|18 Jun, 2019
718 Cayman GT4 / Boxster Spyder
The hardcore versions of Porsche 718, i.e. Cayman GT4 and Boxster
Spyder, have been unveiled. Thankfully, Porsche does not give it a
4-cylinder turbo engine like the rest of the range, but keeps a
high-revving naturally aspirated flat-six, whose displacement has
increased from the previous 3.8 to 4.0 liters. It is not developed from
the motorsport-inspired unit of 911 GT3, unlike earlier rumors, but
derived from the 9A2 Evo unit of the latest 911. It is served with
high-pressure piezo fuel injection (which allows up to 5 injections in
each combustion cycle) and particulate filters for cleaner emission,
cylinder deactivation system (which shuts down one of the cylinder
banks at lighter loads) for lower fuel consumption and a resonance-type
manifold for broader spread of torque. Stripped of turbochargers, it is
capable to rev to 8000 rpm. Peak horsepower of 420 hp, up from 385hp /
375hp of the last generation, is produced at 7600 rpm. Strangely,
maximum torque remains unchanged at 310 lbft, and it is not available
until 5000-6800 rpm.
Porsche equips both cars exclusively with a 6-speed manual gearbox to
optimize driving fun. As a result, acceleration is not the strongest
point. Both cars take 4.2 seconds to go from 0-60 mph and 9.0 seconds
to reach 100mph. The exising GTS PDK is a little quicker, with 0-60 and
0-100 done in 3.9 and 9.0 seconds, respectively. On the plus side, both
cars break 300km/h at top speed. More important, Porsche claims they
can lap Nurburgring more than 10 seconds faster than their predecessors.
Changes to the chassis are quite extensive. The suspension gets stiffer
and a massive 30mm lower, along with some suspension links from the
GT3, including rigid ball joints. The 380mm steel brakes also come from
the GT3, although you might opt for ceramics. The front and rear wheels
are shod with 245/35ZR20 and 295/30ZR20 Michelin PS Cup 2 rubbers.
Meanwhile, the aerodynamics are enhanced. The GT4 gains 50 percent more
downforce, thanks in part to the big rear spoiler and a functional
diffuser. The Spyder keeps a cleaner rear end, but it gains a
retractable spoiler to achieve positive downforce.
In the UK, the GT4 is priced at £75,000, a good £10K
more than the old car. Spyder is a couple of grand cheaper. Both are
significantly more expensive than the Alpine A110S mentioned below.
|18 Jun, 2019
Renault Zoe, the company's best selling EV since its birth in 2013,
gets an update. It is not exactly a new generation, as you can see the
exterior is barely facelifted, but the interior is completely revamped
and the electric powertrain gets suitable upgrades. The battery
capacity grows from 41 to 52kWh, allowing the driving range to be
extended from 186 miles (300km) to 242 miles (390km) on the new WLTP
standard. It is now possible to use 50kW quick charger, too. While the
existing 109hp motor remains, there is a higher performance option
offering 136hp and 181lbft, cutting 0-62mph to less than 10 seconds and
lifting top speed a little to 87mph.
|14 Jun, 2019
Renault introduces a faster version of Alpine, the A110S. The car might
look almost the same as the standard car, but it gets a variety of
mechanical upgrades. The same 1.8 turbo engine has its boost pressure
lifted by 0.4 bar, producing an extra 40 horsepower. This means a total
of 292 hp, released at 6400 rpm instead of the previous 6000 rpm.
Limited by the 7-speed DCT, its peak torque remains unchanged at 236
lbft, but it is now available from 2000-6400 rpm instead of the
previous 2000-5000 rpm. The car now tops 162 mph (instead of 155 mph)
while 0-60 mph is shortened by a tenth to 4.2 seconds.
Compared with the premier edition, its kerb weight has risen by only
11kg to 1114kg, which is still very light. The suspensions get 50%
stiffer springs, retuned dampers, 100% stiffer hollow anti-roll bars,
stiffer bump stops, while ride height is dropped by 4mm. The result is
tighter body control, sharper steering and better high-speed stability.
Meanwhile, wider bespoke Michelin PS4 tires (215/40R18 and 245/40R18)
The only downside is price. In UK, the A110S is sold at £59K,
compared with £47K for the base car or £51K for the premier
edition. This make it more expensive than Porsche 718 Cayman S, which
starts at £52K.
|12 Jun, 2019
This is the third generation Bentley Flying Spur. Unlike it two
predecessors, it is now built on the Porsche-developed MSB platform,
which is also shared with the current Continental GT. The MSB ditches
the Audi Quattro system for the rear-biased 4WD system of Porsche
Panamera. It is normally rear-driven, but in case of need an
electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch will engage the front axle. This
new layout allows the engine to be positioned in the center of the
engine compartment instead of at the front overhang, improving weight
distribution hence handling a lot. As a result, the front axle is
pushed forward, lengthening the wheelbase by 130mm.
Like Continental GT, the chassis of Flying Spur is made of a mixture of
high-strength steel, aluminum castings and extrusions. Outside, the
body panels are aluminum - some of which are superformed to deliver the
complex shapes required.
The launch engine is the 6-liter twin-turbo W12 of Continental GT. It
features cylinder deactivation as well. Max. output is the same 635hp
and 664lbft, with the latter available from 1350-4500 rpm. Its shares
the 8-speed twin-clutch gearbox with its sibling as well as Porsche
Panamera. Despite the estimated weight of 2.4 tons, the car is very
quick, taking only 3.7 seconds to go from 0-60 and topping 207mph.
