All posts in “Future Vehicles”

Bertone wants to make wedges great again

Of all the unheard-of brands being resurrected every day, here’s one we’re interested in. Bertone is on the way back after a couple of decades of rough going. Giovanni Bertone founded the Italian design house in 1912, but it was the postwar years while being run by Nuccio Bertone that the company penned one legend after another. Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Miura and Countach, Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, Fiat X1/9, and so on. A 2014 bankruptcy led to being bought by Mauro and Jean-Frank Ricci, brothers who own an auto industry consultancy called Akka that’s worked with Aston Martin, Ford, and the Volkswagen Group. Their only public showcase with Bertone so far was the 2016 Smart Bertone, an electric two-seater with more than three times the horsepower of the standard Smart Electric Drive. We don’t know what the Ricci brothers are planning, but a video at Bertone’s new website and an Instagram account tell us, “The timeless icon is reborn.”

The Bertone Nuccio was the firm’s final concept before bankruptcy, a 100th anniversary celebration that attempted to combine Bertone’s hallmark flourishes into a wedgy berlinetta without much success. This new effort looks more promising. Based on the coupe in the teased image, we’ll expect something supercar-ish. Based on the rear diffuser design in the teaser video and what could be two elongated exhaust ports, it’s possible there’s an internal combustion engine behind the cockpit. The arrowhead side vent recalls the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo and 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concepts, both just as important as any of the roadgoing cars. And the video reveals a ton of detailing, especially around the LED headlights and taillights and the wheels. 

This year being Bertone’s 110th anniversary and “110” featuring prominently in the teasers, it shouldn’t be long before we find out what “The dawn of a new era for contemporary Bertone” means.

Corvette-based Chevrolet with ‘incredible performance’ coming in 2025

GM President Mark Reuss’ Investor Day presentation has been a font of information. Most of it’s been pretty straightforward, like the info about GM service centers working on Teslas and the GMC Acadia getting larger for its third generation. This one lives at the mysterious end of the foreshadowing pool. When discussing what’s in store for the Corvette, Reuss mentioned two vehicles. As reported by Fox News, the first is a straight-up Corvette trim, “the next version of the C8,” the “next-step in performance for Chevrolet” supposedly so good “you won’t be able to imagine it from a performance standpoint.” Since Reuss’ was reportedly talking about new vehicles due in 2024, he wouldn’t have been referring to the hybrid, all-wheel drive Corvette coming in 2023. The AWD hybrid could have been the trim referred to as the Corvette Grand Sport in a potentially leaked GM document from 2020. The powertrain in that coupe will be the 6.2-liter LT2 V8 from the base Stingray combined with electric motors driving the front axle to make somewhere around a combined 600 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.    

The images in Reuss’ presentation were obscured for media viewers, but we suspect he meant the ZR1. That supposed leaked doc said its due in 2024 with 850 hp and 825 lb-ft. Output will come from an LT7 engine that’s already on the testing bench if a recent clue found at the National Corvette Museum can be believed.

What will follow that is a car Reuss called an “incredible performance car” that he expects to “put the world on notice” as to what GM is capable of and “set the standard of the world for performance for Chevrolet.” Based on the trim cadence we’ve been covering for years, this sounds like the Corvette rumored to be called the Zora, which would pair the twin-turbo LT7 V8 with electric motors for more than 1,000 hp. However, Reuss didn’t call this car a Corvette; he only said it would be based on the C8 architecture. Back to that 2020 GM document, it had the ZR1 coming in 2025. That’s a year later than this mystery offering, and we can’t imagine why Reuss wouldn’t call a Corvette a Corvette.

In a LinkedIn post from April that provided video of next years AWD Corvette, Reuss wrote, “we will offer an electrified and a fully electric, Ultium-based Corvette in the future.” On that note, the only unaccounted for Corvette family vehicles we’re aware of in the rumor pipeline are the electric Corvette-inspired crossover as part of Project R, and the electric Corvette sedan said to be coming mid-decade. So stay tuned, big electric things are coming from Chevrolet.

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Lotus Eletre electric SUV will rock close to 900 horsepower

Eight hundred and ninety-three.

That’s the announced horsepower of the Lotus Eletre, from the venerable British house of Lotus, and it’s not attached to a difficult-to-climb-into sports car, but a “hyper” all-electric SUV. Other notable numbers: 726 pound-feet of torque, 0-to-62 mph in a hair under 3 seconds, and a top speed of 165 mph.

Due to arrive next summer, the flagship Eletre R is a wild departure from a company that regularly built featherweight cars with no more than 100 horsepower. According to Britain’s Autocar, the most powerful Eletre will cost 120,000 pounds (about $140,000) when goes on sale in the U.K. next summer.  It will likely be exported to the U.S. and China as well.

Standard equipment includes active air suspension, torque vectoring, an active front grille, LED headlights and a set of 22-inch wheels. Inside, all Eletres are fitted with electrically adjustable seats, wireless phone charging and four-zone climate control. 

Among the Eletre versions are a base model and the Eletre S making 603 horsepower and using a single-speed gearbox. The Eletre R will be the only model with a Track Mode, which lowers the ride height and gives it more aggressive damping.

Lotus, which is owned by the China-based Geely group, was founded 74 years ago by Colin Chapman. Under his direction, Lotus won seven F1 constructors’ titles and six Drivers Championships.

Looking to reserve an Eletre? The Lotus website suggests you contact your local dealer (and offers a dealer locator). Lotus says that the R model is to be the first of four that are to come from the company by 2025,

Williams Advanced Engineering reveals EVR electric hypercar platform

Deus announced its Vayanne electric hypercar earlier this year as conceived in Austria, designed in Italy, and electrified in the UK. That last bit refers to the battery-electric powertrain sourced from Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), which we now have more information on. WAE took its new EVR turnkey electric vehicle platform to the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Show for a full reveal. Designed specifically for hypercars, the targets were versatility, lightness, power and speedy recharging. It appears the only fixed element for the time being is the 85-kWh battery set into a carbon housing between the wheels, and two motors. WAE says it can be refilled in less than 20 minutes, and powers a range of up to 279 miles. After that, OEMs and boutique makers can choose rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, hardtop or targa body styles, and road-legal or track-only configurations.    

