26 Jan, 2017
Ford GT full specifications

Time flies. Ford unveiled its second generation GT supercar at Detroit auto show 2 years ago. Its race version won Le Mans GTE-Pro class last year. However, the production car is yet to be released. Yesterday, Ford finally revealed the full specifications of the production car:

Engine: its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 has a compression ratio of 9.0:1. Fuel injection incorporates both direct and port injection. Maximum output is 647 horsepower, the highest ever we have seen from a six-cylinder motor (Porsche 997 GT2 RS held the old record at 620 hp), so each cylinder is responsible for more than 100 hp! However, as you can see from the comparison table below, its horsepower count still trials McLaren 675LT and Ferrari 488GTB. Its maximum torque of 550 lbft @ 5900 rpm trails the Ferrari a little. Ford said 90 percent of the max. torque, or 495 lbft, is available from 3500 rpm, but hey, the Ferrari V8 delivers its full 560 lbft from 3000 rpm, and it keeps producing max horsepower until 8000 rpm, whereas the Ecoboost V6 tails off after 6250 rpm. In short, it is neither as flexible nor as revvy.

Transmission: the 7-speed twin-clutch unit comes from Getrag, the same as Ferrari's, but whether its software tuning matches Ferrari is yet to be seen.

Suspension: this is where the GT might excel, because it is closer to race specifications than its rivals. Both front and rear suspensions are double-wishbone type as usual, but they employ pushrods to operate the inboard coil springs and dampers in race car style. It also uses motorsport-derived DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers for the capability of fine tuning. The last Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 also used DSSV dampers, but on the GT, it is electronically instead of manually adjustable. It would be interesting to see how it alters the damping characteristics, and whether it could match the comfort of McLaren's hydraulic suspension. Besides, the GT's suspension is adjustable for 2 ride heights and spring rates so to satisfy both road and track use.

Chassis: as we already know, it is built around a carbon-fiber monocoque which is reinforced by a steel rollcage. The front and rear subframes are made of aluminum. The outer shell is mostly carbon-fiber and composites. Assembly is responsible by Canadian engineering firm Multimatic, which is also the maker of its DSSV dampers.

Weight and size: disappointingly, Ford quotes the dry weight at 1385 kg, 15 kg more than even the road-oriented 488GTB which has a much roomier cockpit and not much carbon-fiber in construction. The similarly constructed McLaren 675LT is 155 kg lighter. Admittedly, the Ford is longer and wider than its rivals, but it is also significantly lower at only 1110 mm.

Tires: as expected, it employs the track-oriented Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubbers. The rear ones are 20mm wider than both Ferrari and McLaren's, so roadholding is guaranteed.

Brakes: Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, of course. Up front, 6-piston calipers serve 394mm discs. At the rear, 4-piston calipers clamp 360mm discs.

Aerodynamics: it employs active aerodynamic aids. The adjustable front splitter alters the airflow going through the underbody ground effect channels. The hydraulic-actuated rear wing rises and tilts at downforce mode. For top-speed run, the rear wing and suspension are lowered, reducing drag coefficient to 0.35.

Performance: Ford quotes only a top speed of 216 mph, which easily outclasses 488GTB and 675LT. However, I doubt if it can match its rivals for acceleration considering its slightly inferior power-to-weight ratio. Ford claims it lapped Calabogie race track in Canada (near Multimatic, obviously) at 2:09.8, one second quicker than McLaren 675LT. It should, because it is designed as a race car in the first hand.

Price: this is the most worrying. Priced at US$425,000, the GT is way more expensive than its rivals. However, it will be rarer. Ford plans to build one car per day until 2020, so the total production should be just over 1000 cars. There should be sufficient wealthy American patriots to snap up the production. If not, ask Donald Trump to tax imports heavily.


