Merc's hypercar, a new 911 and the long-awaited Supra. 2019 is gonna be good
Ariel is building a hypercar. Yes, the company so far known only for its lightweights is making the jump to hyperspace. It’s hard to know where to begin with this, but let’s start with the numbers: 1,180bhp, 1800Nm of torque, 0-160km/h in 3.8secs (well over a second ahead of a McLaren P1 or Porsche 918), 250km/h top speed and a 1,500kg kerbweight.
It’s powered by four electric motors, “each of which delivers the same power as a supercharged Type R motor”, says Ariel boss Simon Saunders, “and they’re tiny, around 330mm in diameter”. But there’s more. Besides a 42kWh battery pack running 680 volts, the car codenamed ‘P40’ sports a radical turbine range extender motor, like the stillborn Jaguar C-X75. Time for a lie-down.
Aston Martin Valkyrie
The car giving AMG, and to be fair anyone with a pulse, sleepless nights. The Valkyrie is a distillation of Adrian Newey’s brain – Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer and one of the all-time F1 greats. An aero-obsessed, weight-obsessed, road-legal hypercar, born to bring F1 levels of performance to your favourite B-road.
We now know it will be fitted with what could well be the greatest road car engine of all time – McLaren F1’s BMW V12 included. Built from a blank screen in a little over two years by Cosworth, it’s a 6.5-litre V12 producing 1000bhp at 10,500rpm on its way to an 11,100rpm limit, but weighs a paltry 206kg. Quite how any of these numbers are possible, we’re not entirely sure, but we’re looking forward to finding out. First customer deliveries are looking like the back-end of 2019, around the time we’ll be begging to get our hands on one.
Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake
Revealed in 2017, the Shooting Brake forms part of a burgeoning family of Zagato-designed Vanquish models, built to celebrate Aston and Zag’s long, storied history. Yes, it sits on the old Vanquish S platform, but it looks the business. A 5.9-litre naturally-aspirated V12 is just one of many good things about the Shooting Brake. Others include better spring rates and tuned dampers, hydraulic steering, and, well, the body.
Aston only built 99 Zagato Coupes, 99 Zagato Volantes and 28 Zagato Speedsters. In 2018, all of these sold out. Now, we have confirmation that all 99 Zagato Shooting Brakes have been accounted for too, with all cars currently on their way to their new homes. Not sure Christmas presents get any better than that, do they?
OK, we’re not totally sold on the idea of tuned-up baby crossovers - there’s a conflict of physics going on here, but we’ll make an exception here because the new Audi SQ2 is, as it turns out, a bit of a closet rocketship.
The SQ2 uses the VW Group’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but instead of bowing in in Golf GTI tune (242bhp), it’s working at a full-fat 296bhp and 400Nm – the same muscle as the VW Golf R. Or, indeed, Audi S3. No wonder it’s quick.
Obviously, being an S-car, it’s got Quattro drive. And it’s supplied via a 7spd DSG transmission, so 0-100km/h is dusted in a claimed 4.8secs. The top speed is limited to 250km/h. A standard Porsche Cayman won’t keep up with this chunky Tonka toy of a hatchback.
We’re smitten with the sheer absurdity of the Bugatti Divo, so long as you bear one thing in mind: do not try to rationalise it – your head will explode and you’ll ruin the carpet. At €5m a pop, it’s twice the price of a Bugatti Chiron, so unless the propshaft is forged in gold, dipped in unicorn poo and rolled in diamonds, it’s not a number that can be justified by any normal means.
The key, of course, is exclusivity. Exclusivity, and speed. It might use the same 1,479bhp behemoth of an engine as the Chiron does, but everything else is stiffer, lighter and generally madder, refocusing the car not on Vmax, but going around corners like an LMP1 race car.
Only 40 will be produced (that’s 40 on top of the 500 Chirons Bugatti is already building), and you can’t have one. Despite buyers having to be proposed by a dealer and own a Chiron already, it sold out immediately. And yes, more than one of the 40 bought a Chiron just to get their hands on the €5m fruit.
Ferrari 488 Pista Spider
In the simplest terms, the new Ferrari 488 Pista Spider is a convertible version of dynamically the best car Ferrari has ever made. And it has a stripe. Enough said, but we’ll continue anyway…
(Click HERE to read about the 488 Pista)
So, the powertrain. A 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 711bhp and 770Nm, exactly like the coupe. It’ll also go from 0-100km/h in 2.85s, exactly like the coupe. 0-200km/h takes 8s (vs 7.6s for the coupe) while top speed is still 340km/h.
It’s quite fast enough then, despite a small weight penalty thanks to that folding hard-top. Inside, there’s plenty of carbonfibre, Alcantara, aluminium foot plates in place of carpet and a strap to pull the door shut in place of an actual handle. And it has a stripe. Did we mention the stripe?
Ford Ranger Raptor
If you’re a fan of the F-150 Raptor, but it’s a bit too much truck for you and your Cotswold village, then relax, Ford’s got you. The new Ranger Raptor has most of the angry, bloated bodywork and technology from its bigger brother, and just like the new Raptor, there’s no V8 under the bonnet. Boo. There’s not even a twin-turbo V6. Double boo. Instead, there’s an all-new twin-turbo 2.0-litre inline-four diesel with 210 horsepower and 500Nm of torque connected to Ford’s ten-speed ‘auto.
