All posts in “Cars”

The ProDrive Hunter is an extreme off-road racer for the street

If your idea of a daily driver is a nearly-600-horsepower anime monster on wheels, ProDrive has just the car for you. The Hunter, based on the BRX extreme off-road race car of the same name, is billed by developer ProDrive as the “World’s First All-Terrain Hypercar,” and it can be yours for just £1.25 million ($1.63 million). Plus tax. 

“There are numerous hypercars on the market, however they all need good roads or even race tracks to show their performance,” said ProDrive chairman David Richards in the company’s announcement. “We identified that in certain parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, there are vast expanses still to be explored that go way beyond the access provided by asphalt roads. Therefore why not create a vehicle that gives the opportunity to explore these regions with performance way beyond that offered by any off-road vehicle before.”

The Hunter is built around an old-fashioned internal-combustion engine. The twin-turbo, dry sump Ford six-cylinder produces at least 592 horsepower (600 bhp) and 516 pound-feet of torque, which is significantly more than it makes in race spec. That’s one benefit of the street; there are no regulations (and corresponding restrictor plates) to spoil all your big-horsepower fun. Power goes to the ground by way of a six-speed paddle-shifted gearbox mated to front, rear and center differentials routing torque to all four wheels. ProDrive says this combo is good for a 0-62 time under 4.0 seconds and a top speed in the neighborhood of 180 mph, but stressed that on-road performance is not the Hunter’s raison d’être. 

“We took the deliberate decision to keep the Hunter Hypercar as close to the original as possible,” said Richards. “It’s about giving owners the opportunity to experience what it is like to drive Loeb’s Dakar car across the desert, but with all the comforts of a road car and the ability to drive it from your home, through a city, to any destination of your choice.”

Like the race car, the Hunter’s chassis is a steel tube-frame setup wrapped in carbon fiber body panels. The suspension is a double-wishbone setup front and rear with adjustable dampers. 17-inch wheels with 35-inch off-road tires are standard; behind them you’ll spot six-piston Brembo brakes. The Hunter street car also gets an extra 50mm of suspension travel to improve ride quality over the racer’s. The exterior may look a bit like Pikachu auditioning for a “Cars” sequel, but at least you can tell all your friends that it was penned by Ian Callum. That means it’s basically a Vanquish, right? 

We’re normally not convinced by the typical race car for the street (or in this case, “Ferrari of the desert” turned race car for the street) hyperbole, but the Hunter is an incredible performance machine that is conspicuously lacking in creature comforts. How lacking? Well, ProDrive’s list of interior features includes carbon fiber seats, six-point safety harnesses, a fire suppression system and lightweight battery.

That’s not exactly an excess of creature comforts, but Callum was brought back in to help design some cabin elements that were necessary to make the Hunter more livable in daily life, including a center console with slightly more conventional switchgear. The announcement made no specific mention of air conditioning, but there’s a snowflake icon visible amongst the controls, so we’re going to assume it at least offers that. For nearly $1.5 million, that seems reasonable.

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage revealed as the last of the line

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is here, and it’s a wild sendoff to the littlest 12-cylinder, front-engine sports car in the company’s lineup. Yes, this will be the last Vantage to get the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12. As such, it’s going to be produced in very limited numbers with a whole bunch of special features to make the most of the beefy engine under the hood.

That V12 is a familiar unit, as it has also appeared in DB11 and DBS variants, as well as the Vantage-based V12 Speedster. The engine is tuned to the V12 Speedster’s specifications with 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available from between 1,800 to 6,000 rpm. It’s paired to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission in the middle and a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear. Aston says the powertrain will propel the V12 Vantage to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds on the way to a 200 mph top speed.

Surrounding the engine is a thoroughly revised body. It’s about 1.6 inches wider overall to accommodate the wider track and fat tires (275-mm front and 315-mm rear). The front grille is 25% larger than on a normal Vantage to provide more cooling, and the hood has a scalloped vent for the same reason. Many of the body components are made of carbon fiber for weight savings including the bumpers, side skirts, fenders, hood and trunk lid. Adding both visual excitement and additional downforce are the front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser and wing. They provide 450 pounds of downforce at top speed. If a buyer finds the wing to be a bit much, though, it can be deleted, though downforce would be reduced. The V12 Vantage also gets a special center-exit exhaust that weighs nearly 16 pounds less than the standard Vantage exhaust.

Naturally, the chassis gets upgrades to handle the V12 Vantage’s power. In addition to being wider, the V12 Vantage’s chassis is stiffer thanks to added sheer panels, a rear shock tower brace and fuel tank bracing. The adaptive suspension features stiffer springs are stiffer, as are various bushings and the front anti-roll bar. The rear anti-roll bar is actually softer, though. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard with six-piston front calipers and 4-piston rear calipers.

On the inside, the V12 Vantage is pretty similar to a regular model, but it gets standard Sports Plus Seats with semi-aniline leather with quilted stitching and perforations. Lightweight carbon fiber seats are also available, and Aston Martin’s Q division offers all kinds of special ways to personalize a model for extra fees both inside and out from color anodized knobs to custom graphics and tinted carbon fiber.

Aston is only building 333 examples of the V12 Vantage, and that’s for the whole world. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it also doesn’t matter much, as every example is spoken for. Production begins this year, and deliveries will start in the second quarter of next year

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Aston Martin teases V12 Vantage twice more ahead of debut

If you can handle another tease of the coming Aston Martin V12 Vantage, here are two. The first is a photo of what will certainly be a riotous super coupe under a partially opaque Union Jack. We can’t spot anything on the obscured car that we don’t know about from prototypes (or suspect from reports); the headlights, side mirrors, fender vents, and wheels are all there. Phew!. Out back, the drapery hangs high, pulled over a high wing that will be part of the V12 Vantage’s numerous aerodynamic accoutrements. The test vehicles we’ve seen have been wingless, fitting nothing more than a Gurney flap to the Vantage’s tidy ducktail, so we’ll have to find out if the wing is standard fit or an option. 

Behind the extra large grille, everyone is expecting the brand’s 5.2-liter V12. In the limited edition Speedster, which married the Vantage’s chassis to the Superleggera’s front end, that 12-cylinder made 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. Predictions for V12 Vantage out range from about 600, roughly in line with the DB11, to about 670, which would be a massive hoot while leaving room enough not to fluster Speedster owners.

The second teaser is a brief Twitter video mood board with the admonition to “Never leave quietly.”

We’ll hear the supercar’s noise and find out about its backside on March 16, when the reveal happens. We should also find out then how many Aston Martin plans to make. A previous rumor put that production number at 299. The vehicle itself is expected to arrive for the 2023 model year as part of the standard Vantage’s model update, sources saying there will only be 299 made. The standard 2023 Vantage will be part of an overhaul of the front-engined Aston Martins that result in more power, better dynamics, and better interiors.

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Ferrari 296 GTB First Drive Review | Design and technical showpiece

Seville, Spain – Even when its founder Enzo was a pup, Ferrari was famously wringing maximum performance from miniscule engines. Today, that spirit lives on in the Ferrari 296 GTB plug-in hybrid – the first real V6 road car in Ferrari history – and a blistering track romp and road trip through Andalusia, Spain, proves again that automotive brilliance often comes in bite-sized packages. That talent, now combined with the modern shove and zero tailpipe emissions of electricity (in short distances) is coming in handy as regulators demand gasoline engines be downsized or eliminated entirely. When downtown Rome finally says basta to internal-combustion cars, the 296 GTB will get a free pass and a proud salute from locals.

This Ferrari will draw its share of wolf whistles as well. New tech aside, the 296 GTB is more old-school Ferrari in styling; a swoopy object of lust from its flying buttresses to a carved-out Kamm tail.

