Ferrari flaunts GT3 Mustang fighter, OEM+ fix for Maverick cruise control, Audi’s electric wagon

ferrari gt3 next gen race car 296

Ferrari will take on Ford, Corvette with this GT3 racer in 2024

Intake: Maranello and motorsports go together like pasta and red sauce, and the latest news out of the Ferrari camp is spicier than fra diavolo. Two shadowy sketches of the marque’s next GT3 car hit the web today, and boy, does this thing look wicked. Dubbed the 296 GT3, the track menace is based—predictably—upon the 296 GTB production car. It will pick up where Ferrari’s current GT3 car, the 488 GT3, leaves off at the end of this racing season. Thus far, the 488 GT3 has accrued 107 wins from its race debut in March of 2016 at the second round of the Australian GT Championship. The 296 GT3 will make its competition debut some time in 2023, using twin-turbo V-6 power but eschewing the electrical drive components found on the road car, per GT3 technical regulations.

Exhaust: The 296 GT3—and the production 296 GTB on which it is based—wear designs inspired by one Ferrari’s racing greats, the 1963 250 LM. A clean sheet design, the mid-engine beast won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ferrari’s final win before Ford spoiled the party in 1966. Speaking of Le Mans … Since the FIA is set to adopt GT3 rules in place of the current GTE regs in 2024, the 296 GT3 will likely compete  at Circuit de la Sarthe in just two years. Stateside, IMSA announced that its new GTD Pro class would adopt FIA GT3 regulations at the start of this season, so you can expect to see a Ferrari 296 GT3, likely fielded by factory-backed team Risi Competizione, on the grid next year. Ford is also returning to GT3-class racing on the back of a newly developed Mustang race car in 2024; throw Corvette’s recently announced motorsport plans into the mix, and we’re in for some superb action in the years to come.

2023 Ferrari 296 GT3 race car sketch side profile

Is Jeep finally building a V-8-powered, short-bed pickup?

jeep rubicon wrangler short bed gladiator concept 2022
Stellantis | Jeep

Intake: After seeing Jeep’s latest teaser, we suspect that the brand has multiple Rubicon-badged surprises up its sleeve for Easter Jeep Safari next month. Since 2022 marks 20 years since the first Wrangler Rubicon debuted, it’s only logical that the image below previews a special, anniversary-edition Rubicon 392. However, the latest image offers a peek at an open bed—and an even more aggressive hood scoop—along with the following question: “Ever wonder what blending two mighty off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator might look like?” Jeep faithful clamored for a V-8-powered Gladiator as soon as the Hemi-powered Wrangler debuted, and this mashup promises to address another sore spot for the pickup model: Its departure angle, a sacrifice mandated by the addition of a bed and a nearly 19-inch increase in wheelbase over the four-door Wrangler.  

Exhaust: The aftermarket has a long history of beating Jeep to the punch. Years before Jeep announced the Rubicon 392 or the Gladiator, AEV offered both Hemi swaps and Wrangler-based pickups. However, viewed from another angle, Jeep watches and learns from its customers and the shops they frequent, eventually re-engineering popular conversions as fully sorted, turn-key off-roaders with factory warranties. We don’t know yet whether Jeep plans to put a short-bed, V-8-powered Gladiator into production, or is simply giving an appreciative nod to its aftermarket, but we should know more in April. 

Wrangler Rubicon teaser easter jeep safari 20 anniversary

Maverick XL gets cruise-control upgrade with OEM+ engineering

Ford Maverick XL with Escape wheel cruise control
Doc928 via

Intake: To many, Ford’s segment-shaping Maverick compact pickup is at its best when restraint is shown on the options sheet. The base Maverick XL, which in front-wheel-drive, hybrid spec starts at just $21,490, is ridiculously compelling for the money. Except for one tragic flaw: no cruise control, even as an add-on. Luckily, some enterprising Maverick XL owners solved that problem—without even venturing outside of the Blue Oval parts bin. By retrofitting the steering wheel from a late-model Ford Escape, a model which does offer cruise control, the ingenious owners were able to wire and reprogram the host Maverick using FORScan to accept the “new” steering-wheel buttons as a factory cruise-control system. If your right foot is getting tired on long highway commutes in your Maverick XL, the instructions for your own retrofit can be found here for FWD Hybrid versions and here for the EcoBoost turbo-four-equipped Maverick XL AWDs.

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that FORScan is a Russian-owned company and therefore, due to sanctions related to the war in Ukraine, is currently experiencing issues with sales and support. For now, the company says, it “will continue to provide regular support to paid users, [but] only for installation, licensing or connection issues.”

