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:
Alfa Romeo is bringing the whole Giulia lineup to New York next week
Toyota kicks Scion out of its basement, inherits the FR-S
Toyota reveals the updated Highlander SUV
Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing are building a hypercar
Mercedes-Benz gives the new GLC AMG treatment because it can
Mazda prices the new CX-9 at around $30,000
Recap: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is mental
What’s your automotive news?
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia Quadrifoglio last year to much fanfare and adoration from around the world. About a year later, it’s still not on sale like we thought it would be and it’ll probably be delayed again, but it’s still a car that the world is anxious to see terrorizing local tracks with its sorta-Ferrari-tuned 505 horsepower V6. If it’s as exciting to drive as it is to look at, it’s sure to be an instant classic. But we seem to be so caught up in the twin-turbocharged goodness that we forget they’re also building normal Giulias as well… or at least I forgot. To help us remember about the other Giulias, Alfa Romeo has announced that they’re bringing the full Giulia lineup to the New York Auto Show next week. It’ll be the first time that all the Giulias (at least so far) will be seen together in North America before they hopefully probably maybe go on sale later this year. At launch, whenever that is, the Giulia will be available as a base Giulia, an upgraded Giulia Ti, and of course the M and AMG-fighting Giulia Quadrifoglio. The Giulia and Giulia Ti (Turismo Internazionale) are both powered by an all-new, all-aluminum 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine. They claim 276 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque out of this new unit which makes it the most powerful four-cylinder in its class. Power is sent to the rear wheels or all four through an eight-speed automatic transmission and a carbon fiber driveshaft. 0-60 mph takes around 5.5 seconds and it won’t stop pulling until 149 mph. The optional all-wheel-drive system is called Alfa Q4 and it’s optimized for both all-season traction and greater performance – up to 60% of available torque can be sent to the front wheels and it can adapt to road conditions within 150 milliseconds. Advanced driver aids like torque vectoring, stability control, integrated braking system (for faster response), active suspension, and active aero are all handled and fine tuned by Alfa’s new Chassis Domain Control. More old school engineering tricks also aim to enhance the driving experience and those range from the near perfect 50/50 weight distribution and low center of gravity to double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension. Alfa Romeo is focused on making the Giulia a blast to drive no matter what version you get. And as far as aesthetics go, it looks wonderful inside and out. Thirteen paint colors, nine wheel options, five seat styles, four interior trims, and five leather upholstery options are available to make it yours. And hopefully you’ll get the chance to make it yours if it goes on sale towards the end of the year like it’s supposed to. Pricing isn’t available yet. [Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Autoweek]
When Toyota ordered Scion, their youth-oriented sub brand, to move out of their basement already, Toyota promised to keep a few of Scion’s models alive after some tweaks and a new badge were slapped on. The first car Toyota inherited was the C-HR Concept that debuted a few weeks ago, that being a compact crossover that was originally planned for Scion. Now we’re seeing the first production car to rise from Scion’s ashes and it’s probably the one we wanted to see live the most. That’s right, the Scion FR-S lives on as the Toyota 86 starting this fall… for better or worse. Obviously Toyota wasn’t interested in leaving a good design alone. I’m of course talking about the styling up front which they felt compelled to redo and make it look like the car lost its dentures. Anyways, Toyota calls it a more aggressive front fascia with a larger center intake and new reconfigured LED headlamps. At the back are two new LED tail lights and a new bumper as well. It rolls on new alloy wheels with a twisted spoke design and proudly displays its new nameplate with ’86’ badges on the front fender. On the inside, Toyota has added a new “Grandlux” material on the instrument panel surround and door panels for a softer feel. It also uses a newer and more comfortable seating material with silver stitching to hopefully make it a little nicer to live with. Another big change inside comes in the form of a new steering wheel design which includes integrated audio controls and an ’86’ logo on the center hub. The FR-S was always a car that focused more on driving pleasure than it did aesthetics though, so that’s why Toyota also spent time improving the handling and finally addressing the power concerns. The 86 will offer more control and greater agility through revised shock tuning and a spring rate change. But most importantly, Toyota has graciously added more power to a car that was begging for it almost as much as its buyers were. In manual versions of the 86, it now produces 205 horsepower and 156 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a whole five more powers and torques than the FR-S. Five. But hey, at least they’re still making it. As for the other orphaned Scions, the tC is still dying before the year is out while the iA and iM will be rebranded and probably made uglier as the Toyota Yaris iA and Toyota Corolla iM. We’ll see those cars later on before they also go on sale in the fall. [Source: Toyota]
2017 Toyota Highlander
