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:
Aston Martin and Zagato collaborate on stunning Vanquish concept
Volvo unveils 40 series concepts and new global small car plan
BMW 2 Series models get more power and new model designations
Ford details the insane carbon fiber wheels on the 2017 GT
What’s your automotive news?
Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept
It only took five months, but I think we’ve already found the prettiest car of 2016. The very red grand tourer you’re looking at above is the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept and we’ve been given an early peak ahead of its official global debut at this weekend’s prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy. It’s technically a one-off concept, but let’s just say things turned out favorably for us the last time they did a project like this.
Aston Martin and Zagato have collaborated on a special car five times now, starting with the iconic DB4 GT Zagato in 1960. That gorgeous machine kicked off a beautiful relationship that’s been celebrated most recently with the V12 Vantage Zagato from 2011. That car was also revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and was also meant to be a one-off concept, but the huge customer interest it generated forced them to reconsider. They ended up building and selling 150 examples of what was only ever supposed to be a one-off. I’m not saying that’ll happen with the Vanquish Zagato, but I’m saying there’s a chance.
The Vanquish Zagato Concept was designed in close collaboration between Aston Martin Design and Milan-based design house/coach builder Zagato, lead by Marek Reichman and Andrea Zagato respectively. Using the standard Vanquish – a car that’s already dream material – as the base, the teams fitted all-new bodywork consisting of large one-piece panels and made entirely of carbon fiber. The design is one that takes the very best of Aston Martin’s character and spirit and adds a touch of Zagato’s signature design language to see how far they could push the definition of Aston Martin design.
The more you look at the car, the more obvious it is that there was real, sincere, brilliant collaboration between these two teams. Easy example: the new tail lights were designed by Zagato and stay true to their distinctive styling, so much so that it’s easy to pass it off as being borrowed from the same parts bin as the V12 Vantage Zagato. But those same tail lights were then constructed with the same “blade” LED technology developed exclusively for the Aston Martin Vulcan. The sense of collaboration is also represented by the new grille which retains the classic Aston Martin shape and incorporates Zagato’s signature Z-pattern. It’s also much larger than the normal one, but it works.
More unique styling touches include the One-77 inspired wing mirrors, DB11 inspired sculptural rear end, and carbon sills that run around the lower body. One area that’s clearly Zagato’s doing is the roof and glasshouse, the latter of which wraps around the bodywork like a visor. That’s capped by a “double-bubble” roof, an iconic design of Zagato’s which originally arose from the need to accommodate racing helmets with a minimum impact on the aerodynamic profile. Speaking of aerodynamics, it also features a retractable rear spoiler which does the job of keeping the back end planted and not interfering with rear hatch access.
Inside, the story is largely the same as the standard Vanquish. It’s more or less the same design but is fitted with new materials and a few bespoke touches. Herringbone carbon fiber is paired with shadow and anodized bronze and aniline leather to give the dash, vents, and rotary dials a rich material quality. The leather seats and door inserts feature a unique Z quilt pattern as well and the distinctive Zagato ‘Z’ is embossed on the headrests and stitched into the center console for a final touch.
Front end to end, the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept is simply spectacular. It’s one of those designs that looks simple at first glance but can show you something new every time you give it another glance. It’s form and function in perfect harmony.
By the way, the Vanquish’s 6.0-liter, naturally-aspirated AM29 V12 wasn’t lost during the transformation. In fact, it was improved. It now produces 592 horsepower (600 PS), up from the standard 568 hp. Driving dynamics were also improved to account for the new power, but no specifics were given yet. It has the looks and the power to back it up. Sign me up. Or Jeff. He’ll find a way to drive it.
[Source: Aston Martin]
Volvo’s global small car strategy
Volvo has been a hugely impressive brand to watch over the last few years. They’ve been able to build upon their image and go from being a safe, sensible brand to a premium brand at the forefront of modern design and features – while still being safe. The XC90 SUV is a hit and the S90 is all but guaranteed to be one too, but there’s a very different market that Volvo has been waiting to tap into. With a series of forward-thinking concepts, Volvo is gearing up to do just that.
They call it the 40 Series Concepts, and with it they’ve outlined an ambitious plan that would see them competing in the lucrative global small car market within the next four years. At the core of this plan is Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) which has been specially created to be a foundation for smaller cars of the future. It’s also allowed Volvo engineers and designers to explore bold new directions.
