The Auto Panel

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge - A New Contender

Every few years, there comes a car that makes the everyday enthusiast say "Wow, that's one for the books." It is a car that is unlike anything else in it's class, and aims to squash any and all competition. Lexus has their F line of performance vehicles, BMW has their M line, and Mercedes-Benz has AMG. Infiniti never really took part in competing with those cars. Sure, they had the G37X-S, which was an AWD "high performance" version of their G37, but it wasn't up to par with cars such as the ISF, M3, and CLA-45 AMG.

Until now.

At the Geneva Auto Show, Infiniti has uncovered the heart of the Q50 Eau Rouge (previously revealed at the Detroit Auto Show). Before the unveiling, it was widely speculated to have below 500 horsepower and the average torque for a vehicle of its class. Nobody could guess that it would actually be powered by the legendary VR38DETT.

To anyone not following, this is motor out of the iconic Nissan GT-R.

Having such an amazing motor powering the 4-door sedan means that it puts down impressive numbers. The 3.8-L twin turbo V6 has a unique tune and is rated at 560 horsepower, which is 15 more than the 2015 GT-R. However, it does have 20 less torque at 443 lb-ft...which isn't disappointing by itself anyway. The power is sent to all four wheels via the GT-R's AWD system, and gears are shifted through the addition of a brand new seven-speed DCT.

Infiniti claims that, with Godzilla's DNA, the Q50 Eau Rouge is able to reach 60 mph from a standstill in under 4 seconds. Compare that to a time of 4.1 seconds for a 2014 M3, 4.3 for a 2014 CLA-45 AMG, and 4.6 for a 2012 ISF.

Sources tell that a version of the Q50 Eau Rouge will come to the US within the next 12 months. More info will be posted as we get it. This is one for the books, fellas.

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McLaren P1 - The Next Generation Hypercar

McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of high-performance automobiles. Started in 1989, the research and development that went into the production of their cars stemmed directly from Formula One racing and technology. The most notable cars of its history is the McLaren F1, the first car the British power house ever built. 100 units were produced from 1992 to 1998, and it held the record for being the fastest production car until 2005 with a top speed of 243 mph.

Now, after more than 15 years, the successor is finally here: the McLaren P1. The concept of the P1 first debuted at the 2012 Paris Auto Show. McLaren did not offer the car for sale at their dealerships, and instead took direct orders from their customers. A limited run of 375 units were to be produced. After orders opened in October of 2013, all 375 units were accounted for in... November 2013. It took one month for McLaren to sell all of their P1's. 

What makes this car so special that, at $1.15 million USD, it would sell out in just one month? 

Well, let's go over the details. 

The McLaren P1 boasts an astronomical 903 crank horsepower that rockets it from 0 to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds. It also jets to 186 mph from a standstill in 16.5 seconds, making it almost 6 seconds faster than the F1, and the 1/4 mile zooms by in 9.8 seconds at 152 mph. It's top speed, however, is electronically limited to 217 mph. 

How does it achieve such shattering numbers? It employs the use of a hybrid powertrain, having both an electric and petrol motor. The petrol motor, a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, delivers 727 hp at 7500 rpm and is combined with the electric motor producing 176 hp. The driver can control when the petrol motor turns on, so long as they decide to press the button before the 6 mile battery life of the electric motor depletes. The petrol motor acts as a generator for the electric motor, charging it while operating to move the P1 in the direction the driver desires. Power is delivered to the rear wheels only through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The electric motor effectively acts to "fill in the gaps" when the petrol motor is not operating at its peak. For example, it adds continuous torque to the wheels during gear changes and accounts for lag while the turbos spool up. What results is a savage amount of seemingly impossible power throughout the entire power band. 

The powertrain is just one of the reasons why the P1 is so spectacular. The entire body is made of five panels bolted and glued together to a carbon-fiber frame, which weighs less than 200 pounds. The wheels are made from military-grade aluminum. The two front racing seats, weighing 23 pounds each, are made of carbon fiber, and have minimal foam to provide a level of comfort as well as functionality. The electronic rear wing adjusts its height in order to produce downforce for increased traction at the rear wheels. It rises until 156 mph, and then it starts to go down at higher speeds. Otherwise, the weight of the air flowing over the car would destroy the suspension.  The Akebono brake system was developed specifically for the P1 using technology from Grand Prix racing. The brake discs are made of a special type of carbon ceramic material which has only been used in the Arian Space Program, and is coated with a substance harder than diamond called silicon carbide. The discs are able to dissipate heat more effectively and are also able to operate at much higher temperatures in extreme conditions. The tires were designed and produced by Pirelli. 

