Do you see North America continuing to be McLaren's leading market?
I think it will be. I'm going to say forever, but that's an awful long time, so certainly for a long time. Just take the demographics, the wealth. It's almost a bit unfair when people say, "Which is the biggest market?" and I go, "Well, the U.S." Because it's kind of, like, of course it's the U.S. We would be doing something wrong if it wasn't. But right now, it's the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Germany, China. The U.S. is going to lead that picture for quite a time. It's a great market, a very healthy market. It's got a mature understanding of the type of product. It's got a lot of customers who love these kinds of cars. We've got excellent retailers here who know the market and know their customers. It's a good many years ahead of most of the other markets around the world.
What does the China market mean for McLaren going forward?
It'll grow steadily and slowly. The reality is that if you take the people with money in China, the generation that really first came into that kind of wealth pretty much [doesn't] buy our cars. They're delighted to be driven in saloons or SUVs, or they haven't got the bug for sports cars. It tends to be their sons and daughters. We're more selling to the second generation. One thing it does mean is our demographic in China is the youngest of anywhere in the world. Our customer age group is 25 to 28. It's unbelievable.
And female buyers as well; it's a very, very different mix in China. As that age group grows, I don't think they're going to lose their taste. They probably will still have their saloons and SUVs, but they'll have their sports cars because they love them. And people will come up behind, so I see the market in China growing for us but steadily over 10 years, 20 years. Heck, if we grew by 25 cars a year, I'd be happy. [It] sounds like tiny volume in the automotive sense, but we've gone from nothing in 2013 to about 350 cars. We've got a plan over the Track 25 period that takes us to about 500 cars, and that will be really strong.
How much of a challenge is brand recognition for McLaren?
It was our biggest challenge at one time, if I go back to when I joined in 2012. I remember doing a survey in the U.S. on purchases over $150,000 and saying to people: Name a supercar company. We were the bottom of the list. Then you'd say, "What do you associate McLaren with?" and they'd say Formula One. This was very true of brand awareness then.
We've come a long, long way from that time. But still, I don't think we have the brand awareness in our segment of some of the brands who have been around for 70, 80 years. Building that awareness is key.
I'm an engineer; I'm a production guy [at] heart, not a marketing guy, so I'm going to give you my theory on marketing. My theory on marketing, thinking back to when I did my master's, is still down to two very simple things. One is that you've got to get your name on the shopping list. And then secondly, when you're on the shopping list, you've got to have a reason for the customer to choose you. If we're on a customer's shopping list — if you say, "Hey, I'm going to buy a supercar; these are the five cars that I'm interested in" — if we're one of those five cars and you go try them, I think we've got an extremely high likelihood of you choosing our car.
The chances right now of being on that shopping list are the challenge because we're not as well-known as the established manufacturers. We're still a startup in some ways; we're still the new boy. People talk a lot about disrupters from a technology point of view, but we're a little bit of a disrupter in the supercar market.
Track 25 was an effort to explain what we are and where we're going. You don't have to tell people what your business strategy is. We wanted to because we wanted people to understand the company better. And so I think we've come a long way in six years, but it remains one of our key areas of focus.
What do plug-in hybrids mean for McLaren going forward?
They're essential. I don't know any other way to meet the emissions challenges that we all need to meet globally. What's being looked for in the U.S. isn't so different than Europe. China is probably pushing harder than anybody else, so the only way we can get down, below 100 grams of CO2, is going to be with hybrids and plug-in hybrids initially. We've proven in the Ultimate Series with the P1, the P1 GTR and Speedtail that actually a hybridized powertrain can bring advantages, not just in emissions.
We'll do our first series hybrid in the next couple of years, and that car will be a plug-in. It will have 25 to 30 miles of EV range. But most importantly, it will still be absolutely superb. It will be a better supercar than the one it replaces. That's the key — to combine all those things. I've driven the preproduction cars, and it's absolutely superb. It brings additional dimensions because you've got all the power and performance, more power and performance than the current range, but you have that EV capability if you want it. You can choose to start up in EV. My commute from my apartment to my office is 12 miles. I could do that on pure EV if that's what I wanted to do. It brings more breadth to the product. I find hybrid exciting; I find EV challenging.
