Monthly Archives: October 2015

Mazda Unveils RX-Vision Concept, Heralds Return Of Rotary Engine

In a surprise announcement at the Tokyo Auto Show, Mazda revealed that it intends to resurrect the iconic rotary engine, previewing the possibility in a new concept car that also showcases an evolution of the brand’s current design language.

Dubbed the RX-Vision concept, it shares some of its basic profile with the departed RX-8 coupe. Unlike the RX-8, the RX-Vision did not inherit that model’s awkward styling and incorporates many of the cues that made their initial debut on the Kodo concept. This is especially true when viewing the front fascia which adopts the concept’s shield shaped 15_RX-VISION_Hgrille as well as its thin headlights. The rear fascia features four round taillamps that incorporate a razor thin spoiler with dual round exhaust tips rounding out the package. Overall it is a massive improvement over the RX-8 while also evoking memories of the RX-7 at the same time.

The interior of the RX-Vision was designed with driver-centric ergonomics and performance in mind with seating for only two passengers available. The cabin itself features only the bare essentials, and tosses many typical luxury features to the curb. Mazda designers opted for a retro theme with a meaty deep dish steering wheel and three13_RX-VISION_H pod gauge cluster loudly broadcasting its performance intent. A slick metal gear shifter rises from the center stack while leather door pulls substitute for formal door handles in a bid to shed precious ounces. The interior features red and black upholstery with subtle splashes of carbon fiber adding a dash of contrast to the overall aesthetics.

Details about the performance hardware for the RX-Vision are a little murky with Mazda opting to keep many technical aspects under wraps. What we do know is that the engine is an evolution of the brand’s iconic rotary engine dubbed the SkyActiv-R. It’s unknown how many rotors it has, nor the overall displacement of the engine itself. But the use of SkyActiv technology would seem to suggest that the engine will produce better fuel economy and fewer emissions than its predecessors. Mazda was also quick to point out that development of the new rotary is still moving forward, and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

After it serves its time under the lights in Tokyo, look for this concept to possibly make its debut in the U.S. at either the Los Angeles Auto Show, or the North American International Auto show in January.

Sixth Generation Camaro Begins Formal Production, Hits Showrooms In Fall

In an announcement released earlier this week, General Motors revealed that production of the sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro has formally begun and also revealed when eager buyers can expect to see them on dealer lots.

The first batch of 2016 Camaros are expected to leave their Lansing, Michigan based factory by the end of this week, with formal customer deliveries expected to begin in mid November.

When it does, it will feature six new power train combinations with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine serving as the base offering. Look for this engine to be popular with young tuners looking to maximize performance on a budget while also being a formidable adversary for the Mustang’s 2.3 liter EcoBoost four cylinder in what could rapidly turn into a new aftermarket arms race between Ford and Chevrolet . The mid level trim will feature a revamped 3.6 liter V6, while top dog SS models receive the 6.2 liter LT1 V8. Regardless of which engine is equipped, buyers can choose from either a standard six speed manual gearbox, or an eight speed automatic.

The Camaro’s milestone also highlights an equally important chapter in the life of the Lansing Grand River factory with the relatively new facility recently receiving $175 million dollars in retooling and new equipment to help it handle Camaro production. The facility currently builds the Camaro’s distant cousin the ATS, as well as the bigger CTS luxury sedan so the necessary retooling and changes needed for the Camaro were relatively minor when compared to other facilities that had to be significantly updated for a new model.

Audi Unveils 2016 A8 L 4.0 Liter T Sport, Promises Bargain Friendly Performance

Looking to obtain an Audi S8 but don’t have quite the cash to do it? Audi has unveiled the solution to this problem with the 2016 A8 4.0T Sport

As its name suggests, the new model wields a variant of the same 4.0 Liter twin-turbocharged V8 that also sees duty in the Bentley Continental GT and the S8. However whereas the S8 makes 520 horsepower, the 4.0T Sport makes a slightly tamer 450 horsepower (a considerable gain from the old model’s 435 horsepower.) Some will argue that this figure is also less than the 500 horsepower W12 engine, but the V8 makes up for it by being lighter than the big twelve cylinder, which in turn helps increase fuel economy.

