Whenever Ferrari launches a new model on the market, a hardcore version is always thrown in the mix shortly thereafter. This was the case for the F430 which had the Scuderia at its heels and the 599 Fiorano whih received the 599 GTO . The new 458 Italia shouldn’t be an exception to this rule and, according to someone who recently visited the Ferrari HQ in Maranello, it won’t be.
This Dutch visitor is stating that the company is currently preparing a new special edition 458 Italia called the "458 Monte Carlo." This new model is prepared to push out about 620 HP, a 50 HP increase over the car’s standard 570 HP. Aside from that, the upcoming 458 Monte Carlo will also be lighter than a standard 458 thanks to a stripped-out interior. It will also be offered with upgraded suspensions and brakes.
The new Ferrari 458 Monte Carlo is rumored to be a tribute car to the legendary town where the Monaco Grand Prix is held, but we’re hoping that the re-engineered vehicle eventually throws its mechanical marvel over to a 458 Scuderia version.
We all know and mostly love the WRX STI that Subaru pumps out each year. The latest model produces a stout 305 horsepower and 290 pound feet of torque through Subaru’s famed AWD system, all for a relative bargain of $34,000. Unfortunately, the STI nameplate has never extended beyond the WRX lineup.
That may become a thing of the past, as Subaru debuted its Forester TS, which is tuned by STI to pump out 259 horsepower and 256 pound-feet of torque from its 2.5-liter 4-banger, to its newest market – Russia. What in the world does an STI-tuned Forester in Russia have to do with more STI models in other countries? Well, according to a report by Autocar, this is simply a test market.
This test will gauge the demand of an STI-tuned car, besides the WRX, in a market other than Japan. A Subaru insider was quoted as saying “It’s clear that STI’s abilities and experience could work on other cars in other markets,” and “Confining them to WRX projects doesn’t make sense when the demand is there.” This would lead us to believe that if the Russian Forester TS succeeds, then Subaru would be start expanding its STI lineup in other markets, like the U.S.
All we can hope for it that the Forester TS takes hold in Russia and Subaru decides to expand the STI lineup in the U.S. to the Subaru BRZ . We know that’s beating a dead horse, but this insider info really shows that this is becoming more of a possibility. This also points to the possibility of a turbocharged Forester STI coming to the U.S., which could give Subaru some much needed help fending off the turbocharged 2013 Ford Escape .
Who knows, we may just run into a performance crossover SUV war soon.
Hmm, that’s kind of scary... We guess little Billy and Sara would always make it to soccer practice on time.
We already know that Mazda and Alfa Romeo are in bed together on the MX-5 Miata /Alfa Romeo Spider project, but the specifics were still a relative unknown. A little bird, in the form of a senior design source, flew down and chirped a little info to our friends at What Car. We cannot vouch for the validity of this info, but we’re going to pass it on to you.
First up, the engine... According to this unnamed source, Mazda has chosen an engine already and it is a 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. It pumps out a healthy 200 horsepower, which is 22 horsepower more than the 2004 and 2005 Mazdaspeed MX-5 produced and 33 horsepower more than the current model . We’re also certain that we’ll see torque cresting the 200 pound-feet mark, though there was no mention of that.
The source also reports that the MX-5 will hit showrooms in 2015 with a lighter body and chassis, and a sportier look than the current model. The estimated weight the source gave was 1,000 kg (2,204 lbs), which is 276 lbs less than the 2012 model. In a car as small as the Miata, that is significant weight loss, to say the least.
There is also talk that Mazda will offer its roadster up with many more options that will help give the car more of a personality. This will help form a stronger bond between the person and the car. Typically, Miata owners already have this bond with their car, but a little extra something can’t hurt.
Lastly, there will be a top-end model, similar to the Mazdaspeed version in 2004 and 2005, that will be even lighter yet and more tuned for racing, as it will be stripped of unnecessary add-on features to save every ounce.
There was one bit of info on the project altogether and it is that Mazda will only provide the platform (chassis, uni-body, and drivetrain); Alfa Romeo will add on its own body and interior. So scratch the evil idea that we’ll have two almost identical cars.
We’ll keep an eye out for more whispers as this project continues.
