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: Toyota reveals first new Land Cruiser in nearly 15 years, Kia unleashes their wild designers on the Sportage, BMW has made the 4 Series Gran Coupe ugly, Audi teases a new RS3, BMW makes people happy for once by announcing an LMDh program, IMSA confirms some new GTD Pro details, and Nissan will debut the next Z in August.
Toyota Land Cruiser
I’ll preface this by saying we don’t yet know if this shiny new Land Cruiser, the first new version in nearly 15 years, will come to North America. I thought about reaching out to Toyota’s PR people but because of social anxiety I decided against it. But in the last line of Toyota’s global press release, they mention it’ll launch “all over the world” starting this summer. So there’s hope. For information as to whether you should be hopeful, let’s dig in.
The new 300 Series Land Cruiser debuted in a Middle-Eastern-centric online event but highlighted how much of a passionate following the model has. Since 1951, over 10 million Land Cruisers have been built and they’ve earned a reputation for reliability, durability, and impressive off road performance. In addition to private adventures, they’re used in police forces, humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, and probably some wars. To better serve those needs, the 300 Series gets a new platform, weight savings, new engines, and a modernized interior.
Built on a brand new “GA-F” platform but with the same albeit slightly modified frame structure as before. Its foundations have been improved to reduce weight by 440 pounds, increase rigidity, lower the center of gravity, and improve suspension structure. It also debuts a world-first Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System and that is literally all Toyota says about it. The ultimate goal here is to create a Land Cruiser that is easy to drive and does not easily tire the driver regardless of road or surface conditions. The new interior probably plays a role in that as well but the press release doesn’t talk about that either.
The most noticeable updates are made to the body and what lies underneath it. It sports a fresh new body which is more angular and squared off than some previous generations, as you can tell by these very high quality renderings. Light positions and bumper shapes are designed to be resilient in tough conditions off the beaten path, which may explain why everything looks like it’s 20 feet off the ground. Underneath that face with many grilles is a pair of brand new gas and diesel engines which are both twin-turbocharged V6s. The 3.5-liter gas engine produce about 410 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. Meanwhile the coal roller has 309 horsepower but a mighty 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Joining these in the undercarriage is a newly developed 10-speed automatic. Some areas will receive naturally-aspirated V6s and six-speed automatics but they didn’t specify where.
So there you have it. A trio of new Land Cruisers, one which looks a little more basic, one which looks more luxurious, and one with a GR badge. It’s possible that this will come to the US at some point. They know we can’t get enough SUVs and more buyers are looking for serious off-road capabilities to pretend to use. It may be a little unlikely, but not impossible.
Another global reveal, but one that’s basically guaranteed to make it to our shores, is the new fifth-generation Kia Sportage. We’re short on details because Kia likes to just throw some images out there and see how crazy we get for it. Then when the market-specific models are announced, the specs come with it. So for all intents and purposes, this is how our Kia Sportage will look. Crossovers may be boring as hell, but Kia’s don’t look that way.
The design teams at Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis are probably the wildest out there at the moment. But unlike another brand cough BMW cough they manage to make wild at least somewhat attractive or at the very least eye-catching in a good way. I can’t say this Kia Sportage is pretty, but I can say it looks cool and not awful. That’s a win for a crossover in my book.
Speaking on the design choices made here, Kia says:
Tense and crisp lines ripple along the refined body, amplifying dramatic styling tensions. At the same time, clean but muscular surfaces join forces with intricate graphics to give the SUV a dynamic and assertive road presence. On the inside, a space has been created that is truly state-of-the-art, fusing high-tech sensibilities into contemporary style.
Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder – so what say you? I think if American roads are going to be dominated by cookie-cutter crossovers, they should at least look interesting. And this absolutely does.
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
Good news for people who want a four-door BMW that’s roughly the size of a 3 Series but don’t want a 3 Series and also want less backseat headroom. The new 4 Series Gran Coupe was just unveiled! And it’s got the beaver grille!
I don’t know about you but I was worried they would let the grille’s overwhelmingly bad reception get to their heads. Cars need to be #bold and #dynamic and they can’t let a lot of bad press get in their way. What better way to advertise your boldness and poor life choices than being seen in public with the most blatantly terrible piece of automotive design you can possibly buy right now. And it can all be yours with a starting price of around $45,000 for the boring four-cylinder or $58,000 for the inline-six that you really want. Available with 98-month financing and zero due at signing (probably).
