All posts in “spy photos”

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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Listen to the Mercedes-AMG Project One romp around Mercedes’ proving grounds

It’s been over three years since we saw the reveal of the Mercedes-AMG Project One, and we’re still waiting on a final production car. Mercedes isn’t keeping us entirely in the dark on what’s going on behind closed doors, though.

Today, Mercedes has dropped a new video and new photos of the Project One testing on track. The company says that testing is entering a new phase now, as pre-production models are running hot laps on Mercedes’ proving grounds in Immendingen. Mercedes also says that this is the first time it’s testing with the engines turned up to their full power potential of “more than 1,000 horsepower.”

For us, this is simply a great chance for us to hear the 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 scream around a racetrack. Mercedes says the sound we’re hearing is authentic and what owners will hear from behind the wheel of their Projects Ones. Since this engine is a street-tamed Formula One engine, it sounds very similar to the Mercedes race cars piloted by Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas on Sundays. The sound isn’t exactly the same as what we hear on TV, but there’s no mistaking this engine’s origins. 

In addition to running at full power, Mercedes says it’s working to validate and develop the active aerodynamics. After this bout of testing is complete, Mercedes says it plans to head to the north loop of the Nurburgring. Don’t expect to see a record attempt, though — AMG already ruled that out a couple years ago.

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Maserati MC20 spy photos show supercar in broad daylight

The upcoming Maserati MC20 mid-engine supercar has been teased a number of times, but thanks to new spy photos, we finally get a clear look at the prototype. Our spy photographer caught the MC20 in broad daylight from nearly every angle, and it was wearing relatively thin camouflage.

The nose of the MC20 seems to take a lot of inspiration from past and present Maseratis. It has a slightly more aggressive oval grille that will house a big trident square in the middle. Two smaller grilles flank the center one. The headlights and hood design look slightly reminiscent of the MC12 supercar, which was based on the Ferrari Enzo. The lights have a similar shape that looks like it might wrap down around the sides of the fender. The little vents in the hood also call to mind the MC12.

The sides of the MC20 aren’t too over-the-top. It has two relatively small intakes in the rear fender, one upper and one lower. There’s a small vent in the front fender. The body’s lines are smooth and curvy. The rear pillar is fairly thick and the side skirts are rather deep. The wheels have quite a bit of vinyl covering, but they seem to have some sort of three-spoke or split three-spoke design.

At the rear of the car, there are few wings, spoilers or other aerodynamic paraphernalia besides the simple rear lip to distract from the clean curves. What we can see of the taillights suggests thin, wide units with arrow-like points in the lighting elements. There appear to be plenty of vents for cooling and aerodynamics, and the twin tailpipes exit roughly in the middle and a bit inset to the edges of the car.

While we don’t know all the details about the car, we know a fair bit about what will power it. It will use a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 630 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. It’s also an in-house engine, not one built by Ferrari. There have been reports that the engine could see a hybrid version with multiple electric motors appear with over 700 horsepower, but it’s also possible that those reports of an electrified engine could simply be referring to a 48-volt mild-hybrid assist that could be a part of the standard V6. We’re expecting the regular V6 MC20 will be rear-wheel-drive with some kind of dual-clutch or conventional automatic transmission. If the high-output hybrid rumors are true, that version would likely be all-wheel-drive. We should know more when the car makes its debut this September.

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Prototype Ferrari 812 Superfast caught making awesome noises at Fiorano

In January, spy photographers snapped an 812 Superfast prototype testing around Maranello. Bodywork revisions included an open front intake, smoothed-out bumpers, taped-up side sills, covered air extractors behind the rear wheels, and new bodywork around the exhaust outlets with what appeared to be additional venting. The Supercar Blog suspected the prototype was a hardcore version of the 812, possibly earning the hallowed “GTO” appellation. Autoevolution went further with the speculation, writing that a reworked 6.5-liter V12 would produce 850 horsepower, a 61-hp jump over the standard 812, and would rev beyond the 9,000-rpm limit in the Ferrari LaFerrari.