What's the timeline for an EV from McLaren?
It's going to be very dependent on the batteries being right. I'm not going to be very precise. It's going to be between 2025 and 2030. But to put an exact year on it, I'd probably get it wrong. We need to get to a point where we can get the performance, the range, the recharge time and the weight. We need all of those. Because for us, if you think of it just as a power source, if somebody said, "Go make me an EV product," I can do that. And I'd make the best EV product possible, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the best supercar. And the point for us is, it needs to be the best supercar.
In 2025, where do you see McLaren?
We've laid it out pretty much in Track 25. We will be — let me hedge my bets — somewhere between 5,500 and 6,000 cars. We'll see the GT range filling out a little bit and balancing our supercars, and we'll be staring at the next-generation P1, which will be again a real technology-leading car in that segment. We'll probably see the whole range hybridized. We possibly won't see an EV in there yet, but we may be in a good position to predict exactly when it's coming along. We'll probably have 100 retailers around the world and much better brand awareness because we'll continue to grow.
LONDON — Jamie Chadwick, winner of this year's inaugural all-female W Series, will race in the Asian F3 championship that starts in Malaysia on Dec. 14, the Absolute Racing team said on Monday.
The 15-race series, which also ends at Malaysia's Sepang circuit, includes rounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Thailand between December and February with three races at each location.
The FIA-sanctioned regional championship, like next year's W Series, also offers points towards the Super License that drivers need to graduate to Formula One.
"It is important for me to use this series as part of my testing and development program to ensure that I am race-fit for whatever 2020 throws at me," said Chadwick, who will also be returning to the W Series next year.
"Due to other commitments, I will only get my first opportunity to drive the car at the opening race in Sepang next week, so it will be a steep learning curve.
"But that’s all part of the process, and I can’t wait to get back out on the track," added the 21-year-old, who served as a Williams Formula One development driver this year.
The Briton, who banked $500,000 for winning the W Series, which uses F3 cars, will miss pre-season testing due to being one of four finalists in the Aston Martin BRDC Autosport Young Driver of the Year award that will be announced in London on Sunday.
The driver who wins the prestigious award gets a test in a Red Bull Formula One car plus 200,000 pounds ($256,000).
Aspirations are for those who hope to make it big; the 2020 McLaren 570 is for those who actually do. Make no mistake, this mid-engine sports car isn't just meant to cruise the boulevard or attract gawkers everywhere it goes. No. All three models–the sporty 570S, the more comfortable 570GT, and the topless 570S Spider—have driver engagement engrained into their DNA. Each feature a soulful 562-hp twin-turbo V-8 that provides amazing acceleration and wails like a heavy-metal band. Combine that with the sharp-edged cornering of an Olympic figure skater and the grip of a vise and you essentially have the highlights of driving any of these magnificent McLarens. There's a big difference between a supercar pretender and a supercar contender—the 2020 570 clan is the latter.
What's New for 2020?
McLaren makes no significant changes to the 2020 570 lineup. However, the British automaker adds a couple new models to its portfolio, including the luxurious GT and ultra-exotic Speedtail.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
570S coupe: $192,000 (est.)
570GT: $204,500 (est.)
570S Spider: $212,000 (est.)
