Welcome to the ! 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 it’s all about the Los Angeles Auto Show which ended up being one of the most surprising and memorable shows in a long time. They had dozens of new cars making their first appearance and some of them even managed to be a complete surprise.There’s a lot of good stuff here so let’s dig into it.
The king is back – Porsche introduces all-new 911 (992)
Audi stuns with viciously attractive e-tron GT concept
Lincoln pulls out all the stops on new Aviator
New Mazda3 sedan and hatch are gorgeous and all grown up
Jeep Gladiator is finally here and it’s pretty rad
Porsche reveals Clubsport version of GT2 RS because they like printing money
Rivian debuts two awesome trucks, looks to be an EV startup that doesn’t suck
Kia does a thing with the Soul
Honda pairs the Ridgeline with the Pilot and calls it the Passport
What’s your automotive news?
Porsche 911 (992)
One of the best sports cars money can buy just got redone from the ground up. Now in its eight generation, the Porsche 911 (992) gets faster and more digital, a new design that builds on the 991 generation before it but is more than different enough to tell it apart.
As usual, the first of the 992s to be detailed is the 911 Carrera S and 4S and 50 more will follow in the coming years. No official word on a launch date or price yet but I suspect it’ll be within Q1 next year with prices starting just over $100,000 as they do now. Here’s what that’ll get you.
All new exterior styling (or about as new as a 911 can get) is meant to emphasize the leap in performance found in the 992. The car grows slightly in width but that’s all from the fenders. The rear wheel arches are now the same width across all models and they’re 45mm wider up front alone which Porsche says highlights the slimline center section. Up front is a more “pronounced” bonnet recess inspired by earlier 911s and the rear sees a new variable position rear spoiler and a single seamless light bar. The rear diffuser area is also redone with the exhaust positioned further apart.
Though the car’s weight has not been disclosed, a major update should have a big impact on that. The entire outer skin, save for the nose and tail, is made from aluminum.
For the new and more digital interior, Porsche actually looked to 70s models for inspiration of the general cabin layout. The biggest change you’ll notice is a semi digital gauge cluster. Along each side of the still analog rev counter are two thin, frameless freeform displays that can provide all the info a driver needs. The center console screen is now 10.9 inches and the software behind it is designed to be more streamline and easier to use. Located underneath this there is a compact switch unit with five buttons for direct access to important vehicle functions.
One of the bigger new tech features is “wet mode” which is included as standard. This function detects water on the road, preconditions the control systems accordingly, and warns the driver of their impending doom. The driver can then adjust vehicle settings for a particular emphasis on safety at the push of a button.
Now for the good stuff. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat six that first debuted in the 991.2 a few years back lives on in a new form. It now produces 444 horsepower (up by 30 hp) thanks to a new injection process and a new layout for the turbochargers and charge air cooling system. Power is delivered through a new eight-speed PDK and apparently the seven speed manual will still be available. In Coupe form, the Carrera S hits 60 mph from a standstill in 3.7 seconds and the Carrera 4S does it in 3.6 seconds.
So there you have it. Another new generation of the Porsche 911 has arrived and will probably continue to be the best of its kind. Now get ready for all the other variants to start coming out.
Audi e-tron GT concept
One of the true gems of the LA Auto Show is the Audi e-tron GT concept that will turn into a series production car within the next two years. Based largely on the bones of the upcoming Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT is their third new EV bearing the name and by far the most exciting. It’s a “highly dynamic coupe” (screams internally) with a low floor and lots of electric power running through its veins. If any car can convince hard asses like me that the future of EVs may not suck after all, this should be it.
Its super low and outrageously attractive profile is made possible by the low floor architecture than an EV affords. It not only gave designers the freedom to make a functional car that’s flat, wide, and with a long wheelbase, it also greatly lowers the center of gravity so it’s comparable to that of an Audi R8. The body – on the concept at least – is made fairly light with a mix of carbon (roof), aluminum, and high strength steel. I wouldn’t be surprised if nearly everything from the sharply sloped roofline, its intakes and diffusers, and its gorgeous proportions survives during its planned transformation into a production car.
The interior design is as modern and futuristic as a car like this needs to be so people can go “ooooo it’s like Iron Man“, but one neat thing in particular is their choice of materials. Because EVs are supposed to actually be green and stuff, every cabin material is sustainable.
Synthetic leather is used on the seats and other trim surfaces. Fabrics made from recycled fibers are used on the seat cushions as well as the armrests and on the center console. Microfiber material adorns the headlining and the trim of the window pillars. Even the deep-pile floor carpet is made from sustainable Econyl yarn, a recycled fiber made from used fishing nets. Hopefully that makes it to production as well.
And yes, there’s a frunk. Compact drive units mean the rear with its large tailgate offers up to 15.9 cu ft of luggage capacity and there’s an additional 3.5 cu ft up front.
Audi confirms that their engineers worked extensively with Porsche’s on this project as they both sought to get a grip on this potent new powertrain. Pretty much everything underneath the skin is shared between this and the Porsche Taycan, including the 800-volt charging system, 90+ kWh lithium ion battery, and the two “permanently excited” (good for them) synchronous motors.
Expect 590 horsepower split between all four wheels independently and some impressive acceleration numbers. They say you can expect a 0-60 mph time of around 3.5 seconds, 0-124 mph in 12 seconds, and the top speed that’s limited to 149 mph. Current range estimates call for 249 miles per charge. That may be slightly lower than some other offerings, but with the 800-volt fast charging it shouldn’t matter as much. Like the Porsche Toucan, 80% of the battery can be replenished in 20 minutes when hooked up to the right charger.
