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:
Toyota adds two off-road-focused 4Runners to the 2017 lineup
BMW confirms the 1 Series Sedan is finally a thing, but it’s not for us
New special edition BMW M5 brings 600 horsepower to the states
McLaren reportedly working on a real successor to the F1
Tesla reveals part 2 of their master plan
CAFE’s 54.5 mpg target is kinda sorta going away, maybe
What’s your automotive news?
Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road
Toyota is adding two new trim levels to the popular 4Runner, also known as one of the relatively few off-road-focused body-on-frame SUVs you can still buy. Both are designed to further enhance the 4Runner’s off-road credentials with the help of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and both will be available by the end of this year, more or less at the same time as the other 2017 4Runners.
The new additions are the 4Runner TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium. They seem to be more of a mid-range option for those that like to play in the dirt but can’t commit to the $42,000 TRD Pro model. Each of the TRD Off-Road models have more than enough capabilities built in to tackle just about anything nature can throw at it despite it slotting in under the Pro model.
Going off of what the press release specifically mentions, going for the TRD Off-Road “Premium” option nets everything the standard TRD Off-Road has plus special TRD embroidery on the headrests. I’m sure other bits of the interior are fancied up and it carries more features as standard, probably including a portal to another realm that can only be opened with a blood sacrifice, but the press release didn’t mention anything else.
But what it did confirm is that both models come well-equipped for those that love exploring. Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select, which manages wheel slip to cope with various conditions, is standard equipment on both models. Also standard is an electronic-locking rear differential and a CRAWL feature, which manages exactly what the acronym implies when the transfer case is set to low range. CRAWL ultimately allows drivers to focus on steering through challenging terrain without needing to worry about throttle and brake modulation.
The 4Runner’s already high approach and departure angles and high ground clearance are more exploitable with the available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which facilitates extended wheel travel at slow speeds and can be adapted for different types of terrain.
As usual, more details and pricing will be available closer to launch. Pricing isn’t finalized, but given the spec sheet, the TRD Off-Roads better be cheaper than the TRD Pro. The portal to another realm may add quite a bit to its MSRP, though.
BMW 1 Series
BMW is finally taking a stab at the compact luxury sedan segment with this, the all-new 1 Series sedan. Not to be confused with the 2 Series coupe and convertibles we have here or the 1 Series hatchbacks in Europe, the 1 Series sedan is something completely different. The 2 Series and Euro-spec 1 Series hatches all share the same platform and pretty much all of the same hardware; the 1 Series sedan, despite theoretically being a member of the same product line as the 1 Series hatch, is based on a completely different platform.
The 1 Series sedan is built off the same platform as such classics like the X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer. That means it’s a shorter wheelbase than the other 1 Series hatches and 2 Series coupes. Confused? Here’s the takeaway: it’s front-wheel drive.
That’s not the surprising part though. What’s surprising is that it’s exclusive to the Chinese market. This 1 Series sedan is the result of BMW Group and BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. (a joint venture between BMW Group and a Chinese automotive company with money) collaborating on a new car designed to capture market share in the lucrative luxury compact car segment, the fastest-growing automotive segment worldwide.
It’ll be up against the likes of the Audi A3 sedan, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and Buick Verano (assuming those are all sold in China) when it goes on sale… eventually. They’ve not confirmed pricing or any kind of target launch date or really anything else about the car at all. So uh, yeah, it exists. And I would be shocked if BMW never brings a 1 Series sedan in some form to the rest of the world given how well the A3 and CLA are selling, but time will tell.
BMW M5 Pure Metal Silver Edition
Confession time. If you’ve been reading my stuff or following me for a while, you know I love BMW and that I especially love to make fun of them when appropriate. When I saw this special edition M5 pop up, my first reaction was “oh looks like they’re running out of ways to sell the M5 now huehuehue“. As it turns out, this special edition is actually kind of sweet and us Americans have it all to ourselves.
It’s called the BMW M5 Pure Metal Silver Edition and it gets that silly name from the unique paint color which best distinguishes it. This unique Pure Metal Silver paint was done up by BMW Individual who used a unique layering process to create it. That process is responsible for its silk skin looks and high metal brilliance, which in English means it reflects more light than other paints can. The process requires a lot of detailed hand work which is all done off the normal assembly line. In short, it’ll look stunning.
That being said, this special paint alone isn’t what makes this a worthy special edition in my book. Hell no. The 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 they’ve turned up to eleven is. The S63 normally produces 560 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque in the standard M5, but in this one it produces 600 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. This Pure Metal Silver Edition M5 is now the only way to get a 600 horsepower M5 from the factory (it was most recently offered in the 30 Jahre M5, but those all sold out). The standard M5 was powerful enough to get me to 150 mph between turns 7 and 9 at Road Atlanta; I can’t imagine what 600 horsepower would’ve done.
