Saturday, July 22, 2017

Jaguar XE SV Project 8: Target Germany?

Jag states, right up front: “New Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sits at the pinnacle of performance sedans, with a thrilling mix of explosive power, dynamic agility, and all-wheel drive traction.” And I swear I could hear the engine roars and the howls of contempt from Stuttgart, Affalterbach, and Ingolstadt all the way out here in the middle of the desert.

Special Vehicle Operations

The XE SV Project 8 is Jag’s new hot performance sedan, and also the Coventry firm’s first foray with its new Special Vehicle Operations skunk-works to start encroaching into territory now occupied by the likes of AMG or BMW’s M Division and the like. I’m not saying Jaguar can’t do it, even when it comes to sedans. Jag did some impressive stuff with Mark 2s and Mark Xs (just ask the Kray twins or any other British hoods from back in the day), but that was when “Ferry Cross The Mersey” was a hit. And since then, when it comes to big, fast, nasty performance sedans, it’s all been pretty much going the German’s way.

To counter that, Jaguar has given their Special Vehicle Operations more or less free reign to produce the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sedan, a 592 horsepower, 200 mph beast of a car that Coventry says is “the most powerful, agile, and extreme performance Jaguar road car ever produced.” Which is saying a lot if you consider that Jag made cars like the XJ220.

The XE SV Project 8 sedan follows, more or less, in the footsteps of Jag’s F-TYPE Project 7 of 2014. The XE SV Project 8 is the second Collector’s Edition ride done up by SVO and is a hand-built, four-door sedan designed to kick butt, take names, and all that. Jaguar will make no more than 300 versions of the car globally, so it will be rare too.

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 utilizes torque vectoring control via the braking system to minimize understeer by independently braking inside wheels during cornering. It works with the Electronic Active Differential to precisely control torque delivery to the rear wheels. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Power & Performance

About that engine that is going to motivate the XE SV down to the pub? It would be the most powerful version of Jaguar Land Rover’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with a Titanium Variable Active Exhaust. The mill is hooked up to a re-calibrated version of the brand’s eight-speed Quickshift transmission and thence to a standard all-wheel drive system that can deliver a 200 mph top speed and a 0 to 60 time of 3.3 seconds. That makes the Project 8 the fastest accelerating Jaguar. Not just the quickest Jag sedan, the quickest Jaguar, period.

There’s a slew of lightweight and go-fast goodies appended to the Project 8. There’s a carbon fiber bumper with enhanced cooling ducts, a vented carbon fiber hood, and flared bodywork. The underbody is flat, there’s a rear diffuser, and the rear bumper is made from carbon fiber. The wheels are big 20-inch forged aluminum alloy bits and the front splitter is adjustable as is the rear aerodynamic wing. I love how Jag calls it an “aerodynamic wing.” I’m not sure whether that’s a sly British understatement and dig at other “wings” or not.

Carbon fiber is used extensively throughout the Project 8, for a total weight of 3,847 lbs. (1,745kg). Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Suspension, Steering & Braking

The suspension is a double-wishbone up front and Integral Link at the rear. The suspension components are stiffer (natch), there are new knuckles, the coil springs are adjustable, and the shocks are continuously variable. Jaguar’s setup allows the ride height to drop by 0.6-inches. Stopping power comes courtesy of a new carbon ceramic braking system, with Formula 1-style silicon nitride ceramic wheel bearings. Ceramic bearings used in this way is a first for Jaguar Land Rover road cars.

The Project 8 is the first Jaguar with a dedicated Track Mode that tweaks the driveline and stability control systems for circuit use, and sharpens both throttle and steering responses for better precision and driver feedback. The Project 8 features height-adjustable spring platforms with motorsport-specification coil springs and aluminum-bodied Continuously Variable Dampers, with a choice of two ride heights: standard for road and -15mm for track use.

Jaguar’s Project 8 introduces an Electronic Active Differential (EAD) for the first time on the XE, which works with the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system to precisely manage torque delivery to each of the rear wheels. In conjunction with enhanced large diameter front and rear driveshafts, the EAD is designed to distribute power and traction in varying situations. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Interior Treatments

The interior is all tarted up with go fast goodies, or at least trim, as well. There’s Gloss Carbon Fiber trim here and there and Alcantara on the steering wheel, instrument, and door panels. That eight-speed Quickshift transmission can be actuated by aluminum paddle shifters or by the central “Pistolshift” lever. Jaguar says that “Pistolshift” lever is another first, but not if you’ve driven around Mopar products from the 1960s. Nice try chaps.

