Sunday, June 28, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 6-29-15

Spencer Penrose graduated last in his class from Harvard in 1886.
That did not deter him from becoming an adventurer and developer of many of Colorado’s landmarks, including the Broadmoor Hotel and the Pikes Peak Highway.
In 1916, after widening the narrow carriage road to the 14,110-foot summit, Penrose established a competitive hill climb to promote the route to tourists. “The Race to the Clouds” was first run with open wheel class vehicles.
The 1916 winning time was 20-minutes, 55.6-seconds.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb now includes nearly every class of competitive automobile. The fastest time on the 7-mile course was established in June 2013 by Sebastien Loeb, at 8-minutes, 13.8-seconds, driving a 875-hp mid-engined Peugot 208 T16.

For the 93rd running of the race on Sunday (6/28) Honda Performance Development and Honda Research and Development associates fielded 13 vehicles in 11 different classes. Former Indy Lights Champion Alex Lloyd, and Japanese Super GT legend Tetsuya Tamano were tapped to pilot the Honda B-Fit spec and an all-electric vehicle on a CR-Z chassis, respectively.
Honda has had winning cars in at least one class-victory in each of the past 13-years.

But not this year.
The 2015 Penrose Cup winner is Rhys Millen with a run time of 9-minutes, 32.4-seconds…the first win by an electric vehicle. Millen drove a 1-megawatt eO PPOE developed in Latvia that produced 1,367-hp.
Batteries not included.
No, wait—they were.

Beginning next month, you can order a factory-prepped Dodge Challenger specifically intended for drag racing. The next-generation Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak will offer the option of a supercharged 354-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI engine or a naturally aspirated 426-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI engine. 

Where might one drive such a vehicle, you ask?

FCA says the dream machine is “designed for passionate Sportsman racers who compete in nationally sanctioned drag racing series, such as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).”

You can order your Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak “through authorized Dodge dealerships” starting July 23. The MSRP for the naturally aspirated 426 version of the Drag Pak is a “cubic inch appropriate” $99,426, with the 354 supercharged race car available for $109,354 MSRP. Apparently, size does matter.
Order two.

Imagine dropping a serious performance engine inside your favorite SUV, and than tweaking the package with some major attitude. Nissan did just that in 2011 with its JUKE-R crossover supercar. The 2015 JUKE-R 2.0 concept made its global dynamic debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK on Thursday, and it was pretty impressive.

It looks as good as it tastes.
The front and rear bumpers are made from 100% carbon fiber, and the  nose has been retooled with larger vent intakes to cool the 600-hp NISMO engine.  The hood has bare carbon cooling ducts that have been repositioned for better efficiency.
The rear exhaust cowlings have been reshaped, and are made of high-temperature carbon fiber. LED
lights are used extensively, front and rear and in between, including turn signal repeaters in the side rear view mirrors.  The JUKE-R 2.0 rolls on the new GT-R wheels, and comes in your choice of colors, so long as you like Matte Black.

When the Mini Cooper hardtop first came on the scene in 2002, I was enthralled. I had to drive one. And it performed as expected, with snappy response from superior geometry with all four tires place essentially at the corners of the chassis. I thought, ‘there’s no way to improve on this.’ 

I was wrong, because the Mini Clubman appeared with just a little more cargo space tucked under its elongated top. Funny thing about that process…the Mini became less and less “mini” with each iteration. And the inevitable has occurred—the first Mini mini-van.

The new and improved 2016 MINI Clubman is 10.9 inches longer and 2.9 inches wider than its “little” brother, with a wheelbase that is 4 inches larger. The not-so-mini 17.5 cu ft luggage compartment can be extended to as much as 47.9 cu ft by folding down the rear backrest.

Fortunately, Mini has beefed up its power plants to handle the bigger, better Clubman. In addition to the standard 134 bhp 3-cylinder engine, the new MINI Cooper S Clubman also offers a 4-cylinder, 189hp engine. Mini also offers an 8-speed Steptronic transmission for the Mini Cooper S Clubman, but you’d miss all the fun in the standard 6-speed manual tranny.
One thing is clear: This is not your mama’s mini van.

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