Car Reviews

Brabus 800 Adventure XLP debuts – Mercedes-AMG G63 in pick-up form; 4L twin-turbo V8 with 800 PS

The latest Mercedes-AMG G 63 is an impressive vehicle on its own, but do you ever wish it was offered as a pick-up instead? Well, Brabus hears your cries and has revealed this, the 800 Adventure XLP. It isn’t cheap, as the car shown in these photos – part of the limited “First Edition” – is priced at 666,386 euros (RM3,135,968), including options and a Wingcopter drone (we’ll get to that later on).

For the sum, Brabus will take regular G 63 and chop the roof of the cargo area and extend the wheelbase by 50 cm in order to accommodate the pick-up bed. The bed itself features components made from sheet metal, along with carbon-fibre bedsides and flexi-teak paneling for the floor. A side-opening tailgate provides access to the newfound cargo space, while sport bars add to the visuals and can be used to safely tie down items.

With these modifications, the end product has an overall length of 5.31 metres, which makes the Adventure XLP 68.9 cm longer than a stock G 63 without a spare wheel at the rear. That’s not all, as Brabus also modified the vehicle’s suspension with portal axles to match its new pick-up identity, requiring an all-new integral subframe at the front for the independent suspension setup.

The rear retains the same solid axle configuration, but requires new parts designed and milled from billet aluminium to suit the new portal axle setup. The company also designed a bespoke version of its Ride Control coilover suspension to match this new design, which is height-adjustable and is tied to the standard Dynamic Select drive mode system.

A set of Brabus Monoblock HD wheels measuring 22-inches are also part of the get-up, and they come with a specific eight-lug pattern and 325/55 profile Pirelli Scorpion ATR all-terrain tyres. Other visible modifications include an adapted version of the Widestar body kit and various carbon-fibre components like the bonnet attachment and wheel arch extensions – the latter makes the vehicle 11.6 cm wider than the production car.

Additional options that are fitted on the pictured car include a roof-mounted luggage rack, a carbon-fibre wind deflector with auxiliary LED lights, a front brush guard and winch rated for pulling 4,500 kg and powered step bars.

A fancier bit of kit is a Wingcopter drone that can be parked in the bed, which is capable of reaching speeds of up to 240 km/h. Designed to deliver aid supplies and equipment to remote regions in impassable terrain, the drone is capable of covering a range of 120 km before a battery swap is required, and has a payload of up 6 kg.

Inside, customers have total freedom to customise the cabin with a range of fine leathers and trim materials to suit their personal preferences. The “First Edition” units come with burned oak-coloured leather to contrast the Rocket silver matte exterior finish, along with carbon-fibre trim and black Alcantara touches.

It wouldn’t be a Brabus model without additional power, so the 800 PowerXtra+ performance upgrade is part of the package. This adds on two high-performance turbos and a larger compressor for a maximum boost pressure of 1.6 bar, along with a new injection mapping, boost pressure control and ignition.

With these enhancements, the M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 now pushes out 800 PS (789 hp) at 6,600 rpm and 1,000 Nm of torque from as low as 3,600 rpm. This is 215 PS (212 hp) and 150 Nm more than the stock engine, and the performance upgrade is offered for other G 63-based Brabus models as well.

The added grunt is made more audible by way of a Brabus Boost Xtra sound kit for the bypass valve, so a clearly audible blow-off noise is made when the driver lifts off the throttle. The company’s own exhaust system with actively controlled exhaust flaps add to this, and you still get a “coming home” when you don’t want to wake up the neighbours.

Performance-wise, you’re looking at a zero to 100 km/h time of just 4.8 seconds, which is slower than stock, but keep in mind that this was built to tackle tough terrains instead of chasing speed. On a related note, the electronically-limited top speed of 210 km/h is 10 km/h down from a regular G 63, largely due to the all-terrain tyres.

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2020 MotoGP: Revised calendar announced, MotoGP season to begin in Austin, Thailand in October

After the cancellation of the MotoGP race in Qatar as well as the postponement of the Thailand Grand Prix in Buriram over fears of Covid-19 contagion, MotoGP race organisers Dorna have announced a revised schedule for this year’s racing season. For the top flight MotoGP class, the season begins in Austin, Texas on April 4 and 5.

Meanwhile, for Thailand, the race in the Land of Smiles has been rescheduled to the weekend of October 3 and 4. This means the race scheduled for that weekend, the Aragon Grand Prix in Alcaniz, Spain is brought forward to September 26 and 27.