In addition to the new engine, the T Sport also features tweaked exterior styling with the lower front bumper incorporating larger air intakes to help improve air flow to the engine. Sculpted side sills also help improve its slick profile while 20-inch or optional 21-inch alloy wheels round out the profile quite nicely. Audi was also kind enough to equip the car with both the Executive and Luxury packages ensuring that occupants will also be coddled in luxury while cruising at triple digit speeds. An Alcantara swathed headliner adds to the performance theme while diamond quilt stitching for the leather seats enhances both style and comfort.

While its $90,500 MSRP ($925 destination fee included) is still a formidable chunk of change, the 4.0T is a considerable bargain when compared to the $114,900 wielded by the S8 as well as the $137,900 base price for the A8 L W12 variant. Audi has not released any performance data for this model as of yet, but look for the car to shed a tenth of a second off of the previous version’s 4.4 second 0 to 60 time. Buyers that would rather have more power and are willing to pay an even loftier premium can hold out for the S8 Plus and its 605 horsepower V8. Currently that variant is a Europe only exclusive, but it could make its way to our side of the pond if demand for it is strong enough.

Ariel Announces Supercharged Nomad Variant

It is no secret that while the Ariel Atom can certainly hustle down your local racing circuit when equipped with a turbocharger, it is the supercharger that truly brings out the Atom’s full potential. The soundtrack of the supercharger as well as its lightweight tubular skeleton helps give occupants a unique driving experience and is a key part of the Atom’s success story.

With this established history of offering supercharging in its models, it was only a matter of time before the British sports car maker extended the option to its off-road oriented offering the Ariel Nomad. According to the folks at Autocar, The tweaked engine is capable of producing 290 horsepower, and an equally impressive 251 lb-ft of torque. This is a gain of 55 horsepower and 30 lb-ft respectively and allows the Nomad to make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Other than the tweaked performance hardware, The Nomad is otherwise unchanged, with the exterior styling still doing an excellent job of combining off-road oriented features with featherweight handling virtues.

Buyers that choose to add the supercharger will see the base price of their 30,000 pound Nomad ($46,300) go up by 6,000 Pounds ($9,500). In addition according to the folks at Autocar, owners of existing Nomads can retrofit the supercharger to their rides but Ariel is not commenting on how much it would cost for such a procedure. Regardless of the price, the chance to conquer the beaten path at even crazier velocities sounds exciting to us, and it should please Nomad fans as well.

BMW Introduces 362 Horsepower BMW M2, Carries On Legacy Set By 1M

Long rumored since the unveiling of the 2 Series, BMW has lifted the veil off of the performance oriented M2 sedan which succeeds the limited production 1M in its role as a track focused weapon.

The exterior styling of the M2 retains much of the basic profile that defines the standard model, but BMW designers havP90199695_highRese added a more aggressive body kit that includes a meaner and lower front bumper, new side skirts, a trunk mounted rear spoiler, and an all new rear bumper with integrated diffuser and the signature quad exhaust tips that have visually defined past M models. BMW claims that the new body kit reduces drag by 5 percent while lift get slashed by 35 percent.

The interior of the M2 gains all new sport seats for the front occupants as well as a thick and meaty three spoke M steering wheel for the driver. A model exclusive instrument P90199664_highRescluster is also part of the package and thankfully retains the traditional analog layout. Carbon fiber and Alcantara trim scattered throughout the cabin also adds on the track inspired theme with a sprinkling of M logos rounding out the overall theme. Overall it appears to be a modest improvement from the 1M though it will be interesting to see if the seats retain the high levels of support that made the 1M’s seats an enjoyable place to spend time in.

Performance for the M2 comes from a highly modified version of the turbocharged 3.0 liter in line six that also sees duty in the M235i. Thanks to a number of components that were transplanted from the bigger M3/M4 models, the engine is now capable of producing 365 horsepower and an equally stout 343 lb-ft of torque which is avalible from 1,400 to 5,560 rpm. An overboost function can increase this to 369 lb-ft, but like all over boost systems it is meant for brie sprints versus sustained driving. This is a nice jump over the M235i which makes a lower 322 horsepower, and is an improvement over the 1M’s figures.

