Pulled the wheel liner and the wheel to have a line at them, but have yet to figure out the combination of extensions to get new around the ac lines that are blocking out. Generally, it idles ok when it’s cold, but once it warms up things go to pot really quick.

    Next time I work on it, which I think will be Thursday evening (too much work and work travel), I’m going to check battery voltage, voltages and continuity at the cam sensors, and ground straps, to try and rule out something electrical. I also ordered some parts, namely the ones noted above, because in the event I have to take it to a shop, I’ll replace those myself just to rule them out.

  9. An update from last weekend, moved the last of my car project parts home (one of which was a complete bodyshell!) Surprisingly, or not, it was easier to load than the one that was rolling but had not steering gear which meant the 2 front wheels were not linked. Winching it on was easy, as was using a hand winch to slide it off using some timber boards.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/febda8d413d95e5fad88be7225c870b0710b18a39af588ce40ff68dc503f67f3.jpg

      1. Haven’t checked under the black paint but it appears to be rust free.

        It’s heavier than it should be (Rootes/Hillman tended to do this) but at a guess 5-600lb. Many times I’ve been glad they are small and light. Eg a winch can’t push a car off a trailer… used boards for sliding and a hand winch.

  10. So the Type R Limited Edition is a Type R, but more R? Can we borrow some nomenclature from Honda’s two-wheeled division and call it the Civic RR?

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