GMC’s Ultimate Yukon, Mini drops manuals, Brabus builds a land yacht

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GMC ups the ante on its biggest, poshest SUV

Intake: Meet the Yukon Denali Ultimate, the new range-topping version of the brand’s biggest SUV. “Denali” traditionally denotes GMC’s most lavish offerings, but the brand has recently upped the ante by introducing the Denali Ultimate treatment. Many of the Yukon’s new accoutrements come straight from Sierra Denali Ultimate pickup, which was announced last fall. Trailering-capable Super Cruise for hands-free towing on compatible roads (GM has mapped well over 200,000 miles of highway for Super Cruise use thus far) is the star of the show here. But there are also a host of styling tweaks, including Vader Chrome exterior details and new 22-inch seven-spoke wheels on the outside, as well as massaging seats swathed in Alpine Umber full-grain leather with unique accent stitching and complemented by open-pore Paldao wood interior trim. Whereas the Sierra Denali Ultimate makes do with a 12-speaker Bose system, the Yukon Denali Ultimate gets an 18-speaker affair. The 6.2-liter V-8 is standard, but you have the option to spec GM’s 3-liter Duramax straight six diesel. Both engines pair with a 10-speed automatic, and a two-speed transfer case and electronic limited-slip rear diff are both standard. GMC’s cushy air-ride suspension and brilliant Magnetic ride control are both standard as well. Pricing and availability details will be revealed at a later date.

Exhaust: Over half of all Yukons sold annually are Denali models (GMC considers Denali a sub-brand because it’s that popular), so when we saw GMC stack the Ultimate upgrades atop the Sierra Denali, we expected the brand’s largest SUV to follow suit. A 2022 Yukon Denali stickers at $72,295 with destination, so GMC’s bet that customers will splash more cash for even more luxury seems entirely logical. Since you can easily spec a non-Ultimate Yukon Denali for $85K, expect the Ultimate-ized model to start around or above that figure.

Manual Minis latest victim of supply-chain shortages

Intake: Following a two-week shutdown of Mini’s Oxford, U.K., facility in March, pinched supply lines have squeezed manual transmissions off the Mini options list for any and all models. Andrew Cutler, speaking on behalf of Mini USA, says that the auto-only measure is temporary, designed to simplify equipment offerings and maintain production pace. Though the manual transmission’s current absence from the catalog is due to tense international relations and pandemic-plagued supply lines, this isn’t the first time this gearbox has given Mini cause for headache. In May of 2019, the manufacturer paused importation of manual Minis while it struggled to bring them into compliance with U.S. emissions regulations. 

Exhaust: Mini devotees may be aghast that the company would risk alienating enthusiasts in these desperate times, but Mini simply cannot afford to slow down production. Its U.S. sales have been slipping since 2013 and, even after a slight uptick in 2021, are less than half of 2013’s high-water mark (66,502). The marque’s first SUV, the Countryman, offered a temporary reprieve at its 2010 introduction, but diluting the brand’s identity by adding ever-larger “compact” vehicles is hardly a long-term solution.

Brabus meets Maybach to launch a “mega-liner”

Intake: Brabus has taken the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 land yacht, stuck it in dry dock and given it some major upgrades. The result is the Brabus 900, which the eccentric German tuner has dubbed an “illustrious mega-liner.” Power comes from the Brabus Rocket engine—a 4.5-liter twin turbo V-8 packing 900 hp which can propel the 900 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 199 mph. The exterior design modifications are relatively subtle, featuring carbon fender flares and a Brabus-only front fascia and rear diffuser. The 24-inch Monoblock forged alloy wheels are pretty impressive, but the real spectacle is reserved for the car’s interior. Fully customizable to its captain’s desires, highlights include aluminum pedals and door lock pins, stainless steel scuff plates, exposed carbon trim and lashings of leather finished with seashell diamond stitching. Colorways and detailing are “limited only by your imagination,” says Brabus. No price has been revealed yet but, if you have to ask, this ship has already sailed.

Exhaust: When a regular $160,500 Maybach just won’t cut it at the yacht club, this Brabus behemoth will certainly make some waves. That steroidal engine has also made its way under the hood of a G Wagen, where it helped propel the boxy Benz to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.7 seconds. Clearly the added half second to 60 for the 900 is a sign that Brabus has prioritized comfort over all-out pace. (And yes, we’re being facetious.) 

Hot Wheels’ newest RC toy features wheelchair Paralympian “Wheelz” Fotheringham

Intake: Hot Wheels has released a remote-control toy featuring five-time Wheelchair Motocross World Champion and Paralympic athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham. Hot Wheels says it hopes the toy will “inspire kids to embrace the challenger spirit and pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they may face.” The RC Aaron Wheelz Wheelie Chair features a built-in action figure, made in Fotheringham’s likeness, along with a remote control and ramp. A “wheelie boost” feature provides an extra shot of power so kids can imitate Fotheringham’s jumps, including a 180-degree backflip. Available exclusively on amazon.com, the RC toy has a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Exhaust: Hot Wheels’ newest RC toy not only celebrates the accomplishments of Fotheringham, who was born with spina bifida (a condition that affects spinal cord development), it offers children with similar disabilities a role model to emulate. That’s a win-win we can all applaud.

Iced donuts put Porsche Taycan in the record books again

Intake: Porsche has set yet another world record with its Taycan EV. With British stunt driver Terry Grant at the wheel, a standard Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo pirouetted 69 times on a Swedish frozen lake to book a Guinness World Record for the most number of consecutive donuts on ice in an electric vehicle. It wasn’t easy to achieve this dizzying number of donuts because the car’s safety sensors interjected, while the winter tires did their best to eat through the ice.

Exhaust: Porsche is racking up the records with the Taycan. In November 2020 it set a record for EV drifting at the Hockenheimring in Germany, in 2021 the Tycan notched up an indoor land speed record of 165.1 km/h (102.6 mph) at the New Orleans Convention Center, and earlier this year a team driving a Taycan Cross Turismo scored the greatest altitude change ever achieved by an electric car during a 1400-mile drive from Eagle Mine in Michigan to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado, with a vertical distance of over three miles.

 

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