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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.

 

 

Genesis Previews Upcoming SUV Offering With GV80 FCV Concept

Genesis is making great strides in its emergence as a viable luxury brand especially with the G90 and G80 sedans. However, for the brand to truly blossom, Genesis will need CUV/SUV entries to prop up its reputation in the luxury car market.

While it is currently unknown what the production version will look like, Genesis previewed a glimpse at this future with the GV80 concept which showcases a new design language that aims to cement its styling language for years to come.

The two row four seat concept features a bold front fascia that is firmly anchored by the familiar Genesis grille, Unlike other applications of the Genesis grille, the application here has a bolder presence, which is mostly due to the larger real estate that is dedicated to it. This enhanced swagger is accentuated further by a second opening in the lower portion of the grille, which is reminiscent of recently Bentley offerings.

The grille is flanked by two tiered headlights that are made up of rows of separate LED strips. Below these stylish strips are two specially designed “air curtain inlets which flank the 23-inch wheels. The design of the inlets transitions into outlets behind the wheels, which are designed to help cool the hydrogen fuel cells. A pair of matching outlets also appears on the rear fascia.

Meanwhile the interior adopts a two tiered display with a large curved screen that serves as the infotainment and control hub. In addition, a second smaller cluster style display showcases vital driving information. The interior is a technological showcase, but our favorite feature has to be the trusses that Genesis designers used for the side pillars. These trusses are very stylish, and can also be viewed from inside and outside the vehicle.

With the high levels of luxury and technology that the GV80 possesses, we look forward to seeing what the production version will bring to buyers. While the hydrogen fuel cell power train will most likely not make the jump to production, look for the G90’s V6 engines to carryover to the GV80, as well as the eight speed transmission that helps regulate all that power.

Dodge Shakes Up Pony Car War With All-Wheel Drive Challenger GT

Dodge and its Challenger coupe have always held onto a firm third posistion in the muscle car wars, with the bulk of the attention focused on its rivals the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. However, Dodge aims to shakeup this established order, and has raised the stakes with the 2017 Challenger GT.

The highlight feature here is the all-wheel drive system that will be making its debut on the Challenger GT. No other muscle car has ever offered such an option, and its apperance here on the GT could be a gamechanger.

The system is borrowed from its platform mate the Charger, and can only be paired with the base Pentastar V6 engine. Speaking of the engine, it is good for a healthy 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque which is on par with its domestic rivals.

An eight speed automatic transmission is the sole choice avalible, and helps the GT achieve 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the freeway. Unlike its rear wheel drive sibling, Dodge will not be offering a manual or V8 engines on the Challenger GT presumably due to the limits of its all-wheel drive system.

The eight speed makes up for it by offering paddle shifters as well as a Sport mode to spice up the car’s shifting behavior. Seperate performance pages help drivers monitor vital information, and the exterior styling features a hood bulge, LED head and taillights, and a rear spoiler.

The interior of the Challenger GT retains much of the basic design and layout, but GT models can be equipped with a $995 interior package that adds Alcantara suede seats, Nappa leather accents, a nine speaker Alpine audio system, and a performance inspired steering wheel. This should please Challenger fans, and also help lure new customers into the Dodge brand.

The aggressive pricing strategy also highlights the bold plans Dodge has for this model with base Challenger GTs starting at $34,490. This pricing is fairly reasonable, and while its unlikely that it will topple the top ranked Mustang in sales, it could be in a prime posistion to steal second place away from Chevrolet in 2017, which would upend a pecking order that has been in place for over a decade.

Nikola Motors Teases Hydrogen – Electric Semi Truck

It’s not too often that we get the opprotunity to talk about semi trucks here at Autoinfoquest, but the folks at Nikola Motor Company have big things in store for their entry in the commercial truck segment, and have released a lone teaser image of its new rig ahead of its formal debut later this evening.

 

Dubbed the Nikola One, this new model is a class 8 semi that Nikola claims will be ready for production by 2020. While the lone image does not give an all round look of its styling, it does reveal the production front end which boasts plenty of LED lighting accents, as well as a slight resemblance to the Audi R8 when you ignore its big center mounted grille and focuse on its headlight assemblies.

The lighting also forms a calling card for the Nikola with a thin strip forming a sleek border that encircles the headlights as well as the lower front air intakes. Thankfully the front fascia largely resembles prior renderings that the company released, albeit with minor tweaks for the sake of feasability. The renderings also showcased its aerodynamically focused profile, though expect changes here too in its transistion from the drawing board to production big rig.

Either way, it should be a nice change of pace versus current gasoline offerings from rivals such as Mack and Peterbilt which favor brawny themes, and typically stay away from the more elegant suit of clothes wielded by the Nikola One.

The highlight feature however is its zero emissions powertrain. Potentially the first production semi truck to offer such an option, the Nikola One gets its energy from both electric batteries as well as a hydrogen fuel cell. The company did not release formal performance figures, but did reveal that the combination allows the truck to have a driving range between 800 to 1200 miles.