The odds of a real-life McLaren shopper using our recommendation to influence their buying decision is about as likely as we are to actually be shopping for a 570, with its starting price right around $200,000. Still, that doesn't make us any less likely to suggest how we'd outfit our ideal version of the fantastic mid-engine sports cars. Since we wouldn't be regularly pushing the limits at the racetrack, we prefer the open-air experience that only the convertible 570S Spider provides. It also happens to be the most expensive version, but that won't stop us from getting spendy when spec'ing it. We'd choose one of the wilder paint colors to ensure optimal ostentation and add the Track pack for enhanced performance. It includes lightweight wheels, a sport-tuned exhaust, copious carbon-fiber addenda inside and out, and a telemetry system to track your lap times. We'd also splurge on the Luxury pack that adds heated, power-adjustable front seats, an adjustable steering column, and a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Finally, we'd add the vehicle lift to help avoid ground-clearance issues. Of course, McLaren offers numerous bespoke options that allow owners to truly personalize their purchase.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The 562-hp twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 that lives in the middle of the 570S runs as if it comes from a company that competes in Formula 1—which it does. Paired with a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission, in our testing, it launched the lightweight 570S with such brute force that the muscles in our neck had a tough time coping with it. From inside the car, the sound is intoxicating, begging you to floor the accelerator first and ask questions later. It's also a car that's magnificently one-sided, skewed so far toward annihilating back roads at insane velocities that it inspires both awe and terror when driven as its makers intend. We love it for that brilliance and purity of purpose, but other cars in this class offer a more refined and more comfortable driving experience. Few vehicles in the world, however, can match the 570S for sheer driver engagement. Its tactile steering, a chassis that feels alive, and its bottomless well of power kept us wanting more time with it on our favorite roads. The 570S will never be particularly cozy or convenient, so drivers must weigh the transcendent driving experience against daily utility before buying. Out on the road, the 570S's brakes remain unfazed no matter how hard they are used, although the car dances when they are squeezed with full force at high speeds. For the right customer, this hint of instability only adds to the thrill.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
You don't purchase a supercar for fuel efficiency, but it's a bonus if your rocket sled doesn't guzzle gas like a Starbucks addict swills triple-shot pumpkin-spice whatevers. While the EPA only provides estimates for the 570S coupe, the version we tested at a steady 75 mph on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route actually returned 24 mpg, beating its 23-mpg highway rating.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The McLaren's cabin is more an ode to carbon fiber than a living space, and while driver and passenger have roughly the same amount of room as in similar vehicles, the narrow seats, low seating position, and wide doorsill make it difficult to get comfortable. Dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, and an available faux-suede headliner give the 570 an upscale feel. Still, the effects of weight reduction are obvious, and other amenities are sparse. The paradox of a supercar such as this is that it begs to be driven on the open road, but it's a lousy car to take on a trip. Cargo space and storage are almost nonexistent, so you'll have to pack little else than a pair of flip-flops.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Its infotainment system packs an ample list of features, but its touchscreen responds slowly to user inputs and makes operation of the climate-control and sound systems more complicated than it should be. While we preferred to look out the windscreen rather than at its convoluted touchscreen, the system was serviceable nonetheless.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
None of the 570 models have been crash-tested by U.S. agencies, and all are devoid of driver-assistance technology. Adding driver-aid systems would only add weight to these flyweight fighters, so we would sooner stick to the high-performance diet.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Among its supercar rivals, McLaren has the worst warranty coverage. Its corrosion protection is the only plan that is not the shortest, but even that is at the bottom of the list.
Limited warranty covers 3 years and unlimited miles
Powertrain warranty covers 3 years and unlimited miles
No complimentary scheduled maintenance
Its name is a misnomer. Or at least only partially accurate. The Hyundai RM19 isn’t quite a true mid-engine machine. Hyundai says "RM" stands for "racing midship," but this car's engine—a turbocharged 2.0-liter producing 390 horsepower—isn’t mounted ahead of the rear-axle line. According to Alberto Iob, calibration engineer at Hyundai Motorsport, “The engine is basically on the rear axle, so it’s actually in between mid-engine and rear-engine.”
The RM19 began life as a production front-wheel-drive Veloster, and it maintains much of its bodywork and dashboard to prove it. “I don’t want to call it a toy; that’s not fair,” says Thomas Schemera, the man in charge of Hyundai’s High Performance Vehicle and Motorsport Division since 2018. “It’s a test bed, a rolling lab.” Hyundai has indeed confirmed that it intends to create a high-performance production car with its engine in back, although it's still a couple years away.
Riffing off cars like the engine-in-the-back-seat Renault R5 Turbo and Clio V6 Renault Sport, Hyundai has been toying with mid-engine-powered hatchbacks for a while now. The Korean brand just won its first World Rally Championship this year, and the N Performance line continues to grow. The RM19, which was revealed at the Los Angeles auto show, is the latest high-performance vehicle in the sequence. “It’s the wildest machine we have so far,” Schemera says with a smile.