Length / width / height
Other engine features

Suspension features


Top speed
0-60 mph
0-124 mph
Price (US)
Ford GT
Mid-engined, RWD
CF monocoque, steel rollcage, Al subframes
Mainly CF
4765 / 2005 / 1110 mm
2710 mm
V6, 60-degree
3497 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
647 hp / 6250 rpm
550 lbft / 5900 rpm
Getrag 7-spd DCT
All: double-wishbones, pushrod
DSSV elect. adjustable dampers, 2-position ride height/spring rate
Michelin PS Cup 2
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 325/30ZR20
1385 kg dry
216 mph (c)
Mid-engined, RWD
CF tub, Al subframes

Carbon-fiber, aluminum
4546 / 1908 / 1188 mm
2670 mm
V8, 90-degree
3799 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
675 hp / 7100 rpm
516 lbft / 5500-6500 rpm
Graziano 7-spd DCT
All: double-wishbones

Hydraulic interconnected
adaptive dampers

Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R
F: 235/35ZR19
R: 305/30ZR20
1230 kg dry
205 mph (c)
2.8 (c)
7.9 (c)
488 GTB
Mid-engined, RWD
Al spaceframe

Mainly aluminum
4568 / 1952 / 1213 mm
2650 mm
V8, 90-degree
3902 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
670 hp / 6200-8000 rpm
560 lbft / 3000 rpm
Getrag 7-spd DCT
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Magnetorheological adaptive dampers

Michelin PSS
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 305/30ZR20
1370 kg dry
205 mph (c)
2.9 (c)
8.3 (c)

26 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Toyota 1.5 ESTEC engine

Against the trend of engine downsizing, Toyota is introducing a 1.5-liter engine to replace the 1.33-liter unit on its European Yaris. The new engine comes from the new ESTEC family which emphasizes efficiency. Its fuel consumption is 12 percent lower than the 1.33 engine. How is this achievable? The answer is using Atkinson cycle. Its intake variable cam phasing is implemented electrically (VVT-iE) so that it can delay the intake valve closure in a fraction of a second, hence switching from Otto cycle to Atkinson cycle. Under higher loads, the engine reverts to Otto cycle to deliver maximum power, which is 111 hp (DIN) and 100 lbft, equalling to the existing 1.5 VVT-i engine. Its 13.5:1 compression ratio could lead to knock, so Toyota added water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation to rectify the problem. Overall, the new engine achieves a thermal efficiency of 38.5 percent, a bit lower than the 40 percent benchmark of the 1.8-liter unit on Prius. Compared with the outgoing 1.33-liter, it not only saves fuel but also improves the Yaris' 0-60 mph acceleration by 0.8 seconds.

20 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Paolo Stanzani died

If you follow AutoZine closely, you should know Paolo Stanzani very well. The Italian engineer defined the Lamborghini as we know today. Born in 1936, Stanzani was graduated from Bologna University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He joined Lamborghini shortly afterwards and quickly became the right-hand man of engineering chief Giampaolo Dallara. Together with designer Marcello Gandini and test driver Bob Wallace they built the definitive supercar, Miura. When Dallara left in 1967, Stanzani took over his post and created a string of fancy machines, Espada, Islero, Jarama, Miura S / SV, Urraco and ultimately Countach. Following the departure of Ferruccio Lamborghini, he also left Sant'Agata in 1974.

The three creators of Miura united last year to celebrate its 50th anniversary

However, that was not the end of his automotive journey. In 1987, Italian tycoon Romano Artioli bought the rights of Bugatti and hired Stanzani to design a new 4-wheel-drive supercar. That was EB110. It is fair to say nobody has engineered more supercars than him, and nobody had a bigger impact to the supercar world, too.

Stanzani passed away on Jan 18th, 2017 at the age of 80. Car enthusiasts will remember him forever.

19 Jan, 2017
Holden Commodore Motorsport edition

Production of Holden Commodore as well as its Australian plant will terminate on October 20th this year. Before that happens, Holden is introducing one last special edition to clear the stocks of components. The Commodore Motorsport edition is said to be based on the existing SS-V Red Line, but I would say it is closer to the export version Chevrolet SS, because it shares the latter's 415 hp LS3 6.2 V8, Magnetic Ride Control suspension as well as bucket seats. To enhance track worthiness, it gets 20-inch forged alloy wheels, Brembo compound disc brakes, stiffer rear subframe bushings, engine and transmission oil coolers, not to mention the extra aero kits and body decals. A total of 1800 cars will be built, including its premium version Commodore Director and pickup version Commodore Magnum Ute.