Those directions could look something like these two vehicles, Concept 40.1 and 40.2, respectively a compact SUV and a compact sedan. Styling-wise, they have a “disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.
But what’s more important than the attractive styling these concepts display is that modular approach to vehicle architecture and powertrain development they demonstrate. Two very different vehicles stemmed from the same platform and can be easily outfitted with two core powertrains – one pure electric and one a compact twin-engine (hybrid) design. For the latter, Volvo plans to use the new T5 Twin Engine setup consisting of a new three-cylinder petrol engine and a new seven-speed dual clutch transmission coupled to an electric motor. Whereas a similar setup would mean all-wheel drive in larger cars, it’s more likely to be a front-wheel-drive setup in the smaller cars so as to retain their compact dimensions.
As of now, Volvo expects to see the first new 40 series car enter production in 2017 with more on the way. This will very likely be what makes or breaks Volvo’s momentum. If the all-new XC90 and S90 serve as cornerstones of the “new” Volvo, the 40 series is the rest of the foundation.
BMW 230i and M240i
The only BMW anyone seems to love anymore, the 2 Series, is getting some pretty decent updates in the 2017 model year. BMW says they’ve given them all new engines, but they’re really just reworked to provide some extra power and cooperate with wider gear ratios for improved efficiency (on automatics at least).
They also get name changes which follow classic BMW model designations even less so. Formerly known as the 228i and M235i, these models are now the 230i and M240i. Strangely, no mention of the non-“M” 240i which would’ve presumably replaced the standard 235i. They made the same name changes to the 3 Series line this year, but it basically means the 2.0-liter four-cylinder is called the 230i when it should be called the 220i and the car with the 3.0-liter inline-six is called the M240i when it should be the one badged as a 230i. BMW hasn’t followed their own rules in years though with the only exception being the recent 320i, so moving on…
220i 230i is the latest generation 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with power rising to 248 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a gain of about 8 hp and 3 lb.-ft. Fortunately, the M240i gets a bigger bump than that. The TwinPower Turbo straight-six in that car now has 335 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, 15 hp and 39 lb.-ft. more than before. 0-60 mph is now reduced to just 4.2 seconds, which is the same as the more powerful M4 Convertible (largely due to its weight – the M4 Coupe is still only four-tenths quicker though). All-wheel drive and wider ratio eight-speed automatic gear boxes are optional, but rear-wheel drive and six-speed manuals are standard.
The new 2 Series models launch later this summer. Pricing on these models were not disclosed, but the previous versions gave you a lot of car for the money – by BMW standards, anyway.
The Ford GT’s carbon fiber wheels
When Ford launched the online configurator for the new GT, they quietly debuted the option for carbon fiber wheels on the near half-million-dollar supercar. There was hardly any mention of that option until then, if any mention at all, but now Ford is giving us all the details.
The 2017 Ford GT will be the second production car offered with carbon fiber wheels from the factory, the first being the Ford Shelby GT350R. As with the super Mustang, the wheels on the GT come from Carbon Revolution and serve the purpose of reducing unsprung weight at all four corners, improving vehicle dynamics, and even improving the ride quality.
But since the GT350R’s wheels were debuted just a year or so ago, Carbon Revolution has already made a leap in the technology and construction techniques used to manufacture them. Using the latest generation of fiber and resin technology, engineers are able to create more flowing, intricate designs thanks to greater design flexibility. It also means that the wheels aren’t painted like they are on the GT350R. Whether they’re coated in a gloss or matte finish, the structure of the carbon fiber weave is fully visible.
The wheels on the Ford GT are sized 8.5 x 20 in./front and 11.5 x 20 in./rear. Compared to the already lightweight forged aluminum wheels of the same size which come as standard equipment, the carbon wheels weigh more than two pounds less each. That’s enough to reduce inertia by a noticeable 25% and have a real impact on how the car behaves and feels at the limits. And when the GT is cruising at normal speeds, the dense, inert nature of the carbon wheels even reduce road noise, vibration, and harshness.
It’s truly a win-win but at a cost that will surely be much higher than the same upgrade on the GT350R. The carbon wheels are included with every GT350R, but replacement wheels run between $3,500 and $4,000… each.
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]