To help make fueling and upkeep more affordable, Nikola will have a 72 month lease program that goes between $5,000 and $7,000 and allows owners to fill up at a network of fueling stations which will be announced by Nikola this evening. Maintenance will be covered by Ryder, with the firm also providing sales and warranty services for Nikola.

The company claims that it already has secured $3 billion in pre-orders which is an impressive feat. However like Tesla and its upcoming Model 3 sedan, it will be interesting to see if Nikola will have enough production capacity to meet all this demand.

FCA Preparing New AWD Challenger Model

The Dodge Challenger has never been shy about broadcasting its intentions on being the best rear-wheel drive muscle car on the market especially in V8 spec. However, a new report has revealed that an all new all-wheel drive variant is in the works.

Dubbed the GT AWD, this model would be a production version of the GT AWD concept which debuted at SEMA last year and was built to be “a one of a kind year round muscle car.” The concept also featured wider body work, flared fenders, and staggered 20-inch black alloy wheels. While the production version will most likely have tamer styling, the production AWD would still look distinctive, and have improved off the line acceleration thanks to the fore-mentioned all-wheel drive system. According to Automotive News the GT AWD will make its official debut later this year which could mean that it will make its debut either in Los Angeles or at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The same report also claims that Dodge is working on a new Hellcat powered flagship model that would feature wide body work and is rumored to be dubbed the Challenger ADR. The ADR could possibly draw some of its inspiration from the past and serve as a loud and bold sendoff to the current generation Challenger, before the next generation model ditches its aged Mercedes derived platform in lieu of underpinnings based off of the Giorgio platform.

The new platform is derived from Alfa Romeo, and is designed to help the Challenger be much leaner than before with initial estimates claiming that the Challenger would lose 500 lbs of excess weight with the transition to the new platform. This weight loss would help the Challenger overcome a key weakness, and could allow the model to finally have the same levels of handling finesse as its two domestic rivals the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. It is unknown when the new Challenger will appear, but the report claims that it is expected to appear sometime in 2018.

 

Porsche Unveils the 2017 Macan Turbo With Performance Package

Porsche’s Macan lineup has certainly done a good job putting rivals on notice with its all turbocharged engine lineup and its sporty dynamics. But there is always room for more performance, and Porsche engineers have done just that with an all new Performance Package for the range topping Turbo model.

The package brings a number of upgrades to the model that aims to solidify its place as a benchmark offering. It all starts under the hood where the Macan’s twin-turbocharged V6 recieves a bump in performance with the engine now capable of producing 440 Macan Performance Package horsepower (a gain of 40) and 442 lb-ft of torque  (a bump of 36 lb-ft.) These revised figures allow the Macan to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds which is 0.2 seconds faster than the standard Turbo, and a higher top speed of 169 mph. The standard Macan Turbo was already the quickest offering in its segment, so look for this new package to further broaden the gap between it and rivals such as the Audi SQ5, BMW X3, and the Mercedes-AMG GLC43.

In addition to the engine upgrades, the package also features a lowered suspension, beefier brakes, and makes the normally optional Sport Chrono Package standard equipment. The list of optional extras also grows and includes 21-inch 911 inspired Macan Performance Package wheels, LED headlights, and blacked out accent trim. The interior largely carries over unchanged but benefits from Alcantara accents and splashes of carbon fiber trim.

The package is avalible to order and raises the MSRP to $87,495 which is roughly $10,000 more than the standard model. While the extra performance will be welcomed by many, it will be interesting to see if folks are willing to shell out that much money for a slight bump in driving fun.

Kia Reveals Revamped 2017 Rio Compact

The Kia Rio has always been a peculiar case in styling with older Rios being known more for their bland aesthetics and equally bland performance numbers. A redesign in 2012 helped bring much needed refinement and modern technology to the Rio but was chided for being cute-sy. Kia claims that it has resolved this dilemma with the 2017 Rio.

The exterior styling of the 2017 Kia Rio loudly broadcasts this, and will not be mistaken for being just another cute entry. The front fascia for example features slimmer headlights that ditch the bubble looking units for much needed aggression. Some of the gentle 4th generation kia rio_rear_mediumcurves have also been shelved in favor of more flat planes which helps further enhance its styling. As a bonus, the 2017 Rio is slightly longer, wider, and shorter than the old model. Kia claims that these new dimensions also influenced the styling with the Korean firm claiming that many of the changes highlight the extra width inside and out.

Kia also touched up the Rio’s interior and has added a much nicer blend of plastics and materials that aims to eliminate complaints about the Rio’s cheap plastics. The design is sound for the most part, but the infotainment system stands out as the lone oddball of the group. Kia claims that the unit was designed to achieve a “floating” effect with the unit 2017 Kia Rio Interiorextending up and over the dashboard a trick also used by the Honda Civic. The good news is that Kia chose to retain physical buttons and knobs for ease of use and ergonomics, the bad news is that the overall setup looks odd with some of the buttons actually extend up with the screen. This makes the system look like it was added as an afterthought and could cause initial confusion with its overall layout.