Elsewhere, there’s better news: they’ve jacked the whole thing up - boosting ground clearance to 283mm - there’s beefy Fox Racing Shox dampers, longer Fox shocks, dent-resistant composite panels, an integrated tow bar with tow hooks, BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres, Watts Link rear suspension and bigger (13 inches across) ventilated steel brakes. You also get the F-150 Raptor’s grille and all its clever off-roading terrain response modes. Buy one in mid-2019.
Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign
Though the brief for the Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign centred around the notion of a ‘GT-R without limits’, there are in fact, a couple: only 50 are being made, and each one will cost you €990,000.
But for that you get something that rather exceeds the ‘regular’ GT-R. The roofline for example, sits 54mm lower than standard, huge strakes moulded into the surface to better channel the air being battered around it. There’s a pop-up rear wing, and the GT-R’s famous round taillights get the 3D treatment.
The engine too, has been massaged. GT3-spec competition turbochargers and bigger intercoolers replace the standard blowers, there’s a heavy duty crank, reinforced pistons, connecting rods and bearings, a new exhaust and better cooling and oil systems. The net effect is 711bhp and 780Nm.
Adjustable Bilstein dampers complete the suspension and drivetrain tweaks, while monster 21in carbonfibre wheels complete the exterior, which comes in pretty much any colour you can dream up.
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
The F-Pace SVR is the work of JLR’s fast-moving Special Vehicle Operations division, who have muscled an extra 44 per cent of power out of Jaguar’s familiar supercharged 5.0-litre V8, to deliver 542bhp. It’ll do 100km/h in 4.1secs, has a top speed of 283km/h, but crucially should stop properly courtesy of uprated brakes, 395mm/396mm diameter front/rear, with two-piece discs.
It’s also not completely barmy looking. Almost subtle, in fact. Aerodynamic requirements are taken care of via huge air intakes at the front, and vents behind the front wheels that reduce the pressure build-up caused by swirling vortices in that area, but also reduce lift and provide the extra cooling the SVR’s hard-working brakes need. There are also wheelarch extensions, extra body mouldings on the sills, and bonnet vents to funnel cooling air to the engine.
Although we’re not entirely sold on the need for a 542bhp SUV, we’re strangely drawn to this one…
Land Rover Defender
You’ll note we still don’t know what the new Defender is going to look like – all we have to go on are these camouflaged prototype pics released by Land Rover itself - but you don’t have to be a genius to take a guess. Boxy.
What is clear is that it’s got a body (DC100 concept, anyone?), it’s got a chassis, there is an engine, it moves under its own steam and they’ve found a roundabout. Oh, and that we’ll be hanging off every crumb that’s dropped between now and its reveal in late 2019, because replacing an icon is the hardest job in the car industry, and they don’t come any bigger than this.
McLaren 720S Spider
Winter. Perfect time to unwrap a V8-engined turbo supercar. This is McLaren’s newest: the 720S Spider, and it is a 202mph convertible with a folding hard top. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
There’s the familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 matched to a seven-speed gearbox and rear-wheel drive, producing the same 710bhp and 770Nm as the Coupe. Thus it records the same 0-100km/h time of 2.9secs, 0-200km/h in 7.9secs (a tenth slower than the 720S Coupe), a quarter mile time of 10.4secs and top speed of 340km/h. That’s with the roof up.
Roof down – which takes just 11 seconds – it’ll do 325km/h. That folding hard top gets a one-piece carbon-fibre roof panel, which is electrically operated up to speeds of 50km/h, and – as a mark of progress – is six seconds faster than the roof on the old 650S Spider.
What we love about the AMG One is the simplicity of the idea – to put an actual F1 powertrain into a road car. What AMG is discovering, is that’s not as simple as it sounds. There’s a chance we’ll see the finished product in late 2019, but first deliveries have been pushed back until mid-2020, roughly a nine-month delay as the UK-based engineering team grapples with how to make an F1 engine idle at 1,200rpm and meet emissions regulations.
Still, no point in rushing this stuff. Especially when ‘this stuff’ is Lewis’ actual 2015 F1 engine – a 1.6 V6 turbo revving to over 11,000rpm – supplemented by three F1 e-motors spinning to 50,000rpm, and a further electric motor to twist the turbo for zero lag. It’s fiendishly complicated, but the first time we see, hear and experience what over 1000bhp of F1-derived tech feels like on the road, that complication won’t matter.
Mercedes EQ C
Under its svelte, slightly Range Rover Velar SUV proportions, the EQ C uses a 80kWh lithium-ion battery, weighing some 650kg (a quarter of the car’s entire 2.4-tonne mass). The EQ C’s front electric motor aims to offer the most efficiency, while the rear motor – this is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, like the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X – is optimised for more punch.
Maximum combined power output is 400bhp, while torque is a predictably titanic 765Nm. More than a C 63’s V8 offers up, delivered silently. As a result, Mercedes is claiming 0-100km/h in a hot-hatch-spec 5.1 seconds, and a modest top speed of 178km/h. A range of around 400km puts it in-line with the Audi e-tron and I-Pace.