18 Jan, 2017
Ford Mustang also gets facelift

American cars are no longer updated every model year, but still they get revisions more frequently than others. Ford Mustang gets its first facelift after just over 2 years. As you can see, the new car's front end looks noticeably sleeker than before, more like GT350, thanks to a curvier bonnet, redesigned grille and front bumper. The headlamps are now full LED as standard. Changes to the rear are far more subtle. You might not spot the differences if not seeing the V8 GT has switched from dual to quad-exhaust pipes.

As for mechanical changes, the new car has dropped the 3.7-liter V6 but improved both the 2.3-liter Ecoboost four and 5.0-liter V8. The former gets overboost function to enable more torque, while the V8 finally has its port injection upgraded to dual-mode (direct + port) injection. This enables its compression ratio to be raised from 11.0:1 to 12.0:1, guaranteeing a higher redline as well as increased power and torque. However, Ford has not released any figures for both engines yet. The V8 also gets an optional variable exhaust whose Sport mode opens a valve to enhance exhaust note. The 6-speed automatic transmission of the old car has been upgraded to the Ford-GM 10-speed auto which has made debut on Chevy Camaro ZL1. It should improve fuel economy, smoothness and performance. The Tremec 6-speed manual remains, but in the case of V8 it is now mated with a new dual-mass flywheel and twin-plate clutch.

In the chassis, the new car gets optional magnetorheological adaptive dampers from the GT350 to improve ride quality. Suspensions are also retuned with new dampers, anti-roll bars and bushings.

Inside, the biggest change to the cabin is the new 12-inch digital instrument (optional). Its switchable configuration includes a track mode with lap timer. Other changes are rather subtle, including new seat materials, softer upper door panels, leather wrapped center console and soft padding on transmission tunnel. All are made in response to criticisms.

17 Jan, 2017
AutoZine facelift

4 and a half years since the last major revision, AutoZine has been given a mild facelift to improve its readability on both desktop and mobile devices. The home page and new car reports should fit better to screen width now, and the main text should appear larger than before on mobile phones. The page design is still very old-school, but given the limited time available to me, I would rather spend time on writting.

Wish for this year: entering the 20th Anniversary (yes, incredible), my target is to continue the update of Technical School, although it is unlikely to finish this year. Thankfully (or sadly), car manufacturers are introducing fewer cars now and turning resources to crossovers and SUVs, so I will have fewer new cars to write about, and more time can be spent elsewhere.

17 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Renault 2016 sales result

Renault group sold 3,182,625 cars last year, an impressive 13.3 percent up on 2015. Sales by brand:

Renault: 2,487,309 units (+14.2%)
Dacia: 584,219 units (+6.0%)
Renault Samsung: 111,097 units (+38.8%)

Caterham 2016 sales result

Caterham reported the best sales result since 1996 with more than 600 cars sold. 55 percent of them were bought by UK customers.

11 Jan, 2017
Jaguar F-Type facelift and 400 Sport

4 years after its launch, Jaguar F-Type has received its first facelift. The 2 vertical intakes at each side of its front bumper have been replaced with one larger and rounder intake, whose shape varies across models. The headlights are converted to full-LED. Inside, the cabin gets a pair of new, lighter seats with better lateral support and larger range of adjustment, and an overhauled infotainment system. There are no changes to the mechanical side, but given the self-destruction of Porsche 718, the Jaguar has little to be worried about.

If that's not enough, then you may opt for the new special edition 400 Sport. As indicated by its name, its supercharged V6 is tuned to produce a full 400 horsepower instead of the existing car's 380 hp. The car also gets standard LSD, 20-inch wheels and larger brakes.

11 Jan, 2017
Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept

Nissan Vmotion 2.0 is an interesting concept. Ignore the glasshouse which is unrealistic for production, most design elements could be applied to the upcoming production cars of Nissan and Infiniti. It promises a brighter future for the brands, and could be a bad news to Volkswagen group.

