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Lucid Air and Maserati MC20 unveiled | Autoblog Podcast #644

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. Before they get to the juicy news of the week, they chat about the cars they’ve been driving, including a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Audi A6 Allroad, Mazda CX-9 and Kia Niro. It’s been a busy week in the news department, with GM investing in Nikola, Lucid Motors launching the Air electric sedan, Maserati unveiling the MC20 mid-engined supercar and a farewell to the Lexus GS. Then they talk about having a newfound respect for the Fox Body Mustang and the Mazda CX-9.

Autoblog Podcast #644

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Henrik Fisker interview, and driving the Polestar 2 | Autoblog Podcast #643

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. They’ve been driving the updated 2021 Honda Odyssey, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and the new Polestar 2 electric sedan. After reviewing those, they talk about how the Chrysler 300 appears to be withering on the vine. Next, they take time to talk to legendary automotive designer and eponymous Chairman & CEO of Fisker Inc., Mr. Henrik Fisker himself, about jeans, horses and, of course, electric cars. Finally, they help a listener pick a $100,000 supercar in the “Spend My Money” segment.

Autoblog Podcast #643

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What’s hiding beneath this mystery BMW M8 mule?

Spy photos of a mystery BMW M8 mule being tested at the Nürburgring could be our first glance at BMW’s rumored 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid. The demise of BMW’s mid-engine i8 plug-in hybrid with no news of a direct replacement led us to wonder what BMW really has in store for the future of the formula, but if this early prototype is anything to go on, it may be alive and well. We’re not sure what BMW plans to call its next round of all-electric and plug-in variants, but whatever it ends up being called, the prospect is certainly fascinating. 

Let’s start with what we’re looking at. At first glance, this appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill BMW M8 with some camouflage over the front and rear, which is about what you’d expect to see from a company that is likely developing alternative bodywork for a mid-cycle update or a new appearance package. Looking more closely, however, we see the strategic tinting of the rear window glass along with very obvious air intake vents where the rear side windows should be. Translation? There’s something back there that 1) needs air flow and 2) BMW doesn’t want us to see. 

To further grease the skids, our spies tell us that the engine in this car did not sound anything like the V8 found under the hood of either the BMW M8 or its racing variant, the M8 GTE, which carries over the former’s front-engine layout. In fact, the spy even referred to the sound as “unusual,” which could just be good salesmanship, but the fact of the matter remains that whatever is under there, it’s not from an M8, or any other 8 Series derivative currently known to us. 

Conveniently, all of the things that make this an unlikely M8 variant, from the mid-engine layout to the unconventional exhaust note, make a compelling case for it as a revival of BMW’s plug-in flagship. Even the wheels appear strikingly similar to those on the BMW Vision M Next concept the company showed at Frankfurt last year, which was said to be a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine making 600 horsepower. BMW claimed it could do 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph and boasting 62 miles of all-electric range. 

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How design follows function in the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport and Super Sports 300+

As the successor to the world-beating Veyron, the Bugatti Chiron had big shoes to fill, and by every measure it has succeeded. With its 304-mph top-speed run last fall, the latest Bugatti hypercar has handily beaten all expectations, and Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann has even publicly stated that the company will no longer chase speed records. One could argue that the Chiron’s work here is done, and yet it’s merely half way through its projected lifecycle. What more could it possibly accomplish?

Bugatti’s answer: Go faster on a road course. To accomplish this, the Chiron Super Sports 300+ formula would have to be cast aside for something entirely new. After all, the things that make a car fast in a straight line are only part of the equation when it comes to conquering a race track, and with that mission, the Chiron Pur Sport was born. These two models’ diverging missions necessitated distinct design. To learn more about just how differently they were formed, Autoblog attended a virtual round-table with Frank Heyl, Bugatti deputy design director, and Jachin Schwalbe, Bugatti head of chassis development.

The distinctions are most evident in their profiles, where the longtail design of the Super Sports 300+ radically alters the Chiron’s entire rear “box,” making the Pur Sport’s sharp rear cut-off seem almost inelegant by comparison. The slow, clean taper of the longtail design accomplishes the same thing aerodynamically that it does aesthetically. When the car is in top-speed mode, the rear spoiler even remains stowed.

This design significantly shrinks the low-pressure zone behind the car, reducing the resulting drag, but that absent spoiler also detracts from the Chiron’s stability. To compensate for the lack of spoiler deployment, Bugatti’s engineers altered the flow beneath the car and through the rear diffuser. Heyl describes this as “free” downforce, because there’s no corresponding penalty in drag from gains found with these underbody features.

With the Pur Sport, Bugatti went the other direction. This track-focused car gives up a ton of top speed to its sibling in exchange for nimbleness and acceleration, so being able to cut the minimum hole in the air is far less important. Think of design as a zero-sum game, Bugatti’s team says. With the Pur Sport, top speed was less of a priority, which allowed engineering and design to explore other capabilities. 

The short rear deck and pronounced rear diffuser pair with the Pur Sport’s massive rear wing to produce significantly more downforce, significantly improving the car’s high-speed handling. It may “only” hit 218 mph, but the trade-offs allow for far greater flexibility on tighter, more technical tracks. These design changes go hand-in-hand with the Pur Sport’s extensive chassis and braking system overhaul to create a total package that is more than merely a stock Chiron with 110 pounds yanked out of it. 

