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The News for October 30th, 2015

Greg Kachadurian October 30, 2015 The News! 22 Comments

Welcome to the Redusernab News – 2015 Tokyo Motor Show Edition! This year, the land of the rising sun delivered a wonderfully diverse auto show that was host to some game-changing concepts and production vehicles. It’s a good one this week. But as always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:

  • Mazda resurrects the rotary engine, wins the show

  • Subaru WRX STI S207 is cooler, faster, and not for us

  • Porsche ups the thrill factor with the Macan GTS

  • Yamaha conceptualizes the perfect sports car driving experience

  • Honda doubles-down on hydrogen fuel cell cars with new Clarity

  • Lexus LF-LC concept proves that the spindle grille is here to stay

  • McLaren played hookie to race the P1 GTR at Catalunya instead

  • What’s your automotive news?

Mazda RX-Vision Concept

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I feel like nothing else I’ve reported on this year is as big as this. Nothing. Not the Tesla Model X, not the Gen 6 Camaro, not the Alfa Romeo Giulia (close), and certainly not anyone’s first go at a luxury crossover. That all pales in comparison to what Mazda just unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show and it’s just the concept.

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Say hello to the Mazda RX-Vision Concept. It’s gorgeous reassurance that Mazda has not given up on the sports car or the rotary engine. A direct quote from the press release states that it “represents a vision of the future that Mazda hopes to one day make into reality…”, that being front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car with the latest “Kodo” styling.

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At the center of this wonderful vision is an all-new Skyactiv-R rotary engine and it’s arguably the star of the show. Mazda has not sold or mass-produced a rotary engine since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012, but they’ve never stopped research and development on it. It’s also important to note the fact that it’s received Mazda’s Skyactiv branding like everything else they build now. They did so to advertise their dedication to overcome the challenges that this unique engine architecture brings with science. It also further suggests that Mazda is serious about bringing this to production in the near future.

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Maybe by then this new engine will also convince more people that there’s no need to fear that crazy spinning voodoo rotor under the hood and turn the next RX into a sales success.  Also note the distinct lack of paddle shifters… not many manufacturers show off a manual concept anymore. Mazda has already answered a lot of prayers with this concept, but they’ll become heroes if they sell it.

[Source: Mazda]

Subaru WRX STI S207

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Subaru Technica International (STI) was on deck to reveal a special edition Subaru WRX STI that Japan gets all to itself. It’s the best kind of special edition, though: the kind that goes faster. It’s called the Subaru WRX STI S207 and its production numbers will be limited to – you guessed it – 400 units all destined for the land of the rising sun.

The S207 starts as a very capable “base” WRX STI and gets a complete makeover from the STI motorsports division, making it look fast and go even faster. The aim here was to make it the “world’s most enjoyable vehicle, providing a feel-good experience to all those who travel in it regardless of road conditions and enhancing driver skill”. Sounds pretty awesome to me.

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STI elicits that feel-good experience through exclusive engine and suspension tuning along with sporty interior and exterior distinctions. Said engine enhancements include an exclusive ECU, twin scroll ball bearing turbocharger, and low back pressure performance exhaust. Supporting mods range from STI-tuned Bilstein struts, dampers, and coil springs to Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires. A quick 11:1 steering ratio, active torque vectoring, adjustable damper settings (a first for a Japanese automaker) provide snappy reactions and awesome control while STI-designed Brembo brakes slow it all down.

Interestingly enough, the press release claims the front two-piece drilled rotors and rear drilled rotors are both 18-inches in diameter…. eighteen! F1 and WEC LMP1 cars don’t have brake discs that big. The wheels are 19-inchers so I’m guessing this is either a typo or Subaru has defied the laws of nature on this car’s braking system.

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Either way, this car is a serious performer and has the visual and interior features to make it look that way. The car receives exclusive aero treatment with a front splitter, available rear spoiler, and rear diffuser STI-designed BBS wheels for style and lightness. Inside, drivers are treated to custom Recaro front bucket seats and custom gauges, several other unique touches.

