Newsflash: Ford Mustang gaat op Safari


+++ Even before the pandemic, the “safari” trend of taking cars not originally meant for off-roading and modifying them for that exact task was gathering steam. The fad grew so popular that manufacturers themselves got in on the action, with official offerings like the Porsche 911 Dakar and Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato appearing within the last year. The new FORD Mustang is now rumored to be next in line for safarification. Ford is developing a Mustang Raptor, an off-road style Mustang in the vein of the F-150, Ranger and Bronco Raptors. The report is certain enough of the project that it’s even predicting the powertrain: the 5.0-liter V8 tuned to 500-horsepower and mated to a 10-speed automatic. Output will be routed to all four wheels via an electronic center diff. True to the the safari formula, the car must also look like something ready to lead an assault on the Thunderdome. Ford works on a new suspension with Fox Live Valve shocks and springs that provide a 2.0-inch lift. Naturally, beefy-looking skid plates, black fender cladding and all-terrain tires will round out the visuals. An even more radical Mustang Raptor R will follow. The safari trend seems to mandate, with perhaps a dash of irony, that the more sporty or luxurious the base car, the better. Various generations of the Porsche 911 have been popular donors, along with Bentley Continentals, Lexus LS and the Mustang itself (hello Thomas Crown). Be sure to throw in plenty of tube-frame guards and racks, and don’t forget the auxiliary lights. When the Mustang Mach-E debuted purists lost their minds at the idea of a Mustang crossover. If the Mustang Raptor had come out first that may have tempered the pitchforks grabbers. +++

+++ It’s been a few years, but HONDA has recaptured the Nürburgring lap record for front-wheel-drive production cars. The new Civic Type R is the new record holder, and it was done with a stock vehicle. The only slight change from the base factory specification was the addition of dealer add-on tires: a set of Honda-specific Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect tires, so still something you can have on your example. In fact, Honda was fully prepared to break them out for the on-track press drive but California’s winter weather had other ideas. Now we haven’t given the exact time yet because there’s a bit of technical weirdness going on. The first thing to know is that, at some point in 2019, the Nürburgring adjusted the official distance for a record attempt, adding back a short stretch near the T13 corner. For years prior, the lap measured was 12.80 miles. The new length includes the full straight and measures 12.94 miles. There are a couple implications that are critical because of this. First, previous times aren’t directly comparable to new times. Second, the extra length means times can be a bit slower. All of this is at play with the Type R time. The new record time set by the Type R is 7:44.881. Exactly how much faster that is than the previous-generation Type R and the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R is unclear. The Renault managed a 7:40.1 on the old track layout, and the 2017 Type R had a 7:43.8. Regardless, the Civic Type R once again wears the front-drive ‘Ring crown. And it adds that to its Suzuka lap record, where it went 0.873 second faster than the old car. But I’m sure Renault is eying taking the ‘Ring record back. And with how much faster then Megane R.S. Trophy-R was than the old Type R, Honda should be worried. Maybe it should start working on another lightweight special edition right now. Record times or not, though, the Type R is a spectacular hot hatchback that we adore; one that’s capable of besting newcomers with more driven wheels. +++


+++ JAGUAR just revealed a few vital details about a new EV it says will be revealed by the end of 2023 and Land Rover shared a little update about its upcoming electric Range Rover, too. Starting with the Jaguar, it was announced that its next electric vehicle will be a 4-door GT car. The image above is the teaser the company provided. Power output will be greater than any previous Jaguar, with the current record holder being the XE SV Project 8 at just over 600 horsepower. Range is claimed to be about 700 km on a full charge (Jaguar doesn’t specify the test cycle type), but that number could be different (and likely lower) here in the United States once EPA testing takes place. Jaguar says the grand tourer will debut its new in-house EV platform that is officially named JEA, which is unrelated to the electric XJ that was scrapped a couple years ago. And lastly, Jaguar says the vehicle will start at €125.000 in the Netherlands. Considering the price point, power level and range, this Jaguar is shaping up to be a potential Porsche Taycan competitor. The single teaser image at the top of this post suggests the same, as the photo shows a car with a fast-sloping roofline and wide, bulging fenders. It’s an exciting teaser, as it pretty much confirms that Jaguar will be coming in hot with a spicy-looking electric four-door. The last detail about this Jaguar confirmed today is its production site, as Jaguar says it will build the vehicle at its Solihull plant in the West Midlands, England. As for the Range Rover news, we’ve known an electric Range Rover was on its way, now we know that the vehicle will launch in 2025. JLR says it will begin accepting orders for the electric Range Rover later this year, but didn’t set an official date. The electric Range Rover will be built at JLR’s Halewood plant in Merseyside, England. Those are all the details we know about today, but expect more teasers and information leading up to the reveal of these new EVs later in 2023. +++


