Subaru is bringing a version of its hottest WRX STI model to the U.S. and will reveal it Jan. 14 at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The automaker’s performance-boosted STI 200-series models were previously available only in Japan, and in scarce quantities at that. But Subaru says the latest car, the STI S209, is on its way here.
Subaru teased the new flagship WRX STI performance model earlier in the video below and confirmed it with the teaser photo above, but it offered no more details on upgrades for the U.S. version. In October 2017, Subaru Tecnica International (a.k.a., STI) created the Japan-only S208, which it limited to 450 cars — all of which had more power, a beefed-up adaptive suspension and Brembo brakes, aero modifications and some weight-saving carbon fiber in the trunk lip spoiler. (A roof and big rear wing, also carbon fiber, were optional.) It did not say how many we’ll get, though 209 would be a nice, not-so-round number.
Some of those upgrades may reprise or build off last year’s limited-edition STI Type RA model. But the first question will be what’s under the hood for the U.S. S209. Converted to U.S. specifications, the Japanese S208 has a 324-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but the 2019 U.S. WRX STI uses Subaru’s venerable 2.5-liter turbo. Even if the U.S. S209 stays with that engine, it should sport modifications for more output than the 2019 WRX STI Type RA’s 310 hp. BBC’s Top Gear recently noted that Subaru’s South African arm tweaked the STI’s 2.5-liter engine to get 348 hp for a special edition. We can only hope for that if we don’t get the newer 2.0-liter four.
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To say Volkswagen has ambitious plans for electric vehicles may be an understatement. The automaker projects it will produce 15 million vehicles on its new MEB platform in the first wave of its EV assault, and it will invest 9 billion euros in the new VW I.D. family through 2023. The namesake brand will have 20 electric models in its lineup by 2025, up from just two entries now. To support this barrage of new EVs, Volkswagen is getting ready to introduce mobile quick charging stations.
The charging columns are based on the battery pack used with the automaker’s MEB platform. These stations can be set up in public parking lots, at a company building, or at large events, then removed if no longer needed. VW says the charging process takes an average of 17 minutes. With a battery storage capacity of 360 kilowatt-hours, each station can charge up to 15 electric vehicles. As many as four vehicles can be charged at the same time, two with DC quick-charging connections and two with AC connections. Charging stations that have depleted their energy storage would be exchanged for new ones.
When linked up to a power supply, however, the mobile station can be recharged constantly. The charging stations can be juiced up via solar or wind energy, providing C02 neutrality. Furthermore, VW suggests reusing batteries from electric vehicles to power the stations.
VW hopes the flexibility provided by the temporary stations will accelerate the development of the charging infrastructure. “The mobile charging stations are a decisive step toward an efficient network of charging points,” said Thomas Schmall, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components, in a release. “Cities can, for example, find out the most suitable places for a permanent charging point before making major investments in developing the network. In addition, it will be possible to set up a large number of charging stations temporarily – exactly when and where they are needed.”
The first mobile charging stations will appear in Wolfsburg, Germany, in a pilot project as early as the first half of 2019. From 2020, the charging stations will spread to other cities.
Every so often, I end up having a boring, watered-down weekend doing nothing but lying on the sofa like Homer Simpson and binging random stuff on Netflix. After a while though, these sessions feel more like a mid-life crisis waiting to happen rather than relaxing respites from daily life, and I find myself begging for just an ounce of excitement. I’m tempted to cruise around town, or maybe hit Starbucks, but those are just temporary reprieves. What I need is to see something different, something less familiar. Luckily, I’ve been given the task of supervising a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt for the weekend, and if anything could inspire me to get off the sofa, it’s a muscular green pony on 19-inch black wheels with a rock-star personality and a loudmouth exhaust.
My weekend companion ran a cool $52,890, a price that included the optional Recaro leather-trimmed sport seats, electronics package, and magnetorheological dampers. All the cool kids know that the reincarnated Mustang Bullitt is only available with a six-speed manual and to me, that’s one of the biggest highlights of the car. Not that I’d choose an automatic if it were available as it is in other Mustangs, but having that mechanical connection to the naturally aspirated Coyote V-8 engine is simply enrapturing, and allows you to better and more immediately conjure its boisterous sound with every press on the gas pedal. And with 480 horsepower from its 5.0-liter engine, the Bullitt doesn’t lack for thrust.
To confine a muscle car—or any car for that matter—with a manual transmission to the clogged arteries of L.A. is a sin, and as mentioned, the idea of playing it safe and staying close to home to do the typical stuff didn’t sound thrilling. On these grounds, I devised a plan to leave the concrete jungle behind and make a run for the desert. A quick search on Google Maps and I had my destination, a place remote enough to make the drive long, and memorable enough to make the trip worth it: the desert town of Borrego Springs, some 160 miles to the east. I intended to leave on Sunday, leaving Saturday to warm up to the Bullitt on the gritty streets of “El Lay.”
A note about the manual shifter: No novice should be scared to operate this one. There’s plenty of torque in first gear to make getting off the line a snap using only the clutch, the and gearchanges themselves are so fluid and natural that it’s nearly impossible to miss a gate. That the Bullitt features rev-matching on downshifts is caramel drizzle on this particular slice of cheesecake. But as I was shifting gears via the gorgeous cue-ball shifter and autographing the asphalt of San Pedro with a Michelin Pilot Sport 4S signature, something far more profound happened than several slick shifts. I had developed a rapport with the Highland Green Mustang, an understanding of what it wanted to do, and I thought I heard a whisper—it’s hard to hear over all the ruckus coming from the dual exhausts—calling me to the desert. Today.
