The News for February 21st, 2014


Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in a little opinion of mine, just because I can. This week: 

  • McLaren 650S is the middle child you can’t ignore

  • Volkswagen adds plug-in hybrid option to GTI, calls it the GTE

  • Ford debuts the 2015 Expedition, not as new as it probably should be

  •  Audi previews the new TT Coupe’s design

  • Fisker Automotive bought, gets second chance at life


McLaren 650S


One of the many pre-Geneva debuts to take place this week was the new 650S from McLaren, which in their own words, is the ultimate luxury sports car. Created through a collaboration between the teams that gave us the MP4-12C and the mind-blowing P1, the 650S is going to be middle child in the McLaren lineup when it goes on sale this Spring (this is not replacing anything). From the pictures, it’s easy to dismiss it as simply an MP4-12C with a nose job from the P1, but there’s a bit more to it than that. This is McLaren, after all.

Starting with the most noticeable update first, the styling changes up front are a result of the lessons learned from the P1’s superior aerodynamics and killer looks. It’s not identical to the P1’s nose, but close enough. The updates up front contribute to a greater level of steering feel during turn-in, agility, and balance while also new door blades run down the side skirts to direct air from the trailing edges of the front splitter. From there on back the three-piece rear bumper is inspired by their GT3 racecar and the air brake spoiler can now deploy whenever the car senses the need for more downforce rather than just extra braking power. One thing the 650S does share with the 12C is its drag coefficient even though the air is being “worked” harder as it passes over the body. Downforce above speeds of 150 mph has improved by 24%.


McLaren’s ProActive Chassis Control suspension system has also received a few updates to further improve how the 650S behaves in the bends while still maintaining a level of comfort that’s hard to find in something this fast. And believe me, it’s fast. The name 650S refers to its metric horsepower, which means it’s working with 641 yankee horsepower from a familiar 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8. The S is tacked onto the end so signify the focus and developments made to its handling, transmission, drivability, and engagement. Official performance figures will be available at a later date, but know that it will be noticeably quicker than the 12C.

One thing McLaren doesn’t like to sacrifice for speed is comfort, which is why the 650S will come with nearly any creature comfort a 21st century buyer would need. Satellite navigation and radio, Bluetooth, wireless tethering, and voice commands are standard with other luxury packages readily available. Other interior options include fixed-back carbon fiber racing seats similar to the ones in the P1, rear parking camera, and extended carbon fiber trim.

Pricing isn’t available right now, but unlike the P1, at least it hasn’t sold out yet. So there’s a chance. Maybe. There isn’t.

[Source: McLaren]

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Autodesk VRED Professional 2014

First there was the Golf GTI, the hot hatchback that started it all. Then there was the Golf GTD, a new variant that offers all the fun you’d expect from an original GTI but with the heart of a TDI diesel. Now, as of this week, there’s the Golf GTE, and you can probably see where this is going.

If you live in the European markets where this is destined to be sold (sorry, North America), you will soon be able to buy the first ever plug-in hybrid Golf GTI GTE. The addition of a fifth powertrain option for the Golf lineup makes it the first model line ever to offer a full range of conventional and alternative powertrains, as full electric and CNG versions are also available somewhere in the world.

The Golf GTE has two engines at its disposal: a 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 which produces 148 horsepower on its own and a 101 horsepower electric motor fueled by an 8.8 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery. These two engines can work separately or together, but total system output never exceeds 201 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Full-electric driving is possible for up to 31 miles and at speeds of up to 81 mph, or if you want a little more fun, activate both motors for a 7.6 second 0-62 mph time and a 135 mph top speed. Combined fuel economy on the European Driving Cycle is an impressive 157 mpg in what’s basically a Golf GTI in every other way.


This gives the Golf GTE a truly unique ownership experience, because you could go from zero-emissions driving around town or to and from work and then switch over to a sense of sportiness the GTI is famous for in seconds. Leave the GTE plugged into a conventional outlet when it’s not in use and the batteries will fully replenish in three and a half hours, or as little as two and a half is plugged into a wallbox or a public charging station.

What’s also wonderful about the GTE is that it looks almost identical to any other new Golf GTI. Only uniquely-shaped LED headlight accents, blue trim wherever you’d normally see red trim on the GTI, and three bespoke wheel designs ranging from sixteen to eighteen inches in size are what give it away. The interior will be familiar territory to a GTI owner as well with only the essential driving range monitors, energy flow displays, and other e-hybrid things being new.

[Source: Volkswagen]

2015 Ford Expedition


Not to be outdone by all of the pre-Geneva debuts this week, Ford took to the interwebs to reveal all the details about their “new” 2015 Expedition, which is about as new as The Hangover 3. Jokes aside, technology, an engine, and packages available in the Expedition for the first time make it different enough from the old one that people might actually buy it.

In a move which should surprise no one, the Expedition reflects many of the same changes made to the also somewhat new Lincoln Navigator that was covered just a few weeks ago. Most importantly, the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost is the only engine available, replacing the 5.4-liter V8 in yet another Ford vehicle. Efficiency obviously improves dramatically but so does power and torque thanks to twin-turbochargers, so the kind of person you’d expect to drive an Expedition daily should dig the hell out of this engine.


Another thing owners will appreciate is the enhanced ride comfort thanks to continuously controlled damping which is available for the first time in a car wearing a blue oval. It’s also currently the only Ford with selectable suspension settings, which a comfort, normal, and for reasons I fail to understand given the context, sport. Electric power steering is also new for the Expedition and further improves efficiency and user comfort. New features are also in place to improve safety, like Blind Spot Information System with cross traffic alert and an eight-inch touch screen SYNC interface to draw your eyes away from the road.

The 2015 Expedition will borrow a popular trim package from the F-150 to add another level of luxury and style. The Platinum series brings special, super soft Brunello leather in red wine or black with special accents and stitching (pictured).

[Source: Ford]



Audi has previewed the third-generation TT Coupe with some official sketches which show us the sort of edgy, muscular, and bold design language we can expect when they show the full thing in Geneva early March. Every angle of the new TT will be the result of a reinterpretation of the original TT from 1998 in a “dynamic, diverse” way. Some specific things to look for when we see the real one are the optional Matrix-style LED headlights and the “virtual cockpit” design they teased a while back, which uses intuitive driver information displays and clever engineering to make the interior feel more open and clean. [Source: Audi]


Fisker Automotive is officially under new ownership, and surprise, that new owner is an investment group from China where a lot of our car companies have been going lately. The new owners in particular are Wanxiang Group after their $149.2 million bid topped all others at an auction. Fisker was asking for $25 million when it first declared bankruptcy. This deal was ultimately approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy judge earlier in the week, and according to Reuters, this means that whatever plans Wanxiang Group, who also bought their old battery supplier, can soon initiate. Some within Fisker are suggesting that production could even restart within the coming months as stated in that same article. I’m sure the only ones more excited about this than Fisker’s workforce are the people the Karma owners who can get replacement parts again.

[Sources: Autoweek, Reuters]

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