Thus, for the 2020 racing season, there will be 19 MotoGP races and 20 Moto2 and Moto3 rounds in the calendar. For the MotoGP championship to be ratified by motorcycling’s governing body the FIM, there has to be a minimum of 13 races in the season.

Speaking to reporters about the possibility of further races in the calendar being cancelled due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, said, “it’s very important for us to maintain the calendar and second to make the maximum number of races, keeping the same possibilities for everybody.”

Several options were considered for the season opening MotoGP race in Qatar after the imposition of a 14-day quarantine for visitors from Italy was announced, including a special charter flight with the absolute minimum number of team personnel or a closed race with no spectators or visitors in the paddock.

“What will happen in the future? This is something we can’t prevent. The situation keeps changing around the world, every day. The only thing I can say is that we will try to do everything possible; postpone or whatever,” said Ezpeleta. “This is the position. The next race? the United States. We don’t know anything. We are waiting to send all the material until the last moment. If the situation changes between now and that moment, we will make that decision,” he said.

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McRae makes impressive circuit racing debut

Third generation star-in-the-making Max McRae has made an impressive start to his single-seater career in Australia.

McRae, nephew of the late Colin McRae and son of former World Rally Championship competitor Alister, won the opportunity to race in the West Australian Formula 1000 series in a driver search programme last year.

The former karting ace made his series debut at Barbagallo Raceway last weekend, finishing third for the round despite a DNF in the first race.

That included the second quickest qualifying time, behind ex-Euroformula Open driver Jordan Oon, a fourth from the back of the grid in Race 2, and a second in the third and final race.

While the DNF may have cost him a shot at a debut round win, McRae reckons it was a good learning experience for his first round.

“Rolling out of the grid for my first warm-up lap in the F1000 was very nerve-racking, but the adrenaline rush was strong and I just wanted to get on the track and see those lights go out,” he said.

“Coming from the back of the grid was definitely the best thing in terms of learning how to be smart while fighting your way back up to the front – but doing it fast at the same time.

“Overall I think the day was a big positive. I learnt more than I ever have in a race while going 110 per cent.

“At the end of the day I felt very proud of myself how calm I kept through the day and the pace I held up. It was awesome to end the weekend on such a positive and I’ll be counting down until the next races with Arise Racing.”

Oon won the round with a clean sweep, followed by Gianni Lutzu, who finished second to McRae in the driver search.

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Car Reviews

Microlino 2.0 – bubble car with up to 200 km EV range

Micro Mobility Systems has unveiled the Microlino 2.0, which is the follow-up model to the Microlino that passed the final tests for European Union homologation back in 2018. Completely redesigned inside and out, the cute bubble car is taller than its predecessor to create additional headroom in the cabin, and features taller side windows and thinner A-pillars to improve visibility.

The styling overhaul also includes flush-mounted LED light strips at the front and rear, a hidden door handle, and smaller side mirror/main lamp units. The rear end also gets a 50% wider track than before for improved ride comfort and safety. While the cute bubble car still evokes memories of the classic BMW Isetta with its retro looks, it isn’t filled with old world tech.

Getting inside the vehicle is still accomplished via a “fridge-like” door, where you are greeted by a new digital instrument cluster display and LED ambient lighting. Other changes see the steering wheel being mounted on a free-standing column instead of on the door, which can be folded forward to ease ingress and egress.

The bench seat has also been tweaked to be more comfortable and ergonomic, while an aluminium bar on the dashboard allows for smartphones and Bluetooth speakers to be clipped onto it – there is no infotainment system inside.

For motivation, the company says that the asynchronous motor of the previous model was swapped out for a synchronous, permanent-magnet motor that provides about 15% more efficiency and significantly more power. While no specific details mere mentioned, we are told the Microlino 2.0 will hit a top speed of 90 km/h; this is primarily a city car.

The electric motor is powered by batteries in either 8 kWh or 14.4 kWh capacities, which provide range of 125 km and 200 km respectively. When depleted, the smaller-capacity unit can be recharged in approximately four hours with a normal household outlet. Prices start at 12,000 euros (RM56,415), and the company says it has already received 17,000 reservations ahead of start of production in 2021.

If four wheels is one too many, the company is also presenting the Microletta concept, which is a three-wheel electric motorcycle. Officially classified as a tricycle in Europe, the Microletta will hit a top speed of 80 km/h and can be operated without a motorcycle license – a normal driver’s license is enough.

The three-wheeler is meant to fill the space between electric scooters and the Microlino, and is equipped with two batteries with a capacity of 4.2 kWh each. This allows for a range of around 100 km on a single charge, and the batteries are removable and can be swapped out if needed.