The result is a hypercar that weighs just 3,075 pounds, lighter than most roadcars today.

The P1 employs the use of hydro-pneumatic suspension, which is adjustable. Ride height, spring rates, roll control, pitch control, and dampening can all be tweaked to produce as much downforce as Le Mans GT3 race car in Race mode.

There are four settings the driver can put the P1 in - Normal, Sport, Track, and Race modes. The first three modes adjust stability control, adaptive dampening, and roll control systems for the desired driving experience. Normal mode offers a more comfortable ride and is typically used for public road cruising. Sport mode can also be used on the street, but it stiffens the suspension and shortens the gear changes in order to deliver a more responsive driving experience. Track mode stiffens it up even more, and also adjust stability control settings to allow for some slippage. Each mode adjusts the rear wing to suit the road conditions.

Race mode, taking about 40 seconds to fully initiate, transforms the P1 into a straight race car. Spring rates are stiffened by 300%, stability control is tweaked to allow maximum grip, and dampening and aerodynamics are tweaked to improve downforce and cornering, which it achieves at more than 2g. The P1 is lowered by 50 mm, and the rear wing is extended by 300 mm. Roll stiffness is changed by a factor of 3.5 over Normal, and heave and pitch stiffness increase by a factor of 1.4. 

It is said to have lapped the Nurburgring in less than 7 seconds, but no official time has been released from McLaren. 

McLaren is paving the way for the next generation of hypercars, along with the Porsche 918 and Ferrari's LaFerrari. Such technology is rumored to be employed in the new Acura NSX, but official news on that remains to be seen. We can expect to see other powerhouses, such as Koenigsegg and Pagani, follow suit in introducing a hybrid power system to their vehicles. 

In the words of Jeremy Clarkson, it is "a genuinely new chapter in the history of motoring."

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The 2015 WRX STi: All the Info

The 2015 WRX STi has just had the wraps pulled off of it at the Detroit Auto Show, and this is all the information that you need to know about it before making a decision on whether or not to put a deposit down in April.

The STi is powered by the "legendary" 305-horsepower, 290-lb torque, 2.5-liter turbocharged BOXER engine that seems to be the same as the outgoing model. There seem to be no improvements, including the lack of direct injection. That means that there are absolutely no improvements in gas mileage, and it will remain at the 17 city and 23 highway mark. Also, because the new STi is said to be heavier, it will most likely suffer in straight line performance, even though Subaru claims that it has the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.

The new STi is built on a stronger chassis, which employs the use of the stiffening elements in key locations, resulting in 16% less body roll. It also employs the use of a new Active Torque Vectoring system, coupled with the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive. As is customary with the STi, Brembo brakes will provide the stopping power.

Like the outgoing model, it employs the use of the a 6-speed manual gearbox, which has been specially reinforced. Power is sent to the wheels in regards to the DCCD that lets the driver control how much power is going to the wheels. An improved steering ratio of 13.0:1 will also add to the overall handling of this generation STi.

The interior is seeing large improvements over the outgoing model. The cabin is roomier and the design offers more visibility. The flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel integrates the driving experience with the Bluetooth and audio systems through controls that are mounted on each side. Subaru has also added a 3.5 inch LCD screen that displays various information including oil levels, washer fluid level, and selected gear. There is also a 4.3 inch LED screen that displays information on vehicle function that includes rear view camera access, boost level, climate control, VDC, Bluetooth, and audio. It is also able to remind the driver of scheduled maintenance.

The climate-control is dual-zone and an All Weather Package is standard. This includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. The standard radio offers HD Radio, a single-disc CD player, MP3/WMA capability, Radio Data Broadcast System, Bluetooth calling and streaming, iPod connectivity, available XM radio, USB, and auxiliary audio which radiate through 6 available speakers. A touch-screen navigation is also available, featuring a 6.1 inch LCD screen with voice control. The Limited model will feature leather trimmed upholstery, a power driver seat, Harman/Kardon audio, and a moonroof.

