Direct Connection returns for Mopar faithful, Lotus’ electric SUV flowers, Bronco Raptor in the metal (and mud)

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Dodge built this Challenger SRT development vehicle, dubbed DC 170, to showcase the potential of the Direct Connection program. Stellantis

Decades later, Direct Connection returns to serve Dodge faithful

Intake: Beginning in 1974, Dodge drag racers who wanted to tune their cars for peak power and the lowest elapsed times (E.T.) could go to factory-backed performance clinics and learn from those with firsthand knowledge. Now Dodge is bringing that experience back with a Direct Connection line of factory-backed parts and tech info sourced directly from the team that developed Dodge’s most powerful muscle cars. Select dealers will also become “Power Brokers,” locations where customers can test vehicles at performance clinics and get Direct Connection parts installed on their cars without voiding their factory warranties. One of Direct Connection’s first parts packages is a pulley-and-tune combo for Hellcats that adds nearly 100 horsepower. A soon-to-be-available body-in-white (shown in the slideshow below) will let you realize your wildest Drag Pak dreams with a complement of engines, transmissions, and various speed parts.

Exhaust: This announcement is 100 percent on-brand for Mopar: Factory-backed encouragement of straight-line shenanigans, expressed in the language its customers appreciate most—go-fast parts and technical expertise, with a healthy sprinkling of red, white, and blue nostalgia. We’re just surprised that the news didn’t break during SEMA.

This Porsche 911 GT3 is a little late for Halloween, but we still love its costume

Porsche Sonderwunsch GT3 and 956 custom vintage modern
Porsche/Martin Meiners

Intake: Porsche has announced the rebirth of its Sonderwunsch program, which serves to create unique and one-off cars for discerning buyers. The first car out of the reborn program is a 911 GT3 for Paolo Barilla, who won Le Mans in 1985 in a privateer Porsche 956 (shown above). The new supercar wears paint and graphics which mirror the style and panache of the winning race-car and highlights just how specific a buyer can get when ordering through Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.

Exhaust: Sure, you can call it a special edition, but since it is a one-of-one build, that label wouldn’t really be correct. This is a modern Porsche playing dress-up—and we love it. Not many modern cars can pull off mismatched wheels or make a livery from the ’80s look good, but Porsche and Barilla succeeded here.

Lotus makes active grille shutters a Trivial Pursuit

Intake: Details on Lotus’ upcoming Type 132 electric SUV are sparse, but we now know the vehicle will integrate aerodynamics-enhancing shutters. Similar devices open and close the grilles of everything from premium BMWs to the forgettable Dodge Dart Aero. Now that this fuel (or battery) saving technique is part of the Lotus brand’s future, we are suitably interested in learning more about the Type 132—while active grille shutters are commonplace, they are rarely such a dominant design element on a vehicle’s grille.

Exhaust: That said, someone at Lotus is a fan of Trivial Pursuit, as the shutters look like the wedges used to keep score in the famous 1980s board game. While Lotus is a bit tardy to the profitable SUV genre and the electrified era, the Type 132 is proof that it’s determined to remain relevant. No doubt the Type 132 shall be larger than its stablemates, and with bigger vehicles (and powertrains that provoke range-anxiety concerns) comes the need for aerodynamic trickery to milk every last drop of performance out of the package.

Ford-backed F-150 supercharger kit sticks around for 2022, gains 50 hp

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor
Ford

Intake: The 2021 F-150’s 5.0-liter V-8 uses a new cylinder deactivation system that required Ford Performance to reengineer its existing supercharger kit for the new model. According to Ford Authority, the resulting kit boosts the F-150 to 700 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, with a broad, flat torque curve. The current Ford Performance supercharger kit for the 2020 model F-150 has an MSRP of $7800 and delivers 650 hp, so expect the new version to come in at around the same price, plus installation. The kit was put through Ford’s grueling testing process and comes with a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty.

Exhaust: The price is steep, but the numbers are impressive. This seems like a great way to offer customers of nearly any trim level and cab configuration the muscle truck of their dreams. It’s also evidence of Ford’s savvy: Even as it introduces the electric F-150 Lightning to court the EV-curious, the Blue Oval ensures that performance-oriented V-8 loyalists have a reason to keep coming back. One downside: the 5.0-liter isn’t available in the Raptor.  

Porsche Panamera burnished with snazzy Platinum Edition

Intake: Porsche is rolling out a Platinum Edition for three variants in the Panamera family: the base car, its all-wheel-drive variant, and the all-wheel-drive hybrid model (namely, 4 E-Hybrid). For upcharges of $13,500, $13,000, and $10,200, respectively, Porsche will save you the back-breaking effort of speccing the Premium Package (air suspension, LED Matrix headlights, soft-close doors, 14-way comfort seats, Bose sound), paint the window trim and tailpipes black, and bolt on a set of 21-inch Satin Platinum–finished rims to match the Edition-specific sill plates. The price difference on the base car is shy of $400, but on the 4 E-Hybrid, opting for the Platinum Edition rather than stacking up the included options saves you about $3K.

Exhaust: Few Porsche customers roll up to the dealership worried about a few grand, so marginal value aside, this package is really about exclusivity and keeping the Panamera lineup looking fresh. Platinum Edition does have a certain ring to it, and the sinister trim work looks the business. Panamera buyers can rest easy in their 14-way-adjustable seats with street cred nicely burnished.

Behold the mud-slinging Bronco Raptor in the metal

Intake: Did someone say Raptor? The folks at Bronco Nation are among the first to climb into the high-riding seat of Ford’s mostest Bronco. Though it wasn’t yet allowed to share driving impressions, the Ford-blessed enthusiast community was granted permission to share the clearest photos yet of the Bronco Raptor—including some action shots.

Exhaust: The Bronco Raptor, due for the 2022 model year, stands tall and proud with a low-profile, beefy lower bumper mounted below the amber-lit, wide-lettered fascia that Ford leaked a few months ago. Generously sized off-road rubber spin beneath cutaway fender flares that’d make any Jeep jealous. The long-wheelbase format will be par for the course; like its full-size F-150 counterpart, the Bronco Raptor will only be available with four doors. Expect a boosted version of the 2.7-liter V-6 already in the Bronco catalog—or, if we’re really lucky, the 400-hp, 3.5-liter EcoBoost from the F-150. 

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