Manufacturers

Opinion – Why the Volkswagen Jetta should be missed

The recently departed ‘Golf with a boot’ deserves more recognition says ESM’s editor.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

Last week’s news that the Jetta saloon would not longer feature on Volkswagen’s UK price list was hardly met with grief and distress. Nobody will be building statues to commemorate its passing, and no national day of mourning will be declared. Yet I think the humble Jetta deserves a better legacy than what it currently has.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘other Volkswagen saloon’ has bitten the dust in the UK. Four-door versions of C-segment hatchbacks have always been a relatively niche market, with neither Ford nor Vauxhall offering saloon versions of the Focus or Astra respectively.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

The constant march of the crossover SUV won’t have helped, with a sensible sedan never going to win in a battle of desirability against the Tiguan or new T-Roc. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | SpeedKore makes a Demon lighten up

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon managed to impress immediately, but SpeedKore Performance Group wanted to take things even further.

Rare is the person who, when first presented with Dodge’s street-legal dragster SRT Demon, thought “how do we make it even faster” and get to work doing something about it. However, that’s exactly what Wisconsin-based SpeedKore did.

 

Exactly how do you improve on a 840hp menace, already capable of running 0-60mph in 2.3 seconds and pulling a wheelie from a standing start? With the extensive use of carbon fibre, replacing heavy regular body panels with ones formed from the lightweight wonder material.

The result is not only a substantial chunk of weight removed from the already stripped-out SRT Demon, but also a paint finish which looks rather cool. Naked carbon panels will undoubtedly always tick our box, but the special PPG “tear-off” paint makes the lightweight Demon appear really evil. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Kia goes big on aftermarket modifications

Fittingly for something revealed on October 31st, Kia brought something big and orange, with more cutouts than a hastily carved pumpkin, to SEMA 2017. Was it more trick than treat, though? SEMA 2017 Kia

In previous years at SEMA, Kia has brought along novel creations like the craft ale-dispensing Sedona in 2014, or a chop-top Optima in 2015. However, as the brand pushes the development of overtly sporting products, Kia is using the 2017 SEMA show to go big on aftermarket performance.

SEMA 2017 Kia

We’re already a fan on the Stinger GT, so turning up the heat with a range of bolt-on parts seems good. The fact it’s been painted in a custom orange colour scheme is only going to help win us over, too. However, the Stinger GT Federation has a serious reason for a name that sounds like it belongs in Star Wars, not on the highway.

SEMA 2017 Kia

The Stinger GT Federation marks the start of Kia offering aftermarket parts and accessories for production models. In reality, the Stinger GT Federation should have a Fast & Furious-style ‘wishlist’ on the front doors, such is the array of companies that have contributed bits.

SEMA 2017 Kia

Air Design USA has created the rear spoiler, diffuser, and bonnet vents, whilst TSW have supplied the 20-inch alloy wheels wearing staggered Falken rubber. Eibach suspension drops the Stinger GT lower to the ground, Borla adds a performance exhaust with carbon fibre tips, and K&N air intakes help the 3.3-litre turbo V6 breathe easier. Peak power has increased to 380hp. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Ten cars we want to ‘Hellcrate’ right now

The announcement that Mopar is offering a 707hp Hellcat engine ‘off the shelf’ has got us thinking. What better day than Halloween to come up with some Frankenstein-esque creation. 

If you can find $19,530 (£14,800) you too can add a 6.2-litre supercharged HEMI engine to pretty much whatever you want. This got us thinking about what should people be shoehorning the epic Hellcrate motor into, and we came up with these ten suggestions.

All of the ten cars here have Mopar family connections, avoiding any of those awkward brand-mixing moments. We’re taking a liberal approach in terms of technical possibility, with the attitude that with enough money and perseverance anything is possible.

1969 Dodge Polara HardtopHellcrate Hemi Ideas

We had already mentioned this one yesterday, and it’s naturally the first port of call on our list. Produced in various guises between 1960 and 1973, the Polara was a vast full-size land yacht offered in a range of bodystyles. However, it’s the 1969 model year with Dodge’s ‘Fuselage Look’ styling that really catches our attention, especially in two-door hardtop guise. A Hellcat engine would be a perfect swap for the 440-cubic inch (7.2-litre) V8, creating a subtle but terrifying cruiser.

