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:
BMW’s G20 3 Series boasts substantial updates for 2019 model year
Porsche is bringing the 911 Speedster concept into production
Audi reveals evolution package for R8 LMS GT3 race car
Acura refreshes ILX with new features, redesign, and lower price
Kia e-Niro offers up to 300 miles, may even come to America
Mazda confirms new rotary engines will be used for range extended hybrids
What’s your automotive news?
2019 BMW 3 Series
The seventh-generation (G20) of BMW’s bread-and-butter sports sedan was fully unveiled at Paris this week and I can conclude , but even I was surprised a little bit. It sports new styling that’s consistent with everything else in the lineup but they’ve taken a few liberties to actually make it stand out a bit. No same sausage in different lengths here. But what was totally predictable was what they’ve done to the drivetrain, including the one thing it doesn’t have anymore.
Oh how the internet complained about this one. There’s no manual transmission available with the new 3 Series. But despite what leaked photos showed us earlier, there actually is still a “shifter” in the center console. Sure, the H-shifter is lovely and BMW makes a good one, but can you think of the last time you saw an E90 or F30 with one? BMW is interested in making money so continuing to develop an option so few people get isn’t worth it anymore. On the side, anyone who’s picked up an F30 6-speed can enjoy the premium it’ll fetch on Bring-a-Trailer.
On to the other thing that was super predictable, the engines. It’ll have the same 2.0-liter turbo four-banger and 3.0-liter turbo straight-six that was just revealed in the new Z4 and in the same outputs.
The four-cylinder available in the 330i produces 255 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque (a substantial torque boost over the old motor) and can sprint to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. This motor will eventually be used in an M330i with “extremely sporting characteristics” and a 330e plug-in hybrid by 2020.
The engine you really want though is that straight six. In the M340i it offers 382 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque and can reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds with xDrive equipped. This is the most power a factory 3 Series has ever had, not including the M models (this M Performance stuff doesn’t count to this elitist).
Each engine is paired with an eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission that features a wider gear spread but with shorter ratios in the lower gears to help improve performance all around. Shift times are quicker and smoother and it even offers launch control now. It has paddle shifters for when you want control and it can pick the right gear for you using optional navigation and radar cruise control sensors for when you want the car to take over.
The latest xDrive AWD system is also available on both models and features numerous improvements all aimed at promoting #DYNAMISM. It’s rear-biased but is fully variable in its torque distribution to reduce oversteer and understeer in spirited driving and keep you out of the ditch in inclement weather conditions. The system can send power to just the rear wheels when convenient in order to increase efficiency and the hardware is lighter than before.
BMW also spent a lot of time working on the chassis for that improved #dynamism as well. Body rigidity is increased, the front and rear track is widened, and there’s more front camber to help it feel more on its toes. It of course has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and a low center of gravity. It’s also about 120 pounds lighter than the F30.
The chassis improvements allowed BMW to use stiffer spring rates without compromising ride quality. One way they were able to do that is with a BMW-first lift-related damper system. They explain it as such: “lift-related damper control reduces body movement perceptibly smoothing out vibrations caused by bumpy road surfaces and dynamic cornering… The system adds extra hydraulic damping at the front axle and a compression limiting system at the rear. It is continuously variable and adjusts the damper firmness progressively according to the changing spring travel.”
That system is standard on all new 3 Serieseses. Adaptive M suspension is still an option and it’s not just limited to the M340i – a 330i can get that and the M Sport differential and probably the M Sport brakes as well.
I had limited seat time in an F30, but when compared to my time with an E90 I really didn’t like its #dynamism that much. There was zero steering feel and the variable steering ratios did no favors in performance driving. It felt less like a companion in the search for speed and more like it was being forced to have fun. It lost its edge on the competition and was no longer the clear choice for enthusiasts shopping in that category. With all the attention they’ve given to the chassis on the G20, I just hope it’s fun again.
Oh and for the exterior/interior updates, it’s 2.9″ longer, a little wider, and a smidgen taller outside and the interior gets a plethora of new features. I’d be here all night listing each item, but I particularly like the optional glass roof, increased cabin and trunk space, extra ambient lighting, optional BMW Laserlight (laser high beams), optional 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and the available full color HUD.
The 2019 BMW 330i launches next March with prices starting at $40,250. We’ll have to wait a few additional months for the M340i and that price tag has not been announced yet.
2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
What originally began as a design study to celebrate Porsche’s 70th birthday is the latest
cash grab special edition for the enthusiasts. Porsche will be building the 911 Speedster and selling 1,948 of them starting in the first half of next year. I hope you like red.
Because everything on a car like this has to be inspired by something old to be meaningful, the 1,948 planned examples refers to the June 8th, 1948 when Porsche’s first 356 received its operating license. And because the 1988 911 Speedster this is inspired by was Guards Red, this new 911 Speedster appears to only be available in Guards Red too. The theme continues all the way through the interior and even down to the red tint over the daytime running lights… is that even legal?
