• Tokyo preview: 2016 Subaru WRX S4 SporVita

    October 11, 2015

    Subaru will introduce a new version of the WRX S4 called SporVita at the Tokyo Motor Show that will open its doors later this month.

    Designed for buyers who want a more luxurious WRX, the SporVita gains model-specific seats designed jointly by Subaru and renowned Italian leather manufacturer Mario Levi. The black and brown two-tone upholstery that covers the seats, the steering wheel, the door panels and the center console helps make the WRX S4 SporVita one of the most upscale cars Subaru has ever built.

    The posh interior is complemented by model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels that feature a satin silver finish.

    Subaru has not made any mechanical modifications to the SporVita, meaning it’s powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter flat-four that spins all four wheels via a CVT. The four-cylinder produces nearly 300 horsepower — over 30 more than the mill that powers the U.S.-spec WRX — thanks in part to Japan’s high-octane fuel.

    The Subaru WRX S4 SporVita will go on sale across Japan shortly after it makes its global debut in Tokyo. However, at the time of writing it doesn’t sound like the stylish WRX will be offered on our side of the Pacific.

    The WRX S4 SporVita won’t be by itself on the Subaru stand in the Japanese capital. It’ll share the spotlight with a close-to-production design study called Impreza 5-Door Concept that accurately previews the next Impreza, and with a rugged-looking concept dubbed VIZIV Future that hints at what Subaru’s next off-roader might look like.

  • Porsche preparing GT3-powered, manual-only 911?

    October 11, 2015
    A new report finds Porsche will introduce a limited-edition model dubbed 911 R in the not-too-distant future.

    Billed as a tribute to the original 911 R that was launched as a homologation special in 1967, Porsche’s next limited-edition model will be equipped with the same 3.8-liter flat-six engine that powers the track-ready 911 GT3 (pictured). Its output will likely remain pegged at 475 horsepower and 324 lb-ft. of torque but it will be bolted to a manual transmission, a feature not offered on the GT3.

    Although further details are being kept under wraps, it’s not too far-fetched to speculate the gearbox will be a seven-speed unit. Rear-wheel drive will be the only configuration available.

    Don’t get the wrong idea, the 911 R won’t simply be a GT3 with a stick. It will ditch its automatic counterpart’s sizable trunk-mounted wing for a more streamlined appearance, it will ride on skinnier tires and it is expected to weigh noticeably less. In short, the R is shaping up to be the long-rumored driver-focused 911.

    If the report is accurate, Porsche will unveil the 911 R online in the coming weeks and the coupe might greet the public for the first time next month at the Los Angeles Motor Show. However, well-heeled enthusiasts who want one might already be out of luck because an anonymous source close to Porsche told Road & Track that the entire production run has already been spoken for.

  • Toyota hybrid race car cooks breakfast

    October 11, 2015

    To demonstrate its regenerative braking technology to a public still largely unclear on how hybrids work, Toyota recently cooked breakfast for 171 people with its TS040 race car.

    The stunt, called Toyota Barista, invited 171 people (actors?) into a room lined with tables, coffee pots, toasters and frying pans. Then its 1,000-horsepower Le Mans racer pulled into the room with driver Kazuki Nakajima behind the wheel.

    All the cooking contraptions were then “connected” to the race car, which accelerated on a rolling dyno to what, according to the screen, was 176 mph in a virtual lap around Sarthe Circuit.

    6 million joules are generated each lap of the 24-hour race. In competition, this would be made stored in on-board capacitors and fed back into the powertrain for extra speed when needed. However, if you chose to cook breakfast with that energy instead, you’d get 171.4 cups of coffee, 83.3 slices of toast, and 57.7 fried eggs.

    Clearly, it’s just a marketing stunt, but it’s a clever demonstration of how regenerative braking works for less technically minded car buyers.

  • Toyota S-FR specifications leaked?

    October 11, 2015

    Specs regarding the Toyota S-FR sports car concept have been leaked ahead of its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

    The S-FR’s existence was announced only earlier this week, but there is already an online forum devoted to the car. SFRforums.com has obtained specs about the apparently close-to-production sports car from a Japanese document and translated it into English.

    First and foremost, the S-FR (or whatever the production name turns out to be) will be powered by a 1.5-liter, twin-cam inline-four. It’s a tuned version of the Japanese market Toyota Corolla‘s, upgraded with direct injection and a new port design.

    According to the translation, the engine will generate be 130 PS (128 hp) and 109 lb-ft of torque. The sole transmission will be a 6-speed manual, and no automatic will be offered. Paried with a curb weight of just 2,160 pounds, it will be capable of 47 mpg in the Japanese testing cycle. The S-FR’s suspension will consist of front struts and an independent double-wishbone rear.

    The pricing is expected to be only an astounding $12,500 in the Japanese market. It’s not clear whether any of this will translate to the US market when (or if) it comes here. Clearly, though, enthusiasts are excited about the idea of a close-to-production, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive, and affordable sports car.