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: are you tired of the Nissan Z Proto Yet? Plus Hyundai reveals production-ready Tucson, the Mazda CX-30 is getting a turbo, Rimac may soon acquire Bugatti, IMSA reveals more regulation details on LMDh, Peugeot and ByKolles commit to Le Mans Hypercar, and your news for the week.
Nissan Z Proto
I’m sure you’ve seen this a dozen times by now and already gave us your thoughts, but it’s nevertheless a big story that’s worth repeating. Cars like this don’t come around very often these days. Nissan finally unveiled a car that just a year ago seemed like it would never come – the new Z. It’s a prototype, technically, but there’s really nothing they showed which couldn’t go straight to production right now. The Z Proto as it’s called signals Nissan’s intent to launch a new generation of the Z that’s been long overdue.
The Z Proto’s design can be summed up with one word: throwback. Heavily influenced by the original 240Z and 300ZX, it’s a mashup of modern take on the iconic Z styling ques. The silhouette takes inspiration from the 240Z but also looks nearly identical to the 370Z’s. Look at the finer details and you’ll see even more. The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights with two half-circle running lights are throwbacks to the 240Z as well. Its business end takes clear inspiration from the 300ZX, including its taillights and the black tailgate.
Even its most controversial design feature is a throwback too. That grille. It’s the one thing I see the most complaints about (it was my only complaint too) but it’s a direct lift from the 240Z, it’s just stands out a little more here. Plenty of extremely talented internet dwellers have made attempts to improve upon it, which to me shows how close it is to looking like it belongs. Or at least how easy it’ll be to fix in the aftermarket should you choose.
The interior is another place where you can find similar throwback styling. Three-spoke steering wheel, three gauge pods in the middle of the dash, and those weird air vent things at the edges with the circular door handles close by. A few more modern features are thrown in of course, like the 12.3″ digital gauge cluster and the new central infotainment display area which no longer looks like it was designed back when we still had 43 presidents.
It’s too early to say for certain what kind of performance we can expect out of this, but it’s clear Nissan has other priorities. There will certainly be more power with a twin-turbocharged V6 under the hood, which we assume is the 3.0-liter unit from the 400-horsepower Infiniti Red Sport stuff. Though they won’t confirm power specs yet, they will confirm tire sizes. 255/40R19 front and 285/35R19 rear means they’re planning for some power. But the “Z is more than just powerful and agile… it is designed to create a connection with the driver, for the car to be a ‘dance partner’ for their on-road adventures”.
Backing up their words was the six-speed manual transmission that they debuted it with. It’s currently the only transmission they’ve confirmed the details of. An automatic is coming but it’s still in development. The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 we’re expecting the engine to originate from has a seven-speed automatic.
Fortunately the Z Proto has managed to avoid the problem many new sports cars have – growth. At 172.5 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width, and 51.6 inches tall, the Z Proto is about six inches longer, just as wide, and slightly lower than the 370Z it will replace. This should mean that agility they were talking about is legitimate and it won’t weigh two tons.
Sometime soon we will see a more production-ready version which I suspect will look very close to this. As mentioned earlier, nothing shown here is out of the realm of possibility for a production Nissan. It’s not like other prototypes with massive wheels, impossible lighting elements, and extra complex body lines. It really looks like a production-ready successor to the 370Z.
Other details like the name and its price are in the pipeline as well. It’s expected to be 400Z given the origins of its engine. The prevailing rumor is that it goes on sale next Spring as a 2022 model. Again all just things I’ve heard. Any detail I get from Nissan will be covered in the future, because controversial design or not, it’s a damn good feeling to cover sports cars like this again.
2022 Hyundai Tucson
And now, back to our crossover reality. This one looks a bit less dull though. After hyping up the new Tucson last week with some dark teaser shots, the full thing has been shown to the world in all its ten-eyed glory. The fourth generation of their best-selling model globally gets a striking design, fresh interior, more tech, and more electrified powertrain options.
The Tucson’s new exterior styling expresses Hyundai’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design identity. That includes terms like “parametric dynamics” and “kinetic jewel surface details” which aim to provide some distinction in a crowded segment. I believe they succeeded. The first thing you notice is the lighting arrangement up front. It’s a half-mirror type DRL setup that’s assimilated seamlessly within the parametric grille and are hidden well when not illuminated. It’s a production-ready example of the kind of futuristic styling that a few manufacturers have only shown in prototypes, and it’s coming from Hyundai. The theme also continues at the rear with the defining characteristic being full-width taillamps with half-hidden triangular shapes only visible when lit. It almost looks like Ford Mach E taillights.
The interior, which they call “INTERSPACE”, offers a layered and “sensuous” environment. It provides a feeling of openness and serenity with a waterfall effect on the dash and a cleanly integrated infotainment area. The vertically stacked, dual 10.25-inch full-touch screen is exempt of hard buttons and the digital gauge cluster is a hoodless design, because F U T U R E, I guess.