Later on, twin-turbo V8 will be offered as a cheaper choice.
Apart from the active 4WD system, the new Flying Spur gets 4WS for the
first time. In the suspension, its air springs have been upgraded to a
new 3-chamber design for a boarder scope of adjustment. The suspension
is not only height-adjustable but also comes with adaptive damping and
active anti-roll bars. The 48V electrical system that powers the active
anti-roll bars will be used for also an upcoming V6 plug-in hybrid
powertrain. The car employs huge wheels measuring either 21 or 22-inch.
The mega-size 420mm steel front brakes come straight from the
With improved handling and powertrain response (thanks to DCT), the
Flying Spur should be far more athletic than before. Now it may rival
Mercedes-AMG S63 as a performance limousine, although it may also steal
buyers from the more traditional camp of Mercedes-Maybach and
Rolls-Royce Ghost, thanks to its impeccable craftsmanship.
|5 Jun, 2019
This is the first ever M8, since the first generation 8-Series was
toppled by 850CSi rather than an M-badge model. The M8 has its
mechanicals sourced from its cousin M5. The same S63B44T4 twin-turbo V8
produces 600hp and 553lbft in standard tune, or 625hp and the same
torque in M8 Competition. Both sets of figures are exactly the same as
the M5 and M5 Competition. Likewise, power is transferred to the same
8-speed ZF auto and M xDrive 4WD system, the latter can be switched to
Although the 8-Series is heavier than 5-Series (ridiculous for a
coupe), BMW claims the M8 Competition to sprint from 0-60 in 3.1
seconds, a tenth quicker than the M5 Competition as well as the
standard M8. Top speed is again regulated at 190mph.
Apart from more power, the Competition gets specific chassis tuning.
This includes stiffer engine mounts, more negative camber in the front
suspensions and rigid-ball joints in the rear suspension toe links. It
gets also a louder exhaust and lighter forged alloy wheels. However,
the brakes are just the same. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.
|5 Jun, 2019
Murray T.50: more details revealed
Last September, Gordon Murray announced that his company will build a
small sports car called T.43 to rival the likes of Lotus Elise. Now an
even more exciting news is announced: he is building a supercar called
T.50. It might be what he described as "flagship sports car" back in
November 2017. Design of the car has been frozen and it is in
engineering phase now. Key suppliers have been selected. It is expected
to go into production in 2022. Production will be limited to only 100
units (like the legendary F1), and each will cost an eye-popping
In many ways, the T.50 follows the same philosophy of F1: compact,
superlight, 3 seats, powered by a naturally aspirated V12, and has very
few electronic driving aids. It is only 4.4 meters long, shorter than a
Lamborghini Huracan. It weighs only 980kg (probably dry), an incredible
figure not only for these days but also the days of McLaren F1 (which
weighed 1138kg). It shares the F1's central driving position, flanked
by 2 passengers, so to provide optimal visibility and a truly
cab-forward design. The chassis will be a carbon-fiber tub and covered
with carbon-fiber body panels. Aluminum double-wishbone suspensions
all-round employ inboard coil-over dampers, but there won't be adaptive
or active suspensions. The front suspensions are mounted directly on
the tub, while the rear mounted at the transmission casing, so no need
for subframes. Predictably, the brakes are carbon-ceramic items, but
the wheels and tires are unusually small - 235/19 up front and 295/20
at the rear - again very much like the F1.
Power is provided by a lightweight Corsworth 3.9-liter V12, the
smallest road-going V12 since the original Lamborghini V12. It is
expected to produce 650hp and a modest 341 lbft of torque. Its specific
power seems incredible, but Cosworth has already built something
similar - the 6.5-liter V12 on Aston Martin Valkyrie produces 1000
horsepower. The Aston V12 can rev to 11,100 rpm, while the smaller,
more oversquared unit for T.50 will be even higher: 12,400 rpm. Many
internals are titanium to achieve this revvability.
Unfashionably, power is transferred to a conventional 6-speed manual
gearbox, supplied by Xtrac. It is chosen for minimum weight and
complexity but also for driver engagement. Traction control will be
provided, but no stability control, strangely. It seems that Murray is
short of development budget.
Most interesting is aerodynamics. The car takes inspiration from Gordon
Murray's Brabham BT46B "fan car", which won a Grand Prix before being
banned by FISA. It will have a 40cm-diameter fan driven by a 48V
electrical system to suck the car to the ground, saving the needs for
complicated aerodynamics aids. This will allow the T.50 to have a
smoother, purer exterior design as well.
|5 Jun, 2019
Callum leaves Jaguar
Jaguar design chief Ian Callum suddenly leaves the firm he served in
the past 20 years, probably due to the financial woes that need to cut
expense. His position will be taken by his right-hand man, Julian
Thompson. Callum, most famously designed Aston Martin DB7 when he was
working at TWR, took the post of Jaguar design chief left by the sudden
death of Geoff Lawson in 1999. He successfully transformed the design
theme of Jaguar from classical to avantgarde, most notably the first
XF, the current XJ, F-type and I-Pace. However, in my eyes the current
F-Pace, E-Pace and XE are less successful. It is quite sad that Callum,
64, has only one year left before retirement. He said he will pursue
design projects elsewhere. Maybe we could see him heading the design of
a Chinese car firm?