In addition to the impressive muscle, generous amounts of aluminum components including the aluminum riP90199697_highResms and the majority of the suspension system components help trim unwanted fat with the M2 sedan weighing 3,450 lbs with the six speed manual and a slightly heftier 3,505 lbs when equipped with the seven speed dual clutch automatic. There were rumors that suggested that the M2 would arrive with all-wheel drive but thankfully those rumors proved to be false which is good since the components for the system would have added unwanted weight while also throwing off the balance of the car.

The 2016 BMW M2 will make its formal debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show next month with sales expected to begin next spring. Official pricing and distribution data will be available in the near future. BMW claims that unlike the 1M which was a limited edition special to showcase the pinnacle of 1-series performance, the M2 will be treated as a regular production model and as a result see higher production numbers which should please buyers that were concerned about overall availability. Look for our first impressions of the 2016 M2 to be posted in January, when we will see the model for ourselves at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Aston Martin To Slash 15 Percent Of Workforce, Cites Cost Cutting

In a bid to reign in its costs, Aston Martin has revealed that it has cut 300 jobs (15 percent of its workforce) as part of its cost trimming measures.

Unlike other job cuts in the automotive industry, this round of cuts will not affect blue collar worker on the factory floor. Instead, they will be primarily focused in white collar positions at the company’s HQ in Graydon England. The posistions targeted include managers, administrators, and other posistions of similar stature.

An email obtained by Bloomberg revealed that Aston Martin will be offering early retirement packages for affected employees with other packages possibly being unveiled later for employees that refuse to take the initial offer. The actual number of employees affected by these cuts is up in the air with Astin claiming that only 295 workers will be let go. However, a representative from Unite (the union contracted with Aston Martin) claims that the number is slightly higher with 314 workers affected.

“Collective consultation with employed representatives including Unite, has begun and the company is working with them to minimize the risk of compulsory redundancies.” The union revealed in a statement to Bloomberg.

Aston Martin was quick to reveal that the cuts will not affect the company’s current plans for production, but might alter the timetable for new models such as the recently announced DB11, DBX crossover, and other projects in the immediate pipeline.

Buick Teases Verano Hatchback Ahead Of Chinese Debut

Following the recent unveiling of the updated Buick Verano sedan, Buick’s China arm has released a lone teaser image of the hatchback variant ahead of its formal debut.

The lone teaser image appears to show that this new Buick will follow the trend of recent offerings and be essentially a rebadged Opel model. In this case, it is based off of the recently unveiled Opel Astra and hopes to mirror that model’s strong sales when it eventually lands in Chinese dealer lots. The rear styling doesn’t differ too much from the Opel version which means the slick tailights, blacked our C-pillars, and the roof mounted spoiler are carried over virtually intact. This is actually a good thing since we here at Autoinfoquest are big fans of the Astra’s new suit of clothes. Shots of the front fascia were not released, but look for it to be a mirror image of the Verano sedan’s schnoz.

Performance for the Verano hatchback will come from a pair of four cylinder engines with the base model featuring a naturally aspirated 1.5 liter engine. Buyers that choose the more performance oriented GS model will be pleased with the turbocharged version of the 1.5 liter which makes a commendable 166 horsepower with front-wheel drive standard fare across the board. The transmission choices however will vary depending on model with lower trims featuring either a standard six speed manual gearbox or an optional six speed automatic. GS versions will come equipped with a seven speed dual clutch transmission but we lament the lack of a stick especially in a performance oriented hatchback.

As for the U.S, our version of the all new Verano will make it’s debut either at the Los Angeles Auto Show, or early next year in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show. The next generation Verano will share GM’s all new D2XX platform with the recently unveiled Chevrolet Cruze, Volt, as well as the fore-mentioned Astra. In the case of the Verano, it is expected to help it be lighter and more agile than the current model.

