Category Archives: Performance

McLaren Unveils Insanely Bonkers Senna Hypercar, Brings 738 Horsepower To The Track

McLaren has been on a roller coaster ride of success over the past several years with entries like the 570S and the 720S redefining its core identity.  The British supercar maker continues to be a solid alternative to traditional stalwarts Lamborghini and Ferrari, and drive to stand out amongst buyers has driven McLaren to create their wildest, and most track focused road car yet, the limited production Senna.

Named after famed Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna da SIlva, the exterior styling embraces a unique blend of form and function. Looks are subjective, but there’s no question that the Senna’s design has a distinctive character, and it all comes as a result of attempts to make the body as sleek and aerodynamically efficient as possible. Case in point is the double rear diffuser that leads out to the underfloor scoop, and is also partnered with a large rear wing that comes equipped with active aero technology. McLaren is quick to point out that the Senna spent countless hours in the wind tunnel to further refine its svelte bodywork, which embodies the high dedication that McLaren engineers had when it came to creating the ultimate track weapon.

A curious addition is the see through glass panels that are sandwiched into the doors. McLaren claims that the glass is lightweight, but it does take away some of the privacy that is afforded by conventional panels. Lastly, like other odd vehicle features that are offered in Europe, look for these panels to not make the transition to U.S. spec cars due to our country’s stricter safety regulations.

The interior of the car adopts a very minimalist design, but it still manages to cram features such as a rear view backup camera, infotainment system, as well as McLaren’s foldable drivers display. The cabin is also bathed in carbon fiber, and the lightweight carbon fiber seats help enhance the overall ambiance, while also doing their part to shed weight at the same time. Speaking of the fore-mentioned seats, each car will have a distinctively different set of thrones, with McLaren designers custom tailoring the seats  to fit the unique dimensions of their lucky owners.

Power for the Senna comes from the same 4.0 liter biturbo V8 that also sees duty in the 720S. However, in the Senna this engine has been tweaked to unleash 79 more horsepower, bringing the grand total to 789 horsepower, as well as a slightly higher 590 lb-ft of torque. While this might not seem like much of an increase at first glance, it all comes together when you consider that the Senna is much lighter than the 720S with the car weighing in at just 2,641 lbs. McLaren chose to not release formal performance figures for its newest offering, but expect the Senna to be a an absolute missile out on the track. McLaren claims that “savage performance” will be on hand, and these claims have even more traction considering that Senna’s nephew Bruno Senna was directly involved in the car’s development phase.

Production is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2018 after the Senna makes its official public debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. A three seat model dubbed the “BP23” will follow in 2019, and it will serve as the successor to the original F1 supercar. Like the Senna, it will be a part of the Ultimate series, and production is expected to be even more exclusive, with McLaren potentially producing a mere 106 copies, with each one (like the Senna) allegedly already spoken for by potential buyers.

Lamborghini Unveils All Electric Terzo Millennio Concept

Lamborghini has always been known for offering high performance supercars that embrace the tantalizing combination of sleek sporty styling, and the soundtrack that can only be provided by a massive V12 engine. The one thing that Lamborghini has never offered is an all electric supercar, but the company is slowly changing its tune, and has joined forces with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students to create its wildest concept car yet, the Terzo Millennio.

The exterior styling of the Terzo Millennio reflects the wild styling themes that have defined Lamborghini models for the past few years, while also serving as a compelling glimpse into the brand’s future. Terzo Millennio means “third dimension” in Italian, and its slick suit of clothes certainly looks the part. It not only adds high levels of style and flair, but also advanced technologies that could very well change the way electric cars are produced. For instance, the Terzo Millennio pitches conventional battery packs, and instead adopts advanced super-capacitors that can quickly store and discharge energy. Lamborghini is quick to point out that they can even do both at the same time, while also having a longer shelf life than typical battery packs.

The super-capacitors and the four in-wheel mounted electric motors that they power allowed Lamborghini designers to use their full imagination on its design language. The end result is a slick body that is entirely made out of composite materials, which goes beyond shaving weight, and plays a role in maximizing energy storage. This ingenious layout allows the bodywork to function as a battery which not only helps lighten overall vehicle weight, but allows the car to store more energy than one with bulky battery packs.

