Monthly Archives: February 2015

Aston Martin Unveils 800 Horsepower Vulcan Track Car

Following a pair of teaser videos, Aston Martin has lifted the curtain off of the limited production Aston Martin Vulcan track car which has its crosshairs set on rivals such as the McLaren P1 GTR and the Ferrari FXX K hypercars

Designed exclusively for use on challenging race tracks, the Vulcan gets its muscle from a modified 7.0 liter naturally aspirated V12 which is capable of producing well aston-martin-vulcan_01F0BC999DB7CDAFB8C667C84Bover 800 horsepower. While this is a tad short when compared to the Ferrari FXX K, it is still an impressive figure especially from the iconic Aston Martin V12 engine. All of this raw power is sent to the rear wheels via a mid-mounted six-speed sequential gearbox  that features a limited slip differential. The Vulcan’s handling has also been prepared for the rigors of track use thanks to a race spec pushrod system that also features a suite of electronic driving aides that can be adjusted or turned off (our favorite option) to further enhance the Vulcan driving experience.

Like its distant brand mate the Aston Martin Vanquish, the Vulcan is made entirely out of carbon fiber but the company has not revealed how much the car weighs though we suspect it will probably be much on par with other track ready hypercars. The exterior styling of the Vulcan embodies a muscular look with a low front end designaston-martin-vulcan_02F3D9C7BD1F2079A1835014F2 that features a wide radiator grille, thin LED headlights, and plenty of sharp angles and creases. The rear fascia is just as aggressive looking and features slick LED tail lights and a beefy rear air diffuser to further optimize airflow. Rounding out the slick styling package are a set of 19 inch ten spoke alloy wheels and an oversized rear wing that helps keep the rear of the Vulcan planted during spirited track driving.

While the Vulcan may be initially making its debut in a track only suit of clothes, the company has revealed that the Vulcan (like the recently unveiled DB10) will be a preview of some of the styling cues that will eventually find their way into future Aston products. One prime candidate that would greatly benefit from a Vulcan inspired update is the Vantage. The Vantage is now 11 years old and is in dire need of a major update especially in terms of exterior styling, perhaps part of that problem can be remedied with some cues from the Vulcan.

Meanwhile the interior features a fully digital instrument cluster, two supportive bucket seats, as well as an expansive and driver oriented center console. Drivers may aston-martin-vulcan_119B41E29A410A83603DA7DA76notice that the console appears a bit sparse, and that is thanks to a bit of creativity by Aston Martin engineers who were kind enough to move virtually all the switchgear onto the flat bottomed steering wheel which has had its top cut off to improve visibility of the instruments a vital necessity especially in head to head racing.

The Vulcan’s trump card though is not its exterior styling, interior design, nor its insane horsepower figures. Rather it is an all new comprehensive driving course that will help Vulcan owners learn how to unleash the car’s full potential in a safe and controlled manner. Taught and run by experienced drivers such as Darren Turner, the course spans race tracks all over the world with a portion of it being taught on a high quality professional racing simulator. Students will also benefit from a “progression ladder” that is built into the course with them starting out on the Vantage S and the One-77 hypercar before ultimately moving up to the Vulcan.

Production of the Vulcan will be limited to a mere 24 units with details such as pricing and availability being formally unveiled closer to the car’s official race debut. While aston-martin-vulcan_09E3D25BD7399DE1E1E222ED12the Vulcan maybe out of reach to all but a select few in its current form, its secondary role as a crystal ball into Aston’s future should please enthusiasts and loyalists that want to see big changes from the iconic British automaker.

 

 

 

Morgan Reveals New Aero Teaser Image, Showcases Exterior Styling

Earlier this month, the folks at Morgan revealed that it would be bringing something new to its strand at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show (hinting at an all new variant of the Aero). The company later followed up that initial tease with the release of a brief video clip but has now released a rendering of the mystery variant which showcases the exterior styling of the car (albeit from a side on angle).

