V12 Vantage drops top, Lucid wants to out-Plaid Tesla, Toyoda rallies for hydrogen

Aston Martin

Droptop V12 Vantage looks fantastic, but you can’t have one

Intake: Following the release of the coupe version earlier this year, Aston Martin has unveiled a drop-top variant of the herculean V12 Vantage. Powered by the same 690-hp, 555 lb-ft twin-turbo 5.2-liter V-12, the roadster variant will rip off 0–60 runs in 3.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 200 mph. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and a mechanical limited-slip rear diff round out the drivetrain hardware, and like the coupe, the roadster gets massive carbon ceramic brakes (16.14-inch fronts and 14.17-inch rears) as standard. A lighter exhaust (15.8 fewer pounds less the standard Vantage Roadster’s kit) helps the V-12 sing a joyful noise. Like the twelve-cylinder coupe, the roadster is 40 mm wider than a regular Vantage and incorporates a new bumper design that, in conjunction with new side sills and a new rear bumper, generates extra downforce. That massive rear wing on the V12 Vantage won’t come standard on the convertible, but you can option it back on if you’d like. The interior looks fantastic, offering leather sport seats as standard and more rigid carbon-fiber performance buckets as an option. If the standard options sheet just won’t satisfy, you can enlist Q by Aston Martin, the marque’s in-house bespoke order team, to personalize your V12 Vantage Roadster exactly how you’d like, from exterior paint and graphics to interior materials and stitching. possibilities are only as limited as your checkbook. Interested in getting your hands on one? Bad news: Aston says that all 249 examples of the V12 Vantage Roadster have already been spoken for. Production is slated to begin this fall, with deliveries beginning in Q4 of this year.

Exhaust: As the brand faces an expensive shift to EVs, it’s clearly using a few limited-run examples of nostalgic models to stock its coffers. Although modern Astons are hit or miss when it comes to ROI, this model will probably be desirable immediately, says Hagerty Price Guide editor Greg Ingold. — Nathan Petroelje

Ford cuts 3000 jobs, mostly in Michigan

Rouge Electric Vehicle Center f-150 lightning ford layoffs
Workers assemble an F-150 Lightning in Dearborn, Michigan’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Ford

Intake: Ford confirmed on Monday that it’s laying off 2000 salaried and 1000 contract white-collar positions, mostly in Michigan, a state in which the company has pledged to create more jobs. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley sent a letter to 31,000 employees detailing the layoffs, stating that the company is “eliminating work, as well as reorganizing and simplifying functions throughout the business.” David Whiston, U.S. autos equity analyst for investment services firm Morningstar Inc., told The Detroit News that the job cuts had been expected. “It’s not a surprise given Farley being very open about Ford having too many people. They also need to cut costs to get profits moving again so this is one of those steps. They seem to really want to focus on EV now and need EV people, not more ICE people.” Spokesman Mark Truby told the Detroit Free Press that the move does not affect Ford’s June announcement that it would create 3200 union jobs, including nearly 2000 jobs in three assembly plants to increase production of the electric F-150 Lightning pickup.

Exhaust: Ford said that the layoffs are across the board, affecting multiple departments, but all indications are they are jobs the company considers expendable because they are primarily tied to the internal combustion market. This is part of the new reality as Ford and other manufacturers reshuffle the deck toward an all-electric future. —Steven Cole Smith

Koenigsegg CC850’s gearbox is best of both worlds

Koenigsegg CC850 interior Engage Shift System (ESS) transmission

Intake: At The Quail: a Motorsports Gathering late last week, Koenigsegg unveiled the CC850, a striking machine that pays homage to 20 years since the brand’s first model, the CC8S, debuted. (It also tips the cap to company founder Christian von Koenigsegg’s 50th birthday, because why not.) For this contemporary reimagination of the first Koenigsegg, the company didn’t want to leave the driver with only two pedals. The solution is the Engage Shift System (ESS), which allows the driver to toggle the transmission between the functions of six-speed manual, which requires the use of a clutch pedal, and nine-speed automatic—”more laid back,” in the company’s words. The new ESS transmission is based on Koenigsegg’s existing Light Speed Transmission found in the Jesko hypercar. As impressive as the gearbox is, the beating heart of the CC850 is just as technologically formidable: 1385 hp and 1020 lb-ft of torque from the 5-liter V-8 mounted midship.

