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: BMW gives us a first look at the M4 GT3, Jeep unveils 4Xe Compass and Renegade for Europe, Ford is reportedly expediting development of a Bronco pickup, Genesis sold 100 manual G70s so they’re cutting it, and Ford and RTR debut a Mach-E drift car.
BMW M4 GT3 first glance
The future of sportscar racing faces a lot of uncertainty as new partnerships and classes are forming and the pandemic is forcing a lot of competitors and manufacturers to suspend programs. While we gain a promising new LMDh prototype class, we may be losing GTLM here in the US as early as next year. Talks of a GT class convergence are nothing new but are likely to have some renewed interest after all that’s been going on. That means there may be a new GT3 class with expanded manufacturer support, which means this car that BMW has been testing for the first time may be extremely important.
BMW has completed the first test session of the M4 GT3, the long-awaited replacement for the very long in the tooth M6 GT3, which is based on a car you can no longer buy. The 6 Series that GT3 was based on has been long gone – replaced by the 8 Series and survived by the 6 Series Gran Turismo crossover thing. The 8 Series isn’t selling so hot and BMW quickly gave up on the M8 GTE program in Europe, so I don’t expect the M8 GTLM to survive in the US much longer. So by the time this M4 GT3 sees full time competition in 2022 (as is currently scheduled), this could be BMW’s premier sports car. The M4 currently competes in GT4 so I would expect to see an updated version of that in the next few years as well.
Much like the M8 program, BMW is developing the road car and the race car side by side. Both will be using a twin-turbocharged inline-six in accordance with GT3 rules and both will almost certainly be sporting an exceedingly ugly nose in accordance with BMW’s design philosophy. You can tell that’s going to be the case because BMW’s press photos only show the back of the car. Testing has gone well they say and has been on schedule. The some 500-horsepower engine took to the test stand in February and scale wind tunnel testing was completed within the last month or so. This week, factory driver Augusto Farfus took the first working prototype out for its first drive. Next week they’ll be at BMW’s test center in Miramas, France for its first full test.
While we won’t be seeing this on track full time in 2022, the road cars it’s based on will debut this September.
Jeep 4Xe models on sale in Europe
Jeep previously demonstrated their ability and desire to produce a hybrid off roader using a new “4Xe” system, but now they’re making that a reality. Two new electrified 4Xe models are available for order in Europe – no word on US availability just yet. The first production vehicles to get a 4Xe option are the Compass and Renegade and more will be on the way.
The body, interior, and 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine carry over unchanged, but the magic happens at the back. The gas engine only powers the front wheels now while a single electric motor on the rear axle drives those wheels. The gas engine can provide up to 180 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque while the electric motor produces 60 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. Combine those and you get a pretty big number for an SUV/crossover that size. Jeep also adds an additional electric motor of sorts to the front axle which pairs with the gas engine to act as a high voltage generator while not adding any additional power.
An 11.4 kWh battery capacity means an electric-only driving range of about 31 miles if desired, which isn’t bad for a hybrid. No numbers have been released to indicate how MPG is impacted by the electrification. But Jeep claims the 4Xe models are more capable off road than its gas-only counterparts. It seems like US sales are a no brainer and I’m sure it’ll come here eventually.
[Source: Jeep via Jalopnik]
Report: a Bronco pickup is being expedited
Coming on the heels of Ford’s internet-breaking Bronco debut, we’re already getting reports of a new variant on the way that’s sure to be another hit. It’s one we all could have seen coming too – the Bronco pickup. According to a report from Automobile, it’s definitely coming as we could have expected. Unfortunately though, it’s currently expected to debut as a 2025 model. Their sources claim that forces inside Ford are doing what they can to expedite the development process, but the earliest possible release would still be at least two years away.
The Jeep Gladiator is the obvious target here, but even though it launched to much hype and fanfare, it’s not been selling as well as they hoped. The Bronco has been an early success for Ford, so much so that they were able to double the amount of first edition Broncos up for grabs and they still sold out. Ford could be banking on the insane level of interest they’re seeing already and go through with a pickup version. Either way, it seems they’ll have a few years to watch the market and see if it can be justified. I suspect it will be.
Genesis G70 loses its manual option because nobody buys them anymore
Did you know that the Genesis G70 offered a manual transmission? Would you buy one? Turns out a slight majority of buyers didn’t. By that I mean 99.2% of them. In a move that surprises nobody except the most toxic “no manual, no buy” people, Genesis is axing the option for the G70 for the 2022 model year. The reason is simple: manual transmission hype doesn’t translate to sales and it never does. In a report obtained by Road & Track, around 100 manual-equipped G70s were sold last year and only 71 have been built this year for the 2021 model year. It’s still possible to buy one of those 2021 models are they’re all probably still sitting in dealer inventory.
It’s a sad day as R&T was quick to point out that it was the last rear-wheel-drive manual sedan you could buy in the US. Everyone else has either axed the option completely or limited it to other markets where manuals aren’t just popular on the internet. Just another reminder that if you really want manuals to survive, you have to buy them.
[Source: Road & Track]
Other news from the week
Ford Performance and RTR unveiled a pretty neat experiment they’ve been working on. It’s a not-a-Mustang Mach-E drift car that demonstrates some of the remarkable capabilities of EV power in motorsports. It’s a working, tire-slaying prototype that shows us the future of electric may not be so boring after all. Read the details and catch the videos of it in action here.
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.