In the end, this divergent pair of new Chirons should provide more than enough incentive for customers to justify and/or desire plunking down a few more millions on one of the few remaining Chirons set to be made (less than 100). Basically, how and where do you want your second Chiron to be faster?

Maserati switching to in-house twin-turbo V6 and turbo four

Automotive News has been able to put some output figures to the two primary engines that will power Maserati’s renaissance. Last year the Italian luxury brand sent notice that it would terminate its deal to with Ferrari to use the Maranello-sourced F160 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and F154 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. As new Maserati models appear and current models are overhauled, the brand will begin installing either Maserati’s own 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, or an FCA-sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The V6 will greet the world from the middle of the MC20 supercar poised for debut in September, assuming nothing goes worse with the world than it already has.

Rumor from Mopar Insiders and Allpar forums is that Maserati began building its V6 based on Alfa Romeo’s 690T V6. Alfa Romeo puts the 690T in the Stelvio and Giulia Quadrifoglio, the engine’s development having started seven years ago with Ferrari’s F154 V8 as its heart. Tuned for speed, peak output could reach 542 horsepower. After making its home in the racy coupe, the V6 will also serve a new midsize Maserati crossover coming next year, as well as the next GranTurismo coupe and GranCabrio convertible. In the crossover, power is apparently limited to no more than 523 horses.

In Maserati’s new V6, one piece of technology that permits such high output and emissions friendliness is turbulent jet ignition (TJI). German supplier Mahle has been developing the technology for at least 10 years, and put it to use in Ferrari’s Formula 1 engine about five years ago, after which Japan’s Super GT manufacturers picked it up. Instead of a spark plug igniting fuel directly in the combustion chamber, TJI places the spark plug and an injector nozzle at the top of a “jet ignition pre-chamber assembly.” The injector shoots a mist of gasoline into the pre-chamber, the spark plug fires, and the force of ignition in the pre-chamber sprays the combustion through tiny holes at the bottom of the pre-chamber into the cylinder as the piston rises. Mahle says the shorter burn and improved combustion spread means cleaner-burning gas engines that emit fewer emissions.  

AN says that the “new V-6 engine will be ‘electrified’ in some form.” It’s not clear if that means all versions of the V6 will get some sort of hybrid assistance, or if — as had been thought — there will be a non-hybrid unit. The last report we got on motivation for the MC20 strongly suggested a non-hybrid V6 at launch making around 600 hp, followed by a hybridized V6 with all-wheel drive good for 700 horsepower. The hybrid form is said to eventually replace the TT V8 in the upper-tier Ghibli and Quattroporte, but not before the Ferrari-sourced engine steps up to 582 hp later this year.

When AN writes that “Electrified versions of new V-6 eventually will replace 3.8-liter Ferrari-built turbocharged V8 in Maserati Levante, in two versions with 523 hp and 572 hp,” the opening adjective and the higher output lead us to believe in the chances of a non-electrified V6. 

The second engine will be the Global Medium Engine (GME) 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. That engine does duty right now in other group products such as the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee, and Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio, topping out at 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The mill makes its Maserati debut in the Ghibli hybrid that launches online on July 15.

McLaren Sports Series model with V6 hybrid delayed to 2021

In the middle of May, the McLaren Group began the hunt for up to $335 million to endure the downturn caused by the coronavirus, with the conglomerate ready to put every sacred asset on the block for collateral. A few days later, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt told Automotive News Europe, “This will have cost us probably two years. [In] 2020, we’re going to do very little. I think it’ll take us the whole of ’21 to climb back [to] where we are.” Even though the Woking firm had already moved to cut supply in anticipation of lower sales, a 67% sales drop in Q1 this year led to McLaren laying off 1,200 employees — a quarter of the workforce — across Automotive, Racing, and Applied Technologies divisions. Another casualty of current events is the timeline for the anticipated plug-in hybrid model reported to replace the 570S in the entry-level Sports Series tier. Chatter had suggested McLaren would debut the car this summer and begin deliveries in some markets before the year ended. But Evo magazine reports the coupe will be on the tardy list, a company spokesperson telling PistonHeads the schedule has slid back “a handful of months.”

The PHEV represents a big step, being a volume model built on a brand new platform, powered by a brand new engine at the heart of a brand new powertrain. The twin-turbocharged V6 said to sit behind the cockpit inaugurates a life beyond the small-displacement V8 that has powered every McLaren Automotive product since a 3.8-liter twin-turbo unit entered service in the MP4-12C. We don’t know much about the V6, but spy shots appear to show that it will rev 500 rpm higher than the V8, to 8,000 rpm, and its peak output with electrical assistance will exceed the 570 horsepower in the 570S. The plug-in hybrid component contributes an Electric driving mode to Comfort and Sport modes, the powertrain supposedly able to go 21 miles on battery power. As for looks, the compact body seems to crib from the 720 S in front, the GT in the midsection, and add a lot of cooling apertures in the rear.

