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:
Porsche adds turbochargers to the new 911 Carrera models
Bentley Bentayga is a luxury SUV that can go off road because it sits high
Rolls-Royce Dawn is their sexiest drophead yet
Honda reveals the wonderfully unsafe Project 2&4 concept
2016 Toyota Prius…. yep
Lotus 3-Eleven’s report card from ‘Ring testing
Cadillac teases new XT5 crossover
What’s your automotive news?
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera
Porsche couldn’t wait until the Frankfurt motor show later this month to show us all the new stuff they’ve got crammed into the 2017 911 Carrera models. Given Porsche’s history with the 911, you wouldn’t expect an updated version to have any major changes to brag about, right? Wrong.
For this sort of new 911, Porsche has added forced induction to the lowest two models in the hierarchy, being the 911 Carrera and Carrera S (each including coupe and cabriolet). The awesome naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter flat-six is being replaced by a probably also awesome 3.0-liter flat-six with twin-turbochargers.
This downsizing hasn’t compromised power in any way thanks to the dark magic of those things that look like snails that whistle. Carrera models see a 20 horsepower bump plus more torque. The standard Carrera is now armed with 370 horsepower and 331 lb.-ft. of torque and the Carrera S gets 420 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque. Torque is available over a broad powerband starting at just 1,500 RPM and power is available all the way up to 7,500 RPM. When equipped with PDK and the Sport Chrono Package, 0-60 mph on the Carrera takes 4.0 seconds while the Carrera S does it in 3.7. Top speeds are 183 mph and 191 mph, respectively. And don’t worry, people that don’t buy new cars but have standards for them anyway (like me), the seven-speed manual is still standard equipment.
Other go fast equipment includes a new feature on the Sport Chrono Package which gets you a rotary dial-type driving mode selector on the steering wheel (which they borrowed from the 918 Spyder). They’ve also revised the standard Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM) which means better cornering when needed and more comfort when it isn’t. They even borrowed a feature from the 911 Turbo and GT3 for an optional extra on the Carrera S and that’s the nifty rear-axle steering. It offers enhanced turn-in and more agility plus 1.6 feet off its turning radius.
With all the mechanical goodness out of the way, how the hell do you know you’re looking at a new one? Simple – just look for the revised headlights, integrated door handle recesses, new rear decklid with vertical louvers, rear lights, and new exhaust configurations on some models… okay, so many not so simple but we know who we’re dealing with here.
The new Porsche 911 Carrera models will launch in the US next March. Prices are as follows: 911 Carrera – $89,400; 911 Carrera Cabriolet – $101,700; 911 Carrera S – $103,400; 911 Carrera S Cabriolet – $115,700.
Welp, here it is, everyone. This is Bentley’s answer to people who want to drop $229,100 on an SUV for no reason other than because of income inequality. A Bentley SUV is a thing now and it’s called the Bentayga. While other Bentleys have names based on famous race tracks, this one’s name is borrowed from a Spanish mountain peak because it’s an SUV and it can drive on dirt because it rides higher.
But don’t be fooled by its SUV-ness, this is a true Bentley with unparalleled luxury, sporting ability, everyday usability, and off-road performance – you know, things Bentleys are known for. I guess ground clearance and all-wheel drive equates to off-road performance these days.
Anyway, facts. This is the first SUV from the British luxury brand and they’ve gone all out with it. It has enormous power (more than any other SUV at the moment) and it’s loaded with comfort features and advanced tech. It also looks pretty much exactly how we expected a Bentley SUV to look.
The aforementioned enormous power comes from a new 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 and it gives the Bentayga 600 horsepower and 663 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox sending power to a strengthened all-wheel-drive system. 0-60 mph in this behemoth is done in four seconds flat and it won’t stop going until it’s reached 187 mph. Diesel and hybrid variants are planned for the future, which will surely make things interesting.