+++ Embracing the current popular philosophy that less is more, the executives at Jaguar Land Rover plan to officially rename their company “ JLR ” and to create a new “house of brands” that will emphasize name equity and refocus its vehicle offerings. In simple terms, the British-based, India-owned company will split into four separate brands: Range Rover, Discovery, Defender and Jaguar. While this shift may appear to be essentially a function of marketing and dealership bookkeeping, the over-arching reason is to give some of the brands more visibility. Details of the plan, which would reconfigure showrooms in Britain into discrete brand footprints, were discussed this week at a presentation by JLR CEO Adrian Mardell. “The reality is Range Rover is a brand and so is Defender’,” said creative officer Gerry McGovern. “Customers say they own a Range Rover. In luxury, you need absolute clarity. Land Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography doesn’t give it. We love Land Rover, but there isn’t as much equity as Range Rover and Defender is increasing massively”. Underlying the effort is plans to reinvent Jaguar as an electric-only luxury brand, Mardell said that this was “unfinished business” for him since he joined Jaguar 32 years ago. “The Jaguar of 32 years ago is where we’re going back to and the right place for us to be”. He further acknowledged that JLR had been “quiet” recently in the face of semiconductor chip shortages, but allowed that that situation was easing at his company. +++

+++ A person’s 60th birthday is the diamond jubilee, considered one’s entry into the golden years and the autumn of life. LAMBORGHINI ’s blowing out its 60 candles this year, the new Revuelto proving the Sant’Agata Bolognese automaker plans no such dissolution. The next phase of the party involves the 2023 Huracán 60th Anniversary Edition, 3 limited-run specials numbering 60 examples each put together with custom color combinations and badging. Dicing matters further, each limited edition comes in 2 color configurations, making a total of 6 across the range, all embellished with “1 of 60” plaques in carbon fiber and the “60th” on the bodywork and seats. Both versions of the hardcore Huracán Super Trofeo Omologata (STO) are said to be inspired by vibrant sportwear and the iconic 2-tones of athletic team kit. The first version is all kinds of blue, something like the Squadra Azzurri Italian national soccer team. This one gets Blu Aegeus bodywork with Blu Astraeus contrasts, and can hit the hat trick with exposed carbon fiber trim in Blu Mira. The interior is in Nero Cosmus (black) and Grigio Octans (gray) Alcantara, offset by Nero Ade (another black) trim and Blu Amon (another blue) embroidery. The second Huracán STO does its showing off inside. It goes for a muted Grigio Telesto (gray) and Nero Noctis (yet another black) with traditional carbon fiber accents. This cabin comes in Nero Cosmus and Grigio Octans Alcantara, the leather accents and stitching in Rosso Alala (red). A set of 20 inch forged aluminum Hek rims in matte black complete both. The Huracán Tecnica looks to motorsports liveries and the Italian flag, called the Tricolore. One variant wears Grigio Telesto (another gray) bodywork with Nero Noctis and Rosso Mars (another red) details. Opening the door reveals a Nero Ade Alcantara cabin with Rosso Alala accents. The other variant comes in Bianco Asopo (white) bodywork with double stripes in Verde Viper (green), the cabin in Nero Ade Alcantara and more Verde Viper. Finally, the Huracán EVO Spyder remixes the arrangements on the other cars. Going back to the blue well, one version’s dressed in Blu Le Mans bodywork adorned with Bianco Isi (another white) details. The cockpit sticks with the popular Nero Ade Alcantara, this time punctuated by Blu Amon embroidery and piping in Bianco Leda (another white). The alternative is a Verde Viper droptop with Bianco Isi stripes, its interior lashed up with Nero Ade Alcantara plus Rosso Alala and Bianco Leda accents. The Tecnica and EVO Spyder both sit on 20 inch Damiso shiny black rims. All 3 cars will be unveiled in full on Friday, April 21, at the Segheria in Milan. +++


+++ Along with Toyota, NISSAN brought its own Chinese-market-focused concept to the Shanghai Auto Show. It’s called the Arizon, likely to follow along with the Ariya. Nissan didn’t share any production plans, but there is a fact about it that would seem to open up possibilities for it beyond just China. The car was designed by Nissan’s Chinese division along with local partner Dongfeng. It reminds us a bit of what a future Nissan Rogue could look like. It’s a tall, upright and boxy thing, with a prominent, angled rear pillar. The front is particularly wide and squared-off, looking almost truck-like. It also has nifty lighting touches such as narrow LED strips that basically disappear when turned off. The interior is fairly typical of concept EVs with a minimalist design focused around a large screen array. The screens are mounted far into the dash and blend into fancy ambient lighting arrays. Nissan also touts another popular feature of concept and luxury EVs: a digital assistant. But one of the interesting things about the Arizon is the fact Nissan says it’s based on the CMF-EV platform, the same used by the production Ariya. So it would seem that it could be brought to reality relatively easily and quickly. And since the platform is used on a car also on sale in the U.S., it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Arizon to come to America if Nissan deemed it fit. +++


+++ TESLA cut prices for some of its Model Y and Model 3 electric vehicles in the United States, its website showed late on Tuesday, the 6th time it has lowered U.S. prices this year amid concerns about the effect on its profit margins. Tesla cut the prices of its Model Y Long Range and Performance vehicles by $3.000 each and that of its Model 3 Rear-wheel Drive by $2.000 to $39.990. The Elon Musk-led company has cut U.S. prices of its base Model 3 by 11% so far this year and that of its base Model Y by 20%; moves that come as the United States, its largest market, prepares to introduce tougher standards that will limit EV tax credits. The company also recently lowered prices in Europe, Israel and Singapore as well as in Japan, Australia and South Korea, expanding a discount drive it started in China in January to spur demand. Yet, Tesla, earlier this month, reported a 4% sequential rise in deliveries in the first quarter, much less than the 17.8% sequential rise in the 4th quarter. Alongside that, the aggressive price cuts have also raised concerns about the Austin Texas-based company’s industry-leading profit margins. +++

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