The “little” that Flewitt said McLaren would do this year means focusing on the Elva roadster, 765LT, and Speedtail. A spokesperson said testing and development have resumed, and “dealers are [also] already opening for appointments.” Since we’re still not halfway through 2020, it’s hard to imagine what anything will look like when — hell, if — the dust settles. It’s good bet, though, that McLaren could need to recalibrate the two dozen or so remaining models in its Track 25 strategy that envisions 18 new models by 2025.

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Gordon Murray T.50 beats weight target thanks to ‘Weight Watchers’ meetings

Gordon Murray is staying on the offensive about his T.50 supercar, working the phones recently to let all know that “This car will deliver — and this is a promise — the driving experience of [a McLaren] F1, but better, better in so many ways,” because he and his team have “fixed the things we knew were wrong with the F1.” As they say in the Westerns, them’s big words. Two factors he credited for the T.50’s estimated performance specs are bespoke parts, and the relentless focus on weight savings they enable. The team behind the supercar doesn’t need to restrict any component to parts-bin sourcing, doesn’t need to check with production or accounting departments, and can create or re-engineer any part to serve a single vehicle. Technology improvements since the creation of the McLaren F1 and the use of a bespoke 3.9-liter Cosworth V12 gives the team even more freedom than Murray had with his icon.

This has led to ruthless weight shaving, helped by what Murray described as “Weight Watchers” meetings. The Cosworth V12 comes in at less than 400 pounds, cutting 132 pounds compared to the 6.1-liter V12 in the F1 — the designer citing the S70 BMW engine as part of the reason he overshot his 2,205-pound (1,000-kilogram) target for the 2,579-pound McLaren. Carbon brake technology wasn’t polished enough in the early 1990s to get the units to work on the McLaren, so the F1 used heavier iron brakes, a setback the T.50 won’t suffer. The Xtrac six-speed manual transmission cuts 22 pounds compared to the six-speed sequential box in the F1. The all-carbon moncoque and body panels are less than 330 pounds, the driver’s seat and frame weigh 15 pounds, the twin outboard passenger seats weigh less than seven pounds each. Murray told his team they wouldn’t be able to take any weight out of the pedal box, since he designed it himself. His engineers cut seven ounces. They shaved the windshield glazing to be 28% thinner than what would be standard for this application. The materials analysis team modeled the stress loads for all 900 nuts, bolts, washers, and fasteners in the T50, designing them with just enough material — titanium, of course — to do their jobs. 

This and more is how Gordon Murray Automotive beat the 2,205-pound target for the T.50 by 45 pounds. That will put the T.50 260 pounds above the hardcore 260-horsepower Lotus Elise Cup 260, 180 pounds under the 181-hp MX-5 Mazda Miata Sport. Yet the T.50 has 640 horsepower in everyday guise, which can be cranked up to 690 hp with ram air induction in certain modes. That lower figure is 22 hp more than the F1, for a car weighing more than 419 pounds less, part of what Murray means when he says the T.50 is “the F1 for the next generation, with all the same targets. But of course my toybox is much bigger now.” Backing that up, Murray said about a third of the deposits received so far come from people who own a McLaren F1, another 40% of deposits come from buyers under 45 who had McLaren F1 posters on their walls in their youth, but who’d been priced out of the astronomical F1 market.  

From now until the end of June, the GMA teams are finalizing details, tooling, and working with suppliers on parts. If all goes well, there’ll be a working prototype ready for road testing in September. Production on the 100 road cars and 25 track-only cars begins in late 2021, deliveries to start in early 2022. About 25 slots remain for the road car, so anyone with a $740,000 to put toward the $2.5 million starting price should send word to England.

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Maserati teases MC20 prototype again reminiscing about the Targa Florio

Maserati spent its weekend reminiscing about victory in the 1940 Targa Florio, putting an MC20 prototype to work enhancing the gravitas of the anniversary. After winning the Targa in 1937, 1938, and 1939 with the Maserati 6CM and its 1.5-liter supercharged inline-six throwing 175 horsepower, the House of the Trident showed up in 1940 with the brand new 4CL powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder cranking 220 hp. Luigi Villoresi, who’d driven the 6CM to triumph the year before, crossed the line first in the 4CL to close out European racing until the end of World War II.

With a return to racing on the automaker’s mind, Maserati took a camouflaged MC20 to the same Favorita Park roads that hosted the Targa. The soft-focus spy shots were taken in front of the Floriopoli stands, a stretch of bunting and banners not far from the Targa start line as historic competitors headed into the Sicilian mainland.

The MC20 is as photogenic in these shots as all the others, and as mysterious. The automaker seems intent on making everyone wait until the September debut to for any details that the prototype doesn’t put on display. Prime among enthusiast interest is the powerplant. With Ferrari shutting down its supply of engines to the fellow Modenese sports car maker, Maserati says its new mid-engined coupe will be “the first car to use [its] new engine, brimming with innovative technological contents, developed and built by Maserati in-house.” Short odds figure on a molto potente twin-turbo V6 sending power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the long money isn’t afraid to bet on a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8  to replace the F154 V8 that Ferrari provides.