The S207 can be ordered with the NBR Challenge Package to take it a step further. This package is limited further to – you guessed it – 200 units of the 400 S207s being built and it includes a dry carbon rear spoiler exclusive to the package and special ornamentation commemorating Subaru’s victory in the SP3T class in the 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hour.

Enjoy this beast, Japan.

[Source: Subaru via ]

Porsche Macan GTS

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The Tokyo Motor Show wasn’t an all-Japanese show by any means. Porsche was there with the 2017 Macan GTS, an obligatory fast, driver-focused version of their successful small crossover. It’ll go on sale in multiple markets worldwide by next March.

Like all the other current GTS models, the Macan GTS gets a healthy mix of more power, better handling, and a new sportier appearance both inside and out. Power comes from a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 which now delivers 360 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a seven-speed PDK (dual-clutch) transmission.

The all-wheel-drive powertrain is “borrowed” from the Macan Turbo which includes an advanced traction management system that relies on an electro-hydraulic, multi-plate clutch to variably engage both axles when needed. In conjunction with their Sport Chrono Package, 0-60 mph takes 4.8 seconds. 14.2″ front brake rotors with six-piston calipers and 13″ rear brake rotors can bring this crossover to a stopp or assist with torque vectoring. Porsche Active Suspension Management comes standard and greatly improves cornering ability to make this crossover go like a real sports car… from what I’ve heard.

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The exterior receives subtle GTS treatment, namely black exterior accents and 20″ RS Spyder wheels. Its interior is filled with leather and Alcantara galore, sport seats, and available Porsche Connect for Apple CarPlay and LTE integration.

US pricing is $67,200.

[Source: Porsche]

I love Porsche and I’ve heard surprisingly good things about how well the Macan drives, but only in Japan would Porsche’s debut be less interesting than almost everything else. Case in point…

Yamaha Sports Ride

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… This! It’s a four-wheeled sports car from a manufacturer not particularly known for four-wheeled sports cars, though it’s not their first. Yamaha Motor Company had what they call the Sports Ride concept on display amongst half a dozen motorcycles, because why not?

This design concept takes a “uniquely Yamaha approach” by capturing the involved and active motorcycle riding experience in a full-fledged sports car meant for daily use. Its whole purpose is to express a driver-machine relationship in a small, lightweight, and advanced sports car. There’s no mention of supercar-like acceleration or top speed anywhere in the press release, just pure driver involvement.

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There aren’t any mechanical details to report, but it’s a featherweight at just 1,650 pounds thanks to the utilization of the iStream process. iStream is a method developed by Gordon Murray Design Limited to produce lightweight, high-rigidity vehicle structures with roots in Formula One technology. That. In a car that looks like this.

Come on, Yamaha, you know you want to.

[Source: Yamaha Motor Company]

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

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Honda has reaffirmed its commitment to hydrogen fuel cell technology with the introduction of the all-new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Not to be confused with the Honda FCX or FCX Clarity, which were Honda’s previous iterations and make Googling the new car a pain, the Clarity Fuel Cell is the most promising one yet and will most likely make its way to America.

This FCV (fuel cell vehicle) is designed to be more user-friendly than any other before it and in a way that owners of gasoline-powered cars will find familiar. For that reason and others, Honda is hopeful that this Clarity Fuel Cell will set a benchmark for all other FCVs that follow.

Here’s the technical rundown: the fuel cell stack was downsized by 33% compared to previous versions yet yields 100kW in output, a 60% improvement. The entire fuel cell powertrain is as compact as a Honda 3.5-liter V6 engine and the motor has a maximum output of 130 kW (174 hp). A 70MPa high-pressure hydrogen storage tank helps enable an estimated driving range of over 400 miles and the tank can be refilled in as little as three minutes.