Peak output is 2,213 horsepower from the dual motors, explaining Deus’ publicized target of more than 2,200 horsepower for the Vayanne earlier this year. Depending on body style and aero, WAE believes the platform could push a hypercar to 248 miles per hour given an ideal form. We’re told it will be possible to build a finished product with such specs that weighs less than 3,637 pounds, carbon being used for everything from the pack enclosure to the double wishbone suspension. For comparison, the 640-hp Porsche 911 Turbo S weighs 3,636 pounds.

The list of in-house innovations on the EVR chassis includes a Scalable Battery Module that opens up flexibility for custom packs and sub-pack systems, controlled by battery management software that rationalizes the amount of electronics needed to run the powertrain. The company says each module has a capacity of 1.08 kWh at 50 volts maximum or 43 volts nominal, and an energy density greater than 240 Wh/kg. The individual cells are wrapped in carbon fiber, too, claimed to improve crash resistance. Battery cooling is run through the energy-absorbing side sills.

Theoretically, a purchaser could cut prototype development time to 12 months, and entire vehicle development time to 24 months. The Vayenne will provide the first test, Deus having said it will go into production in 2025. WAE has a hydrogen fuel cell version of the EVR on the way next.

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Ferrari teases Purosangue exhaust note before September 13 debut

We’ve been talking about a Ferrari SUV for more than five years, when ex-CEO Luca de Montezemolo said the Maranello automaker would never build one and then was let go not long after. We’ve known there would be a Ferrari SUV for four years, when the brand’s product road map ID’d what would come to be nicknamed the Ferrari Utility Vehicle. Barring a late switcheroo, we’re betting on the official name to be Purosangue. During a year of teasers and spy videos, at last, we have less than a week to see what all the fuss has been and will be about. On September 13, Ferrari shows its new four-door, four-seat family car, and teased the arrival with a clip of the exhaust note.

Although muted, we expect that sound to be emerging from a naturally aspirated V12, the engine CEO Benedetta Vigna confirmed the Purosangue will offer. It’s possible Ferrari’s twin-turbo V8 will join the options, but we don’t know if or when that happens. With spy videos showing what appears to be a slightly lifted wagon-esque form, the Purosangue’s focus on road manners could vault it to the top of the competitive set in the horsepower column. The company’s 6.5-liter V12 makes 819 horsepower in the 812Superfast, easily besting the 697 in the Aston Martin DBX 707 and the 657 horses in the Lamborghini Urus Performante. Even Ferrari’s twin-snail V8 would clear the bar, that engine producing 711 hp in the F8 Tributo. Or, it’s possible Ferrari could turn the wick way down, aligning the Purosangue with its tourers, the 611-hp Roma and 612-hp Portofino M convertible.

Sounds like no matter the specs, the Purosangue won’t be the easiest Ferrari to get into for reasons beyond the current industrial snarls. A Ferrari presentation during Capital Markets Day this year explained the Purosangue’s “yearly average contribution to shipments will remain below 20% over its lifecycle.” Volume that low indicates a cap enforced by the company; SUVs introduced among other super sports car makers have run directly to the top of the brand’s sales charts. We will not be surprised to see that figure rise in the coming years, or Purosangue’s being flipped for obscene amounts over its entire run.

It’s quite the month for lusty cars, the Pagani C10 debuting the day before the Ferrari, the seventh-gen Ford Mustang arriving the day after. 

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Ariel Hipercar is battery-electric, 1,180-hp madness we love

Five years ago, English motorbike- and speedster-maker Ariel showed a new concept chassis called, at the time, the Hipercar. It was planned for sale in 2020 with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain built around a small turbine sending electricity to a lithium-ion battery pack and then on to in-wheel motors. Development was more challenging than expected, and the world hit a few rocks in the road as well. But at last, the first production-intent Hipercar prototype is here, still named Hipercar — which stands for “High Performance Carbon Reduction.” The powertrain is easier to explain than the looks, so let’s start there. Base spec would be a liquid-cooled 62.2-kWh battery supplied by Cosworth powering two radial, inboard Equipmake APM motors fitted to the rear axle. Each motor produces 295 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque with total output being 590 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque.

An all-wheel-drive version slots two more radial e-motors into the front axle, doubling output to 1,180 hp and 1,328 lb-ft. Range on battery charge alone is said to be 150 miles. On track, Ariel says a full charge should last for about 20 minutes of full-on circuit driving. If desired, buyers can opt for the miniature turbine range extender also sourced from Cosworth. The catalytic generator (CatGen) turbine makes another 47 horsepower and can accept pump fuel, racing fuel and synthetic fuel. Ariel says it’s targeting a 0-60 mph time of 2.09 seconds with this powertrain.

What sits atop all of that is a laser-cut and CNC-folded aluminum tub attached to aluminum subframes front and rear, with aluminum wishbones supporting a Bilstein adjustable suspension. The 20-inch forged or composite staggered wheels wear Michelin Cup2 or Cup2R rubber in the widest spec ever fitted to an Ariel, at 265/35 in front and 325/30 in back. Behind them are 14.5-inch composite brake discs on the front hubs with six-piston AP Racing calipers, and 12.9-inch discs in back with four-piston calipers. An on-off switch controls the regenerative braking system.

As for the body, the prototype wears 3D-printed panels, production models will get a carbon fiber skin. Company boss Simon Saunders said “An enormous amount of aerodynamic work has been carried out for both drag and downforce, and cooling.” The cabin contains rollover protection. The dual-level wing in the front fascia adds downforce, the fins on the front fenders direct air around the side mirrors, the roof scoop sends air to the microturbine, and the fins on the rear fender aid stability. Its long front, stubby back and central fin, and canopy entrance make it reminiscent of the McMurtry Speirling. Total vehicle weight is said to be 3,186 pounds. 