Audi teases new RS3s
Hooniverse alum, Radwood and Autopia 2099 cofounder, and the nicest guy on Twitter with the worst takes, Bradley Brownell, found an interesting little easter egg in an unassuming Audi press release. Buried in the photo album of a “sustainability report” are two sporty compacts with camouflage and some wide hips. They sure seem to be new RS3s.
It’s too early to say what to expect, other than more power (that’s a given). Currently they produce 394 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder. Over 400 seems to be a likely number for a new version. It should be coming out sometime next year and we’ll absolutely be following up when more info is revealed. The RS3 is a sweet little thing from Audi and one of the last to carry the five-cylinder torch for a brand that used to be known for them.
[Source: Audi via Jalopnik]
BMW confirms LMDh program
IMSA’s LMDh prototype formula has just received a huge endorsement from BMW who have sort of confirmed a program for 2023. I say sort of because BMW themselves have said nothing about it, only the boss of BMW M, Markus Flasch. Out of the blue yesterday, he made a post to Instagram with a legendary BMW V12 LMR on a concert hall stage. The words “WE ARE BACK! Daytona 2023” tell us all we need to know.
Numerous brands have been confirmed to at least be in talks with IMSA to commit to their LMDh formula for the top class of prototype racing. Of those, so far Acura, Audi, and Porsche have committed with Cadillac and possibly even Lamborghini to come soon. BMW is the latest to confirm as their M8 GTLM program comes to a close and they ramp up the M4 GT3 program for global GT3 competition. Since GTD Pro will replace GTE (more on that below), BMW would theoretically have room for a factory-backed team in top-level prototype competition. So here we are.
But not even Racer could get more info on this. A BMW spokesperson told them they were not prepared to add anything more to Flasch’s announcement. I guess he was too excited to wait. With Daytona 2023 set as its first race, things will need to get into motion fairly soon. The main selling point of LMDh is that the hardest parts of car development are done by a third party. The chassis has to be bought from one of four suppliers and that includes the bodywork from the cockpit rearward. Additionally the electric motor is from a single supplier as well. Manufacturers will just need to design their own nose section and supply their own engine.
BMW already has a handful they could use. There’s that 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 from the M8 they won’t need after this year and the twin-turbo inline-six that’s going into the M4 GT3. BMW also has an excellent partner in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing who have been running their sports cars in ALMS and IMSA competition since 2009 with some great results. There’s no reason BMW shouldn’t have another successful program in LMDh. But the real winners will be the spectators. LMDh is shaping up to be an amazing class for IMSA.
IMSA details GTD Pro regulations
While optimism surrounding IMSA’s LMDh class has skyrocketed, their top GT class has been in peril for some time. The wonderful GTLM class, which calls for GTE-spec cars and pro driver squads and usually manufacturer-backed teams, has had participation plummet. Ford’s GT program ran its four year course as scheduled, then the lone Risi Ferrari sort of just stopped existing again, then Porsche set the stage for a collapse by closing their program. BMW is now committing to endurance races only, which leaves Corvette as the only full-time entry in the class. A privateer Porsche effort exists but they’re not at every race. So something needed to change.
As announced earlier this year, that change calls for a GTD Pro class to take over from GTLM. It seemed straightforward but some details were left out, like whether the cars would be different at all from the standard GTD class or if they’d be on a different tire. Or, in general, how they would manage performance between the all pro lineup in GTD Pro and the mixed lineup in GTD.
Well this week we found out. As expected, the cars of GTD Pro will be identical (mechanically) to GTD. This effectively means anything that’s eligible for GTD, whether it be from Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, McLaren, or BMW, can also run in GTD Pro. The three most hated letters in sports car racing – BoP – will be managed individually from both classes and help ensure that there’s at least some gap in performance. Even the tires will be the same between both classes, so it’s up to the drivers in GTD Pro to set a better pace. But if it’s too close, they will likely add some ballast or reduce power for standard GTD.
But the biggest global GT3 series, SRO, has been running a field full of GT3 cars with pro and not pro driver levels mixed in at the same time. They seem to be just fine without inter-class BoP, so I’m sure IMSA will be as well. Either way, GTD Pro debuts next season. It may not be as glamorous or downright awesome as GTLM was, but the drivers will still be more than capable of putting on a great show.
Nissan Z reveal set for August 17
Welp, it’s happening. The Nissan Z Proto that debuted last year to much fanfare is not just going to be a Proto for much longer. On August 17th, we’ll be seeing what should be a production version of the next Z. That’s all they’ve given us so far, so we’ll just have to wait three months to see what Nissan has prepared. The concept car looked totally feasible to enter production as is, so I’m expecting it to be pretty damn close. We’ll be bringing you more when we can regardless.
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.