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Spy photos reveal mystery Ferrari prototype

European spies caught a mystery Ferrari hypercar mule testing on public roads this week. This prototype, which is based on a LaFerrari, seems to indicate that Ferrari is working on a successor.

Though it may not seem like that long ago, it has been two years since Ferrari closed the books on the LaFerrari halo car with its run of open-top Aperta models. Though all LaFerrari models were said to be pre-sold, it technically remained in production through 2018. We have no reason to believe Ferrari is planning to produce continuation variants of the LaFerrari, which leads us to suspect that this is a powertrain mule for what might be a next-generation, range-topping hypercar. 

There are quite a few visible differences between the production LaFerrari and this mule, though some of them could be products of its extensive disguise. The front fascia appears to be different, with narrower side intakes and a missing winglet on the lower lip. The rear glass is smaller on this prototype too, stretching only about halfway to the end of the rear deck, with what appears to be an air intake sitting where the glass would have extended toward the tail. The intakes on the flanks also appear smaller than on the production LaFerrari. 

A few things can be pinned down as more than mere vinyl-induced hallucinations, including the conventional five-lug wheels (rather than the LaFerrari’s center-locks). The blue triangle aft of the driver’s side window indicates that this is an electrified model, which would point to this being yet another high-performance hybrid

It remains to be seen what Ferrari has in store for this early prototype, but a new hypercar introduction in 2022 or 2023 would match the company’s typical 10-year gap between halo car introductions, so we probably won’t have to wait too much longer to find out more. 

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Revealed: Aston Martin shows first V12 Speedster prototype

The V12 Speedster — Aston Martin’sliving show car” — has moved from the realm of dreams (and digital renderings) to the physical world. Here it is in the metal. In the composite? A bit of both, we’d reckon, but we can say this for certain: it’s definitely not glass.

Aston Martin’s 88-unit, $950,000, topless supercar is officially entering the physical development stage “in earnest,” the company’s spokesperson said, and here are the photos to prove it. Aston Martin had originally planned to start delivering V12 Speedsters in the first quarter of 2021, but whether that’s possible in the world of COVID-19 remains to be seen. 

The company says this prototype is intended for “dynamic development,” meaning it’s going to be used to fine-tune road and track performance. Based on the details Aston Martin has released so far, we’re inclined to believe that it will be a treat in both departments.

Fortunately, we have Aston Martin’s previous renderings.

Aston says the V12 Speedster is powered by a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 making 700 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels by way of a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. The British luxury builder claims this combo is good for a run to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.

The platform itself is made by combining elements of the DBS Superleggera and Vantage. It has 21-inch forged, center-locking wheels, huge carbon ceramic brakes and adaptive dampers.

As you can see from the gallery, Aston Martin did not include any photos of the prototype’s interior, and we suspect that’s because it doesn’t actually have one yet — at least not anything worth showing. That’s just as well. This is a single-purpose toy, not a touring coupe, and anything more than a well-anchored set of seats and intuitive driver controls is just a bonus anyway. 

Factory Five reveals build-it-yourself F9R supercar

Factory Five is a small, Massachusetts-based company that makes kits for enthusiasts who want to build their own car, Ikea-style. Shortly after unveiling its next-generation chassis during the 2019 SEMA show, the firm released computer-generated renderings of the body designed to go over it.

Named F9R, the track-ready supercar adopts an elongated, low-slung design that’s a little Aston Martin-like when viewed from certain angles. Its long hood reveals it’s front-engined, unlike its mid-engined predecessor, and the use of composite materials like carbon fiber keeps weight in check. Factory Five expects the 46-inch high, 80-inch wide F9R will weigh less than 2,400 pounds. 

The design is by Phil Frank, the man who drew the Saleen S7, and Jim Schenk. The duo spent nearly a year working on the car, relying largely on a software named Rhinoceros 3D. The F9R depicted in the video below was envisioned as a race car. Factory Five hopes to offer a street-legal model named F9 with a less aggressive design, but it hasn’t released images of it.

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The chassis displayed at SEMA used a 9.5-liter V12 engine tuned to 700 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. Alternatively, enthusiasts can install a crate engine from Ford or Chevrolet.

Factory Five will build the first F9R in early 2020, and it expects to begin testing the model shortly after. Pricing information remains under wraps; the car hasn’t even been approved for production yet. The company explained it poured a lot of time and resources into developing the F9R, but whether it makes the leap towards production depends on how the testing phase goes, how much it costs to manufacture, what it sells for, and, ultimately, whether it all makes sense from a business standpoint. 

The Mercedes-AMG One sounds just like a Formula One car

Billed as the closest thing to a road-going Formula One car, the Mercedes-AMG One, unveiled as a close-to-production concept at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show, is still under development. Mercedes-Benz’s go-fast division released an update on the project that shows the hypercar in action.

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton took a break from winning races around the world and trying to save the planet to check in with the team developing the One. Designing a groundbreaking hypercar is an expensive and time-consuming process, and the One stands out from its peers because it uses a street-legal version of the powertrain found in AMG’s championship-winning Formula One car. This explains why development has taken so long. Deliveries are now tentatively scheduled to begin in 2021, about two years later than originally announced, but it sounds — literally — like AMG’s most powerful street-legal model will be worth the wait.

“The sound is pretty much exactly the same as it is in the race car,” Hamilton pointed out. Video footage of the One going around a track hints it will take a turn like a race car, too.

