Seems there’s no set solution for the future
It’s been a pretty confusing week at the Auto News Desk this week as every next carmaker appears to be heading in a different future direction right now.
Hold that thought a second while we go through the big reveals of the week, but be sure to read this week’s story through, too.
The coolest news of the week was perhaps the announcement of the Mercedes AMG's new GT Black Series with bigger turbos and a flat-plane crankshaft as adequately described in its own right here. Black was not the only supercar to be rolled out through the week however, and the other one proves that not everything necessarily needs improvement, yet still they improve…
Porsche has rolled out latest version of its quintessential 911 Turbo Coupé and Cabriolet with 427kW 750Nm, which happens to be more than double the output of the great ‘seventies original. The next generation symmetrical VTG turbocharged machines are now 30kW more powerful, 40Nm torquier without a timed overboost and good for 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds and the same old 320km/h top end.
Now even more of a fat boy for more precise steering via a 42m wider front track, 20-inch 255/35 20-inch front and 315/30 21-inch rear tyres and the choice of two different sport or comfort and more front-biased active all-wheel control Porsche Traction Management systems, Turbo gets more powerful brakes too. Add new looks and Direct Touch infotainment, too.
Keeping with performance, here's one for the books – a car for once available in right hand drive only! Subaru has been awfully quiet for a while, but it finally broke its silence with news of this 500-off WRX STI S4 Sport # for the Japan market with a tuned exhaust and Bilstein suspension...
Before we head into the wild blue yonder, Suzuki has tweaked the ever-fresh Swift with a new 3D grille, 16-inch rims and silver trim. Add new starter generator mild hybrid assistance for the tweaked 62kW 1.2 litre petrol mill in five-speed manual or CVT in Europe, where Swift also gains all-wheel drive, blind spot and lane departure warnings and traffic sign recognition.
Meanwhile off the beaten track, there’s a great new tussle that erupted through the week and set to be fought out across the Rubicon for many a year to come….
BRONCO TO BUCK WRANGLER?
Well, there she is! Ford finally unveiled its all-new Bronco Tuesday evening in two and or four-door body styles to salute its original '60s and '70s forebears in a fresh, futuristic and fun 4x4 set to take it straight to the Jeep Wrangler.
Toy-like, Bronco looks like a car you want to play with at first sight. The 2-door is 21cm longer than Wrangler on a 10cm longer wheelbase, while the four-door is 3cm longer on a 7cm-inch shorter wheelbase and both are 35cm broader but 2cm lower and can carry more cargo too.
Powered by either a 200kW 240Nm 2.3-litre turbo petrol four pot or a 230kW 545Nm 2.7-litre biturbo V6 to significantly humble the Jeep’s old V6, there’s a Raptor Bronco coming too. The Rubicon Capable (A lovely dig at Jeep!) Bronco has the choice of a 10-speed auto or a six-plus-one-speed manual with a super-low crawler gear that works in either high or low range, and the choice of an electric shift-on-the-fly or a full-time 4-Auto transfer case with myriad other options too.
Ford SA has no plans for Bronco, but rest assured that Jeep’s perfect response of its 392 V8 concept, which turned up spot on cue on the very eve of Bronco’s great reveal (which was delayed to remove the new Ford from the blunder of its arrival originally planned coincide with the anniversary of OJ Simpson’s infamous police chase in the passenger seat of an old Bronco), will come to South Africa…
The 320kW 610Nm 6.4-litre Wrangler Rubicon 392 V8 Concept (392 being the new Grand Cherokee SRT8 derived lump’s cubic inch capacity) benefits sub 5 second 0-100km/h acceleration and (Rubicon) Trail Rated 4x4 capability. Packing an 8-speed transmission, Dana 44 axles, a full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front and rear-axle lockers and 37-inch mud-terrain tyres, 392 also has a Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch factory lift kit.
All we can add is that the genuine US 4x4 game is now really on!
IT’S AN ODD WORLD WE LIVE IN!
The rest of the week was dominated by a whole bunch of green and greener car announcements, all of which did little more than to completely muddle where this snowflake motoring world is actually headed, with if anything, a terribly confused overall message coming out of it all.
The most interesting of the lot, was how the British media skirted around the issue that Land Rover’s big new diesel announcement was even a diesel engine as the company replaced its Range Rover V6 and V8 turbodiesels "with a new 3-litre straight-six featuring 48V mild-hybrid tech.”
That quote was taken verbatim from a leading British source, but notice that there is no mention of the word diesel there? The Germans however promised us that “Land Rover’s new straight-six turbodiesel is the engine of the future”!
The long and short of it, is that this all-new JLR in-house-designed Ingenium turbodiesel — yes — it is a turbodiesel — replaces the company's Ford-derived diesel lumps in 220kW 650Nm D300 and 260kW 700Nm D350 incarnations for a significant improvement in emissions and fuel consumption. The Range Rover Sport D350 even benefits a 0.7sec improvement to 6.5 seconds to 100km/h.
So much for diesel being dead…
Just as we were digesting all that however, came news of Audi actually delivering on its promise to exorcise turbodiesel as it ditched its derv V8 in a blaze of petrol smoke to replace that dirty lump with a new 375kW biturbo 4-litre petrol V8 in its SQ7 and SQ8 twins.
50kW stronger but 130Nm down on the diesel it replaces, the new biturbo petrol V8 now musters just 770Nm, but 0-100km/h is 0.7 seconds quicker at 4.1 seconds for both cars, with 80-120 said to now take only 3.8seconds. Now hear this - these new TFSI petrol V8s also ditch Audi’s 48V mild-hybrid tech, but add cylinder deactivation when off the gas.
And then, just to confuse it even further, while Audi ditched the hybrid bits on the above-mentioned SUVs, Maserati’s much anticipated Ghibli Hybrid arrived to replace its old V6 diesel!
It gets a re-tuned Alfa Romeo-derived turbo 2-litre petrol four-pot coupled at the tote with a 48V mild-hybrid system to deliver a handy 240kW 450Nm maximum output and the 5.7-second 0-100 and 255km/h performance of a petrol V6 petrol, but using a quarter less fuel at 7l/100km and 168g/km CO2.
Understand why we’re confused? You should be too! And just in case you do still get it, the rest of the week’s news just happens to be all electric!
BMW revealed its new 210kW 400Nm electric iX3 powered by a fifth-generation BMW eDrive motor good for 100km/h in 6.8 seconds (versus an X3 30i in 6.4), with a top speed electronically limited to 180km/h. BMW promises the zero emissions iX3's lifecycle CO2 impact is significantly less than an X3 xDrive20d.
We’re not sure how efficient electric cars really are in South Africa, where most of our power comes from inefficient coal stations and banks of monster diesel generators that run on dirty marine sludge – when they are actually making power, that is – but BMW tells us that the improvement can be as much as 60% when iX3 is charged using electricity from the European energy mix...
BMW also showed its 02 Reminiscence Concept in the week – it’s an electric car concept that pays homage BMW's first to the 1602 e-car used at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games Marathon. Now would a 400kW 2-litre turbo hybrid version of that not just be the peach to celebrate the brilliant 2002ti...?
And finally, Nissan’s bold new Ariya electric SUV will travel up to 500km on a charge with the top 290kW AWD version good for 5.1 second 0-100 acceleration in 'a new era for electric vehicles that combines high tech with exciting handling’. The five-model range starts with a 160kW RWD version. Ariya’s arrival also saw the unveiling of a new Nissan badge designed to free the brand of its recent stigma…
So, there you have it – a most interesting motoring week all-round – see you next Friday for more! – Michele Lupini