Exhaust: Drivers have been lamenting the slow demise of the manual transmission, but this transmission stands a chance to bring at least some of the experience of driving a manual back to drivers hands and feet. Yes, this is currently only in a hyper-exclusive “megacar” but as with a lot of similar technology over the years, if it works reasonably well, it stands a chance of trickling down to more common cars. Consider our fingers crossed. — Kyle Smith

Lucid Air Sapphire plans to out-Plaid Tesla

Lucid Air Sapphire
Brandan Gillogly

Intake: Lucid has been teasing a higher performance version of their dual motor, 1111-hp Air Dream Edition flagship sedan, and the plans have firmed up with an extra motor and a new trim level: Sapphire. The extra motor is fitted in the rear, creating a “twin rear-drive unit” with torque vectoring and a revised cooling system to provide “over 1200 horsepower.” Lucid claims zero to 60 mph in less than two seconds, a sub nine-second quarter mile time and a top speed over 200 mph. Sapphire models are finished in a unique blue color, sport wider tires (+20mm front, +30mm rear) with fender flares, a stiffer suspension, and carbon ceramic brakes to slow it all down. This price for such performance perfection? A lofty $249,000.

Exhaust: The Sapphire is a lot of car for a lot of money, but the price isn’t that terrifying once you spec a Porsche Taycan Turbo S with desirable options. (Mine hit $233,930 before I stopped clicking my mouse.) And the Sapphire walks away from both the Porsche and the Tesla Model S Plaid in a straight line, and might have the handling and braking upgrades to run with Germany’s finest on a road course. Oh, and unlike the Plaid, the Sapphire retains a normal steering wheel, so you can actually drift it. —Sajeev Mehta

Goodwood plans ahead for 2023 Members’ Meeting

Intake: The Goodwood Revival is still weeks away, but the British racing circuit has already announced dates for its first event of 2023. The 80th Members’ Meeting will take place on April 15–16 and tickets are exclusive to Members and Fellows of the Goodwood Road and Racing Club. Further details will be announced in due course so as not to distract further from this year’s flagship Revival.

Exhaust: The Members’ Meeting is always fully-focused on the racing, without the distractions of donning period costumes, taking in a tea dance or any number of other entertaining side shows that make up the Goodwood Revival. Although becoming a fully fledged Member of the GRRC is neither easy or cheap, anyone can become a Fellow for the price of around $54 a year and take in this rather special race weekend. —Nik Berg

Toyota president rallies for hydrogen power

Toyota Gr Yaris H2

Intake: Akio Toyoda has joined four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen on a rally stage in Belgium. While the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally team was racing to second and third places on Rally Belgium, Toyota’s speedy boss drove the unique GR Yaris H2 on one twisty special stage, with Kankunnen by his side to advise. The car uses a modified combustion engine fueled exclusively by hydrogen for emissions-free motorsports, and it was the first time it car has been put through its paces outside of Japan.

Exhaust: Toyota is one of the few firms still pursuing hydrogen as an alternative to batteries to fuel a greener future. Using the universe’s most abundant element to power combustion could be a way to keep ICE enthusiasts, like Toyoda himself, on the road for years to come. Even rally legend Kankkunen seems convinced: “Akio’s driving was great. And the hydrogen engine put out solid torque, making it no different from a gasoline engine. Because they emit zero CO2, I believe hydrogen engines will become one of the options for achieving carbon neutrality not only in the world of motorsports but also in the world of everyday cars.” —NB

Aki Toyoda and Juha Kankkunen
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