For us, the Project 8 is available exclusively as a four-seat model, with Jag’s latest front performance seats featuring magnesium frames and a more heavily contoured rear seat cushion for better support. In most global markets there’s an optional two-seat Track Pack with lightweight front carbon fiber racing seats and four-point harnesses fixed to a retention hoop in place of the rear seat. But not for us! Oh no. We Americans can’t have nice things, it seems. All Project 8 models will be built in left-hand drive configuration only, but that doesn’t really balance out that we don’t get the two-seater if you ask me.

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 endured extensive testing at tracks like Nardo and the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The initiative was the most track-biased program SVO has ever carried out. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Comparing & Contrasting

Jaguar doesn’t mention the price of the XE SV Project 8, but you can bet it’ll cost more than a packet. So start saving now. When it does hit the streets, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 stacks up against the more sporty offerings from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi – not to mention Lexus and Acura. It doesn’t seem to be a direct competitor, since it will be limited run, and not really a series production version. Still, a comparison test is (or should be) in order.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Jaguar Land Rover.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Four Wedding Gifts They’ll Actually Love

tech wedding gifts

Finding the perfect wedding gift isn’t easy, and then there’s the worry someone else got the same thing! Maybe it’s time to step outside the box and get them a gift that goes the extra mile.

We’re in the thick of wedding season. That means you may be scrambling to find the perfect wedding gift. Lots of toasters, Pyrex dishes, and cupcake carriers, right? Well, maybe there’s a better wedding gift out there. We’ve come up with a few great weddings gifts that are unique and worth keeping. Plus, you’ll feel good about giving them.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sponsored Video: Genesis Presents “Dog”

So Genesis, the luxury Korean car brand, is rolling out what appears to be a new video ad series not all that dissimilar to what BMW did a while back with its “The Hire” series, only minus Clive Owen and Guy Ritchie and Madonna and such.

This video ad thing, which I am assuming will be the first in a series is simply titled “Dog”, and in a lot of ways, looks and feels at lot like the Madonna/BMW bit I mentioned above. Only in place of Clive Owen and Guy Ritchie and Madonna you get some guy that looks like Clive Owen, sort of, not really, okay, he hasn’t shaved, a director by the name of Wayne McClammy and some random disposable blonde actress.

In the video piece, a nameless yet “somebody” entitled rich beautiful white girl is off to hang with her (assumedly) entitled rich beautiful white friends at an ill-defined yet nominal “stupid party”. Of course she takes her de facto annoying little dog with her. Said dog is little more than a semi-animate mop with eyes and a burning desire to micturate upon the leather swaddled luxury confines of the big(ish) Genesis sedan appointed to scoop up the dog and its mistress and carry them hither to the “stupid party”.

Standing stalwartly athwart the horrid little mutt’s uric requirements and the capacious and comfy rear seating area is our hero: The nameless chauffeur. He has enough attitude, side glances and shade to get his butt fired within seconds of meeting the nameless yet “somebody” entitled rich beautiful white girl (NYSERBWG) if she was not utterly oblivious and operating sans clue.

Anyhoo, any time this little “dog” looks to relieve itself, whether due to the call of nature or because of preternatural hatred towards the Unnamed Chauffeur, the UC, being everso protective of his beloved shiny Genesis, takes a corner or a turn with just enough extra Gs to knock the little quadruped off its feet, saving the day (or at least the interior).

All seems right and good with the world, or at least SoCal where this seems to take place (of course), as the Unnamed Chauffeur drops off his charges at a paparazzi strewn porte-cochere for a final bit of comic comeuppance that I’m sure will just slay’em in Cheboygan.

The whole production has that look of being polished to the Nth-degree as all commercials are. You know they sweated over which fugazi paparazzo would go where for hours, because that’s how commercial directors convince themselves that what they are doing is “art”.

Is the Genesis a car worth taking seriously as a luxury brand? Who knows, who cares? You’re supposed to look at this commercial and laugh. Laugh at the “dog”. Laugh at the stupid rich people. Laugh at the cunning everyman who is the Unnamed Chauffeur, master of his own domain, which just happens to be a surprisingly luxurious yet reasonably priced Genesis.