At least one more of these testers has been caught on video around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, giving us a chance to hear what’s going on underneath the patchwork skin. YouTube user Varryx got the footage, doing us the favor of including a regular 812 lapping the circuit for comparison. The differences are clear. The 812 is already praised for its glorious exhaust note. The prototype, which looks to have put on a more finished rear valance, snarls more during downshifts and bellows with a lower, angrier pitch on the flyby. 

We’re still not sure what it is, but perusing Ferrari Chat forums reveals members having a conversation about an “812 VS” for nearly two years now. VS is Italian for Versione Speciale, the thrust here being a track-focused and lighter 812. The Speciale cars began with the one-off 1955 375 MM Berlinetta Speciale — “MM” representing Mille Miglia, another name mooted for the special 812. The denomination has returned a few times throughout the decades, used most recently on the one-off 458 MM Speciale commission shows in 2016.

Keeping in mind that this is all speculation until Ferrari reveals the real thing, one Ferrari Chat poster wrote we’ll get “a somehow more powerful blistering naturally aspirated large V-12 track oriented version of the prodigious 812 Superfast. As one of, if not the last of, its kind this will be a high-priced limited edition. Likely limited to 799 pieces. Probably priced at $750,000 or more and approaching $1 million for Tailor Made cars. Prospective launch date 2020. Confidence level 80%.” That production figure matches the number of F12 TDF units Ferrari built. Another forum member said the 812 VS will make 860 metric horsepower, which comes to 848 of our horsepower.

Supposedly, Ferrari had planned the debut the car at the Geneva Motor Show. As of now, suspicions have settled on Ferrari showing an SF90 Spider in September, and this hardcore 812 VS with “organic and pure” bodywork in October or November. We’re also waiting on the mid-engined hybrid supercar spotted all over Maranello of late, so it could be an especially flouncy year for prancing horses.

Short-tailed Bugatti Chiron Super Sport spied testing

One of our spy photographers has caught a rather odd Bugatti Chiron prototype out testing. It features no camouflage, which reveals that it seems to fuse a regular Chiron with the Chiron Super Sport 300+. And that begs the question, what is this?

The front of the car is all Super Sport 300+. It has the revised air intakes, clusters of round vents in the hood, and big vents in the fenders. But unlike that top speed challenger, this has a normal, truncated tail from the regular Chiron. In fact, everything from the front fenders back appears to be regular Chiron. The one difference is the exhaust, which consists of two oval tips that most resemble the tailpipes of the Chiron Pur Sport. But the rear fascia is definitely regular Chiron, not the revised design of the Pur Sport.

So what is it? It could simply be a mash-up of leftover Chiron parts for some kind of test mule. It could also be shortened Chiron Super Sport 300+ that will share the same 1,600-horsepower engine as the high-speed car, but without the cost of the extra aerodynamics. Whatever it is, Bugatti’s testers evidently weren’t happy about the spy photographer catching the car, as he reports the car was hurried into a trailer and security sent to confront the photographer and stop him from sharing the photos. So it seems Bugatti has something interesting coming, whether it looks exactly like this or just has this car’s underpinnings.

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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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Ferrari SF90 Stradale Spider spied out testing for the first time

The Ferrari SF90 Stradale is the most powerful and most tech-forward road car to come out of Maranello ever. It’s a plug-in hybrid that puts out a combined 986 horsepower between the boosted V8 and three electric motors. So, of course it’s getting a convertible variant.

These spy shots are our first look at what is likely the SF90 Spider. It’s not exactly clear that this heavily covered up Ferrari is a convertible at a glance. However, the shark fin antenna has been moved from the roof to the rear deck, indicating to us that it might not work on the roof anymore. The bump for the new location is around where we’d expect the engine cover to be. As for the rest of the car, Ferrari does a hell of a job making this supercar look like a shapeless blob. The dual exhaust exits in the same place as the coupe, mounted high up on the rear fascia. Its big, scalloped side air intakes are also semi-visible.

