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:
Volvo’s Polestar finally reveals their very own performance hybrid
Audi debuts new A7 Sportback
Porsche now offering GTS packages on 718 Cayman/Boxster
Audi’s dumb new naming system is not coming to America
What’s your automotive news?
Since Polestar was established as Volvo’s standalone performance brand, they’ve been setting the stage for it to become an electric performance brand. This week, they gave us a stunning glimpse into that first chapter. Say hello to the Polestar 1, Polestar’s first home-brewed car with all of their own badging. It’s coming in 2019 and it’ll make a pretty powerful statement.
Polestar will eventually become an all-electric performance brand, but Polestar 1 is described as an “electric car supported by an internal combustion engine”. This 2+2 grand touring “Electric Performance Hybrid” most likely uses Volvo’s supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine with some Polestar enhancements. Normally, that engine plus electric motors equals 400 horsepower, but not here. The Polestar 1 will have around 600 horsepower and 738 lb.-ft. of torque to play with.
They didn’t go into very many specifics with the batteries and electric motor setup, but it’ll have enough juice to drive about 93 miles (150 kilometers) on battery power alone, which Volvo points out is the longest pure EV range of any other hybrid. Heck, that’s almost as much range as a Nissan LEAF used to offer. What we do know about the drivetrain though is that it’ll use a double electric rear axle which enables torque vectoring.
It’ll be built on Volvo’s new Scalable Platform Architecture but will have about half of its components engineered and built by Polestar exclusively. The body will be built from carbon fiber to reduce weight, lower center of gravity, and add stiffness. In an effort to make it a true driver’s car, it’ll have Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension and other technology to make it quicker.
By the time the Polestar 1 launches, they’ll have their own showrooms in various markets (not tied to existing Volvo dealerships) and they’ll have rolled out a subscription program for their cars. Ordering will be done 100% online and the cars will be offered on a two or three-year subscription. Basically it’s a lease with simplified pricing, the ability to swap cars temporarily, and more perks. Those who aren’t afraid to own a car and can continue to do what the human species has been doing for over 100 years can probably still buy one outright… maybe. Ordering books are open now.
Audi A7 Sportback
Audi just revealed a new A7 Sportback with a fresh new face, loads of new features, and a “mild hybrid system” across all models to boost efficiency. With the A7, Audi is trying to make one car serve the purpose of three with the sportiness of a coupe, spaciousness of a sedan, and [most of] the versatility of a wagon. The new updates aim to make it better at all three.
Sportiness is enhanced by optional all-wheel steering, a new chassis control program, and four new suspension setups to pick from which make this not small car more agile and responsive. The standard progressive steering (variable ratios) is made even sharper and features a new design concept which promotes feedback from the road.
Inside, there’s more space all around despite the sloping roofline. Helping you take advantage of the additional interior volume is a wider loading width at the back. It’ll certainly have the spaciousness of a sedan, but not all of the same versatility of a wagon… no matter how much they want you to believe it does. #GiveAmericaTheAvant
But on to the other stuff, there’s a new design inspired by their prologue concepts from a few years back featuring large surfaces, sharp edges, athletic lines, a wider and lower grille, and new lighting. Inside, designers wanted to give it a lounge-like atmosphere with a clean design language and an airy feel.
Audi’s Multi Media Interface takes center stage in the A7 by replacing nearly all of the regular buttons and physical controls with two touch screens. The upper screen controls typical infotainment stuff while climate control, comfort functions, and text input is handled through the lower screen. The A7 is packed with too much tech to talk about in detail, as we can expect from Audi.
Under the hood, the A7 goes to great lengths to reduce emissions while still keeping the same engines. It’ll launch with the familiar 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 before other engines join, but only the V6s are confirmed to have a “mild hybrid” setup with a 48-volt primary electrical system, a belt alternator starter, and a lithium ion battery. The main benefits of this is that the A7 can recuperate up to 12 kW when braking and will have much smoother auto stop/start and freewheeling/coasting performance. In real world driving, this setup accounts for a 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers (a few mpg at most) reduction. The base A7 is rated at 34.6 mpg.
Porsche 718 GTS
Porsche is bringing the sportier GTS option to the 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster by the end of the year. With the GTS badge comes a power increase, more performance features as standard equipment, black-painted exterior accents, and Alcantara inside.
Porsche was able to squeeze out an additional fifteen horsepower from the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a newly designed intake duct and an optimized turbocharger, bringing the grand total to 365 horsepower. A six-speed manual and seven-speed PDK are both still available.
The GTS package includes a bunch of common Porsche options as standard equipment, but nothing is really new. It has your standard-issue Sport Chrono Package plus Porsche Torque Vectoring with a mechanical rear differential lock and Porsche Active Suspension Management, which lowers the body by ten millimeters.
The GTS package will, for now at least, be the fastest 718 you can buy until they inevitably bring the turbocharged farting engine over to the GT4. Prices start at €76,137 ($89,962).
An Audi representative speaking at the A7 launch confirmed their dumb new naming scheme won’t be coming to the U.S. This confirmation reported by Autoblog means we’ll be spared from the needlessly confusing idea they came up with of using two numbers to signify a vague range of output from a particular model’s powertrain. The reasoning behind this decision in the first place was to try and make some sense with all of the available engines they sell around the world, but because we have so few options in America, this system wasn’t needed. Sorry, Europe. Y’all can keep this one.
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 © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]