Fortunately, Bentley engineers knew exactly what they were stuffing all that power into when they created the new Bentley Dynamic Ride, the world’s first electric active roll control system. It’s used to counteract lateral rolling forces inherent in 5,000+ lb. SUVs with a high center of gravity. It also has electric power steering, advanced stability control, multi-mode traction control, and hill descent control BECAUSE SUV.
The other driver-assistance technologies available on the Bentayga range from advanced GPS-guided cruise control to traffic sign recognition. It also features night vision displayed through an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The interior is the finest in the automotive world according to their PR guys and they’re probably not wrong. There’s a ton of leather and it’s available in fifteen different colors. Things like massaging seats and a panoramic roof are there to keep occupants busy. And people that like to spend their free time on configurators will be happy to know there are around 90 paint colors in their extended range available for order.
The tall Bentley will go on sale early next year with American prices starting at $229,100, according to Autoweek.
[Sources: Bentley, Autoweek]
Speaking of excessive luxury, the Rolls-Royce Dawn debuted earlier this week. The Dawn is a new drophead (convertible) that could probably best be summarized by the CEO of the company: “Quite simply, it is the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built”.
I won’t argue with a man they designated CEO of a company like Rolls-Royce, but there’s no denying that this car is special. The last time they even used the name Dawn on a car was with the 1952 Silver Dawn drophead which came at a time when the term “it’s always darkest just before the dawn” was more than appropriate. So like a burst of sunshine after the recent economic hardships, here’s a car that can only be bought by the people that brought us there.
The Dawn is based off the Wraith so it keeps its 2+2 seating and some of the looks, but 80% of the body panels are all new on the Dawn. Said body panels help keep the Dawn in line with fundamental Rolls-Royce styling cues, such as a 2:1 wheel height to body height, long bonnet, short front overhang, and long rear overhang. The folding top is still cloth but they’ve worked especially hard to keep cabin noise as low as in the Wraith hard top and make the folding mechanisms the quietest on earth. When the top is up the roof line is still smooth and elegant because Rolls-Royce wouldn’t have it any other way.
Power still comes from a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 with 563 horsepower and 575 lb.-ft. of torque. A supremely smooth ZF eight-speed automatic transmission is equipped and features satellite aided shifting which is used to predict how you’ll want to drive around the next bend. 0-62 mph is 4.9 seconds and the top speed is limited to 155 mph.
In-car media and navigation is provided by a discreet system which can hide completely when not in use. They’ve got a special Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller instead of a touchscreen (which leaves unsightly fingerprints at eye level) and was optimized for user-friendliness and has phone-like hand-written character recognition. It recognizes Latin, Arabic, and Mandarin characters. There’s a 10.25″ high definition screen to display everything.
So to sum up the Rolls-Royce Dawn, it’s a gorgeous drophead sort of built upon the Wraith with power, elegance, and great tech. Pricing was not announced.
Honda Project 2&4
This is what happens when Honda designers and engineers from the two-wheeled and four-wheeled realms get to together and go mad. This is Honda’s Project 2&4 concept, a car that provides the power and freedom of a motorcycle with the maneuverability of a car. It also provides about the same driver protection as a motorcycle.
Power is borrowed from Honda’s RC213V competition motorcycle and modified for street use, so that means a mid-mounted 999cc V-4 unit with 212 horsepower at 13,000 RPM and 87 lb.-ft. of torque at 10,500 RPM. A six-speed DCT gearbox takes care of power delivery.
The outrageous styling is inspired by the 1965 Honda RA272 and the core frame and functional parts of the car are perfectly exposed. The car is just 995 mm tall and weighs 405 kg/893 lbs.
This is the kind of small car goodness we’ve been wanting from Honda, but sadly they’ve not announced any plans for production. The purpose of cars like this though is to show what they’re capable of and potentially gauge customer interest in something similar, so if you want it make sure to let them know.
2016 Toyota Prius
I have to. I’m sorry.
The Toyota Prius is all-new inside and out for its fourth generation. Yaaaaaaay.