The Hipercar’s gestation is almost as wild as the coupe itself. The UK government has thrown huge money behind EV development in an effort to reach its Net Zero goal for carbon emissions by 2050. Obviously, this will require affordable zero-emissions vehicles for the populace, not seven-figure track-day specialists shrink-wrapped to fit two people, so the Hipercar could come off as dumping public money on a fun little lark. However, this is about getting the big guys and the little guys in a room together to figure out how to produce innovations that work on a mass scale. Saunders explained it well to Autocar, saying, “So on one side you’ve got Mr. Boffin who has a high concept for a widget. On the other side, you’ve got, say, Ford Motor Company. They’re never going to talk to him and he’s too scared to talk to them. So Innovate UK is putting money into Ford but it’s also putting money into Mr Boffin, who takes his idea up to the next level, then the next level, and then goes into low-volume widget production. He sells us 100, he sells Caterham 400, he sells 1000 to a coach manufacturer. He’s now making a few thousand. And then Ford might say, “Could you do 10,000 for a low-volume Transit?”

Saunders gave another example of how the Hipercar has challenged the much larger partners in the various groups Ariel is a part of. “I said to Dave Greenwood, the guy running the project for the Warwick Manufacturing Group, that I felt a bit out of place and he said: ‘No, you’re brilliant because you’re the worst case scenario; you want most performance, least weight, highest range, you haven’t got any money for tooling and you want it really cheap, so if we can satisfy you….’

“Eventually, the aim is that we all win. Before then, the Hipercar is about two years away, aimed at a monied few for a price no more precise at the moment than “under £1 million” ($1.2M U.S.). That will be “excellent value for money” in Saunder’s words, considering the expected performance. Perhaps better for future owners, Ariel has focused on reliability. “With the [Ariel] Atom and Nomad we give you the keys and say bye-bye,” Saunders said. “We don’t want to see it again until it’s time for service. The same has to be true for Hipercar.”

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Aston Martin Valhalla interior debuted in Monterey

Aston Martin began releasing estimated specs for the Valhalla supercar last summer. The figures described the thoroughly overhauled car, redrawn with just as dramatic yet smoother lines than the original concept from 2019, and repowered with a plug-in hybrid V8 sourced from technical partner Mercedes-Benz instead of the in-house straight-6. The quick summary describes a mid-mounted 740-horsepower flat-plane-crank V8 with an e-motor in back and another in front contributing 201 horsepower. The front electric motor can pull the coupe for up to eight miles of pure electric running, reversing is also done under electric power, not via the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Curb weight of 3,417 pounds pairs with a top speed of 217 miles per hour, the firm hoping its charge can lap the ‘Ring in 6:30, which would be a record for a production car. Deliveries are expected to commence toward the end of next year.

We still hadn’t seen the inside of the car last summer, though. Aston Martin finally lifted the dihedral doors on the show inside during the recent Monterey Car Week. Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman described the cockpit as being “pure,” “about driver focus” and “concentration,” and “dedicated to the mastery of driving.” So despite an exterior update that injected “a more mature” road-going road ambience into the Valhalla’s silhouette, the cabin makes strong ties to the F1-inspired and track-consuming Valkyrie. These are seats that emphasize the “bucket” in “bucket seats,” supporting driver and passenger such that their heels lie above the level of their hips. The driver grabs a square wheel that’s jettisoned the central display in the Valkyrie’s square wheel. In fact, for those decrying the explosion of screens lately, here is your safe space. A slim rectangle ahead of the driver serves as dash display, and the infotainment screen can be hidden away, which it is in the short Twitter vid. We can see it staying stowed more often than not, in fact. Even if the V8 doesn’t pour its 7,200-rpm flat-plane note into the cabin — along with roof scoop inhalations and rubber-band-thin Michelin thrumming — the passenger quarters cannot be the kindest space to design a stereo for.

We’d been wondering about the production run, Autocar suspects Aston Martin won’t make more than 1,000 examples of the Valhalla. The potential good news for the few who’ll get to own it is that the carmaker might have reduced the price; Autocar heard that instead of costing somewhere around £1 million ($1.3M U.S.), MSRP could fall somewhere between £600,000 ($725,866 U.S.) and £700,000 ($846,844 U.S.).

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Performance doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about the feel

We’ve just had a week of supercars and high-end EVs revealed. Many of them boast outrageous performance specs. There were multiple vehicles with horsepower in the four-figure range, and not just sports cars, but SUVs with 0-60 mph times under 3.5 seconds. And it’s not just a rarified set of supercar builders, comparatively small tuners are also building this stuff. Going fast is easy nowadays and getting easier. So what will distinguish the greats from the wannabes? It’s all about how a car feels.

This may seem obvious. “Of course it matters that a car should have good steering feel and a playful chassis!” you say. “Why are you being paid for this stuff?” But a lot of automakers have missed the memo. This past week I spent some time in a BMW M4 Competition convertible, and it’s a perfect example of prioritizing performance over experience. It boggles my mind how a company can create such dead and disconnected steering; the weight never changes, there’s no feel whatsoever. The chassis is inflappable, but to a fault, because it doesn’t feel like anything you’re doing is difficult or exciting. The car is astoundingly fast and capable, but it feels less like driving a car and more like tapping in a heading on the Enterprise-D.

I also happened to drive something of comparable performance that was much more enjoyable: a Mercedes-AMG GT. It was a basic model with the Stealth Edition blackout package, and even though it had a twin-turbo V8 instead of a six-cylinder, it only made 20 more horsepower. The power wasn’t the big differentiator, it was (say it with me) the feel. While not the best example, the steering builds resistance as you dial in lock, giving you a better idea of what’s happening up front. Pulses and vibrations come back to you as you move over bumpy pavement in corners. The chassis isn’t quite as buttoned down, either, providing a little bit of body roll that tells you you’re pushing it. It’s also easier to feel when the car is wanting to understeer or oversteer, and how your throttle and steering inputs are affecting it. The whole thing is much more involving, exciting and fun.

That’s also to say nothing of the Merc’s sounds. That V8 is maybe not the best sounding engine, but its urgent churn through the opened-up exhaust gets your heart racing. It also seems like it’s vibrating the whole cabin, so you feel it as much as you hear it. Though the BMW’s six is also a special sounding unit, too with a melodious howl and a smattering of pops on shifts. So BMW isn’t a total lost cause.

But I digress. The point is, given two cars with similar performance, one is more entertaining. It’s the one car enthusiasts will want to come away with, and as an added benefit, a car with a fun feel is enjoyable even when it’s not being driven at full force. The Mercedes was more entertaining even on public roads when following traffic laws. Many of these new hypercars and electric cars are offering performance that can’t even be used most of the time. But if they’re not fun the whole time, what’s the point?

