The News for April 22nd, 2022

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Lincoln EV concept shines like a star, Ferrari 296 gets its drop top variant, Mini JCW returns to the Nürburgring 24 Hour after 10 years away, and good god that new BMW 7 Series. What the hell.

Lincoln Star Concept

As the industry goes electric we’re getting more and more concepts that show off the vision each brand has for the future. And it seems like there’s a new arms race among brands to come up with the most futuristic thing possible regardless of whether it can actually go into production. Lincoln has a compelling case for themselves with this, the Lincoln Star Concept. This is Lincoln’s vision for connected, electrified vehicles and hints at a future design language that will probably just be a little more tame than this.

“This is a shining example of what happens when we combine Lincoln luxury with flexible electrical architecture to create unimaginable experiences for customers,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “We can truly revolutionize how people engage with the brand and scale it across an exciting lineup of products that catapult Lincoln into the digital, connected age.”

This guiding star of sorts has a sleek silhouette (for an SUV) and a properly futuristic design with some creative lighting elements. Playing into the whole star thing, the front fascia lights up as the driver approaches. It’s all built on top of the company’s flexible battery architecture which enables rear or all-wheel drive propulsion and greater design freedom.

That’s most noticeable inside the cabin where designers worked to create a sanctuary-like cabin experience. Extra-spacious wraparound seating with a reclined lounge posture, leg rests, integrated storage, and wide open spaces will spoil anyone inside. A neat feature that definitely will never make it to production is its 3D-printed metal latticework on the A-pillar and D-pillar which create a transparent effect for enhanced visibility. A “coast-to-coast” curved display makes up the entirety of the dashboard’s gauges and control panels

Adding to the whole sanctuary thing are three “rejuvenation moods” which use audio, scenting, and lighting to alter the mood inside. These moods include Coastal Morning, Mindful Vitality, and Evening Chill. This is the kind of thing I can absolutely see Lincoln producing in the near future. It just has that sort of vibe to it that’s like “yeah, Lincoln would definitely be the one to do this”.

Regardless of how realistic this concept is for production, it offers a fascinating glimpse into Lincoln’s mind. It’s probably their most wild and outlandish concept yet. Oh, and Matthew McConaughey was at the launch event too.

[Source: Lincoln]

Ferrari 296 GTS

Ferrari’s newest and most interesting new car is getting its mandatory Spider version just as the hard top version goes on sale. Bankers and crypto bros who waited it out are finally getting rewarded with the chance to spec their 296 as a GTS. All of the crucial specs are the same and everything that made the 296 GTB such a stunning car work well here too. It’ll go on sale later this year for what will surely be a substantial premium over the GTB.

Tucked behind the driver is the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 from the GTB with the same 654 horsepower. That would’ve been fast enough for any Ferrari on its own, but the 296 also gets an electric motor mounted between the engine and the eight-speed automatic to contribute an additional 165 horsepower. That means a total of 819 horsepower in a car that’s a fair bit smaller than any of its V8-powered predecessors, like the F8 Tributo or 488.

Ferrari engineers knew a Spider version would be an inevitability when designing the 296 GTB, so they prepared the A and B pillars with the necessary reinforcements for when the roof went and peaced out. Torsional rigidity is up 50% compared to the F8 Spider. They didn’t mention if the folding hard top added much weight, but we do know they made it as light as possible. It can operate in as little as 14 seconds at speeds up to 28 mph.

Ferrari appears to no longer accept F8 orders of any kind, so they seem to be making a push for the 296 among its clientele. With it looks and performance and a stunning GT3 car on the way, Ferrari should have a hit on their hands here.

[Source: Ferrari via Jalopnik]

Mini John Cooper Works will return to the N24

While this is one of the lighter stories this week, it involves a race car so I had to talk about it. For the first time since 2012, Mini John Cooper Works will compete in the legendary Nürburgring 24 Hours with a factory-backed effort fielded by a highly experienced private team.

Bulldog Racing is headquartered meters away from the Nordschleife and partnered with Mini JCW to bring the storied brand back to the Green Hell. The base vehicle is a Mini John Cooper Works with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine cranking out 306 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. The factory eight-speed automatic with its integrated, mechanical diff lock will face the task of putting power to the ground for 24 hours. The car will be kept as close to stock as possible, mechanically-speaking, but with necessary modifications for the race.

