News

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 | 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

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Friday Video | Muted Mustang GT

The world of EngageSportMode is slightly sad this week, and Ford’s latest updates about the new 2018 Mustang GT aren’t really helping.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Why the long face? Well, the nice man from Ford came and took our Mustang V8 GT Convertible away on Monday, and things just haven’t been the same since. No longer can we sleep soundly in the knowledge that 5.0-litres of eight-cylinder power is close at hand, or that our Shell loyalty card will be gaining new points soon. But, we’re also guessing that people nearby are glad not to be dealing with the immediate rain showers every time the roof was dropped, or hearing the tugboat burble of a big V8 motor.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Although the 2018 Mustang won’t do anything about the weather, it would be able to help with the issue of noise. Whilst we didn’t find the V8 GT ‘Coyote’ engine to be ridiculously loud – it’s certainly no modified Subaru Impreza – it still made its presence known. Ford knows this, and that’s why the new 2018 ‘Stang is going to feature a “Good Neighbour Mode” on certain versions:

Using the active exhaust valves to quieten an engine is pretty novel to us, given that most cars with an exhaust button are there solely to make things louder. Which the new 2018 Mustang will also do, with Sport and Track mode settings that we certainly approve of. (more…)

New Metal | Hyundai i30 N

It seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time lapping the Nürburgring, but Hyundai’s new hot hatch is finally here. 

2017 Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai is suitably proud of the fact that the new i30 N has racked up some 6,000 miles of testing at the fearsome Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit. That includes competition running in the ADAC 24 hours race, along with substantial time polishing and refining the dynamics. It means Hyundai is putting real faith in the i30 N being able to perform on track.

2017 Hyundai i30 N

Before we go any further; what does the ‘N’ stand for? According to Hyundai it symbolises the shape of a chicane, and is relevant to this i30 being developed in both Namyang and at the Nürburgring. There are plans for more N-branded road cars, but this is where it all begins for real.

2017 Hyundai i30 N

Although in reality, things started quite some time before 2017. Hyundai has been competing in the World Rally Championship with the i20 WRC car, wearing N badges, since 2014. Also, Hyundai offered the i30 Turbo as part of the previous generation range. We tested the old i30 Turbo and found it broadly commendable, plus a solid platform for future hot hatches. As such, we’ve high hopes for the i30 N, based on our previous quick Hyundai experiences and the wealth of performance equipment thrown at this new car.

2017 Hyundai i30 N

Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, producing 247hp and 260lb-ft of torque. There is, however, an optional Performance Package that along with various other tweaks, boosts power to a more substantial 271hp. This leaves the i30 N in something of a hot hatch hinterland – more powerful than a Golf GTI, but with less horsepower than a Golf R, for example. (more…)

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

New Metal | 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The all-new sixth generation Volkswagen Polo was revealed to the world last week, along with an enhanced GTI model. Yet certain things have left ESM feeling slightly bittersweet about it all.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

With a life spent living in the shadow of the bigger Golf GTI, it’s unprecedented for Volkswagen to announce a new Polo GTI at the same time as the regular supermini. In fact Polo GTI models have often felt like something on an afterthought, tacked on partway through a lifecycle. Not so with the new sixth-generation Polo, which will be available in cooking GTI specification from the outset.

The biggest news is under the bonnet, where the 1.8-litre TSI engine found in the current 6C Polo GTI is dispensed with, and in comes a new 2.0-litre unit. In world where everything seems to be about downsizing, there is something refreshing about a manufacturer upscaling an engine instead. Power raises slightly to 197hp, marking a minor increase of 8hp over the outgoing model, whilst gearbox choices remain as a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch. With an increase in size of the new car, we would imagine performance things to be pretty much on par with the existing Polo GTI.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

What has clearly changed are the dimensions, with the new Polo substantially bigger by almost every marker compared to the fifth-generation. The new model is so big that Volkswagen have actually chosen to compare it to the Mk4 Golf – a measure of the expansion in supermini scale over the past two decades. Greater interior and luggage space is the reasoning for this, and it does make you wonder just how people even managed to fit inside cars from the 1990s, let alone even be comfortable within them… (more…)

New Metal | Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

We seem to have been teased for years about a possible hot version of VW’s city car. Finally, we’re almost there, with the announcement of this production-ready concept.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

The ‘concept’ tag needs to be taken pretty lightly. From the details released, and the photos supplied by Volkswagen, this thing looks as close to being fit for human consumption as possible. Come 2018 you’ll be able to take home an Up GTI from your local VW dealership, and we’ll be very surprised if it looks different to this. We’re still mildly disappointed that Volkswagen didn’t take our suggestion of naming it the ‘Power Up’ though.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Power comes from a tuned version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine used in the normal Up. However, it’s been boosted to deliver 113hp and 148lb-ft of torque. Granted in 2017 that doesn’t sound like a great deal for a hot hatch, when the latest Mk7.5 Golf GTI packs almost 227hp, and the Golf R is endowed with over 305hp. So why would we be getting excited about a city car with so little power, even if it does have a six-speed manual gearbox?

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Volkswagen is keen to play up the similarities between the Up GTI and the original Mk1 Golf GTI. That 1976 car used a 1.6-litre engine, producing 110hp, and was able to do 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, plus a top speed of 113mph. By contrast, the Up GTI is even quicker, doing 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, and topping out at a claimed 122mph. On paper at least, it therefore beats the most thumbed page in the Volkswagen GTI history book. A low weight of 997kg for the Up GTI compares favourably to a Golf from 40 years ago, which tipped the scales at just 810kg. (more…)