2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid, Mercedes SL and EQS | Autoblog Podcast #714

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by contributor Brett Berk. They talk about driving the plug-in hybrid 2022 Bentley Flying Spur, the Mercedes-Benz SL and EQS, and the Ford Bronco. They also have a discussion about design and the craft of writing.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at: [email protected]

Autoblog Podcast #714

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Rundown

  • Cars we’re driving
    • 2022 Bentley Flying Spur
    • 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL
    • 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
    • 2022 Ford Bronco
  • Automotive design
  • Automotive writing

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2022 Range Rover lineup gets big price cuts, small increases

Land Rover is still fleshing out specifics of 2022 Range Rover pricing, because much has changed in the world since our last post on Range Rover MSRPs. The amounts on a couple of trims have gone down by at least $3,000, the rest have all gone up by $450. Plus we finally have numbers for the super-luxe SV trims (pictured) that will be available on the base model and the flagship long-wheelbase model, both those trims seating five (the Range Rover Long Wheelbase Seven Seat resides between those two trims). Prices for each model and their MSRP changes, including the $1,350 destination charge, are: 

  • Range Rover: $102,350 ($3,180 less)
  • Range Rover Autobiography: $153,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover First Edition: $160,000 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover SV: $188,200
  • Range Rover LWB 7 Seats: $108,350 ($3,000 less)
  • Range Rover LWB 7 Seats Autobiography: $155,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB Autobiography: $157,800 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB First Edition: $165,300 ($450 increase)
  • Range Rover LWB SV: $211,200

To recap, the entry-level Range Rover comes equipped with fancy kit like 21-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, a sliding panoramic roof, leather upholstery, heated and 20-way power-adjustable front seats, heated and power-reclining rear seats, a Meridian sound system, and a 13.1-inch touchscreen. Signing up for the Autobiography adds gear such as 22-inch wheels, black brake calipers, trim-specific exterior emblems, 24-way heated and cooled front seats that can give you a hot stone massage, what Land Rover refers to as Executive Class Comfort rear seats, a head-up display, and a better sound system, among other features. The limited-sale, First Edition models benefit from leather cushions in the tailgate and an 11.4-inch rear-seat entertainment system.

The SV version is available on short- and long-wheelbase models with the twin-turbo 538-horsepower V8, and it unlocks a wealth of customization options. Land Rover says the SV can be worked up into 1.6 million combinations. Interior materials are where the SV really stands out, the ceramic trims in particular. With these, the shifter, drive mode selector and volume knob have ceramic surfaces in black or white and gloss or satin finishes. Buyers can even opt to have mosaic pattern-embossed ceramic panels in place of some of the wood and metal trim in the cabin. Traditional materials are still available, and they receive special attention, too. The wood trim can be had with marquetry inlays. Super soft semi- and near-aniline leathers are available, and buyers can have the front and rear seats finished in different colors. If you don’t want animal skin on your seats, Land Rover will also offer a polyurethane faux leather, another wild sign of the times.

Under that clamshell bonnet, the P400 models get a 3.0-liter inline-six making 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, backed up by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The P530 antes up to a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 sourced from Land Rover’s new (again) German partner, BMW. The eight-pot produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque as the range-topper, the 4.4 sprinting to 60 miles per hour in a nice, square 4.4 seconds. The PHEV trims are up for order now, mating Jaguar-Land Rover’s Ingenium inline-six engine with a 38.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a 105-kilowatt (~140 hp) electric motor for a combined output of 434 horsepower. Land Rover says it will be capable of speeds up to 87 mph on electric power alone and offer 62 miles of pure-electric driving.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale previewed ahead of February unveiling

After a false start, Alfa Romeo is finally ready to introduce the production version of the Tonale concept it presented in 2019. It released a short video on its social media channels to preview the model, which will be positioned below the Stelvio as an entry-level crossover.

The murky, 12-second flick highlights the Tonale’s digital instrument cluster, which features a layout called “cannocchiale” (“telescope” in Italian) by the brand. It seemingly consists of a screen flanked by a pair of round dials, and it’s loosely inspired by the layout found in some of Alfa’s classic models. Later examples of the 115-series GTV used a pair of large analog gauges separated by warning lights and smaller gauges.

