911 GT3 RS blitzes the ’Ring, BMW M sticks with sixes, Norton goes Commando again

Manifold Lede Porsche 911 GT3 RS 'Ring record

Another ’Ring record falls to Porsche

Intake: As day inevitably follows night, so Porsche sets a new Nürburging lap record with each new RS model. Today it’s the turn of the 911 GT3 RS to complete Germany’s 12.9-mile Green Hell in six minutes and 49.328 seconds. That’s 10.6 seconds faster than the 911 GT3, proving that aerodynamic advantage of up to 1895 lbs of downforce of the RS is worth paying for. The record-setting car was fitted with Porsche’s Weissach package and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and driven by Jörg Bergmeister. It sounds like conditions were even a bit sub-prime for the lap, as well. “We lost a little downforce due to the strong, sometimes gusting wind, but I’m still very happy with the lap,” said Bergmeister. The lap time was not the fastest ever from a Porsche RS Model, however; a 991.2-gen 911 GT2 RS equipped with a special package from Manthey Racing lapped the 12.94-mile circuit in 6:43.300 on June 14, 2021. Still, the 911 GT3 RS’ time is roughly 1.2 seconds short of the current production car lap record, set by a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, which has 202 more horsepower than the Porsche. Watch the onboard video of the lap above and the rest of your day will seem to pass very slowly.

Exhaust: In his review for Hagerty Henry Catchpole said “this new RS is capable of operating at a level most of us would struggle to reach,” and his point has just been reinforced by this new ‘Ring time. You may question the relevance of such exploits when it comes to road cars, but buyers want bragging rights for their $225,250, and they don’t come much better than this. We can’t help but look to the future and hope that a twin-turbo GT2 RS is on the way—what time will that thing manage around the Green Hell? —Nik Berg

Lotus salutes Emerson Fittipaldi with special Evija edition

Intake: The all-electric, all-wheel-drive Lotus Evija – which was a star of the Goodwood SpeedWeek two years ago – will be promoted in a special edition to honor driver Emerson Fittipaldi, who started his Formula 1 career in a Lotus in 1970, and went on to spend three more seasons with the manufacturer. The 2027-hp Lotus Evija Fittipaldi celebrates 50 years since Fittipaldi and Team Lotus won the F1 Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships. The black and gold color scheme commemorates the original Type 72 race car colors, and it also features rotary dials crafted from recycled original Type 72 aluminum, plus Fittipaldi’s signature hand-stitched on the dashboard. The Evija Fittipaldi’s designation is written in gold lettering on the side of the rear window. Black and gold Type 72-style wheels are complete with anodized center lock surrounds—red on the left side of the car and green on the right—as well as black and gold brake calipers. Decals that celebrate the Type 72’s race victories from the 1972 season are on the active rear wing, while a number 8 has been applied to the B-pillar. Fittipaldi raced with that number on his car during the 1972 season, including for his win at the British Grand Prix. A carbon and gold Lotus nose badge completes the exterior styling.

Exhaust: One of those cars that’s a serious collector’s item before it even rolls out the door, the eight examples of the Evija Fittipaldi are currently being hand-built at the factory in Hethel, with deliveries planned for early next year. Prices weren’t revealed but we’re sure it’s well north of $2 million. – Steven Cole Smith

Norton goes Commando once more

Norton 961 Commando

Intake: Britain’s Norton motorcycles is bringing back the classic Commando. Its new 961 Commando will come in SP and CR trims and is “a modern rendering of an iconic and timeless motorcycle that is unmistakably Norton.” The original Commando was a big hit for Norton when it launched in 1967. Over the next 15 years more than 55,000 models were sold and it was voted “Machine of the Year” by Britain’s Motorcycle News five years in a row. “Today, marks a momentous milestone as Norton unveils its best Commando 961 to date, built by the companys team of passionate experts to the highest standards,” says Norton. The new Commando has a timeless look, but the oily bits are fully up-to-date. The 961 cc parallel twin motor develops 78 hp at 7250 rpm and drives via a five-speed constant mesh transmission and a single plate wet clutch. Suspension is courtesy of Öhlins, with adjustable twin shocks at the rear and upside-down front forks. Brembo braking components will handle stopping duty. The differences between the two trims are subtle: The SP gets conventional upright handlebars, while the CR gets sportier clip-on style bars and a tweaked polished steel headlamp. Color options are Matrix Black or Manx Platinum, and both are complemented by contrasting pinstriping in either gold or black. U.K. prices are from $18,595, but there’s no word yet on when it will reach the U.S.