In response to customer demands, the new Prius has smaller and lighter hybrid components, higher energy density in the batteries, and an internal combustion engine with exceptional thermal efficiency to increase mpg by an estimated ten percent improvement over the last model. But even Toyota knows it’s not just about mpg anymore. To give buyers the complete package they’ve given it “emotional” styling, smarter technology, and better driving dynamics.
The first thing you notice is that “emotional” styling. The body profile is inspired by a runner in the starting blocks and everything else conveys a feeling of forward motion. New LED lighting reduces the size of the headlamps and allows them to give it a more… let’s say emotional design. Seven exterior colors are available.
The interior is also all-new and features a wrap-around dash design with form-hugging seats. There’s also more visibility all around and the controls have been further simplified. A more airy cabin over all is complimented by new styling cues and available premium white ornamentation in the lower sections of the dash that are reminiscent of fine bone china.
Now don’t laugh, but Toyota promises this is going to be a more enjoyable car to drive. It’s wider and lower than before and features a more rigid architecture and rear double wishbone suspension to keep the car in firm contact with the road. And with a suite of driver assistance programs like pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, radar cruise control, and more, it’ll be a safer car to drive too.
In a few ways the 2016 Prius is actually groundbreaking for the company. This is the first car built with Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) – long story short, it’s a new global powertrain and platform development program which promotes the strategic sharing of components to improve production efficiency. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes their product line going forward.
No official word on pricing yet that I could find, but expect this to be OMG LOOK A LOTUS!
Now this is more like it. Lotus has been busy testing the 3-Eleven at the Nürburgring to get it ready for production next year. After more than 1,200 miles around The Green Hell over the last two weeks, they’ve concluded that the fastest and most powerful production Lotus yet is pretty much awesome. While it’s not an official lap time, they used best sector times over the course of two flying laps to calculate a “best time” of 7 minutes and 6 seconds. That puts this little devil in some really good company. The 3-Eleven uses a combination of 450 horsepower from a supercharged V6, sub-2,000 lb. dry weight, race-proven aerodynamics, and legendary Lotus suspension tuning to post lap times that test drivers claim can be brought below the elusive seven minute mark. While they work on that, the Lotus 3-Eleven will enter production in February of 2016. It will be sold in all markets as a race car ($148,000 converted) and European and Asian markets as a road car ($126,000). Production is limited to 311 units in total.
Cadillac released a teaser for the all-new XT5, the “cornerstone” of Cadillac crossovers. It can be seen here driving completely unnoticed through Manhattan. Seriously, nobody in that photo is looking at it or even acknowledging its presence. Anyway, all new Cadillac crossovers will carry the XT designation from now on starting with the XT5. It will debut at the Dubai Motor Show in conjunction with a partnership with Public School design house. I don’t know fashion stuff so I’ll assume that’s a good thing?
What’s your automotive news
Yesterday was a really good day. I had an invitation to a BMW M Track Day promo at Road Atlanta that I could not pass up. I got to experience several M cars on an off track but the highlight was taking the new M3 and M5 on the big track. It was my first time driving on Road Atlanta in real life. Had I not been in cars with the kind of easily exploitable performance as the new M3 and M5 it would have been much more terrifying than it was… which was still terrifying. Blind corners, dangerous braking zones, and the madness that is turn 11 and 12 made it my favorite track experience to date. And the cars? I no longer think they’re “too soft” anymore. With traction control lights flashing in 4th gear at 100 mph on my way up to ~150 mph in the M5 and the super precise handling and great balance in the M3 at ~140 mph, they’re much better on track than I would have thought. At no point did either of those cars indicate they weren’t happy with what I was doing. The M5 must be the easiest car to drive fast I’ve ever encountered. Awesome day. And full disclaimer: this was not a media event. Just an awesome event.
So what about you? If you saw something, drove anything, broke everything, or otherwise did anything newsworthy that you want to share with your fellow hoons, sound off in the comments.