While the rendering still retains an aura of mystery surrounding the car’s full exterior styling, there are several key details that can be extracted from the bits that are visible. The exterior design for instance retains the long hood and swooping fender flanks that have come to define the current Aero Coupe and Aero SuperSports roadster. However, the roof section and the rear fascia here are noticeably different. Wheras the current Aero lineup features a traditional sloping fastback style roof line, this model features a more abrupt roof line that comes complete with upright rear glass. It is currently unknown if the roof is a fixed or folding unit, but its design does appear to suggest some form of folding top is possibly in the works.

As revealed before, the new Aero variant would be powered by a forced induction V8 and while we suspect a supercharger will be used, it is still possible that a turbocharger could also be in play. Regardless of which boost method is used, look for it help provide the engine with extra boost which in turn improves performance and fuel economy. The answers to that question and many more will come when the car makes its official debut in March at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Cadillac Previews CT6 Flagship Sedan In Oscars Ad

Following a similar move by Nissan that took place during the Super Bowl when the Japanese firm previewed their next generation Maxima sedan, Cadillac unveiled their own take on this tactic by previewing the upcoming CT6 flagship sedan in a new ad that aired during the glamour filled Oscars Awards Show.

Designed to be a bold offering that targets full size luxury flagship rivals such as the BMW 7 Series and the iconic Mercedes S-Class, the CT6 will debut a new full size vehicle platform known as the Omega platform which could also make an appearance in a possible Buick flagship sedan, and an equally luxurious large crossover. The ad all but confirms that the CT6 will be a tasteful mixture of cues from the critically acclaimed Elmiraj concept car as well as traits from current offerings such as the CTS and ATS which should please well heeled luxury flagship buyers.

Details regarding its performance hardware are currently unknown, but the opulent sedan is expected to featured a 3.0 liter twin turbocharged V6 with a higher spec V6 and V8 possibly powering higher spec variants. Like its German competition, rear wheel drive will be the standard configuration, but buyers can opt to add 4 Matic fighting all-wheel drive to their purchase to help the big car deal with snowy conditions. The interior will most likely retain the same basic theme that first debuted in the current generation CTS but befitting a sedan of its elite caliber, will most likely be reworked to offer bigger amounts of room for occupants while still offering plenty of amenities and electronic gadgetry.

When the CT6 does eventually make its debut at the New York Auto Show in April, the CT6 will serve as the spearhead of Cadillac’s new naming system which will eventually trickle down to all of its other models. Boasting a number at the end of their monikers, crossovers will be based on the XT prefix, while sedans like the CT6 will use the CT designation with the number on the end indicating where a particular model is in terms of size and capability. The lone exception to this new-found sense of order will be the Cadillac Escalade which escapes the renaming blitz due to the high level of sales and instant recognition that the nameplate has achieved during its time in production.

In the meantime you can watch the ad in question (know formally as The Daring: No Regrets) below, and stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the Cadillac CT6 as they become available.

 

Saab Prepares New Attempt To Get Out Of Bankruptcy, Will It Work?

In the latest chapter in the long, surreal, and ongoing saga that is Saab, the company’s current owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has announced a new proposal that aims to get the company out of bankruptcy so that it can resume talks with several prominent OEMs in a bid to resume vehicle production.

The new proposal which was highlighted in a press release from NEVS reveals that the majority of the company’s creditors would receive full repayments as part of the new plan. As for the remaining 104 creditors that are owed balances in excess of 500,000 Krona (equivalent to $60,000) their repayments would be reduced by half which may disappoint some that were hoping to receive full repayment for some of the outstanding bills that NEVS racked up since it took over the helm at Saab several years ago.

The company claims that if creditors approve this latest proposal it would provide “the conditions for completion of ongoing negotiations with two major OEMs”. Which brings me to my thoughts on the whole situation as a whole. While the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 were decent vehicles that were practical, fun to drive, and unique when compared to others in the marketplace (the 9-7x and its flawed Chevy Trailblazer based charms do not count.)  It was ironically the company’s reputation for uniqueness that played a role in Saab’s eventual demise as well as its current plight. While being unique may appeal to a group of niche fans that understand its rich history and enjoy all of a Saab’s quirky attributes, for broader mass market buyers it was like being thrown a curveball with many of them seeing some of the quirkiness as unnecessary and odd. This was especially apparent when viewed against rivals from Volvo and even BMW (a brand that Saab benchmarked during the 90’s and early 2000’s)