11 Jan, 2017
Detroit show short comment

What a disappointing Detroit show! This is probably the least attractive Detroit auto show since AutoZine started reporting almost 20 years ago. For the first time ever, GM, Ford and FCA concentrated on trucks and forgot to bring any new cars to the show, not a single one! European manufacturers are slightly keener, but Mercedes-AMG GT C is just the coupe version of the Roadster we already know, while Porsche 911 GTS is hardly big news. That leaves the limelight to fall on Toyota. Both its Camry and Lexus LS are radically styled and catch a lot of attention. However, best of the show is undoubtedly Kia Stinger, which is well engineered to take on the German sports sedans, and has a beauty that most European rivals struggle to match. It will be a big boost to the image of Kia.

As for concept cars, this Detroit show is also disappointing. Volkswagen shows the I.D. Buzz concept which is no more than a modernized Microbus (what's so innovative?). Nissan Vmotion 2.0 is the only concept worth a place at this column, though a large part of its beauty comes from the unrealistic fast-angle and flush glasshouse. Again, car makers put most of their money on SUVs and crossovers.

11 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Volkswagen group 2016 sales result

Volkswagen group sold 10,312,400 cars last year, up 3.8 percent on 2015. That is very likely to put it ahead of Toyota, which forecasted to finish the year at 10.09 million cars last month.

Breakdown of the sales figures:

Volkswagen: 5,987,800 units (+2.8%)
Audi: 1,871,300 units (+3.8%)
Skoda: 1,127,700 units (+6.8%)
Seat: 410,200 units (+2.6%)
Porsche: 237,800 units (+5.6%)
VW commercial: 480,100 units (+11.4%)
MAN: 102,200 units (-0.2%)
Scania: 80,800 units (+5.5%)

10 Jan, 2017
Toyota Camry

Under the leadership of Akio Toyoda, Toyota group has shifted its design strategy towards the radical side in recent years. New cars like Prius, Mirai, Aygo, C-HR, Lexus IS, NX, RX, RC and LC are all deemed to be the most radically styled cars in their respective classes, washing away the conservative image traditionally associated with the group. This radical theme now extends to its best selling family car, Camry.

With a total sales number of 389,000 units, the Camry was still the best selling car in the USA last year. However, that number represented a 9.5 percent decline, so the new generation comes at the right time. Like the new Lexus LS we saw yesterday, the new Camry is made much lower, sleeker and sportier. Its nose is slimmer, its back faster and its roof is lowered by 30mm to 1440mm. The car gets 20mm wider at 1840mm and 10mm longer at 4860mm. The bonnet is set as much as 40mm lower than the old car's. The design details are also sharper and more aggressive, especially the big and wide whale mouth. Again the sport models (SE and XSE) employ different front end design, extra aero kits and larger, 19-inch wheels shod with wider tires. Will average American families prefer it? We have to see, but we definitely do.

The new car is benefited from the TNGA platform of new Prius. It is not only lighter but most importantly has the rear struts replaced with double-wishbone suspensions in a bid to improve handling and ride. The body is strengthened by 30 percent which helps refinement, while center of gravity is lowered to enhance handling. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 50mm to 2825mm to match the new class norm and release a bit more interior space. Fears about the lower roof can be relieved by knowing that the seats are also lowered, by 25mm and 30mm front and rear respectively, so headroom should be unaltered.

There are fewer surprises under the bonnet, but nonetheless everything is improved. Again the engine range consists of a 3.5-liter V6, 2.5-liter long-stroke four-pot and the Hybrid model combines that four-port with CVT and electric motors. Both engines finally get direct injection to enhance power and fuel efficiency, among them the V6 even employs the D-4S dual injection which reverts to port injection at higher load. No output figures have been released, but insiders said about 10 percent of improvement. The 4-cylinder, now called "Dynamic Force", gains also VVT-iE electric variable valve timing and higher compression ratio. I guess it runs at Atkinson cycle, because its thermal efficiency is claimed to be 40 percent, equals to the 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine of Prius. The outgoing 6-speed automatic transmission has been upgraded to an 8-speeder to aid fuel economy further.

Inside, the dashboard design is certainly more interesting than the bland one on the old car. As expected, it is served with updated infotainment system with larger touchscreen.

10 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Lamborghini 2016 sales result

Last year was another record year to Lamborghini. It sold 3457 cars - 2353 Huracans and 1104 Aventadors. That was 212 cars up from a year ago, not bad considering McLaren was chasing hard.