Two gas engines will ship with the Tucson, one of which can be paired with electrified powertrains as well. Both are direct-injected four-cylinders but that’s where similarities end. The base engine is a 2.5-liter unit which produces 187 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. The premium engine offering is a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine which produces slightly less power but more torque on its own. But it won’t be on its own – this engine is only available in the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Tucson. In that scenario, it produces up to 227 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque combined.
The press release is a little incomplete in that it only mentions an eight-speed automatic for the base engine and an HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. It doesn’t say what the hybrid options get for a transmission and whether that AWD system is optional or standard. And I don’t care enough to reach out for clarification.
The all-new Tucson goes on sale in Korea this month as a 2021 model. We’ll get it in America and other global markets in the first half of 2021 as a 2022 model. Pricing wasn’t revealed yet.
Mazda CX-30 – now with turbo
One of Mazda’s littlest crossovers is about to get some big power upgrades. The Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo four-cylinder from the bigger crossovers in the family will be crammed in certain CX-30s beginning next year. This engine produces 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque on 93 octane or 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. with 87 and is paired with all-wheel drive.
Mazda says this combination will give drivers the freedom to “explore life in style, from the city to the outdoors”. Typical marketing speak for any small crossover, but it’s missing the point. This thing is going to absolutely RIP. AWD CX-30s seem to weigh just under 3,400 pounds and it’s not all that big of a car. This could be a true sleeper capable of embarrassing some sports cars in the right hands.
Pricing wasn’t released.
Report: Rimac may soon acquire Bugatti
Here’s something I bet you weren’t expecting. According to a scoop from CAR Magazine, Volkswagen Auto Group is on the verge of selling off Bugatti. To Rimac. That Rimac – the electric supercar startup that wasn’t known to anyone more than a few years ago. Oh how the turn tables.
The report claims this is part of a deal to transfer Bugatti to Rimac via Porsche in exchange for a bigger stake in Rimac. Porsche already owns roughly 15 percent of Croatia’s Rimac Automobili and gaining a larger stake would put them in a good position as automakers continue to move towards electric powertrains. I and many others in this industry would argue that Rimac produces the best EV powertrains in the world, especially if performance is the goal. VW is certainly more interested in that kind of thing than continuing to support Bugatti’s continued efforts to sell new versions of the Chiron with different bodywork to rich assholes.
There’s a lot more analysis of this fairly complex situation in CAR Magazine’s report so I suggest reading that for more details. Let’s just say the late Ferdinand Piech would’ve never allowed this.
[Source: CAR Magazine]
LMDh technical regulations and new Le Mans Hypercars revealed
Today is a busy day for sportscar racing. We always get big news from IMSA and WEC the day before big races, and with the 24 Hours of Le Mans tomorrow, we got some big updates regarding the future of prototype racing. IMSA revealed more detailed regulations for their LMDh formula while two manufacturers showed off initial design studies for their Le Mans Hypercar entries.
Starting with LMDh first because it makes more sense, IMSA’s DPi class on steroids is taking a step closer to reality. To quickly recap: manufacturers pick a chassis from an approved supplier – Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic, and Oreca – and provide their bodywork and engine and use a spec KERS unit. Per Racer, Today that KERS supplier was confirmed to be Bosch and Williams Advanced Engineering. The unit contributes 40 horsepower to the class’s 670-horsepower target. The cars will have a targeted minimum weight of 2,271 pounds.
A bigger change that manufacturers will love is expanded custom bodywork styling options. This allows for a design that’s more closely related to a road car and the ability to apply brand-specific styling at the back half of the cars as well, not just in the front as it is currently in DPi. Racer confirms that IMSA’s next step is to seek commitments from manufacturers who participated in their technical working group for LMDh. They reiterate that a lot of manufacturers have previously expressed interest, some of which I’ve reported here as well. Those are Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Ferrari, Ford, Hyundai, Lexus, Mazda, McLaren, Renault/Nissan, and Audi, Lamborghini, and Porsche from VAG. I suppose it’s no coincidence that the LMDh rendering they released sure looks like a Porsche.
Peugeot and ByKolles confirms Le Mans Hypercar program
Switching gears to the less realistic prototype category, Peugeot and ByKolles have both revealed their intentions for a Le Mans Hypercar with renderings. In the case of Peugeot, they were considering either LMDh or LMH but ultimately chose LMH for the greater flexibility of design… I wonder if that’s why IMSA opened up their LMDh design requirements. The ByKolles Racing LMH may end up spawning a few different variants, such as a track day car and even a road car. A 700hp V8 is its source of power while the Peugeot LMH goes along with their brand identity by using a hybrid setup with 680hp split between both axles.
The ByKolles should hit the track next year along with the Toyota and the Glickenhaus competitors. Peugeot’s entry will debut in 2022. Maybe by then LMH will still be a thing and won’t fall victim to the same thing that killed LMP1 – high costs. LMDh sought to address that problem with a far cheaper program, but I guess ACO managed to find a few manufacturers still willing to spend a shit load of money on a prototype. Hopefully this time it sticks around.
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.