The News for February 22nd, 2019

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: Ford shows America what it’s missing out on with the Focus ST, Aston Martin is working on another hypercar with Valkyrie DNA, Rolls-Royce is selling Cullinans faster than they can build them, and your automotive news.

Ford Focus ST Debuts in Europe

Ford Focus ST 2019

I need to warn our American readers here… this one is gonna hurt.

Because America only managed to buy 113,000 Ford Focuses last year, Ford is punishing us by removing that privilege all together for the North American market. So while Ford is rolling out an all-new Focus ST to the half of the Western world that behaved in class, the other half is getting the Edge ST instead.

So if you’re one of our European readers, this next paragraph or two will be of great interest to you. The Focus ST returns on a new platform with more power and an elevated driving experience that’s packaged into a five-door or wagon body style. It goes on sale this summer.

Ford Focus ST 2019

It comes available with two new engines: the latest 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder gas engine or a 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel.

The EcoBoost now offers 276 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque and enhanced responsiveness with a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger. The coolest feature though has to be the anti-lag that it borrows from the EcoBoost engines found in the Ford GT and F-150 Raptor. When in Sport or Track mode, it keeps the throttle open slightly when the driver lifts off the go pedal to maintain compressor wheel speed and enabling boost pressure to build faster on demand. It’ll be the hottest soundtrack at car meets from now on.

Meanwhile the EcoBlue diesel is the most powerful diesel engine ever offered in a Focus with 187 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.

Ford Focus ST 2019

The tried-and-true six-speed manual is standard equipment on both models but a new seven-speed automatic is also available on EcoBoost cars. Those who opt for a manual will notice a slightly shorter throw and rev-matching on EcoBoost models equipped with the Performance Pack. It’s the same rev-matching feature on 2019+ Mustangs so it can be disabled if drivers wish, but I can vouch for it as being a feature that works very well.

As for other go fast goodies, it’s the first FWD Ford with an electronic limited-slip differential and has a completely reworked suspension with variable damping lends to the car’s improved agility. They also say it has “class-leading connected feel” with sharper steering response and torque steer reduction, an electronic brake booster than can build brake pressure more quickly and consistently, and more confidence-inspiring driver aids.

And on top of all that awesomeness, it looks fantastic.

Yeah… this one hurts.

[Source: Ford]

Aston Martin Confirms ‘003’ Hypercar in Development

Aston Martin Project 003

In news that matters to none of us but is still cool anyway, Aston Martin confirmed they’re working on another hypercar to follow in the footsteps of the upcoming Valkyrie project. Using much of the same concepts and technology developed in the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro (code-named ‘001’ and ‘002’) will be a new hypercar that’s only referred to as ‘003’ for the time being.

Project ‘003’ will be built around a lightweight structure and powered by a turbocharged petrol-electric hybrid engine. Additionally it’ll feature active aerodynamics and active suspension systems in a direct tie-in to the Valkyrie. But there’s one thing the 003 will have that the Valkyries won’t: trunk space.

Though they’re promising an “exceptional breadth of performance”, it will be far more practical and convenient for every day road use. It’ll be fully homologated and available in left-hand and wrong-hand drive markets. Production will be limited to 500 units, but they did specify that these would all be coupes so it’s possible an open top version or some other derivative will follow. Either way, they expect the first cars to arrive in late 2021.

And now for some closing thoughts from Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group Chief Executive, Andy Palmer:

It was always the intention for the Aston Martin Valkyrie to be a once-in-a lifetime project, however, it was also vital to us that Valkyrie would create a legacy: a direct descendant that would also set new standards within its own area of the hypercar market, creating a bloodline of highly specialized, limited production machines that can exist in parallel with Aston Martin’s series production models. I’m thrilled to announce that this car is the Project ‘003’, and our next step into a dynamic and exacting arena.

Get ready to be blown away again.

[Source: Aston Martin]

Rolls-Royce Racing to Keep Up With Cullinan Orders

Rolls Royce Cunnilingus

In news that matters to none of us but proves our society is in an unrecoverable downward spiral, Rolls-Royce is barely keeping up with demand for the Cullinan, their $325,000 SUV for people who feel too important to just buy a Range Rover instead.