The RM19 is the first mid-engine one-off that Hyundai has allowed us to drive, but we’re not at the Nürburgring, where it has undergone extensive testing. Instead, the company has brought two RM19s to its proving grounds in the Mojave Desert and is giving us three laps of its Iowa-flat, billiard-table-smooth handling course.
Part Race Car, Part Hot Hatch
Visually, the RM19 is easy to confuse with the front-engine Veloster race car fielded by Bryan Herta Autosport for IMSA competition. Its exaggerated bumpers, flares, hood, and rear spoiler are made of carbon-fiber and Kevlar composites, and the signature rear door on the passenger's side has been eliminated. Two large side scoops feed the intercooler, which also has water sprayers for additional cooling, while the engine breathes through a round hole in the bodywork behind the driver’s door. For a while, the engine’s intake wore a scoop to direct more air into the engine, but it was deemed too unsightly, so Hyundai removed it.
The company says the RM19 has spent time in its rolling-road wind tunnel and weighs 3200 pounds. The four-cylinder engine and sequential six-speed gearbox are primarily aluminum, and the 48 percent front and 52 percent rear weight balance is achieved by relocating the fuel tank and the radiator to the front. Two fans force hot air out of the engine compartment through holes cut into the backlight.
A large turbocharger from a Mercedes-AMG A45 produces a maximum of 21.8 pounds of boost from 4000 rpm to 5500 rpm and tapers off to 19.0 psi by 7000 rpm. Although Hyundai claims the engine will produce about 390 horsepower running on high-octane gasoline and a 9.8:1 compression ratio, the engine makes more than 400 horsepower, according to Iob.
Can Be a Handful
Helmet on, we step inside and fasten the prototype's four-point harness. The RM19 sounds and feels like a race car. There’s a beefy cage, hard racing seats, and a small three-spoke steering wheel with carbon-fiber paddle shifters. The 2.0-liter is fitted with a muffler but idles at over 1200 rpm, and the gearbox, with its straight-cut gears, finds first with clunk. Unfortunately, we’re told to leave the Launch button on the steering wheel alone.
There’s a clutch pedal, but it’s only needed to get the car moving from a dead stop. It chatters a bit, but we keep the revs up as we pull onto the track. First gear is long and the engine builds revs smoothly but slowly. The gearbox is noisy, so much so that it drowns out the engine, even at the 6800-rpm redline. We zing past the redline to find that there’s a rev limiter at 7200 rpm.
There’s a healthy amount of turbo lag, too. You’ll count a beat or two between full throttle and full thrust. Nothing interesting happens below 4000 rpm. But then the power kicks the door down and tests your grip on the steering wheel. “We have it tuned for top-end power,” says Iob. “That’s how we like it for the racetrack.” If you’re ready to catch the slide, you can drift the RM19 from the corner’s apex to the edge of the road like a shifter cart, but it can be tricky to drive. More than one driver is caught out by its peaky power band and rear weight bias and spins off onto the gravel.
In faster corners, the RM19's chassis holds on tight, allowing you to get back on the power early. Gearchanges are firm and immediate. Its power steering is quick, with the same 12.3:1 ratio as the production Veloster N. It’s also light and precise, with plenty of feel. The Veloster’s multilink rear suspension has been replaced with control arms, but it’s tuned softer than expected. We're told the spring and damping rates are just a little higher than the specs of a production Veloster N. There’s a bit more body roll than expected, which actually makes it easier to drive.
Another surprise is its rubber. Instead of the expected slicks, the forged aluminum wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P Zeros, size 245/30ZR-20 up front and 305/30ZR-20 in the rear. Choosing street tires might not result in the most grip, but they break away progressively and allow you to play right on the edge. Get the hang of its balance and power delivery and the RM19 is entertainingly tossable. It would be all smiles at a track day.
