Geek goodie in Tesla Model S menu

We aren’t sure if some geek discovered it on a whim, or Tesla head honcho Elon Musk let it slip at a soiree, but an ‘easter egg’ has been discovered hidden in the suspension settings menu of the Tesla Model S that pays tribute to the submersible Lotus in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.

It was Musk who bought the amphibious Esprit from the movie two years ago, as he is a bit of a fan, and has further gained great geek cred with a cute hidden feature in the Model S menu.

If you go into the suspension settings via the dash-mounted LCD panel, and enter the secret setting code, you get an image, dive depth and other options of the movie car. Cute eh?

The code, of course, is 007.

Check the video here.

Aston Martin Vulcan track weapon claims 800hp, 7.0L V12

Aston Martin has surprised many with news of its Geneva Auto Show halo car, the Vulcan; a track-only limited edition model featuring a rumored 800 horses from the old V12.

The monocoque and all panels are carbon fiber, of course, with a design pointing towards a slicker and sleeker design language set to flow on to future AM models.

The engine is “front mid” according to AM, so it is flush up against the firewall for improved weight distribution, with power sent to the rear wheels via a Xtrac six-speed sequential shift gearbox.

Track tech includes their latest limited-slip diff, adjustable dampers and anti-roll bars front and rear, adjustable anti-lock braking and variable traction control, and Brembo racing calipers with carbon ceramic discs under 345/30/19 (rear) wheels and Michelin race tyres.

Aston Martin CEO Dr Andy Palmer said: “Aston Martin Vulcan is, by its very nature, a rare and thrilling supercar.
“Designed and engineered to deliver a genuinely bespoke driving experience that draws on our rich heritage, this car tailors its power and handling to both the capabilities of the driver and the characteristics of the track.

“A sports car for true sports car lovers, I believe the Aston Martin Vulcan – and the unique ownership programme that sits behind it – sets a whole new standard in the ultra-high luxury supercar class.”

The lucky 24 people who will be able to lay claim to this FIA-approved beast will also be treated to a full owners experience program, with tech support and instruction, including simulator time before taking to tracks around Europe.

Scuderia Ferrari fire up F1 design discussion

Ferrari Concept F1

After the past year of the ugly, phallic-nosed F1 cars, you may suppress a small shudder when you hear of a marque sketching a future F1 car.

However, free from aero restrictions and strict supp-regs, Scuderia Ferrari has managed to give us an impression of the future that is, quite frankly, Formula porn.

This Concept F1 sketch was the brainchild of in-house studio Centro Stile Ferrari, and apparently, the design could be built as-is without pushing or voiding the current F1 regulations.

While F1 is all about performance, Ferrari admits this design study is all about looks: “Our challenge was to create something that was – to put it short – better looking.” And it is at that.

Block Momkhana

We’ve seen our fair share of Ken Block’s Gymkhana knock offs, and while this latest copycat video isn’t up to the hilarious standards of Ken Box (Kartkhana), it is a novel and different idea for sure.

Based on a mum and kids trip to the shoe store - the video was done by Famous Footwear - it starts innocently enough with mum and kids getting into a Toyota Sienna minivan and setting off along the streets of northern Los Angeles.

But soon we are given a taste of what is in store - the kids and mum don helmets and harnesses, and the Sienna, kitted with a 550hp LS3 V8 engine, hydraulic handbrake and obvious suspension fiddles, starts drifting and donut-ing around the suburban streets.

While this writer wishes it was dad and not mum filling the suburban stereotype, the gal at the wheel, Shauna Duggins, can execute a decent slide and donut, and drives the car with aggression belying both the setting and the vehicle itself.

Check out the full vid HERE.

Ferrari’s 458 replacement gets a turbo kick

Details have started to leak out from the Prancing Horse stable regarding its 458 Italia replacement, the 488 GTB.

Following the latest tradition of turbocharging everything to meet emissions and push out more performance, the latest mid-engined V8 coupe supercar will feature a 3.9-liter turbocharged eight with 661 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque, up 64-horses and 162 pound foot on the 458 Speciale.

This means a three-sec 0-62, and a claimed top speed exceeding 205mph.

The 488 will debut in all its glory at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

Marussia joins Caterham on the F1 sidelines

A last ditch attempt to save Marussia F1 team has apparently failed, leaving the team to ponder bankruptcy alongside Caterham on the 2015 sidelines.

Earlier this year, Caterham F1 finally admitted defeat (despite a fantastic crowdfunding project to get them on the grid for the last race of the 2014 season) and listed their cars, garage gear and manufacturing equipment to the highest bidder.

Marussia was still fighting, however a “Formula One Strategy Group” gathering in Paris this week to discuss the fate of Marussia may have finally sealed it.

The small team was asking to run its 2014 car in this year’s Championship. Obviously without the time or funds to develop a 2015 car, the decision essentially came down to the other teams in the field.