Furthermore it is important to remember that when GM was going through its reorganization during the financial crisis, Saab was bleeding money and was hemorrhaging cash for 17 of the 20 years that GM owned them. While some of the loss was due to events that precluded GM’s 1989 purchase, it also amounted to the cars themselves considering that they were not as refined as the German competition and often times under-performed (Viggen and Aero models excluded) in raw performance a key factor for a brand that was eager to promote its turbocharged capabilities. That said, do I want Saab to ultimately succeed? The answer is a solid yes. Surprising perhaps, but for me I am curious to see what would happen if the brand had proper management and financial structure. It’s not without precedent considering that Audi was once an afterthought here in the U.S. back in the early 1990’s before radically improving under new management that knew what needed to be done and were willing to provide the support and discipline that was needed to resurrect the brand into what it is today.

The same could very well happen for Saab if given the opportunity to survive especially with a revamped 9-3 and 9-5 leading the way. In the meantime you can read the press release here, and tell us what you think about this latest proposal, and whether Saab has any chance of surviving in the current automotive marketplace.

 

 

 

 

Aston Martin Teases Vulcan, Could Herald New Driver Program [Video]

Following a brief teaser that the company released earlier this month, Aston Martin has released an all new teaser video for its upcoming Vulcan race car ahead of its official debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March.

The new teaser footage follows the brief and highly veiled theme of the first video, but this time we get to see the Vulcan’s rear fascia which features a prominent rear wing, a larger rear air diffuser, and a very attractive green paint job which looks similar to the hue seen on prior Aston Martin racing vehicles. While these additions do confirm rumors about the Vulcan being a race model versus an all new road model (which may disappoint some Aston fans), The Vulcan would be a solid response to the recently unveiled McLaren P1 GTR. Like The GTR, the Vulcan would most likely use a hybrid system that is working in conjunction with a highly modified V12 engine that is capable of producing well over 700 horsepower.

In addition to the lofty horsepower numbers, the Vulcan is also believed to be the figurative spearhead of an all new Aston Martin driver program. Expected to provide an ownership experience that is similar to the Ferrari FXX K and the P1 GTR, the program would allow Vulcan buyers to race their vehicles on select race tracks, but prevent them from taking the Vulcan home due to the car’s inability to meet road safety standards. In addition, the elite few that have the means to purchase a Vulcan will most likely be expected to pay a seven figure price tag and also act quickly since the overall production number would be rather low.

Look for more information to be formally unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show in March where the Vulcan will share the stage with its track inspired companion the Vantage GT3 special edition. In the meantime you can check out both teaser videos below and tell us what you think of the Vulcan.

 

 

 

 

Morgan Releases New Aero Teaser, Forced Induction V8 Confirmed

In a cryptic teaser earlier this month, Morgan revealed that it had a new offering in the pipeline that the company planned to bring to the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Morgan has followed through with a new teaser video which helps shed a bit more light on the company’s upcoming Aero based offering.

While the video follows the initial teasers theme in not revealing much of anything, it does provide a subtle glimpse at the interior which will feature quilted leather seats and follows the tried and true tradition of hand crafted quality that has come to define many Morgan offerings. However it is in the actual audio track of the video where a key clue emerges when one listens very carefully.

The sound of an engine revving is always a good indicator of whats under the hood, and based on what our finely honed ear is hearing, it appears that not only will the new Aero variant retain its V8 power plant, but will also feature some form of forced induction thanks to the telltale whine that is heard in various parts of the video. While Morgan has not confirmed what type of induction the engine is using, we suspect a supercharger is involved and that it could herald the arrival of a supercharged variant of either the Aero Supersports roadster, or the Aero Coupe. Both models currently used a naturally aspirated 4.8 liter BMW sourced V8 engine which is good for 367 horsepower, and allows the car to make the sprint to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, however expect the supercharger to help deliver improved ratings in both categories while also allowing the Aero to achieve slightly better fuel economy as well.

Look for more detailed information to be revealed closer to its official Geneva debut, but in the meantime, Morgan has released a brief video of the new Aero which can be seen below.