With race engineers undoubtedly sorting out a version for sports car racing as we speak, Maserati will certainly hope the competitive version matches the exploits of the 4CL. The vintage race car took pole in its first race, earned its first victory two races later, snatched up a bag of silverware before WWII, won the first race held in Europe after the war ended, and continued winning in 4CL and 4CLT trim until 1951 to take 31 total victories — nine more than the MC12 race car.

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Ferrari mule lapping Fiorano could house V6 hybrid

Ferrari spoke of plans to add a V6 to its lineup two years ago, without dropping its two other trademark motors. The brand’s SVP of commercial and marketing, Enrico Galliera, told Australia’s WhichCar last year, “So the technology we are going to have, V12, V8, V6 turbo. Hybrid will give us the possibility to have a platform that we can mix to achieve emissions targets.” There’s been much chatter around when and where the V6 in turbo and/or hybrid form would show. We still don’t know, but it’s possible that we’ve had our first sound check for it, thanks to four brief videos on Instagram.

Instagram user simonemasetti_photography, a regular around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in Maranello, captured the vids, while Instagrammer cochespias uploaded them. The camouflaged 488 mules lapping the circuit wear camo similar to that on a 488 mule spotted on Maranello roads with an electricity warning sticker on its frunk.

We can’t be certain of what engine lurks behind the cabin of the test cars, but all the cars are much quieter than one would expect Ferrari’s 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 to be. In the first video, the coupe accelerates so hard that a long lick of fire shoots out the exhaust, with only a gentle ‘whoosh’ — no wail or roar — to accompany it. The third vid makes the best comparison, the one that opens on two 488-looking coupes in the far distance, one black and one camo’d. When the camo’d car takes off, moving away from the camera, we hear the sound we’d expect from a charging Ferrari V8. However, when the car we suspect is a hybrid V6 passes right in front of the camera, even under acceleration it makes hardly any noise compared to the car in the distance.

These cars, in fact, sound just like the car Masetti caught testing at Fiorano last September, which he believes is the V6 hybrid.

No matter what’s being tested, we know little about Maranello’s V6. One origin story says the mill has been developed from the 2.9-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which itself is suspected to be derived from the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 in the F8 Tributo. Another origin story figures the V6 is a brand new engine. No matter where it began, consensus is that the hybrid unit will enter production around 2022 and produce more than 720 horsepower.

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SCG 007 hypercar to swap twin-turbo V6 for twin-turbo V8

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus began the long tease to its SCG 007 LMP1 hypercar with a set of sketches in June 2018 that clearly incorporated cues from the SCG 003. Refining that original sketch for 18 months produced a longer, smoother design with pontoon-like front fenders and a rear wing seamlessly integrated into a more tapered rear end. The first powertrain mentioned for the 007 was a twin-turbo V6 with 800 horsepower and a 200-hp hybrid component. In the WEC’s Hypercar class where SCG will try to win Le Mans outright, regulations cap maximum combined output at 740 horsepower, and electric assistance can only power the front wheels above 80 miles per hour. Late last year, Jim Glickenhaus told us SCG decided to shed the hybrid portion, since “We can make max allowed HP from our ICE, and our powerplant will be lighter and less complex.” A new announcement last week means the end of the V6, too, SCG partnering with French engine developer Pipo Moteurs on a “whole new custom V8 twin-turbo engine.” 

Pipo Moteurs opened for business in 1973, and has a track record of wins mainly in World Rally Championship with teams like Peugeot and Ford, and European hillclimbing with BMW. We expect the 007 to mark the first time SCG takes a V8 into top-level racing; the SCG 003 road car was powered by BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but the road car housed a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 from Honda

SCG plans to get the 007 down near the WEC’s minimum weight of 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds). Evo reports that the first wind tunnel tests are finished, the engineering program scheduled to continue through to summer 2020. Subsystems should enter production in August 2020, the first shakedown runs happening a month later. The math so far shows the hypercar regulations enabling laps times of three minutes and 30 second around the Circuit de la Sarthe, about 15 seconds off the best qualifying lap for the pole-sitting Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid at Le Mans last year, 13 seconds adrift of the fastest lap set during the race by the second-place Toyota.

Next year’s a long way away, though. The hypercar class only has three entries for the moment, Toyota, SCG, and ByKolles scheduled to run after Aston Martin dropped out, and many wonder if that will be enough to keep a top-level worth running. The ACO and IMSA announced a new class to integrate the former’s LMP1 with the latter’s DPi into a new category possibly called LMDh, the first race the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Lamborghini had been examining a hypercar entry and Peugeot had committed, but Peugeot pulled out after the LMDh announcement. Being able to race internationally and run Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans with one car is a huge lure to automakers. It’s not clear yet if the hypercar rules can be shoehorned into the new category, of if ACO will want to try. 

Assuming the 007 makes it to Le Mans at some point, SCG will produce at least 20 roadgoing versions to satisfy homologation rules, priced around $2.1 million, roughly the same price as the SCG 003. 