In addition to its talents as a battery, the bodywork also has a degree of immortality that would make the T-1000 from Terminator 2 Judgement Day  green with envy. This is achieved with specially designed sensors that allows the material to sense small cracks, and subsequently heal itself before they turn into larger cracks that threaten the concept’s overall structural integrity. The chassis of the Terzo Millennio was constructed using Lamborghini’s familiar Forged Composites technology, and was designed to give the concept world class handling manners, especially out on the track.

The Italian supercar maker has not been shy about stating its disdain towards autonomous technology, but Lamborghini engineers have equipped the Terzo Millennio with a type of virtual co-pilot that shows the driver the fastest line around a track. The idea here is to help improve the driver’s reaction times, while also making them comfortable even on an unfamiliar track.

“We are inspired by embracing what is impossible today to craft the realities of tomorrow: Lamborghini must always create the dreams of the next generation,” said Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali.”

Sadly the Terzo Millennio and its futuristic charms are not heading into official production anytime soon, but some of its styling elements could trickle down into the Aventador’s replacement which is due to arrive towards the end of the decade.

Apollo Unveils Intensa Emozione

Apollo, the young company that emerged from the ashes of the bankrupt and bitterly missed Gumpert, is out to bring emotion and flair back to the hypercar segment. While Apollo has been recently quiet as of late, the company ended this figurative radio silence by unveiling the all new Intensa Emozione.

The exterior styling of the Intensa Emozione is a wild styling excercise that is allegedly meant to recapture “the lost emotion and fading spirit” that Apollo claims, is ruining the hypercar genre. While we’re not sure if we can agree with Apollo on that particular finding, it is nice to see a relatively fresh design that harkens back to the old Gumpert Apollo. Like the Gumpert, the Intensa Emozione does look a bit cluttered from certain angles, but there is a healthy mixture of form and function present here.

The front fascia for example features a huge front splitter that forms an extensive aero kit when paired with the diveplanes, body mounted channels and so much more. Our highlight feature is the gigantic rear spoiler that is easily the biggest in the segment, and could also substitute for the flight deck of a scale model aircraft carrier.

The end result is downforce, lots of it with the IE benefiting from 2,976 lbs of the stuff when thrashing its way through a track day. For those that are curious, thats the equivalent of an entire Toyota Corolla pushing down on the car (an impressive feat.)  A carbon fiber monocoque chassis is also on hand to keep weight down, while also increasing structual strength at the same time.

The interior of the IE is all buisness, and features supportive racing seats with healthy doses of red accents, and a race inspired steering wheel. Look for carbon fiber and other lightweight materials to be splashed throughout the cabin to help enhance its performance oriented mission in life while also delivering bespoke levels of comfort.

Performance comes from a naturally aspirated V12 thats good for 780 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. This ungodly power is channeled to the rear wheels through a six speed Hewland sequential gearbox with pneumatic changing gear. Apollo claims that the end result makes it “a bit savage” but we think the cool noises it produces will balance things out nicely.

Predictably the Intensa Emozione is a member of the 200 mph club, and the Hewland gearbox plays a big role in this feat. However, drivers will have to manually engage first gear and use a clutch to get the car moving, before the computer takes over in higher gears. Apollo claims that it’s a piece of the “old school experience” but we’ll chalk it up to the needs of the gearbox itself.

Handling is also razor focused thanks to F1 inspired double wishbone suspension with pushrod and rocker arm architecture front and rear. Adjustable anti-roll bars and Bilstein dampers round out the package, but buyers can have a more bespoke setup installed if they so choose.

Apollo is only producing 10 Intensa Emoziones before ceasing production, so buyers will have to act quickly to snatch one for their garage. They will also have to pay accordingly for the privelege, with each copy starting at $2.6 million with our choice being the bare carbon look (pictured.) Buyers will also have access to exclusive perks, including first dibs on future Apollo products like the upcoming 2019 Arrow.

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.

Genesis Reveals G70 Sport Sedan

Genesis has had a great start in the U.S. market thanks in part to the G90 flagship sedan, as well as the G80 sedan (AKA the artist formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis.) But the one notable thing missing from its lineup (besides CUV/SUV offerings) was a true entry level luxury sport sedan. Genesis has rectified this problem with the unveiling of the G70 sedan.

Designed to be the latest attempt at toppling the benchmark BMW 3-Series sedan, the G70 starts off with bold exterior styling cues that are quite pleasing to the eye. There’s a healthy amount of G90 traits in its well tailored suit of clothes, especially in the front fascia design albeit with more lines and creases. The side profile leads out to a short rear deck, and an equally handsome rear bumper with bold tailights rounding out the look quite nicely.