9 Jan, 2017
Lexus LS500

Tesla Model S is so successful that it outsells all other conventional F-segment luxury cars in USA, including Mercedes S-class. No wonder the new generation Lexus LS500 has its exterior styling inspired heavily by the Tesla. Its low and sleek bonnet, low shoulder line, fastback-style roof line and especially the shape of the rear quarter window and C-pillar have strong resemblance to the Tesla, more so than the LC coupe which is supposed to share a lot of genes. However, to realize this coupe-like appearance Lexus needs to work hard on the mechanical aspect. The new GA-L (global architecture-luxury) platform, shared with LC, not only employs lots of high-strength steel and aluminum parts (mostly in the sheet metal) but it also emphasizes on low placement of engine and compact suspensions. This enables the bonnet to be lowered by 30mm compared with the old car, and the front fenders can be set remarkably close to the wheel arches and 20-inch wheels. At the back, the boot lid is lowered by 40mm to help the sleek profile. As a result, the new LS looks sportier and lighter than any F-segment limousines we have seen - well, with the exception of Aston Martin Rapide and Lagonda, of course.

The new car is 5235mm long (25mm longer than the LWB old car), 1900mm wide (+25mm), 1450mm tall (-30mm) and runs a 3125mm wheelbase (+35mm). To relieve rear headroom, the sunroof does not run the full length of the roof. Behind the sunroof the roof is sculpted to free up a little more headroom, although the sense of airiness is inevitably hampered. By using lighter materials, the monocoque body is said to be more than 90kg lighter than the old ones, although it would be difficult to slip under the 2 tons mark. Like LC coupe, the suspensions are multi-link setup all around. Air suspension is optional on the luxury flagship though.

As suggested by its name, the LS500 is powered by the same high-revving, loud-barking 5-liter V8 of LC500... No, just kidding! Lexus has learned the bad habit of German rivals to fool you with the numbers. The LS500 is actually powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 which produces comparable power to a 5-liter V8, i.e. 415 horsepower and 442 pound-foot of torque. That's less than the turbocharged V8s of Mercedes S500/S550 and BMW 750i, but more than their six-cylinder models, including Mercedes' forthcoming electric-charger straight-six with 408 hp, but then the Lexus V6 is half a liter larger. Sadly, Lexus said it has no plan for a more powerful V8, a decision in common with Cadillac CT6. Although the LS500 is good for 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, matching its V8 rivals, it will lose out on image. The V6 mates with the Aisin 10-speed automatic which has debuted on LC500.

The car's interior design is radical and artistically sculpted. It combines an LFA-style instrument with a flowing dashboard and 12.3-inch recessed TFT screen.

9 Jan, 2017
AMG GT updated

The AMG GT range has received a refresh. Outside, the key difference is the use of the angrier "Panamericana" grille with vertical elements, which has been introduced on the GT C Roadster recently. It is supplemented with active grille shutter.

Both the base AMG GT and GT S have their engines uprated. The former now produces 476 hp and 465 lbft, up 14 hp and 23 lbft to match exactly the Roadster version. The GT S' output is lifted by 12 hp and 15 lbft to 522 hp and 494 lbft.

Meanwhile, the coupe now also gets the GT C model, which shares the 557 hp / 516 lbft tune with the GT C Roadster. Mind you, both cars have wider rear fenders to accommodate larger rear tires and wider track. Moreover, they are added with active rear-wheel steering to improve handling.

9 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

NACOTY: Chevy Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt has beaten Hyundai Genesis G90 and Volvo S90 to win North American Car of the Year title. BTW, truck of the year goes to Honda Ridgeline and the new award utility of the year is won by Chrysler Pacifica MPV.

JLR 2016 sales result

Jaguar Land Rover has set new sales record again last year. It sold 583,313 units, up 20 percent year on year. Jaguar contributed to the larger portion of the growth, which increased 77 percent to a record 148,730 units, thanks mostly to the F-Pace (45,973 units), XE and new XF. Land Rover sales grew 8 percent to 434,583 units. Its best seller was the new Land Rover Discovery Sport with 122,460 units sold.