1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘CudaHellcrate Hemi Ideas

Produced for just two years, the Hemi ‘Cuda was the high-performance version of the Plymouth Barracuda. Trying to pick between the 1970 or 1971 versions is tough, but we prefer the ’70 model due to the lack of gills behind the front wheel arches. The most impressive ‘Cudas featured a 426-cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8 with 425hp, but an extra shot of nearly 300hp can only be a good thing, surely.

1972 Imperial LeBaronHellcrate Hemi Ideas

As some of the biggest production cars ever built, Chrysler’s Imperial LeBaron models were unashamedly huge. Measuring almost six metres in length, and tipping the scales at over 2,200kg, the LeBaron was a leviathan of the highway. Adding the Hellcrate engine could provide some much-needed propulsion for the LeBaron, and certainly couldn’t make the fuel economy any worse. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Make anything into a Hellcat with a Mopar crate motor

The 2017 Speciality Equipment Market Association show kicks off tomorrow, but Dodge has already stolen headlines with a very special box.2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

What’s in the box? Oh, you know, just a 6.2-litre Supercharged HEMI V8 engine with 707hp and 650lb-ft of torque. Yes indeed, Mopar has announced that the terrifying motor found in the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat models will be available to buy, and be delivered in a crate straight to your door.

2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

Amazon probably won’t be delivering this with a drone.

Crate motors are nothing new in America, with major manufacturers already offering a range of big-block engines to wedge into whatever project you fancy. General Motors offers a gigantic 572 -cubic inch (9.4-litre) V8, whilst Ford will happily sell you a 400+hp Modular engine.

2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

But this is the big one, the engine that seemingly everyone – ESM included – has been rather interested in since we first saw the Hellcat drift into view. Now we can dream about just what we could shove a 707hp supercharged engine under the bonnet of, and where we’re going to find the requisite $19,530 to buy one. All donations gladly received. Mopar will also offer a $2,195 Hellcrate HEMI engine kit, designed to enable easier installation of the monster motor in pre-1976 cars. (more…)

Friday Video | Even closer to the edge – Ken Block’s Climbkhana

What’s the best way to tackle the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb? With a 1,400hp twin-turbocharged Ford Mustang, obviously.  
KB Climbkhana (C) Hoonigan Racing

ESM doesn’t quite know what to make of Ken Block. Here’s clearly an immensely talented driver, and proficient businessman, yet success in top-level motorsport has eluded him.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. He’s built up an empire from DC Shoes, and created a number of toys to play with, like the latest Hoonicorn V2 Mustang.

In his latest video in the Gymkhana series, Block reenacts the epic Climb Dance short film created in 1988. In it, legendary WRC driver Ari Vatanen set a new record at Pikes Peak, when the course was still predominantly loose dirt and gravel.

Kenny B had the benefit of Pikes Peak being paved all the way to the top, but that doesn’t stop it still being an epic drive. Climbing some 4,720ft along a track measuring over 12 miles, Pikes Peak requires skill and concentration to master. Oh, and bravery, for when you get a little too close to the edge:

Is it more dramatic than the record-setting run by Sébastien Loeb in 2013? Undoubtedly. Is it as achingly cool as Ari Vatanen’s 1988 effort? Hmmm, we’ll let you be the judge of that…

Image: (C) Hoonigan Racing

Friday Video | Bugatti Chiron sets 0-400-0km/h record

Could Bugatti be trying to distract attention from a certain new hypercar revealed this week? If they are, this is a rather impressive feat to use as a diversion.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

In terms of words written, the Mercedes-AMG Project One has probably swallowed up most column inches and online articles from the Frankfurt Motor Show. Almost enough to make Bugatti feel a little outshone it seems.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

How do you get the attention back when faced with 1,000hp of F1-engined insanity? Set a new world record, and involve a high-profile motorsport legend to do it, of course. Which is exactly what Bugatti did, wheeling in Juan-Pablo Montoya to set an astonishing time for running from a standing start, to 400km/h (249mph) and back to a complete stop again.

The whole process took a slightly mind-bending 41.96 seconds, which is testament to the epic power and traction of the Chiron, but also the immense braking ability. The acceleration from zero to 400km/h took 32.6 seconds, but the Chiron needed just 9.3 seconds required to come to a halt. All of this was completed in 3.12km, 491 metres of which was used for stopping.

