Welcome to the Redusernab News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Chevrolet introduces next year’s Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car
Mazda announces breakthrough engine technology to be sold by 2019
Infiniti will fuse old and new with retro-inspired concept car
Jeep prices Grand Cherokee Trackhawk at $85,900
Subaru breaks four-door sedan lap record with tuned WRX STI
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 to make American debut at Monterey Car Week
What’s your automotive news?
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car
As the sorely underappreciated Chevrolet SS rides off into the sunset, a replacement for its role in Chevy’s NASCAR program was needed for the 2018 season and beyond. Rather than go back to the Impala, Chevy is going big. NASCAR fans, say hello to the Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car that’ll be attacking your ear drums at a speedway near you next year.
It’s the first time that a Camaro has been adapted for use in NASCAR’s top cup series (not including the Camaro SS in the XFINITY Series), so it’s only fitting that the fastest Camaro on the market is the one chosen. Because NASCAR is such a specialized series now, it’s safe to assume that none of the actual ZL1’s hardware will be in the cup car and chances are everything beneath the skin will be identical to this year’s SS Cup Car or just lightly updated to 2018 regulations.
But at least it’ll look closer to the road car than before. Chevrolet engineers used computational fluid dynamics analysis and reduced-scale and full-scale wind-tunnel testing to optimize aerodynamic performance while still maintaining the ZL1’s design character. Indeed, the ZL1’s electric shaver-like grille is accurately represented here (even if only half of it is actually open to air flow), the carbon fiber hood insert is carried over, and the car’s sharp and muscular lines are at least somewhat preserved despite having to adhere to the series regulations. It’s still not as close to stock as many fans would like, but at least it looks really cool.
The 2018 Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car will be fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Germain Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Leavine Family Racing, and maybe more in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It’ll join the Camaro SS that’s been racing in the XFINITY Series since 2013.
Mazda details long term plans, perfects HCCI engines
Still waiting for a new RX, Mazda…
This week, Mazda made a big announcement which highlighted their long term plans to use driving pleasure to help solve issues facing people, the earth, and society. While acknowledging rapid changes in the automotive industry, they provided an overview of how they’ll make rapid changes of their own looking as far ahead as 2030 and as close as 2019.
In an effort to “create a sustainable future in which people and cars coexist with a bountiful, beautiful earth”, they’ll focus on expanding carbon-cutting measures over a vehicle’s entire life span. The goal is to cut it by 50% (compared to 2010 levels) by 2030 and by 90% by 2050. Like pretty much everyone else, they’ll start electrifying cars with hybrid tech (which can now be borrowed from Toyota) in 2019 in regions that will use it the most. However, they’re also striving to perfect the internal combustion engine which will be detailed later.
Other long-term goals include beginning tests of their “human-centered” Mazda Co-Pilot autonomous driving concept by 2020 and introducing it to production models by 2025, developing a ride-sharing business model, and expanding their i-ACTIVSENSE safety features to different markets.
Exclusive artist’s rendering of the new SKYACTIV-X engine
But this is where things get really interesting. Mazda mentioned they were striving to perfect the ICE while adding electric power to help make their cars even cleaner, but the ICE they’re about to introduce will play a key part in that carbon reduction. Mazda announced SKYACTIV-X, the world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition, will be in their production cars by 2019. For those of us wondering what Toyota was gaining by partnering with Mazda and throwing money at them, this is probably it.
Similar to a diesel engine which uses compression to ignite the fuel/air mixture, this homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine has been something that no other automaker (with much larger budgets than Mazda) has been able to perfect. Mazda’s proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition overcomes the two major issues that others couldn’t get around: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition when the compression alone won’t work (such as low temperatures).
The result is a gasoline engine with nearly all the benefits of a diesel engine, but with cleaner gas emissions. Compression ignition allows for a super lean burn that can provide a 20-30% improvement in efficiency over the current SKYACTIV-G engine lineup, a 35-45% improvement over their 2008-model engine with the same displacement, and can meet or exceed their latest diesel engines.
And when combined with a supercharger, they say SKYACTIV-X can deliver “unprecedented” engine response and a 10-30% torque increase over SKYACTIV-G engines. In the real world, this all translates to high efficiency across a wide range of revs and engine loads, more freedom in the selection of gear ratios, superior fuel economy, and better driving performance.
Mazda basically just confirmed supercharged cars with super efficient gas engines will be in dealerships in 2019. While other automakers are relying solely on batteries and smaller gas engines to reduce emissions, Mazda is supercharging Miatas and relying on better gas engines.
If there’s anything to take away from all this, Mazda wants to save the world by making cars more fun to drive.
Infiniti bringing retro prototype to Pebble Beach
Infiniti will bring an interesting new – or old – concept to Pebble Beach next week. Even though Infiniti is too young to have ever produced a bias ply-era race car back in the day, they’re doing that now based on these two teaser shots.
Perhaps for no reason other than “it’d be cool”, Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Infiniti Global Design, posed this question:
“What if we found a car, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in the barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years? What if in this car we found the seed of passion planted during our first Japanese Grand Prix and the power and artistry of INFINITI today? What would this discovery look like?”
It’s a heritage-inspired concept that “captures the ingenuity and adventure” of the early days of motorsports and combines it with Infiniti’s “Powerful Elegance” contemporary design language. They think of it as the culmination of a journey back to their roots and forward again. They say it’ll have some EV tech, as is to be expected, and will be wrapped in a shell formed by the hands and hearts of hundreds of craftsmen.
We’ll know exactly what it looks like next week at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but this could be the prettiest thing they’ve ever done. More as I have it…
We’re one step closer to a dream come true following Jeep’s confirmed pricing on the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. The Hellcat-powered Jeep will start at $85,900 and it’s on sale now at your friendly neighborhood Jeep dealer. For reference, it’s a lot more than the MSRP of any of the other Hellcats, including the Demon (before ridiculous dealer markups), but apparently SUVs command a premium these days. For a 707-horsepower SUV with loads of luxury features, a 3.5-second 0-60 time, and an 11.6-second quarter-mile, is it worth it? By the time you’re done with options, you could probably get a used Challenger Hellcat and a normal Grand Cherokee.
Though it’s far from a production car, Subaru just broke a Nürburgring lap record for sedans and they have (some of) the video to prove it. With a highly modified Subaru WRX STI Type RA that was built by Prodrive (starting with a standard car), driver Richie Stanaway set a new four-door lap record of 6:57.5. That’s within half-a-second of the Porsche 918 Spyder. The point was to show what a Subaru can do in time attack trim with a 75mm turbo at 25 psi and more than 600 horsepower and not to claim it’s a new production car record or anything, just for four-door sedans. It’s not super significant given the extensive modifications, but it’s cool nonetheless.
Jaguar is bringing their latest XE SV Project 8 to Monterey Car Week for its North American debut. It’ll be the first time it’s shown publicly on this side of the Atlantic, so if you’re planning on heading over to Monterey next week (you should), you can catch it at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, The Quail, and Exotics on Cannery Row.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.
[Image © 2017 Redusernab/Greg Kachadurian]