Thankfully, people in the industry are figuring this out. I spoke with Lamborghini Chief Technical Officer Rouven Mohr about the newly revealed Lamborghini Urus Performante. While the faster Urus seemed to be another vehicle that’s about the numbers, Mohr explained that wasn’t the goal. Many of the decisions about the SUV’s upgrades were to make it more fun and more like a sports car. The engineers went to steel springs instead of air for more response and linear, controllable reactions. The Rally drive mode isn’t so much for speed, but for tail-happy shenanigans on loose surfaces. He said a focus on feel and experience is what the company is working on, about making cars that have “good feedback and emotional involvement.” Mohr said a car like the Huracan STO is popular because it “makes you feel like a hero.” I think he nailed it.

Other reveals this past week show a renewed focus on involvement. The Dodge Charger Daytona EV is more than just another fast electric car concept. Attention was given to the experience, with a piped exhaust to make noise under acceleration. It even has a multi-speed transmission, not for efficiency or performance, but to deliver the feeling of gas-powered muscle cars that Challenger and Charger owners clearly love.

Speaking of transmissions, take a look at the Koenigsegg CC850. It turned its hyper-advanced nine-speed automatic transmission into a gated manual transmission — with a functioning clutch pedal. Partly it’s a tribute to the CC8S, but it’s also to provide extra engagement. Koenigsegg even fitted smaller turbos that produce less power to optimize manual driving feel. This is good to hear from a company that just launched yet another four-figure horsepower supercar.

So the future is actually looking fairly bright, with big names in the car industry recognizing that the quest for more raw performance is less important than the driving experience. This is just a request for other manufacturers to follow suit. Cars aren’t all about the numbers.

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Czinger 21C gets a V Max variant with new bodywork for top speeds

Even salesmen with delicious cuts of meat to offer know that you sell the sizzle, not the steak. That’s what Czinger went to Monterey Car Week to do with a third version of its tandem two-seater 21C and its planned Hyper GT. We’ll start with the 21C, which, remember, launched with two body styles. There was a road version and a track version whose aero accoutrements provided three times the downforce of the road car. The 21C V Max takes the road car in the opposite direction of the track car, streamlining and elongating the bodywork to trade drag for velocity.

The package should make more speed from the 2.88-liter twin-turbo V8 that sits behind the cabin in all 21Cs, aided by the two electric motors on the front axle. Founder Kevin Czinger said in Monterey the 1,233-horsepower powerplant enables the same sub-two-second 0-60 time as the other variants. Having reworked everything from the front splitter to the rear diffuser, the Vmax should be even faster than the claimed 27-second sprint from zero to 250 miles per hour and back to zero for the regular 21C. Claimed quarter-mile time is 8.1 seconds, claimed top speed is 253 miles per hour.

The V Max will be part of the 80-unit build of the 21C, giving buyers three flavors to choose from at a cost of $1.7 million per. First deliveries are planned for the end of next year.

At some point after the 21C begins deliveries, Czinger plans to have its second vehicle headed to production, known for now as the Hyper GT. It’s powered by the same hybrid setup as the 21C but with the ICE put up front and — we assume — the e-motors in back. Czinger says this will be “the most powerful grand tourer ever produced” and “by far, the top performing GT ever built and ever put out on the street” that also happens to have room for four adults and their luggage; those occupants will enter via gullwing doors, because you can’t see the wow factor of 1,233 hp at the valet stand.

Being so far out from production, we’re not sure what the interior will hold. But the company plans to produce 1,000 of the Hyper GT at its Los Angeles headquarters, each costing between $750,000 and $1 million, and then follow it up with a battery-electric model sometime before 2030. Czinger told Autocar, “The original conception of Czinger was to produce that ultimate road-track car [the 21C] that could set all of the records.” After the reception to the 21C and breaking the Laguna Seca lap record, he said, “Then the idea was ‘This could be a really, really cool brand,’ with the father-son combination [referring to his son and co-founder Lukas], that creates a whole series of the most off-the-hook vehicles in each of the categories.” 

Hennessey Venom F5 Roadster headed to The Quail

Monterey Car Week is like a debutante ball for supercars, each high-horsepowered hopeful announcing itself to be of good age, etiquette and parenting, and looking for a worthy home. Next up for a planned introduction to the suitors who will crowd the Monterey Peninsula next week is the Hennessey Venom F5 Roadster. The debut happens August 19 at Monterey Car Week’s The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. The teaser image gives us a clue of what to expect, filling in the blanks should tax too much of the imagination.

Behind the airier cockpit is the same 6.6-liter twin-turbo V8 apparently based on GM’s LS architecture. With a redline at 8,000 rpm, the mill nicknamed “Fury” will spin out 1,542 horsepower and 1,193 pound-feet of torque on regular premium gas, 1,817 hp when given E85 to drink. Those prodigious mechanical facts are shunted through a seven-speed automated manual transmission to the rear wheels only. In the coupe, that results in accelerating acceleration up to 124 miles per hour; it takes 2.6-seconds to get to 62 mph, 4.7 seconds to hit 124 mph. Assuming enough runway and courage, 15.5 ticks of the second hand can see a driver to 250 mph. Hennessey claims a 311-mph practical top speed for the hardtop and a theoretical 328-mph terminal velocity, but so far as we know, prototypes have “only” touched 271.6 mph to now. 

The Texas car creators began delivering the Venom F5 coupe late last year, the entire run of 24 examples already sold. According to Top Gear and Autocar, the Roadster will field a more populous run of 30 units, around seven of which are claimed at a rumored price of $2.75 million apiece. If that’s true, shoppers who like their hair mussed the natural way are paying a $1.15 million premium over the Venom F5 coupe’s price to have that done. We’ll get all the details from the source next week. Also, with a high-downforce version of the F5 supposedly planned after the Roadster, there’s probably a dais at next year’s Quail already reserved.

