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:
Aston Martin adds a Volante option to the Vanquish S
Ford finally confirms the GT’s power, top speed, and more
Kia competitively prices the Niro hybrid crossover
Wal-Mart partners with CarSaver to sell cars through select stores
Subaru releases tiny picture to tease all-new Crosstrek
Dodge Demon will have factory drag radials and can do big burnouts
Hooniverse will be at the Rolex 24!
What’s your automotive news?
Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante
Aston Martin’s ultimate super GT is getting a new cloth top version that’ll hit dealerships just in time for convertible weather. The Vanquish S Volante is the inevitable follow up to the high(er) performance Vanquish S that we saw a few months ago. It gains all the styling and the performance the S introduced, but in a package with infinite headroom.
Fortunately, it has all the same hardware as the hard top Vanquish S. It has that beautiful naturally-aspirated 6.0-liter V12 with the revised intake, stainless steel exhaust, fully CNC machined combustion chambers, and improved responsiveness as with the other car. Its output is still 595 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque and that all goes to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. That’s enough power to propel the hard top version from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 201 mph, but Aston Martin hasn’t released those figures for the Volante. But I’m gonna say that it’s the fastest Volante ever produced anyway. Period.
After looking through everything this car has, there’s really nothing different besides the new folding cloth top and its mechanisms. That all will inevitably add weight, but they’re not saying exactly how much yet (hard top weighs in at ~3,800 pounds). Everything else is identical to the hard top Vanquish S, including the revised suspension, more aggressive aero, exposed carbon fiber, and even the interior design and materials. So I guess I’ll end it here.
Pricing hasn’t been finalized yet.
[Source: Aston Martin]
Ford GT specs finalized
Back when the new Ford GT was first revealed, we were never told exactly how quick it would be. We were told that its new EcoBoost engine would produce “more than 600 horsepower” and could probably go over 200 mph. Since its reveal at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, we’ve been deprived of more specific figures even as the international community went mad trying to uncover the truth for the greater good. Or something.
But we don’t have to guess anymore. This week Ford confirmed the final details on the 2017 Ford GT and offered some insight into just how quick this’ll be. Spoiler: it’s more than worthy of the name. (Figures are in bold in case you’re skimming through).
Ford’s specially-developed 3.5-liter EcoBoost (twin turbocharged) V6 has been SAE-rated at 647 horsepower and 550 lb.-ft. of torque. That puts it right in the mix with some of the world’s leading super cars, specifically the McLaren 675 LT and Ferrari 458 Speciale, which Ford used as benchmarks when creating and finishing up the GT over the past couple years.
But power isn’t the whole story, of course. The GT’s dry weight is barely over 3,000 pounds, which is about 200 pounds more than the 675 LT and 458 Speciale, but 300 pounds less than the new Ferrari 488 which is perhaps its primary target (since the 458 Speciale is no longer on sale).
But where it really excels is in the aero department. No other car has a shape quite like the GT does and everything was crafted for the sole purpose of being as aerodynamically efficient as possible. It’s that slippery silhouette in combination with its brute force which allows for a 216 mph top speed. The 675 LT tops out at 205 mph as does the 488 GTB, even though both have a bit more power than the GT. You’d have to jump up to the P1 and LaFerrari to find a higher top speed from the GT’s rivals, and even then the Ford is only a mph or two off.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s not just a straight line car. Ford ran their own test against the 675 LT and 458 Speciale at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Canada using fresh tires, new fluids, and optimal suspension settings along with the same driver. As I’m sure you can guess, the only reason Ford is talking about this test is because the GT won. With a time of 2:09.8, it edged ahead of the 675 LT (2:10.8) and left the 458 Speciale for dead (2:12.9). For what it’s worth, the newer Ferrari 488 GTB is half-a-second quicker than the 458 Speciale around Fiorano, so it might have put up a better fight against the GT. Maybe. Just wait till the 488 Speciale/Scuderia/Something.
America’s super car is ready to fight.