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Gordon Murray’s T.50 gets a soundcheck and a website

Gordon Murray Automotive isn’t slated to begin building the T.50 supercar until late next year, with deliveries scheduled for early 2022. Thankfully for us, the next step on the march to that goal is a website and a soundcheck of a portion of the 3.9-liter V12 which will power the three-seater coupe (watch that video here). We say “a portion” because Cosworth — the engineering firm developing the mill — put just three of the 12 cylinders on the dyno to verify emissions output and ensure the components can handle 12,100 rpm, said to be 300 rpm short of a 12,400-rpm “hard limit” redline. That figure is 1,400 rpm beyond the north wall of the 6.5-liter V12 Cosworth built to propel the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Murray told TopGear that the air pulses sucked into the ram-air intake above the cabin will result in magnificent sound. The English engineering legend tuned the thickness of the roof panel on the McLaren F1 to enhance the engine sound, and he’s done the same thing on the T.50. Based on the short snippet of the dyno run, the free-breathing V12 will excite blood and bone.

Output checks in at 650 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, meaning ten hoses more than the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S but 184 lb-ft less. Unlike just about every other supercar out there today, the T.50 will weigh no more than 2,161 pounds, a stunning spec that’s 1,475 pounds less than the Turbo S, 899 pounds less than the Lotus Evora 400 Lightweight, 180 pounds less than an entry-level Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport. The V12 will utilize two engine maps, one that loads up torque at the bottom of the rev range for potting about town, dropping the redline to about 9,500 rpm and horsepower to roughly 600, the other unlocking every rev and joule. A 48-volt mild hybrid system powers the 15.7-inch rear fan and active aero panels, and employs a small electric motor to add 30 ponies in certain aero configurations. Power in the 100 units of the T.50 road car is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual with an exposed linkage; the 25 units of the T.50 track-only car will use paddle shifters. 

The coupe serves up five aerodynamic maps, two automatic and three driver selectable. Auto mode moves the under-floor and diffuser panels and active rear spoilers automatically as needed. Braking mode — as on a Bugatti Chiron or any McLaren — stands up the rear spoilers and powers the fan to suck air from under the car, improving downforce and therefore traction. Selectable High Downforce mode is made for the track and wet roads, boosting downforce by 30% over Auto mode. Streamline goes the opposite direction, closing aero inlets to reduce drag by 10% compared to Auto mode, and it “activates the fan at high speeds to extend the trailing wake of air behind the car, in effect creating a virtual long-tail.” VMAX mode starts with Streamline and kicks in extra boost from the 48-volt system to get to about 680 hp. Murray said the T.50 tops out somewhere around 220 miles per hour.  

The carbon-intense supercar has moved into wind tunnel testing in Silverstone, using the Racing Point F1 team facility. At the same time, Gordon Murray Automotive is finishing its customer experience and service center in Dunsfold, England next to the factory that will build the T.50. Have a listen to the engine and imagine what’s to come for what it’s designer calls the “last and the greatest analog supercar ever built.” We also recommend checking out TG‘s piece on the car, where Murray admits that driving dynamics have been benchmarked against the Alpine A110, power steering will only work at low speed and in parking lots, the V12 flips from idle to 12,000 rpm in 0.3 seconds, and the rear tires are just 295-section (911 Turbo S rubber is 315-section out back). 

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Aston Martin confirms 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 for Valhalla

When the Aston Martin Valhalla hits the scene in 2022 (hopefully), it will be powered by an all-new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine that will be fortified and electrified in a hybrid configuration that we don’t yet know much about. Interestingly, Aston Martin says the V6’s hybrid element will be tuned and sized for each specific vehicle in which it’s installed. In the Valhalla, the dry-sump engine will be mounted directly behind the passenger compartment, and its so-called ‘hot V’ design will allow for relatively compact dimensions. And compact also means lightweight — the automaker says the complete engine weighs less than 440 pounds.

Just the fact that the British automaker is investing the engineering effort to produce a new engine is significant. The company hasn’t engineered its own in-house powertrain since 1969, when Tadek Marek’s 5.3-liter V8 engine found its way under the hood of Aston Martin’s aptly named DBS V8. The new 3.0-liter V6 is codenamed TM01 in Marek’s honor. With that in mind, we expect this powerplant to serve in various Aston Martin models for a number of years.

We look forward to further details in the future, especially the all-important horsepower and torque figures. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the high-resolution image gallery above, where you’ll see intricately milled castings along with the engine undergoing dyno testing and running red hot with the lights down low.

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The Apex AP-0 is a 649-hp EV that weighs 2,645 pounds

Apex Motors sounds like a brand new name in the game, but the Hong-Kong-based company’s been around for more a few years and through a few transformations. In 2015 a maverick outfit of car designers banded together under the name Elemental to reveal the RP1, powered by 1.0-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines. By 2017, the 1,278-pound coupe could produce 2,205 pounds of downforce and was running Goodwood. By 2019, the Elemental RP1 had turned into the even-more-evolved Apex AP1, putting out 400 hp from a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and blitzing from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.

The brand new AP-0 is the follow-up. As the naming scheme suggests, it takes the top spot in the lineup ahead of the AP-1 by having battery-electric power, a single electric motor turning the rear axles with 649-hp and 427 pound-feet of torque, a 320-mile range on the WLTP cycle, and a 0-60 time of 2.3 seconds. Top speed is 190 mph.