Exhaust: This is great news for Maverick XL owners looking to save thousands over the mid-trim XLT model, but this OEM+ fit will also save owners time and money by avoiding aftermarket cruise control modules. This isn’t the first time fans of OEM+ have wriggled up the feature list without paying the requisite jump in sticker price. Since the tenth-generation F-150, buyers of XL-grade trucks have used a similar retrofit to score factory cruise-control on their otherwise barebones full-sizers. And a new steering wheel may not even be mandatory for the Maverick, as others on the forum are exploring the possibility of adding just the cruise-specific buttons to accomplish the same thing, provided you have a laptop with FORScan (or can make friends with one on the Maverick Forum). Ford, if you’re listening, now’s the time to make cruise control as a standalone XL option for a few hundred bucks. You know, before everyone decides it’s better to create/nurture a cottage industry of DIY cruise-control upgrades instead.

The 2022 World Car of the Year will be electric

Intake: The three finalists for the 2022 World Car of the Year award are all battery-electric. Vying for the top spot are South Korean siblings (the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5), with Ford’s Mustang Mach-E representing the United States. There’s at least one electric car in the final three of every category in the 2022 awards: Competition for the title of World Luxury Car is likely to be a battle royale between the BMW iX and the Mercedes-Benz EQS, although the Genesis GV70 (which will soon be electrified) is also in the running. World Urban Car voting will center on the Opel Mokka (available as an EV), the Toyota Yaris Cross, and the VW Taigun. Only in the World Performance Car category are EVs outgunned by ICE vehicles, with the Audi e-tron GT up against the BMW M3/M4 and the Toyobaru GR86/BRZ. Even the World Car Design title will be contested by electrics: The choice will be between the EV6, Ioniq 5 and E-Tron GT. Finally, of course, there’s a World Electric Vehicle class, lead by the Ioniq 5, E-Tron GT, and EQS. The winner will be announced at the New York Auto Show in April.

Exhaust: This will be the second year in succession that an electric vehicle has won the World Car of the Year award, with the VW ID. 4 taking top honors in 2021 after Jaguar’s I-Pace paved the way in 2019. With the direction the world is turning it’s hard to imagine a combustion-powered car ever winning again.

Legendary lowriders, customs descend on L.A.’s Petersen Museum

Intake: The Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is opening its doors to vehicles that represent “the pinnacle of lowrider artistry, craftsmanship and customization.” The exhibit will be in its Legends Gallery, part of The Vault presented by Hagerty, will feature unique custom cars and iconic lowriders, including the legendary 1964 Chevy Impala known as Gypsy Rose. Called the “Lowriders and Customs Vault Display” the exhibit will also feature Boyd Coddington’s 1948 Cadillac Sedanette “CadZZilla,” the rear-engined 1964 Chevrolet El Camino called “Blind Faith,” and a 1960 Buick LeSabre known as “Lectrified.” Tickets to the Peterson’s Vault are available now at the museum’s website.

Exhaust: While the Gypsy Rose elevated to fame thanks to its presence in the title sequence of the TV show Chico and the Man, car culture in Southern California is a tour de force of automotive customization and personalization. We’ve covered this aspect of lowriding culture in detail, and we are thrilled to see the Peterson Museum celebrate this in the metal.

Audi A6 Avant gets e-power

Intake: Audi has just unveiled an A6 Avant e-tron concept which it describes as “production-oriented.” It follows the firm’s A6 Sportback concept that was shown at the Shanghai auto show two years back. It sits on Audi’s new PPE platform which allows for those classic low-slung looks that its sedans and wagons have always carried off so well. The underpinnings allow the battery weight to be carried low down, without sacrificing ground clearance. An 800-volt system and charging capacity of up to 270 kW means the Avant e-tron should be able to cover over 400 miles on a charge, while a ten-minute pit stop for juice would add over 180 miles. It will be seriously swift, too, with Audi claiming 0 to 62 mph in less than four seconds, enabled two electric motors putting out 470 hp sent to all four wheels. No firm launch date has been announced, but the car appears ready to roll.

Exhaust: This certainly looks like Audi’s chief competitor for the 2023 World Car of the Year, doesn’t it? With that awesome Avant long-roof look and a massive electric range, this will likely sit beneath the six-figure e-tron GT, with a price to rival that of the $80K, rear-drive Taycan base model. Unlike the e-tron GT, this concept’s name and silhouette borrow from established Audi history, which could make this electric wagon more approachable for open-minded fans of the four-ring marque.

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