There have been rumors circulating that Volkswagen AG is interested in Proton, which includes the Lotus debacle, as either minority owners or a controlling stake. But if VW’s labor union officials have any say, this will not take place. Bend Osterloh let the Handelsblatt know that the labor union will not support VW acquiring Proton, Lotus, or any other brand.
Osterloh was quoted saying “We already have 12 brands and we first have to stabilize the group.” Osterloh also agrees that VW needs to increase its presence in Southwest Asia, but the labor union still won’t support VW in this potential purchase.
Osterloh holds a seat on the supervisory board, so he has a little pull in the company, but not that much pull. VW is looking to overtake GM as the world’s largest auto manufacturer by 2018 and we doubt a puny labor union will stop VW. Even the taxman couldn’t put the brakes on VW’s expansion when it purchased, err, restructured Porsche.
We are pretty sure that VW will own at least a portion of Proton before the end of 2013, it just has to figure out how to let its labor union know that it can either come along for the ride or step aside. This should be a pretty interesting one, as we all know exactly how well auto unions and automakers play together, so we may be in for a pretty big power struggle.
Recently we saw Dodge pull out of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and it was sort of a shock, as they had just finished developing a new car just for that series. We are now hearing whispers that another car manufacturer may be pulling out of another racing series. This time around we are talking about Mercedes and its involvement in the F1 series, at least part of its involvement.
Auto Hebdo, a French weekly, has reported that Mercedes-Benz is trying to find a way to not foot a huge bill for a team, yet still earn money and notoriety from the series. The reasoning for Mercedes possibly leaving has more folds than Jabba the Hut in a size-2 bikini, but the gist of it is that Mercedes is not happy with and is the only team yet to sign the new Concorde Agreement, which gives preferential treatment to vested teams and also places these teams, which include Ferrari , McLaren , and Red Bull, on F1’s parent company’s board.
Where the partial pullout comes into play is the fact that Mercedes fields engines for various teams, like McLaren and Force India, and that may continue. This could be the reasoning for Mercedes switching its name from "Mercedes AMG Petronas F1" to "AMG F1" next year.
There are also contradicting rumors that said AMG F1 will field a team, but Mercedes will stay out of the racing side and focus only on engineering. The AMG arm would be the “hands-on” entity, which could also be considered a partial withdrawal. Of course, Mercedes is denying the rumors calling its involvement in F1 “long term” and an “integral component” of their philosophy.
With all of these crazy rumors flying around and Bernie Eccelstone saying “I very much doubt Mercedes will ever leave F1,” we’ll reserve our prediction for when these murky waters clear up a little.
The information on this new crossover SUV is very scarce, but based on our knowledge, we were able to come up with a rendering of what we think the Touareg CC will look like. One thing that we are fairly certain of is that the Touareg CC will be modeled after the Cross Coupe Concept we saw in Geneva, boasting an aggressive-looking front end with an array of sharp body lines and a stylish chrome grille up front. On the rear, you’ll get exaggerated rear fender wells and arches, semi-oval taillights, and a raked rear hatch. You also get a pair of oval exhaust exits directly under the rear bumper.
Down the side of the Touareg CC, you have a profile that looks more like a coupe, almost like the profile that Nissan gave to the Juke. Unlike the Juke , however, you will have an exposed rear door handle, giving away its status as a 4-door model.
There are tons of racing circuits in the world right now, but the fastest rising one in the U.S. is the Global RallyCross Championship circuit. You have super-fast cars on multiple surfaces (dirt, mud, sand, pavement, etc.) with little room to maneuver, plus they throw in obstacles and and ramps. No, we don’t mean relatively cushy dirt jumps in regular rally circuits. We mean ramps with huge gaps between them. So, who can blame us for falling in love with it?
It looks like the FIA is a little envious of the GRC and is planning to start its own international global rallycross circuit. With this potential entry into globalizing its rallycross circuit, the FIA is rumored to have forbid its drivers to participate in GRC. This would take some pretty high-level names out of the GRC, like Ken Block, Sebastien Loeb, Tanner Foust, and Liam Doran. To make matters worse, Tanner Foust is actually the points leader in the 2012 season, so that would be a major shakeup if the ban comes mid-season.
As we said, these are just rumors right now, but with multiple sources spreading the same whispers, there is likely some truth behind it. We have shipped off an email to GRC to get a quick statement and to see if there is any truth behind this, but we really doubt that they will confirm or deny the rumors.