BMW Reveals Seven-Seat 2 Series Gran Tourer

With BMW’s recent push towards more “Gran” variants of models such as the 3, 5, and 6 Series. It should come as no surprise that even the utilitarian oriented 2 Series gains a “Gran” version which will make its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Unlike other Gran models which either focus on unique roof-lines or being four door coupes, the 2 Series has been stretched slightly to accommodate an optional third row of seats which allows the car to accommodate seven passengers. This particular move was P90171434_highResinevitable given the car’s role as a family hauler, but it is still impressive especially considering how compact the car really is when compared with other seven seat competition. Otherwise the exterior styling retains the basic theme and lines of the Active Tourer which means it will be a love it or hate it affair (place us in the neutral category).

The seats also steal a trick from more conventional minivans, and can fold flat into the floor with the push of a button. This allows the 2 Series to be very versatile and flexible in whatever role it is asked to do with buyers having access to 22.7 cubic ft of cargo room withP90171413_highRes the seats up, and a massive 67 cubic ft of space with both the second and third rows folded flat. While these figures may not make more conventional minivans bat an eyelash, it does top the equally lofty 53 cubic ft of space offered by the Ford Focus wagon.

As is the case with the standard issue 2 Series, buyers can choose from five different engines featuring three or four cylinders, and also varying amounts of power with 116 to 192 horsepower available depending on engine choice. Even though the car is riding on a platform that was designed to accommodate standard issue front wheel drive, all wheel drive is available as an option and should prove popular with buyers that live in colder climates especially Switzerland and the Alps region. As for U.S. availability, expect the 2 Series Gran Tourer to join its Active Tourer sibling in being a Europe only offering with more information expected to be unveiled in a few weeks. In the meantime check out the photo gallery as well as a brief video released by BMW which can both be seen below.

 

 

Morgan To Unveil New Model At Geneva

In my time writing pieces for the dedicated and ever growing Autoinfoquest fanbase, a brand that has always held a special and significant place in my heart is Morgan Motor Company. It is always fun hearing what the tiny British motorcar maker is up to, and it appears that they have something big cooked up for the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Unlike prior Morgan produced teasers, this one takes more of a mysterious theme with the company only revealing one shadowy teaser image with the alleged premier date as well as Geneva in bold text. The model featured in the image appears to be the Aero coupe. The Aero has been in production in some shape or form for several years now, and unlike the company’s other products which embrace a wooden chassis in their construction, the Aero is crafted on an aluminum chassis and uses a BMW derived V8 engine. While the front fascia of this particular Aero appears to be unchanged at first glance, a pair of mysterious appendages peeks out from the shadows. It is unknown what they are exactly but they appear to have a strong resemblance to bonnet clips.

It is still a mystery what Morgan has in store for the Geneva Motor Show but we suspect it is most likely either a production version of an electric model (a concept Morgan has been teasing off and on for a while) or an updated engine for the Aero. The latter seems more likely since the 400 horsepower V8 that powers the Aero comes from the E39 era BMW M5. While it is still a beautifully crafted and spirited engine, it is woefully behind more current engine offerings in terms of power and efficiency.  Both of those ailments can be fixed with a new V8 possibly the turbocharged 560 horsepower unit from the current generation M5.

We look forward to seeing what Morgan has in store, and will be patiently counting down the days until its formal debut. Also looking forward to perhaps touring the Malvern based factory someday ( a bucket list item of mine) to see first hand the incredible amount of time, effort, and engineering that goes into each Morgan model especially the 3 wheeler.

 

Ford Officially Unveils 2016 Ford Focus RS

Following a leak that took place earlier today, Ford has officially unveiled the 2016 Ford Focus RS ahead of its official debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March. The RS will square off against the Volkswagen Golf R in the upper echelons of the hot hatch segment a place the Golf R largely had to its self prior to the RS’s unveiling.