Aston Martin bringing two surprises to Pebble Beach

Aston Martin has at least three treats planned for its “strongest-ever presence” at this month’s Pebble Beach shindig. Two are surprises, including a “very special, ultra-exclusive” vehicle that will celebrate the first decade of the company’s Q by Aston Martin personalization service. The department that turns individual taste into automotive reality has done something said to “encapsulate the brand’s winning track bloodline, with a nod to success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” We don’t know what the model will be based on. Some muse it could be another limited-run special like the V12 Speedster DBR1. The cynic in us won’t be surprised to find a DBX with special colorways, leather embossing and checkered flag motifs resting on a northern California plinth.  

The second surprise is a “high performance model” — as if Aston Martin makes anything else — that will go into series production, expected to be the V12 Vantage Roadster. The coupe dropped in March, a wild sendoff to the littlest 12-cylinder, front-engine sports car in the company’s lineup and the last Vantage to get the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12. The note about series production wouldn’t mean unlimited production, though. There will be only 333 examples of the V12 Vantage, Roadster numbers could be even further restricted. Whatever it is, this one’s going to be revealed on Friday, August 19 at the English maker’s private Aston Martin Club 1913 that’s been relocated to provide a better view of the lawn during the Concours. 

The final goody is an update on the progress of the Valhalla, the mid-engined hybrid supercar with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and three electric motors producing 937 hp and 738 lb-ft. We hear there will be a mockup of the revised interior that potential buyers will be able to sit in, experiencing the driver-focused, F1-like seating arrangements. Assuming nothing has changed since the Valhalla prototype exterior made its U.S. debut at last year’s Pebble Beach, the coupe will be limited to 999 examples, first deliveries planned for just two years from now.

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Corvette electric sedan rumored for C9 generation

GM President Mark Reuss already said that a battery-electric Chevrolet Corvette is on the way, telling CNBC in April, “In addition to the amazing new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and other gas-powered variants coming, we will offer an electrified and a fully electric, Ultium-based Corvette in the future. In fact, we will offer an electrified Corvette as early as next year. Details and names to come at a later date.” The next big question is when. Muscle Cars & Trucks thinks a battery-only Corvette won’t arrive during the current C8’s generation, as the Y2 platform might need too much tinkering for an ideal conversion. Instead, MCT believes “the C9 Corvette EV feels more or less like an inevitability.” The outlet also figures that electrification will induce expansion of the Corvette nameplate that’s been water cooler talk for years, especially with the example of the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Which is to say, they’re talking about an electric Corvette sedan. In MCT‘s words, “Here’s what we understand to be happening: GM is indeed making an electric performance sedan, but it’s with a Corvette badge, and it will be in showrooms by mid-decade.” Same as with every two-door Corvette for the past few decades, the electric family car would target Porsche, which means putting the Taycan in its sights. By then, though, the segment will be home to new performance-focused electric four-seaters from a gaggle of makers not in the segment now, such as Alfa Romeo, BMW, Dodge and Maserati. The Cadillac Celestiq would provide its bones for this sedan, built at the Lansing Grand River Assembly facility instead of the Warren Technical Center. Were that true, it would also mean the expansion of Corvette production beyond the Bowling Green, Kentucky home that’s been the sole source of ‘Vette manufacture since June 1, 1981

The expectation is that there’d be an electric Corvette SUV further down the road, which we’d guess is a challenger for the Macan or Cayenne. And if this is how everything plays out, MCT believes it eliminates any chance of the electric Camaro sedan that some predicted could arise from the ashes of the current Camaro’s retirement in 2024.

Until then, the thinking goes, the market will make do with electrified Corvettes. That means the E-Ray hybrid due next year, expected to introduce a 650-horsepower all-wheel-drive powertrain to the Corvette lineup, and a small electric range. After that, the full-fat Zora hybrid lurks in the mist, some suspecting the homage to the father of the Corvette will make near 1,000 horsepower.

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Lexus LFA II could get TTV8 from LC500 endurance racer

We are thought to be three years away from the successor of the Lexus LFA arriving in showrooms. We are thought to be less than a month from the debut of a pre-production version of Lexus‘ coming supercar, which could take place at next month’s Monterey Car Week. Persistent reports say Lexus is preparing two versions, one with a hybridized twin-turbo V8, one with a battery-electric powertrain; the former is thought to be the one on show in California in August, the latter not ready for primetime until around 2030. One of the many questions has been, “Where is that V8 coming from?” CarBuzz had its feelers out in Japan, picking up a report from Japan’s Mag-X (translated) that Lexus will use the 5.0-liter TTV8 in the LC500 endurance racer for the super coupe being referred to as LFA II.

This particular engine has been a specter, rumored for ages to make production but never seen. Way back in 2014, rumors that were already a year old posited a trio of engine options for the coupe still known as the LF-LC concept. Paramount among the powerplants was a twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8 with around 600 horsepower. The scuttlebutt continued even after the LC launched in 2016, we saw no truth of it on the street. Even when Lexus launched an endurance racing program with the LC500 in 2018, no one knew what was under the hood. It wasn’t until a year later that the brand officially announced the TTV8 engine with a release that included one aim being “to complete the [Nürburgring 24-hour] race without any trouble by adopting a variety of new technologies, including a newly-developed V8 twin-turbo engine destined for use on future road cars such as sports cars.”

At the time, almost everyone expected the “sports cars” reference to indicate the coming of an LC F.  That could still be the case. But Mag-X says the racing engine will be used in the LFA II. The LC500 is still in competition, finishing 49th out of 94 finishers at last month’s four-hour race at the Nurburgring, Mag-X noted that Gazoo Racing put out another release indicating the race car would be “probably introducing [components] to utilize in future commercial vehicles, focusing on high rigidity, aerodynamic development, suspension technology.” The outlet didn’t say much else about the engine in its online post, but noted it “found the contents of the LC were ridiculously promising.”

It also said the LFA II will “be put on the market as a substitute for the GR010 Road Going version.” The Gazoo Racing GR010 is Toyota’s entry in the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 hybrid system. rated at an unrestricted 938 horsepower, though race regulations cap its total output at 670 horses. At the moment, Hypercar class rules mandate that participants sell at least 20 road-going versions of their entries within a two-year period, so we’re not sure how the LFA II supplants the GR010 with a different engine. 