All this amounts to "the best handling, best performing WRX STi. Ever."

A Launch Edition of the STi will also be available in World Rally Blue Pearl. It will feature a gold BBS wheel package and an STi short throw shifter. There will be a limited run of these cars, with only 1000 units being made and a 3 month availability.

They will hit dealerships in April. Pricing is not set yet, but it will be in line with the outgoing model.

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Here are pictures of the Limited and Launch Edition Sti's.

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Official Reveal - 2015 Subaru WRX STi

Here, I will be providing real time updates of the conference for anyone who cannot get access to the stream:

9:55 Commercials are still playing

9:56 The conference is counting down. Here we go!

An introduction is playing showing snippets from Subaru's motorsports events in the past.

Director of Corporate Communications Michael McHale is introduced.

He's talking about three letter acronyms he enjoys (BBC, NFL, etc.)

Tom Doll is coming out to talk about the new STi.

Talking about the history of the STi.

Talking about the 2004 intro of the STi in the US.

Talking about STi competition victories.

"A new chapter is about to be written"

The STi is introduced. 305 hp turbo boxer with a 6 speed, DCCD, VDC with active torque vectoring, best power to weight ratio in its class.

The STi is revealed with a video.

An exhaust note is heard...and a silver STi is rolled onto the stage.

It has a dark grey version of the gold BBS's seen in the photos leaked before and sunroof. Probably a premium.

Introducing the WRB launch edition STi with only 1000 units and 3 month availability. This is the one that was leaked. It has the gold BBS wheel package.

Travis Pastrana will be rejoining Subaru Rally Team this season.

It will hit dealerships in April. Pricing not yet finalized, but it will be in line with the outgoing model.

It has 16% less body roll.

13.0:1 steering ratio.

Best handling, best performing STi. Ever.


All new exterior, 2.5 L 305 hp-boxer engine, LED headlight system, new grill, deeper front spoiler, new hood scoop, large wheel arches, aerodynamic panels underneath of the car, interior is redesigned - more mature, red inserts, red stitching, flat bottom steering wheel, electro-luminescent gauges, 6 speed, DCCD (SI Drive), rear seats are roomier and more comfortable, wing produces a lot of downforce and top speed is 164 mph, quad tail pipes with the rear diffuser giving a better coefficient of drag.

END of the press conference.

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The 2015 Subaru WRX/STi - Before the Detroit Auto Show

Ahead of the Detroit Auto Show, pictures the 2015 WRX/STi have been leaked onto the web. Judging from a spec sheet that was leaked late in 2013, this is most likely the "Launch Edition STi" sporting a gold BBS wheel package in the signature World Rally Blue Pearl color. The aggressive body lines, mean front fascia, and the lowered stance complete with the STi rear wing are likely to give this generation of Subaru's flagship line a menacing road presence.

However, the big question is, what will be powering this through the dirt and snow that STi's are always known for? Well, the question cannot be answered until the Detroit Auto Show. The one thing that is for certain is that it will sport a 2.5 liter turbo boxer, much like the outgoing STi. However, it is uncertain whether the previous EJ25 will carry into this generation, and if it does, whether or not there are improvements is still to be seen. There is also speculation that it may source the 2.5 liter engine from the Forester, much like the WRX is doing with its FA20DIT. In the case of the STi, it will be a turbo-charged, direct injection version of possibly the FB25 motor. 

It is also known that there will only be one transmission offered in the STi: a 6-speed manual gearbox. Subaru will not be offering a CVT version, as it is doing with the WRX. Whether or not it is any different than the outgoing 6-speed in the STi remains to be seen. Also, expect to see a DCCD (Driver Controlled Center Differential) that will enable the driver to set where they want the power to go. This should be different from the DCCD that is offered in to the CVT-WRX, as it will be geared for speed, not a transmission.

Edit: Subaru of America has just updated their website to note that the STi will have a 305-hp turbo boxer. 

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Below are pictures of the STi:

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Edit: This is an alleged shot of the engine bay. It does appear to be EJ in nature without any signs of direct injection. 

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2015 Subaru WRX First Drive and Review

Here is one of the first reviews I have come across of the 2015 WRX. In my humble opinion, it doesn't look as bad as it first did, and the handling is improved a vast amount. Maybe it makes up for looks in performance.

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