For now, we just have to kick back and wait to see if the FIA follows through with this ban and if it’ll affect the 2012 season.
It is well known among the automotive world that the Aston Martin Rapide has always been the black sheep of the luxury sports sedan market. Its 470-horsepower, 5.9-liter V-12 engine has always fallen short of the competition, like the 518-pony Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG and 500-horsepower Panamera Turbo. To make matters worse, it starts off at over $110,000 more than the Mercedes and over $70,000 more than the Porsche.
This all points to a big reason for Aston Martin refreshing the Rapide for 2013. Granted, the base price will not change, but its performance will. Initially, we all expected to see an available a higher-performance Rapide S in 2013. According to reports, however, a Rapide S is not in the works.
Car and Driver is reporting that Aston Martin is fitting the 5.9-liter V-12 plant from the 2013 Vanquish , which produces 565 horsepower, into the slightly redesigned Rapide. The exact horsepower figures are not compete for the Rapide, but we expect it to be slightly de-tuned to not compete with the Vanquish.
You can look for the 2013 Aston Martin Rapide to punch out somewhere in the 545-horsepower range to give it a bump over its cheaper competitors. Is this really enough to push the Aston in front of the competition? We say no, but it should help level out the market slightly.
With the additional horsepower in the base Rapide, there is no need for a Rapide S model, per Car and Driver, so don’t look for one this year. Apparently, all of the style changes we have seen from the spy shots and renderings are all included on the base model, if the reports are accurate.
It’s nice to see Aston Martin thinking about ways to make its extremely expensive sedan a little more worth the extra money, but would you still pay over $100K more for the Aston over the Mercedes?
Since its release in 2009, the R35 Nissan GT-R has been a relative success, given its niche and $90,000 price tag, as it has sold a total of 5,914 models in the U.S. For a while, it seemed as if the R36 GT-R, the replacement for the R35, was a near certainty to be produced. Well, we are getting mighty close to the fourth production year for the R35 and the fifth year is the typical redesign year for any model and according to reports, the R36 GT-R has yet to receive the green light.
Nissan has been pretty preoccupied lately with its development of electric and hybrid models, so we are not too surprised to see the R36 take a back seat. Add in the fact that sales have fallen to just 583 units, as of late July, and we are living with the possibility of Nissan axing the U.S. model altogether. At its current pace, the GT-R is only going to sell just over 1,100 GT-Rs this year, which is its lowest total since 2010 and over 600 units fewer than its debut year.
Nissan may also be worried about the CAFE changes in upcoming years and might be looking for a way to get a few more mpg from its sole sports car. A big possibility is the use of a hybrid drivetrain mated with a 4-cylinder engine to keep its horsepower near the 550 mark, but increase its overall mpg. With the near-$100K price point of the 2013 GT-R, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit a hybrid system somewhere near that price. This could explain the lack of approval, as Nissan would need a little extra time to develop a drivetrain suitable to replace the current twin-boosted 6-pot.
We’ll keep you updated on how things are progressing with the potential R36 GT-R just as soon as there is some information released.
DRB-Hicom and Lotus have officially shut down the five-year plan that Dany Bahar placed the compact sports car company on shortly before he was canned. In fact, DRB-Hicom flat out called the plan unrealistic and we agree. Now with Lotus hanging around with no real future in sight, could DRB-Hicom be ready to offload Proton and Lotus altogether?
If it is ready to cut the money pits named Proton and Lotus loose, there is a suitor ready and waiting, according to a report by Reuters. Volkswagen, the recent PAC-Man of the automotive world, tried once to snatch up Proton, but failed, and now it looks as if it is ready to try again for at least partial control.
Ideally, for VW , DRB would let go of controlling stake in both companies and sell them to VW on the cheap, so that the magical Volkswagen wand can heal Lotus and Proton , much like it has with Audi. The connection is already there, as VW uses a DRB-Hicom facility to manufacture the Passat, so starting up the conversation of a buyout is as easy as pressing a speed-dial button on a cellphone.
Volkswagen, of course, isn’t saying a word about all of this and DRB-Hicom has been insisting that it is not selling Lotus or Proton. As we all know, car manufacturers will deny any type of news about selling companies or merging until they absolutely cannot deny it anymore, so we take all of this denying with a great big grain of Sodium Chloride.
We’ll keep you updated if anything else comes up on this front.