2017 Kia Niro starts at $22,890
Now for something much more sensible. Kia has finalized pricing for their all-new 2017 Niro, a compact crossover designed as a hybrid from the beginning. It starts at $22,890 and will be offered in five different trim levels which top out at just under $30,000. It goes on sale in the coming weeks/months.
Designed to be a more spacious, practical, and affordable hybrid crossover that doesn’t cut corners, it’s built with a mostly high-strength steel frame and lightweight aluminum body panels and runs a new hybrid system. All Niro models run with the same 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine which utlizes the Atkinson Cycle, cooled exhaust gas recirculation, and a long-stroke-narrow-bore specification for ultimate efficiency. A transmission-mounted 43-horsepower electric motor works in tandem with the gas engine to produce a total of 146 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s all routed through a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Their quest for maximum fuel efficiency earned the Niro an EPA-estimated 50 MPG combined.
With the base Niro at just under $23K, you get all of that plus a fair bit of standard features. Things like power windows, six-way front seats, keyless entry, cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen display with the government-mandated rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio system with steering-wheel-mounted controls come at no additional cost.
Other features that get added through packages and trim levels include Smart Key with push-button start, roof rails, heated and ventilated combination cloth and leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, up to eighteen-inch wheels, eight-inch touchscreen navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and more.
So if you’re looking for a nice little 50 MPG hybrid that can act like a crossover and you don’t mind how it looks, give the Niro a second look.
Wal-Mart partners with CarSaver for in-store auto sales
The headlines you inevitably already saw this week all proclaimed that Wal-Mart was going to start selling cars. That’s partially true – yes, you will soon be able to buy a real car at select Wal-Mart stores, but Wal-Mart themselves aren’t going to be the ones selling it to you. Handling the actual car selling stuff will be CarSaver, an online retail platform that will be able to set up a physical store inside a handful of Wal-Marts.
Once customers have been lured into the CarSaver space, they’ll be connected with dealership groups they’ve partnered with to find the perfect new, used, or certified pre-owned car (so far AutoNation has been named as an early partner but more could be on the way). They can even be connected to financial groups like Ally Financial to get a loan if needed – all from the comfort of a friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart.
As Autoweek reports, this system was quietly rolled out to a Wal-Mart in Stuart, Florida about a year ago and they’ve been gauging customer feedback ever since. Apparently it was pretty good feedback because this program will roll out to Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City on April 1st.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek teased
Subaru is showing an all-new Crosstrek (called the XV in other markets) at the Geneva Motor Show this March and they’re building up hype with this 430 x 240-pixel teaser image that I had to blow up to fill in the white space on the site. As you can see, it’ll be a more sleek, athletic, and refined design. It’ll also be very blurry and dark.
That’s all there is to know at the moment but there will be more come March 7th during its global debut.
Dodge Challenger Demon has drag radials, can still do burnouts
Here’s your weekly reminder that the Challenger Demon is coming. This week’s quick teaser video is titled “body” but it really just shows that it can do a really good burnout. But we do get this quick look at the business end which confirms some aggressive fender flares which add an extra 3.5 inches to the width of an already wide car, all for the purpose of housing the massive tires on all four corners. Dodge confirmed that the Demon’s wheels will be wrapped in “Demon Branded” 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R tires. Dodge says it’s the first production car ever built with drag radials. It’s going to be fast, as you can tell by all the fire surrounding it.
Hooniverse will be at the Rolex 24!
America’s biggest endurance race is running this weekend at the Daytona International Speedway. The 55th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will feature a dramatically different field which should be one of the prettiest America’s seen in years, as Eric explained earlier. I’ll be there for only the second time this weekend providing live(ish) updates on Twitter and the Hooniverse Instagram whilst I go to war against our alcohol supply and resist the urge to catch some sleep like a loser.
If you’re at the race this weekend and want to tell me how much I suck in person, just hit me up on Twitter @gregckach and I’ll bring beer.
[Image © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]
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 © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]