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In the first part of our Geneva Motor Show coverage, we took a look at some of the electric vehicle offerings, not to mention the proliferation of four-door (not) coupes. In part two, we're getting high-end.
A Bentley plug-in hybrid SUV?
For example, how about a Bentley Bentayga Hybrid? While I don't think "better fuel economy" is high on most Bentley owners' list of requirements, something that emits less CO2 was almost certainly a must from a corporate point of view. The Bentayga Hybrid combines a turbocharged 3.0L V6 with an electric motor, which should make for a most serene experience as you drive over a bunch of peasants on your way to the hedge fund.
Bentley hasn't released many stats about the powertrain beyond the fact that it emits just 75g/km of CO2 and that it has an electric-only range of 31 miles (50km), both according to the NEDC test. If I were a betting man, I'd say the powertrain is probably derived from the one found in Porsche's latest hybrid Panameras. Sales begin later this year.
If class warfare-inducing SUVs are your thing but you prefer the full environment-destroying kind, look no further than Land Rover. It brought a limited-edition two-door version of the Range Rover called the SV Coupe to Geneva. (Note, the SV technically qualifies as a coupe since it has two doors and a roof, unless you count the rear hatch, in which case it's a shooting brake. But really it's an SUV.)
"With a dramatic two-door silhouette, the breathtaking, four-seat Coupe alludes to its unique heritage while being thoroughly modern and contemporary. Beautifully realized and superbly engineered, the Range Rover SV Coupe delivers the most distinguished, luxurious, and exclusive Range Rover ever built," said Land Rover's design chief Gerry McGovern. The SV Coupe is also rather fast for a full-fat Range Rover, courtesy of a 557hp, 5.0L supercharged V8. We do have a price for this one, and it starts at $295,000 when it goes on sale towards the end of the year. Just 999 will be made.
Seven-figure prices, but you can’t drive them on the street
Finally, we get to the automotive unobtainium: cars which will be built in small volumes with truly eye-watering prices. We'll start with Aston Martin, because alphabetically and also because that's the tab I currently have open. The automaker had a pair of reveals for the show. The first was the Lagonda Vision Concept, which Aston Martin says marks "the beginning of a new range of state-of-the-art, emission-free luxury vehicles."
From the sounds of it, the company has been thinking about how alternative powertrains can allow it to reimagine the upper end of the luxury car spectrum. "Lagonda has no need to occupy a huge amount of road space or make an ostentatious wealth statement," explained Marek Reichman, Aston Martin EVP and Chief Creative Officer. "It is like comparing Concorde to the first-class cabin of a conventional airliner. By ditching traditional architecture, like Parthenon grilles and massive frontal areas, and by using electrical power, Lagonda design can still be distinctive and luxurious without being grandiose. It offers its customers a thoroughly modern, emission-free form of super-luxurious mobility."
So the design started with the interior, packaging itself afterwards. In addition to the stuff you'd expect to find in the cabin—carbon fiber and ceramics—it also uses silk for the carpets and cashmere for the upholstery. (As an aside, about two decades ago Gordon Murray wondered why luxury cars weren't using more high-end fabrics instead of leather; now it looks like that's happening.) The Lagonda is just a concept, so it imagines technology we don't yet have, like solid-state batteries with 400-mile range, as well as the ability to drive fully autonomously. But the design ideas will have a future, with a production Lagonda planned for 2021.
Aston Martin's other Geneva star is the Valkyrie AMR Pro. When we first found out about the Valkyrie back in 2016, it was called the AM-RB 001, a name that signified both Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing. The latter is one of the front-running Formula 1 teams and home to legendary racing car designer and aerodynamicist Adrian Newey. In much the same way as the McLaren F1 of the 1990s was (legendary racing car designer) Gordon Murray's idea of the ultimate road car, so this car is Newey's road-going expression of all he's learned on the way to more F1 victories than I can count.
The AM-RB 001 got renamed Valkyrie at last year's Geneva show. It will be powered by a 6.5L naturally aspirated V12, plus a hybrid system, with at least 1,000hp (746kW) and aerodynamics the likes of which we've never seen on a road car. But 1,000hp hypercars are becoming common, what with Mclaren's BP23 and Mercedes-AMG's Project One also in development. So what better way to one-up those rivals than by turning the wick up even more?
