(Editor’s note: From time to time, and beginning today, we’ll share a periodic roundup of new car news and notes that our editors think will be of interest to collector car enthusiasts.)
Valhalla symbolizes Aston Martin transformation
Aston Martin said its Valhalla, a concept car that has evolved into a driver-focused production-ready supercar, is a “huge step forwards” for the company and its transformation. Valhalla is a mid-engine hybrid supercar that offers “pinpoint dynamics for unprecedented driver involvement and driving experience.”
Valhalla is propelled by a 950-horsepower powertrain that includes a 750-horsepower twin-turbo V8 and a pair of electric motors with a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Aston Martin says the car, part of the brand’s Project Horizon strategy, has amazing downforce and should run sub-6:30 laps at the Nurburgring.
Aston Martin said Project Horizon reflects that company’s involvement in Formula One racing, its standards for performance, dynamics and driving pleasure, as well as its transition from internal-combustion engines to hybrid to full-electric power.
Valhalla was unveiled a few days before the recent British Grand Prix.
“Aston Martin’s first series production mid-engined supercar, Valhalla is a truly transformational moment for this ultra-luxury brand,” executive chairman Lawrence Stroll is quoted in the company’s news release. “The launch of Valhalla demonstrates Aston Martin’s commitment to building a range of exceptional mid-engined driver focused cars, a crucial next stage in the expansion of our product line-up.
“It also seemed fitting to unveil this stunning track-biased supercar at the home of motorsport and the home of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team and marks Aston Martin’s return to the British Grand Prix for the first time in over 60 years, a true milestone.”
“Valhalla,” the company added, “heralds a new definition of Aston Martin.”
Valkyrie takes honors at supercar show
While the Valhalla may show us what Aston Martin plans for the future, its current star car, the Valkyrie, was judged the Showstopper in Michelin’s recent supercar paddock at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Judges commended the car’s design “and pursuit of function over form.” Runners-up were the all-electric Rimac Nevera and the Glickenhaus SCG 004S.
Valkyrie is powered by a 6.5-liter V12-based hybrid system with 1,160 horsepower and boasts a top speed in excess of 250 mph.
Audi unveils 400-horsepower RS 3
Audi says its new RS 3 with its 400-horsepower 5-cylinder engine will sprint from 0 to 100 in 3.8 seconds, has a top speed of nearly 180 mph, offers RS-specific driving modes and even rides on “semi slicks” tires to offer “driving dynamics of the highest caliber.”
“With the second generation of the Audi RS 3 Sedan, we now offer premium sports cars that are suitable for everyday use,” said Sebastian Grams, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH. “They represent the entry point into our RS world and, thanks to the torque splitter, the ultimate in outstanding performance in the compact segment.”
The car is available in two new colors — Kyalami green and Kemora gray — and can be ordered with a contrasting Brillian black roof. Deliveries begin early in calendar-year 2022.
Porsche looks at flying-car efforts
Remember the flying car? You might still be a long way from owning one of your own, but several automakers are among the companies that seem serious about producing VTOLs — which stands for “vertical take-off and landing.” Such vehicles are being designed as “air taxis,” shuttling a dozen or so people through the air to work in urban areas.
Porsche Consulting says air taxis present “an attractive niche area with considerable need for investment.”
“VTOL vehicles have the potential to become an attractive means of transportation over the next 15 years,” Porsche Consulting reported. “Large parts of the population could then use them like today’s taxis. However, air taxis alone can hardly solve current and future problems associated with traffic and transport, because their development and market success are associated with considerable risks and hurdles of both a technical and commercial nature.”
The automaker’s consulting arm sees the “vertical mobility” market reaching $32 billion by 2035, but adds that it will take an investment of at least $20 billion before commercial routes can begin around 2025.
“From today’s perspective it is still unclear whether the requisite regulatory framework conditions and infrastructure will be in place by then,” the news release notes. “At least half a million passengers a day will have to use air taxis for the sector to assume a relevant share of the market by 2035. That would require 1,000 to 2,500 take-off and landing spots in as many as 60 suitable cities worldwide.”
Subaru hits all-wheel-drive milestone
Back on the ground, Subaru recently produced its 20-millionth all-wheel-drive vehicle.
The company began its push for all-wheel drive in 1972 with the Leone 4WD Estate Van. Today, 98 percent of all Subarus are equipped with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the company said.
“The most distinctive feature of the Subaru Symmetrical AWD system is a symmetrically-laid-out drivetrain paired with a longitudinally-mounted Subaru Boxer engine positioned in line with it,” the company said. “The combination of the low center of gravity provided by the Boxer engine along with the superior weight balance of the symmetrical drivetrain maximize stability and traction intrinsic to AWD, offering superb driving performance in a variety of weather and road conditions.”
JPS livery goes to Radford
Radford, the luxury car company being launched by British ex-patriots in Los Angeles, has announced its acquisition of John Player Special livery, the gold-and-black color scheme made famous on Lotus Formula 1 cars.
The company added that its first model will be based on Lotus technology.
“The acquisition of the JPS livery trademark is a clear statement of intent from Radford,” claimed Dan Burge, the company’s chief executive. “We are an emotive brand steeped in British history and heritage. Adding one of the world’s most iconic racing liveries to our armory, reinforces that. We’ll be using this livery in various guises in the coming years, on future Radford models, which we can’t wait to show the world.”
New drivers for design studios
Several automakers have announced new heads for their design studios:
Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos is the new head of design at Alfa Romeo. Stellantis credits the graduate of the Royal College of Art London with the renaissance of design at Seat/Cupra.
Stellantis also announced Francois Leboine as the new head of design for Fiat and Abarth. He also is a graduate of the British school and previously headed advanced design at Renault.
The new head of styling at Rolls-Royce is Anders Warming, who had been at BMW for nearly 20 years. He also has worked at Borgward and Volkswagen. He is a graduate of the ArtCenter College of Design’s Swiss campus.
Fisker ready to take the plunge
Yet another designer in the new is Henrik Fisker, those he’s a designer-turned-automaker.
Calling itself a “passionate creator of the world’s most sustainable electric vehicles and advanced mobility solutions,” Fisker has announced the launch of several “Fisker-dedicated operational areas at Magna’s world-class manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria.”
The result, the company said, is “another significant step forward towards the start of production for the Fisker Ocean SUV.”
Production is scheduled to begin in November.
Electric motorcycle eyes speed records
Monaco-based electric motorcycle producer Voxan already has set nearly a dozen speed records and its Voxan Wattman is being optimized for another such effort yet this year, with Max Biaggi riding.
Voxan planned to make its runs in 2020 in Bolivia, on the Salar de Uyuni, which Voxan says it’s the world’s largest salt flat. But the coronavirus pandemic forced a switch to an airport runway in France.
The virus still prevents use of the Bolivian site, Voxan said, so it will attempt its 2021 speed runs on another asphalt track (location yet to be announced).
Biaggi is quoted as seeking to reach 400 km/h (nearly 250 mph).
NHTSA orders automated driver crash reports
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advance driver assistance systems or SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving system to file reports on all crashes.
“This action will enable NHTSA to collect information necessary for the agency to play its role in keeping Americans safe on the roadways, even as the technology deployed on the nation’s roads continues to evolve,” the agency said.
“NHTSA’s core mission is safety,” added Steven Cliff, acting administrator. “By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems. In fact, gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles.”