It often feels like the automotive industry has hit a creative wall where every concept vehicle has to be another electric vehicle offering next-generation connectivity and some self-driving claims that will later be tamped down. We’ve gotten used to being disappointed but there has been one brand that’s been furnishing concept vehicles that are at least interesting.
In 2018, Audi debuted the PB18 E-Tron Concept (AI:RACE) in an attempt to highlight what’s possible with a pure EV using the skateboard platform. Without a driveshaft hogging interior space, the automaker felt it could build a supercar with an interchangeable driving position that allowed the pilot to transition from a central F1-style cockpit to something that’s more suited to the daily commute. The company has since decided to build on that idea with the Skysphere Concept, which alters the roadster’s exterior based on whether it’s you or the car that’s doing the driving.
Beset by electric vehicle announcements and planned fueling restrictions, your author has scoured the internet for something you might actually enjoy from the realm of internal combustion. Instead, you’ll be settling for an update on the Ferrari 812 Superfast you couldn’t possibly afford.
The company has opted to make the model a little faster and will be issuing a V12 pushing 818 horsepower while also moving the redline up to 9,500 rpm. Scheduled for an official debut next month, the limited-edition 812 doesn’t have an official name but Ferrari has indicated it will be the meanest GT car in its lineup.
If you purchased a base Kia Stinger with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, many will argue you made the wrong decision. They’ll allege that you should have sprung for the more powerful twin-turbo V6. But it always seemed just a bit too steep of a price jump to make sense for every single person. If you were cross-shopping the Stinger against fancier — albeit indirect — rivals like the BMW 3-Series, that 2.0-liter was still completely adequate. However, we could say the same thing about the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and a cadre of other non-premium sedans.
Kia’s twin-turbo V6 seemed to be there to create some additional distance between its touring sedan and just about everything else on the market. With the 3.3-liter unit churning out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, the Stinger becomes much more exciting and suddenly capable of covering the quarter-mile in under 13 seconds. For the 2022 model year, the manufacturer has decided to split the difference by ditching the base 2.0-liter mill. Replacing it will be a 2.5-liter four-banger producing 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft — representing an increase of 45 hp and 61 pound-feet of twist.
But it’s not going to be free.
Aston Martin’s V12 Vanquish was the company’s heavy hitter GT of the 2000s decade. Between 2001 and 2007, just over 2,500 examples of the Vanquish were produced, composed of 1,492 standard 2+2 coupes, and 1,086 of the sportier S version that ditched the rear seats.
Now, a select few customers can have a thoroughly reengineered Vanquish S, created by the man who designed the original.
Polaris aimed to broaden the appeal — and hopefully sales volume — of its three-wheeled Slingshot by adding creature comforts and a new engine for the 2020 model year. Customers can now plug in their phones and find a place to set their beverage as they cruise down the boulevard while confused onlookers ask each other what the hell they just saw rumbling down the road.
Attempting to outdo itself, the brand has now introduced the limited-edition Slingshot Grand Touring LE. Painted in an exclusive Fairway Green with contrasting bronze trim/wheels, the model also receives an upgraded wind deflector, color-matching “Slingshade” roof, and more-comfortable quilted seats. The mandatory inclusion of the company’s AutoDrive transmission further explains what this particular variant is all about — mainstream accessibility.
At a private event in Rome this week, Ferrari introduced its newest model — the Roma. Described by Ferrari Commercial Director Enrico Galliera as an automobile for “people who would like to drive a sports car, or a Ferrari, but are a little bit afraid of Ferrari and sportscars,” it boasts one of the worst marketing taglines imaginable.
It also has a key fob that’s embarrassing to carry around — assuming shame is an emotion still within your repertoire.
While high-performance exotics aren’t widely known for being tasteful, Ferrari has always had a thin veneer of respectability brands like Lamborghini lacked. Owning one gave off the impression that you might have a mild appreciation for brand heritage or some interest in motorsport. At the very least, the prevailing prejudices would presume you were a probably a car snob with strong opinions and nuanced tastes.
Unfortunately, the Roma (Rome) and its gaudy key are helping to dissipate that formerly effective illusion.
I’ve already made the case against Aston Martin using Tom Brady as a brand ambassador. However, after months of marinating in a pool of semi-rational anger, I came to the realization that not everyone would view it as a step down from James Bond.
Brady was chosen specifically to appeal to the United States because Aston wants to bolster sales in North America. His eerily straight teeth and All American Good Looks™ were a marketing selection, albeit an incredibly boring one.
While I prattle on endlessly about how unsettling I find the man, what I find particularly bothersome is that we’re supposed to presume Brady is an automotive enthusiast and ambassador of good taste. However, I’ve never seen him doing guest spots on motoring shows and his penchant for the finer things appears to be nothing more than a byproduct of his being successful. So, when Aston announced the $360,000 car he spent five months helping design was finished, my eyes rolled so far back into my head that it induced a nose bleed and I subsequently passed out.
Ferrari officially presented the world with the car intended to replace the California on Wednesday. The new model, called the Portofino, is a 2+2 sporting a mischievous grin and enough horsepower to warrant it. Named — like many of Ferrari’s grand tourers — after a part of the world known for its temperate climate, the Portofino houses an updated 3.9-liter turbocharged V8 with 591 prancing stallions ready to tear up the tarmac.
Distinctively less subtle than the base California in both appearance and specifications, the new “entry-level” Ferrari benefits from new internals, but the overall affect primarily bolsters horsepower. Torque is bumped up to 560 lb-ft between 3,000 and 5,250 rpm, representing a modest 3 foot-pound increase compared to a nearly 40-horsepower improvement. Not that it should matter; the Italian automaker still considers the Portofino a GT car despite its more aggressive persona.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- ToolGuy "Having the dual sliders has been amazing as it let's me and my wife have our own "sides" of the van to prep for rides/races."Who goes on the traffic side??
- ToolGuy "I caught a little bit Saturday, but Sunday it seemed impossible to find on my cable. I think it was streaming on Peacock, which I have, all weekend, so I could've watched it that way. I'm not complaining, to be clear, since I could've popped Peacock on and yet I chose to watch something else."Being you sounds like a real chore. 😉
- ToolGuy If it is the longer-wheelbase version, good. (If not, it isn't.)
- ToolGuy "circumvent(ing) dealerships" should be illegal.Does "circumventing" mean spending my money there?
- ToolGuy If my head gets flatter I might consider this.