As for that on-again-off-again LC F, in April of this year Lexus Racing USA teased a shaded LC in front of the brand’s blue F logo with the caption, “Highest expression of performance.” Leaked Toyota product plans from 2020 indicated this is the year for the model’s appearance. We know Lexus likes to show off in Monterey, we could be in for two surprises next month.

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Lamborghini Huracan could become an 850-hp PHEV next year

So far, Lamborghini is celebrating 2022 with record sales and odes to the internal combustion engine thanks to a raft of special editions. The Italian automaker’s plunge into electrification starts next year with the next-generation Huracán and its plug-in hybrid powertrain. Lamborghini’s head of research and development said, “The engine will be bespoke for Lamborghini. On the final details we can’t yet communicate this, but I would say more than six and less than 12 cylinders for the combustion engine.” The easy (well, easier…) option would be to tweak one of the Volkswagen Group’s twin-turbo V8s to work with a pair or trio of electric motors. Auto Express says its sources suggest two bits of intel on that engine, the first being that it could be an in-house design “not sourced from VW Group,” the second that combined output might exceed 850 horsepower. Such a theoretical coupe would be 169 horses more potent than the Huracán STO and easily satisfy Mohr’s assertion that the new generation “from the performance point of view … will again be a big step.”

Lamborghini is spending $1.8 billion on its path to an electric future. It’s possible the firm could take part of that money to develop a V8 for itself, instantly setting itself apart from the other high-dollar brands in the VW Group. Naturally, we’d love to see that, or even a hybrid V10; what a monster that could be, although heavy, and engineers have been clear about waging a war against weight. The Wolfsburg parent is known to be a huge fan of scale, though, and a V8 or V10 that only serves two vehicles — the Aventador will continue with a V12 even as a plug-in hybrid — seems like a stretch to get approval. Parsing this also depends on how the automaker could define “in-house design.” We’ve seen massively revised engines built around an existing block considered “all-new.”

The Huracán could debut as soon as next year, one year ahead of the automaker’s commitment to electrifying the whole three-car lineup. Autocar says that looking ahead from there, we’ll finally get eyes on the battery-electric Lamborghini in 2028. Last year, the predicted window was sometime between 2025 and 2027, and an interview with Lamborghini chief Stephan Winkelmann has clarified a few bits. Autocar says the EV will “be an all-new, radically styled 2+2 crossover” that looks back to the 2008 Estoque concept for “light inspiration” but “significantly more dramatic styling” than anything else in the range so it’s understood as an EV on sight. Within two years of its launch, Lamborghini will introduce a battery-electric Urus.

If things stay as they are, that would mean a four-vehicle lineup consisting of two PHEV-only models, one electric-only model, and the Urus offering both.

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Red Bull RB17 to be a $6.1M, 1,250-hp track hypercar due in 2025

Following the Mercedes-AMG Project One and the Delage D12, the burgeoning era of Formula 1 cars for the street has another entrant. Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT) and head designer for the Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 team Adrian Newey have decided to pick up where they left off with the Aston Martin Valkyrie, announcing the Red Bull RB17. A summary of the design philosophy is: “All the tricks we’ve learned in F1,” “Adrian’s greatest hits,” a combination of the “performance-enhancing technologies that have subsequently been banned in F1.” That means carbon tub, active suspension, side skirts, ground effects tunnels, blown diffuser, hybrid energy recovery system, and around 1,250 horsepower — everything but the fan, really. It also means a limited production run at an F1 price: 50 examples costing £5,000,000 each ($6.1M U.S.).

Here’s the background. In 2016, when Aston Martin was the primary sponsor of the Red Bull F1 team, both parties announced development of the AM-RB 001, which would become the almost-no-holds-barred Valkyrie road car and no-holds-barred Valkyrie AMR Pro track car. In 2020, two years after the Valkyrie was meant to be delivered to customers, Lawrence Stroll’s takeover of Aston Martin had the carmaker cozying up to new partner Mercedes on the road and the track, securing Mercedes engines for passenger cars and the Aston Martin F1 team. Aston Martin and Red Bull separated in the F1 paddock, and although both said they were committed to finishing the Valkyrie, eventually Aston Martin took charge of completing the project.

Six months before the first Valkyries were delivered to customers at the end of last year, Newey was already saying of RBAT, “Yes, absolutely, we would like to do another vehicle. Exactly what that is and what it’s targeted at is subject to debate.” While it could be that the Valkyrie AMR Pro didn’t go as far as Newey wanted, it’s definitely true that the eight-year-old technology arm RBAT was looking for more commercial outlets for its knowledge. Red Bull team principal and CEO Christian Horner said that with the sport’s current budget cap, “If you want to retain resources, there have to be projects that can justify their existence.”

Enter the RB17 to fill all the gaps. The name is a bit of inside baseball; when F1 made rule changes to save money in 2020 during the pandemic, teams used mainly carryover chassis’ in 2021. Red Bull’s naming convention began in 2005 with the RB1, representing the constructor’s first year in the sport. The team’s 2020 car was the RB16, this year’s car is the RB18, the 2021 car should have been the RB17. But because the 2021 car was so similar to the 2020 car, RB called it the RB16B. That left RB17 lurking in limbo like the 13th floor. Here is the alphanumeric’s escape hatch from the ghost world.

All we have are snippets for the moment about a track car said to be in “advanced stages” and due in 2025. Power will come from a twin-turbo V8 of undisclosed displacement, working with that mild hybrid system to develop 1,250 hp. Both are expected to be built by an unnamed third party to RBAT’s specs. This is speculation, but F1’s rumormill has Porsche already paired with Red Bull come 2026, and Porsche is coincidentally running a hybrid twin-turbo V8 in its 963 LMDh car. Newey said the hybrid system won’t just be about filling in the ICE power troughs, as the energy recovery system “also helps in other areas, which I don’t really want to go into at the moment.” Almost everything else about the car will be developed and built in-house at a rate of 15 RB17s per year, meaning a production run of more than four years. The purchase price — which is an estimate, by the way — will also pay for service and maintenance, access to Red Bull simulators, and on-track instruction.

Newey said the only limits will be physics, the need to use standardized tires, and the need to fit two people, “at least one being quite tall.” Otherwise, “it’s effectively a no-rules car” that worships the god of lap times, “which is ultimately all that counts.”