As this is technically still a concept, finalised specifications remain unknown for now, but the company is currently non-binding reservations and says the model will be priced at approximately 4,900 euros (RM23,032).

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Car Reviews

Porsche 911 is hybrid-ready, but too heavy; fully electric version 'not before 2030' with next-gen model

The platform of the current Porsche 911 is ready for electrification, however the German automaker is not about to produce a hybrid Neunelfer any time soon, despite having prototypes to that effect. “For a two-door, serious sports car the additional weight of the battery is not something we are satisfied with today,” said Porsche board member Michael Steiner to Top Gear.

As a result, a fully electric 911 is a long way off; not before 2030 at the earliest, said Porsche sports car line director Frank-Steffen Walliser to Autocar. “The 911 will be the last Porsche to become electric, hopefully after my retirement so I’m not responsible any more and no one can blame me (for an electric 911); I will fight to let the 911 keep its gasoline engine, Walliser told Autocar.

Even partial, hybrid electrification of the Porsche 911 is a difficult task due to the way the car is packaged, Walliser said. “We want to keep it as a 2+2 (seating configuration), we want to keep decent trunk space and we don’t want to destroy the shape of the 911,” he said.

There has been an electrified 911, albeit in the race car form of the 997 GT3 R Hybrid.

“Also, I am not ready to put that amount of additional weight into the car. If you wanted to make such a car, it would be easier to make a completely new car,” the model line director added. This implies that the 911 won’t have a hybrid version until 2026 at the earliest, which is when the next-generation car is expected, given its seven-year generational lifecycle.

In the shorter term, Porsche is working on making the just-launched 911 Turbo S a more engaging experience for drivers. “We are aware of the feedback (that it is the fastest but not the most enjoyable) and we have taken steps to address it. Thus, a lightweight version of the Turbo S will be introduced later this year, to be available as a package.

Will this direction include measures such as removing the rear seats, and replacing glass panels with polycarbonate items? “We are going in that direction,” Walliser said. This lightweight package will later go on to be available in the Carrera and Carrera S models, essentially playing to role of the 991-generation Carrera T.

According to Walliser, the Carrera T was well-received, though it did not stay on the market for long enough for Porsche to determine if it should become a permanent member of the 911 range. Walliser also confirmed that the new 4.0 litre naturally aspirated flat-six in the Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0 models won’t be repurposed for the 992-generation GT3, which will instead continue to use the racecar-derived engine.

“We (will) stick with the race engine. It’s expensive but we develop it on the track and (we) learn more with every passing race. That is the way we will continue,” he said. As for the 911’s own GTS versions, these will most likely continue to use tuned versions of the 3.0 litre turbo flat-six instead of using the 4.0 litre NA engine like the 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS range does now.

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Car Reviews

Brabus 800 Black & Gold Edition revealed – modified Mercedes-AMG G63 with 800 PS, 1,000 Nm 4L V8

Brabus isn’t quite done fiddling with the Mercedes-AMG G 63, and has unveiled the new 800 Black & Gold Edition, which joins the previous Black Ops 800 and Shadow 800. Priced at 380,672 euros (RM1,787,447), the souped-up SUV features all the things you’d expect from a Brabus-prepared vehicle.

For starters, the M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 gets two high-performance turbochargers and other modifications to push out 800 PS (789 hp) and 1,000 Nm of torque; this represents an increase of 215 PS (212 hp) and 150 Nm from stock.

The added power has some impact on performance, as the zero to 100 km/h time has been slashed by 0.4 seconds to 4.1 seconds, while the top speed is up by 20 km/h to 240 km/h. To make sure the V8 is heard by those around you, there’s a Brabus stainless steel sport exhaust system with integrated actively controlled exhaust flaps. The system also comes with a “coming home” mode for moments when a more discreet exhaust note is required.

As for the styling, the company’s Widestar body kit comes as standard, which adds 40 mm to the overall width thanks to the included fender flares and more aggressive bumpers. Other individual highlights include a top-mounted bonnet attachment and LED light units located on the roof.

Following the name of the model, the body is painted black, while other bits like the brake calipers and emblems finished in gold. The 800 Black & Gold Edition also gets a set of 23-inch forged Brabus Monoblock Y “Platinum Edition” alloy wheels, which are painted gold and shod with 305/35 profile Advan Sport tyres.

While it may look subdued on the outside, the interior is a whole different story. Brabus has been very generous with the gold touches in the cabin, as almost every contact point gets the bright finish. Finer details like the stitching on the quilted leather upholstery also come with gold thread, while carbon-fibre trim pieces provide some contrast.

