Monthly Archives: July 2016

Lotus Begins Work On Next Generation Elise, Will Be Headed To U.S.

Lotus has revealed that it has begun development of the next generation Elise sports car which will return to the U.S market after several years.

Overall, sources are revealing that this upcoming Elise will be more of an evolutionary effort versus a straight up revolution. While it will still be an all new car from the ground up, it will also not waver from its role as an ultra lightweight sports coupe that makes no compromises for comfort or luxury.

However some of its compact design will be sacrificed with the new Elise being slightly wider to accommodate new side airbags which are mandated by U.S. law. It’ll also be slightly longer than before, but it will still weigh in at a featherweight 1,984 lbs.

As before, Toyota will supply Lotus with both engines and transmissions with Lotus offering a new automatic option to buyers for the first time ever. Rear wheel drive is standard fare which is fine with us since all-wheel drive would have added unnecessary amounts of flab.

The current generation Elise as well as its hardcore brother the Exige have not been street legal here in the U.S. for several years. But the new model is said to be designed with U.S. regulations in mind, which explains why the company is pushing the automatic variant to buyers that might be adverse to the idea of shifting their own gears. Lotus even claims that the U.S. market will eventually be its biggest market after the Elise is reintroduced.

That’s a bold claim, and at first glance it appears a bit over ambitious with current sales of the Evora 400 barely registering as a threat against more exotic competition. However, the revamped Elise will not only add volume to the brand’s sales, but also allow the small British company to lure younger buyers with a lower pricing ladder.

Buyers looking to eventually add one to their garage will have plenty of time to save money since the model is very early in the development phase. If things proceed as planned, look for the Elise to make its U.S. return in 2020, with sales kicking off shortly afterward.

 

 

Mazda To Use Carbon Fiber On Next Generation Miata?

The current generation MX-5 Miata is already a stunning example in lightweight handling prowess with the car already benefiting from a weight savings suite. However, a more drastic weight loss plan could be in the works for the next generation Miata according to a recently published report.

The report which was released by the publication Autocar reveals that Mazda engineers are considering lightweight materials including carbon fiber and aluminum versus shrinking its overall footprint.

“The size is right” revealed Nobuhiro Yamamoto program manager for the MX-5 Miata in remarks to Autocar. “But in the future lightweight materials will be very important and will be used in this car. Now carbon fiber is very expensive, but we have in development affordable carbon fiber, so the MX-5 will be lighter in the future.”

In addition to the obvious improvements in fuel economy and handling. The lighter weight would also allow the Miata to be equipped with smaller engines. There have been rumors of a three cylinder engine that is possibly under development, but it is unclear if it will remain naturally aspirated or if Mazda will equip it with a turbocharger.

“It’s a simple concept” Yamamoto revealed. “The vehicle weight gets lower, there’s a smaller engine, smaller tire. It’s a lightweight sports car.”

While all of these changes do sound promising, don’t expect them to come to the Miata for a very long time. The current model was just launched over a year ago and Autocar suggests that the next generation model will not make its apperance until 2021. This is admittedly a long wait, but it will certainly be worth it when the car eventually makes its apperance.

 

GMC Still Considering Wrangler Fighter?

Hummer and its Wrangler chasing HX concept were axed and swept under the rug several when GM went through its bankruptcy. However, a new report reveals that this once shelved idea is possibly gaining newfound life and vigor.

According to a report released by Automotive News several inside sources have revealed that GMC is still considering a body on frame SUV model that would share its DNA and platform with the Canyon and Colorado midsize pickups. The exterior styling is said to embody Hummer cues, and would not be that far off from the HX concept which debuted at the North American International Auto Show back in 2008.

The report also reveals that executives met with dealers last year to gauge interest and feedback on the idea with initial interest being very positive especially for a model that could potentially revive sales.

Low sales figures have been a persistent issue for GMC over the past few years, with the brand suffering a four percent slide in sales during the first half of this year. This is despite the overall boom in  the SUV and CUV segments which have largely helped the wider market grow.

Not suprisingly Jeep sales have continued to soar to new heights, with the off road oriented brand recording a 17 percent surge in sales during the month of June. These figures are quite potent and also represent the sales gap between the two camps.

If GMC does decide to go forward with its Wrangler competitor, look for it to arrive possibly as early as 2020. When it does arrive, it will have quite a challenge on its hands with the Wrangler currently serving as a segment benchmark.

Mazda Unleashes Updated Mazda3, Debuts G-Vectoring Control

Mazda is always looking for even more ways to squeeze performance out of its products and has unveiled the updated Mazda3 which heralds the arrival of an all new driving technology.

Dubbed G-Vectoring Control (GVC) this technology integrates control of the engine, transmission, chassis, and body into one system. The end result provides the compact 2017_Mazda3_exterior_012with sharper handling manners while also making it more enjoyable to drive at the same time.

GVC is also the first in a series of new SKYACTIV Dynamic Vehicle technologies that aims to provide drivers withands greater amounts of feel as well as a more enjoyable driving experience  (which is already great to begin with.)

“Mazda is striving to become an irreplaceable presence in the lives of our customers, to create a special bond with them, and to be a ‘one and only’ brand that they will choose again and again.” Mazda CEO Masamichi KogaI revealed in a statement.