Oh, well, there is one other thing that counts, as Horner said: “It will sound fantastic, like a track car should.” 

Buick Wildcat and Electra concepts, Ford Maverick | Autoblog Podcast #732

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. They lead off with a discussion of the news. This section touches on the DeLorean Alpha5, Buick Wildcat EV Concept reveal, revival of the Buick Electra name, production reveal of the Mercedes-AMG One and some scuttle about Volkswagen’s recently-bought Scout brand. After that, they move on to the cars they’ve been driving, including the Ford Maverick and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

After the pair finish with what they’ve been driving, the podcast transitions to an interview between Greg Migliore and former Car and Driver Editor-in-Chief Eddie Alterman. Finally, Greg and Zac wrap things up with some more spring and summer beer recommendations.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: Podcast@Autoblog.com.

Autoblog Podcast #732

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Gordon Murray Automotive torture tests the T.50 hypercar

Prepping the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 for customer deliveries around the world means testing its systems and safety akin to that of a regular production car. For GMA, this mean taking validation prototype XP1 to Automotive Testing Papenburg (ATP) in Germany for a series of torture tests that would be comical if they weren’t so brutal on a real live $2.9 million coupe. As narrator Dario Franchitti explains, many of the tests are to ensure that the airbag deployment systems know how to tell one extreme circumstance from another, so the bag deploys in a crash instead of when the T.50 is launched into a gravel pile. Yep, that’s real. The T.50 was run at nearly 20 miles an hour into — and then up — a seven-foot pile of rocks. We have no idea what the test is meant to simulate but the T.50 aced it, beaching itself over the crest, its airbag un-deployed.

The other challenges drew a more direct line to real-world driving. There’s a 37-mph dash over Belgian cobblestones and another at the same speed over a speed bump, a simulated pothole strike for “anyone who has the misfortune of driving on UK roads,” and a mad dash over a fake railway crossing. The ramp test sends the 2,173-pound, 654-hp coupe flying off a 10-inch ramp at 43 miles per hour. The steel beam test simulates plowing the wheel face into a curb, this experiment breaking a tie rod and damaging a tire. Then there’s washboard at nearly 50 miles per hour, and finally, plowing into a “simulated wild boar” that weighs 180 pounds.

The man behind the machine clearly hasn’t forgotten how to design fast cars that protect their drivers. If Murray had given the T.50 a bit more ground clearance, it might make a decent bug-out ride for anyone who knows how to travel really light.

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SSC will make a hybrid, all-wheel-drive hypercar alongside the Tuatara

Washington-based SSC announced it will expand its range of hypercars with a hybrid, all-wheel-drive model in the next few years. The limited-edition car is currently being developed, and it’s one of two new models that the firm plans to launch in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking to Motor Authority, company founder and CEO Jerod Shelby hinted that the hybrid model won’t necessarily be part of the Tuatara line. It’s too early to tell how many units will be made, but they won’t be part of the 125-car run that SSC is planning for the Tuatara. And, the gasoline-electric car might not even wear the Tuatara nameplate; SSC could use another name to dial in a further degree of differentiation.

Power will come from a hybrid drivetrain consisting of a gasoline-powered engine mounted behind the passenger compartment and a pair of motors integrated into the front hubs. This setup will give the car through-the-road all-wheel-drive, meaning that there won’t be a mechanical connection between the front and rear axles. SSC has chased speed records in recent months, but electrification isn’t a way to go faster.

“The electrification of the car will make it a more well-rounded vehicle,” Shelby told Motor Authority. He added that going hybrid will notably improve acceleration, on-track performance, and lower-speed characteristics. There’s no word yet on how powerful the model will be, but we’re expecting a significant amount of power: the Tuatara is powered by a 5.9-liter V8 that’s twin-turbocharged to 1,750 horsepower.

Meanwhile, the carmaker also hopes to open a bigger factory in about 2025 to manufacture a smaller (and presumably more volume-oriented) model that Shelby envisions as “a little brother” to the Tuatara. It sounds like SSC has its work cut out for the 2020s.

European dealer working with Koenigsegg on a CC12 secret project

We tuned into James Walker’s latest episode on YouTube because The Supercar Blog reported there’s a special Koenigsegg on the way called the CC12. There isn’t much known about the coming coupe, just that was supposedly commissioned by a European dealer in ultraluxurious things called Carage. Upon tuning in to the 51-minute video, we discovered that Walker talks about the CC12 for maybe ten seconds (38:47) — he doesn’t even call it by the name written on the wall next to it, and the project is so secret that his host won’t say a word about it. Here’s the thing: The episode is called “The Best Garage in the World?”, and the answer might be “Hell yes.” We showed up for one car, we stayed because of all the amazing car stuff.

We’d never heard of Carage before, a dealer with showrooms in Lucerne, Switzerland and Marbella, Spain that specializes in “modern hypercars [and] unusually sporty vintage cars.” If a line could win an award for Swiss understatement, this is it. Walker tours just some of the Swiss facility, which is five floors and nearly 54,000 feet of luxury architectural space housing many millions of dollars in cars. The Koenigsegg room is designed to create Swedish vibes. The five cars parked inside it include CC8S Chassis #002, the first customer car of the first model Koenigsegg built, one of two Trevita’s with white carbon and clearcoat with diamond dust, and the Agera Prototype Chassis #077 that was not only the development vehicle for every evolution of the Agera, it was customized with a trunk.   

There’s are a few rooms with Aston Martins (12:50) including James Bond’s DB10 (25:15), another with Ferraris, a modern Iso Rivolta (11:30), and the most magnificent tool and replacement parts sets we have ever seen (32:05) created for the Aston Martin DB4GT Continuation. Then there’s the garage, with the obligatory lifts and clean-room appearance. The garage also contains an indoor wash bay, because Carage washes every vehicle before working on it; there’s an exhaust vent on a rail that can be fitted to any vehicle in the garage; there are tire fitting and alignment machines in custom colors to match the garage; and a pump system to send used oil into a large containment tank beneath the garage. Plus the on-site carbon production and CNC machines. And other things. Carage is spectacular.