2017 Bugatti Chiron World Record

Consider our interest piqued, and not just because we happen to be big fans of Mr Montoya here at ESM. Had he driven in F1 at any other time than against the Schumacher/Ferrari combo, we have no doubts he would have been a World Champion. Instead, you can just watch him go from zero to almost 250mph in less than a minute:

Will Mercedes-AMG enter into the epic contest with the finished Project One? Who knows, but for now Bugatti has kept some of the limelight focussed on the Chiron, and plans for even more records to be broken in the near future.

New Metal (Carbon) | Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

We’ve heard all the cliches before, but could this actually be the closest thing ever to a road-going F1 car? Well, it’s got the engine from an F1 car for a start…

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

Yes indeed, powering the Merc-AMG Project One is the very same 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 used by Lewis and Valtteri every other weekend. Not exactly the same, as the one used here is tuned to use regular super unleaded fuel. will rev to only 11,000rpm. The latter being done to aid reliability – we imagine buyers wouldn’t be best pleased about receiving grid penalties for needing to change turbochargers and gearboxes several times each year…

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

Like an F1 car, there’s electrical power as well. Four electric motors in fact, with two driving the front wheels, one added to the turbocharger and one directly attached to the V6 engine itself. All combined, the Project One has a power output in excess of 1,000hp. Granted that isn’t as powerful as a Bugatti Chiron, but lightweight construction and the instant torque hit of the electric motors make that a fairly moot point. For those who want to play Top Trumps, the quoted 0-124mph time of under 6 seconds is  quicker than the 6.5 seconds recorded for the Bugatti. Substantial downforce means a more normal top speed of around 220mph is estimated for the mega Merc.

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

An eight-speed AMG Speedshift gearbox controls the power from the engine and, just like an F1 car, features paddles for manual shifting. Unlike an F1 car, ABS is standard for the carbon ceramic brakes, as is a three-stage ESP system which features a Sport Handling Mode, or even the option to turn the assistance off entirely. We imagine that will some serious guts, even with the aid of all-wheel drive and torque vectoring.

2017 Mercedes-AMG Project One Concept

(more…)

Friday Video | Five cylinders of fun from Audi Sport USA

Even if you’ve only got twenty minutes for lunch today, this is probably the best way you can spend it. We promise.

1987 Audi Sport quattro S1

It’s now officially September, the holidays are over, the nights are closing in, and the world is still just as big a mess as it was at the start of the year.

But forget all that, as Audi USA has shared this video documenting the history of the five-cylinder engine. From the Ur-quattro, though to the awesome 90 IMSA GTO, and eventually the insane assault on Pikes Peak by Walter Röhrl – it’s all here in full competition glory. Add to that on-track action with the new RS3 Sedan Saloon and TT RS and you’ve got the perfect lunchtime entertainment.

1989 Audi 90 IMSA GTO

Just make sure you have your speakers turned up to appreciate the offbeat sound of the five-cylinder motor:

(more…)

Friday Video | BMW enters the future

Right now the BMW Concept Z4 is the garnering all the attention, as a thinly disguised version of next year’s production car. Yet something else from BMW caught our eye this week.2017 BMW Concept Z4

Yes, yes, BMW have plastered the word concept all over this Z4, but the reality is we would be amazed if the new roadster looked any different to this. It’s certainly not a bad-looking thing, with elements clearly influenced by the i8, but also some subtler homages to the ‘flame surfacing’ legacy of Chris Bangle. Oh how we laughed at his designs when released, yet now they still look modern. Sorry, Chris.

2017 BMW Concept Z4

Given the tepid nature of the current Z4, anything that makes BMW’s roadster more exciting can only be a good thing. The Munich firm promises a ‘stripped back’ experience, with the aim of creating an ‘all-out’ driving experience. Hopefully the finished car delivers on these bold promises, and keeps the Energetic Orange matt paintwork and minimalist interior.

However, it’s not the most exiting thing we’ve seen from BMW recently though, as we came across this video on YouTube:

In case you’re wondering, The Drone Racing League is a fast-growing competition, using high-performance drones capable of hitting 85mph. With major investment from companies like Sky, and F1-owners Liberty Media, the Drone Racing League is getting high-profile coverage. But a demonstration inside the BMW Welt exhibition centre and museum is another level. (more…)