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. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Volvo stuns with the new V60 Estate
Porsche updates 911 GT3 RS, manages to make it even more expensive
Ferrari reveals the 488 Pista, their latest track day special
Toyota’s breakthrough magnet development could mean cheaper EVs
What’s your automotive news?
Volvo did the thing again. They’ve revealed another redesigned estate car that once again proves how pretty a wagon can be. The latest example is the 2019 Volvo V60 and it’s already found a place in the hearts of the online automotive community. It could only be more loved if it was a brown diesel/manual combo.
It’s the newest member of Volvo’s revered estate family and it slots in right below the bigger V90, which it actually shares a “Scalable Product Architecture” platform with. This new SPA-based V60 aims to be the new benchmark in the mid-size premium estate segment with a more premium interior, more cabin space, advanced #connectivity, and more of Volvo’s legendary safety packed in.
“The family estate driver is an important customer for our business and has been for generations,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “The new V60 honors that tradition, but also takes it much further.”
Other than the improvements already listed, the V60 takes it further by being what is undoubtedly the prettiest car of its kind. They designed it to look more refined with a beautiful proportion and stance, but they did so without sacrificing any of the practicality and versatility that Volvo’s estates are known for.
Volvo also announced a generous list of powertrains to choose from, including two diesels (D3 and D4 – probably for Europe only), two gas engines (T5 and T6), and two plug-in hybrids. The premiere powertrain options are the T6 Twin Engine and T8 Twin Engine, which employ electric motors and a gas four-cylinder engine to effectively make them both AWD. The main difference is the T6 generates a combined 340 horsepower while the T8 generates 390 horsepower.
Of the many safety systems included in the V60, some of the most notable additions are the City Safety package which can detect pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals and auto brake to avoid a collision. It can even hit the brakes for you when it detects an oncoming collision is about to occur, a world first. Pilot Assist, their semi-autonomous driver aid, has improved performance in controlling steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 80 mph. There’s also Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and optional Cross Traffic Alert with autobrake to further improve safety for the driver and everyone around them.
There’s no word on exact availability and pricing just yet.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
If there’s one thing you need to know about the updated Porsche 911 GT3 RS, it’s that the available Weissach package saves a whopping 13.4 pounds over the standard car. And it costs $18,000.
If you’re still alive after how hard your eyes just rolled, there’s less infuriating updates to talk about on the 991.2 GT3 RS that’ll soon be dominating track days by this summer. It doesn’t really reinvent anything, it just takes what’s already great about the GT3 RS and makes it a little bit better.
Starting with the centerpiece of every GT3, that engine. Its 4.0-liter flat six retains its naturally-aspirated goodness and its 9,000 RPM red line, but offers up an additional 20 horsepower, bringing it up to 520 horsepower overall. But while the GT3 got a manual option with its 991.2 upgrade, the GT3 RS says no to your heel-toe tomfoolery and keeping its super fast seven-speed PDK.
That engine is put to good use with the help of a true motorsport-inspired chassis and a body shaped by science. It sits low and wide and is immediately recognizable by its fixed rear wing. Drivers are supported by carbon-shelled bucket seats and reassured of their driving abilities by an optional rollover bar and fire extinguisher.
And yes, there’s the $18,000 Weissach package which comes with the promise of making your car lighter. Looking at this package, you’d see all the new carbon fiber body panels and think “yeah, that price makes sense”. But many of those carbon panels aren’t actually new, they’re just “exposed”, meaning not painted. What the package actually adds is a carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber anti-roll bars and end links, carbon steering wheel trim, and carbon paddle shifters. A 13.4-pound weight reduction is what you get in return for $18,000.
But wait, there’s more! You can nearly double your tremendous weight savings with the magnesium wheels for an additional $13,000. In its lightest configuration, it’s 25.3 pounds lighter than the standard GT3 RS, or $1,343.28 per pound. Porsche, why are you the way you are?
Ferrari 488 Pista
As is tradition, Ferrari’s current V8-powered, mid-engine sports car gets its very own performance variant designed for the most demanding drivers. And as expected, they didn’t use the same name twice. Challenge Stradale, Scuderia, and Speciale were used to denote these more focused and more capable super cars, and each of those names is far better than what they went with for this one.
The latest member of the Ferrari family is the 488 Pista, a road-legal performance car developed by lessons learned from Ferrari’s GTE class success in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Pista means “track” in Italian. It also means “piss” in Estonian, Lithuanian, Persian, and Ukranian as pointed out by Road&Track (I recommend giving that whole list a read).
But the Italian name makes sense as all the enhancements on the Pasta are inspired by the 488 GTE car that’s won five class manufacturer titles. The most noticeable inspiration is within the new body which features all-new front and rear diffusers, higher rear wing, and new underbody vortex generators for a 20% improvement in downforce. It was also made lighter by removing all the fluids so they could quote a dry weight of 2,822 pounds.
An equally noticeable improvement (at least when you put the hammer down) is the extra potency from the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8. By adding inconel exhaust manifolds, a lightweight crankshaft and flywheel, titanium con rods, carbon fiber intake plenums, and optimized turbochargers (courtesy of the 488 Challenge race car), the 488 Patio’s output is raised to 710 horsepower and 568 lb.-ft. of torque. The torque isn’t raised by much, but its curve is higher at all revs.
0-62 mph takes just 2.85 seconds and it won’t stop going until 211 mph. The extra downforce and the updated stability control, magnetic dampers, and E-Diff should help drivers make the most of its added power.
Normally these cars are built in limited numbers and are insanely expensive, but that information has not yet been revealed. The Ferrari 488 Pistachio will make its formal debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.
[Source: Ferrari via Autoweek]
Toyota develops a better magnet for electric motors
I chose this image for the following story because it best represents my experience writing it.
Toyota’s electric motors are about to get more affordable and more earth-friendly thanks to the world’s first neodymium-reduced, heat-resistant magnet they’ve just developed. This is a pretty big breakthrough and I’ll explain why.
Most electric motors use neodymium magnets, which is a rare earth element that’s become high in demand. With the way the auto industry is headed, that valuable rare earth element could become more expensive and harder to come by. This new magnet cuts neodymium usage by 50% and replaces a portion of it with lanthanum (La) and cerium (Ce) which are low-cost rare earths. Some of the key benefits to neodymium are its heat resistance and its strong ability to maintain magnetization. Simply reducing its usage doesn’t guarantee the same performance, but Toyota has figured out how to make up for that.
Toyota says this was an essential step to popularizing electric vehicles because it’ll allow for an expanded use in electric cars and robotics while maintaining a balance between the supply and demand of valuable rare earth resources. What that means for us is potentially cheaper EVs. Two of the rare earths they’re using to halve neodymium usage cost 20-times less.
Toyota expects to have these new magnets in use before 2025, when the demand for neodymium is currently expected to exceed the global supply.
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.
[Image © 2018 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]