The report from Automotive News states that Rolls-Royce is having to run their Goodwood plant at 100% capacity while continuing to add capacity. And that’s still not enough. It could just be that initial rush to be the first stupid person on the block with a $325,000 SUV that’s causing this “problem” or it’s a sign that even Rolls-Royce underestimated the amount of people who were just dying for something with Rolls-Royce levels of comfort that rode just a little bit higher so they feel safer.

By all accounts this is a good problem to have. But definitely more affirmation that SUVs sell, no matter how expensive.

[Source: Automotive News via Autoweek]

What’s Your Automotive News?

mustang gt pp2

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 © 2019 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

35 Comments

  1. It seems to me that Rolls Royce has become the less ostentatious of the Roller / Bentley market. I used to prefer Bentley and Lincoln over Rolls Royce and Cadillac, but since Bentley got its own legs back under it it seems Rolls Royce has taken the high road over Bentley’s shameless pursuit of new money status symbol flash.

    Other news: I got the official word that Honda won’t be sending any 2018 NC750X DCT models to their dealer group (after sending 2 (two) examples to the Bay Area, the nation’s largest motorcycle market), and that I’ll have to wait for the 2019s to show up in March or April. Because early spring is when everybody puts their new models on the showroom floor, right? It’s an improvement, though, the 2018s were originally supposed to hit the market in June of 2018.

    Good news is the 2019s are only available in blue, which is better than 2018’s only red, and fits better with my current blue and yellow livery.

    1. I wonder if there will be the traditional (?) bragging over how long someone had to wait to get their Cullinan, or if lack of instant gratification will kick in for some.

      It wasn’t something that occupied my thoughts but was predictable, so if you got in early I suppose there would be good money to be made flipping one!

      1. Ha! Yes… air somehow still fits. Though I can’t get these mounted at home, that’s for sure. Compared to others that we’ll be running against, I’m sure ours will seem downright tall. 40 series in the front, 35 in the rear.

        1. I guess to be accurate, my E28 has 55s on it, but being on 16″ rims, the sidewalls look proportionally taller. I still remember when 60-series was considered aggressive!

          1. Also got to consider the width, a 55 on a 205 would be not a lot bigger than a 275/35

          2. Good guess on my tire width. True, my sidewalls are literally only taller by 5/8″ or so, but they look much squishier when you consider proportions. My 205/55R16 combo would “visually” be 59% tire and 41% wheel (by area). The 275/35R19s would be 49% tire and 51% wheel.

  2. After two years of unconcentrated mind games, I started testing replacement cars this week. Drove a Lexus CT200h, which I sort of liked…but the CVT…who can accept this crap? In “normal” driving mode, full throttle would result in a decade long, vast room of philosophical emptiness. Even in “sport mode” – speedo turns red – there was a long gulp of nothing before the action happened. This is really make or break for a car. Even during normal acceleration, the car sounded exhausted, sort of overdoing the audio feedback in relation to what the actual output was. Horrible. Next!

    1. That’s just a Prius in fancy clothes, right? That’s essentially the driving experience of my Prius, except it has no driving modes. Just “yawn”.

      1. Pretty much, yes. It corners a bit better and has a slightly nicer interior. My MIL has an Auris that is much the same, but the Lexus was considerably nicer to drive. The steering was still lifeless compared to my now 18 year old Honda minivan (ouch, yes) and then there’s the CVT…

      2. Pretty much, yes. It corners a bit better and has a slightly nicer interior. My MIL has an Auris that is much the same, but the Lexus was considerably nicer to drive. The steering was still lifeless compared to my now 18 year old Honda minivan (ouch, yes) and then there’s the CVT…

    2. Keep in mind that a torque converter auto creates a delay while it downshifts, before the action happens, too. There must be a market for a flash tune to tighten up the response?

      I’ve definitely experienced transmissions that don’t seem to give you full output from the engine, and in DCT (Mondeo diesel), CVT (Corolla) and torque converter (Cruze Diesel) forms.

      1. True that, but it’s just extraordinarily noticeable in these cars. There’s another thing I wondered if people have created an aftermarket for: Despite a wealth of both buttons and screens, the Lexus didn’t provide a lot of info. An example is a total lack of engine temperature display. Surely, this kind of data is monitored nonetheless and should be viewable if the computer is modified?

