• Video introduces Tricolore Abarth 595, teases Abarth 124

    February 28, 2016

    Fiat has released a video, inspired by the 1969 film The Italian Job, that announces new special-edition Abarth 595 and teases the new Abarth 124.

    The original Italian Job is perhaps best known for an extended (and quite overrated) chase sequence in which a trio of Minis dodge the polizia through the streets of Turin after Michael Caine and his band of merry thieves pull off a big heist in the famed Italian city. In a teaser video released Thursday titled “The Real Italian Job: The Full Story,” the tables are turned when it is three Fiat 500-based Abarth 595s that escape Turin — where the Abarth offices are, incidentally — and invade London.

    Part of its purpose is to introduce a new Tricolore package for the 595. Available only on models in red, white or dark blue, the limited edition appearance package adds titanium-finish 17-inch wheels, red brake calipers, black mirror caps, an exclusive steering wheel, and racing stripes. No performance improvements are included, and the standard 1.4-liter turbo four with 140 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque is the sole engine choice. Tricolore edition 595s will be limited to 300 for the UK market.

    The real money shot of the video, however, is a brief teaser picture of what is likely the Abarth 124, “stolen” from the Abarth factory. It’s all a bit hokey and “The Real Italian Job: The Full Story,” doesn’t really tell the full story. Instead, it hints at the 124 with a diecast model of an old 124, and offers only the briefest of glimpses. No further details were given. Watch the video below.

  • Acura NSX still has untapped performance potential

    February 28, 2016

    The 2017 Acura NSX configurator may have just launched this week, but already rumors are circulating about a higher-performance version, reportedly a possible Type R.

    The NSX already boasts 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque thanks to a twin-turbo V6 and no less than three electric motors, but Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau reports that Acura engineers are looking for ways to “bump power and performance up another notch or two.”

    Engineers believe that the 3.5-liter V6 is “far from nearing the limits of its design,” with a power-to-displacement ratio of “just” 143 per liter. Improvements to the turbochargers may be part of the strategy to draw more power from the engine. More than 15 years ago, Honda achieved the highest power-to-displacement ratio of any naturally aspirated production car when it introduced the 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter S2000 sports car.

    Interestingly, the most immediate methods of bumping power may not come from traditional means such as tweaking turbos. Instead, engineers, believe the electric half of the hybrid powertrain holds just as much tuning potential. A larger battery pack, unspecified upgrades to the electrical system, and changes to the chemistry of the batteries themselves that improve energy “flow” are all potential wells of more power.

    As for the Type R, there is no official confirmation of such a program. In the past, Honda has only bestowed the Type R name to the purest of lightweight performance cars. At 3,803 pounds, the NSX is already on the heavy side. A true Type R would have to dramatically reduce that mass, and the elimination of power seats, sound insulation material and other electronic amenities would have to take place.

    In any case, it sounds as if there are already several ways to improve performance in coming iterations before a hard core Type R needs to debut.