Just as remarkable, and even more unusual for an EV, the whole package weighs 2,645 pounds. Compared to a McLaren 720S, the AP-0 is 4.5 inches shorter but 3.4 inches wider, and while the Apex gives up 61 hp and 131 lb-ft to the Englishman, the AP-0 weighs almost 500 pounds less than the 720S. Compared to performance EVs, the Apex weighs about 1,380 pounds less than a Tesla Model 3 Performance, 1,700 pounds less than a Rimac Concept 2, and almost 2,500 pounds less than a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.

The Apex packs a floor-mounted, 90-kWh lithium-ion battery that consumes 1,213 pounds of its curb weight. When plugged into the right CCS charger, the pack can refill 80% of its charge in 15 minutes; on a standard Type 2 charger, filling up from empty takes eight hours.

The chassis and bodywork is entirely carbon fiber, a central carbon tub and modular spaceframes laid on a rigid carbon spine connect the front to the rear. Outside, the Le Mans-like fin houses a retractable LIDAR system up front and a cross-shaped taillight in back. Built as a road-legal racer for gearheads and sitting just 3.7 inches off the ground, there’s an adjustable pushrod suspension with automatic ride-height adjustment, 14-inch carbon ceramic rotors with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston in the rear, and a pair of 19-inch center-lock wheels up front paired with 20-inchers in back. 

Behind gullwing doors, the carbon, aluminum, and leather interior makes every occupant feel like a racer with a single-seater-style, reclined and feet-up seating position. Three displays for the driver sit atop the instrument panel behind a square steering wheel. To help drivers make the most of track days, Apex says the AP-0 can “gamify the way drivers can learn new racetracks and deliver the ultimate immersive racing experience” through augmented reality projection. The software-based “instructor” can be improved through over-the-air updates. To ensure the instructor knows what it’s talking about, Apex said it wants to build an FIA-approved race track, followed by a racing academy, around its Hong Kong HQ. 

The ambitions only begin there. When off the track, that LIDAR unit is intended to provide Level 3 autonomous capability at launch, with the company saying Level 4 potential is already built in. More handily, the AP-0 will come with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. That’s all down the way, though, the AP-0 not scheduled to enter production until the latter half of 2022, costing around $195,000 for U.S. buyers. If all goes well from here to there, Apex plans to build up to 500 units per year in Britain, what it calls its second home, on the way to introducing a wider lineup of offerings.

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Cadillac Blackwing gets ticket to Italy, to go to work in a supercar

Some necessary cost-cutting at Cadillac led to switching the new CT4, CT5, and Escalade to older platforms. The revised architecture plan meant Cadillac’s newest top-tier products couldn’t fit Cadillac’s newest top-tier engine, the 4.2-liter twin-turbo DOHC V8 known as Blackwing. That engine would serve limited duty at full power in the now-dead CT6-V, and at reduced output in the CT6 Platinum V8 trim before ending its bright, brief domestic life. But the story isn’t over, the rebirth of Blackwing coming from a most surprising locale: Turin, Italy.

Before the canceled Geneva Motor Show, Hagerty spoke to Paolo Garella, CEO of Manifattura Automobili Torino; that’s the company better known as MAT, makers of the New Stratos and contract engineering house for boutique screamers like the Aspark Owl electric hypercar, Apollo Intensa Emozione, and SCG003C. Garella told the outlet, “We have an agreement with General Motors” for a supply of Blackwings, which would be developed and built at the General Motors Propulsion Engineering Center (PEC) in Turin. Since 2005, the PEC has been used to develop GM’s global diesel engines and electronics. MAT’s plan is to put the V8 into a new limited-run car MAT is creating from its own design.

Then another surprising turn: Belgium-based global auto supplier Punch Group bought the PEC, with plans to work with GM on projects in progress until at least the end of 2021. Nothing changes as far as MAT is concerned, except perhaps a chance for an even closer collaboration with Punch Turin.

The V8 once hand-built at the Performance Engine Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky, made 550 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque in its most powerful form. Of course we’re looking forward to the Blackwing-powered vehicle MAT comes up with; the prospect of a V8-powered supercar with a modern mill is the best kind of news. Just as much, though, we’re looking forward to what’s possible with the Blackwing in a high-performance application freed of OEM constraints. The 4.2-liter LTA Blackwing shares its architecture with the 5.5-liter LT7 V8 in the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R racer and headed for the Corvette Z06, the big differences being turbos mounted between the cylinder banks on the Blackwing, whereas the boosters hang outside the banks on the LT7, and the Chevy engine uses a flat-plane crank.

It’s a moonshot, but if the Blackwing proves its might and popularity over time, and sees continuous development, perhaps the engine could one day be recalled to service with a different car at its original brand home. 

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Maserati MC20 appears in artsy, blurry teaser

Maserati said it’s entering a new era. Judging by these teaser shots of the a camouflaged MC20 prototype supercar, it’s clear Maserati plans to strut its way into that new era con il coraggio and braggadocio. Maserati took its future flagship to the Piazza degli Affari in Milan, for a set of mostly blurry photos in front of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture called “L.O.V.E.” Maserati called the artwork “a symbol of Italian audacity in international contemporary art,” for the sake of clarity, we’ll call it a giant marble bird flipped at anyone who might ask, “You talkin’ to me?”