This would be especially true for Turbo variants like the one i personally own where the lighter platform can help improve acceleration and handling behavior, while making it more fun to drive at the same time. We also wish that the GS hatchback would arrive in the U.S. since it would be a compelling contender to the GTI, and give the brand a clear rival to both the fore-mentioned hatchback, as well as its sedan sibling the Jetta GLI with the GS sedan.

 

Ferrari Introduces F12 TdF, Brings More Power, Better Gearbox To F12 Lineup

Ferrari has always been known for its widespread success both on and off the track during its long and iconic history. One such event was the Tour de France event which was used as the theme for this special edition Ferrari

Ferrari engineers used the F12 Berlinetta as a template but they managed to squeeze even more power out of its already potent 6.3 liter V12 engine which now makes 769 horsepower and an equally lofty 520 lb-ft of torque. As a bonus, Ferrari claims that 80 percent of this muscle will be available from a rather low 2,500 revs which should make thetdf 5 TdF a formidable opponent during impromptu drag races. However, in true Ferrari fashion the engineers also tweaked both of the seven speed dual clutch transmissions with up-shifts happening 30 percent quicker, while downshifts are 40 percent faster. The ratios for each gear are also shorter, though look for that particular difference to only be noticed by an experienced driver.

The F12 TdF’s handling has also received a reboot and the car features a wider track, larger wheels, a stiffer suspension, and the same one piece brakes that also see duty in the LaFerrari hypercar. The key element here is not the beefier brakes, but rather the all new tdf 6“Virtual Short Wheelbase” system that makes its debut on this particular model. Essentially a trick four wheel steering system, this impressive piece of technology helps improve high speed stability, sharpens the car’s handling manners, and keeps the tail firmly planted during spirited driving especially on twister sections of road.

The exterior styling in contrast retains much of the F12’s basic styling theme, but Ferrari engineers put significant effort in not only lightening it, but also improving its aerodynamic efficiency with the TdF wielding 87 percent more down force than the standard model, while also weighing 240 lbs lighter.

The end result of all of this time and effort reveals itself when the gas pedal is mashed to the floor with the TdF boasting an impressive 2.9 second 0 to 62 mph time with 124 mph tdf 1arriving in a equally swift 7.9 seconds. The company claims that the TdF also posted a solid lap time of 1:21 when driven on the company’s private track in Fiorano Italy. This figure is quicker than both the standard F12 and the recently unveiled 488 GTB, and is only a hair off the LaFerraris time.

If this car sounds like the perfect accessory to your garage, you will have to act quickly. Ferrari plans to only build 799 examples with pricing expected to reflect its sheer rarity. Also look for the transmission tweaks to possibly trickle their way into other Ferrari models as well as the Virtual Wheel Base system.

Look for the car to make its formal debut at a future auto show with formal pricing expected to be announced before its formal launch to dealers. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the F12 TdF as they become available.

 

 

Porsche Unveils 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Targa 4, New Models Latest To Recieve New Powertrains

Filling in the two remaining blanks in its iconic 911 model lineup, Porsche has unveiled the 2017 Carrera 4 and Targa 4 which blend Porsche’s all-wheel drive system with the all new engines that the company has slowly been introducing in other 911 models.

While Porsche only released a few photographs of the pair, they do reveal that the 2017 versions will continue the tradition of using wider model exclusive all-wheel drive bodies with the rear measuring 44 mm wider than the rear-wheel drive Carrera 2 model. In addition, they also retain the trademark full width rear light bar which has been a hallmark of the 4 lineup for several model generations.

The other key change is under the rear bonnet where the old naturally aspirated engines have been axed with an all new 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged flat six taking its place. While this new engine was designed with a nod towards better fuel economy, it has not forgotten2017 Porsche 3 its spirited nature with the standard engine producing 370 horsepower while the hotter “S” versions wield 420 horsepower. Porsche is also releasing new “Powerkits” for the pair that can raise horsepower even further to 450 horsepower, however the extra power will come with an equally high amount of sticker shock when the kits make their arrival on the 911’s option list.