Besides all the redness, it sports 21″ center lock wheels with a neat cross spoke design “Talbot”-shaped side mirrors and a fuel cap positioned in the middle of the bonnet. All of the bodywork from the concept carries over unchanged to the production car. It’s differentiated by shortened window frames, lowered cowl top panels, smaller side windows, a carbon fiber rear bonnet with a double-bubble cover behind the seats. Additionally, the front fenders and bonnet are also made of carbon fiber. In lieu of the usual retractable soft top, you get a lightweight Tonneau cover with Tenax buttons. Have fun.
The car is based on the 911 GT3 chassis so that means it’ll handle exceptionally well. It also means you get that epic naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six with 500 horsepower, a 9,000 RPM redline, and one incredible sound through its titanium exhaust. It also borrows the GT3’s six-speed manual gearbox.
As silly and unnecessary as this seems, there’s no way this won’t be one of the best driving experiences money can buy. Speaking of, there’s no word on pricing for this just yet, but if you have to ask… it’s been sold out to YouTube celebrities and scalpers before we even knew about it.
Audi R8 LMS Evolution
Audi Sport customer racing stunned the sports car racing community with an evolution of their highly successful R8 LMS race car. The R8 LMS has been their FIA GT3-spec competitor for several years now, and even though the current iteration is only three years old, it’s time for something new to remain competitive.
Designed for sprint and endurance racing with customer teams, the new R8 LMS Evolution features improvements to various areas which focus on providing a platform that’s forgiving for younger drivers and exceptionally capable in the hands of veterans, all while being easier and more cost-effective to maintain and more reliable.
It features optimized aerodynamics all around but the nose is the most substantial change. Varying ride heights as well as driving conditions at different speeds or in situations like braking in front of corners and while accelerating now have smaller effects on airflow. Airflow is also channeled more efficiently to the brakes for more consistent cooling during a race.
Years of experience has allowed them to also improve durability of the drivetrain for 24 hour races and it boasts a 50% longer service interval for the triple-plate clutch and six-speed sequential transmission. The chassis is 39% stiffer as well.
The 5.2.-liter V10 is largely unchanged from the production car (which is built on the same line as this GT3 car) and maintains a service interval of around 6,000 miles and rebuild interval of 12,000 miles. Exact power output depends on the specific series, but it can produce up to 585 horsepower.
The R8 LMS Evolution is available to aspiring young race team owners for $458,000. Those of you who already own the existing second-generation R8 LMS can get the Evolution kit upgrade for $32,000. It’ll be fully homologated for competition next January and we’ll most likely see it race at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona first.
Surprise! Acura has a freshly updated ILX and it’s arriving in dealerships as early as next week. Acura’s gateway sedan gets a fresh redesign including Acura’s now signature diamond pentagon grille, loads of in-car safety features with a new-to-the-ILX AcuraWatch suite, more premium cabin appointments, and more in-car tech such as the optional dual-screen On Demand Multi-Use Display interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. They’ve also updated the sportier A-Spec trim level with a new wheel design and updated sports seats along with a bunch of new exterior and interior trim pieces. Despite the largely different styling and the added tech, the price actually drops by about $2,200. MSRP for the 2019 Acura ILX is $26,895 including destination.
Kia has fully debuted the all-electric e-Niro along with some more details. It will launch with a choice for lithium-ion battery capacity: a 39.2 kWh which offers quicker recharging or 64 kWh with a driving range of up to 301 miles (on the Worldwide Light Vehicles Test procedure – other agency numbers will differ). The Kia Niro was always intended to be an electrified platform, so the rest of the changes between this and the other hybrids are minor. The grille is filled in leaving only the silhouette and there’s some other interior and exterior styling tweaks just so everyone can know you’re driving an EV. Kia has not confirmed US availability or a price tag at this time, but there’s no reason to believe we wouldn’t get it. We already have the Kia Niro here as a hybrid.
[Source: Kia via ]
“Mazda’s rotary engine is returning!!!!!”, claimed headlines written by assholes. While not technically incorrect, it’s probably not the kind of comeback this kind of audience would have wanted. But it’s a comeback that makes sense. Mazda confirmed that the rotary engine of all things is coming back as part of their electrification strategy. They have immediate plans for a pure EV and a range-extended hybrid, and the thing doing that range extending is the magical dorito motor. It makes sense because the rotary engine is very compact, can produce good power, can run on liquefied petroleum gas when needed, and offers low noise levels… heh, . There’s no word yet on exactly when we’ll see this put to use in a production car, but Mazda plans to have their entire lineup on some manner of electrification by 2030.
[Source: Mazda via ]
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]