On the other end of the Toyota spectrum is the Highlander which is due for a round of some significant updates for the 2017 model year. This mid-life refresh of the mid-size SUV will bring updates to exterior styling, new interior options, and some new hardware. It hits showrooms this fall. The most noticeable changes were made to the front with new upper and lower grilles which receive different finishes depending on the trim level. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but this simple change makes it look dramatically different up front – I think for the better. The rear tail lights also get a sleeker design and you can add various chrome trim pieces all around with the top tier Platinum model. Three new paint colors were also added, including one called Salsa Red… The interior remains mostly unchanged besides a new upholstery option and four more powered USB ports. More substantial changes are made beneath the Salsa Red skin, thankfully. The centerpiece of the 2017 Highlander is its new Direct Shift 8AT eight-speed automatic transmission paired with the also new 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 engine. That engine/transmission combination is available as an option on all gas-powered Highlanders and is standard on the Hybrid and delivers some amount of horsepower (they didn’t say). Another new addition to the 2017 Highlander is the new SE trim which basically acts like a sport package. For some reason, it includes 19″ alloy wheels, sport suspension, dark exterior trim, and unique interior upholstery. It also features a new auto Stop and Start Engine system to reduce fuel consumption and adds more trim options for the Hybrid model to entice more hybrid buyers. Pricing has not been released yet. [Source: Toyota]
Aston Martin and Red Bull F1 collab on a hypercar
Aston Martin has transformed their illustrious brand over the last few years. They still build fabulous grand tourers as they’re known for, but they’ve ventured into exciting new territory for the first time with cars like the One-77 and most recently the Vulcan. They’ve clearly enjoyed doing so as proven by this interesting announcement they made this week. Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman, and Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer, Adrian Newey, are collaborating to produce a ground-breaking Aston Martin hypercar. Presumably a road car rather than a track-only machine like the Vulcan, the project will represent the ultimate blend of cutting edge F1 technology with Aston Martin’s signature, gorgeous sports car design. The project is known as AM-RB 001 and they haven’t said when we can expect to see the finished product. This announcement also comes after Red Bull Racing revealed that their RB12 F1 cars will carry the Aston Martin wings logo throughout the 2016 season to show the world that they’re BFFs now. Even with the sparse details we have on it so far, words like “Adrian Newey” and “collaboration” can only mean good things. The man has designed ten world championship winning F1 cars over his 30 year career and he’s said himself that designing a super car has always been one of his life goals. Newey will also be bringing some friends from Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Advanced Technologies to ensure that some of the world’s best aerodynamicists, composite experts and manufacturing masters are involved and freed from strict F1 regulations. With all that plus Aston Martin’s stunning sports car design expertise coming from the man who’s been penning them since 2005, it’s going to be incredible. Jeff will probably drive it. So far we have this single teaser image which indicates the direction they’re going with it. It also seems to closely resemble an Aston Martin we’ve already seen, at least in the digital space. Gran Turismo 6 launched a very cool Vision Gran Turismo program which gave manufacturers around the world a chance to design something radical without having to worry about making it work in the real world. Aston Martin was a part of that program and they came out with a concept that doesn’t look too far off of the artwork above. The DP-100 as it was called promised to preview some of the future design touches that would eventually be seen on future Aston Martin products, and looking back at it now, I totally see what they mean. Those three-dimensional tail lights? Vulcan. That thick, contrasting C-Pillar? New DB11. The truth is out there… [Source: Aston Martin, GTPlanet]
The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 can partake in various crossover activities, such as driving on a plateau.
[Filed under inevitable] Mercedes-Benz is now launching the all-new GLC mid-size SUV/crossover thing which replaces the old GLK. In typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, there are now two AMG versions to expect this year. The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and GLC63 will both have sportier AMG appearances, suspension that’s too stiff for an SUV, and either a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 362 horsepower or a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with at least 469 horsepower that are only going to be used to jump in front of traffic. One of them will look like that^. [Source: Mercedes-Benz via Autoweek] Mazda has announced pricing for the all-new 2016 CX-9 three-row crossover. Starting MSRP is $31,520 for the entry level Sport trim, $35,970 for the Touring, $40,170 for the Grand Touring, and $44,015 for the Signature. More features and luxuries are of course added as you go up through the lineup, but it’s still well-equipped even in standard Sport trim. It has standard LED lighting, premium fabric seating, a government-mandated backup camera, trailer stability assist, Mazda Connect infotainment through a seven-inch display, and eighteen-inch wheels. All models come with a new SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter turbocharged gas engine with up to 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque along with a six-speed automatic. In front-wheel-drive form, it achieves up to 25 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is standard on the top Signature trim and optional everywhere else. It’s expected to go on sale later this spring. [Source: Mazda] In case you didn’t already know, Chevrolet introduced the all-new Camaro ZL1. The only reason I’m not covering it here in detail is because our man Bradley already wrote it up. In fact, he even went for a ride before just about anyone else. Go read through his writeup and catch the video if you haven’t yet. It’s like a Fast & Furious million-speed transmission has come to life and found its way to the
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]