Month: Jan 2020

Bentley’s Flagship 6.75Litre engine comes to its curtain call

The introduction of the Mulsanne nameplate in 1980 provided Bentley with the opportunity to flex its plushest and most luxury-focused model. In the pursuit of refinement, the original Le Man winning engine was bored and stocked to the famed 6.75Litre V8 displacement for the production model. Later replaced with the Arnage throughout the years, only to return in 2009 with the current model as a 90th-anniversary celebratory model.

Given the new 11-year model run and the L-Series 6.75Litre V8 beginning to be rather difficult to get past stricter emissions regulations and smaller VAG V8 Hybrid powerplants balancing power and fuel economy far better.
In commemoration of the momentous 60 years of service, a limited production final edition dubbed the ‘6.75’ will be created. Just 30 of these bespoke models will be conceived by coachbuilders Mulliner. Based on the current Speed Model power remains the same at 375kW and 1100Nm from the Turbo V8. Keen eyes will note the subtle notes that pay homage to the celebration of Bentley engineering history.

A centre console-mounted 6.75 Edition metal placard with the “One of thirty” demarcation the same mantra is hinted throughout the interior and even through to the LED illumination. The choice of four interior colours, contrasted with the silver and high gloss fascias through the front console.

Externally the changes are equally as cunning by Bentley as some fender-mounted rosettes with an L-series specific design and some gloss black accents carried throughout the vehicle are the only telltale sign of the heritage.

Production of the Mulsanne will end in the second half of 2020 and hand the First Class monarchy over to the Flying Spur until its return in 2023

2021 Toyota GR86/BRZ gains a new powerplant

As the approach of the end of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ’s lifecycle approaches more and information as to the replacement has surfaced. Firstly the Toyota Variant of the Sportscar will become the GR86 falling in line with the Gazoo Racing division and the onslaught of new models they keep creating. The BRZ having been done away for South Africa, it remains unknown is it will return.

Autocar reported power would come from a 2.4Litre Flat 4 Boxer but more recent reports suggest the 1.8Litre Boxer engine from the pre-production teased Levorg STI Sport Prototype will be a more likely candidate. Given the achilles heel of the of 2.0Litre Boxer which produces 147kW and 205Nm, a sports car that has a tough time keeping up with a 2.0Litre diesel saloon seems to be a difficult image to shake, given the 2.0Litre Supra’s recent introduction and how this fits into the picture.

Toyota has a tough time ahead of itself with the new model due to the previous model being an absolute tart to drive. Turbocharging should make this a 200kW plus car but given the baby Supra makes 190kw… this may be tricky.

Weight watchers: Toyota’s 2.0litre GRNM Supra

Toyota has come clean with the unveiling of a Europe only 2.0Litre GRNM Supra for 2020. Lifting the 2.0Litre 190kW and 400Nm engine and 8-speed ZF auto used in the likes of the BMW 330i. The lighter nose has resulted in a 100Kg weight saving over the beefy straight-six. Crucially 50:50 weight distribution is retained and the extensive work on the corning stability and vehicle weight transfer dynamics ensure this model is more agile than its larger-engined counterpart

According to Supra Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada, The numbers suggest a 5.2 second 0-100 sprint and the usual 250km/h buffer, which prove it to be a formidable driver-focused car that should still be rather brisk albeit easier to live with when on the edge. The 1.1-second loss in acceleration time should translate to an enhanced drive but claims to not compromise on the essence of the vehicle.

Nothing gives the two models apart, and only the Fuji Speedway edition gets 200 owners the chance to stand out. Upgrading the 18-inch lightweight alloys to 19 and adding red wing mirrors and a few accents inside the engine bay and the interior.

With the Supra not taking off in SA as compared to the rest of the world the 2.0litre and cheaper entry point to the now GRMN Fast Toyota department will remain a duty for the upcoming GR 86. Supra buyer will have to make do with the BMW B58 sourced 3.0litre instead, not that that’s an issue given the Z4 was a bit, weak.