Back to that Koenigsegg CC12, though. It hasn’t been commissioned by Carage, it’s being built by Carage, CEO Kim Struve saying he’s working with Koenigsegg on the project, but he wants to show potential clientele what Carage can do. The form under the tarp looks like the CC8S that, earlier in the video, Struve says was bought “for a special project that’s going to be released in a year’s time.” But we can’t know if the two are related. What we do know is that Koenigsegg built just six examples of the CC8S, its name partly signifying the modular Ford V8 behind the cockpit. The re-engineered and supercharged 4.7-liter small block produced 646 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The automaker switched to CCR and CCX names after the CC8, never making a CC12. Whatever Carage is up to, we’re looking forward to it, and if the 12 in the name refers to the cylinder count, all the better.

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2022 New York Auto Show Roundup | All the reveals, reviews, pictures

NEW YORK — In case you missed it, the New York Auto Show took place this year after being canceled in both 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. A lot of manufacturers showed up in force, but not everybody did. No matter, we were there, and we brought you news, photos and scoops from the floor throughout the show. All of our New York-related stories can be found at our central hub here, but if you’d rather just get a small taste of everything in a quick and digestible format, keep scrolling.

Kia revealed the Telluride’s first major refresh at New York, and it makes the three-row crossover a little bit more desirable without screwing up what we liked about it before. There’s a new X-Line and X-Pro trim for someone who might want a little more off-road capability, and a number of tech improvements. Most notably, a newly-designed dash features new and bigger screens.

The Telluride’s sister car from Hyundai was treated to a similar refresh. Like the Telluride, Hyundai gave the Palisade a slightly revised look, a new off-road trim (called XRT in the Palisade’s case), more tech inside and a new dash design with full-width air vents. If we had to choose, we’re a little more impressed with the Telluride’s refresh, as a number of us on staff actually prefer the pre-refresh Palisade styling over the new one.

This one was inevitable. Jeep revealed the longer, roomier versions of its Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in New York, and they’re designated with an “L” at the end of their names. Total length grows by a foot, and the wheelbase goes up by 7 inches versus the standard Wagoneer models. Jeep has essentially allocated all this extra room to the cargo area, as it now offers a staggering 44.2 cubic-feet of space behind the third row.

Besides the L, Jeep announced that its new Hurricane inline-six engine would find its first home in the Wagoneer. Efficiency gets a small boost, and power is more than sufficient at either 420 horsepower (standard output) or 510 horsepower (high-output version) from the twin-turbo I-6.

The Stellantis party continues with Chrysler and its slightly revised Airflow. Re-styled for the New York market after initially debuting at CES in Las Vegas, the Airflow Concept gets new paint, changed accent colors, a slightly changed interior design and a new interpretation of the Chrysler logo.

This was our first chance to get a good in-person look at the new Kia Niro models headed our way, and we were impressed. It gets a totally new design, massaged powertrains in all three variants and an EV6-inspired interior. We even got to take a little deep dive into the standout Aero Blade design feature seen on all new Niros.

This was one of the minor debuts of the show — Subaru didn’t even hold a press conference. But the Outback was there on the show floor, and it was showing off its new Wilderness-inspired looks. The cladding is much more prominent, it has new lights up front, and Subaru packed it with a number of new tech features.

One year on from the Pathfinder being all-new, and Nissan just added an off-road-focused Rock Creek trim. It gets a slightly revised suspension, more power when run on premium fuel, all-terrain tires and a fairly comprehensive styling package. We liked the looks of it on the show floor, and while it may not be a super-capable SUV, having the option of a more rugged-looking SUV is seemingly a good thing to have in dealers these days.

The Leaf is getting outpaced by EVs with far more range, better tech and more power, but that hasn’t stopped Nissan from giving it a small nip-and-tuck. It gets a new grille, light-up Nissan logo, wild new wheels and a couple of aero enhancements.

This special-edition Ford GT pays tribute to the third-place car at the 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It re-creates that car’s look via matching paint, red accents and a number of other small details. Ford put it on display next to the car that raced at Le Mans back in 1966, making it an excellent display for any racing history geeks.

A collaboration between Williams Engineering, Italdesign and Deus, this electric hypercar is planned for super-low production, but incredibly high performance. Output is meant to be “more than 2,200 horsepower” and it has a claimed 0-62 mph time of 1.99 seconds. Only 99 are meant to be built, but we know that will be a tough, uphill battle to accomplish. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a Deus outside of the N.Y. Auto Show stand one day.

Yes, it’s another Huracán variant. This one steals a lot of the go-fast STO parts, but pairs them with a much more subdued appearance. It does well to make the appearance stand out as different from other Huracáns, and the 631 horsepower being sent to the rear wheels sound like Italian supercar bliss.

2023 BMW X7 M60i

BMW didn’t bring it to the show floor, but we still got to see the refreshed X7 in New York this week. The design both inside and out gets a heavy revamping. Its look certainly isn’t for everyone, but nobody can deny that the car is turning heads. We’re impressed with the new interior, and the base xDrive40i powertrain gets a huge performance boost, giving the entry-level X7 a whopping 375 horsepower.

Debuting alongside the regular X7 was the Alpina XB7 that received its own styling tweaks to keep it current. It also adds 8 horsepower, bringing it up to 621 ponies from the twin-turbo V8.

Genesis X Speedium Coupe

It wasn’t on the show floor, but Genesis still revealed it in New York during auto show time. The X Speedium Coupe Concept is far and away the most beautiful thing there. Its shooting brake/fastback design is long and wide, and its proportions make it a total stunner. The concept is electric, and while Genesis hasn’t committed to putting it into production, we can hope to see it on the roads one day.

Random other musings

Fiat 500 Electric

For whatever reason, Fiat brought the Europe-only electric 500 to N.Y. Our Joel Stocksdale took a close look at it, and made a case for why Stellantis should bring the little EV to America.

Radwood showed up with a large collection of epic cars from the 1980s and 1990s. They were easily the coolest part of the show, and if you’re in town, it may be worth going just to see this group of cars at the Javits Center.

Lastly, Alfa brought the Tonale for us to check out in a gorgeous Montreal Green paint. It’s a sharp little crossover in the flesh, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how this Alfa drives.

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