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:
Rolls-Royce does the inevitable with all-new Cullinan SUV
BMW unveils new enthusiast-spec M5 Competition
Aston Martin sends off old Vantage with 600-hp V12 V600
Cadillac will kill ATS among other ‘old’ sedans, but will replace them
Aston Martin confirms ‘revolutionary’ electric SUV for 2021, entire internet groans
Aston Martin is taking the new Vantage racing in GT3 and GT4 spec
Nissan prices all-new Kicks compact crossover at well under $20K
Fire at supplier plant halts production of Ford F-150 and affects other manufacturers
What’s your automotive news?
“The super-luxury lifestyle is evolving”, says Rolls-Royce. “Luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world”, which I guess is something you can only do in a luxury SUV that’s slightly higher off the ground than a standard luxury car. It’s for that reason that Rolls were apparently asked to build something that could offer “uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture”. That something is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, but only if you’re too rich just buy a Range Rover instead which is the real correct choice for people who supposedly want “uncompromised luxury” with their daring “ventures”.
But anyway, Rolls-Royce’s attempt to cash in on market trends is yet another super luxury SUV that will supposedly define its segment. They acknowledge that the term SUV is applied to “anything with a two-box silhouette and the least suggestion of going off tarmac” – which is why their Culinary is “an authentic, three-box high-bodied all-terrain car”. You hear that, two-box silhouette plebs? This bitch has three boxes. That third box is in reference to the distinct environment they created for passengers which is isolated from the luggage area, unlike traditional and less civilized SUVs.
The Cunningham is built on an all-new aluminum “Architecture of Luxury” that we’ll see more of in the future. It’s what allowed for a rigid chassis and more design freedom, which was ultimately used to make what is likely the safest super luxury SUV design yet. It really does just look like a taller Rolls-Royce without suffering as much from the same kind of awkwardness we normally see when car styling is applied to an SUV – see early (or current) Porsche Cayenne, the Bentley Bent-a-guy, and the monstrosity known as the Lamborghini Urus.
Rolls-Royce says the Cumberbatch is aimed squarely at their customers who pursue sports or leisure hobbies that sometimes require driving off the beaten path. They say it’ll satisfy the adventurous urges owners may have and can absorb the savage landscape (speed bumps at the mall) so well that you simply float and let yourself get lost – that’s the work of their famous “Magic Carpet Ride” height-adjustable air suspension that’s been re-engineered for off-road use.
The Conan is the first Rolls to feature all-wheel-drive and all-wheel steer system which they promise will actually be useful off road. Probably not Range Rover levels of useful, but certainly plenty good enough for how real and non-theoretical Rolls-Royce owners will actually use them. The fact that they’re equipping it with Continental ContiSportContacts – a max performance summer tire – says it all.
The Rolls-Royce Cunnilingus can partake in various forms of off-road adventuring, like driving on a dirty road.
It’s powered by a 6.75-liter V12 with two turbochargers which offers 563 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque as early in the rev range as possible. Rolls-Royce isn’t one to quote 0-60 times, but the thing is only a hundred pounds or so away from weighing three tons so it’s probably nothing special. It has a limited top speed of 155 mph and they claim proper Rolls-Royce manners on the road that aren’t compromised by its sensational off-road ability.
To wrap this up, it’s an SUV by Rolls-Royce, plain and simple. They’ll tell you it can go anywhere and the press drives will certainly put it to the test, but you know the vast majority of these will only be parked in valet and sun-soaked driveways. It’s a mic drop moment from a leader in luxury that’s chasing the most lucrative market in the industry, and it’s gonna work. You’ll know it’s been launched when you start seeing it on the douchiest Instagram pages.
BMW M5 Competition
The latest BMW M5 may only be a year old but it’s already getting its first new variant, and it’s the kind that makes it go faster. The M5’s Competition specification returns with all of the performance enhancements that would be expected. More power, sharper handling, and other unique features build upon the already very capable M5.
BMW has been ramping up the presence of these Competition packages and are now making it into a separate product category within the M brand. With the previous M5, roughly 40% of all units sold were equipped with the Competition specification while it was available and I’m sure the numbers are close for the M3/M4 Competition as well. For the enthusiasts with pockets deep enough for a new M car, the extra upgrade to the Competition is a no-brainer.
This M5 Competition is now the most powerful M5 in company history thanks to a reworked 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 which now produces 617 hp and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. The eight-speed automatic was already quick but it now benefits from an additional oil cooler for track work. It still channels power through the new M xDrive system, which they proudly state was already up to the task of directing this extra power to either all four wheels or just the rear.
The 0-60 mph time drops to 3.1 seconds and 0-124 mph now takes just 10.8 seconds.
The M5 Competition also benefits from a model-specific flap-controlled exhaust system, new engine mounts with a stiffer spring rate, a 7mm drop in ride height, increased negative front camber, a more firm anti-roll bar at the back, and 10% stiffer springs all around. It’s a series of little changes that they claim will have a noticeable impact on the way this car moves and feels. Every Competition spec they’ve made in recent years has worked as advertised so it’s probably the same situation here.