Jaguar’s F-Type undergoes the nip/tuck for 2020

Facelifts are always rather puzzling to me, as they often suggest that a model is truly beginning to age. This task is made harder when the facelift in question is of a product that is Jag’s F-type. The issue, it’s a tremendous sportscar, stonking engines and the exhaust note cut with an élan that is carbon monoxide symphony. The F-type is a very emotive experience, with this strange bond and connection that links you to the car and places you in the cockpit with the accelerator as some metaphorical musical bow and the strings being played belonging to your heart, ultimately a very characterful car scoring the one-too punch K-O with beauty and grace.

The facelift brings a subtly to the face, with soft lines that effectively contribute to the athletic prowess. J-shaped LED matrix lights technology with the new bonnet and updated grill create a familiar face to the rest of the Jag Line up.

Internally the key changes are the updates to the infotainment system through a new 12.3-inch Digital instrument cluster with the standard, Apple Carplay and Andriod Auto connectivities. Optional Meridian sound systems enhance the sound experience further, and having sampled this in the pre-facelift it’s a hefty thing and rather worth the extra investment, given when equipped it makes clear the other great noises this car is capable of making through the stereo system.

The F-type range remains the same comprising of the 2.0Litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, 3.0Litre Supercharged V6 and more meaty JLR 5.0Litre Supercharged V8.
All engines now are mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The power outputs remain the same starting off at 221kW and 400Nm for the four-pot, 283Kw and 459Nm in the V6. The 5.0litre V8 offers a more performance-oriented 331kW and 459Nm, dashing form zero – 100km/h in 4.4 Seconds and one to a full chat of 285km/h, likely remaining the pick of the bunch before the full-cream ‘R’.

F-Type R

The ‘R’ Receives an update to the power figures and now produces 423kW and a colossal 700Nm. 0-100 is dispatched rapidly at the rate of 3.7 seconds, and top speed is rated at 300km/h. Updates to the chassis and driving dynamics have resulted in 20-inch diamond churned alloy wheels with gloss black finishes. Other updates include new adaptive dampening, springs, stiffer knuckles and anti-toll bars in efforts to improve the ability to change direction.
Standard through the range the active exhaust system which allows for ‘quiet starts‘ on V6 and V8 models.

The first year of production will yield the F-Type First Edition and will be a more exclusive model for the first year. F-Type will arrive on our shores in 2020, as both Coupe and Convertible. Pricing has yet to be released locally

BMW M135i XDrive – Has the hot 1-Series gone soft?

BMW’s latest generation of the 1-series has moved a great deal away from what the car once denoted. Much to the dismay of almost everyone that bought the car prior on its driving merit or could appreciate the simple RWD layout and how that translated when behind the wheel of a hatchback that was still very good at being a hatch. A simple 120D offered enough fervour and energy to be a truly interesting car to drive and live with. An understanding that resulted in my ownership of an E87 120D LCI Auto. A car I loved and enjoyed far more than I would have had I suborned an equivalent Golf or Focus and given I enjoyed raging around and cast my RWD skid-age teeth with. 

Hot versions where always rather interesting and I cherish rather clearly how I envied the 130i M-sport of the same era and later the N54 powered 135i Coupe that prefaced modern versions. It had the same nuances as the rest of the range, in that the RWD driving characteristics shun through in very simple driving situations, yet given the 225kw on tap could become a rather seriously focused car when pressing on. The speed at which you can travel, take corners, and the number of hearts that it provided for you to trample with the six-cylinder throatiness. Modern motives now boasting the ‘Cerium Mirror M140i Persona’. B58 powerplants good for 250kW and 500Nm, serious numbers that translate into a sometimes wishful 4.6 second 0-100 dash given how slippery the rear can become and the typical 250Km/h limited barrier. It was a hoot, terribly rapid and more than a handful with the electronic nannies turned down. Like any half-decent enthusiast focused car, one should drive with their body in a more sensory form, where there’s a real link to you and the driving prowess the car has. 

Now, with the move to the FWD UKL2 platform from the 2-series and Mini range, long bonnets dimensions and slightly cramped rear seats more kindred to an RWD hatch-gone, replaced the larger the Extra large nostril cladding family face that we have since adjusted to. This is a move I sampled in the new 118i M-sport late last year. A point that exclaimed the point further and the conviction through a more cavernous interior, smooth tech integration with the driving experience which wasn’t as compromised and driver-focused but, compliant and enough for the class. Its greatest flaw was that it once drove dynamically because, without it, it grew to be rather vanilla. 