I didn’t laugh. At all. Partly because I swear every time the camera gets a close up of the “dog’s” eyes I could hear the lines of Friedrich Nietzsche recited, as if from afar: “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

But you know, for what you’re paying here, Genesis is a pretty good option. Think of it as an even more affordable Lexus or Acura or Infiniti. Or, if you wish, you could think of Genesis as a very, very affordable BMW or Mercedes (which is what they are hoping for). It’s large enough to be comfortable, loaded with enough comfort and convenience goodies to make you feel like a sultan, and has a pretty good on the road presence.

Anyway, decide for yourself, here’s the video:

Official Genesis website and Youtube channel

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Genesis. All views and opinions expressed here are my own. Check out our advertising guidelines to see why we’d never steer you wrong.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody: Muscle For Days

With the addition of the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody to Dodge’s new age muscle car lineup, the roster is now complete. Yes, there is a Hellcat Widebody, in case the run of the mill Hellcat, a car that looks like it will literally eat children for lunch, is just too subtle for your tastes.

Dodge states this right up front: “U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $71,495 (including gas guzzler tax).” And I just love how they have the need to say the price includes the gas guzzler fee. What, you thought you were buying a Prius?

Pro Grip

The Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is an SRT Hellcat with the same flared body treatment found on the “straitjacket included at no extra charge” SRT Demon. The wider fender flares add 3.5 inches to the SRT Hellcat’s overall width. And yes, they are there for a very sound engineering reason. Said flares are there to cover the new 20 x 11-inch “Devil’s Rim” split-five spoke aluminum wheels carrying new, wider 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. These are, to use the parlance of the muscle car set: Boss Meats.

And you might be tempted to say putting tires with a contact patch the size of a fat guy’s thighs is excessive, but you would be wrong, oh so wrong. This new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody brings better lap times, better lateral grip, better acceleration, and better braking versus the “normal” Hellcat. The road course lap time dropped by 2 seconds per lap on a 1.7-mile track. The ET in the quarter dropped by .3 seconds, giving the widebody a 10.9 ET vs. 11.2 ET when compared to the standard Hellcat. Lateral G’s? Up by .04 g for .97 g versus .93 g in standard Hellcat. Even the 0 to 60 time dropped .1 seconds – you now hit freeway speed in 3.4 seconds. Top speed? 195 big ones, kiddo.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody features a new standard electric power steering (EPS) system – a first for Hellcat. The system uses SRT Drive Modes with selectable settings for Street (Auto), Sport and Track. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Aerodynamics & Braking

On top of the ginormous flares, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody carries a batch of exterior styling cues you’d expect to see. There’s a power-bulge aluminum hood with center intake and dual heat extractors that bear more than a passing resemblance to Dan Gurney’s AAR Cuda’s. There are exclusive illuminated “Air-Catcher” headlamps that stuff air directly into the intake and engine bay through the center of the parking lamps. Speaking of the headlights, the quad projector headlamps have aggressive brow “chops” to “exude a sinister look,” as Dodge puts it.

The front splitter, which is shared with the Demon, and rear spoiler, taken from the “normal” Hellcat, work in aerodynamic sync. There’s also the Hellcat-exclusive grille and fender badges with a raised SRT Hellcat badge on the rear spoiler. Wanna stop? You can, thanks to a standard Brembo braking system with two-piece 15.4-inch rotors and six-piston front calipers. And take it from one who knows, this is a huge improvement versus how Mopars used to stop back in the day.

Before the new SRT Demon was introduced, the supercharged Hellcat HEMI was the most powerful passenger car engine ever produced by FCA US, making the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats the most powerful and fastest coupe and sedan ever. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Power & Performance

The 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 in the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody cranks out 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of stump-pulling torque, same as the other Hellcats. Said mill can be paired to either the Tremec six-speed manual transmission or the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. It should also be noted the plant features all the additional cooling measures from the non-wide Hellcat, including a low-temperature circuit with two air/coolant heat exchangers unified with the supercharger housing. Air temperatures are miraculously kept below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, all while the blower is pushing a stunning 30,000 liters of air per minute.