Backing up that decent power increase is the factory Competition Package as standard equipment. That adds twenty-inch forged wheels, reduced ride height, firmer dampers and stabilizers, enhanced integration with the already standard active M differential, more direct steering, and retuned stability and traction control. This special edition also includes standard carbon ceramic brakes, which I can confirm as being incredibly effective on track. Also standard is the fantastic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which enables 0-60 mph sprints in 3.9 seconds.
A few additional perks of the Pure Metal Silver edition are included with the standard M Driver’s Package. That entitles buyers to a unique one-day high performance driving school session at their Performance Center in South Carolina and, perhaps best of all, raises the speed limiter on the car from 155 mph to 190 mph.
Only 50 units will be produced and they’re all headed to America. It doesn’t come cheap though with an MSRP of $130,900. But if you want one of the most powerful production cars in BMW history with some special paint, this is the way to go. Sales commence this August.
Update: Turns out, this isn’t the only way to get a 600 horsepower M5 from the factory. BMW also revealed the Competition Edition M5 which shares all of the same performance enhancements as the Pure Metal Silver edition but lacks the crazy complicated paint job. This one is limited to 200 units, 100 of which are painted in Carbon Black with the other 100 being Mineral White. No word on where this one is being sold but it wasn’t available on the BMW USA press site as the Pure Metal Silver one was, so I’m guessing it’ll be a Euro special. The Competition Editions are going for €129,500 ($142,000 converted).
McLaren will produce a true F1 successor before the decade is out according to a report from Autocar. They claim to have contact with an insider who divulged some very interesting details on a car that nobody else knew to exist. It’s being billed as a “hyper GT” or a cross-country capable GT car which happens to be faster than any other GT before it. So less P1, more 650S turned up to
11 1,000. And if the reports are true, it’ll be a true homage to the F1 with a three-seat layout, powered dihedral doors, a roof snorkel, and no hybrid power. They’re reportedly aiming for 700 horsepower, and knowing McLaren, it’ll most likely use the 94th variant of their 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 to reach that goal. Obviously none of this has been confirmed by McLaren and Autocar are the only ones reporting on it firsthand, but it’s still a very interesting possibility. Head on over to their full report for details and some neat renderings.
As Tesla Motors enters its second decade in business, Elon Musk has revealed part two of their Master Plan. Part one is in the final stages of completion according to the mad scientist, which was to create a low volume, high cost car (Roadster), use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price (Model S), and then use that money to create a high volume, affordable car (Model 3) while also providing solar power to more people. Even though their high volume car is at least a few more years away, Tesla is already the undisputed king of EVs. So for part two, they plan to take that electric expertise even further by dropping “Motors” from their name… which means they plan to become the ultimate electric mobility company, rather than just an EV company. Their goals in a nutshell are below:
- Starting with integrated energy generation and storage, Tesla wants to join forces with Solar City to create a solar-roof-with-battery product that can make people self-sufficient with clean energy at home.
- Tesla also wants to further expand their EV lineup to cover all major markets, including a future compact SUV (hopefully with normal doors), a “new kind” of pickup truck, heavy-duty trucks, and high passenger-density urban transport (buses, basically). The last two should be ready for unveiling next year in some form or another.
- Expand the use of Autopilot and make it safer, more effective, and as perfect as possible through massive fleet learning. Currently, Autopilot is learning at a rate of 3 million miles per day. They predict global regulators will require 6 billion miles of autonomous driving before final approval, so that’s their goal.
- Lastly, they want to make Teslas ride sharing-friendly by allowing you to put your Tesla to work for you. This won’t happen until full autonomy is approved, but basically you would own or lease a Tesla and then send it off to chauffeur random people while you’re not using it. This isn’t unlike Mini’s 100 year concept plan, but because it’s Tesla’s version it’ll probably be more popular.
If you’re interested, the whole plan is available on their website.
On the other side of the spectrum, CAFE standards are changing in some interesting ways. Two seemingly contradictory reports were released this week; one claims that the CAFE-mandated 54.5 mpg fleet average target was more of an estimate and is “off the table” while another claims that fines automakers face for missing their mpg targets are increasing exponentially. The reason why the EPA, NHTSA, and CARB are no longer said to be mandating a 54.5 mpg target by 2025 is because of how rapidly the industry has been adopting greener tech and higher-efficiency engines. They have no doubt that automakers have every resource available to hit that target, but because the American people are still in love with crossovers and trucks, it makes that goal a lot harder to reach. Consider this a reaction to America’s buying habits, but it doesn’t mean automakers can abandon their efforts all together. They’ll make it impossible to exploit, they said in a report obtained by Autoweek.
I think the other contradicting report is how they plan to do that. The cost of not meeting their yearly fleet averages will become much higher than it currently is and the auto industry was not given much warning. Currently, the penalty is $5.50 for each 0.1 mpg that an automaker falls short of their yearly targets and then multiplied by the number of offending vehicles sold. That rate is now $14 because apparently it was too easy for automakers to just pay the fine.
So if I’m interpreting this correctly, the 54.5 mpg by 2025 target is more of a suggestion but the penalties for not meeting their yearly targets are now much higher.
[Sources: Automotive News, Autoweek]
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]