This includes a custom racing cage, a 100-liter fuel tank, racing suspension with full adjustability, reinforced Uniball bearings, a pneumatic lifting system, sports exhaust, and BMW M Performance brakes. Race car stuff requires race car aero, so the car is fitted with an adjustable rear wing as well as a fully covered underbody, front splitter, and rear diffuser. They also cut weight up high by switching to lightweight Makrolon window panes.

The car will undergo extensive testing on the Nordschleife and at BMW Group’s testing center in France before the big weekend. This car will be hard to miss among the massive N24 field. The driver lineup hasn’t been made official yet.

[Source: Mini]

Okay well that’s it. Thanks for reading another fascinating edition of The Hooniverse News. There’s absolutely nothing else from the week that needs reporting. I certainly can’t think of anything else.

I mean it. There’s nothing else. Go home. It’s over.

You can’t make me talk about it. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

Dammit.

2023 BMW 7 Series

BMW is fully committed to a future of digitalization, electrification, sustainability, and making really ugly cars. What better way to symbolize that than with a brand new iteration of their flagship, the 7 Series. Driving pleasure, unsurpassed long-distance comfort, and a top-end digital experience are what you can expect from the new 7, as well as complete and rapid ostracization. This new car is completely new from the ground up and paves the way for the first i7, a fully electric version which is due soon. It will begin its global rollout this November so you’ll have plenty of time to move your family somewhere safe, far away from the reaches of the BMW dealership network.

The new 7 Series can be easily distinguished from previous generations thanks to its repulsive design which incorporates the same split headlight design that first cursed our eyes on the new X7 from last week. This split headlight design is a completely original idea that certainly hasn’t been copied from Hyundai and Nissan models. This bold and upscale design choice pairs perfectly with the oversized beaver teeth that now feature an illuminated surround. The “monolithic” surface design means a high window line and a lack of any meaningful sculpting that would otherwise give the car something resembling style. So not only is it ugly, it’s also boring. Any bit of sleekness or character from the old 7 Serieses is gone in favor of bland, blocky ugliness.

It is a completely different story inside the car. Premium materials and more tech than any BMW before it create a properly upscale cabin space that pampers and entertains. Front seat occupants enjoy heated armrests in the door trim and center console plus a stunning “BMW Interaction Bar” with interior lighting, decoration, and almost invisible air vents built in. The instrument cluster and central infotainment screen are built into a single BMW Curved Display. The driver benefits from a new HUD and augmented view function, a first for BMW, which gives them the most information possible.

Those in the back seats will continue to have the best seat in the house though. The new 7 is only available as a long wheelbase configuration, so rear seat legroom is as good as it’s ever been. There’s an available 31.3″ panoramic display with 8k resolution that folds down from the ceiling to create a private cinema on wheels. It’s controlled through a pair of 5.5″ touch screen displays integrated into the rear doors. The Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof with LED light threads can add ambience and block out light – and yes, the glass roof and the theater screen coexist. It’s a technological powerhouse inside and is probably the most interesting interior BMW has ever done. That team should be in charge of designing the rest of the car too.

The 7 Series will offer different powertrains depending on the market. That means mild hybrid petrol engines, diesels for Europe, plug-in hybrids at a later date, and EVs. The all-electric i7 will lead the charge on launch in Europe while the mild hybrid gas engines will follow suit. There will even be M-sport models – gas and electric – that push performance to levels never seen before on the 7 Series. That’ll be nice for when you spot someone you know in traffic and want to get away before they see you and begin to question their friendship with you.

So there you have it. I don’t enjoy dunking on BMW. I used to own one and absolutely loved it. I had dreams of upgrading to an M3 and embracing the brand’s vision of driving pleasure and #dynamism. But the choices they’ve made in recent years are impossible to not call out. The only way BMW will change is if customers jump ship and – crucially- if small, insignificant, and absolutely non-influential news columns like mine dunk on them at every opportunity. Yeah, that’ll show em.

[Source: BMW]

What’s your automotive news?

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That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.