Rolls-Royce 2016 sales result

Rolls-Royce sales rebounded to 4011 cars last year, up from 3785 cars a year ago but still trails the 2014 result by 52 units.

Volkswagen brand 2016 sales result

Hit by dieselgate scandal, last year was very difficult to Volkswagen group especially its core Volkswagen brand. Still, the brand managed to sell 2.8 percent more cars during the year, with a total of 5,823,400 units. However, the growth was mainly driven by a 14 percent increase in China, which accounted for as much as 45 percent of all its unit sales. Most other markets, including North America and Europe saw decline of sales.

9 Jan, 2017
Kia Stinger 4-door coupe

Mercedes has CLA and CLS, BMW has 4-Series and 6-Series Gran Coupe, Audi has A5 Sportback and A7. Until now, 4-door coupes seem to be the playful idea of German luxury car makers. This is no longer true, because Kia is launching its first 4-door coupe, Stinger.

The Stinger takes a very long time to realize. Back in 2011 Frankfurt motor show, Kia already previewed the GT concept which was very close to the Stinger in shape and layout (it even had the same 3.3 V6 turbo engine!). In 2014 Detroit motor show, it showed another concept called GT4 Stinger, but it had little in common with the production car bearing the same name. The luxury 4-door coupe had long been a pet project of group design chief Peter Schreyer, and he apparently got the support of the management. To realize the car with proper performance and handling, Hyundai group even hunted BMW M division engineering chief Albert Biermann, and tested the car extensively at Nurburgring.

The Stinger is built on a new rear-drive platform to be shared with Hyundai's Genesis G70 (which is to rival BMW 3-Series etc.). The car targets at BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and Audi S5 Sportback, but it is considerably larger, measuring 4830mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1400mm in height, with a wheelbase of 2905mm. 55 percent of its body is made of high-strenght steel to guarantee high rigidity, but sources said it won't be lightweight, with the V6 model tipping the scale at over 1900 kg! The heft might imply that the platform is adapted from that of the larger Genesis G80 and G90, although it has the multi-link front suspension replaced with simpler MacPherson struts like BMW. The rear axle is suspended on 5-link setup. Fitted as standard are adaptive dampers and, for the first time on Kia, selectable driving modes. Like Genesis cars, 4-wheel-drive system is optional.

There are 2 engines for selection and both are taken from the parts pool. The base engine is a 2-liter GDI turbo four, producing an estimated 255 hp and 260 lbft, which is good enough to match BMW 430i or Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TFSI, if not Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti (280hp). However, the extra weight means you had better to opt for the 3.3-liter GDI twin-turbo V6, which comes from Genesis G90 and produces 370 hp and 376 lbft of torque. Coupling to Hyundai's own 8-speed automatic transmission (as does the four-pot engine), the V6 car is good for 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It might struggle to match BMW 440i or Audi S5 Sportback, but at least its top speed is unrestricted at 167 mph.

To cope with its mass, the V6 model employs stronger Brembo brakes consisting of 350mm vented discs and 4-piston calipers up front, and 340mm vented discs and 2-pot calipers at the rear. Its 19-inch wheels wear 225/40 and 255/35 tires front and rear.

The most promising thing about the Stinger is not its performance or chassis, but the styling. At the first glance it looks as if a polished Kia K5 (Optima), but in fact its proportion is very different because of the FR platform. Its bonnet is long, cabin is set rearward, and the shoulder is more pronounced. The glasshouse more tappered and the overall shape is a lot sleeker. Highlight is the triangular C-pillar, which is not complicated with rear quarter window as the latter is moved to the door. Up front, the mesh version of Tiger-nose grille gives it enough character to stop the criticisms saying it copied BMW's double-kidney grille. Overall, the exterior design is more attractive than either 4-Series Gran Coupe or A5 Sportback.

The interior looks good, too. Its center console is oriented towards the driver in BMW-style. The triple circular air vents and high transmission tunnel promote the sporty theme. Build quality looks high.

It will be interesting to see how the Kia goes against its German rivals on the road. Its extra size and weight might put it in disadvantage, but the more space and tasteful design might win back some points. Running similar philosophies, Lexus and Infiniti should be worried.