And of course, it was Marussia’s main competitors that blocked the petition - not the front-runners, who seemed to be supportive of their appeal, but rather the lower and smaller teams. Needing unanimous support from all teams at the Strategy Group meet, it was the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

So despite paying the entry fee and working with the banks to stave off bankruptcy, it would seem Marussia will join Caterham on the sad sidelines this year.

Add to that the tragedy of the still-comatose Jules Bianchi, who has reportedly not regained consciousness since his collision with a recovery vehicle at the Japanese GP last October, plus the accident with test driver Maria de Villota, who in 2013 died as a result of her Formula One test crash at Duxford airfield in 2012, theirs is a very sad tale indeed.

Ford Focus RS gets a Block launch

As the current owner of the previous generation of RS (in bright green, of course), the anticipation of the next gen RS hot hatch hit an all-time high when rumors of a Ken Block Gymkhana-style introduction began to surface.

Indications first came from Block’s camp, when he posted an image of the previous-gen daily driver (green with black wheels; great minds think alike) up on Twitter the day prior, reminiscing on how good it was. Was.

Well, despite an early ‘leak” that preceded the official launch a day later, all attention was on the new RS as it launched with a Block Gymkhana-style video yesterday. Check out the vid HERE.

The new RS moves from its Volvo/Ford 300hp inline five to the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo four derived from the new Mustang, but with a different turbo setup, tune and cams/internal componentry bringing hp to around 315 horses. No word on whether the smaller donk wil have more torque, though…

The big news is the AWD system, which is matched to existing torque vectoring and stability systems to maximise grip and undoubtedly help powerdown over the previous model’s front-drive setup. It also gets stiffer springs and rollbars, which may be a bit excessive given the 19-inch rims, and bigger brakes.

Even so, this writer will stick with the 2010 model. There is nothing like the aggressive lines, meaty inline five, and pure chassis of the now superseded RS, even with the tempting bait of AWD dynamics.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: All-New Ford Focus RS; High-Performance Hatch with Innovative All-Wheel Drive Set for U.S. Debut

- Third-generation Ford Focus RS will be available in major markets around the world and for the first time in the United States; Focus RS follows the reveal last month of the new Ford GT supercar – a new era of Ford performance that will deliver 12 new vehicles by 2020
- All-new Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control paired with a powerful 2.3-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine will provide impressive performance
- Aggressive, functional design inside and out makes Focus RS the most powerful production Focus ever, with highly capable performance on both road and track
- Professional rally driver and star of Gymkhana films Ken Block teamed with Ford as a consultant on development of Focus RS

Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota WRC set for 2017 debut

Since we first saw an amateur video of a suped-up WRC-spec Toyota Yaris testing in Belgium last year, the world has been waiting for official word of the Japanese marque’s return to the sport. It would seem we have an answer: 2017.

It’s a year later than predicted, and 18 years after their official exit from the sport in ‘99.

We thought it would possibly be 2016 with some odd events chucked in later this year, because the 1.6L four cylinder AWD seen testing and now shown off with these official images fits current regs. However, the shake up in 2017 will see more powerplant and drivetrain freedoms, amongst other performance enhancing, spectator and manufacturer-friendly leniences.

Oh well - typical of Toyota, they won’t enter the fray until they have a reasonable assurance of toppling all others. Two years of testing it is…

2016 Porsche Carrera lineup (almost) all turboed

Before you panic - there will still, and hopefully always be, a nat-atmo GT3 and GT3 RS. But the move to turbo power was ultimately inevitable for the Porsche Carrera; a sign of the times and the technology.

With emissions regs pushing the need for greener engines, every 2016 Carrera model with the exception of the always aspirated GT3 will have forced induction - something else we would never have fathomed 20 or so years ago. Turbos to save fuel? And Carrera models all turbo? Are you mad?

The good news is in the power department, with the Carrera S likely to run the same 520 horses as the current 911 Turbo via the GT3’s 3.8-liter donk.

No word yet on whether the manual will stay with the range; another item on the emissions firing line, even with the marque’s odd seven speed configuration with a huge final drive to save C02 output on the long haul runs.

Update: Video released of brazen break in at Red Bull F1

Remember that Red Bull F1 break-in before Christmas, when would-be opportunists smashed their way into the team’s HQ at Milton Keynes, UK, and made off with a horde of Grand Prix trophies?

The team has now released footage of the group of bandits at their crime, smashing a Subaru Legacy wagon backwards through the front door of the team’s headquarters.

It’s only a short and edited clip, but it does reveal the three blokes in balaclavas may have already realised the trophy haul they were risking so much for was not all it was cracked up to be. See, most of the trophies in the cabinets were actually replicas. You can see one of the robbers discard one after a brief conversation with another, tossing it on the ground and looking confused.

Many of the stolen items were later discovered dumped in a nearby lake. No word on whether the crooks actually got their hands on any real keepsakes, nor what has become of them…

Check the short vid HERE.