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 goes racing with the Supra in GT4, Formula 1 details sweeping changes to 2021 season that aim to make it watchable again, Fiat Chrysler and PSA Groupe are talking about a merger and it could be serious, Kia teases a dramatic redesign for Optima, and Porsche will #savethemanuals with the 992 Carrera S models.
Toyota GR Supra GT4
I’ve been looking forward to this announcement for quite some time. As Toyota was dragging out the reveal of the new Supra, one of the last concepts they showed off was a potential FIA GT4-spec race car. Some time later (too lazy to look), that GT4-spec Supra is becoming a reality. Toyota will be selling the GR (Gazoo Racing) Supra GT4 first to European teams next March, followed by American teams in August, and Asian teams in October. The slow rollout is intended to allow Toyota GR to strengthen their focus on their customer motorsport program.
Once it’s available worldwide, it will have some great company on track in one of the fastest-growing classes in sports car racing. Porsche, McLaren, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Ford, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, and BMW (practically its stablemate) are the biggest players in this class. Toyota will slot in nicely with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine with a single twin-scroll turbocharger boosting power output to 430 horsepower (depending on BoP). If that sounds familiar, it is. If the road car can use a BMW engine of that same configuration, the race car can as well. I would assume BMW sold them motors from the M4 GT4, but we’ll know for sure if the exhaust sounds like bathtub farts.
Some kind of seven-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters is equipped. The M4 GT4 uses a race-hardened M DCT unit; no word on exactly what the Supra will use. It may use a ZF-based gearbox like the street car. Other race-spec goodness on the GR Supra GT4 is a set of Brembo racing brakes (six piston front, four piston rear), Akrapovič exhaust, adjustable KW dampers, and motorsport-spec driver assistance and data logging systems. As required by FIA GT4 rules, the bodywork is basically all factory but with added aero. A natural carbon fiber composite front splitter and rear wing provide the downforce required for competition use. Same goes for all the safety equipment. The GR Supra GT4 weighs in at 2,976 pounds.
Toyota GR plans for a €175,000 (~$195,000) price tag by the time it’s ready for the track. Toyota Motorsport GmbH will handle sales and customer support in Europe, TRD USA for America, and Toyota Customizing & Development for Japan/Asia.
Formula 1 Confirms Sweeping Changes for 2021
As has been teased many times, Formula 1 is about to undergo major changes to the cars and series regulations for the 2021 season. It’s hard not to feel a bit optimistic about it.
The video above will explain all, but here are the major bullet points in a nutshell:
- New aero package designed to reduce the amount of dirty air behind the car, allowing cars behind to stay closer for better racing.
- Bigger wheels and thinner profile tires for reasons I guess.
- More restrictions on car upgrades over a race weekend and how often certain components can be replaced. More standardized components as well.
- The current hybrid V6 powertrain remains. Fewer engines, gearboxes, and exhausts per year.
- New absolute limit of $175 million towards on track performance for all teams over the course of a season.
- Changes to the race weekend format. 3 days instead of 4 is the biggest change.
With these changes and more, Formula 1 hopes to reign in out-of-control team spending and make things more fair and competitive for all teams, regardless of budget. Crucially, the racing will be closer if everything works out the way they hope. If you’re like me and are excited to start watching F1 again in 2021, I suggest checking out the video above as it demonstrates every big change clearly. Renault F1 also released a brilliant info graphic which you can find here. (I suggest clicking to expand each image and then right-click > open image in new tab).
Fiat Chrysler and PSA Announce Merger Plans
Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group have announced talks are well under way to merge. Both companies just announced a 50-50 share merger to make themselves the world’s fourth largest automaker and hope to have a deal finalized in the coming weeks. If approved, PSA’s Carlos Tavares would be CEO and FCA’s John Elkann would be chairman.
Though it may seem an unlikely pairing at first, it could genuinely benefit both parties. PSA, which consists of Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, and Vauxhall, announced nearly 2 years ago that they would return to the US market with an HQ in Atlanta. If they merged with FCA, they wouldn’t have to worry about building up a dealer and service network from scratch. FCA would also get to tap into PSA’s resources, like smaller and more efficient engines and a chassis made in this millennium. It could be a match made in heaven. Autoweek reports that savings could reach $4 billion for both companies and no plants would need to close.
We’re one step closer to having French cars back in the US. And Opel too I guess.
Oh, and when you guys eventually do merge, you can use my customized logo for free. I spent 30 actual minutes making that. I’m so lost in life.
Kia Optima Redesign Teased
Kia has released a few teaser images of what would be a dramatically redesigned Optima on Facebook. As captured by Autoweek, the blurry and dark images show a transition to a sleeker, lower, and wider sedan with eye-catching lighting. These two exterior drawings and an interior render is all we have so far, but it’s enough to know that big changes are coming. It was the same story for the Hyundai Sonata which typically shares a platform and engine with the Optima. We’ll follow this as more comes out.
Porsche 911 is Keeping the Manual
In news that will excite internet car purists and the six people that will actually buy them, Porsche has confirmed that the newest-generation 911 will continue to carry the torch for manuals. The seven-speed manual that debuted in the last generation 911 will once again be an option for the 2020 911 Carrera S and 4S Coupe and Cabriolet models. It’s a no-cost option, and from the looks of it they even throw in the Sport Chrono Package for free (normally a $2,720 option). If you opt for a manual and leave Sport Chrono unchecked on the configurator, the price truly does not change and it adds the package. So it’s either an oversight that an accountant will find one day or it’s Porsche’s little gift for those keeping the art of driving with three pedals and a funny lever thing alive.
If you order a manual-equipped 911 Carrera S or 4S the earliest you’ll see it is Spring 2020.
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.