We can’t see the taillights, but Ferrari has left part of the headlight element uncovered. These closely resemble the look of the standard SF90 Stradale. They’re relatively small, horizontal in shape and have small, powerful-looking LED beams.

Expect the Spider to be nearly as quick as the coupe that’s rated to go 0-62 mph in just 2.5 seconds. The all-wheel drive Ferrari is equipped with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Ferrari estimates an electric range of 15.5 miles when the battery is fully charged, so it’ll only be useful for short trips. Deliveries for the coupe are expected to begin this year. We haven’t heard any hard timing for a convertible yet, but expect a reveal sometime in the next year or two.

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McLaren hybrid sports series prototype spied, possible 570S successor

McLaren has repeatedly said it plans to go hybrid with all of its vehicles in the future. The latest rumors out of Britain point at plans to reveal the first of this new hybrid lineup sometime this year. This heavily camouflaged prototype could be the one we’re waiting for — it even says “hybrid prototype” on the side sill.

Its size and general shape means it’s likely part of McLaren’s Sports Series. The camo does an excellent job of disguising what the sheetmetal underneath looks like. If we had to guess, this car looks like it’d be a replacement for the 570S model. Assuming we’re right about that, it’s probably hiding McLaren’s yet-to-be-revealed twin-turbo V6 engine. Add the electric power into the equation, and it’s likely going to be making much more combined power than the twin-turbo V8 is able to produce on its own now. McLaren’s hybrids are also rumored to be of the plug-in variety, capable of driving about 20 miles off electric power.

The camouflage over top of the engine bay appears to be tented, and it looks a bit like the McLaren GT because of it with the gently sloping line to the back. We don’t even get to see how large the side air intakes are since McLaren has covered these up quite well, too. The high-mounted dual exhaust has us giddy. Its placement reminds us of the 720S exhaust pipes. Under all that is a giant diffuser and wide rubber pushed to the edges of the car.

Last we heard, McLaren was going to release a hybrid model this year, and it would go on sale in 2021. We wouldn’t be surprised if these targets are pushed back due to delays stemming from the coronavirus.

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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.

Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Omologato preparing for debut

Lamborghini’s Squadra Corse motorsports division will soon be showing two takes on two of Lamborghini’s marquee products. At the deep end, we have the Aventador-based, 830-horsepower track car recently flogged on a dyno. At the other deep end we have this, which Motor1 caught wind of: Instagram user “allanlambo” uploaded pics of a camouflaged Huracán said to be called the Huracán STO, for Super Trofeo Omologato. If you’ve seen the automaker’s one-make and customer race car, the Huracán Super Trofeo Evo, the camouflaged coupe should look real familiar. From what we can tell, everything from the B-pillar back could have come straight from the competition car — the roof scoop, shark fin, bodacious wing, deep-dish spoiler, and center-lock wheels are all looking for the checkered flag. The rear even copies the overall design and negative spaces from the race car, as well as the diffuser, the only major change being the rear lights from the road car. The STO, according to Internet rumor and forum postings, will be a limited-edition road-going version of the race car.

Automobile mentioned this very creature late last year but only in passing, as a side dish to the possibility of a production Sterrato off-road sports car. According to a PistonHeads forum, word is the Huracán STO is about making the most of the Huracán Evo’s already potent package, so the naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V10 with 632 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque goes unchanged. The engine will have less weight to shift, thanks to a diet expected to shed around 330 pounds. All power will go to the rear wheels, and as a Squadra Corse production, the Lamborghini Talk forum claims that the coupe won’t get the ALA system that improves handling. Backroom chatter has it that the STO was designed for superior hotshoes who carry their personal ALA systems somewhere between their solar plexii and their gall bladders, not for the merely average hotshoes who praise technology for keeping them out of gravel traps. Other add-ons like a racing clutch, a mechanical differential, and bigger brakes have been mentioned as potential upgrades.