Fueling up on my way out of town, I performed a quick walk-around to inspect the tires. In the middle of my inspection, two men in a truck slowed down, their eyeballs glued to the Bullitt. I stopped what I was doing and stared back with a slight grin on my face; before I could get in and start it up, one of them stuck his head out the window and gleefully asked, “Is that the new Bullitt!?” In response, I simply strapped myself into the driver’s seat—the well-bolstered Recaros put you in a perfect upright driving position—fired up the sonorous V-8, nodded, and pointed the Mustang east.
Whenever I encounter the pandemonium of Southern California freeways, I equate the experience to Little Red Riding Hood being chased by a pack of wolves. After six years living in SoCal, I’ve learned that ill-advised and erratic drivers are a part of the deal, and have made some proper adjustments to my own driving code and style to compensate. Plus, on this day I could deal with any vultures impeding my path to desert serenity with a well-aimed Bullitt.
The traffic on State Route 91 was miserable, and immediately put the pony in a choke hold. To ease the frustration of driving a manual in dense traffic and minimize downshifting to first gear, I started driving in what I dubbed “Pac-Man mode.” I scored points by jumping into the open pockets of the traffic maze, imagining each one contained a power pellet that boosted the volume of the deafeningly loud, 12-speaker B&O audio system. I then made it to Interstate 15 South and traffic that called more for a Tetris style of driving, where I fit myself in wherever I could. When I finally reached Temecula Parkway en route to State Route 79 South, the pretend games were over, and the real game was just getting started.
I drove past myriad campgrounds, RV resorts, vineyards, and ranches lining the two-lane road, and while the first leg was congested with other adventure-seekers, after 10 miles or so I had the blacktop all to myself. I settled into a cruise, occasionally stirring the Mustang into an acceleration run just to work the shifter up and down through the gears. Third and fourth were where I stayed much of the time, though, as there the engine felt relaxed but ready, and it sounded the best there besides—especially in the exhaust’s Sport+ mode, which takes the sound from aggressive to positively maniacal.
I made few stops on my way to Borrego Springs, and I made sure to pause and take in an overlook (elevation: 2,300 feet) with a view of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. A pair of visitors were just driving away as I arrived, but they quickly turned around when they saw me snapping photos of the Mustang. One of them stepped from their SUV and—in what was a theme for the trip—excitedly asked, “Excuse me, but is that the Bullitt?” He wanted to know what I thought, and I told him the truth: it’s fantastic.
As I drove down Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs, I stopped for a bite at Carlee’s restaurant before exploring the Borrego Botanical Garden and gift shop next door. The sun was beginning to sink below the horizon when I made my way to Galleta Meadows to take in the massive sculptures. Being out there, away from the smog and honking horns and the ever-buzzing city, allowed me to collect my thoughts and reflect on what it all means to me. I’d divulge more detail, but it seems prudent to stop there, as to do so would spoil the adventure itself. As Wilfred Thesiger wrote in Arabian Sands: “For me, exploration was a personal venture. I did not go to the Arabian desert to collect plants nor to make a map; such things were incidental. At heart I knew that to write or even to talk of my travels was to tarnish the achievement.”
On Sunday, I stepped out of my apartment to find the Bullitt covered in the early morning dew. A cranky neighbor mumbled a negative remark about the car, but I simply started it up, lowered the windows, and rolled away, letting the V-8’s burble provide my response. It felt right to keep to my original schedule and head again into the desert toward Borrego Springs—there would be no Netflix binging that day, either.
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The post Escaping L.A. and Hitting the Desert in the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt appeared first on Automobile Magazine.
Update: The first full images of the 2020 Toyota Supra have seemingly been leaked by Toyota Germany via a confirmation e-mail received when signing up for the car’s waiting list. The photos were first posted to SupraMKV.com by one of their forum users. The snafu has been corrected, with folks who put their names down—as we subsequently did—now getting a shot of a camouflaged Supra instead. Front and rear three quarter angles were previously shown; other early looks at the car are detailed in our original story below.
Last week we got an early look at the front end of a silver MkV 2020 Toyota Supra, and now comes a shot of the new model’s rear end wearing a shiny coat of bright yellow paint. The latest photograph was once again posted to the Supra MkV forum ahead of the car’s international debut at January’s Detroit auto show.
Toyota’s fifth-generation Supra will wear classic long-hood, short-deck proportions, and this image reveals its rear fascia, diffuser, and chrome exhaust tips. It also features a centered Toyota badge on the trunklid with script “Supra” directly below it in black. Toyota itself showed off a side-mirror cap in red last week, so we know several of the color options before seeing the full car in the metal.
Toyota’s iconic nameplate has been parked since 2002 and its latest reincarnation was developed in a partnership with BMW that also produced the gorgeous new Z4 roadster. The Supra shares a turbocharged inline-six engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with that model; we’ve already driven a MkV prototype and you can read about it here.
The all-new Supra is expected to go on sale next summer, but if you can’t wait to get in line—and have a large pile of cash handy—the very first example will be auctioned on January 19 at Barrett-Jackson’s annual Scottsdale, Arizona, sale, with proceeds to benefit the American Heart Association and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. That example is painted matte gray—it’s as-yet unclear if that paint will be offered to regular customers—with red mirror caps, a matching red interior, and matte black wheels.
Stay tuned to Automobile for the official reveal on January 14, the first press day of the Detroit auto show.
This story was originally published on December 26.
The post Are These the First Full Photos of the Actual 2020 Toyota Supra? appeared first on Automobile Magazine.
Ten years ago, Toyota fielded a solid lineup of passenger vehicles that were about as exciting as lukewarm tap water. However, the company has since embarked on a quest to change its trajectory and spice things up. Phase one included revision to the firm’s design language. Phase two involved tapping into the brand’s performance heritage […]
The post Toyota Mulls Corolla As the Next Performance Model in GR Lineup appeared first on The Truth About Cars.