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. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Porsche’s four-door 911 is all-new for 2017
Ford honors the car that shouldn’t have won Le Mans in ’66
Special edition Vipers sell out, Dodge adds more
Tesla driver killed while operating in Autopilot mode
What’s your automotive news?
2017 Porsche Panamera
You know how Porsche has been doing that whole “evolution over revolution” thing with the 911? I’d say they’re officially doing that with the Panamera now if these shots are anything to go by. Porsche’s four-door with the heart of a two-door has been a punching bag for enthusiasts since its introduction several years ago. Despite it being a sign of the apocalypse, it’s been selling well enough to warrant an all-new second-generation rework.
For the 2017 model year, the Panamera has been redeveloped and re-engineered “down to the last bolt” and it takes more styling cues from the obvious member of the family. With typical sports car styling cues like long proportions, wide shoulders, and a lower roof line (which doesn’t cut down on headroom, apparently), it really is meant to be a four-door sports car. The new four-point headlights and tail lights connected with a wide light bar make it look more like the bigger 911 it was always supposed to be. The car rolls on a longer wheelbase and it benefits from having a shortened front overhang. Other proportions are fairly similar with only slight gains in width, length, and height. Other exterior highlights include more aluminum body panels, 19-21″ wheels, and a new version of the cool folding spoiler at the rear. I played with that a lot when I last drove a Panamera…
Another space that’s been greatly reworked is the cabin. The “old” Panameras had a wonderful interior with semi-configurable gauges, a center console that could’ve been stolen from a Learjet, and generous amounts of fine materials. The new Panameras take all of that a step further. The overall design isn’t anything that new if you’re familiar with Porsche interiors, but it does have a few major differences. Firstly, the gauge cluster is now more digital than before. Only the center tachometer is analog; the rest of the gauge cluster comprises of two 7″ displays which can show anything of importance. The center console is another area that’s changed a lot with a new 12.3″ touchscreen with the latest Porsche Communication Management system behind it. For the rest of the center console, Porsche has chosen touch-sensitive surfaces to replace buttons – even the air vent louvers are controlled by touch-sensitive sliders.
Cabin materials should be as nice as you would expect from a six-figure Porsche. Other new features like massaging seats, panoramic tilt roof, ambient lighting, and a 3D sound system from Burmester will make the Panamera a nice place to be, even if you aren’t fortunate enough to drive it.
If you do happen to be in the driver’s seat, one of two new engines available at launch will be at your command. The Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo are the first two offerings for the 2017 model year, powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 440 horsepower and 405 lb.-ft. of torque and a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 550 horsepower and 567 lb.-ft. of torque, respectively. Each model comes standard with all-wheel drive and can be equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. The 4S runs from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds with Sport Chrono or 4.2 without. The Turbo does that in 3.4 seconds with and 3.6 without. Even today, those are supercar numbers.
As expected, none of this comes cheap. Pricing for the 2017 Panamera 4S starts at $99,900 and the 2017 Panamera Turbo starts at $146,900. Only those two models are available upon launch, which is scheduled for January 2017, but more will surely follow. I would expect one of those to be an all-new hybrid featuring some 918-inspired tech to make it a beast of a hybrid.
Ford GT ’66 Heritage Edition
You knew this was coming…
Ford has a lot to celebrate this year and it all revolves around Le Mans and the GT. Fresh off their win a few weekends ago and on the 50th anniversary of their first LM24 win, Ford is celebrating the number 2 Ford GT40 Mark II that won on their first go. Only available for the 2017 model year, this future Barrett-Jackson headliner matches the color scheme of the car that accidentally* came out on top in a historic 1-2-3 finish.
To match the original car driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris
Anton Amon, this new ’66 Heritage Edition wears either matte or metallic black finish paint, silver stripes, and a #2 graphic on the hood and doors. The 20″ one-piece forged aluminum wheels are in a gold satin clearcoat with black lug nuts and the car also comes equipped with the exposed carbon fiber package.
The theme continues inside with Ebony leather seats, headliner, pillars, and instrument panel. Gold accents on the instrument panel, paddle shifters, and the seat’s X-brace just make it look awesome. To keep with the original as much as possible, the steering wheel is leather-wrapped and the seat belts feature a unique blue webbing. To finish off the interior, they’ve given it more exposed carbon fiber, a unique identification plate, and the #2 graphic is also applied to the interior door panels.
No pricing was announced yet, but it’s a Ford GT being produced in very limited numbers for one year only.
*While Ford didn’t acknowledge this, that 1966 race really shouldn’t have been won by the #2. The #1 driven by Ken Miles and Denny Hulme was far in the lead, but on the last lap, team orders instructed the #1 to slow down so the second and third place cars could catch up for that famous photo-op showing the 1-2-3 finish. The #2 didn’t slow down enough, because it ended up being classified first based on some race distance formula the ACO were using, stealing the victory from Miles and Hulme. If there was ever a Ford Le Mans victory that is worthy of saltiness, it’s that one. The full story is on Hemmings.
But at least the car looks cool.
[Sources: Ford, Hemmings Daily]
Remember how I was worried that the special edition Vipers wouldn’t sell too well? I was wrong. Very wrong. As Autoblog reports, the 206 special edition Vipers they had set aside for its final year in production all sold out within 5 days. The 1:28 edition sold out in 40 minutes with other individual special editions taking hours or a few days. Averaging about 41 cars a day, it’s probably just set a new personal record…. hey Dodge, wanna un-cancel it now? Anyways, to capitalize on all the interest these Vipers are generating, Dodge is adding a new special edition limited to 31 cars. It’s the Snakeskin ACR, which is like the green Snakeskin GTC that just sold out but as an ACR. Those that want one of the last Vipers should contact local dealers, like, right now.
[Source: Dodge via Autoblog]
Some sad news out of the Tesla camp this week – a “friend of Tesla” and Model S owner was killed in a collision this week while the car was in Autopilot mode. It’s sad but true that injury and death are risks we take to enjoy the open road, but this may be the first time someone has been killed in an autonomous car collision.The Model S was operating in Autopilot mode, a semi-autonomous driving mode, when a tractor trailer turned in front of it at the worst possible moment. Tragically, autopilot wasn’t able to save itself or its passenger. Details are scarce while the NHTSA investigates, but Tesla reiterated in a statement that Autopilot is still in Beta (and forces owners to recognize that before switching it on) and still requires drivers to remain alert at all times because the car could hand controls back to the driver when it needs to. Plenty of people are speculating on what exactly the driver was doing at the time or whether the collision was even avoidable, but I won’t. I will say that this event, while tragic, is an important reminder that autonomous cars of the future will have real human lives in their hands, and when a passenger dies in one (whether it was the car’s fault or not), it’s not something to take lightly. Engineers and programmers will feel a greater sense of responsibility for keeping everyone safe, because nobody wants to be known for writing the code that killed someone. Hopefully this is the last time this happens, but it probably won’t be. Nothing is easy…
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]