Press the haptic e Drive switch on the 296’s exotic steering wheel and it can cover 15.5 miles on pure electricity at up to 84 mph. Its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is sidelined via an electric clutch, and a ghostly hum emanates from within. No, that’s not the sound of Enzo turning in his grave. Just the opposite, I’d say. That dude loved to win, even (or especially) when people called him crazy, and said his tiny 12-cylinder jewels (Phrasing? -BH) would never work (Oh, it got worse -BH).

So if you assume the 296 GTB is the Ferrari customers must “settle for,” think again. This short-wheelbase, mid-engine Ferrari is gorgeously evocative of classic models like the 250 LM, including roller-coaster haunches that seem extruded from a fast-flowing body. With a ridiculous 819 rear-driven horsepower, the 296 GTB is also faster and more reactive than every larger V8 car in Ferrari’s lineup, including the 488 Tributo and wicked 488 Pista. How fast? Well, this six-cylinder warrior circles the Fiorano factory track in less time than LaFerrari — the seven-figure hybrid wonder of just a few years ago. “But it doesn’t have a V8,” your say? Well, fine: The 488s, Roma coupe and Portofino convertible remain eminently defensible choices. Just get used to the 296 GTB wagging its saucy tail in your face at track days (with its signature, high-mounted single exhaust outlet), while you mumble something about the “Good Old Days.”

I’m mumbling something else after storming through Andalusia on HU 4103, a two-lane, EU-funded fantasy road that resembles a private/public racetrack in the countryside: All mirror-smooth pavement, double-stacked guardrails, helpful bright-blue turn arrows and a dearth of other drivers. The 296 GTB bullets from corner to corner, as fast in full Automatic mode as when using the rabbit-eared, carbon-fiber paddle shifters. Braked with my left foot for balanced pendulum swings against the throttle, the Ferrari’s eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox self-downshifts as low as second gear at roughly 6,000 rpm.

Incredible by-wire brakes create a fierce double-whammy of engine braking and electric regen, and then the Ferrari is off again. On a long ascent and descent, the regen brakes slurp so much energy that the battery remains fully stuffed, even at maximum attack. This is a hybrid that basically never runs out of electric breath, a kind of junior F1 car for the street.

A “Qualifying” mode summons maximum performance for shorter bursts, but also fully recharges the 7.5-kilowatt-hour battery (with 80 lithium-ion cells) in less than 15 minutes in my hands. The 296 is also super-satisfying in Hybrid mode, cruising gasoline-free at a brisk clip, but ready to fire up the engine and lunge ahead with a firmer press of the throttle. After a perspiring 115-mile drive, the all-digital instrument panel, descended from the SF90 hypercar, informs me that I’ve used gasoline for 80% of the trip, electricity for the rest – and saved 1 liter of fuel in the process. Every little bit, si?

Seemingly limitless front-end grip is amplified with joyful, high-pitched 8,500-rpm shrieks from an engine that Ferrari engineers call the “piccolo V12” — “little V12.” That’s not all Italian hyperbole, as I’ll explain later. As for the “first Ferrari V6” claim, recall that the six-cylinder, mid-engine Dinos – sold from 1967 to 1974, named after Enzo’s tragically fated son – were intended as a “son-of” sub-brand, and never wore a Ferrari badge. Ferrari, of course, has enjoyed racing success with V6s in multiple eras, from Mike Hawthorn’s 1958 F1 championship to the 1982 campaign that saw the 126 C2 become F1’s first turbocharged title winner.

These Spanish roads wind through the Rio Tinto (“Red River”) whose mineral-infused waters flash a striking crimson, though our convoy of Ferraris may have created some spillover effect. Regarding red Ferraris, I’ve never been a fan of that too-obvious choice, but the 296 GTB’s Rosso Imola definitely works, a smoldering lipstick shade for this Italian supermodel. And while I do love me some 488 Pista, our long road-and-track day convinces me the 296 GTB is the smarter, better all-around sports car. The 296 – the name combining the 2,992-cc engine, and “6” cylinders – feels even more responsive, less high-strung and demanding, thereby more appealing as a daily driver. And that’s without getting into the electric advantages; including a redesigned electric motor, sandwiched between the engine and gearbox, that supplies 122 kilowatts (165 horsepower) and 232 pound-feet of torque, filling in all the low-rev and shifting gaps until there’s no chink in the armor.

Quicksilver handling recalls a Lotus by way of Maranello, but with double or triple the power. Its electric steering is immediacy personified, with a lightness that underlines the wrongheadedness of sports cars and sedans that confuse burly effort with actual road feel. A highway blast on the Autovia lets the 296 GTB demonstrate its searing pace and stability, surging to 150 mph and more as boggled drivers pull to the right to watch the Ferrari soar past. 

The craziest part is how a sports car can send 819 horsepower to the ground through rear wheels, effortlessly, without ever feeling like a handful of dynamite. Credit in part the specially developed, 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, or the available Pilot Sport Cup 2s that nearly match the dry grip of racing slicks but remain DOT-legal.

Actually, this may be the craziest part: Company executives and engineers define the 296 GTB as the most “fun-to-drive” Ferrari, by intent and design. That may come as a shock to people who plunk down at least $523,000 – $200,000 beyond the GTB’s $323,000 base price – for its philosophical parent, the SF90 AWD plug-in. But Ferrari executives are nothing if not confident, saying there’s a Ferrari for every type of buyer, and obviously big enough garages that some can avoid making a choice altogether. While “fun to drive” has a subjective element, engineers insist there are objective parameters, including lateral/longitudinal response to throttle and steering inputs; shift times and sensations; brake pedal feel and response; and sound level and quality in the cabin. Designers and engineers parsed, mapped and quantified everything that makes a Ferrari “fun” – price tag didn’t make the list – and sought to elevate the 296 GTB to new highs, for owners who prize pure sensation and immediacy.

Sensations begin with a 2.0-inch shorter wheelbase and lower center-of-gravity versus any V8 Ferrari, which helps this sports car shrink around its pilot. The engine trims 66 pounds versus the V8. Dry weight is a commendable 3,234 pounds — 70 more than an F8 Tributo, thanks to the hybrid hardware and battery — but with 108 faster-acting horsepower on tap. That gives the 296 a better weight-to-power ratio than any rival. Meanwhile, the feelsome by-wire braking system, the company insists, lets the 296 GTB brake later and deeper into corners than any other Ferrari, allowing owners to attack apexes and just crush the pedal with no fear of upsetting the car.

Extensive aero work includes a “tea tray” doohickey up front to direct air along the underbody. Hidden headlamp ducts cool brakes, themselves fitted with ventilating “aero” calipers. Underbody height is as low as roadgoing rules allow, allowing reworked vortex generators to boost ground-effect suction and front downforce. Greedy cavities in those blush-worthy rear fenders feed turbo intercoolers. An active aero panel, hidden between taillamps, rises in an instant to generate up to 100 pounds of extra downforce, including under braking. I wasn’t arguing after my track drive at the Monteblanco circuit, where a roughly 165-mph straightaway abruptly ends at a near-hairpin corner. An optional Assetto Fiorano package forms that panel from carbon fiber, with stiffer Multimatic shock absorbers and other bits to further boost downforce and trim 26 pounds.

I’ve barely discussed that masterwork engine, discreetly hidden below dark-tinted, three-dimensional glass. Twin exhaust banks provocatively come together in a long, single central exhaust formed from thin-walled Inconel alloy. “Aluchrome” is used for the cavernous, high-mounted rear outlet, an alloy that maintains shine under extremely high temperatures.