For the rear passenger compartment, the default seat bench has been taken out and replaced with two individual seats and a dedicated centre console. The latter comes with a 4.3-inch touchscreen control panel that allows those in the rear to access various seat functions and move the front passenger seat if more legroom is needed.

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Auto News

Dodge Will Give You a $10 Discount Per Horsepower to Buy a Challenger, Charger or Durango

If you were waiting for an excuse to snatch up a brand new Dodge muscle car, this might be your ticket. The power-crazed American automaker is launching an interesting new incentive program called “Dodge Power Dollars,” which gives customers a $10 cash rebate per horsepower when buying a new 2019 Challenger, Charger, or Durango. 

Yep, Dodge is putting piles of cash on the hood based on how much is lurking under said hood. Specifically, this means folks who sign on the dotted line for a 707-hp Charger Hellcat starting today are entitled to a $7,070 cash allowance, while buyers of the 475-hp Durango SRT will get $4,750 slashed off their invoices. And so on and so forth. 

2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

The Power Dollars program applies to everything from the base, 292-hp Charger SXT to the 797-hp Challenger Hellcat Redeye. Those two are eligible for discounts of $2,920 and $7,970, respectively.

According to Dodge, Challenger sales were at an all-time high in 2018 (impressive when you remember the car is a decade old), the Charger is on track to dominate the “U.S. large car segment” for the third year in a row, and the Durango is set to record its best sales year since 2005. 

“Since bringing the Charger and Challenger back to market, Dodge has put 485 million horsepower into the hands of our loyal enthusiasts,” said Fiat Chrysler head of passenger cars Tim Kuniskis. “Dodge has more horsepower than anyone else, and we want to share it and give those who have always wanted more the ability to get more. The goal is to grow to a half-billion horsepower before the end of the year.”
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Auto News

Land Rover Unveils Factory-Built Off-Road Kits to Upgrade Classic Defender

Current and past versions of the Land Rover Defender are quite antiquated, and that’s clearly reflected by their design and engineering which dates back many decades. But if you’re a current owner or restorer looking to bring your old box slightly more up to modern spec, then Land Rover is here to give you a helping hand. The automaker just revealed a whole range of upgrade kits for both the short-wheelbase 90 and long-wheelbase 110 versions of the Defender.

Land Rover Classic announced that it’ll be offering upgrade options for Defenders built between 1994 and 2016. Sadly, that automatically excludes pretty much any Defender that potentially exists on U.S. soil since they stopped selling here officially in 1997. Any Defender here also must be at least 25 years or older to avoid the crusher.

But nonetheless, if you are lucky enough to own an eligible Defender, you can now opt for suspension, brake, engine, and even wheel upgrades directly from Land Rover Classic.

For starters, buyers can opt for the “Defender Suspension Upgrade Kit,” which includes components originally introduced on the limited-edition Defender Works V8 70th Edition model, such as coil springs and shocks with revised rates, new anti-roll bars, and improved suspension bushings and links to improve on-road handling and comfort. Should one want to go a step further, the next level up is the “Defender Handling Upgrade Kit,” which includes all of the latter, but adds heavier duty rotors, pads, calipers, and 18-inch “Sawtooth” wheels.

Folks with the 2.2-liter TDCi diesel models shouldn’t feel left out. The “Defender Classic Works Upgrade Kit” features all of the aforementioned gear, but adds some tweaks to the engine, upping the output of the diesel engine to roughly 160 horsepower and 341 pound-feet of torque, up from 122 hp and 265 lb-ft.

“In 2018, Land Rover’s 70th Anniversary year, we saw unprecedented demand for the limited-edition Defender Works V8, which brought new levels of handling and performance to this iconic vehicle,” Land Rover Classic chief Calum McKechnie said in a statement. “Extending the range of fully engineered, tested and approved upgrades offered by Land Rover Classic underlines our commitment to supporting existing Defender owners, as we look forward to the new Defender’s world premiere later this year.”

Even though none of these upgrades are available from U.S.-based dealers, given how proactive the Defender community is stateside we don’t doubt that a few ambitious individuals will find a way to import these parts and retrofit them to existing models. But until then, we’ll have to wait until the new Defender makes its debut.

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Car Reviews

Ford F-150 Electric Pickup Truck Rendered With Help From Inside Sources

The renders are reportedly based on some inside info.

This render, based on reported insider info, imagines what the upcoming Ford F-150 electric pickup truck will look like when it’s revealed to the world. Based on some new spy shots of the conventional F-150, as well as older images of the electric F-150 caught testing, but with some added tweaks more fitting of an EV, is that what we should expect the F-150 to look like in production electric form?