Exhaust: Norton has had a troubled history, but has recently had a £100 m ($113 m) investment from its new Indian owners TVS Motor. The 961 Commando is the first fruit of this new era, and CEO Dr Robert Hentschel is understandably rather pleased. “Its been some years since the sound of a new Commando engine has echoed through U.K. streets and were delighted to be able to offer our customers this experience once again,” he says. —NB

No three- or four-cylinder M cars, says BMW M boss

Intake: BMW has no plans to allow three- or four-cylinder cars to ever don the full mantle of its hallowed M performance brand, according to a new report from CarBuzz. “We’re not even going to do four-cylinder engines in high-performance cars,” said M boss Franciscus van Meel during a media preview day for the 2022 BMW M fest, which will take place at South Africa’s Kylami Grand Prix Circuit. “I know there are other companies [that] are doing that, but we’re not going to do that.” It was the same story when discussing high-output three-cylinders, too. The “other companies” that van Meel is referring to are Mercedes-AMG, who is replacing its thunderous 4-liter V-8s with hybridized turbo four-cylinders, and Toyota, who uses a turbocharged three-cylinder engine for its GR Yaris and GR Corolla hot hatchbacks. The recently unveiled 2023 M2 will be BMW’s last gas-only performance car, but it sounds like even as the next-generation models gain some form of electrification, those watts will still aid six- or eight-cylinder engines.

Exhaust: We always appreciate a performance brand boss taking a hardline stance on something near and dear to our hearts. BMW’s inline sixes such as the S58, which powers the M2, the M3 and the M4, are some of the best in the business. We’re glad to hear that it sounds like they’ll be around for at least a few more years. — Nathan Petroelje

Maserati’s new special edition Ghibli and Levante pay tribute to F1’s first female driver

Intake: Maserati has a new FTributo special edition for the Ghibli and Levante, which pays homage to Maria Teresa De Filippis, the first woman to qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix, having done so aboard a Maserati. In October 1955, De Filippis took part in the 39th Targa Florio, driving a Maserati A6GCS (shared with Luigi Bellucci). She would take ninth place overall. This was the turning point that would lead her, one challenge after another, to break down conventions and become the first woman to compete in Formula 1 in 1958, again in a Maserati 250F. It was at the Belgian Grand Prix, and she finished in 10th place. She also competed in the Portuguese and Italian races, and would have run in the French Grand Prix but she was not allowed, the race director telling her, “the only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser’s.”

Exhaust: De Filippis was a gutsy lady. She was a founding member of the Maserati Club in 2004 and went on to become the chairperson. As for the FTributo, its mostly a trim package with two colors, Grigio Lamiera and Arancio Devil, which is a saturated orange, “a combination of vibrant energy and audacity, to recall Maria Teresa’s nickname, ‘the she-devil’.” Different 21-inch wheels come on each color car. The rest of the changes are all inside, including special stitching in the leather upholstery. No word yet on when, how much or how many, but Maserati does say it’s a “limited edition.” — Steven Cole Smith

KTM 890 Adventure R takes subscription features to a new low

2023 KTM 890 ADV

Intake: With updates to its popular middleweight adventure bike, KTM has announced a new “demo mode” that will activate all the technological features offered on 890 Adventure R for the first 932 miles (1500 kilometers). After that point, riders will then have to buy any feature that they want to keep on the bike for the ensuing miles. KTM says that demo mode is a great way to allow riders to try features like the traction control, cornering ABS, or other rider modes tuned for various terrains and know exactly what they are getting and whether or not such a feature would make sense to have on their bike before plunking down unnecessary lumps of cash.

Exhaust: On the other hand though, this really looks like the base MSRP (which is yet to be announced) includes these features only to have them taken away by a line of code after a few months of ownership. All the hardware is there and it is clearly functioning, so neutering the bike shortly into ownership is easily perceived as a money grab similar to the old drug dealer “first hit is free” joke. The KTM adventure lineup has a good reputation with buyers who are not scared to spend the money, so what’s with the gimmick KTM? — Kyle Smith

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    KTM is trying to pull a BMW. I will not pay for subscription services on everything in my life, especially a car or bike.

    In 1970, I was …that… close to buying a new Norton 850 Commando, but the siren song of the 750 Honda swept me away. Now, temptation is singing again, and I’m wondering if the forks will still have “Roadholder” emblems on them…

    In ’68 Norton still offered the Atlas 750cc, which out of the 16 British, Japanese and American bikes was my favorite ride of all.

    As an former owner of 1971 and 1972 Commando’s and a 1973 850, I am glad to see the brand back in production. I am curious of these new models will have that unmistakable Norton twin sound.

    How much extra cost to go 2-1/2% faster (if I were a professional race driver) in the 911 GT3 RS? Couldn’t I just buy the badges and stick them on the base GT??

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