Consider Enzo Ferrari’s first solo effort, the 125S racer of 1947, which made 118 horsepower from 12 dainty cylinders that displaced just 1.5 liters. This V6 alone generates 654 horsepower from just twice the displacement. Its 218 horsepower-per-liter becomes a historic high in specific output for any production automobile. The engine cradles a pair of turbochargers in the “hot-V” cleavage of 120-degree cylinder banks. Those turbos spin up to 180,000 rpm, with a huge 24% jump in performance and boost efficiency versus the V8 turbos. This engine is also a testament to high compression (including 350-bar fuel injection) and low inertia. The whistling turbos and a forged, nitrided crankshaft help reduce rotating masses by 11% versus the 3.9-liter V8.

This first in a new F163 engine family also combines two elements that can seem diametrically opposed: The force of turbocharging with the euphonious revving and trebly wail of a naturally aspirated V-2: Hence, “the piccolo V12.” The crankshaft’s 120-degree geometry, symmetrical cylinder firing order and tuned, equal-length exhaust runners deliver both the pressure pulses and harmonic sound orders of a V12. Those natural, odd-numbered harmonic orders are further amplified via a “hot tube” prior to exhaust treatment that push those sweet frequencies into the cabin, even at low revs. If a Mercedes-AMG V8 is basso profundo, this V6 is a La Scala tenor, sailing to 8,500-rpm peaks with enough force and emotional drama to bring tears to one’s eyes. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would guess there are only six cylinders churning below decks.

To all that, add 165 horses of inverted AC juice from the axial, dual-rotor motor. All told, this V6 Ferrari can shriek to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and to 200 kph (124 mph) in 7.3 seconds. Terminal velocity is 206 mph. That 0-200 kph figure is especially telling. It’s about 0.5 seconds quicker than a V8 McLaren 720S, and 0.9 seconds quicker than a Lamborghini Huracan Evo with a naturally aspirated V10. 

When I first clapped eyes on the 296 GTB and its stand-displayed V6 in early 2021 during an SF90 drive at Fiorano, I assumed it was some kind of “starter model.” That was before I realized what this crew was up to, and definitely before I experienced the car. The 296 GTB is a design and technical showpiece, like an SF90 Jr., but with the advantage of being smaller, lighter and rear-wheel-drive. As ever, there’s no free lunch in Maranello, even at the newly restored Cavallino restaurant where Enzo dined and did business almost daily. So a plug-in, small-engined showboat that’s faster than a V8 Ferrari must also cost more than a V8 Ferrari.

Thus, the 296 GTB starts from $323,000, a solid $42,000 hike over the 488 Tributo at $281,000; but a skosh less than a 488 Pista at $331,000. Some Tifosi will find that difficult choice keeping them up at night, perhaps counting cylinders. Some will rest easy, and buy one of each. 

De Tomaso P72 sounds glorious while winter testing

Tis the season of ESC calibrations on ice and throwing snowflake roostertails, otherwise known as winter testing. Audi likes to throw walls of white in northern Sweden, as it’s doing now with the 2023 E-Tron electric crossover. De Tomaso Automobili seems to prefer Switzerland, having taken its coming P72 coupe to an alpine valley for wintertime exercises. The best thing about what is essentially another snowy drifting video is the sound of the engine. The P72’s curves drove straight out of 1965 and some enthusiasts might not harbor any nostalgia for them. The rumble from the mid-mounted, supercharged Ford 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that De Tomaso and Roush Performance further tuned into something vintage and cantankerous, well, that should get near-unanimous approval.

De Tomaso said the supercar and hypercar trend of massive engine output is “irrelevant to the ethos of this project and what we are trying to achieve.” It’s clear that the noise is very relevant. You wouldn’t suspect the Coyote breathed through a Roots-type supercharger, but such is the case. Roush tweaked the blower for faster operation, better airflow and thermal efficiency, and less noise and vibration, that latter bit in order to stress an “old-school American V8 soundtrack” and the naturally aspirated spirit of the Sixties. Assuming the A/V crew didn’t play with the supercharger sound levels when editing the vid, the P72 has become a lot more attractive having learned it will bellow some old-school commotion through its top-mounted exhaust. We’ve been told final output will coast somewhere north of 700 horsepower and 608 pound-feet of torque, the planned redline beyond 7,500 rpm. 

The P in the coupe’s alphanumeric name represents Prototipo in the name of the original De Tomaso race car from the 1960s, the 72 representing how many of these will be made. They were priced at 700,000 euros apiece ($763,000 U.S.) last year, but many things have happened since then, so that might be revised upward. Not that the target demo will care much.

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2022 Ford GT Holman & Moody Heritage Edition teased

The Ford GT is reportedly ending production this year with the full allotment of 1,350 cars built. The automaker is loading up on special editions for the run to the finish, revealing the 1964 Prototype Heritage Edition last August, the Alan Mann Racing Heritage Edition last month, and now teasing a Holman & Moody Heritage Edition. This throwback celebrates one of the major partners in Ford’s Le Mans effort, the North Carolina shop Holman & Moody Racing that prepped NASCAR racers for Ford teams. The outfit gets less publicity than Shelby — the fate of just about every other collaborator once Shelby shows up — but the tuners helped develop GT40 MkII vitals like the 427-cubic-inch engine and the braking system. Their entry, the #5 driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson, finished third at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans behind the Shelby American cars. 

The teased GT only gives away the traditional Holman & Moody livery colors of gold and red, and a roundel bearing the number 5. We expect the formula for this coupe won’t change from previous the previous retro treats, with colors and special accents inside being the extent of the changes.

What’s wild about this heritage edition appearing at this time is that not even two weeks ago, an owner listed his personal 2020 GT done up in a Holman & Moody tribute livery for sale on Collector’s Garage. The owner had asked Camilo Pardo, who designed the 2004 Ford GT, to create the design, then had the car painted in Atomic Gold with white and pink accents, finished with a set of custom green HRE wheels. And yes, it was painted, not wrapped. It’s still for sale for $1.2 million.

The official 2022 GT Holman Moody Heritage Edition will be less than half that, for those who can get it. Ford says the debut comes this spring, which isn’t far away.

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McLaren 765LT Spider Road Test | Clearing the air on Angeles Crest

LOS ANGELES — A sunny L.A. spring day is the ideal complement to taking possession of a nearly $500,000, Ambit Blue McLaren 765LT Spider. Add to that an hours-long midday stint on a nearly empty Angeles Crest Highway and a recipe is crafted for a nearly utopic automotive experience.

The presence of my boyfriend in the right seat was the proverbial cake frosting, save for the fact that he dislikes convertibles and driving quickly. We compromised. If he would join me for the ride, I would attend a museum tour with him at the Lanterman House in La Cañada Flintridge – a suburban town at the road’s western terminus – and treat him to lunch afterward. Drive, Discover, Dine: Date Day. 

Dr. Jacob Lanterman moved to sunny Southern California from dreary western Michigan in the early part of the 20th century, seeking and espousing the health benefits – and relief from pulmonary illnesses like tuberculosis – believed to be offered by the lovely weather and fresh air. He became a major landholder in the Crescenta Valley, at the base of the San Gabriel mountains, built himself and his family a 10,000-square-foot Arts and Crafts-style home out of concrete and steel in 1915 to defend against the fire and earthquakes he’d witnessed in San Francisco, and began subdividing and selling parcels. But the valley’s lack of access to a year-round water supply choked the process.

His grandson, Frank, who lived in the house for his entire life, became a long-serving Republican California state assemblyman, and managed to pass legislation allowing the town access to the same fresh water supply that served Los Angeles, ushering into his pockets loads of cash, and ushering into the valley sprawl, traffic, and smog. Rep. Lanterman countered by introducing the nation’s first legislation mandating pollution reduction devices on cars. California thus became the first state to create tailpipe emissions standards, and require the componentry needed to scrub (some) harmful soot and fumes from the always-inefficient burning of fossil fuels. (Frank sponsored many less helpful initiatives as well.)

