Monthly Archives: October 2017

Volvo Debuts 600 Horsepower Polestar 1 Coupe

When Volvo first revealed that it was spinning off Polestar into its performance exclusive brand, we we’re curious what the safety focused Swedish carmaker had in store for enthusiasts. Volvo decided to unveil the answer to this question in grand fashion, with its first Polestar badged model, the Polestar 1

The Polestar 1 (not to be confused with the decidedly rarer and distinctively British McLaren P1) is a halo offering for Polestar, and aims to be a dramatic preview of what the young brand will have to offer in the near future. The P1 (short for Polestar 1)  will arrive as a 2+2 Grand Touring coupe that will utilize much of Volvo’s current design language, but it amps things up by featuring carbon fiber bodypanels (a trick borrowed from the Aston Martin Vanquish.)

The panels help shed weight, and also add 45 percent more torsional rigidity to the car. In addition, they also lower the center of gravity slightly which is key in a car designed to tackle sharp corners and apexes at full gallop.

Like other current Volvos, the interior of the P1 is a gorgeous exercise in elegant design with the Volvo logo being pitched for a Polestar exclusive symbol, as well as more black accenting than other Volvo efforts which subtly highlights the more performance oriented flair that the P1 possesses. This flair for attention also highlights the P1’s platform with the car being built on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA platform) but perhaps befitting of the Polestar designation, roughly half of the components were allegedly created from the ground up by Polestar engineers. Case in point, Polestar’s claim that the P1 will be the first car to feature Ohilns Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi) and the first to feature a dual electric rear axle to maximize torque application at each wheel.

The P1 will be powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain that is expected to produce over 600 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. These are impressive figures, and while Polestar remained quiet on the Polestar 1’s true capabilities , look for it to go toe to toe with select versions of the Tesla Model S as well as other compelling rivals. When its not out on the track, the P1 is also capable of achieving an all electric driving range of 93 miles, which is further than any hybrid offering on the market today.

When the Polestar 1 eventually goes on sale, it will not be sold in a traditional sense of the word. Instead, Polestar vehicles will be sold exclusively online, with Polestar offering the model on a two to three year subscription basis with each package including pickup and delivery services, as well as rental options for other vehicles in the Volvo model lineup in the event the P1 needs to spend extended time in a Volvo repair garage.

Production is slated to begin in mid-2019 with the model being followed by the Polestar 2 full electric EV vehicle as well as the rumored Polestar 3 which is expected to bring Polestar into the highly competitive SUV market.

Mazda’s Rotary Engine Could Return As Range Extender Option

When the Mazda RX-8 ceased production several years ago, its departure represented not only the end of an era for Mazda, but also seemingly sealed the fate of the rotary engine, which was once seen as a novel solution for higher fuel economy by automakers back in the 1970s. However, recent comments by a high ranking Mazda executive appear to suggest that the rotary could be making a return to production automobiles, albeit in an unexpected role.

In a recent interview with the folks at Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi chief of Mazda’s powertrain division revealed that there could be a very good chance that the next iteration of the rotary engine could appear as a range extender for electric automobiles. While this would be a dramatic change in role for an engine that once defined the pinnacle of Mazda performance, its potential shift in function could help the novel powerplant fulfill its original green intentions, especially when one looks at prior efforts at this idea by Mazda.

Back in 2013 Mazda was already working on a rotary engine equipped extended range EV, with this early effort materializing in the Mazda2 RE Range Extender concept car. The tiny concept had a 250 mile driving range with half of it coming from its battery, while the other half was supplied by a 330 cc rotary engine which was hooked up to a 2.6 liter fuel tank. More recently, the RX-Vision concept also teased a rotary powered performance vehicle that could also add electrification to its list of tricks if it ever makes its way into formal production.

With all that said, its important to look at the finer details into how such an idea is possible. While the rotary engine has never been known for its efficiency (a key trait that made automakers such as GM and AMC abandon the idea for their lineups,) it is a very smooth running engine, and is also reasonably compact when compared to a conventional engine. Modern technology could allow Mazda engineers to make the engines even smaller than before, which will not only improve overall fuel economy, but also improve space and weight savings for the vehicle at the same time. These latter two traits would allow Mazda to add more batteries, or simply keep the car lightweight, and use this newfound lightness to retain the spirited handling that Mazda models have been long known for.

While this news might not be encouraging to rotary die-hards eagerly awaiting an RX-8 successor, Hitomi also revealed that a bigger rotary engine is also in development with the engine being tuned towards formal sports car applications. However, like many good things in life, the engine is reportedly being stonewalled by management that want a better business case for offering such a model in the first place. If we were in the board room, we would highlight the lack of a formal halo entry in Mazda’s lineup, which would help create a halo effect for other Mazda models including its growing CUV lineup. Either way, it looks like the humble rotary has a strong chance at catering to a new era of buyers if all the cards are right.

 

Mitsubishi Teases e-Volution Teaser Images

Following the initial announcement of the e-Volution concept, Mitsubishi has released several more images of the mysterious e-Volution concept ahead of the concept’s formal debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

As promised by company execs, the Evo badge has returned but wheras it once defined an era of high performance sport sedans, Mitsubishi aims to resurrect this legendary nameplate on a high riding electrified crossover entry. Contrary to previous rumors, it

appears that the concept will be a plug-in hybrid versus a pure electric model, most likely due to reduced battery range in a pure electric offering, as well as the precarious condition of Mitsubishi’s finances.

“This very high performance automobile will blend Mitsubishi Motor’s signature 4WD and electric powertrain know-how with advanced Artificial Intelligence technology under a low slung aerodynamic SUV coupe shape” the company revealed in a release that accompanied today’s release.

Buyers looking to add one to their garage (perhaps as a companion to its rally based predecessor) will have to endure a potentially long wait with a Mitsubishi executive revealing that the new performance model (if it proceeds to production as expected) will not arrive in dealer showrooms for three to six years. It’s unknown if Mitsubishi will also produce a more conventional hybrid crossover, which could serve as a figurative launching pad for the more performance oriented Evo badged variant.

We are curious to see where this endeavor goes next, especially since a production version of the e-Volution would give Mitsubishi a performance model in a segment of the SUV market that the Japanese auto giant has traditionally stayed away from. In addition technology from its new corporate partners Nissan-Renault could also allow the model to be tailored to more international markets, while also reducing the costs of scale and production at the same time.