Hot stuff coming soon
MERCEDES-AMG is attempting to do what no other manufacturer has managed: install a Formula One engine in a road-going production car. Nestled midships in AMG’s forthcoming hypercar, codenamed Project One, is, in essence, the same turbocharged V6 that has powered Mercedes’ F1 cars to three-straight drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
First presented as an idea at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, ahead of the recent Nurburgring 24-Hour AMG boss Tobias Moers went into more detail about the ambitious project alongside a static model of the Project One’s mechanical layout. The powertrain is incredibly complicated, incorporating a 1.6- litre turbo V6 capable of revving to 11,000rpm, aided by a 120kW electric motor on each front wheel, another 100kW electric motor attached to the crankshaft and a final 80kW electric motor driving the turbo for immediate response.
Powering the electric motors will be 100kg of lithium-ion batteries nestled behind the front wheels.
These use the same cell technology as the F1 car, though with four times the capacity. Combined system output is claimed to be more than 735kW and despite the heavy reliance on electricity, the hybrid component exists almost purely to boost performance, with Project One expected to have an electric-only range of just 25km.
The V6 itself will have a life of around 50,000km before major work is required, according to AMG boss Tobias Moers.
Due to the high-revving nature of the engine, Mercedes has had to revert to an automated manual gearbox such as that in the Lexus LFA, as no dual-clutch or torqueconverter automatic is capable of handling such high rpm. All up, the powertrain weighs 420kg and will propel the car to around 350km/h, though top speed is not a development priority.
Instead, “outstanding dynamic driving capability” is the design target according to Moers. The engine and gearbox are fully stressed parts of the chassis, while Project One uses five-link suspension at both ends with inboard coilover suspension. There will be a number of drive modes, the most aggressive, track-focused essentially drops the car to the ground to make best use of the active aerodynamics.
Total weight is predicted to be around 1300kg, while the front electric motors will not only provide all-wheel drive functionality, but also the ability to individually control each front wheel in the ultimate example of torque vectoring, dubbed AMG Torque Dynamics. Tyres are bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s measuring a whopping 335/30 at the rear and 285/35 front, wrapped around staggered rims (19-inch front; 20-inch rear).
Just 275 Project Ones will be built, costing €2m (AUD$3m, before taxes) and currently nine of those will be landing locally, with Mercedes-Benz Australia battling to increase its allocation as it holds a further seven expressions of interest. The first customer cars are expected to be delivered in 2019 with deliveries complete by 2021.
Questions remain as to how AMG will make the engine meet emissions regulations and produce acceptable levels of noise, vibration and harshness, not to mention make it idle at 1100rpm rather than the F1 car’s 3500-4000rpm.
These details and more, including the car’s styling, will be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
ULTRA-exclusive hypercars like the Project One might usually be all sold before production begins, however, as the ultimate expression of their respective makers’ engineering might, bragging rights are allimportant.
The Project One’s main competition will come from the Aston Martin Valkyrie, a car with a similar F1 connection.
Red Bull Racing’s aero guru Adrian Newey is the brains behind the project and Aston claims the 662kW/1000kg Valkyrie will be able to lap at 2016 F1 race pace on slicks.
Just 150 road versions and 25 track cars are planned with deliveries to start in 2019.
Also landing in 2019 is the McLaren BP23, a three-seater homage to the original F1. Far more road-focused than either the Project One or Valkyrie, McLaren nonetheless claims the BP23 (not its final title) will be the fastest car it’s ever built. The world’s billionaires have never had it so good. – SN
BMW IS bringing back the 8 Series.
Previewed by this concept, revealed at the Villa d’Este concours, the 8 Series will return to the BMW lineup after a 19-year hiatus, replacing the 6 Series as the brand’s rangetopping two-door.
Despite the previous 8 Series, produced from 1992-99, being neither a critical nor commercial success, BMW has judged the time is right for its return as it seeks to “significantly increase sales and revenues in the luxury class”.
According to Chairman of the Board of Management, Harald Kruger, “The number 8 has always represented the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW. The forthcoming 8 Series Coupe will demonstrate that razorsharp dynamics and modern luxury can go hand-in-hand.”
The concept shows a radical evolution of BMW’s current design language, though a statement says it merely offers “a taster” of the production 8 Series styling. Details regarding the car’s mechanical make-up are scarce – expect powertrains to closely mirror those of the 7 Series – however, it’s not yet clear whether the 8 Series will be built on the 5 Series platform or the stiffer, lighter (but more expensive) Carbon Core architecture of the latest 7 Series.
What is confirmed is that topping the range will be an M8, presumably powered by the circa- 450kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the all-new M5 (see page 44) and using the same on-demand all-wheel drive system.
The M8 will form the basis for a new GTE race car, which will enable BMW to return to the Le Mans 24 Hour race for the first time since 2011. The M8 GTE will make its race debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January 2018. – SN
GOOD news for Australian Renault Sport fans, with confirmation the new Megane RS will be available with the option of a manual or dual-clutch gearbox. Renault’s refusal to offer the latest Clio RS with three pedals fuelled fears it would follow suit with the new Megane, however, customer demand has ensured a six-speed manual will be offered.
Engine capacity is yet to be confirmed, however, a power figure of more than 220kW is the target. Front-wheel drive remains and all-wheel steering is expected to appear for the first time.
The Megane RS made its public debut, albeit camouflaged, at the Monaco Grand Prix as part of Renault Sport’s 40th Anniversary celebrations. The production car will appear at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show ahead of a Q1 2018 release. – SN
VW HAS finally revealed a sporty version of its lovable Up city car, with specs eerily similar to the original Golf GTI. The Up GTI is powered by a 1.0-litre triple producing 85kW/200Nm, enough to push its 997kg body to 100km/h in 8.8sec. Suspension is stiffer and 15mm lower and there are 17-inch alloys, while the usual GTI trinkets inside and out (red grille stripe, subtle bodykit, golf ball gear knob, tartan seats) complete the package. The Up was sadly removed from the local market due its slow sales, however, the strong interest in the GTI has VW Australia evaluating its introduction.