Speaking of the inefficient burning of fossil fuels, the McLaren 765LT Spider, which is able to pump 91 octane through its mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 and produce 755 horsepower. And while it sports four gargantuan exhaust portals – lined up (and sounding) like the business end of a mortar – it at least spews far less air-corrupting garbage into the atmosphere than your grandmother’s LeSabre thanks to those tailpipe emissions standards, which allow the air surrounding Angeles Crest, while not perfectly clear, to generally no longer feel like grime stew.

This was a bonus for me during my reverential drive up and down the highway, as deep breathing is requisite when piloting a half-million dollars worth of peak British exotic through about 1,000 hairpin turns already occupied by hostile bicyclists, ripping motorcyclists, tumbling granite and suicidal wildlife.

It is difficult to enunciate the perfection of the 765LT Spider. I could critique the extortionate pricing like the $730 car cover, the $5,500 paint color or the $2,120 carbon fiber front license plate plinth. I could gripe about the fact that a car that costs this much doesn’t include Apple CarPlay. I could note that clambering into the car, and its highly-bolstered carbon-shell seats, requires contortions that would challenge a champion ecdysiast. I could whine that once you’re in there, there’s literally no place to put your stuff except a little webbed pocket on the firewall. But that would be nitpicking.

This car is an absolute blast, in the literal and figurative sense of the word. Acceleration is blistering – 0-60 mph arrives in 2.3 seconds, 100 in just twice that – enthralling and eminently repeatable. Though the car’s belt line was around my neck, forward visibility is shockingly ideal; one can practically see the road as it appears just beyond the front bumper, important when attacking the aforementioned blind curves. The braking, with ceramic composite discs, and calipers borrowed from the trackable Senna hypercar, is immediate, wonderfully balanced, and perfectly modulated.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission works telepathically in automated mode, but is far more alluring to rifle off shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddles; in the sportiest setting they replicate a chiropractor’s adjustments. Grip is nothing short of agglutinate, aided by Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, developed especially for McLaren, in sizes 245/35/R19 (F) and 305/30/R20 (R). Approaching their limits is like approaching the limits of the universe. And the engine, while not the most melodious, certainly sings. There is not so much a power curve as an inexhaustible reservoir of omnipresent vigor. One can mash the accelerator any time in any gear and experience the exhilaration of takeoff. 

The last time I drove this road was in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. The experience was very different, and it helped me understand why billionaires have more than one exotic. The Ferrari’s plug-in hybrid powertrain and all-wheel-drive grip made for even more astounding acceleration and handling. But the McLaren was more engaging, more of a connected partner. The Ferrari drove better, but the McLaren made me feel like a better driver. (Don’t ask my boyfriend if he would concur. He said his eyes were closed most of the time.)

Also, the McLaren is a convertible, which – despite the protestations of bitter naysayers who despise joy – makes every road car better. It allows occupants to be immersed in the world, to exhilarate in life-giving energy as the scenery rips by. And it allows them to enjoy the air. We can thank Frank Lanterman, in part, for that.    

Post Malone’s very white Bugatti Chiron is up for grabs

Rapper and face tattoo enthusiast Post Malone is selling a 2019 Bugatti Chiron. It’s not just any 2019 Bugatti Chiron, either, but one tailored to Mr. Malone’s personal tastes, which is, apparently, white on white on white.

Malone apparently eschewed the Chiron’s available two-tone exterior for a single finish entirely in what Bugatti calls Glacier. Apparently, it’s the hit songwriter’s favorite color, his car collection consisting of a fleet of matching achromatic vehicular baubles. The interior complements it with swaths of bleached leather ensconcing every conceivable surface, from headliner to seats to dashboard to steering wheel. We didn’t realize plain white could look so gaudy, but somehow the Bug makes it happen.

The car is currently listed with DuPont Registry, and photos show the odometer reading just 586 miles. That would explain why the alabaster supercar still looks as unsullied as a pair of collector grade Drake Edition Air Jordan 12 OVOs, or THX 1138’s torture room.

When new, the supercar boasting 1,479-horsepower and 1,180 lb-ft of torque stickered at about $3 million, but Malone opted for a few bells and whistles to set it apart from your more plebeian Chirons. Its black brake calipers, for example, are said to be a $6,400 option. The silver mesh grilles front and rear command another $38,200, a relative bargain compared to the $64,000 Caractere wheels. Inside, the center console inlay aluminum trim adds another $10,900, while contrast-stitching comfort seats are worth another $32,000, or the price of one new Mustang convertible.

That’s over $150,000 in options alone, but that’s probably nothing for Mr. Malone, whose garage consists of a Lamborghini Aventador SV, Rolls Royce Phantom, Rolls Royce Wraith, McLaren Senna, Hennesey VelociRaptor 6×6, 2019 Subaru WRX, 1966 Lincoln Continental, and a 1992 Ford Explorer with Lambo doors.

With all those other sweet rides and a career as a musical superstar, Malone probably didn’t have the time to give the Bugatti’s 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 regular workouts, but maybe you can. Just don’t eat Chee-tos in it.

Alpine hydrogen supercar teased ahead of March 18 reveal

Despite the great EV rush across the auto industry, some are still exploring designs that use alternative fuels like hydrogen. Alpine, in a project with the Istituto Europeo di Design, one of the top transportation design schools in the world, has created a hydrogen-powered supercar that will be revealed on March 18. For now, it’s being teased.

Alpine has revealed precious little about the car so far. Called the Alpine A4810, it was designed in collaboration with 28 IED students as part of their Master in Transportation Design program’s thesis project. As such, the emphasis is going to be on design, with a low, rounded prow carrying on Alpine tradition. The brand’s signature quad headlamps take on a hexagonal shape rather than the typical round units, and a new LED lighting signature spans the width of the front.

Beyond that, we can see bulging wheel arches front and rear, a fighter jet canopy-style greenhouse and taillights that appear to extend from the rear bodywork. Oh, and the Alpine logo on the nose glows, too.

The stated goal of the project was to develop something as extreme as a supercar but with sustainability in mind. Interestingly, rather than a battery-electric setup, the IED’s description specifically calls out a hydrogen powertrain. It doesn’t, however, specify if that’s a fuel cell or a combustion engine that uses hydrogen fuel. The latter, as an example, would be something like Toyota’s Corolla-based hydrogen race car.

In the grand scheme of things it probably won’t matter too much, as this is primarily a design study. Alpine has also made moves to develop an all-electric sports car. It has about as much chance of making it into production as the Suzuki Misano Concept that IED previously designed. Still, it may serve as a visual guidepost for the company’s future vehicles. The Alpine A4810 will be revealed online on Thursday, March 18.

NHRA’s drag racing rules now allow faster street-legal cars

Up until now, rules laid out by the National Hot Rod Association required any car that was capable of running the quarter mile in less than 10 seconds to have a roll cage. That means a sturdy set of metal tubes welded together to internally brace the interior of a vehicle, thereby making it safer in the event of a serious crash. As of today, however, that rule has been altered to allow for faster street-legal cars to compete.

Vehicles like the Dodge Demon, Tesla’s Model S and X Plaid, Chevy Corvette ZR1, Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 and possibly some other Hellcat-badged or supercar competitors may have been too fast to legally compete at NHRA-sanctioned drag racing events, depending on the driver’s ability and determination. The revised NHRA rules state:

2014 and newer OEM model-year production cars to run as quick as 9.00-seconds and/or 150-mph (5.65-eighth mile). In addition, racers with 2008-2013 OEM model-year cars will still be permitted to run as quickly as 10.00-seconds and/or 135-mph (6.40-eighth mile).

The rules do stipulate that the car’s factory safety equipment has to be installed and operational, including things like the brakes and airbags, and that DOT-approved tires are fitted. Drivers will have to have the appropriate competition license to race, and convertibles and cars with T-tops have different regulations. Stickers celebrating the racing accomplishments will be offered.