      2. True that, but it’s just extraordinarily noticeable in these cars. There’s another thing I wondered if people have created an aftermarket for: Despite a wealth of both buttons and screens, the Lexus didn’t provide a lot of info. An example is a total lack of engine temperature display. Surely, this kind of data is monitored nonetheless and should be viewable if the computer is modified?

      3. With my Prius, it’s possible to nail the throttle and seemingly catch the computer off guard with the engine off. The electric motor and CVT do their best, but without the engine’s help not much happens. It’s only a second or two before the engine comes online, but if you just jumped into a gap in traffic it’s a very long couple of seconds.

        1. I’ve driven a Camry Hybrid, and I remember the same thing happening at every take-off unless you brake-torque it a bit which gets the engine started.

  3. Nothing automotive, but we made the national news with 35.8″ of snow in a 24hr period. Was quaint. Sat around drinking with the neighbors and eating leftovers as there was nothing else to do. When I finally had to leave, the x3 with conti DWS was exceptional on the unplowed subdivision roads. It’s amazing how much a difference the tires make when you get close to the edge of the operational envelope.

      1. It was a diesel manual wagon version of that model Corolla that I ran past one million kms. That model is a real high point in the Corolla evolution story.

        1. To me, this is the essence of a simple car in the sweet spot between utilitarian (which it is not anymore) and technologically advanced (which it isn’t yet). We got rid of it due to beginning rust issues and our need for a bigger, more powerful car. My wife saw it in the city regularly, the new owners not taking too much care of it, the Corolla became a victim of fast advancing rust over two winter seasons and then disappeared.

        2. Just missing brown & rwd to be the perfect internet car? The Corolla of 2 generations ago were pretty good too, sure the mechanicals were outdated but overall reliable and had a lot more space before they went ‘sporty’.

          1. I had a KE70 wagon, last of the RWD Corolla wagons earlier as a company car. The FWD Corollas have vastly superior dynamics in every way, other than being able to swing the back of the car round on wet corners.

      2. And 5″ of heavy, wet snow stopped my 2WD Ranger in it’s tracks in my driveway last week, even with the 30″ tall rear all terrain tires and 180lbs of sand in the bed. To be fair, the snow was the consistency of cookie dough, but I still expected better.

      3. I wonder would overheating because of snow blocking the radiator be a thing? Or would melting the snow provide enough cooling?

        1. I think it could be an issue. This was only the last stretch home, about 1 km from the main road to where we park in the winter. We got stuck first and my wife had to push to get us going. I drove almost full throttle, only to get to about 30 kph. The snow going over the car took most of my vision, despite the wipers going back and forth on the fastest setting. So it was pretty hard on the car.

  4. Installing the Ford Motorsport Boss oil cooler on the GT today.
    76k miles on the coolant and time for an oil change… knock all these out at once.
    Had to buy a 14mm hex to get the old oil filter threads changed. Lets see how many more tools I’ll have to buy because I can’t find them in the toolbox.

  5. I live in Thousand Oaks, CA…which is where the Los Angeles Rams practice, and where a number of players have decided to live. One such player moved into a house on my street last year. BEFORE the SuperBowl, his personal fleet included a new Range Rover, an Escalade, a RR Phantom, and the newest addition,a Cullinan, in white. To my eye, it appeared silly. The pompous grille tacked on the front of what is essentially a box…on stilts…just too much! Interestingly, I have not seen any activity at that house since the SuperBowl…the cars are gone, no lights at night. I wonder what happened….?

    PS: It was interesting to note that as soon as the Rams announced a few years ago that their practice facilities would be in Thousand Oaks, a Ferrari showroom opened its doors here, and it was announced that the USA’s first AMG-only dealership would open here. We also have O’Gara Coach…a Rolls, Bentley, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati dealer…also doing a brisk business in investment-grade pre-owned exotics. I must admit, the day I saw two Veyrons in their showroom, I had to stop to do some gawking….Always fun to drive by that place….always plenty of McLarens, Audi R8s, Lambo Gallardos and Huracans to dream about….. A flawless Corsa Rosa F12 arrived on the lot last week…. Most amusing is how a McDonalds and Chik-Fil-A are right across the street….

    1. Do those players not understand that they only have a finite playing career, or are they paid so much that they couldn’t spend the money in a lifetime?

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