9 Jan, 2017
911 Carrera GTS

With the easy tuning nature of turbocharged engines, the development of 911 GTS cannot be easier! This is also why the new GTS arrives so early - just one year after the 991.2 Carrera and Carrera S, rather than at the final year of its model lifecycle. It makes the 911 family ever more crowded. Compared with Carrera S, its 3.6-liter twin-turbo flat-six is boosted by 30 horsepower to 450 hp, while max. torque is lifted by 37 lbft to 406 lbft, released at a higher rev range between 2150 and 5500 rpm. As a result, top speed is lifted by 3 mph to 194 mph and 0-60 mph is cut by two-tenths to 3.5 seconds for the fastest version equipped with PDK and Sport Chrono.

As before, the GTS employs the wider body of Carrera 4 to enhance roadholding. PASM is fitted standard. Cosmetic changes are limited. The front bumper intake design is remarkably close to the last GTS. At the rear, the taillights have been altered a little, while a black stripe is added between the taillights. This stripe is replaced by a light stripe on 4-wheel-drive version.

6 Jan, 2017
Bentley Continental Supersports

Remember the first Bentley Continental Supersports? Introduced in 2009, it was not only the most powerful, the fastest but also the most exciting model of the Continental GT range. Now the nameplate returns. Its W12 engine has received larger turbochargers and uprated intercoolers to boost output to 710 hp and 750 lbft. That's 80 hp and 160 lbft more than the old car! It is also significantly more powerful than any other current Continental models. For your reference:

V8 models:
Continental GT V8 S: 528 hp / 502 lbft
Continental GT3-R: 580 hp / 516 lbft

W12 models:
Continental GT: 575 hp / 516 lbft
Continental GT Speed: 625 hp / 590 lbft
Continental Supersports: 710 hp / 750 lbft

To cope with the increased output, the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission gets a strengthened torque converter, and the engine gets stronger main and conrod bearings. With a top speed of 209 mph, the Supersports edges out Ferrari GTC4 Lusso (208 mph) to be the world's fastest luxury 4-seater, although its rear seats are not suitable for adults, unlike the case of Ferrari. In terms of 0-60 mph, the result is reversed. While the Bentley is already very quick at 3.4 seconds, the Ferrari is a tenth quicker. The next fastest accelerating Bentley, the limited edition Continental GT3-R, took 3.6 seconds.

Bentley said the SS is the lightest model in the Continental range. Well, at 2290 kg, it might be slightly lighter but not going to be described as light. While the old SS went as far as ditching the rear seats and using carbon-fiber-shell front seats, the new SS did neither. It doesn't want to sacrifice any luxury, so weight saving is limited to the standard fitment of carbon-ceramic brakes, light alloy wheels and carbon aero kits. The big rear spoiler you see in these pictures are optional, which may drag down its top speed and lose the "fastest luxury 4-seater" title. The new front bumper and front splitter, however, is good enough to distinguish the new Supersports from lesser models. Another feature is the pair of bonnet vents.

The lower and stiffer suspension tuning seems to be benefited by the GT3-R program, as is the brake-actuated torque vectoring. The 4-wheel-drive system is left unchanged with its 40:60 torque bias fault. Since it uses Torsen C center differential, there is little adjustability. The 21-inch forged alloy wheels and large ceramic brakes are also carried over from the GT3-R.

With heavier engine, I don't think the Supersports could rival GT3-R for pure driving thrills. However, its extra power and speed in combination of luxury interior is still a good selling point. Moreover, in this class, buyers do care if they are buying the range topper. The SS starts at £213,000 for the coupe and £234,000 for the GTC convertible, more than Ferrari 488 GTB / Spider and matches GTC4 Lusso. In this crazy world, the more expensive the more it is sought after.

6 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

McLaren sales result 2016

Last year was a very successful year to McLaren, as it doubled its sales to 3286 cars, which should be very close to Aston Martin and Lamborghini, if not Ferrari. The increase is driven by the cheaper Sports series (570S / 570GT / 540C), which amounts to 2031 cars, while the Super series (650S / Spider / 675LT) sold 1255 units.