The exterior styling of the Focus RS is honed to be much more aggressive than the slightly tamer ST model and achieves this effect thanks to a redesigned front bumper that features a bigger grille, splitter, and an equally beefier air dam assembly. The bold side skirts snake Ford Focus RStheir way to the rear of the hatch where a big roof mounted rear wing, and an integrated rear air diffuser maximize the car’s aerodynamic capabilities even further while also looking cool at the same time. Rounding out the meaner aesthetic treatment are a pair of dual exhaust tips (that ditch the ST’s center mounted arraignment) and 19 inch multi spoke wheels that are shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

Meanwhile the interior also adopts a decidedly edgier design theme and features a flat bottomed leather upholstered steering wheel, alloy pedals, supportive Recaro front bucket seats for the front passengers, and three additional driver focused gauges that are located in a small cluster on top of the dashboard. In addition buyers can also equip the RS with the latest iteration of Ford’s touch screen based SYNC system that trumps the Golf R’s MDI system by offering USB ports as standard equipment versus the VW’s iPhone focused setup.

Performance for the 2016 Focus RS comes from a tweaked variant of the 2.3 liter turbocharged EcoBoost four cylinder that is also found under the hood of the Ford Mustang. Ford has not released official horsepower numbers as of yet, but the company claims that the engine has been tuned to produce over 315 horsepowFordFocusRS_04er an impressive number that beats the VW by 23 horses. This new-found muscle allows the RS to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds with the engine linked to a six speed manual transmission that promises firmer shifts. The biggest change though is not the engine, but rather the all new all-wheel drive system which is a first for the Focus RS. The system features torque vectoring software and can send up to 70 percent of the engines torque to the rear wheels, and as a bonus up to 100 percent of torque to a particular wheel to prevent slip.

In addition to the all-wheel drive system, Ford engineers also revamped the Focus RS;s handling behavior thanks to a lowered and stiffened sport suspension with two mode shock absorbers while upgraded brakes provide smooth steady stops from a wide range of vehicle features. These features allow drivers to take advantage of the Focus RS’s full potential both on and off the track.

Look for the 2016 Ford Focus RS to go on sale across the U.S. before the end of 2015, with details such as pricing information, and full specifications being announced closer to its formal on-sale date and subsequent launch.

2016 Ford Focus RS Leaked Ahead Of Official Debut

While the 2016 Ford Focus RS will not make its official debut until Tuesday at a private event, the folks at Evo Magazine have given the motoring world a sneak preview of the hot hatch, and if what they have to say is indeed true, then the purposeful exterior styling will be backed up by a serious bump in Golf R slaying performance.

Speaking of the fore-mentioned exterior styling, while it shares a few traits with its slightly tamer ST sibling, the RS packs several model exclusive tweaks including a revamped front fascia, reworked aero bits, as well as a beefy rear wing to help generate maximum downforce for the rear wheels. Detailed shots of the interior were not included, but a pair of sinister looking Recaro chairs peeking out from the windshield indicate that it is largely business as usual when it comes to the RS delivering a higher pedigree of performance themed designed than the ST version with its grippy seats always being an RS trademark.

Performance is expected to come from the same 2.3 liter EcoBoost inline four cylinder engine that also sees duty in the Ford Mustang. Horsepower numbers are unknown at this point, but we personally think that the magazine’s 250 horsepower estimate is a bit conservative given the car’s purpose as a top tier competitor to the Volkswagen Golf R. Instead expect horsepower to be closer to 300 raging ponies, though we will not be shocked if there is an extra pony or two buried in the corral. All of this muscle will be channeled to all four wheels through an all new all-wheel drive system which is a first for the RS. While a few may miss the feral torque steer happy character that defined prior iterations of the RS, the new system promises improved acceleration and launching behavior thanks to features such as brake operated torque vectoring.

As a bonus, Evo claims that up to 70 percent of the engine’s horsepower can be sent to the rear wheels if necessary and that the car can make the dash to 60 mph in a brisk 5.0 seconds. This would not only surpass the Golf R, but also allow the car to compete with indirect rivals such as the Mercedes CLA45 AMG.

Look for other details such as interior photos, and final performance figures to be revealed on Tuesday but look for the RS to be marketed heavily towards hot hatch buyers especially ones that would have otherwise considered a rival such as the Golf R as well as offerings from Renault and Peugeot.