Other than the new technology, the rest of the Mazda3 is virtually unchanged for the new model year with light tweaks for the front and rear fascias. In fact the only other notable change is a new term with Mazda claiming that2017_Mazda3_interior_028 the car is based on “Jinai Itatti” which is supposed to signify oneness between the car and the driver. That started with the launch of the CX-5  and look for it to define other new models in the future.

The updated 3 is expected to go on sale here in the U.S. later this year, but Mazda did not reveal a formal launch date in its release.

BMW Z4 Production To End Next Month?

With a replacement model currently being developed in a collaboration with Toyota, it’s no secret that the current generation Z4’s days in the BMW lineup are numbered. However a new report suggests that production could end as early as next month.

That’s according to a new report that was revealed by the BMW fan site BMW Blog which tentatively hints at this scheduled departure. If it is indeed true, the Z4’s abrupt exit would leave BMW with a sizable gap in its lineup due to its successor not being ready for full scale production.

The replacement (dubbed the Z5) is being developed in a collaboration with Toyota, and is expected to also share its platform with the reborn Toyota Supra. Prior reports claim that the Z5 will be much more focused on sporty dynamics than the current generation Z4, and put a renewed emphasis on targeting performance minded enthusiasts. BMW and Toyota have so far been tight-lipped on the finer aspects of this car, but spy photos revealed that the car will ditch the current model’s bulky hard top in lieu of a more traditional and lighter soft top. Look for this soft too to also reduce costs of maintenence for owners.

Despite the high level of secrecy surrounding the Z5, eager buyers will not have to wait very long to find out more information, with the car slated to make its auto show debut in the near future, possibly at the Geneva Motor Show. As for the Supra, look for that model to make its debut later with the Toyota badged version appearing exclusively as a coupe. When it appears, it will share the stage on dealer lots with the budget minded 86 sport coupe, and give the Japanese carmaker a formidable one two punch in the sporty coupe segment.

IIHS Tests CUV Headlights, Cites Failures [Video]

Headlight technologies have come a long way over the past two decades, but according to a new report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, many crossovers are still poorly illuminating U.S. roads.

The test performed by the IIHS focused on the best headlight options currently avalible on 21 small crossover models. The institute revealed that 12 out of the 21 recieved a “poor” rating, with none of the 47 avalible combinations achieving a “good” rating.

“Manufacturers aren’t paying enough attention to the actual on-road performance of this basic equipment” stated Matthew Brumbelow IIHS’s senior research engineer. “We’re optimistic that improvements will come quickly now that we’ve given automakers something to strive for.”

While these results are troubling, one glimmer of good news is that four models recieved “acceptable” ratings while five more gained “marginal” ratings. The four acceptable models were the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon, 2017 Ford Escape, 2016 Mazda CX-3, and the 2016 Honda HR-V.

Once exclusive to the luxury car and SUV segments, HID and LED lighting technologies have gradually trickled down to mainstream models over the past few years but the IIHS’s test suggests that these technologies do not always guarantee solid performance.

To be fair, the affected units do comply with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, but the IIHS claims that these standards don’t do enough to truly gauge real world performance. In addition to this round of testing, The IIHS will also test pickup truck headlights so look for more information to come out on this subject in the near future. In the meantime the IIHS has released a brief video which can be seen below.

Aston Martin, Red Bull Unveil AMB-RB 001

These days the number of companies that are capable of creating a true hypercar has dwindled to a select handful of companies with an established pedigree. Aston Martin has boldly proclaimed that it is one of these companies, and has unveiled its most potent hypercar ever the AMB-RB 001.

Developed in a collaboration with Red Bull’s racing program, Aston Martin claims that the sleek two seater will arrive in 2018 and will be crafted on an all new carbon fiber structure. The car will be assembled in Aston’s Gaydon AMB-RB 001 rear fascia England plant, and also be built in the same hallowed confines that once housed the One-77. Aston claims that the AMB-RB 001 will share a unique degree of exclusivity, with the company only producing 99 to 150 copies which includes the initial prototypes.

Twenty five of these models will be built exclusively for the track, with Red Bull claiming AMB-RB 001 side profilethat the customer list  “reads like a who’s who of F1 legends, moguls, and megastars.” This is elite company, and should prove to be a very potent bragging point at dinner parties.

Both companies did not reveal further technical details about the fruit of their recently minted alliance, but did promise that the car would offer “unprecedented levels of downforce” created by aerodynamic features underneath the car. This in turn allowed the designers to produce the bold swoopy angles that define the visual statement of the car. The V12 will retain the naturally aspirated layout that is seen in other Aston models, but the suspension and transmission technology is all new, and was designed by Red Bull engineers.

The end result is a power to weight ratio that equates to one horsepower per kilogram or 2.2 AMB-RB 001 far shotpounds. The project will be jointly marshalled by both firms with Aston chief creative officer Marek Reichman and chief special operations officer David King overseeing the formal build. Meanwhile, Red Bull’s side will be covered by chief technical officer Adrian Newry.

“The synergy between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin is clear” stated Newey. I knew Red Bull Racing had the ability to handle pure performance aspects, but Aston Martin’s experience of making beautiful fast and comfortable GT cars is of great benefit to the project.”