“At NHRA, we very much support their commitment to performance and recognize that there is still a very large market for performance cars,” Lonnie Grim, NHRA National Tech Director, said in a statement. “At the same time, we acknowledge that NHRA needs to keep pace with the current trends, which is why we’ve announced these rules adjustments.”

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2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Stingray offer bounteous options

Someone with access to GM’s Work Book system to order new vehicles decided to put together some sample orders for the new 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and 2023 Corvette Stingray. Since the automaker won’t accept orders for the coming coupes until March 24, this person decided the best thing to do was take screenshots of the options sheets and send them to Corvette Action Center. That is how we know Chevrolet’s coming superstar Z06 will offer a terrific range of personalization. We already knew about the 14 exterior colors, confirmed when Chevrolet debuted next year’s 70th Anniversary special editions. But how about 11 varieties of exterior striping, with three stinger stripe packages for the hood and eight full-length versions, one of them part of the 70th Anniversary package? Z06 buyers can also choose from seven wheel types and finishes bolted over brake calipers that can be had in six colors, including dark gray metallic and orange, four kinds of wheel locks, and get center caps with the Jake logo. And have we mentioned the three possible colors for the rear badge alone?  

Or how about 21 interior treatment choices? Twelve come dressed in leather, nine in suede, some in solid colors like black or natural, some with contrasting seats like the suede in Jet Black with Sky Cool Gray seats, and one leather cabin with two-tone seats in Tension Blue and Twilight Blue. Six more splashes of contrasting color are possible depending on seat belt color, the permutations blown out again thanks to yellow or red contrasting stitching. Chevy’s outdone itself in offering individual power options for the seats; after checking the two boxes for eight-way power seats for driver and passenger, there are also individual boxes for power bolster and lumbar adjustment, and a memory package.

The Z06 comes with a few more optional treats than the C8 Stingray, like exterior ornamentation in a high-gloss woven carbon fiber finish, but not by much. And in one case, the C8 gets more choice than the Z06, offering a red full-length racing stripe, which the Z06 doesn’t.

The Work Bench pages don’t include pricing, not that the buyers still lining up to buy every Corvette the Bowling Green Assembly Plant will be deterred even when pricing does appear.

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RML Short Wheelbase restomod is ready for testing

Eight months ago, English motorsports firm RML released renders of its first venture into customer cars, the RML Short Wheelbase. The restomod turns a Ferrari 550 Maranello into a reboot of the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Short Wheelbase, dressing the Maranello’s chassis and engine in a carbon fiber body and bespoke cabin, then employing RML’s motorsports expertise to perfect the driving manners. Car Zero, the first pre-production model, is finally ready for “an intensive durability program” in the UK. Its maker didn’t skimp on getting Car Zero ready for the spotlight, either. No mere collection of glued and bolted parts, this one wears a multi-layer paint job with a carbon primer, regular primer and silver base coat under its luscious metallic blue overcoat.

The 550’s 5.5-liter atmospheric V12 makes the transfer with no change to power, putting out 485 horsepower and 419 pound-feet of torque. It’s been tuned to “emulate the exhaust note of a classic V12 road racer,” the classic 250 family known for just such exploits. The modern coupe’s six-speed manual is along for the ride, too, worked through an open-gate shifter. A slightly lower curb weight thanks to the lighter body improves a performance a skosh, the RML claimed to hit 62 miles per hour in about four seconds and reach a top speed of 185 mph. Maintaining high-speed, long-distance composure in a vehicle designed to “drive from [England] to Le Mans and get out and still be able to walk at the other end” is the job of custom Ohlins dampers, as well as subtle bodywork mods to dismiss unsettling aero effects the vintage silhouette would otherwise allow. For a personal tour of the Short Wheelbase, check out the video with RML CEO Michael Mallock explaining what the designers and engineers wanted to achieve, and how they did so.  

RML will only build 30 of these, deliveries beginning this year. We’ll be happy to see one in person, but we’re also happy that not many 550 Maranellos will need to be sacrificed for the cause. Each Short Wheelbase takes about six months to make, pricing estimated to be around £1.5 million ($2.04M U.S.). Head designer Jonathon Bowen said, there will be a “a variety of exterior trims to choose from,” and that his team is “developing some period-correct graphics, such as door roundels and parallel stripes, which suit the car’s design and remit perfectly.”

Rimac Nevera crash tests: Nine 1,914-hp supercars destroyed

Homologating a car to meet the various safety rules for various markets is a time-consuming and very expensive proposition. For the Rimac Nevera, a 1,914-horsepower electric supercar, that process has taken four years, a company-issued release says. 

Billed as the fastest-accelerating car in the world, the Nevera goes 0-to-60 in just 1.85 seconds and claims a top speed of 258 mph. It stickers at €2 million ($2.27 million), so its crash testing was not to be taken lightly.

Rimac says that Nevera prototypes were put through the ringer with 45 physical crash tests that destroyed nine examples. If you’re keeping track, that’s over $20 million in smashed Rimacs. 

Fortunately, for the many more passive safety tests, computer simulations could be used instead. Rimac says engineers conducted thousands of digital trials using High Performance Cluster computers capable of extremely detailed simulations. A physical test might take just 80 milliseconds, Rimac says, but a single HPCC simulations could take as long as 20 hours of processing time.

The simulations also proved useful in telling engineers what kind of adjustments were required to get the actual crash test cars to pass. They then made those changes to the real cars’s design before, as Rimac puts it, “subject[ing] them to ‘the wall’.”

While European crash testing was completed last year, the final test for U.S. certification took place in January. The test in question mimicked a 20 mph side impact with a pole, to replicate sliding into a lamppost or tree (this seems to be an all-too common fate for supercars). It’s a difficult test, as it strikes the car in a spot where there’s very little car — and thus little space for energy-absorbing crumple zones — between the stationary object and the occupants.

However, the company says that the Nevara performed quite well — so well, in fact, that the door closest to the impact could still be opened post-crash. The fact that the Nevara is composed of a carbon fiber monocoque — the largest single piece of carbon fiber used in a car — that stretches from the front suspension to the rear. Rimac says that makes the Nevara the stiffest production car ever built. Its torsional rigidity measures 70,000 Nm/degree, while a “regular” supercar registers 40,000 Nm/degree, the company explained. It also adds that the 440-pound monocoque can withstand more than three times the weight of the car.

Only 150 Nevaras will be built, each powered by four motors and a 120 kWh, 6960-cell battery that provides 1,914 horsepower and 1,741 lb-ft of torque. Hopefully the crashed units don’t factor into that production tally.

9 cool things about the 2023 Chevy Corvette Z06’s LT6 engine

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is home to the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engine ever in a production vehicle. The 5.5-liter V8 produces 670 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and it’s going to scream like an Italian exotic thanks to the flat-plane crankshaft.

After working on it since 2014, and knowing how special this engine is, the GM engineers who poured their sweat and time into it set aside an afternoon to go into detail about everything someone might want to know. From this, we give you the 9 coolest things about the LT6 in the upcoming Z06.

Race car (and Ferrari 458) learnings

Yes, Chevy initially let on that an exotic flat-plane crank engine was coming via its C8 R race car a long time ago. Since then, we’ve learned that the 5.5-liter V8 in said race car is hugely similar to the one going into the production Z06 — they share the cylinder block, heads, valvetrain and fuel system. We all know the saying: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” GM has taken this mantra quite literally, as the racing program has helped engineers develop the street car engine to a certain degree. What is perhaps even more intriguing, the Z06 street car engineers have helped the racing team improve their version of the Gemini, too.

The main benefit to the production car team was all of the validation data they were able to glean from the race team running the engine in competition over thousands and thousands of miles being pushed to the limit. Engineers got data on wear surfaces, heat management, operating parameters and more. The race and production car teams even shared parts at times, swapping between each other when one wanted to test something new that the other came up with. Even to this day, the two teams are collaborating to finalize what will ultimately end up in buyers’ driveways.