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The coolest feature about this powertrain is its “power plant on wheels” feature. Yep. When combined with an external power ing device, the Power Exporter 9000 (yes it’s actually called that), it can provide seven days’ worth of electricity to an average household or help power a community in a disaster. “So do I drive to pick up beer or do I power up a hospital… oh god“.

Honda will start leasing the Clarity Fuel Cell to Japanese governing bodies and businesses that have already expressed interest before selling to the general public in various markets. This is so they can collect back and gather usage statistics.

Honda has not formally announced when we should expect it stateside (from what I could find), but they do talk about eventually selling it in America and Europe. We’ll see it soon enough.

[Source: Honda]

BLIPS

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Lexus debuted a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle of their own with the LF-LC Concept. Not only does it suggest a possible future powertrain, featuring a rear-mounted hydrogen full cell stack and electric motors at all four wheels, but it also could preview future Lexus styling… the spindle grille is here to stay. We could certainly see a new LS flagship sedan with this styling in the not too distant future, but should we? I personally like Lexus styling if you take away the over-sized spindle grille, which everyone on the internet seems to hate. But that’s here to stay… for better or worse.

[Source: Lexus]

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McLaren was not at the Tokyo Motor Show with the P1 GTR. Instead, they were playing at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. I’ve covered McLaren’s awesome P1 GTR and the lust worthy Driver Program before, but it recently kicked off at one of the fastest tracks in F1. To quickly summarize, McLaren built the brutally fast P1 into a track-only P1 GTR and then developed a P1 GTR Driver Program around it to allow those fortunate enough to play with it at some of the world’s greatest tracks.

McLaren gets to further develop the P1 GTR and learn from it, drivers get to practice in a 968 horsepower monster and get tips from McLaren professionals, and all of humanity is better off because something like this exists. After Catalunya, the program will venture to other locations across the globe like Monza in Italy, Silverstone in the UK, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, and even Circuit of the Americas right here in the US.

[Source: McLaren]

What’s Your Automotive News?

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That’s all I’ve got this week. It was a very cool, diverse Tokyo Motor Show this year and was by far the most unique of the year so far. But what’s even more unique is the kind of responses I get from you hoons each week in the comments.

With that said, it’s your turn. If you saw anything, drove something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything news worthy that you’d like to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.

[Image © 2015 Redusernab/Greg Kachadurian]

  • Greg Kachadurian

    I got my car back last weekend. There was a service bulletin for a clank from the rear of the drivetrain when going into gear/reverse and they’re still waiting for the “special German parts” to arrive relating to the differential. They already did a few things to it and for a few days the sound was completely gone… but it’s already come back. Hopefully those last few things fix it for good because it’s a bit unsettling to hear a metallic clank on a way off-warranty BMW.

    Also, the oil filter housing keeps wanting to leak oil… this is like the 3rd time it’s happened. All in all, the only “maintenance nightmares” I’ve had with this car all relate to it wanting to expunge all its oil. Can’t complain too much I guess.

    • A leaky oil filter housing fix is next on the list for the ti. It’s very leaky, to the tune of 200-300 miles to the quart. Lots of oil down the front of the engine and back down the undercarriage.

      But, after 240K I guess that’s not bad. And after 240K I can’t be sure that’s the only place the oil is going.

  • Jeff Glucker

    Truck is getting the driveshaft fixed, front disc brakes installed, the radiator more secure (from zipties to actual points that are bolted in), the steering rag joint replaced, and a few other minor updates.

  • jeepjeff

    Oh man. Yamaha has been killing it lately with concepts and new releases. They just showcases the DT-07, an FZ-07 flat tracker concept. The new R1 is supposed to be excellent, and it’s got a cross-plane crank for an extra bit of hooligan factor (I like even firing engines for cars, but bikes seem better with odd firing engines).

    Also: made it down to San Jose on the FZ-07 without incident. It’s a fantastic machine.