The MC20 is thought to be built around the carbon chassis laid up for the 4C, stretched lengthwise and across to create an overall larger package. We can’t tell much about the real masterpiece in the photos, but it is clear the MC20 prototype has shed its gawky bodywork borrowed from the Alfa Romeo 4C to slip into something more comfortable. A very Maserati nose leads with a large grille and sits prominently ahead of the other bodywork. Behind that, an Italianate supercar form combines plenty of intakes, deep side skirts, a seamless rake to the backlight, and a short rear overhang.

In back, powertrains developed at Maserati and for Maserati should make all sorts of lusty noises. The top powertrain is expected to be a hybrid V6 with three electric motors and around 600 horsepower, there’s hearsay about an all-electric model, and rumors of a turbocharged V8 won’t die. The only gearbox mentioned so far is an eight-speed dual-clutch shooting power to the rear wheels. Autoevolution believes the hybrid engine will translate into a sprint to 62 miles per hour in around two seconds and a top speed beyond 186 miles per hour, just the kind of giddy-up one would expect from a challenger aimed at the Lamborghini Huracán Evo. If anything, 600 hp sounds conservative seeing as the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA gets 540 hp from its 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 without electric help. The MC20 will take on Lamborghini’s championship-winning finest on the track, too, the MC20 — for Maserati Corse 2020 — surely headed for an FIA entry in track-only form.

For now, the MC20 continues its driving program to prepare for its debut in May. The coupe version should come first, going on sale in Europe late this year and in the U.S. sometime next year, followed by a convertible variant.

Koenigsegg bringing a new hybrid 2+2 to Geneva?

Koenigsegg hosted its global dealer network for a shindig at its Angelholm, Sweden, headquarters last month. During the event, the hypercar maker tweeted an image of employees standing next to five Koenigsegg models under black sheets. It was thought these represented the cars Koenigsegg will bring to next month’s Geneva Motor Show. At least one of those five is rumored to be the Jesko-based Mission 500 concept, the rocket that CEO Christian Koenigsegg will use to challenge the top speed record. The Supercar Blog credits sources for information on another of the five, it supposedly being a hybrid 2+2 called the KG12. 

If the rumors are close to true, the extra two seats — and we use the words “seats” generously — wouldn’t be the only break with Koenigsegg tradition. TSB‘s insider says the heart of the KG12’s hybrid powerplant will be a 2.0-liter, three-cylinder engine engineered with the carmaker’s camless FreeValve system. Combined with an electric motor or motors, total output is thought to be around 1,500 horsepower. If such a thing shows up at Geneva, predicted to be on display under a glass engine cover, it will be in the running for the wildest and most innovative propulsion system at the show.

Design standards like the wraparound windshield and dihedral synchro-helix doors are expected to make the cut, but those doors might be longer than usual so as to provide better access to whatever fits in the back seat. TSB writes that the KG12 will cost around €1.4 million ($1.5 million U.S.), with deliveries to begin in 2022 and production limited to 300 units. 

One big question is whether the KG12 is, or has anything to do with, the affordable Koenigsegg supercar that’s been on simmer in the background for a few years. A year ago, reports said the car would come to this year’s Geneva show. However, the least expensive Koenigsegg has been imagined with the firm’s naturally-aspirated V8 paired with hybrid assistance, getting something like 1,050 hp, and a price tag of anywhere from €600,000 to €800,000 ($650,000-$850,000). We’ll have an answer in two weeks.

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Czinger preparing 21C hybrid hypercar for Geneva debut

Kevin Czinger — with a silent C — has spent the past 11 years that we know of trying out various automotive concepts in Southern California. The Yale Law School graduate who built hot rods as a youth in Cleveland co-founded Coda Automotive in 2009, which tried to get off the ground with a re-engineered Chinese sedan converted to an all-electric powertrain. Coda went under in 2013. In 2014. The next year, Czinger started Divergent 3d, which revealed the Blade supercar in 2015. Czinger’s point with the Blade was to convert automakers to novel production techniques, the Blade’s chassis and body created with 3D-printed aluminum alloy. In 2019, Czinger formed an eponymous company taking the Blade as the inspiration for the Czinger 21C hybrid hypercar. In a previous interview with Road and Track, which deserves a read, Czinger said, “We’re looking to combine computing power, science, and additive manufacturing into one system.”  

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The 21C could be that blend, having clearly come a long way from the Blade. We don’t know much about the coupe, Czinger preferring to wait for details until its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The moody reveal video shows off the suite of hypercar cues like diminutive overhangs, the fulsome fenders, angry LED headlights, plenty of vents, center-lock wheels twirling around giant carbon ceramic rotors and beefy calipers, a serious wing hanging off the back, and what looks like a top-mount dual exhaust. Tandem seating — passenger behind driver — carries over from the Blade, and the copious exposed carbon fiber bodywork hides plenty of 3D-printed components. The brace connecting the carbon fiber steering column housing to the instrument panel, for instance, looks a prime culprit for additive manufacturing. The full-width roller coaster brake light ensures everyone behind the 21C will remember what they’ve just seen. 