What’s more interesting than the cluster is the image of the Tonale that appears on the middle screen. Shown above, it’s our first official look at the Stelvio’s baby brother. Surprisingly, the crossover shares more styling cues with the 2019 concept than with the prototype spotted at a design clinic later that year. The shape of the grille hasn’t changed much, and there are three U-shaped LEDs integrated into each headlight.

The rest of the design remains shrouded in darkness. Our crystal ball tells us that the production model will look a lot like a toned-down version of the concept; we’re not expecting the proportions to significantly change. Unverified rumors claim that the Tonale will be closely related to the Jeep Compass beneath the sheetmetal, and it will be offered with several engines and at least one plug-in hybrid drivetrain. It’s this system that sources say delayed the launch: Alfa Romeo’s boss reportedly sent engineers back to the drawing board in April 2021.

Alfa Romeo will unveil the Tonale online on February 8, 2022, at 9 a.m. ET, which is 6 a.m. in California. And, while the odds of seeing it on our shores were previously unknown, Alfa Romeo’s American division all but confirmed in a tweet that the model will be sold here.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Ford Mustang GT3 race car planned for 2024 IMSA season

Ford has announced it’s getting into the GT3 racing class, and it’s doing so with a Mustang. The car will be entering the 2024 IMSA series in the GTD and GTD Pro classes, but as a GT3 car, it will be eligible to compete in international GT3 classes.

The Mustang GT3 is being developed with two big-name racing companies with lots of Ford experience: Multimatic and M-Sport. Multimatic is one of the prime developers of the race car, and it will be managing the two factory-backed cars in IMSA. Other cars will be run by customer teams. Multimatic worked on the previous Ford GT LM race cars as well as the Bronco DR off-road-only SUV. It also makes those fantastic spool-valve shocks fitted to the road-going Ford GT and the Chevy Colorado and Silverado ZR2s. M-Sport is known for Ford’s rally cars, including the new Puma hybrid WRC car, and they’re in charge of the engine.

That engine will be a race-ready version of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 we all know and love in the current Mustang GT. It’s paired with a rear-mounted transaxle, which is one of the big departures from the road car. Besides the different transmission setup, the car features unique short-long arm suspension at all four corners. The body has many carbon fiber components, and of course, the race car has all kinds of aero aids.

Something that has us curious is whether this GT3 car will be based on the current Mustang, or if it will instead be the next-generation car. We’ve seen spy shots of a new one, so we know there’s a replacement in development. The timing would be good for a new Mustang, too: the current one will be nearly a decade old in 2024 — plus that year will be the Mustang’s 60th anniversary. Time will tell.

And one final note: Ford also has a new Mustang GT4 race car coming in 2023. That class is more production-based than the faster GT3 class. This one is more likely to be based on the current car, but we could always be surprised.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Kia recalling 410,000 vehicles for airbags that might not inflate

Kia is recalling more than 410,000 of its vehicles in the U.S. because the airbags could fail to inflate in a crash.

Here is the summary of the recall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain 2017-2019 Sedona, Soul, Soul EV, 2017-2018 Forte, and 2017 Forte Koup vehicles. The Air Bag Control Unit (ACU) cover may contact a memory chip on the printed circuit board and damage the electrical circuit. Circuit damage may result in deactivated air bags that will not deploy in a crash.

Kia says the problem surfaced in Korea last July. The company has received 13 customer complaints and 947 warranty claims. Fortunately, no crashes or injuries were reported.

Dealers will inspect the Airbag Control Unit and either update its software or replace the unit. As always with recalls, the work will be done free of charge.

Owners will be notified by mail starting March 21. Owners may also contact the NHTSA safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.nhtsa.gov.