Both forums peg a debut during Monterey Car Week in August, before the car goes on sale late this year as a 2021 model. The automaker supposedly intended the STO to be a small-batch special for dealer-backed race teams and Squadra Corse clients, akin to the Ferrari 488 Pista Piloti, but has opened sales to a wider audience. That doesn’t mean the opening is large, however; Lamborghini’s apparently spiffed up a customer grading system, so dealers can submit willing buyers and the factory will choose which applicants win. Owners have heard build numbers of between 400 and 700 units, dealers said to be lobbying for that lower number or even fewer. Applicants who lose out shouldn’t despair, there’s rumor of a Huracán Superleggera arriving before the model gives way to the next generation sometime around 2023. 

Is this a new McLaren racecar?

McLaren has something interesting in the works, and our eagle-eyed spy shooter caught a camo-clad prototype in testing as evidence. This intense McLaren is based on the 675LT, and looks to be a racecar prototype, but it could be a test mule for something entirely different.

The huge wing in the back is visually dramatic, and suggests this car is built to race, as do the large air intakes and roof scoop, but that could just be a distraction. Our spy points out the “MV715-23” on the top of the windshield. BP23 is McLaren’s code name for the rumored three-seat “hyper-GT” car that will serve as an homage to the F1, due in 2019 (and already sold out). This car, though, has a two-seat layout, but who knows what sort of powertrain is hiding underneath that body.

We think the racecar theory has some credibility, because … well, just look at it. Got your own ideas? Share ’em in the comments below.

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The new Porsche 911 Turbo is hiding underneath its older sibling

The new 992 generation of Porsche 911 is out in full force, with a fleet of prototypes hitting the streets. Until now, all we’ve seen are different flavors of the standard 911 Carrera, but now we have our first glimpse of the new 911 Turbo. Sort of. While we’re certain the car here is in fact a next-gen 911 prototype underneath, it’s still wearing the current car’s sheetmetal. When it comes to the 911, all the changes are under the skin anyway.

The 911 Turbo body has been modified with wider fenders both front and rear. The Turbo is already wider than the standard Carrera, so the new model may be the widest Porsche 911 ever. Expect wider tires both front and rear in addition to a revised suspension setup. As before, the Turbo will pack all-wheel drive and a turbo flat-six. The current Turbo S makes a healthy 580 horsepower, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the new model packs more than 600.

Other than the wider fenders, there isn’t much else to see. The wheels don’t fill out the wheel wells, so look for a new or updated design. As with the other models, don’t look for a production version anytime soon. The current 991.2 Porsche 911 launched recently and the German automaker won’t want to cannibalize any potential sales by showing the new car early.

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Cadillac XT3 caught covered in copious camouflage

While a bit difficult to tell thanks to the impressive camouflage used, what we’re looking at here is likely the upcoming Cadillac XT3. There are a few details that stand out to lend credence to this prediction. There are a handful of sharp angles scattered throughout that are in line with Cadillac’s modern design language. Specifically in the LED running lights and on the side mirrors. The rear profile also is reminiscent of the current, and slightly larger XT5. The rear lights extend into the D-pillars, which would match the current Escalade.

We get a pretty clear picture of the rear suspension on this XT3. It’s clearly an independent rear suspension using coil springs. While General Motors uses independent suspension on some of its crossovers, we can’t quite match it to a particular model. We believe that if the XT3 is based on an existing model (which it almost certainly is), the platform and suspension have been substantially modified.

The XT3 could use a version of the D2XX platform that underpins the Buick Envision. However, we know from a previous report that the XT3 will likely be built at the factory that produces the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu. The XT5 uses a modified version of the LaCrosse/Malibu platform, so it’s possible the XT3 could use a shorter version of the XT5 chassis. Depending on how small the XT3 ends up being, it might even share a platform with the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore. However, considering their economy car roots and torsion-bar rear suspension, we think that’s the least likely.

Regardless of what chassis is underneath its crisp bodywork, we expect the XT3 to be released sometime next year.

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