Hedging Its Bets
Although company reps have already confirmed Hyundai's intentions to produce a mid-engine sports car, Schemera tells us that such a car isn’t approved, but if it were, it would be three or four years down the road and would have to have a flexible platform that would work for Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. It would also have to have the ability to accept a wide range of powertrains, including electric, hybrid, and fuel cell. “It would be challenging to make such a car affordable at $35,000 to $40,000,” he says. “It makes the most sense for Genesis, at $50,000 to $80,000. This could be a strategy to compete with the Corvette, but it hasn’t been decided yet.”
In the meantime, the Veloster N will get a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission eventually, and a Sonata N-Line is on the way. Both cars will have their engines in the front.
San Francisco-based developer Culdesac has broken ground on what it calls the first dedicated, car-free residential development in the United States. Culdesac Tempe is a $140-million mixed-use neighborhood that will house up to 1,000 residents in 636 multi-family units laid out on 16 acres. None of those residents will be allowed to drive or park personal cars on the property, and they can't park in the surrounding areas, either. Ryan Johnson, a Culdesac co-founder and its CEO, told the Wall Street Journal, "Transportation has changed a lot over the last decade and real estate hasn’t kept up. Now there’s the chance for us to build the first post-car development." Transportation options on and off the development will include a light rail station across the street, scooters, bikes, ridesharing, and a few spaces for carsharing vehicles.
There will be some parking on site for 24,000-square-feet of retail concerns that include a food hall, grocery story, and coffee shop, plus visitor parking. Eliminating a huge chunk of space normally used for roads and resident parking pads makes wholesale changes to the habitat; according to the co-founders, "half of the land area will be covered in landscaping, public courtyards, and greenery," which it says is three times the typical share of green space for an urban development. There will also be room for traditional amenities like a pool, a gym, and communal fire pits, and luxury touches like plazas, green spaces, a human park and a separate dog park, and shared working spaces (think WeWork). And since most of the units will be one-bedrooms, there will be private guest suites for visitors so that "living space won't be wasted on rarely-used extra bedrooms." When the development opens in the fall, rents are planned to range from $1,400 to $1,500, only slightly above the average Tempe rent of $1,360.
In a desert city like Tempe, additional benefits accrue from having more green space and less exposed concrete, like cutting down the effects of heat islands. Driveable areas won't be composed of asphalt, either, decomposed granite and permeable pavers will be used instead. Culdesac worked with the police and fire departments to ensure suitable access into the neighborhood for first responders.
Johnson and co-founder Jeff Berens are Arizona natives and chose Tempe because the city council was willing to work with Culdesac on the novel proposal. The city relaxed some zoning rules, and waived the usual parking spot requirements. Maricopa County has been the fastest growing county in the U.S. for three years, and Tempe's population is predicted to double by 2040. The city's trying to catch up with public transportation options, with "border-to-border light rail" that connects downtown and Phoenix airport, 200 miles of bike lanes, dockless scooters, municipal Uber and Lyft pick-up stations, free neighborhood buses, and a streetcar network that will be running in two years.
It will be interesting to see who moves in. Culdesac says it has "enormous" demand for the units already. That could be aided by the fact that Tempe's a college town built around Arizona State University and the median age there is under 30, even though reports show millennials buying cars in the same numbers as the previous generation. If Culdesac Tempe takes off, the developers have their eyes on more and larger neighborhoods across the country in typical car-centric cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Raleigh-Durham, and other cities and developers will take note. Berens said, "Ultimately our goal is to build the first car-free city in the United States. The goal is to create a city where everyone can access jobs and amenities without feeling like they need to own a car. Some people may still choose to own a car, but the structure of the city would be set up to enable a car-free lifestyle."
VW Group Components was formed in January after a carve-out process that took more than three years to complete. It now incorporates nearly 80,000 employees across 47 global locations building everything from driveshafts and dampers to front axles and steering columns.
Traditionally, the parts arm's main task was manufacturing more than 10 million combustion engines and transmissions a year. But as VW shifts to electric powertrains, that volume will have to be completely wound down by around 2040 — without causing a sustained hit to earnings.
According to sources, VW Group Components earns, on average, an operating margin of 4 to 5 percent, depending on the product. A tenth of its work force is slated to be eliminated in the next four years to protect that profitability. But a labor pact in Germany means layoffs at its high-wage sites in the country are not an option through the next decade.