As for the Ferrari 458 learnings, you’ll enjoy learning that GM bought a wrecked 458 from Europe for $25,000 years ago, completely tore it down to learn what makes the Ferrari flat-plane crank so good, then applied that knowledge to its own V8. So yes, there’s definitely some Italian flair hidden inside this American supercar. A modern 458, anyone?

Cooling and oiling

If you recall the C7 Z06, Chevy had all sorts of cooling issues with that vehicle on-track. Engineers were determined to keep that from happening with the C8 Z06, as its cooling capacity looks over-engineered to the max. The total cooling capacity is increased by 50% over the standard Stingray with the Z51 pack, and it features five total radiators that are augmented by more powerful fans. The front bumper even features a removable aero panel that increases the front grille’s opening by 75% — Chevy suggests you remove this panel for track use. The real kicker is that Chevy was able to add all of this cooling without reducing storage anywhere in the vehicle, including the front trunk.

Track rats will be happy to know that the Z06 has a new and bespoke dry-sump oiling system. It features an engine-mounted plastic oil tank, and the system ultimately provides 85% more cooling capacity than the one in the C7 Z06. It features six scavenge pumps, a bottom-mounted oil cooler and is designed for excellent scavenging even at the high lateral g’s the Z06 is capable of pulling. Chevy claims the Z06 with the Z07 package can pull 1.22 g of lateral acceleration on a skidpad.

A mechanical valvetrain with high-tech materials usage

One particularly intriguing aspect of the Z06’s engine is its use of a mechanical (not hydraulic) valvetrain that GM claims will never require maintenance or adjustment throughout the life of the engine. It’s lashed at the plant, and the clearances are measured three times throughout the life of the engine build, but it should never need service. GM says this is possible through the use of today’s modern materials. For example, the finger followers are highly polished with a diamond-like carbon coating and made of hardened steel. The exhaust valves are hollow cavity sodium-filled nitrided steel valves, and the intake valves are made of titanium. Everything is designed to resist wear to an extreme degree. Even in GM’s high-mileage validation runs, engineers say that everything remains in spec.

This all goes to underline that while the Z06’s engine might be an exotic design, GM says it won’t require an exotic level of maintenance and short service intervals. It’s been subjected to all the same GM validation tests that the Stingray goes through, so expect it to perform just the same in extreme conditions.

Of course, it’s a flat-plane crank design

Ultimately, the reason this Corvette will scream like an Italian exotic is down to its flat-plane (not cross-plane) crankshaft design. This gives you a different firing order and a balanced air and exhaust flow. Chevy says the crankshaft is made of forged steel, and it’s 33% lighter than the crankshaft in the Stingray’s LT2 engine.

Every engine is hand-built by a single technician

Plus, each Z06 engine gets a plaque that is signed by the single technician who put it together. Chevy says that it takes approximately 3 hours to build a single engine, and all of them will be assembled at the Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, KY.

Once built, every LT6 gets shipped to a local dyno facility where it’s put through a 20-minute procedure that runs the engine under full-load and high engine speed. Similar to the standard Corvette, the break-in period is 500 miles long. Torque in first and second gear is automatically limited during this time.

The air conditioning system is track-rated

GM’s target for its air conditioning system in the Z06 was to enable proper cabin cooling during track use with an ambient temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If that isn’t the most American supercar target to hit, we don’t know what is. To achieve that goal, Chevy had to engineer a new air conditioning system that is different from the C8 Stingray. To run the compressor when the engine is screaming at 8,600 rpm, Chevy used a lower pulley ratio. However, this slowed the pulley down too much at low speeds and at idle, so the team had to increase the A/C compressor size to make up for the change. GM suggests that the air conditioning in the Z06 is actually slightly better than the Stingray now because of this switchup. Plus, you can be nice and cool running on track in extreme conditions.

The exhaust system’s adjustable valving is a first for GM

The exhaust of the Z06 is such a key factor to enjoying the car, and GM didn’t overlook its importance. Instead of a normal adjustable exhaust where the valve has two settings, open (loud) or closed (quiet), the valving in the exhaust system is highly adjustable through many settings. The valves — found in the center pipes — are controlled by the engine ECU using patented software, and it allows GM to tune them in 2 degree increments. The outboard pipes are the Corvette’s “low-flow” pipes and do not feature valves. In total, GM allows three different valve preset positions that are selectable by drive mode: Tour, Sport and Track. As expected, Track is the loudest setting, though GM says it’s loud enough that you may have to dial it back on racetracks with strict noise regulations.

As for the exhaust performance, GM says its new exhaust architecture results in a 21% backpressure reduction versus the C7 Z06, and the muffler itself is 20 pounds lighter than the C8 Stingray’s muffler. Just as you’ve seen in the photos, it features a center exit that GM says was a last-minute change to drastically improve the sound.

54 Gemini rockets can be found throughout every LT6 engine

Chevy’s internal name for the LT6 project was Gemini, in reference to NASA’s Gemini space program. The team sees this as a moonshot of an engine, so therefore it wanted to imbue it with some space tributes. If you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find a total of 54 Gemini rockets throughout every single engine. Happy hunting!

Chevy still calls it a Small Block

This one’s weird. The only thing the LT6 has in common with the traditional Chevy Small Block V8 is its 4.4-inch bore centerline spacing. Also, it’s been engineered and designed by the same team responsible for the traditional Small Block V8. Besides that, this engine is a totally new, clean-sheet design. Formally, GM engineers say it’s a “Gemini Small Block.” In practice, there’s nearly nothing similar between this advanced DOHC engine design and the old push-rod V8 found in the regular Corvette Stingray. So go ahead, get to the comments and give us your thoughts on whether this should still be referred to as a “Small Block V8.”

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Ford GT Alan Mann Heritage Edition revealed, celebrates lightweight pioneer

Of the six Heritage Editions Ford has released to celebrate the newest Ford GT, two have commemorated original GT40s from 1966. Here is the third, the Alan Mann Heritage Edition. It recalls the lightweight Ford GT40 experimental prototypes that Alan Mann Racing (AMR) created in England in 1966, referred to at the time as AM GT-1 and AM GT-2. Mann’s team reskinned the GT40 in aluminum and made a small number of mechanical changes to the MkI GT40 powered by the 289-cubic-inch V8, aiming at Le Mans that year. Of the five his crew ordered, he received just two before Ford shifted its attention to the GT40 MkII that used the 427-ci V8. AMR campaigned his two cars in Europe anyway. Although the pair never won a major race, Ford learned important lessons from what Mann had done, hence this carbon-fiber-bodied tip of the hat.

In December, the automaker teased a few lustrous red angles of the new GT accented with gold and Frozen White stripes, AMR’s signature colors. The revealed coupe is just as pretty as we suspected, those dual gold stripes running from tip to extendable tail. AM 1 raced with the number 16 in its roundel, reproduced here on the doors and hood as with the original, and again on the underside of the rear wing instead of on the top corner of the rear fender. Glistening black accents come in the exposed carbon fiber front splitter, mirrors, side sills, engine louvers and rear diffuser, and 20-inch wheels hiding lacquered black Brembo brake calipers.  

Inside, more carbon fiber in places like the center console and vents mixes with Ebony Alcantara surfacing for the instrument panel, steering wheel, headliner and carbon seats. Contrast stitching in gold and red ties the cockpit to the exterior, as do gold appliques on the instrument panel, vent bezels and seat X-brace. The paddle shifters can’t be missed in Alan Mann Racing’s hot red.