Visually the M5 Competition is differentiated by unique 20″ light alloy wheels and darker exterior trim pieces. And special floor mats with model-specific piping which alone is worth the $110,995 price of admission – that’s about $8,400 more than the standard M5. Production begins in July.
Aston Martin Vantage V600
After twelve years of service, the old Aston Martin Vantage we all knew and loved has been fully replaced by the new Vantage line that’s just starting to roll out to dealers. But even as the car was hitting the press fleet and the race track in WEC, they were working on one last hurrah for the platform that’s served the brand since 2005. It’s a special project named the V600, which – like the V8 Vantage V600 from 20 years ago – is the most extreme road-going Vantage possible.
Aston’s specialty vehicle customization service, Q, received a commission for just 14 examples of a V12-powered Vantage V600 that was then designed, engineered, and hand-built without compromise. Built off the now discontinued platform, it’s designed to squeeze every bit of performance out of it while taking advantage of its more analog approach.
A heavily reworked 6.0-liter naturally-aspirated V12 now cranks out 600 horsepower and it’s paired with the seven-speed manual transmission that debuted on the V12 Vantage S. No turbochargers or AMG-sourced transmissions here, just a mighty V12 and a dog-leg gearbox.
The bespoke body is all carbon fiber and features reimagined side strakes, a new grille, and the same kind of bulging bonnet as seen on the old V600. It rides on center-locking forged and machined aluminum wheels and is graced with some new materials in the cabin.
As their last analog sports cars ride off into the sunset, these 14 cars will forever be known as the very last examples of something Aston Martin did so well. The new cars may be faster and more effective, but a car like this proves they may not necessarily be better by all definitions.
Though the cars were built on commission, they are apparently available for sale to anyone not thwarted by the lack of a list price. It’s a shame these 14 cars will likely never be seen in public.
[Source: Aston Martin]
Cadillac has announced they will discontinue the ATS sedan by the end of the year and the ATS coupe will likely follow next year. But don’t panic just yet because the backstory Cadillac provided is a bit different than we’ve seen from related stories lately. The report from Automotive News contains a fairly reassuring quote from a Cadillac spokesperson, who said production is “ending due to extensive plant upgrades, expansion and re-tooling to prepare for the next generation of Cadillac sedans” which will consist of three sedans in total. The ATS, CTS, and XTS will eventually all be replaced by two new sedans of varying sizes and prices with the newer CT6 remaining as the sedan flagship. So the ATS (among others) is dying, but it’s being replaced by… something. It may not be a direct replacement in its exact category, but it’s in a better situation than most other American sedans right now.
[Source: Automotive News]
Hey guys look Aston Martin is going to “revolutionize the luxury SUV”, which is something that’s been said at least a million times now by everyone. The way they plan to do it though is way better and at least 17% more revolutionary than everyone else’s. Their plan is to introduce the “first emission-free Luxury Battery Electric SUV to market”. By adding the ‘Luxury’ part they can pretend that the Tesla Model X doesn’t already exist. It will be unveiled in 2021, hopefully with a roofline that can sustain human life.
[Source: Aston Martin]
In happier Aston Martin news, the new Vantage will return to GT3 and GT4 racing with customer teams. Aston Martin’s customer racing program first kicked off with the first Vantage race cars 12 years ago and they still continue to succeed in various series around the world, but it’s time to pass the torch to the new generation. The existing V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 will be replaced by the all-new V8 Vantage GT3 and GT4 car. Both cars will use the same race-prepped 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that just debuted in the factory-backed V8 Vantage GTE last weekend in the WEC. In total, Aston Martin built 42 GT3 cars and 124 GT4 cars on the old Vantage platform, so I’d imagine there are a lot of teams waiting in line for this one.
[Source: Aston Martin]
In news that may actually matter to some readers here, Nissan just priced the Kicks at $18,965 (including destination). This compact crossover replaces the Juke with less polarizing styling and more standard features. There are three trim levels available and the range-topping Kicks SR starts at $21,265 with destination. All come equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT and front-wheel drive. It has 125 hp and 115 lb.-ft. of torque to work with and it can manage a combined 33 mpg. You can get your kicks starting later this spring.
A fire at a major supplier has halted some production lines at Ford, GM, BMW, FCA, and Mercedes-Benz. The production lines that seem to have been impacted the most are the lines that are most important to Ford right now – the F-150 and Superduty lines. Ford has idled F-150 production until May 14th, but that date may change as the supplier – Meridian Magnesium Products of America – tries to recover. They supply parts to pretty much all of Ford’s SUVs but only the trucks are immediately impacted. Though the impact on Ford is the largest, they aren’t alone. Autoweek reports that GM is halting full size van production, FCA is adjusting schedules for Pacifica production, and BMW and Mercedes-Benz report various production interruptions as well. Of course the ones who are affected the most are the thousands of auto workers who just had their shifts cancelled for at least a week.
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]