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, it’s some of the best from the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Mustang Mach-E, Lexus LC 500 Convertible, Hyundai RM19 Prototype, VW ID Space Vizzion, Nissan Sentra, Chevrolet Trailblazer, a hilarious Tesla pickup, and some other stuff.
2021 Mustang Mach-E
For the first time in its 55-year history, you’ll be able to buy a Mustang that isn’t a two-door sports car driven by a combustion engine. Ford’s first serious attempt at building a long-range battery electric vehicle is a crossover with just enough Mustang-like design features for the marketing team to be able to give it a Mustang badge and name while keeping a straight face. It’s called the Mustang Mach-E in a move that’s likely setting up the Mustang as its own sub-brand of performance-oriented or just cool-looking cars, crossovers, SUVs, and literally anything else. It’s been out for nearly a full week by the time this post goes live and everyone has an opinion of it, including this life-long Mustang fan and recent owner here. But first, the facts.
The Mach-E will launch with a healthy variety of trim levels and drive configurations, including a standard (75.7 kWh) or extended-range (98.8 kWk) battery option and a choice of RWD or AWD on some levels. RWD models have power ranging from 255 horsepower/306 lb.-ft. of torque to 282 horsepower/306 lb.-ft. of torque. AWD models start at 255 horsepower/417 lb.-ft. of torque and can go all the way up 332 horsepower/417 lb.-ft. of torque.
The only image of the presumed Performance Edition Mach-E Ford provided.
Then at the upper end of the spectrum is the more performance-minded Mach-E, which they’ve chosen to call the GT trim which I can’t lie kind of triggers me. At least the Mach-E not-a-GT produces 459 horsepower (1 hp less than the real Mustang GT) and 612 lb.-ft. of torque (13 lb.-ft. less than the GT500) and can put it down to the ground with AWD. The Mach-E not-a-GT is targeting a 0-60 mph time of under 4 seconds while the Mach-E not-a-GT Performance Edition targets a mid-3-second time. The only difference between GT and GT Performance Edition that Ford spells out is that the latter comes with MagneRide damping.
Driving range depends on your configuration and varies between 210 miles and 300 miles per charge. The Mach-E will easily route you to the nearest charging station and can recommend where to charge on longer trips based on your route. It also gives you access to the FordPass charging network with over 12,500 public charging stations available.
Moving on to the design, Ford’s new all-electric architecture places the batteries inside the underbody which has given designers and engineers a little more freedom to make a typical fat crossover. The only real magic here is in the attractive lighting elements front and rear and the Mustang styling cues they were able to graft onto all the extra space. Those elements are certainly recognizable, especially the sculted hood, the rear haunches, and of course the tri-bar taillamps. The familiarity is sort of carried through to the interior as well, namely in the double-cowl instrument panel. The rest of the interior is all modern with nothing but screen real estate for the center control panel and the instrument panel. In my opinion, this is a minimalist glass dash done right.
As for my other opinions, I’m heavily biased here because I own a Mustang GT and absolutely despise the market trend that has lead to automakers needing to double down on crossovers just to survive. When I was told there would be a Mustang-inspired electric crossover, I cringed hard. But I’ll be honest, it looks far better than I thought it would. And with the numbers it’s posting, it seems Ford didn’t half-ass it either. I don’t hate like I was expecting to, I would just love it a lot more if it was a coupe or even a sedan. I hope it’s a success for Ford, but I wish they would leave the Mustang out of the crossover business.
The launch begins late 2020 and rolls into early 2021 for some models.
Lexus LC 500 Convertible
It turns out that the Lexus LC 500, one of the most stunning production cars around, looks even more stunning as a convertible. Lexus is launching the LC 500 Convertible next summer with all the same concept-car-like styling and great performance from the coupe, but with a four-layer soft top that stows in just 15 seconds.
Structural rigidity was increased as necessary and careful measures were taken to ensure the LC 500 drives just as well as a Convertible. Through computer-aided engineering and real world driving evaluation, they believe they’ve gotten it as close as possible. The premium fabric top was chosen for its weight benefits and because they were able to retain some of the flowing roofline of the coupe without the supporting frame being visible through the fabric. Sadly I couldn’t find a press photo on the Lexus site to demonstrate this. But let’s face it, you’re gonna be top down 99% of the time while driving this.
And you’ll want to drive it top down to have one less thing between you and the incredible exhaust note produced by the 5.0-liter V8. All 471 horsepower and 398 lb.-ft. of torque will sound a little more powerful now. We can’t wait to drive it.
Hyundai N RM19 Prototype
Hyundai’s big LA Auto Show reveal is quite a bit unlike anything else on display. It’s not a future production car or a concept, it’s a work-in-progress test bed. It’s called the Hyundai N RM19 Prototype and it’s got a surprising secret tucked inside.
Thomas Schemera, executive vice president and head of Hyundai Motor Group’s Product Division, confirmed their aspirations for Hyundai’s high-performance N brand, “solidly moving N into the prestigious arena of supercar-level performance”. This could be a big step towards a halo car for the brand which I think we can all get behind. A great way to get started is to perfect mid-engine architecture and vehicle dynamics. The engine in the middle is a familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger that’s commonplace in the Hyundai N lineup. This one though is capable of 390 horsepower, which is what happens when you take a Hyundai TCR competition engine and turn the boost to 11. Hyundai has suggested that electrified powertrains could also be used and reminded us of their recently-formed strategic partnership with Rimac, the kinds of electric supercar propulsion.