Those heading to the Chicago Auto Show that runs from February 12-21 will get to see the original 1966 Alan Mann Racing AM GT-1 next to the 2022 GT Alan Mann Heritage Edition. Those who want to get even closer to the modern special in this final year of GT production are free to order the GT Heritage Edition from Ford after securing the necessary approval to be a GT customer. First deliveries happen this quarter. For folks with too much money parked in the Caymans, AM GT-1 crossed the block at Gooding & Co’s 2021 Pebble Beach auction, given a pre-sale estimate of $7 to $9 million but not selling, so there could still be an opportunity there.

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2022 Kia EV6 and Acura NSX Type S driven | Autoblog Podcast #715

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. The car chat begins this week with a review of the 2022 Kia EV6, followed by Zac’s drive of the 2022 Acura NSX Type-S. Then they discuss Autoblog’s new long-term loan, a 2022 BMW 330e xDrive. They’ve also been driving the Ford Explorer Timberline and Kia Sorento Hybrid.

In the news, they discuss the soon-to-be-revealed Alfa Romeo Tonale, as well as the recently unveiled Aston Martin DBX707. Finally, Greg talks about a historical Detroit landmark, the old American Motors Company headquarters, which is set to be demolished.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at:

Autoblog Podcast #715

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2022 Acura NSX Type S Track Drive | One lap of Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Stadium lights shine their bright white glow on the tarmac as I power out of the infield and up to the banking of NASCAR 1 at Daytona International Speedway in the 2022 Acura NSX Type S. The force of gravity quickly changes from normal to feeling like I’m being shoved down by a compactor. I gingerly arc down from the top of Daytona’s steep 31-degree incline and settle into the middle, right pedal down and holding the wheel steady. That last part, I quickly learn, is unnecessary, as the banking holds the car in place without needing to exert much steering force.

An immersive and sonorous note trumpets through the cabin as I stay in the throttle out of NASCAR 2. The Bus Stop Chicane (just renamed the Le Mans Chicane for this year’s Rolex 24) arrives quickly and with little warning when you have 600 horsepower hustling you there, and it’s perhaps the worst-lit corner on the track — ironic, considering you’re going as fast as anywhere at Daytona before having to apply the brakes. A loud, brap, brap, brap accompanies the slowdown. I smash over the rumble strips while exiting the chicane, and head back onto the oval for another go in the compactor for NASCAR 3 and 4.

And then that’s it, my one flying lap in the one-year-only NSX Type S is over. Rolling back into pit lane, I’m attempting to process what just happened, but am reduced to one-word exclamations from the adrenaline rush. Piloting anything on-track at the Daytona road course at night is a bucket list, dream-come-true moment for a racing enthusiast, and I had just done it in Acura’s mid-engine supercar. Turns out, those hundreds of hours playing Gran Turismo and dreaming finally came in handy.

This brief and high-speed track drive is our first go at the new-for-2022 NSX Type S. Acura says that more seat time is coming in the future, but we’re to make do with this quick taste for the time being. That said, even if you wanted to at this point, the chances of buying a new NSX Type S are next to zero. The NSX swan song — yes, this is the NSX’s last model year — sold out in mere minutes, and all that’s left is a waiting list. Acura is building 350 total, and 300 are allocated for the United States. There will be no “standard” NSXs for 2022 either, so it’s either the $171,495 Type S or nothing.

Despite the rarity and short life, it’s surprising how much effort Acura put into enhancing the NSX’s complex engine and three-motor hybrid system. The standard car’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 is upgraded with turbochargers yanked directly from the GT3 Evo racecar. To supplement that, it also gets new fuel injectors with a 25% higher flow rate and new intercoolers with 15% more heat dissipation capability. The engine is now contributing 520 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque to forward motion, increases of 20 and 37, respectively.

Acura then upgraded the NSX “Twin Motor Unit” that powers the front wheels by lowering the gear ratio from 10.38:1 to 8.05:1. This effectively gives the car more torque directly off the line, which means even harder launches than before. Those electric motors yank the car through and out of Daytona’s Horseshoe with the secure and reassuring show of visceral force we’re used to from the NSX. The battery powering these motors is also upgraded with a 10% greater output and 20% higher usable capacity. Due to this drive’s nature, I didn’t get a chance to test out the Type S’ improved battery-only hybrid operation, but the upgrades should lead to less engine use in the efficient “Quiet” mode.

Total system output is now rated at 600 horsepower and 492 pound-feet of torque, and even in just one lap, the difference in forward thrust is perceptible. I don’t expect a drastic change in acceleration times (Acura only specified “under 3.0 seconds” despite the standard NSX being estimated at 2.9 seconds), but putting your foot down leaves little doubt that the Type S charges harder from corner-to-corner than the regular NSX does.

Another key upgrade made for the Type S concerns the transmission. The nine-speed dual-clutch automatic is re-tuned, and it engages the clutch 50% faster upon paddle press. This means a more instantaneous response and snappier reflexes to your paddle prodding. In addition to quicker gear changes, the Type S gains a new “Rapid Downshift” mode that automatically drops you into the lowest-possible gear when you hold the downshift paddle down. New programming also quickens downshifts in automatic mode when you apply brake pressure — say, when you’re coming in hot on the curved entry to turn 1 — and the rev threshold for pulling manual downshifts is increased by 1,500 rpm, letting you pull quicker downshifts that zing the needle higher up the tachometer.

Most noticeable out on track is how smart the transmission sets itself up for every situation in automatic mode. It bangs off shifts with what sounds like an extra bit of violence in the form of staccato pops. This in-cabin volume increase is the most obvious new experience in the Type S from the get-go, too. A lack of emotion and drama from the V6 was one of the standard NSX’s most common complaints. It’s not mended with a new exhaust, but Acura says it’s re-done the car’s “Intake Sound Control” (basically funnels real noise into the cabin) and “Active Sound Control” (artificially creates and/or enhances noises inside the cabin). Anyone who’s driven a regular NSX will notice the more audible intake wailing and extra volume inside the cabin both on-throttle and with every shift.

Last up in the realm of upgrades for the NSX’s powertrain is a re-tuned SH-AWD system that takes advantage of the front motors’ and engine’s additional thrust and power. Of course, this all-wheel-drive system is so closely tied with the NSX’s handling capabilities that you can’t talk about one without the other. The Type S is truly a whole-car job, so of course Acura’s engineers went to work on the suspension, wheels/tires, drive mode tuning and more.

Unfortunately, the limited track time made it impossible to come to any grand conclusions about the improvements. That said, the breadth of the changes leads me to believe that we’re going to experience a noted difference in road behavior once we drive one outside the racetrack.

For the time being, know that the Type S gets recalibrated dampers with a greater range of stiffness depending on the mode. That means it’s still designed to be comfortable in the on-road modes, but is stiffer than before in Track Mode. New forged alloy wheels are set with more negative offset that in turn widens the front track by 0.4 inch and the rear track by 0.8 inch. The wheels are then wrapped in a Pirelli P-Zero summer performance tire made exclusively for the Type S that wasn’t previously available on the standard NSX. Acura claims the track increases and new tires allow for 6% more lateral grip. To quantify that and the extra power, Acura says the NSX Type S is 2 seconds quicker around the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

There’s one main performance package available, the $13,000 Lightweight Package fitted to our track car that drops the curb weight by 57.8 pounds from an unannounced figure. The 2021 standard NSX tipped the scales at 3,878 pounds. Much of those savings (and the hefty price) comes from the carbon ceramic brakes, but the Lightweight Package also gives you a carbon fiber engine cover and carbon accents on the steering wheel and instrument cluster hood. All of the other carbon fiber optional extras on the regular NSX come standard on the Type S, most important of those being the carbon roof that reduces the center of gravity. The Type S-exclusive Gotham Gray Matte paint (pictured above) adds another $6,000.

The new Type S front end ensures that everybody knows this NSX is different from the rest, and its new design is functionally better than before. Acura says the more angular intakes, front spoiler and larger diffuser do a better job at minimizing lift and making the Type S more stable at high speed. Airflow to the intercoolers is also enhanced, ensuring proper cooling of the more powerful engine.