Speaking of airbag recalls, this is a good time to remind you of a separate matter: Tens of millions of vehicles from many automakers are equipped with Takata airbags and remain under recall — at 67 million, it’s the largest vehicle recall in history. But millions of Americans are unaware that they are driving vehicles affected by the recall, because they are not the original owners and the manufacturers’ recall notices never reached them. Take a moment to check out NHTSA’s Takata recall overview page, and enter your vehicle’s VIN number to determine whether you are affected by an outstanding recall.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2023 Nissan Z’s Canadian order guide leaks

A dealership order guide for the 2023 Nissan Z has leaked. Though it’s for the Canadian market, we can expect that the features and grades will closely match those of the U.S. when the highly anticipated sports car comes to market. 

Posted by a user at the forum NewNissanZ.com, the order guide offers a detailed look at all the car’s features. A grade walk shows that Nissan intends the base model to be the Sport trim with manual transmission. Though pricing has not been revealed, it indicates that Nissan won’t be forcing manual buyers into a more expensive trim, like on the Honda Civic Si or Mazda 3, just for the privilege of rowing your own.

From there, the next level up, with either the 6-speed manual or 9-speed automatic, is the Performance trim, which comes with larger wheels and brakes, upgraded seats, rev matching and a clutch-type limited slip differential. There’s more, which we’ve detailed before in a full breakdown.

The order guide also reveals the available colors that will grace the Z. In Canada, at least, there will be two solid colors on offer: Black Diamond Metallic and Gun Metallic, a dark gray that, at least in name, hearkens back to the legendary R32 Skyline GT-R. Five more colors will be offered in a two-tone finish: Boulder Grey, Passion Red, Everest White Pearl, Yellow and Blue. All of those will be paired with a black roof.

Some of those colors differ in name from the U.S. For example, Americans will get far more evocative names like Seiran Blue, or Ikazuchi (Japanese for “thunder”) Yellow, as seen on the concept. However, it’s missing two colors slated for the U.S.: Brilliant Silver, a two-tone, and a solid called Rosewood Metallic, expected to be a dark burgundy.

The guide also shows which of four interior colors — black, blue, yellow or red — will be offered with which exterior color. Sign us up for Everest White on red, please.

The guide also goes into detail on the ADAS features that will be offered, like intelligent emergency braking for both pedestrians and cyclists, and Intelligent cruise control that will be available with the manual transmission. This being Canadian-spec, a standard engine block heater is included for the 400-horsepower, 350-pound-foot, twin-turbo V6.

Lastly, it appears that Canadian dealers will receive only an initial allocation of one car each, whether Sport or Performance, manual or automatic. The limited launch edition Proto spec, which has unique bronze wheels and yellow brake calipers, will be allocated to the most successful dealers based on historical sales. So, if you’re a Canadian reader and would like to be among the first to reserve a new Z, you’ll have to act quickly. 

Source: AutoBlog.com

Gordon Murray Automotive T.33 revealed, only slightly less intense than T.50

Following up on its first supercar – the now sold-out T.50 – Gordon Murray Automotive has a second road-going model, the T.33. While still a striking-looking machine, it’s actually a bit toned down compared to its predecessor. But that’s not to say it’s going to be dull in comparison. It still packs a wildly high-revving V12, a manual transmission and a light chassis.

While the T.50 had some influences from Murray’s past supercar claim to fame, the McLaren F1, the T.33 seems to channel much older sports cars. It has undulating, curvaceous fenders. It hardly has a crease or interrupted arc anywhere. It also has rounded, simplistic light housings. The body and chassis are made of carbon fiber and aluminum, like the T.50, and it’s supposed to be very light. The company is targeting a weight of under 2,425 pounds, which is a bit heavier than the T.50, which weighs in at barely over 2,000 pounds. Worth noting is the lack of a rear fan for the ground effects like the T.50. Still, the T.33 has a carefully designed underbody to generate downforce without needing much in the way of wings and splitters. It does feature a pop-up rear wing, though.

The flowing body hides similar mechanical components to the T.50. The T.33 gets a modified version of the 3.9-liter Cosworth V12. In this application, it makes 607 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque, all without the aid of forced induction. It revs a tad lower than the T.50’s engine with a redline of 11,100 rpm, but that’s obviously far higher than most road cars. The tweaked specs are a result of various changes such as cam profiles and engine tuning. The engine can be coupled to either a fully manual six-speed transmission or a sequential, paddle-shifted transmission. Power only goes to the rear through a limited-slip differential. Suspension is double-wishbone all around, and Brembo six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers slow the T.33 down. And as a sign of GMA’s continued desire to enhance driver involvement, the T.33 has hydraulic power steering.

