18 Jun, 2019
Porsche 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 variable intake 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 updated

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
Alpine A110S

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) enhance roadholding.

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
Bentley Flying Spur

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 Continental GT.

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 RWD mode.

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
Gordon 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 £2.5m!

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
Industrial News

Ian 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?


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