Arriving at the 2020 M135i

Now a 2.0litre turbo-petrol producing 225kW and 450Nm driving BMW’s XDrive All-Wheel Drive system. The numbers suggest that the new car is livelier to the 0-100 sprint given the grip and when pressing on the car does indeed feel rather rapid. The growls of a Turbo inline-six replaced with what I suspect is some fake engine noise from the stereo system, more to supplement comparatively less provocative noise that the 2.0litre makes. The car is as fast as the numbers suggest but simply put the connection that you and the car create as you blast off in search of naughty driving jaunts and adventures don’t resonate well with this car. All the 7.25inchs of driver info displays with all the modern connectivity toys; smartphone mirroring and charging, auto parking, gesture control, the adjustable driver elements are there, as a modern cabin its the usual BMW standard. Dynamically its much of the same, it’s not the greatest with respects to driver engagement but still a predicable AWD fast hatch, in that, at moments the power does move around and you do feel this and dull understeer tendencies surpass the opposite lock moments that now never arrive. Turning driver-focused aims like the M steering, and M dampers to their fruitiest still just fail to create a sense of nostalgia or a rejoinder of bliss at lease in this case similar. The exhaust pops and bangs and makes very attractive noises, launch control, diving into corners flat out, feeling the grip move around and still being progressive enough for you to keeping it planted through understeer inducing circumstances; all vast and impressive to be frank given the new attempt at a performance-based car, but sad not very charming. On the move, the car is properly quick and the vehicle dynamics are on par with a car that provides enough engagement to be a good drivers car, just not an inspired one. It reminds me almost holistically of the Audi S3 in its early stages. Dynamically it always fell short to rivals Megane RS for example, solely due to what the compromise the Megane offered. This the same mantra behind hot BMW 1-series. The X-drive is fantastic in keeping the power as well connected to the tarmac as possible but simply doesn’t connect with the driver as well as it does the road. 

The numbers translate almost directly into the real world and the car does absolutely fly. It pops and bangs and can be throaty on the overrun when pushing the car very hard but sadly just is not something that will tug at your heartstrings like the old one. Perhaps the number that speaks the most is the price and at basically 700k before options, you’d expect it to be fast, grippy and combine that well in the corners. It’s rather a good space to be and makes a good job of being a fast car but with emission becoming an issue and the mass market design it’s just not very ‘M’ car and in a world where that should mean tyrannical driving focus, it’s a bit vanilla probably why BMW motorsport and heritage Alpina and current M head Markus Flasch both refuse to anything hotter one the new platform, meaning if you aim really exploit a chassis to sell cars not all of them will be very exciting. Like this one can and should be.  

BMW M135i Xdrive In South Africa 

Prices start at R699 000 and are inclusive of a 5year/100 000 Motorplan

Subaru hints at the future with the Levorg STI Sport

Using the Tokyo Auto Salon as its chance Subaru has created the Levorg STI prototype to unveil the future for the famed Subaru Tecnica International brand.

Ahead of the launch of the production model later this year, the Levorg STI may be the first iteration of the EJ25 series engine replacement. A necessary evil, given its 1996 introduction and how it still powers the some of the current line up, including the STI.

Powering the Subaru Levorg STI Sport prototype is a brand-new 1.8-Litre Flat-Four ‘Boxer’ engine, which will likely also power the next generation BRZ and GR86. Current hushed whispers suggest that in addition to the Levorg’s latest Drive Mode Select System with preemptive All-wheel drive which can not only adapt but pre-arm the AWD, drivetrain and steering for different conditions. Power is routed to be close too 300kWs and thusly should be a very interesting change and update to the very dated drivetrain. The Rumour mill suggests Subaru is also working on a 2.4Litre Flat-4 that we will likely see in the next Subaru STI also with around 300kWs. So Subaru’s to come will be interesting and maybe even bring back the STI to

Little is known at this stage but old school Scoobie fans may just have a reason to wait in anticipation with bated breath.