No more Mercedes-based Infiniti

Currently, Nissan is using Mercedes MFA platform (A-class / B-class / GLA-class) for building its Infiniti Q30 and QX30 hatchbacks. Originally it planned to use the next generation MFA platform, due next year, for the basis of a Q40 sedan and the next generation Q30/QX30. Now it has cancelled the plan due to cost concern. It is known that Nissan found the projected prices and volume of its cars do not justify the costs it will bear in the joint venture. This implies that, while Infiniti has increased its sales last year by 7 percent, its business model is not as optimistic. Now Mercedes has to go alone in the project. In particular, the new Mexican factory originally planned to build the small cars of both firms will have problem to reach economy of scale.

5 Jan, 2017
Faraday Future FF 91: does it have a future?

Faraday Future FF 91 is an electric crossover like Tesla Model X, but it is even larger, faster, more advanced and more luxurious - if it could be realized. The car is huge, measuring 5.25m in length, 2.28m in width, 1.59m in height, and its maker does not talk about its weight (maybe close to 3 tons?). Its specifications are spectacular: 4 electric motors with a combined output of 1050 horsepower and 1327 lbft of torque, 0-60 mph sprint in 2.39 seconds (faster than Tesla Model S P100D!) and a range of 700 km (435 miles) on a single charge from its huge, 130 kWh battery. All these are peerless.

The car is also as futuristic as its name suggested. You open the doors not by keys or keyless fob, but the car's camera recognizes you by face detection and opens the doors automatically. The car will even drive and park itself, using an expensive 3D Lidar (laser radar), 13 radars, 10 cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to read the road.

Unfortunately, everything is doubtful. Faraday Future is a new California-based company founded by Chinese IT products / Entertainment company LeEco. LeEco has been expanding rapidly in the last couple of years, stretching its arms to TV networks, music business and electric cars (through Faraday Future and LeSEE). As China's economy is cooling down and capital supply is getting tight, LeEco is being troubled by heavy debts. Last month, its TV company in Hong Kong had to cut a significant portion of its staffs. Meanwhile, construction of the Faraday Future factory in Nevada stopped as it failed to pay the bills of construction company. Knowing this background, you may understand why the company rushed to unveil the FF 91 even though the prototype does not work properly - embarrassingly, it failed to park itself on the stage in its world debut. Now it starts taking a deposit of US$5000, hoping this can generate cashflow to save the game. But how much will the final car cost? When will it be ready for delivery? The firm declines to say. Yes, the deposit is said to be refundable, but what if the company goes into bankruptcy overnight?

5 Jan, 2017
New Kia Picanto / Morning

Kia has unveiled the new generation Picanto, or what they call Morning back in South Korea. The A-segment city car keeps its body shape unchanged but it gains a more aggressive nose and mouth, a kick at the lower edge of rear side window and a change to C-shape taillights. In these photos, it also features unusually sporty 195/45 tires and 16-inch alloy wheels, so it is obvious that Kia wants to inject a sportier image.

The new car keeps the 3595mm length, 1595mm width and 1485mm height unchanged, but wheelbase gains 15mm to 2400mm, which should make its already remarkable cabin space even more competitive. The new body is made of 44.3 percent of high-strength steel, up from 22 percent of the old car. Moreover, it uses a lot of structural adhesives to enhance rigidity, improve NVH suppression and crash safety. Speaking of safety, the addition of brake-actuated torque vectoring should help.

The powertrain is unchanged. It is still that 1.0-liter Kappa 3-cylinder mating with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. In Korea, the engine is rated at 76 hp and 70 lbft. When it is exported to Europe, expect its output will drop to 66 hp as in the case of sister car Hyundai i10, but a 87 hp 1.25-liter four-cylinder may be added. Despite the sporty look, it is by no means a hot hatch.

The interior is completely redesigned such that it has no clues to the old car's. It looks more funky yet more functional, with a touchscreen topping the center console.

5 Jan, 2017
Industrial News

Infiniti sales result 2016

Infiniti brand sold 230,000 vehicles globally last year, up 7 percent from a year ago. However, it still trails the big players Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus by a long way (even Porsche is selling more cars now). USA is still by far its largest market with 138,000 units sold. China came second with 42,000 units.

Tesla sales result 2016

Tesla delivered 76,230 cars last year, short of the forecast of 80,000 units, again due to production delay.

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