    • crank_case

      I have so much want for that Yamaha. Everybodys going nuts for the Mazda, but it’ll probably be the same deal as rotarys in the past, y’know. Wonderful to drive, not so great to own for any sort of regular use. Like previous RX cars, you’ll all admire it, respect anyone mad enough to pony up the cash, you won’t actually buy one yourself. The Yamaha on the other hand, ridiculously light, cheap running costs, easy to fit in the tiniest garage, the perfect weekend car or single occupant commuter car. The AW11 MR2 for the modern era, or like a smart roadster, only way better. Make it now, don’t screw it up Yamaha, please. pretty please with a cherry on top.

      • Greg Kachadurian

        Good point… but with the Skyactiv branding I’m hoping it means they’re able to overcome many of the problems that plagued the old ones. If it was my money (and if I had it) I honestly don’t know which of those two I’d rather take. They both just look so friggin awesome

        • crank_case

          Hey, I’m hoping too an I hope mazda sell bucketloads, but even still, if I had the cash it’s the Yamaha that I’m sold on. Gordon Murray input, engine by Yamaha, carbon fibre construction, Lotus Elise power to weight (140bhp per tonne claimed), where do I sign?

    • Rover 1

      Leave it to Gordon Murray to be the first to do something with carbon-fibre again.( First CF F1 car, first CF brakes, first CF production car.)

      This time it’s affordability and rapid production.

      And leave it to Yamaha to know where to go to find the top expertise and best ideas.

      • jeepjeff

        I would not be surprised to hear that it’s got the same triple as the YXZ1000R. 110Hp, 998cc, 10,500 redline, nice, flat torque curve, sequential gear box and setup for a 4 wheeled vehicle rather than two. Also, that’s supposed to be a pretty nice mill, an would be a sweet engine for an ultralight sports car.

  • Packing my bags for AAPEX/SEMA. Posts will ensue.

  • My automotive news is that I found a source of Variomatic drive belts for my Volvo 66. They’re a bit steep at $125 per belt shipping, particularly as the car uses two of them, but at least they are still to be had.

    • Sjalabais

      Do they differ from what’s being used in the 300-series? That’s because I have heard these belts are hard to come by, but the price isn’t that scary after all.

      • I’m not sure whether they’re the same; I’ll have to check. These belts are about twice the price of the CVT belts used in my HMV or KV, and of course those vehicles use only one apiece.

      • According to the guy selling the belts, there are three lengths:

        (1) Early DAF, such as the 600, 750, and 33. These are the shortest.
        (2) DAF 44 and 55. These are the longest.
        (3) Later DAF (46 and 66) and all Volvos (66 and the 300 series).

    • bigredcavetroll

      Can you get custom ones made for less?

      • I suspect this would cost much more, so I’m glad not to be forced down that path.

        • CraigSu

          Would this work?
          It’s commonly used on table saws but I’m not sure how it would hold up on a Volvo 66 (or KV or HMV for that matter).

  • Batshitbox

    The Lexus looks like a yacht in profile, or a small motor launch, but mostly like a sleek sailboat.
    “Perfect sports car driving experience” from Yama-wha? The driver’s side headrest would make me nervous that Ambassador Kosh was going to eat my head (and is that a subwoofer between your legs or are you really happy to be driving a Yamahopper?)

    • CraigSu

      Babylon 5 FTW!

  • CraigSu

    The Yamaha reminds me of a junior NSX. That said, it will probably beat the senior NSX to market.

  • CraigSu

    The headlight in the lede photo of the Mazda seems to be saying, “Yes, I’m sleepy but I can still kill you if I want to.” Not unlike a dragon waking up from a nap.

  • nanoop

    I crawled under the p-car to visualize and make a list of stuff. What I found scared me, since I can’t wrench in winter:
    -several front seals (the notorious belt job)
    – Air-oil separator (intake including injectors)
    – Oil cooler housing (exhaust manifold, coolant)
    – Power steering line or hose (PS pump rebuild)
    – engine mounts
    (Items in parentheses are collateral removals/fixes)

    I have a poll on 944online.com whether to yank the engine out or go issue by issue… Your input is welcome here, too!

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