Unanimous FTC vote bolsters “Right to Repair” fight, BRZ stays under $30K, Maybach and G-Class going electric
Welcome to The Manifold, our fresh daily digest of news and what’s happening in the car world.
FTC votes unanimously to enforce “Right to Repair” laws
Intake: The Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to ramp up enforcement of Right-to-Repair laws, a move that supports the right of consumers to fix their own cars, farm equipment, phones, and other appliances. The 5–0 vote came on the heels of an executive order from the White House that asked the FTC to take action against “unfair anticompetitive restrictions” that make it difficult for buyers to repair their products or hire someone to do it for them.
Exhaust: The vote is a boon to consumers and a blow to organizations like the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which sued to block a “Right to Repair” law that Massachusetts voters passed last year, claiming the law poses vehicle safety and cybersecurity risks. The issue affects everyone from car owners to farmers and even covers the right to repair old tech like smartphones.
Despite extra power and amenities, 2022 Subaru BRZ undercuts 2020 model’s price tag
Intake: Subaru released pricing on its second-gen, 2022 BRZ, ready for dealers this fall. The model will be available in two trims, the BRZ Premium and BRZ Limited. The Premium will cost you $28,955, while the Limited rings in at $31,455 (both figures include a $960 destination and delivery fee). The 2022 BRZ promises buyers more torque (+28 lb-ft) and horsepower (+23 hp) compared to the outgoing, 2020 model, which Subaru only offered in a single spec (Limited), for $29,745. Optional automatic transmissions are available for the 2022 car with a host of driver-assist functions, evicting the standard manual and inflating the bill by $1600 for Premium and $1800 for Limited.
Exhaust: It’s hard to interpret the pricing on the new 2022 BRZ as anything but a positive. It was never a bargain-basement product, and outside of the Miata there still isn’t another lightweight rear-wheel-drive sports car with which it truly competes at this price point. The Limited is surely the way to go, however, if not for the Michelin PS4 rubber alone. Now, we wonder, where exactly will Toyota’s GR 86 land?
Maybach, G-Class to adopt EV power
Intake: Another point of Mercedes-Benz’ $47B plan to pursue electrification has come to light, dim as it may be. Three of the marque’s sub brands—AMG, Maybach, and G-Class—will introduce an EV model in the near future. Here we catch a glimpse of an “EQS SUV version of Mercedes-Maybach,” as Britta Seeger, the head of Mercedes’ marketing and sales, put it. This ultra-posh SUV’s debut date is uncertain, but Seeger did slip another bit of concrete info: An all-electric G-Wagen arrives in 2024.
Exhaust: A silent, torquey powertrain fits perfectly with the Maybach ethos—and we’re not at all surprised to see the sub-brand’s first EV packaged as an SUV. An electric G-Wagen marks a departure from model’s growly, over-the-top personality; but, practically speaking, many buy the boxy brute as a downtown-cruising fashion statement, where being seen trumps being heard.
This is what happens when a Golf R and an Atlas Cross Sport get jiggy
Intake: Can’t afford a Lamborghini Urus? VW has just offered up a more frugal alternative in the form of its Atlas Cross Sport GT concept car. Starting with the cooking Cross Sport SEL, VW tuner Jamie Orr went to town with serious changes to suspension, styling, and power. First he installed a 300-hp EA888 2.0 TSI motor from the Golf R, along with the hatch’s seven-speed DSG transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Next came lowered, stiffened ST Suspension XTA Plus 3 coilovers and GT Concept springs. Chunky 22-inch ABT Sport HR Aerowheels were fitted and shod with Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tires. He chose Tarox eight-piston front brakes to halt the car’s prodigious progress when required. Aside from custom badging and a distinctive kingfisher blue paint hue, the Atlas Cross Sport GT’s bodywork is unchanged, but inside Orr really went to town. Four color-matched Recaro Sporster CS seats complemented by blue seatbelts hold all passengers in place. The steering wheel gets matching stitching and the gearshift gets a blue golf-ball top. The car is set to go on show at a number of events across the U.S. later this year.
Exhaust: “It’s been a lot of fun creating this concept,” Orr says. “Hopefully, it’ll get a smile out of people.” Don’t expect this concept to translate into anything concrete, but as an entertaining distraction from most boring SUVs, it worked for us—what about you?
Add some Zoom Zoom to your wardrobe with these Mazda driving boots
Intake: Mazda has got into the driving-bootie business with Japanese sportswear firm Mizuno. The collaboration comes in the shape of shoes that follow Mazda’s Kodo—Soul of Motion design philosophy. There’s a simple, clean aesthetic with a less-is-more approach to design, but there’s function as well as form. The shoes provide “a light, stable, yet comfortable pedal operation,” and feature something called dorsiflexion support, as well as a rounded sole to improve contact with the floor and allow for easy foot rotation. In other words, they’ve been designed, just like the pedals on the MX-5 Miata, to aid with heel-and-toe shifts. The shoes are also said to be comfortable to walk around in thanks to “pod cluster” cushioning and are due to go on sale in Japan in early 2022 at around $360.
Exhaust: While these Kodo shoes are pricer than Puma Speedcats or Pilotis, it does appear that Mazda’s designers really did get involved to make sure they perform as well as they look. If they encourage more people drive stick and save the manuals, then they’ve got our support.
Six 2022 GM vehicles will receive Super Cruise upgraded with towing, lane-change, and extra navigation functionality
Intake: New Super Cruise capabilities are coming to six 2022 GM vehicles. The upgrades will allow for hands-free automatic lane changes and in-board navigation to help plan routes to take advantage of more than 200,000 miles of compatible roads across the U.S. and Canada where Super Cruise can operate. Even more interesting, the vehicles will also soon be capable of hands-free trailering. Those upgrades are coming to the Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac CT4, Cadillac CT5, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Hummer EV Pickup, and GMC Sierra. By 2023, GM will offer Super Cruise on 22 vehicles.
Exhaust: We were impressed with Super Cruise when we first got some seat time more than three years ago, and the system seems to be constantly improving and expanding. The hands-free trailering may take some getting used to, but if it can ease a bit of the strain of driving and improve safety, we might give it a try.