Aston Martin says the V12's emissions control system and the hybrid energy recovery system have been recalibrated, stretching power output to 1,100hp, which gets it to the magic 1:1 power ratio when you take the car's 1,000kg weight into account. (Another aside: isn't this terribly arbitrary? It's a mix of metric weight and imperial power, so why not use kW:kg, or hp:lb?) Consequently, the Valkyrie AMR Pro won't be road legal, but it will be spectacularly fast around a racetrack. Forget the 225mph top speed—there are more than a few cars of late that have surpassed that. Rather, consider the fact that Aston Martin say the car should be capable of pulling 3Gs during cornering.
"Seeing the Valkyrie AMR Pro and this year's Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 show car together at Geneva is a special moment for me," said Adrian Newey. "The Aston Martin Valkyrie road car draws extensively from the knowledge I have gained during my career in Formula One, but the AMR Pro version has allowed me to work beyond the constraints of road legality or indeed practicality! We've told a few of its secrets, but by no means all. I will leave it to the public to ponder the lap time predictions. Suffice to say, they're quite impressive."
Just 25 will be built, with deliveries beginning in 2020, and all of them are already sold. On the off chance that the company ever brings one to the US, I might even get a chance to drive it. (This will not happen.)
We're almost done with this wild ride, which means it's time for the McLaren Senna GTR. Like the Valkyrie AMR Pro, the idea is simple: take a road-legal hypercar with a seven-digit price tag, then make it faster but also illegal to use on the public road. And like the Toyota Supra Racing Concept we saw in part one, the Senna GTR is done up like a racing car but lacks eligibility to actually compete anywhere.
"Excelling on the track underpins the heritage of the McLaren brand and is as important and relevant today as it has ever been," explained McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt. "The track-only McLaren Senna GTR will have more power, more grip, and more downforce—up to 1,000kg—than the McLaren Senna and post even faster lap times; the very limited number of customers who secure this car will be buying the closest experience you can get to a race car without actually lining up on a circuit grid."
McLaren will build 75 Senna GTRs, which will cost you about $1.4 million plus taxes.
Don’t let Richard Hammond drive this one, please
Last, but definitely not least, is the latest creation from Rimac Automobili. Regular readers will be familiar with Rimac—it's a Croatian company that specializes in EV powertrains and is responsible for "Monster" Tajima's Pikes Peak hill climb racer, plus the hybrid system in Koenigsegg's Regera hypercar. In addition to working as an engineering consultancy, Rimac also makes very low volume EV hypercars. Its first was the Concept One, a diabolically fast electric car with 1072hp (800kW) and 1180ft-lbs (1600Nm), plus all-wheel drive and four-wheel torque vectoring. Rimac built eight Concept Ones, which can do the quarter-mile in 9.9 seconds.
More casual readers may be familiar with Rimac in the aftermath of it letting The Grand Tour's Richard Hammond drive one in a hillclimb in Switzerland. Yes, it's the car that he destroyed, spectacularly, just after crossing the finish line.
The Concept Two will be built in much greater numbers—Rimac plan to make 150 of them. And its specs make the Concept One look like a Chevy Bolt: 1,914hp (1.4MW), 1,696ft-lbs (2300Nm), 120kWh of battery, a top speed of 258mph (412km/h), and 0-60mph time of 1.85 seconds. I can't help thinking that last stat is important, as it's 0.05 seconds faster than Tesla has promised for its next Roadster.
Although Rimac hasn't announced a price for the Concept Two, expect it to be several times what Tesla will take from you for a Roadster. But you will get plenty of tech for your money. In addition to a carbon fiber chassis and one motor-per-wheel with torque vectoring, it will also feature a "driving coach" to guide you to the optimum line on a race track. Not to mention a suite of sensors that includes eight cameras, two lidars, six radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and highly accurate GPS and localization, all of which will enable a bevy of advanced driver assists up to and including level 4 autonomy.
Well, I'm going to remain a little skeptical about that last part, but I don't doubt the Concept Two will deliver on its performance claims. Mate Rimac, if you're reading this, I promise not to crash one if you let me test it.
Listing image by Aston Martin
Source : https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/03/a-hybrid-bentley-and-million-dollar-track-cars-wow-at-the-geneva-motor-show/
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