The interior reflects this theme of elegant simplicity and has a refreshingly straight forward layout for many vehicle controls. This is a nice change from many of its German competitors, and their complicated electronics.

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system houses Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, and will allegedly be the first unit to utilize server-based voice recognition technology. This is due to Kakao’s artifical intellegence platform dubbed “Kakao 1.” It’s unknown what this entails for buyers in the U.S. especially if the feature does make it state side, but it could give the G70 an edge over BMW’s I-Drive system, and even Mercedes and its formidable COMMAND system.

Three diffrent engine choices will be offered, but look for U.S. buyers to only have two engines to choose from. The base model will feature a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline four cylinder with 248 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Genesis claims that an optional Sport package will slightly raise the horsepower figure to 251 horses.

Meanwhile, the G70 Sport shoehorns the 3.3 liter turbo V6 from the bigger G80 into its engine bay. Look for 365 horsepower to be on tap, with Genesis reps claiming the Sport can make the sprint to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. A 200 horsepower diesel engine serves as the greenest of the bunch, but don’t expect it to be offered here in the U.S. anytime soon.

Genesis revealed that the G70 will also get some serious performance tech too including launch control, dynamic torque vectoring, and a limited slip differential. Handling benefits from an adjustable suspension system, but its unclear if some of these features will trickle down to four cylinder models equipped with the Sport package.

Look for more details to be revealed in 2018. These would include final pricing figures, as well as formal fuel economy figures. The G70 will certainly face off against established players in this segment, but it will also have to prove itself against newcomers like the Cadillac ATS, Jaguar XE, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

However, we think it has a fighting chance, and we look forward to learning more over the next few months.

Project ONE Unleashed, Mercedes-AMG Reveals Valkyrie Slaying Hypercar

After months of rumors, speculation, as well as a lone teaser image. Mercedes-AMG has at long last unveiled the Project ONE hypercar, which aims to seek and destroy all in its niche segment when it is unleashed on the road.

As expected, the exterior styling of this near production concept was designed with pure purpose and intent. The whole body of this visually stunning masterpiece is crafted out of carbon fiber monocoque, while the front fenders rise above the wheels and transition to the rear and its ultra wide tail lights. However, the detail that stands out the most in our eyes is the roof mounted scoop that channels air to the F1 derived V6 that lurks underneath.

Unlike other race derived engines, this spunky 1.6 liter actually uses F1 technology, and boasts a staggering 11,000 revs before it hits the limiter. To help avoid valve float, traditional valves and springs have been replaced with pneumatic valve controls, while an electrically operated turbocharger pumps even more cool air into the engine. Mercedes-AMG claims that all these radical tweaks help Project ONE have 40 percent thermal efficiency, as well as produce “over” 671 horsepower when linked to the electric motors.

Speaking of the front wheel mounted electric motors, they make 161 horsepower each, and can rev up to 50,000 rpms. The lithium ion batteries that power the motors only weigh 220 lbs, and have four times more cells than the batteries in the Mercedes F1 W06 hybrid race car. Mercedes also revealed that the system runs at 800 volts, which is double the voltage typically used in the firm’s other plug-in systems.

The interior of Project ONE is perhaps the most extreme form of function over style we have ever seen. A Formula 1 inspired steering wheel greets the driver’s hands, while a color display replaces conventional gauges. A second screen is also mounted on the center stack but other than that, many typical luxury and entertainment features have been pitched for the sake of weight savings. This follows in line with another recently unveiled hypercar, the Aston Martin Valkyrie which also sheds luxury features for the sake of maximum performance. The seats themselves are very spartan, but Mercedes engineers did retain power adjust-ability for the pedals and steering wheel so that the Project ONE can be experienced by a wide range of drivers.

All of this power is transmitted to the rear wheels through an eight speed automated manual transmission designed exclusively for Project ONE, with pushrod coil over suspension helping to keep the car straight and solid through even the twistiest of turns. This should please lucky buyers, while also causing sleepless nights for the Valkyrie, as well as the McLaren P1.

With all of this power, and potent race ready technology, it’s no surprise that  Project ONE will be a very limited release, with Mercedes-AMG only producing 275 copies before production ends. Buyers looking to pre-order one for their garage will have to keep their checkbooks at home since the whole production run is already sold out with each example going for $2.27 million each.