Kia did not reveal performance information or any other specifics on the car. But unlike the British spec version (pictured) look for the U.S. grade Rio to retain its all four cylinder engine lineup with slight gains in emissions and overall performance. Look for the 2017 Kia Rio to make its formal debut at the Paris Motor Show in September with the first units arriving in U.S. showrooms sometime next year.

New Report Reveals Roof Racks Blunt Efficiency Gains

With fuel efficiency and maximum aerodynamics becoming more of a priority these days. It’s easy to forget that in addition to the usual suspects, other efficiency robbing culprits also come into play behind the scenes.
One of these is the humble roof rack, a staple  accessory for many automobiles.

While roof racks have been around for virtually all of automotive history and look innocent, they actually play a key role in wasting gas. This is according to a new study that reveals that roof racks are responsible for nearly one percent of all fuel that is consumed by light duty vehicles in the U.S. That translates to roughly 100 million gallons of gasoline last year that was used solely for the purpose of moving roof racks through the air. This is mainly due to the high levels of drag that the rack generates, with certain configurations hurting fuel economy by as much as 25 percent.

These figures are surprisingly lofty, and they are about to get worse in the near future. Yuche Chen from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Alan Meier from the Berkley Lab revealed in their study (published in Energy Policy) that the use of roof racks is expected to jump by 200 percent before 2040. Their negative impact even hits green vehicles with roof racks (both loaded and unloaded) being responsible for fuel cell vehicles using six times the amount of energy that they are expected to save. Meanwhile EVs have to give up 40 percent of their gas savings to accommodate them.

So what can be done to help reduce their impact? Chen and Meier offered their thoughts on the subject stating “These results suggest that some fuel saving policies should focus on reducing the number of vehicles that are driving with empty roof racks.” While manufacturers can design more aerodynamic racks, requiring energy labels on roof racks could effect more change.

A good short term solution is to make them easier to remove and store when not in use (two obstacles that define current racks). While the pair admitted that having the government mandate rules on usage of empty roof racks would be “extreme,” they say that these rules (along with design changes) can help drivers save 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline between now and 2040.

In addition to these savings the EPA estimates that it would also help cleave almost 11.8 billion tons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere which is a lofty amount. But are these savings worth increased government intervention that would come as a result?

Buick Announces Envision U.S Pricing, Starts At $43k

Buick has formally unveiled U.S. pricing for the 2016 Buick Envision while also revealing that an entry level Envision is in the pipeline for budget oriented luxury buyers. This entry level variant will be a welcome addition, since early adopters will be forced to turn over $42,995 for a Premium I grade model which will be the lone model available at launch.

This high price point also makes the Envision much more expensive than its key rivals the BMW X3, Mercedes GLK, and the Acura RDX which start below $40,000.  According to Car and Driver, the base model will slash the cost of entry by $8,000 for a new MSRP of $34,990, but look for it to be equipped accordingly with a noticeably less decadent interior than its higher priced siblings. Performance for the base Envision will come from a naturally aspirated 2.5 liter engine which is good for 197 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. However it is a noticeable decline over the 252 horsepower 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder found in the uplevel Premium trim.

All wheel drive would also be available on select 2.5 liter packages. But they will not have the trick torque vectoring technology that is borrowed from the Cadillac XT5, and is exclusive to the turbo model. Look for this omission to generally not be noticed by buyers with the exception of the scant few who take their vehicles through more extreme weather conditions. The 2016 Buick Envision is expected to arrive in dealerships by the end of June with the 2017 model arriving four months later. When it does, the Envision will help fill a notable void in Buick’s crossover lineup, and give the brand a true contender in the mid-size CUV segment.

Honda Sheds New Light On Clarity Electric, Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

Honda has revealed new information regarding its upcoming Clarity EV and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid which will share the stage with the hydrogen fuel cell Clarity in select Honda showrooms when they make their respective appearances early next year.

Both the electric and plug in hybrid Clarity models will share the same basic platform as the fuel cell, and Honda was quick to point out that the Clarity is the only nameplate that offers buyers all three eco-friendly powertrain options. The PHEV variant  in particular promises to bring 40 miles of all electric driving range to buyers. This figure is noticeably higher than the Prius Plug-in’s 11 mile range, and the Fusion Energi’s 21 miles. However the Clarity falls short of the Chevrolet Volt and it’s 53 mile driving range.

Unlike the PHEV Clarity, Honda was less forthcoming with crucial details regarding the pure electric Clarity, but vaguely mentioned that it would be “the first affordable mid-size five passenger battery electric vehicle to offer premium content and features.” This statement also didn’t reveal whether it is targeting the Tesla Model 3 and it’s 200 miles driving range or other rivals such as the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf. However based on the Clarity’s size, its safe to assume that it will most likely have the Leaf and the Tesla in its crosshairs.

The Clarity FCV will be the first to arrive in dealer lots when it appears later this year, with the model focusing its attention on the California market. Honda plans to entice potential buyers with an “under $500 per month” payment plan to help the Clarity remain competitive against rivals in that state’s hotly contested green vehicle market. The EV and PHEV versions of the Clarity will arrive shortly after in 2017, with pricing for all three models being unveiled closer to their official launches.