Hi-po GR Corolla lands this week, Can-Am revived, AMG in green hell … or heaven?
GTI, beware: Toyota’s hottest hatch arrives Thursday
Intake: Toyota promised the United States a high-performance hatchback back in December of 2021, and, along with the first official teaser photos of the model, we finally have a reveal date: Thursday, March 31, 2022. Expect the five-door hatch to be an all-wheel-drive affair, as indicated by the GR-Four stamping on the sill (shown below), powered by a version of the G16E-GTS turbocharged three-cylinder found in the GR Yaris. In that smaller, WRC-homologation special, the engine makes 260 hp and propels the pocket-rocket to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds. Look for its bigger, Corolla-based sibling to improve on those specs. The GR Corolla most likely debut Thursday as a 2023 model-year vehicle.
Exhaust: When it arrives, the Gazoo Racing–badged Corolla will arguably be the purest GR model sold in the States. The GR Supra was co-developed with BMW and built by Magna Steyr, who designed and built the Pontiac Aztec’s all-wheel-drive system. The GR86—the successor to the GT 86 and, before that, the Scion FR-S—is a joint effort alongside Subaru. Judging by development mules, a CVT should be blessedly absent from the hatchback’s options list; a torque-converter eight-speed unique to GR, plus a standard manual, are likely. Less certain is whether the five-door will replace the 86 as the sub-$30K budget buy of the GR family. Either way, we haven’t been this excited for a Corolla since the AE86. Who’s counting down to Thursday with us?
Eletre by name, electric by nature
Intake: The new Lotus electric SUV may be a massive departure from the brand’s lightweight legacy, but it is sticking with one tradition: The car’s name begins with the letter E. The Lotus Eletre is set to make its debut tomorrow in London, and we will be there to report whether the British-designed, China-built e-SUV appears worthy of the Lotus badge.
Exhaust: At least there’s one thing that’s not completely shocking (no apologies) about Lotus’ entry into the world of high-riding, electric vehicles.
ByKolles’ Vanwall prototype is the latest Le Mans Hypercar to slip the silk
Intake: Last week, German-based ByKolles Racing shared photos of its newest prototype: the Vanwall Vandervell Le Mans Hypercar (LMH). In stark contrast to its sleek and sexy curves, the hypercar’s journey to the track has been anything but smooth. According to an interview with motorsport.com, the production of the car was first delayed by supply-chain issues caused by COVID-19 and Brexit. Then, in January, the World Endurance Championship (WEC)—which sanctions Le Mans and like—rejected the team’s application to compete full-time in the Hypercar class for 2022.
To the devout racing enthusiast, the model’s namesake may sound familiar. Tony Vandervell founded the Vanwall Formula 1 team the 1950s and employed up-and-coming stars like designer Colin Chapman and driver Stirling Moss. Despite the German production (and the Austrian flag on the prototype’s nose above), the familiar British Racing Green that once-covered Vanwall’s mid-century open-wheelers now coats this Mulsanne-eater.
Exhaust: While we’ve enjoyed the steady drip of Le Mans Hypercar teasers and headlines, this one is a bit more … complex. In fact, there’s a chance the whole shebang might never make it to France. A possible hard stop doesn’t seem to be dissuading team owner Colin Colles, who tells motorsport.com that his prototype project will endure for the sake of developing a Vanwall road car and track-day machine. We can only hope a road-going hyperbeast will utilize the normally aspirated 4.5-liter Gibson V-8 found in the proposed Le Mans racer.
Can-Am revives motorcycle production, goes electric
Intake: Can-Am announced in a video that it will return to the motorcycle market with what appears to be three motorcycle models and one trike. All four, new offerings will be fully electric and the brand claims riders can expect models “perfect for everyday commuting and, to stay true to the track & trail heritage of the brand, recreational on- and off-road riding.” Expect to see these new models in showrooms mid-2024.
Exhaust: Can-Am is a motorcycle brand best known for burly open-class motocross and enduro models of the 1970s, so a small fleet of electric bikes is a curious revival of the nameplate. From the shadowy video we can expect a sporty street bike, an adventure machine, a muscle bike or cruiser, and what appears to be a three-wheeler. This is a solid four-machine lineup that covers a lot of the current market. Will the lineup prove sufficient in 2024, though?
Alfa Romeo launches limited-edition Goldilocks trim
Intake: Alfa Romeo has introduced two limited-edition versions of the Stelvio SUV and the Giulia sedan. “Estrema” brings the flavors of Alfa to five and is meant to bridge the gap between the higher-end Veloce models, which boast a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder, and the raucous, twin-turbo V-6–powered Quadrifoglio models, which make over 500 hp. Estrema models feature the same 2-liter mill from the Sprint, Ti, and Veloce configurations—an engine good for 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque—but crib the active suspension and limited-slip rear differential from the Quadrifoglio trim. Estrema versions of the Stelvio get all-wheel-drive standard, while their Giulia counterparts offer RWD or AWD. Visually, you’ll get carbon-fiber veneers on the grille and mirror caps plus a host of black trim and black wheels. Inside, red stitching and carbon-fiber panels add dashes of contrast to the cabin. Prices are as follows and include a steep $1595 destination fee: Giulia Estrema RWD: $56,685; Giulia Estrema AWD: $58,685; and Stelvio Estrema: $60,545. Order books are open now, and Alfa says these special rides will be available in the Q3 of this year.
Exhaust: Alfa’s Quadrifoglio models are magic at full whack, but they start at $80K and $86K, respectively, for the Giulia and the Stelvio. This new Estrema trim is a fantastic way to get the corner-carving mechanical hardware and racy visual presence while saving $25K to $35K. This is Alfa’s first globally available limited-edition model, although the marque doesn’t specify what that production limit might be. Because this is such an appealing package, the Estrema trim may begin as a limited-edition for analysis purposes and then become a more mainstream configuration in months to come.
Hybrid four-pot AMG tortures tires at the Nürburgring
Intake: Mercedes-AMG is testing its hot C-Class for 2023 on Germany’s most famous race track. Caught on camera by YouTubers Car Spy Media, the new AMG C63 certainly looks to have poise, but the noise is a little lackluster, tire squeal aside. That’s because the NASCAR-aping V-8 soundtrack is being replaced by a two-liter hybrid turbo four-banger. In better news the C63 looks set to continue as both a wagon and sedan, while the combination of e-motors and ICE is estimated to exceed 600 hp. Drive will be to all four wheels via a nine-speed auto. More news when we have it.
Exhaust: We know that Mercedes-AMG can produce serious power from four cylinders, and adding some electric oomph will most likely propel the new C63 faster than its predecessor. However, it’s hard to imagine that even the pops and bangs of a turbo motor and the instant torque from EV assistance will make up for the character assassination that goes with the loss of an AMG V-8.