The powertrain is an unknown beyond the descriptive that it’s a “strong hybrid” developed in-house to deliver “dominating performance.” Strong would be the correct word if the video can be trusted; at the 0:28 mark, the digital rev counter shows a redline beyond 10,000 rpm. We’ll know more come Geneva.

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Lister Storm II hypercar teased, with a switch from V12 to electric

Two years ago, the revamped Lister Motor Company dished out sketches for a Storm II hypercar. The name was a nod to the 1993 Le Mans race car and road derivative created by another incarnation of Lister in 1993, which housed a Jaguar XJR-9-derived 7.0-liter V12 amidships producing 546 horsepower. The tentative plan in 2018 was for the Storm II to get a Jaguar-derived 7.8-liter V12 spooling up something like 1,000 horsepower and pointing its snout at the likes of McLaren, Pagani, and Koenigsegg. That was all so two years ago, though. Lister CEO Lawrence Whittaker recently tweeted another image of the Storm II, this time a profile drawing, with the captions, “A glimpse into the future of Lister … the Storm II,” and, “Lister EV super car research.” The EV part is what matters here, Whittaker apparently changing tack on the powertrain and the competitive set.

The side shot offers a look at the vanishing point rear end, a look calling to mind either a truncated McLaren Speedtail, or Speed Racer’s Mach 5 with the fender fins combined into a single shark fin down the centerline. Our best attempts to enhance and enlarge make it seem there’s a deployable spoiler behind the shark fin. The backside’s other big prominent feature is a deep diffuser. In the photo, the carbon fiber floor extends beyond the trailing edge of the bodywork, almost never seen on a car outside of a race track, and even then that car is most likely on a trailer. That makes symmetry, the carbon fiber front splitter jutting beyond the yellow-rimmed intake at the other end.

Original specs were for the V12-powered Storm II to hit 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds, on its way to a top speed beyond 250 miles per hour, all for a price starting at £2 million ($2.6M U.S.). Lister’s hometown competition, the Lotus Evija, has restrained its top speed references to something “beyond 200 mph,” and the just-announced Apex “hyper-EV” runs out at 174 mph. The Rimac C-Two and Pininfarina Battista, though, have proved Lister’s trio of targets achievable with far less aggressive looks. We won’t be surprised if Lister has a terminal velocity in mind well beyond the Rimac’s 258 mph.

We hope Lister can show us something more than another rendering come 2022. For now, the company seems busy building the F-Type-based LFT and F-Pace-based LCP, various versions of the continuation Lister Knobbly race cars, and selling classic and performance cars out of its new dealership in Blackburn, England.

Ferrari Roma platform to underpin Purosangue SUV, as product roadmap takes shape

To create the Roma, Ferrari started with the platform used for the Portofino convertible. Engineers strengthened and lightened the architecture and made it modular, so that it will support the company’s range of front-engined vehicles included in CEO Louis Camilleri’s near-term product roadmap of 15 new vehicles over the next three years. Auto Express reports one of those products will be the Purosangue SUV – or FUV, Ferrari Utility Vehicle if you heed the carmaker’s marketers – expected to debut in 2021 before going on sale in 2022 or 2023. The breadth of possibility built into the platform means it can swallow Ferrari’s range of V8 and V12 engines, as well as the coming V6, plus plug-in hybrid equipment and all-wheel drive mechanicals. 

Although observers figure a V12 Purosangue will grace the lineup eventually, models with smaller engines braced with hybrid assistance are expected first. The V12, in fact, is unlikely to get a hybrid form if Ferrari can help it, the brand’s marketing manager saying, “To be honest, electrifying a V12 means creating, very probably, a heavy and big car. So electrification ideally should be coupled with smaller engines.” Absent Ferrari’s righteous 6.5-liter V12, Ferrari’s head of technology says there will be other ways the vehicle codenamed “175” distinguishes itself from V8-powered super-SUV competition, but wouldn’t clarify what those ways are.

We’ll guess the people-hauler slots into the company’s GT vehicle classification alongside the GTC4Lusso, Portofino, and Roma. In the next decade, the GT category grows with a new supercar that marks “the return of an elegant model” cued off classic, mid-20th-century Ferrari Gran Turismos, as well as a battery-electric car after 2025. The Sport Range includes the 812Superfast and 812 GTS, 488 and 488 Pista, and SF90 Stradale. The Icona line kicked off with the Monza SP1 and SP2, and will expand with “timeless design[s] of iconic Ferraris reinterpreted with innovative materials and state of the art technologies.” One-offs like the F12 TRS, SP12 EC and SP38 form the Special Series. The carmaker’s entire range will be split across two modular platforms, one for front-engined placement, one mid-engined.

At the pointy end of the product roadmap, it’s thought Ferrari’s already begun development of its LaFerrari successor. Said to use a naturally-aspirated V12 without electric help, it will produce less output than found in the 986-horsepower, hybrid-V8-powered SF90, while at the same time Ferrari says the new model will be faster than the hybrid-V12-powered LaFerrari. Due sometime after 2022, the new small-run screamer will focus on lightness, controllability and aerodynamics.