Schmall declined to confirm VW Group Components' margin but said his aim remains to achieve the strategic target margin set by his bosses: 6 percent.
While he predicted suppliers making the shift to EVs would find it difficult to boost returns to more than 10 percent, he said VW could rely on growing volumes to help it through the transition.
"By 2025, our site in Kassel plans to manufacture up to 1 million electric drivetrains, making us one of the largest suppliers in the market. With those kinds of volumes, you shape the global competitive landscape," Schmall said.
The VW manager plans to invest about $3.96 billion through 2023 in the business's EV component operations, but that means funds will be limited elsewhere. To address that challenge, he made a deal to combine VW's conventional steering business with Japan's NSK to share costs. This will allow the operation to focus on the steer-by-wire technology needed to address another megatrend: the move toward self-driving cars.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe isn’t a new model for Mercedes, but it did get a major upgrade in the new model year. Mercedes claimed it was the “fastest SUV around the Nurburgring” when it launched, but Audi now claims its RS Q8 is quicker by a full seven seconds. Still, the AMG did it in under eight minutes, which is bonkers for an SUV.
This time comes courtesy of a handcrafted 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It’s not as powerful as the GLE 63 S with 603 horsepower, but we were hardly missing it on the way to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. Yowza, it’s fast. Since it’s an S, the top speed is 174 mph, as opposed to the 155 mph top speed of the non-S. Mercedes’ nine-speed multi-clutch transmission does the shifting, offering quicker response than a traditional torque converter automatic. Mercedes adopted the lightly refreshed 2020 GLC-Class Coupe styling in the full-on AMG model, and it also provided a big update to the tech. This car is running Mercedes’ newest MBUX infotainment system that debuted on the A-Class, a big improvement in speed and functionality over last year’s infotainment tech.
This being the “Coupe” version of the GLC 63 S, it also features less than optimal rear headroom and cargo space. The frumpy rear end gets a little leaner and more chiseled with the revised styling for 2020, but it’s still a strange looking vehicle. That rear spoiler that juts out and into the driver’s line of sight is even stranger to behold on the outside. On top of the reduced functionality, a GLC 63 S Coupe is more expensive than its traditional counterpart, but it’s also the only way to get the more powerful and more capable S. Ours started at $85,095, but options like the $2,250 21-inch forged AMG wheels, $1,100 head-up display, $1,080 designo Cardinal red paint and plenty of others took it up to $96,425.
Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: Sometimes a tall, high performance crossover is exactly what you want. That happened to be the case during my time with this coupe-like SUV. Michigan dumped 11 inches of snow on us early this year, and our GLC 63 S Coupe was shod with Pirelli Scorpion winter rubber. Perfect.
As you might expect, it was an absolute riot. Mercedes lets you turn off stability control and slide around in circles for as long as you want. The 4Matic all-wheel drive system is happy to send huge power to the rear wheels whenever you ask for it, turning the SUV into something of a rally crossover. It's even playful with traction control off and stability control in sport mode. With the tall ride height and 503 horsepower waiting to be unleashed, this car laughed in the face of our winter storm. In most circumstances, this car doesn’t make a whole lot of sense with its limited utility and inferior-to-a-car handling. That changes when the weather gets really bad.
The GLC 63 S Coupe is a fine automobile to drive on dry roads, too. Try out launch control somewhere safe with a lot of empty road in front of you. It’s mind-bending how quickly this beast gets up to speed. Since our car was equipped with winter tires, it wasn’t the grippiest around corners, but the chassis is still superb. The suspension stiffness is controllable via the various mode selectors throughout the car — it’s remarkable how livable the suspension is in Comfort mode, and it’s not especially horrible in Sport+ either. Mercedes’ nine-speed dual-clutch transmission works well when you’re up to speed, but low-speed maneuvers were a nightmare of choppiness. It’s an acceptable level of un-smoothness for a sports car, but it jerks you around far too much for a luxury crossover. I’d happily give up a smidgen of track performance for easier around town driving in this thing.
This Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe was absolute perfection in the snow assault of the past couple days. Winter rubber, 503 horsepower and heavily rear-biased all-wheel drive is as fun as it sounds in the fluffy stuff. @therealautoblogpic.twitter.com/3HSme7vmFK
Associate Editor, Joel Stocksdale: Like Zac, I was genuinely impressed with the ride and handling balance of the GLC 63 S. It feels surprisingly nimble, but isn't punishing. I think I still prefer the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio more, but the Merc is still excellent.
That being said, we've so far glossed over the show piece of this AMG: its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. At 503 horsepower this is, and it's strange to say this, one of the less powerful versions of the AMG engine. It still packs a wallop that will have you hurtling past the speed limit quite easily. Power comes on impressively smoothly, though, so it's easy to keep it under control.
As good as the power is, the sound is even better. The GLC 63 S has a dual-mode exhaust that is quiet as a mouse when you want it to be, but press a button and it starts making evil grumbles and gurgles. Romp on it, and each shift comes with a fierce bark, and letting off returns a series of rippling cracks. I left it in this mode not just because the sounds make me giggle, but because the volume and tone was still pleasant in daily driving. It never got painfully loud, and the exhaust note didn't drone. This is one car you can be loud all the time and not get tired of it.
Not all projects have to go for maximum efficiency or power. They can be outrageously pointless and still be fun. Need proof? Just take a look at this quad-turbo Honda Civic.
This car was built by Kyle Williams for his YouTube channel, Boosted Lifestyle. He bought it with a 1.6-liter B16 inline-four packing forged internals, and decided to bolt on not one, not two, but four BorgWarner K03 turbochargers, one for each exhaust outlet. He cut up the factory exhaust manifold and fabricated tubes to make everything fit, and it looks as absurd as you'd think. Here's a video of him putting everything together for the first time:
Originally, Williams wanted to mount the turbos in front of the motor, but with the radiator in the way, he ended up mounting them in the spectacular fashion you see here. We think it's more fun this way. Here's how it sounds:
Of course, having so many turbos isn't exactly the most efficient way to make power, but the car does make boost. Here's video of Williams driving it for the first time:
In the car's latest update, Williams equipped snow tracks to the front wheels so he could continue driving the car throughout winter. Here's how it fared adventuring through a snow-coated field, then later, an icy road:
Obviously, slapping on four turbochargers to a tiny engine like this isn't the most efficient, cheapest, or least complex way to make power. But it's a whole lot more interesting, that's for sure.
Tesla has filed a patent for the process of cleaning a vehicle's glass surfaces using laser beams.
The laser cleaning process could clean dirt and other debris blocking the view of a camera used for advanced driver-assistance features.
Tesla also says the lasers could be used to clean the surfaces of solar panels.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is notoriously skeptical that automakers need laser scanners (also known as lidar sensors) to develop truly self-driving cars. "Anyone relying on lidar is doomed," Musk declared at a Tesla event in April 2019. But a recent patent claim suggests Tesla may have found a use for lasers after all, although they won't be looking down the road. Tesla has filed a patent for a system that uses lasers to clean glass, including the glass in front of cameras used for advanced driver-assistance systems such as Autopilot.
According to the patent, such a system could use cameras to detect debris on windshields, side or rear glass, or camera lenses. A laser would then irradiate the debris, burning it off of the windshield. An illustration accompanying the patent filing shows a Tesla Model S with lasers mounted on the hood, fender, and B-pillar to clean forward- and side-facing cameras. A patent doesn't mean that this technology is guaranteed to reach the road, of course. The technology will first have to prove that it's reliable, affordable, and an improvement over existing technology. We assume any laser-based system would have more success than windshield-washer fluid at removing bug guts and other stubborn dirt.
That patent describes pulsing the laser at a calibrated rate or coating the glass with an indium tin oxide coating to ensure that the beam doesn't pass through the glass and damage materials or components on the other side of the glass. That protection would presumably also benefit any human occupants inside the vehicle as well. Tesla also mentions using the technology to clean debris from the glass and glasslike coatings used on photovoltaic solar panels. Anything that blocks sunlight from reaching a solar panel reduces the amount of power the panel produces.