The turbocharged, 1.6-liter V6 is the One’s main source of power, and its main source of delays. Getting it to comply with emissions regulations was easier said than done. It idles at 1,200 rpm, which is high for a road car but low for a Formula One car, which turns at a stratospheric 5,000 rpm when it’s waiting on the starting grid. The electrified part of the powertrain consists of four electric motors, including two that zap the front wheels into motion, and they also need to be fine-tuned for road use. All told, the One will put over 1,000 horsepower under the driver’s right foot. The tradeoff is that the powertrain will require a major overhaul after about 30,000 miles.

Mercedes-AMG will cap One production at 275 units, and pricing starts at $2.7 million. That’s an eye-watering sum, but the hypercar market is stronger than ever, and every build slot was spoken for before the model made its official debut. Don’t expect to bag a used example shortly after deliveries begin; AMG is going to great lengths to ensure reservation holders don’t flip their car for a profit.

McLaren hybrid tech will create one of the quickest cars in the world

McLaren’s entire range of models will be electrified by 2023, and hybrid technology will help the British firm build one of the quickest cars in the world. The company’s chief executive outlined an unnamed upcoming model that will boast an organ-displacing zero-to-60-mph time of 2.3 seconds.

Speaking about the firm’s future with Car & Driver, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt provided crunchy new details about the next-generation platform and the gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain the firm plans to unveil in early 2020, possibly during the next edition of the Geneva Motor Show. The 2.3-second car’s secret ingredient will be an electric motor that will zap the front wheels into motion. It will work with a mid-mounted engine, likely a twin-turbocharged V8, to deliver through-the-road all-wheel drive. We expect a generous serving of carbon fiber will keep the model’s weight in check.

Though there’s much more to a sports car than an impressive zero-to-60-mph time, 2.3 seconds would put McLaren’s looming hybrid on par with the sold-out Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, and ever so slightly ahead of hypercars like the Bugatti Chiron (2.4 seconds). McLaren’s limited-edition P1 hybrid took 2.6 seconds, and the hardcore Senna (pictured) is a tenth of a second slower.

Looking ahead, McLaren will gradually replace the current members of its range with new models built on its next-generation platform. The cheaper, less powerful ones will surf the downsizing wave sweeping across the industry by adopting a V6 the company hasn’t unveiled yet, while the bigger cars with higher horsepower ratings will carry on with a twin-turbocharged V8. All of the upcoming models will come standard with hybrid power, and they’ll be capable of driving for up to 20 miles on electricity, yet they’ll weigh as little as 65 pounds more than the supercars they’ll replace. The weight difference will likely increase when all-wheel drive, a V8 engine, or both enter the equation. 

McLaren has talked about building an electric car for years, and it even turned the 720S into a test mule to put the drivetrain though its paces, but Flewitt reaffirmed the technology isn’t ready. While solid-state batteries expected to merge into the mainstream halfway through the 2020s could make an electric McLaren more feasible, Flewitt warned the firm might not completely ditch gasoline for another three decades. Profitability is a deciding factor, too, especially as the company eyes an IPO.

Finally, Ferrari’s contentious but seemingly inevitable move into the SUV segment hasn’t changed his mind about launching a high-riding model. No means no, regardless of what rivals are doing. Instead of seeking additional ground clearance, McLaren is developing the first supercar it plans to release on its new platform. The model will make its debut in late 2020, and it will go on sale in early 2021.

Bugatti considering electric four-seater as second model

Bugatti’s long-rumored additional model could run on electricity rather than gasoline, according to a recent report. The company is tentatively planning a downward expansion without diluting its image.

Downward is a relative term when spoken in the same sentence as Bugatti. The company isn’t interested in chasing volume with an alternative to the Volkswagen GTI. Instead, Bloomberg wrote it’s envisioning an electric four-seater priced between 500,000 and one million euros, sums that represent about $555,000 and $1.1 million, respectively. Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann told the publication that convincing parent company Volkswagen to fund the model requires a “hard fight,” however.

“The industry is changing fundamentally, and we have to address what opportunities there are to develop Bugatti as a brand going forward,” he explained. Releasing a second, cheaper model would mark a dramatic shift for the prestigious automaker, which has stuck to a one-core-model strategy since its renaissance in 1998. The EV could bump its annual output from about 100 to 600 cars.

Winkelmann was the driving force behind the Urus when he ran Lamborghini, which has led to speculation that Bugatti’s second model will be an SUV. Speaking to Autoblog, a spokesperson for the company again doused cold water on the rumors. “It would not be an SUV,” we learned.

The representative stressed nothing has been decided yet, so it’s still too early to tell precisely when the second model would enter production if it receives the proverbial green light for production. Less than 100 Chiron build slots remain available, but the French company has its work cut out for the coming years. It will deliver the first of 40 planned examples of the Divo in 2020, send the one-off La Voiture Noire to its mysterious new home in 2021, and build the first of 10 Centodiecis (pictured) in 2022. Additional Chiron variants (like the record-breaking 300+) aren’t out of the question, either.

The idea of an electric Bugatti isn’t without precedence. In 1931, company founder Ettore Bugatti built a battery-powered runabout named Type 56 to drive on his property. It was never meant to be a production car, but requests from wealthy clients (including Belgian king Leopold III, who wanted one for his wife Astrid) convinced Bugatti to make 10 examples between 1931 and 1936. Four remain in 2019, including one in original condition that Autoblog got the opportunity to drive in 2018.