Of course, the one lap at Daytona does not even come close to testing the heat capacity of this car. It does, however, provide convincing evidence that this NSX Type S is truly the best performing NSX in every way while still remaining true to its purpose of being an everyday supercar. Navigating pit exit just inches from the Wall of Champions is an objectively stressful situation, but the NSX’s expansive forward visibility makes it easier. Daytona’s walls on the infield loom in the darkness at track-level, but the NSX makes driving a stupid-quick car at this big track remarkably easy with its essentially fool-proof all-wheel-drive system. It’s the most point-and-shoot supercar in the game, and it’s going to make 350 people grin from ear-to-ear once they get behind the wheel. 

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Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari 512M and more immortalized as Lego sets

Lego has announced a slew of new Speed Champions sets, the ones based on actual licensed cars, for 2022. The latest batch includes a smorgasbord of supercars, from beloved classics like the Lamborghini Countach to yet-to-be-released promises like the long-awaited Mercedes-AMG One. There are seven cars in total, released in five sets. 

Our favorite is probably the 262-piece Lamborghini Countach, based on a later LP500 variant. Not only does it tick the box of a childhood dream machine, but the angular shape of the real-life Countach lends itself well to being recreated in Lego bricks. Also, it’s modeled in white rather than the typical red.

We also really dig the Ferrari 512M. It marked the last of Ferrari’s V12 endurance racers, and even though it was soundly spanked by the Porsche 917, the cars are undeniably beautiful. The 291-piece Lego set does a great job of capturing its brutal wedge silhouette in brick form.

Rounding out the single-car sets is the 247-piece Lotus Evija. The electric Lotus has a bit of a generic supercar look about it, but that’s not entirely the fault of the Lego kit. Its dramatic vents can’t really be replicated with the limited “resolution” of the Lego bricks. Its rear, with unique taillight-encircled air tunnels, is a bit more distinctive.

In addition to the single car sets, there are two larger sets of two cars each. One is a 592-piece Aston Martin-themed pack that includes the Valkyrie AMR Pro and Vantage GT3. Again, it’s a bit difficult to sculpt the cars’ curvaceous lines out of straight-edged bricks, but the effort is admirable. The Valkyrie is probably the more successful of the two, as the Vantage would resemble a Corvette or Viper if it didn’t have stickers to clarify the details.

Last but not least is a twofer comprised of 564 bricks to build the Mercedes-AMG One and seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s W12 racer. In Lego’s official product description the driver is not mentioned by name, but the number 44 gives it away. The model of the One indeed looks like a sharp supercar, but the blocky pieces don’t exactly replicate the lines we’ve seen on camouflaged test mules. The F1 car model looks a bit more like the actual thing, complete with the Petronas livery that graces Hamilton’s steed.

Lego has been doing a great job of immortalizing supercars and classics in brick form in their Speed Champions lineup. Last year saw kits of the McLaren Elva, Koenigsegg Jesko, Toyota GR Supra, Chevrolet Corvette, as well as the Ford GT and Bronco. Their more detailed Technics line has seen vehicles like the Ford Raptor, Volkswagen Camper Van and BMW M1000RR motorcycle

While the kits look entertaining, we wouldn’t mind if they didn’t skew so heavily towards unobtainably expensive, limited-production vehicles. What kid wouldn’t want a kit of their parents’ Chrysler Pacifica, a Ford Transit Connect to replicate a city scene, or a Mazda Miata for some clean, honest fun? The single-car sets will retail for $19.99, the two-packs for $39.99. All five sets are scheduled for a March 2022 release.

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Lamborghini Huracán to get What3Words navigation

The Lamborghini Huracán will soon launch a novel navigation system that can take you to any point on the globe with incredible specificity. It relies on a geocoding system called What3Words that, as the name implies, uses a combination of just three words — rather than building numbers and street names — to describe locations.

Here’s how it works. The creators of What3Words divided the entire planet into 10 by 10 foot squares and randomly assigned three words to each one. There are 57 trillion squares in all, each with three words pulled from a pool of 40,000 in the English language. For example, the Washington Monument has a pretty confusing street address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024. What3Words identifies that location as “congratulations, fingernails, desk”.

The idea is that those three words are much less prone to misinterpretation, especially by a computer or voice recognition system. Its level of granularity also has advantages if, say, you’re trying to tell a friend where you’re waiting at large concert venue. It can also get very precise in areas where there are no roads or buildings at all. In fact, the app helped rescuers locate a group of lost hikers in the U.K.

To be fair, the system isn’t exclusive to Lamborghini; the Huracán is just the first to roll out this technology in conjunction with Alexa’s voice activated navigation, according to the New York Times. The Huracán will receive this functionality this year. For the record, the 2018 Mercedes A-Class was the first car to use What3Words for navigation.

Of course, the system isn’t perfect. Unless someone gives you a What3Words address, you still have to translate a regular street address to the What3Words address in order to use the system. Also, its random nature doesn’t really provide an intuitive relationship between one location or another. With street addresses, you understand that 100 Main Street and 102 Main Street are near each other, while 900 Main Street might be far away. And you can see whether you’re getting closer or farther by looking at the numbers. The square directly north of “congratulations, fingernails, desk” is “dome, next, senses”.

So there might still be a while before What3Words is adopted for widespread use. We could see this being useful in an off-road vehicle meant to venture into the wilderness. Still, the more options the better, and if What3Words does become commonplace, the Lamborghini Huracán will be ready.

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Gordon Murray Automotive T.33 revealed, only slightly less intense than T.50

Following up on its first supercarthe now sold-out T.50 – Gordon Murray Automotive has a second road-going model, the T.33. While still a striking-looking machine, it’s actually a bit toned down compared to its predecessor. But that’s not to say it’s going to be dull in comparison. It still packs a wildly high-revving V12, a manual transmission and a light chassis.

While the T.50 had some influences from Murray’s past supercar claim to fame, the McLaren F1, the T.33 seems to channel much older sports cars. It has undulating, curvaceous fenders. It hardly has a crease or interrupted arc anywhere. It also has rounded, simplistic light housings. The body and chassis are made of carbon fiber and aluminum, like the T.50, and it’s supposed to be very light. The company is targeting a weight of under 2,425 pounds, which is a bit heavier than the T.50, which weighs in at barely over 2,000 pounds. Worth noting is the lack of a rear fan for the ground effects like the T.50. Still, the T.33 has a carefully designed underbody to generate downforce without needing much in the way of wings and splitters. It does feature a pop-up rear wing, though.

The flowing body hides similar mechanical components to the T.50. The T.33 gets a modified version of the 3.9-liter Cosworth V12. In this application, it makes 607 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque, all without the aid of forced induction. It revs a tad lower than the T.50’s engine with a redline of 11,100 rpm, but that’s obviously far higher than most road cars. The tweaked specs are a result of various changes such as cam profiles and engine tuning. The engine can be coupled to either a fully manual six-speed transmission or a sequential, paddle-shifted transmission. Power only goes to the rear through a limited-slip differential. Suspension is double-wishbone all around, and Brembo six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers slow the T.33 down. And as a sign of GMA’s continued desire to enhance driver involvement, the T.33 has hydraulic power steering.

Unlike the T.50’s central driving position, the T.33 has a conventional layout with the driver on one side and the passenger on the other. The interior is minimalist and focused on physical switch gear. All of the control knobs and the instrument surround are made of aluminum, while the seats and steering wheel are made from carbon fiber. Cargo capacity totals 9.9 cubic feet, and it’s divided up by compartments under the hood and behind both rear fenders.

GMA will build only 100 T.33s, and it will be legal in the U.S. It will be quite expensive with a price tag of 1.37 million pounds, or about $1.83 million. Buyers who order T.33s can expect their cars to arrive sometime in 2024.

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