THE LATEST offering from Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations is the XE SV Project 8, the most powerful road-going Jaguar ever. Fitted with a 441kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8, Jaguar claims it will offer supercar performance and dynamics in a sedan. Sadly, just 300 cars will be hand assembled at SVO’s Coventry, UK base and unlike the F-Type Project 7, none are expected to make their way Down Under. The XE SV Project 8 will make its public debut at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 30.
HOLDEN’s Port Elizabeth vehicle plant has produced its last Chevrolet SS, bringing an end to US export production ahead of the plant’s closure on October 20.
The final Chevy SS was a Phantom Black six-speed manual, one of 4008 SSs built over the past 12 months, with a total of 12,953 produced since 2013. In addition, 7305 Chevrolet Caprice PPVs, specially modified long wheelbase cars produced only for US police, were built, with 652 of those in the past 12 months.
Order books for the SS closed in February, with Chevrolet dealers offering discounts of up to 20 per cent leading to a late surge in sales.
More than 1200 SSs found new homes in March compared to 248 in February. Despite enjoying a cult following Stateside, the SS hasn’t traditionally been a strong seller.
One of the final US buyers requested the manufacturing team sign their Chevrolet SS, with employees signing under the bonnet and under the boot carpets.
Holden is yet to announce which variant the final locally built Commodore will be. – SN
BMW AUSTRALIA has announced it will give its soon-to-be-facelifted M3 and M4 models the Pure treatment, shaving standard equipment levels and slashing price tags.
The M3 Pure will start from just $129,900 with its two-door M4 twin $139,900, a saving of $10,000 over the regular versions of both models.
This significantly undercuts its main rivals, the $143,900 Alfa Romeo Giulia QV and $155,615 AMG C63 S.
The deal gets even sweeter, however, as the Pure includes the Competition Pack, which brings with it an extra 14kW, stiffer suspension and revised settings for the electronic diff. The only mechanical difference will be that Pure retains the standard models’ 19-inch wheels and 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) tyres.
Adaptive LED headlights, full leather trim and the premium audio system are deleted, but keyless entry, sat-nav and carbon trim remain. – SN
AS THE temperature drops in concert with the leaves from the trees, it means only one thing in MOTOR land – Bang For Your Bucks is here. Once again we embark on our annual quest to find the best value performance car on-sale in Australia, leaving no stone unturned, no tyre unscuffed and no brake pad unburnt in an effort to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Sixteen vehicles scored an invite in 2017, split evenly between the $0-$50K and $50K-$100K groups.
Leading the charge alphabetically is the Mazda MX-5’s boosted Italian cousin, the Abarth 124 Spider, while also from Italy is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce, both packing turbocharged fourcylinder engines and the promise of balanced, rear-drive handling.
Next up is the Audi S4, which at $99,900 squeaks under our $100,000 limit by the barest of margins. It’ll have to be extremely fast to compensate, especially with the likes of its fellow German, the BMW M140i, in the mix. Its predecessor, the M135i, was a $50K-$100K class champion in 2015 and the M140i now has an even bigger punch courtesy of its grunty new engine.
Grunt isn’t a word you often associate with Caterhams, nor is comfort or practicality, however, thanks to a drastic recent price cut across the range the entry-level Seven 275 lists at $64,000 and if it’s going to be at home anywhere it should be at Winton.
Pre-event favourites at Bang For Your Bucks are harder to pick than
a broken nose, but if there’s one car that’s in with a good shout it’s the Ford Focus RS, courtesy of its 4.7sec 0-100km/h potential and sharp $50,990 price tag. Based on prior experience with the Blue Oval hot hatch, it should also feature at the pointy end of both the lap times and judges’ rankings.
A trio of Holdens appears in 2017 representing its past (Holden Commodore utes) and future (Holden Astra RS). The Astra offers 147kW/280Nm and improved dynamics for just $26,240 while the regular SS ute returns as last year’s $0-$50K class champion. Joining them is an SS-V Redline ute, which despite not being a new model is the cheapest way to get into a track-focused Commodore and there hasn’t been one available in previous years. With 2017 being sadly the V8 Commodore’s BFYB swansong, there was no harm in bringing it along.
The newest car in the group is the Hyundai i30 SR, trucked to Winton direct from the national launch. Not a car that’s going to blow you away on-paper, but 150kW/265Nm allied to the smallest price tag in the field ($25,950) could make it a dark horse, as those who’ve driven this new warm hatch have been effusive in their praise.
At the other end of the hot hatch spectrum is our returning $50K-$100K champion, the Mercedes-AMG A45, while the Mini Clubman JCW is now also an all-wheel drive, 2.0-litre turbo hatch (or, more accurately, wagon). The Skoda Octavia RS230 has impressed mightily on road, however, it remains to be seen whether its conservative electronics will let it express its full personality at the track.
Two cars that will have no problem expressing themselves on track are the updated Toybaru twins, here as an 86 GT and a BRZ. It’s the first time in five years they’ve attended BFYB and they’ll provide an interesting barometer as to how the game’s moved on.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the VW Polo GTI, our reigning two-time outright winner.
Its combination of turbo power and sharp $27,490 price tag has proved unbeatable in recent years; can it be the first car in Bang history to score a three-peat? The answer will be revealed over the next two issues of MOTOR, starting with the $0-$50K class in our August issue, with the $50K-$100K heavy hitters and outright winner revealed in our September issue.