Auto Notes - December 2017
Mazda hotties. Mazda unveiled the KAI Concept and the VISION Coupe at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show in late October. the KAI compact hatchback is what the automaker heralds “as a new generation of Mazda cars.”
Featuring a next-generation SKYACTIV-X gas engine, the KAI has SKYACTIV-Vehicle Architecture and a “more mature expression of the KODO design language.” Mazda said it has refinements in all areas of dynamic performance and “embodies the technology, engineering, and design concepts that will define the next generation of Mazda cars.”
The sleek VISION’s exterior features a “one motion” form that “exudes a sense of speed.” The interior has a “three-dimensional depth with a strong longitudinal axis to create a relaxed space.”
FIA in U.S. The FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX) will have its first event next year in the U.S. The rally rights holder IMG has signed a deal with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, and World RX will debut in late September 2018.
The 2018 World RX schedule will include nine European rounds, plus single rounds in Canada, the U.S., and South Africa, representing a major expansion of its rallycross events.
“The United States has been on our radar since the world championship began in 2014, but we were determined to wait for the right opportunity,” said Paul Bellamy, World RX managing director for IMG. “COTA shared our vision for the world championship and can deliver a key objective of building a first-class rallycross facility.”
COTA already hosts U.S.-based rounds of Formula One and MotoGP races. Construction of the new rallycross circuit begins in January.
Awards. Plentiful awards and accolades of late include the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio that just won three top honors from the Texas Auto Writers Association at its annual Texas Truck Rodeo, including the “2018 Crossover of Texas” and “2018 Luxury Crossover of Texas.” The all-new Stelvio is the first CUV offering from Alfa Romeo. The 2018 Ford F-150 Series won the “2018 Truck of Texas” for the second consecutive year.
The McLaren 720S beat out nine competitors to win the “2018 Performance Car of the Year” award from Road & Track. Starting at $285,000, the 720S debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and features a 710 HP 4.0-L V-8 engine.
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport clinched its first IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) award in early November. Its sister company also garnered two Top Safety Pick+ accolades with the 2018 Kia Soul (a top pick most years since its debut in 2010) and 2018 Kia Sportage (first-ever TSP+ rating). That gives Kia a total of six models with the TSP+ designation.
VW racer. Volkswagen is developing an all-electric 4WD race car for the world’s most famous mountain race, the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. The Colorado climb is set for June 24.
“We are developing an all-electric race vehicle for the first time,” said Sven Smeets, Volkswagen motorsports director. “This project is an important milestone in our new motorsport orientation.”
The company said the new racer will feature innovative battery and drive technology.
The new race car is part of the German automaker’s goal of offering 23 all-electric road cars by 2025.
New Elise. Lotus refers to the new Elise Cup 260 as “rare and race bred.” And the limited edition of just 30 of the sports cars may well live up to the moniker with its highly advanced aerodynamics; lightweight carbon-fiber components;
all-alloy, supercharged, 250-HP DOHC 1.8-L engine (that reaches 0-60 MPH in 3.8 seconds); and exceptionally visual styling.
“More power, motorsports components, and the introduction of aerodynamics unheard of in its class makes driving this Elise an unrivaled experience,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc. “Our philosophy for producing extraordinary vehicles is world famous, but the new Elise Cup 260 goes beyond what many believed possible from our smallest car.”
The Elise Cup 260 has been unveiled as the company prepares for its 70th anniversary to celebrate the first car built by Colin Chapman in 1948.