“Our brand, engineering, and design teams poured a ton of effort into making the new SRT Demon the world’s fastest quarter-mile production car, so now we’re leveraging that know-how, and some of those vital elements and transferring them to the new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody for improved performance on the street and a bolder, more aggressive new look,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA North America.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. Photo: FCA US LLC.

What’s In A Name

And, honestly, ignore what he said and focus only on the fact that those words were uttered by a guy named Tim Kuniskis. Kuniskis. Now there is the name I want attached to my American factory hot rods. Tell me Tim Kuniskis isn’t from Ypsilanti or Hamtramck or some such environ. Tell me young Tim Kuniskis didn’t get yelled at by two or three huge aunts, in Polish, for that time he chucked a kielbasa at Uncle Stanislaus during Whit Sunday dinner when he was five. Tim Kuniskis is the kind of guy that should be working on cars like the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, not somebody with 5 Ph.Ds. from Vienna Polytechnic. Tim Kuniskis is a guy that understands, most likely intuitively, that American performance cars are about engines, tires, and traction: in that order. Guys like Tim Kuniskis is why the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is amazing.

If you want and can afford one, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is open for dealer orders now. It will start showing up this fall.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody Gallery

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Reporting For Duty

The 2018 Honda Fit, dubbed as “sporty and versatile” by the automaker, arrived at dealerships this earlier week. With a starting MSRP of $16,190, the vehicle is sure to find an ideal niche in budget-minded car shoppers who need to get around town, but want extra goodies.

For 2018, Honda added a Sport trim and two new exterior colors, Helios Yellow and Orange Fury.

Simple & Stylish

Honda promotes the Fit with a certain level of simplicity and straightforwardness. “The refresh of the third generation Honda Fit enhances the 5-door subcompact’s already best-in-class combination of passenger space, fuel efficiency, sophistication, practicality, and affordability,” reads a press release from the automaker.

Initially, it may seem difficult to get jazzed about a subcompact cruiser, but the 2018 Honda Fit is anything but dull. The new Fit Sport is of particular example, gaining style and attitude points with an aero-form front spoiler, rear diffuser, bright orange pin-striping, and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels with gloss-black finish. The chrome exhaust-pipe finisher and side sill garnishes make for nice touches too; inside, the Sport features a black interior with orange contrast stitching. EX-L trim levels will treat drivers to an available sunroof.

2018 Honda Fit Sport. Photo: Honda North America.

Power & Performance

The 2018 Honda Fit has enough power to scoot drivers and passengers around town too. A 1.5L DOHC direct-injected 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine with Variable Cam Timing creates 130 horsepower (6,800 rpm) and 114 lb-ft. of torque (4,600 rpm). Honda focused on driving dynamics especially for 2018, implementing refinements across the suspension, steering, and body. One of the best improvements comes in the comfort category: Honda worked to reduce cabin noise with better transmission and steering mounting hardware, acoustic-laminated glass, and more insulation overall throughout the vehicle.

2018 Honda Fit EX-L. Photo: Honda North America.

Safety & Security

When it comes to safety, Honda packed the 2018 Fit accordingly. The Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver assistance features is available on all 2018 Fit models. It’s standard on EX and above trims, a first for the Fit. The suite includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning.

Availability & Manufacturing

The 2018 Honda Fit is available now – we’ve included a handy info chart below. We think the new Fit is a stylish, safe, and affordable daily driver. The 2018 Honda Fit for the U.S. market is manufactured in North America at Honda’s Celaya, Mexico plant using domestic and globally sourced parts.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

2018 Honda Fit Pricing and EPA Fuel Economy Ratings

Model Transmission MSRP EPA Rating
City/Hwy/Combined MPG
Fit LX 6-Speed Manual $16,190 29 / 36 / 31
Fit LX CVT3 $16,990 33 / 40 / 36
Fit LX with Honda Sensing® CVT $17,990 33 / 40 / 36
Fit Sport 6-Speed Manual $17,500 29 / 36 / 31
Fit Sport CVT $18,300 31 / 36 / 33
Fit Sport with Honda Sensing® CVT $19,300 31 / 36 / 33
Fit EX 6-Speed Manual $18,160 29 / 36 / 31
Fit EX CVT $18,960 31 / 36 / 33
Fit EX-L CVT $20,520 31 / 36 / 33
Fit EX-L with Navi CVT $21,520 31 / 36 / 33

Photos & Source: Honda North America.

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