 

 

Mercedes Teases Project ONE Hypercar

The trail of teasers and statements surrounding the much hyped Project ONE hypercar are nearing the home stretch. With the Frankfurt Auto Show fast approaching, Mercedes-Benz has upped the ante by releasing a shadowy teaser image.

The lone image does not reveal very much, but the few elements that do stick out of the darkness offer compelling clues to the car’s wild capabilities. Mercedes claims that the Project ONE is “a two-seater supersports showcar” and it serves as the current pinnacle of the German auto giants engineering capabilities.

However, its also safe to call the Project ONE a road going Le Mans prototype with a Formula 1 engine. In fact, Project ONE evokes memories of the fabled CLK-GTR supercar. Unlike that model though, the Project ONE will be a visually innovative look into the future, especially with its performance hardware. This includes the Formula 1 grade engine and hybrid system, as well as the electronic systems.

The roof mounted scoop also hints at the aerodynamic tweaks that are in store for this car with much of the inspiration coming from Le Mans spec race cars. Look for the interior to invoke function over form with many racing elements and materials being used instead of the usual assortment of leather, wood, and other luxuries that define typical Benz models.

Performance for the Project ONE comes from a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 that incorporates hybrid assistance technology and is largely based on the setup that sees duty in the 2015 Mercedes-AMG W06 Formula 1 hybrid car. Naturally, the engine will be reworked for road use with Mercedes claiming that it can last for 31,000 miles between rebuilds. This is impressive considering that the engine has a rev limit of over 10,000 rpm and packs “over 1000 horsepower.” This is achieved with the help of four electric motors with two mounted on the engine, and the remaining pair on the front axle.

When the Project ONE makes its debut in Frankfurt, it will appear as a near production prototype with the first deliveries expected to take place in 2019. Don’t bother pre-ordering through your local dealer unless you have done so already. Mercedes-Benz is only making 275 copies, with all of them being pre-sold for a cool $2.6 million each.

Bentley Unveils Sleek and Stylish 2019 Continental GT

Following months of speculation, as well as an equally lengthy parade of spy photos. Bentley has finally unveiled the 2019 Bentley Continental GT which aims to bring the fight to established elite sedan rivals, while also redefining the basic elements of what a Bentley should be.

The exterior styling of the 2019 Continental is a gorgeous exercise in elegant lines as well as refined elements that aim to give the Continental more finesse, while retaining the aggression that many fans have come to expect from a true Continental offering. The front fascia is arguably our least favorite element of the car, with the oversized front grille clashing quite garishly with the elegant new headlights. The side profile on the other hand features sculpted rear haunches, as well as a bold chrome accented character line to help instill purpose and sportiness. The rear fascia also gets in on the act, and features a redesigned rear bumper, as well as stylish new tail lights.

The interior of the new Continental is a luxurious balancing act with state of the art technology seamlessly mixing with traditional Bentley cues. This includes acres of supple leather trim and seating surfaces, expansive wood veneers, as well as a rotating panel that allows buyers to either use three analog dials to access vehicle information, or a 12.3 inch infotainment system that is miles ahead of the unit in the last generation Continental. As a bonus, the system even comes with Apple CarPlay as standard equipment, which should be please tech savvy millennials and entertainment buffs.

Performance for the 2019 Continental GT comes from an updated version of the familiar 6.0 liter W12 engine which is supposedly 24 percent shorter than a V12 powerplant. The tweaked engine now produces 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to launch the car to 60 mph in a lighting quick 3.6 seconds when Sport Launch mode is activated. Fuel economy is up by 16 percent thanks to start/stop technology, as well as an all new cylinder deactivation algorithm. Bentley engineers have also upgraded the transmission, with the Continental now sporting an eight speed dual clutch automatic for the first time ever. As usual, the front brakes are larger than those at the rear of the car, which helps them cope with the sheer weight of the W12. The 15 millimeter increase puts them in at a whopping 420 millimeters.

When the 2019 Continental GT eventually makes its way to Bentley showrooms, it will put customization at the forefront of the buying experience. For example, Continental GT buyers can choose from 15 different interior trims, 15 different carpet options, and 15 different exterior colors with as many as 70 being available in the extended range. Beefy 21-inch wheels are standard equipment, but buyers can opt for bigger 22-inch wheels with both options crafted out of either forged alloys or handcrafted alloys. Pricing has not been released, but look for that to not matter much to the elite clientele that loves these cars.