So to recap, the e-tron GT is shaping up to be a very capable EV that’ll be quick and fun to drive with a more than respectable range. It also has to be the best-looking EV to date. Combine all of that with Audi’s build quality and leading in-car tech and you get something that should probably outsell the Model S but won’t because Elon Musk’s name isn’t associated with it.
As part of Lincoln’s attempt to regain ground in the luxury SUV space, they took an opportunity to bring back a familiar nameplate and launch their first new midsized SUV in… I don’t know how long. But they went all in on this and took to the task of making the Aviator a true class leader very seriously.
How seriously? They hired the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to record the in car chimes you get during various vehicle operations. They got an orchestra. A full goddamn orchestra. For their fucking chimes. Those little noises you hear for a second when you open your door or when Kevin won’t put on his seat belt like a chum? Yeah, they got an orchestra. For that.
That fact alone probably tells you everything you need to know about the 2020 Lincoln Aviator but there’s some other stuff worth talking about. Like for instance the best new powertrain Ford has come up with since the 5.0-liter V8… though I may be slightly biased.
The base engine in the Aviator is a familiar 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbochargers boosting output to 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a ten-speed automatic, but Ford has finally come to their senses and paired that with some electric motors for a hybrid option. Opt for the Aviator Hybrid and your output is boosted to 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s the most torque of any Ford offering save for the diesel Superduty.
I’d put money on Ford adapting this hybrid system to uh, pretty much every other SUV and pickup they make in the near future. And maybe even the Mustang. There’s no official mileage estimates on either version, but Lincoln confirmed that it can be driven some distance on battery power alone. AWD is noted as being available but there’s no confirmation in the press release as to whether front or rear-wheel drive is standard.
So to recap the Aviator thus far and further emphasize its importance, Ford is using it to debut one of their most important new powertrains and they got an orchestra to play the chime you hear when Kevin still won’t put on his seat belt.
Knowing all that, you can imagine how nice the rest of it is. There’s three rows of seating, the nicest materials they could get, and loads of tech packed into it. Some notable features include pothole-sensing adaptive suspension, Lincoln’s Phone As A Key which can completely operate the vehicle without a “traditional” key (because a fob is just so hard), a 12.3″ LCD gauge cluster, Traffic Jam Assist (basically adaptive cruise control that can handle stop and go traffic), and an optional Revel Ultima 3D Audio System with 28 speakers. 28! They say it will faithfully recreate that concert hall experience audiophiles love, even better for listening to those symphonic orchestra chimes they got.
Mazda revealed their highly anticipated 2020 Mazda3 hatch and sedan. It boasts a more mature interpretation of their gorgeous Kodo styling language, a more premium feel, and further refinement in the ride and handling department without losing that little bit of magic Mazda is known for. These attractive compacts are also the first production car in the world to be offered with a gasoline compression ignition engine (along with four other gas and diesel engines) which should offer huge improvements in fuel economy, though those numbers still aren’t out yet. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions are available. Bottom line is it’ll be hard to find a nicer car for the price point when this eventually comes out. And people still won’t buy it.
The industry’s worst-kept secret has finally shown its face. The Jeep Gladiator is here and it’s everything we were hoping for. Combine everything you love about a Jeep Wrangler and add 19″ to the wheelbase and a five foot bed to the end of it and that’s basically the Gladiator in a nutshell. You can still take all the doors off and remove the top while towing up to 7,650 pounds or stuffing 1,600 pounds into it. It’s powered by either a 3.5-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque or a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine with 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual is available on the gas engine only and a beefed up eight-speed auto can be found on both. And you can certainly go places any other midsize truck can’t in the process as it still has all the offroading hardware you’d expect from a Wrangler. There’s no reason to think it’ll be anything less than awesome. The dealer markups are going to be insane.
Porsche is building another club racer with the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. It’s a track only version of the GT2 RS but it may see competition one day with the SRO’s upcoming GT2 class. 200 of these will be built for clubsport use initially and each will make full use of the GT2 RS’s monstrous 700-horsepower 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat six. Things have been removed for weight savings and various hardware upgraded to competition specifications. You know, the usual race car stuff. Yep.
Rivian made a great first impression at LA with two radical new EVs that are designed for adventure and destined for production. The first of those is the Rivian R1T, a seriously impressive pickup with a potential 400-mile range out of a 180kWh battery pack, good performance on and off road, and some very neat tricks up its sleeve. They later revealed an SUV version called the R1S with many of the same features. R1T pricing starts at $61,500 and R1S pricing starts at $65,000 after tax incentives. Because these are so similar and , I won’t go much more into it. But you should read up on what Rivian is doing if you haven’t already. And come on… JUST LOOK AT IT! These are cool.
>sees it’s 2:00 AM
Hey remember the Kia Soul? It’s coming back except it’s way nicer inside and it has a weird face now.
You know how Honda has that Pilot? And that Ridgeline? The Passport is like both of those. It’s a midsize SUV built on the bones of the Ridgeline and they want you to go adventuring on trails with it. So to help you out they gave it 20″ wheels and all season tires. It’ll certainly be a good SUV for usual suburban tasks, but let’s be real here Honda…
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 © 2018 Redusernab/Greg Kachadurian]