Other than the possibility of a supercar, Hyundai was also reported to be interested in joining the fun in IMSA’s Daytona Prototype International class. Those regulations call for a standard chassis with a manufacturer-supplied engine and bodywork. Hyundai wouldn’t need to worry quite as much about building a mid-engine race car, but tuning one? Absolutely. We’ll see more of this awesome little hatchback in the not-too-distant future.
VW ID Space Vizzion Concept
While other brands were out there giving the public more electric crossovers, Volkswagen was giving us a vastly superior type of electric vehicle known as a “wagon”. The latest addition to the VW ID family is called the ID Space Vizzion concept. It’s an extremely attractive wagon that is planned for production thanks to VW’s modular electric platform that’s spawned a wide range of ID concepts and production cars already.
When it launches in 2021, it should have an 82 kWh battery with a 295-horsepower electric motor doing the propulsion as standard, though an AWD version with 335 horsepower would be possible as well. VW is targeting a range of 300 miles per charge along with a healthy five-second 0-60 mph sprint. The design both inside and out is clean, sleek, and entirely feasible if the recent production-ready ID.3 is anything to go by.
Fortunately, the question isn’t “will this come to America” (it is), the question is “are enough Americans going to give wagons the second chance they deserve”.
[Source: Volkswagen via Autoweek]
2020 Nissan Sentra
Nissan has revealed a dramatically redesigned Sentra that will go on sale early 2020. They’ve added a good bit of style inside and out and some new features that aim to make the company’s best-selling car of all time even more of a hit.
The redesign uses the new Nissan family face with the V-motion grille, thin LED headlamps, and a floating roof (an idea that was even borrowed by Aston Martin). Buyers can expect more refinement in the interior department as well with upgrades to major touch points that try to give the car a more premium feel. The available quilted leather heated front seats and the upgraded 8″ touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support are added bonuses.
A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides 149 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque, a 20% and 16% increase respectively over the outgoing engine. Dynamically it will benefit from a new independent rear suspension and a new electric power steering system for sharper response.
The Sentra will also come standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite, which includes standard Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, and High Beam Assist, 10 airbags, Rear Door Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Driver Alertness.
The recent trend of beautifying the compact class is one we wholeheartedly approve of.
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
Hey remember the Chevrolet Blazer that they just brought back? Well they’re also bringing back the Trailblazer. It’s like the Blazer except smaller and has the roof from the Toyota RAV-4. It starts under $20,000.
So uh, this is a thing. Tesla has been promising a revolutionary new pickup for years now and you could say they delivered. Complete with styling that was crafted in an 80’s raster graphics editor and promises that were literally broken during the presentation, the Cybertruck is further proof that Elon Musk could shit in a sandwich bag and people would be lined up around the block for their turn to sniff it.
It’s a futuristic-looking pickup that is so off the wall that it genuinely shocked everyone. If that’s what they were going for, they succeeded. Yet despite being so ridiculous that Twitter thought it was a joke, there is a good bit of substance here that could make the truck a winner if it actually comes to fruition as shown. Not that it would matter either way because they’ll sell every one they can build out of that tent to people who think they need a truck but really just want to look cool.
They claim long-range battery options that could exceed 500 miles per charge and a choice of three engine layouts; one at the rear, one at each axle, and a new Tri Motor layout. They claim 0-60 can happen in as little as 2.9 seconds when properly equipped.
But pickups aren’t usually bought for 0-60 times. Its towing is rated at 14,000 pounds and payload is 3,500 pounds, if Tesla’s numbers are to be believed. Other features include air suspension to create additional ground clearance, power outlets for tools, an air compressor, and glass that can supposedly stop a 9-millimeter round. That same glass cracked quite considerably when a metal ball was casually thrown at it. As I’m sure you’re aware, a bullet packs a bit more power than a ball thrown by a Tesla designer. The body is stainless steel though which I’m sure will have no impact whatsoever on a body shop’s ability to repair one.
Another feature is a design that I’m sure will give the pedestrian safety people at the NHTSA a stroke. But at least you’ll look cool tagging yourself in Instagram while standing in front of your video game truck. Prices will supposedly start at $39,900 and quickly go up to $69,900 depending on the engine/battery specification. They say production will start in late 2021 but you can reserve your spot now with a $100 deposit which I am certain will be returned if you ever have to cancel.
[Source: Tesla, MotorAuthority]
Other Coverage From the Week
It was a busy week at the Los Angeles Auto Show and we even had some guys on the show floor. Jeff brought you news on the Aston Martin DBX and peeped the new Audi RS6 Avant, and Ross (who was there in spirit) covered the Mini John Cooper Works GP. Alexander and Matt are also bringing their impressions from the show floor today, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
And now, the single worst thing at the Los Angeles Auto Show
It’s the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600, or what happens when you give the guy at the truck stop chrome shop in Valdosta the keys to your Mercedes-Benz. This is a real thing and I promise this will be the last time I make you look at it again.
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.