Unlike the T.50’s central driving position, the T.33 has a conventional layout with the driver on one side and the passenger on the other. The interior is minimalist and focused on physical switch gear. All of the control knobs and the instrument surround are made of aluminum, while the seats and steering wheel are made from carbon fiber. Cargo capacity totals 9.9 cubic feet, and it’s divided up by compartments under the hood and behind both rear fenders.

GMA will build only 100 T.33s, and it will be legal in the U.S. It will be quite expensive with a price tag of 1.37 million pounds, or about $1.83 million. Buyers who order T.33s can expect their cars to arrive sometime in 2024.

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Americans’ gas kitchen stoves worse for climate than 500,000 cars

Gas stoves are contributing more to global warming than previously thought because of constant tiny methane leaks while they’re off, a new study found.

The same study that tested emissions around stoves in homes raised new concerns about indoor air quality and health because of levels of nitrogen oxides measured.

Even when they are not running, U.S. gas stoves are putting 2.6 million tons (2.4 million metric tons) of methane — in carbon dioxide equivalent units — into the air each year, a team of California researchers found in a study published in Thursday’s journal Environmental Science & Technology. That’s equivalent to the annual amount of greenhouse gases from 500,000 cars or what the United States puts into the air every 3½ hours.

“They’re constantly bleeding a little bit of methane into the atmosphere all the time,” said the study’s co-author Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist.

That methane is on top of the 6.8 million tons (6.2 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide that gas stoves emit into the air when they are in use and the gas is burned, the study said. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is dozens of times more potent than carbon dioxide but doesn’t stay in the atmosphere nearly as long and isn’t as plentiful in the air.

The researchers examined 53 home kitchens in California — many in bed and breakfasts they rented. They sealed most of the rooms in plastic tarps and then measured emissions when the stoves were working and when they were not. And what was surprising was that three-quarters of the methane released happened while the stoves were off, Jackson said. Those are emissions releases that the government doesn’t account for, he said.

“That’s a big deal because we’re trying to really reduce our carbon footprint and we claim that gas is cleaner than coal, which it is,” said study lead author Eric Lebel, a scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, an Oakland nonprofit. But he said much of the benefit disappears when leaks are taken into account.

Many communities have bans on gas stove use in future new construction that will take effect in future years, including New York City and the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Berkeley, Jackson said.

“People can already choose electric appliances if they want,” said Frank Maisano, a Washington policy and public relations expert who represents gas and appliance interests. “People just like gas appliances because they perform better, especially in colder climates.”

“Natural gas appliances are generally more energy- and cost-effective than their electric counterparts,” Maisano said.

Jackson estimated that when all natural gas use and extraction is taken into account, about 100 million tons (91 million metric tons) of gas leaks into the atmosphere. And the couple million tons from gas stoves “is meaningful. That’s a substantial part and it’s a part that we haven’t included accurately in the past.”

The leakage finding is “a very important takeaway” and fits with other work that found there are often big leaks that account for much of the emissions, said Zachary Merrin, a research engineer with the Illinois Applied Research Institute’s Indoor Climate Research & Training group.

Merrin, who wasn’t part of the study, said the emission of un-combusted methane is “clearly bad. From an emissions standpoint, cooking directly with gas is better than using a fossil fuel powered electric stove but worse than using a solar powered electric stove.”

The methane leak isn’t dangerous to human health or as a possible explosive, Jackson said. But when conducting the tests, researchers found high levels of nitrogen oxides, greater than 100 parts per billion. Jackson said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have indoor air quality standards for that gas, but the measurements they took exceed its outdoor air quality standards. While methane doesn’t include nitrogen, the nitrogen oxides are byproducts of the combustion in natural gas ovens, he said.