This is the Polestar 1, the first car from Volvo’s newly-branded electric performance arm, and it’s not a concept, it’s the real thing – a 591bhp, plug-in hybrid, BMW M4-sized 2+2 coupe that you’ll be able to own from mid-2019. Pretty isn’t it?
Unlike most plug-in hybrids with their measly 50km EV-only range, it will travel a full 93 150km on a single charge. Enough for a proper-sized commute without troubling the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
Ask that to join in and you have 591bhp, 987Nm and four-wheel drive at your disposal. No performance or kerb weight figures yet, but we suspect 0-100km/h in something beginning with a 3…
Porsche 911 (type 992)
An all-new 911 is always exciting times, followed immediately by a lull when you realise it doesn’t look that different at all. Fortunately, it is. Unlike 911s of the past, there’ll be no narrow body cars as the front track has been widened by 40mm and all Carreras will have the same wide booty of the GTS. It doesn’t matter if it’s two or four-wheel drive, it’s one-size-fits-all bodyshells for everybody. One that’s made of more aluminium than ever.
Another new introduction is staggered wheel sizing; which, in the Carrera S, means 20-inch fronts and 21-inch rears. Up front, there’s now a recessed bonnet that nods back to design cues on early 911s while the rear has been shot into the future with this year’s must-have design cue: a full-width lightbar.
With 444bhp, the Carrera S has gained 30bhp on the previous model, which, in turn, is the same as the outgoing GTS and will give it the performance to equal a 997 Turbo. We’re yet to get a weight figure, but it must be similar to the current 991 generation given the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S completes the 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds when hooked up to the new 8spd dual-clutch PDK transmission. And fear not, a manual gearbox option will be along before long.
The Taycan is the car that Porsche is lining up to take on the might of the Tesla Model S. And what we know so far is that it’ll both be very fast on the road, as well as to juice up.
Porsche has told TG that it will do 0-100km/h in ‘less than 3.5 seconds’, get to 201km/h in ‘less than’ 12 seconds and have a top speed of ‘more than’ 250km/h. That speed is brought about by a pair of powerful motors, front and rear, totalling ‘more than’ 600bhp making them more power-dense and temperature-stable than Tesla’s induction motors.
Charging? Well, that’ll be fifteen minutes on the right charger from flat to 80 per cent charged. By about 2020, there will be a network of these chargers across continental Europe, no more than 120km apart, which is fine given Porsche claims you can do 310 between top-ups.
Skoda Kodiaq vRS
Welcome to a quick-ish diesel SUV its maker claims holds the record for the fastest seven-seater ever to lap the Nürburgring, with a time of 9m 29.84s. This is thanks to a 237bhp, 500Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, which makes the Kodiaq vRS the most powerful diesel Skoda ever made. A seven-speed DSG supplies power to all four wheels, giving 0-100km/h in 7 seconds flat and a top speed of 222km/h.
Four-cylinder diesel engines aren’t known for sounding especially sporty, so Skoda’s fitted a sound-symposer that pipes exciting noises in through the speakers. These noises get progressively more exciting, we’re told, as you ramp up through the modes.
But it’s real trick? It can carry you and your extended family just as well as the normal seven-seat Kodiaq can…
Tesla Model 3
At long last, now Elon’s production hell is marginally less hellish, you’ll start to see Model 3s trickling into the UK. Everything Tesla has done up to this point has been building towards the Model 3 – a more affordable mass-market EV – but it’s all for nothing if the product itself doesn’t stand up. Luckily it has the desirability to drag not just early adopters and tree-hugging environmentalists out of their petrol and diesel cars, but the wider public too, because beyond the hype, this is a truly well-engineered car.
The Model 3 range is a little hard to keep up with, your options changing frequently. As it stands there are two options: the entry-level single-motor car, which is rear-wheel drive and offers 420km of range and a 5.6sec 0-100km/h time.
Then there’s the dual-motor car, which is all-wheel drive and comes with a longer-range battery, allowing it to go 310 miles between plug ins. It comes as a Performance version as well, which brings a 3.3sec 0-100km/h time, 250km/h top speed and uprated brakes. The choice is yours… if you’re prepared to wait.
We’ve driven a prototype of the new Toyota Supra around the Jarama race track, but still don’t really know what it looks like. Does this strike anyone else as odd? Anyway, we’ll know when the covers come off at the Detroit Motor Show in early January… then we can get down to the serious business of driving it some more.
It’s the car we’ve been waiting 16 years for Toyota to pull its finger out and build. A brand new Supra, the fifth-generation of a legend (sixth, if you want to throw the 2000GT in there as a spiritual starting point) and the car that could single-handedly revive the Max Power movement. Possibly.
Developed under a joint venture with the new BMW Z4, the worry here is that Toyota’s wild child might become a little too tamed, too Germanic. Can the Japanese still infuse it with the same sense of madness that made the car its name despite borrowing its underpinnings, engine, gearbox and most of the interior from BMW? Ten quid says they can.
STORY Jack Rix