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:
Ford keeps the GT350 alive with chassis tuning and more downforce
Aston Martin unveils new AMR-tuned Rapide in all its NA V12 glory
AM Vantage GT3 and GT4 make their debut, will compete next season
Japanese road test of ’19 Mazda MX-5 leaks power increase, other new features
What’s your automotive news?
2019 Mustang Shelby GT350
While most Mustang fans have their attention turned to the new GT500 that’s due out soon, Ford Performance was also at work bringing some enhancements to the apex hunter that is the GT350. A lot of the changes are beneath the skin and seek to build upon the current car’s strengths on the track to make it just a bit better. There’s no power increase or face lift, just more grip and a blessing from someone who knows a thing or two about racing a Mustang.
The 2019 GT350 gets some extra mechanical grip thanks to a new GT350-specific tire from Michelin – a revised set of Pilot Sport Cup 2s with a new tread pattern and a different compound sized at 295/35 front and 305/35 rear. Those tires are wrapped around new 19″ aluminum wheels (the GT 350R has carbonfiber wheels -KK).
At the other end of the grip spectrum, Ford has also given it some additional downforce in the form of a new rear spoiler with an optional Gurney Flap. That plus a more optimized grille closeout was engineered from lessons learned in the wind tunnel after testing their GT4 racecar and the upcoming GT500.
To take full advantage of the added downforce and grip, Ford Performance enlisted the expertise of Billy Johnson, a factory driver who races the GT350 in IMSA’s GT4 series and is about to drive the Ford GT at that big race in France this weekend. He helped them recalibrate the standard MagneRide active suspension, the three-mode stability control, and the ABS to take full advantage of the improvements.
Even though the GT350 doesn’t take on the styling updates of the other 2019 models, it does gain some of the new features like the 12-speaker B&O Play audio system by Harman and some new Sync 3 functionality. Two new paint colors are offered, those being Velocity Blue (also borrowed from the other 2019 Mustangs) and Ford Performance Blue, the latter of which is a color Ford doesn’t typically sell.
And of course, the epic 5.2-liter V8 is untouched and produces 526 horsepower with a 8,250 RPM redline. A six-speed Tremec manual gearbox remains the correct option.
The 2019 GT350 goes on sale early 2019.
Aston Martin Rapide AMR
As Aston Martin Racing prepares to defend their 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans title with the all-new Vantage GTE this weekend, they’ve unveiled the latest car to receive the AMR treatment. The DB11 AMR that was just shown a few weeks ago got power and chassis refinements to increase #dynamism and the story is pretty much the same for the new Rapide AMR.
Aston’s only four-door (until the inevitable Aston SUV comes along) was first teased in AMR trim at last year at the Geneva Motor Show and the styling is surprisingly similar. It has a large and aggressive front grille to mimic the track-only Vantage AMR Pro, a new carbon hood, and a host of new downforce-enhancing add-ons all in carbon fiber.
The naturally-aspirated V12 in this car is one of the last of Aston’s design and borrows heavily from the last-generation Vantage GT12. Through larger inlet manifolds with tuned length dual inlet runners to enhance the airflow into the 6.0-liter V12 and the necessary engine calibration, power is up to a healthy 580 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. With the new AMR quad-exhaust system, it laughs at cars who’ve suffered from down-sizing engines.
Helping to put power to the ground effectively is a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports wrapped in 21″ forged wheels which are extra stiff and even have a multi-spoke design to aid in brake cooling. It boasts massive 15.7″ front and 14.1″ rear carbon ceramic brakes, a first for the Rapide.
As with the other AMR models, you can opt for the AMR Lime accents or go for a more subdued exterior finish. The interior updates are as expected – carbon fiber dashboard trim, Alcantara inserts, special stitching, and a One-77-style steering wheel.
The first deliveries start in Q4 2018.
[Source: Aston Martin]
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and GT4
Good news to all you Hooniverse readers with a sports car racing team – Aston Martin has finally unveiled the new Vantage GT3 and GT4-spec race cars that will soon be available to customer racing teams! Both cars are based on the new Vantage GTE that will be fighting for glory in the GTE Pro category at Le Mans this weekend and use the same engine, but one just looks a bit more like the road car than the other.
Technical highlights include a dry weight of 2,745 pounds, up to 535 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque (before BoP) from a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that’s lifted from the road car and beefed up by AMR, and an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox. Another thing based off the road car is its aluminum chassis, but the similarities end when adding the steel roll-cage, Öhlins four-way adjustable dampers, and Alcon brakes with Bosch Motorsport ABS.
The GT3 car benefits from a similar aero package as found in the GTE car while the GT4 car really just has an added rear spoiler on top of factory-stock bodywork. The cars are about the same mechanically but take two very different approaches to making grip – one has all the aero, the other is all mechanical grip.
The old Vantage is still running in various sports car races around the world and is still capturing wins, so these new cars will have a lot to live up to. Both cars will become homologated for competition from March 1st, 2019 and the cars will remain in development until then.
I’m just glad to finally see the new Vantage race car in a color that isn’t Shrek-in-the-Swamp Green.
[Source: Aston Martin]
2019 Mazda MX-5’s Rumored Updates
One of the big stories of the week comes to us from Japan’s Car Watch who may have leaked some info on the updates Mazda made to the MX-5 for the 2019 model year. They published a drive review and raved about a few things that, as of now, aren’t officially on any new Miata.
They claim the 2.0-liter four-cylinder now produces 181 horsepower and revs out to 7,500 RPM thanks to small but numerous engine tweaks such as lighter pistons, increased valve spring rate, and larger throttle bodies. It also has a new low-inertia flywheel and a new muffler, allegedly. One of the other big updates that taller drivers will surely appreciate is a telescoping steering wheel – finally.
If you want to fire up the translator and read more about it, head on over to Car Watch. Take some grains of salt with you.
[Source: Car Watch via 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 © 2018 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]