Maisano said people should always use hood ranges and make sure they have proper ventilation. Jackson, who has a gas stove that he plans to replace, said he never used ventilation before this study, but that he now does so every time.

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Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate and follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at https://twitter.com/borenbears.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Source: AutoBlog.com

21% of consumers in July were considering Toyota’s EV … which didn’t exist

Back in June and July of 2021, Cox Automotive polled nearly 5,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 72 who either owned, considered buying or rejected buying an electric vehicle. Within that data, it showed that Tesla quite clearly has the most brand recognition for its EVs, while other brands have a whole lot of work to do on the marketing front. Specifically, a whopping 69% of those EV buyers (or rejecters) didn’t even know the Chevrolet Bolt existed despite being on sale since 2016.

Then we noticed something really surprising. A stunning 40% of those 5,000 consumers — about 2,000 people — said they were aware of Toyota‘s electric vehicle. Some said they were considering it, some said they were not. Either way, there’s a pretty big problem with that: Toyota did not sell an electric vehicle in June and July of 2021. Nor did it sell one at any time after the 2014 RAV4 EV. And just in case you’re wondering, the Toyota bZ4X EV wouldn’t be revealed for another four months. 

Basically, significantly more people were somehow “aware” that Toyota makes an EV that does not exist than those who knew about the Chevrolet Bolt, a vehicle that has existed for more than five years. Or the Nissan Leaf, for that matter, which has been on sale since 2010.

Perhaps people just assumed that Toyota, which pioneered hybrids, must make an EV. Not a bad assumption, but in reality, Toyota hasn’t been too keen on them. Almost hostile, even. Only recently has it announced plans for a variety of future EV models, and again, the bZ4X was only revealed back in November. Then again, perhaps people just don’t fully understand what an electric vehicle is, lumping hybrids and plug-in hybrids in with them (things Toyota does sell). In other words “electrification” equals “fully electric.” It doesn’t. 

Now, before you get too down on the car knowledge of general automotive consumers, don’t worry, it gets even worse. That same Cox Automotive study said that 17% were not aware that Tesla made an EV. Let that sink in. 

You can read the highlights of the Cox Automotive Path to EV Adoption Study here.

Source: AutoBlog.com

BAC studying ways to make single-seater Mono run on hydrogen

England-based BAC is weighing the pros and cons of building a hydrogen-powered version of the Mono, an open-wheel single-seater roadster that blurs the line between a race car and a street car. BAC aims to ditch gasoline without losing the model’s key attributes.

Viritech, a British firm that specializes in developing hydrogen drivetrains, is helping BAC with the project. As of writing, it’s just an idea: It exists in the minds of engineers and in computer-generated images (shown above). The first part of the project (which is funded by the British government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) involves carrying out a feasibility study to find out what’s possible and what isn’t.

In theory, making a car run on hydrogen is relatively simple; hydrogen can be used to generate electricity, or — as Toyota demonstrated recently and BMW showcased nearly 20 years ago — it can be burned in an internal combustion engine. However, one of the Mono’s main selling points is its low weight and its awesome power-to-weight ratio. Ending up with a 5,700-pound convertible isn’t the goal here.

BAC points out that one of Viritech’s areas of expertise is finding relatively lightweight ways to store hydrogen. And, the boutique carmaker has previously experimented with weight-saving materials like graphene and Niobium, so it’s not starting from scratch. It managed to reduce the weight of a chassis by 18% with Niobium-enhanced metal, so this could go a long way in offsetting the weight of a hydrogen system.

Whether (let alone when) the hydrogen-powered Mono sees the light that awaits at the end of a production line depends on the results of the feasibility. BAC didn’t provide a timeline, though we expect the company will release an update about the project in the not-too-distant future.

Hyundai is trying to answer the same questions as BAC. In 2021, it introduced a 671-horsepower concept called Vision FK whose drivetrain consists of hydrogen technology developed in-house and a battery pack provided by Rimac. It’s not as hardcore as the Mono, and it hasn’t been approved for production yet, but bringing something like it to the market will also require developing innovative ways to reduce weight.

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Source: AutoBlog.com