F150 Gen 14, the creators of the render, describe it as such:

You’ve seen the spy photos of the partially exposed 2021 F-150, but now we’re bringing you the full undressed version, thanks to our inside sources who have seen the fiberglass mockup.

The evolutionary design nevertheless brings about many stylistic changes, notably, the 14th generation F-150 will have a grille that removes the large parallel slats that bisect the entire front end of the current truck for a cleaned-up, more open grille providing better ventilation and aerodynamics. The lighting elements have also been updated to provide a more refined, integrated design that eschews the oddly-shaped lego blocks of the current front headlights.

ELECTRIC 2022 F-150

The electric F-150 will have a polished, closed grille in the same vein as the non-GT Mach-E Mustang.

Ford says that the F-150 electric pickup truck will arrive on the scene sometime in 2021. Details on the truck are scarce, but Ford did show it towing 1 million pounds and the automaker has claimed that 300-miles of range is like a minimum target for any of its premium EVs going forward, so we assume the truck will go more than 300 miles per charge and be quite powerful too.

The electric Ford F-150 will likely debut in 2021. The truck will allegedly be the Blue Ovals followup EV to launching its Mustang Mach-E.

We expect the truck to be AWD and it’ll surely be the quickest F-150. Electric motors can crank out a ton of power at basically zero RPM, so the electric Ford truck should be fast off the line. We don’t know the power figures for the electric F-150, but we assume the numbers will be similar to the metrics released for the Rivian R1T.

You can check out the rendered Ford F-150 electric pickup truck in more colors at the source link below.

Let us know your thoughts on the look of this pickup truck. Too traditional for an electric? Or exactly what you’d expect from the electric version of the U.S.’ number one selling vehicle?


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Tuning and Technology

ProCharger Centrifugal Supercharger adds 300 HP to a Stock LS3 Crate Engine! – Hot Rod

More ways to make boosted LS power
How to Make 1,000 hp with a Supercharged LS
LS3 Supercharger Swap Kit

If you have the cash, a shiny new LS crate engine is the way to go. But what’s the best way to add big power to your otherwise-stock crate engine? Well, we picked up an LS3 offering from Blueprint Engines (PN PSLS3760CTF) and decided to find out. Blueprint now offers a crate engine that has all the GM goodness inside we’re used to, but with a few nice features that, to be honest, we typically end up doing ourselves to our stock crate engines.

Dyno Testing a stock LS3 crate engine

The new LS3 crate engine was rated and verified by Blue Print Engines (BPE) at 530 hp and 495 lb-ft, so we decided to find out how close to those numbers it was. We strapped it to the Westech Superflow dyno to find out. Before that though, let’s see what showed up on the pallet from Blueprint.

Now, if this was a Chevrolet Performance crate engine, our first story would be installing a bigger camshaft, but the LS3 crate engine from Blueprint, already comes with a fairly healthy stick from Comp sporting a 0.612/0.585 lift split, a 225/238-degree duration split and 113-degree LSA. Not huge, but it’s big enough to make power and still have great street manners.

Of course, the stock Blueprint engine made great power right out of the crate, but in true gearhead fashion we wanted more, and we wanted it all the flippin’ time. So, given that desire the best solution was boost. We could have dumped in race gas and made over 1,000 hp, but that’s not really realistic on a stock-ish crate engine. Our goal was to push the max of what you could do on high-octane pump gas, which is about 9-10psi. But before adding atmosphere, let’s take a look at what the stock LS3 put out.

How much power does boost add to an LS3?

Adding boost is super popular these days and for good reason. No other power adder gives you so much performance all the time. There are many different ways to stuff atmosphere into your engine: turbos, roots, centrifugal, etc. But we really love the centrifugal systems from ProCharger. Why? Because they’re stupid simple to install on our dyno engines, and it’s easy to dial the boost into exactly where we want it.

Key Points of Blueprint Engines’ LS3 crate engine (PN PSLS3760CTF):

  • All new parts including GM LS3 block, crank, rods and hypereutectic pistons
  • Dyno validated by Blueprint Engines at 530hp and 495 lb-ft
  • Comes with upgraded Comp camshaft and matching springs
  • Blueprint’s own rectangular-port heads with billet rocker stands
  • Delivered complete with LS3 water pump, LS3 intake, and factory injectors
  • Aftermarket parts such as Holley valve covers and GM LS swap oil pan
  • Includes electronics such as coils, wires, and all engine sensors.
  • 30 month / 50,000 mile warrant

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