Porsche claims that new engines will offer 12 percent more fuel economy than before, but the official EPA numbers have not been released and will vary depending on which configuration is selected.

In addition to the engine swap. Porsche engineers also made several other minor revisions to the car that do their part to increase performance. The ride height for example has been lowered by 10 mm on both models which is mainly due to a revamped PASM system that 2017 Porsche 2now arrives on all models as standard equipment. The interior largely carries over the updates seen on the rear wheel drive models, while the 4S can be equipped with optional rear wheel steering to sharpen its already potent dance up even further.

 

Look for the 2017 911 4S and Targa 4S to make their respective debuts at the LA Auto Show next month, with sales expected to begin shortly afterward. In addition to the 911, Porsche will also be updating the engine lineup for both the 2017 Boxster and Cayman with a new four cylinder engine that is also expected to increase fuel economy while providing better performance at the same time.

BMW Unleashes M4 GTS, Water Injection Highlights Performance Upgrades

Following its initial debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, BMW has let the production version of the M4 GTS thunder its way into the wild and it brings several new features that could trickle there way into other M badged models.

Largely sticking to the basic formula that defined the concept, the GTS is essentially a track honed version of the M4 performance coupe. However the GTS arrives with an all new P90199434_highReswater injection system that promises to improve performance, while also making history as the first such unit ever fitted into a production automobile.

For those that are wondering how exactly this novel piece of technology works, it sprays a fine jet of water into the intake system which helps lower the internal temperature by about 240 degrees. As a result of the decreased temperature, horsepower from the M4’s turbocharged inline-six has jumped by 16 percent to 493 horsepower while its 442 lb-ft of torque is a 10 percent improvement over the standard engine. Despite the new-found muscle, BMW claims that the GTS’s fuel economy figures are roughly on par with the standard M4 a commendable achievement especially for a track focused performance vehicle.

The company also claims that the GTS will have a sinister edge when it comes to acceleration with the coupe completing the dash to 60 mph in a scant 3.7 seconds before reaching its 189.5 mph top speed. The GTS can also shake and shimmy just as easily as it can shred acceleration runs thanks to an all new manually adjustable sport suspension that allows drivers to calibrate the car to various venues, while meaty carbon fiber disc P90199484_highResbrakes help bring the car down from a wide range of vehicle speeds. One glaring omission however is the lack of a manual transmission with BMW opting for its familiar seven speed dual-clutch transmission. While the increased precision and smoothness are both inherent benefits, a track oriented car like the GTS does deserve a proper manual alternative especially for those that want more control over the powerband when navigating twistier sections of race track.

BMW engineers also improved performance by removing excess weight and flab. In addition to its familiar carbon fiber roof, the rear spoiler and instrument panel supports also get slathered in the lightweight material. While the air conditioning and navigation systems escaped the effects of the diet, the M4’s rear seats have been pitched for P90199485_highResmaximum weight savings. As a result of this extreme diet, the GTS is 256 lbs lighter than the standard M4 and is even lighter than similar models currently fielded by some of its rivals. BMW claims that all of these upgrades allow the GTS to nab an impressive lap time of 7:28 when taken through the challenging twists and turns of the Nurburgring.

BMW also revealed that the GTS will undergo a limited production run with only 700 units being produced. 300 of those units will find their way into the U.S. with the remainder scattered through out the rest of the world. Buyers will be able to select from four diffrent exterior colors — Sapphire Black, Mineral Grey Metallic, Alpine White, and Frozen Dark Grey Metallic. All four hues will feature Acid Orange accents, but buyers that pick Frozen Dark Grey Metallic will have to be careful when it comes to cleaning their vehicle, with BMW mandating a specific procedure that must be followed (due to it being a type of matte paint) in order to avoid unwanted paint damage.

Formal pricing has not been released, but expect a notable hike in price over the $65,000 MSRP for a base M4 coupe, with a formal debut taking place at a future auto show possibly either at an event in Europe, or next year’s North American International Auto Show.