Hoonigan shreds Vegas playground, GMC’s Canyon eyes AEV treatment, Tesla ponders Mexico factory

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Audi/Hoonigan

Ken Block gives an electric performance in the Audi S1 Hoonitron

Intake: The king of the tire shredders, Ken Block always puts on a show with each installment of the Gymkhana series. The latest is a truly electric performance thanks to the Audi S1 Hoonitron that eschews pistons for an 800-volt, two-motor, all-wheel-drive setup that makes easy work of leaving heavy tire marks all over Las Vegas. From a huge 100mph-plus reverse-entry drift on the strip to donuts in the lobby of a casino right next to a craps table, this latest video is worth the watch for the performance driving alone, but the co-stars supplied by Audi pepper in a nice seasoning of car spotting. (Was that nine-time Le Mans winning driver Tom Kristensen?!)

Exhaust: While the stunts in this installment are a bit tamer than some previous videos, it’s still a remarkable piece of precision driving worth watching once or twice. The S1 Hoonitron is obviously highly capable, keeping Block busy despite the loss of the shifter and clutch pedal. How the tires seem to just burst into smoke is testament to the instant torque of the electric setup. It’s a compliment to most race drivers to call their foot a rheostat, but in this case Ken’s foot actually is. We are here for it. — Kyle Smith

Ford Mavericks are starting to show up on U-Haul rental lots

Intake: Interested in test driving a Ford Maverick but out of luck when you call your local dealer? Your workaround might involve everyone’s favorite moving ally: U-Haul. The massive rental company has a Maverick in the lot, according to this photo posted by a Florida-based member of mavericktruckclub.com, a forum for owners and fans of Ford’s newest compact pickup. A quick check of U-Haul’s site reveals that you can rent a Maverick in the Miami area, but forum members noted that other areas in the sunshine state like Ft. Lauderdale also had Mavericks available. For $19.95 plus $0.79/mile, you could score some seat time in this hot-ticket truck.

Ford Maverick U-Haul rates
U-Haul

Exhaust: Mavericks are hard to come by these days. Just six days after opening, order books for the 2023 Maverick Hybrid closed due to overwhelming demand. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost version was available for just a day longer. Those order books were primarily retail-facing, meaning that commercial and fleet buyers still may have had access to inventory through channels not offered to John Q. Public. It’s no surprise to see U-Haul taking interest in the little compact; with its smaller footprint and better fuel economy, the Maverick is an easier sell in large urban areas that the big box trucks may not fit into. Expect to see a lot more Mavericks on U-Haul lots nationwide as we head into 2023. — Nathan Petroelje

AEV will work its magic on the GMC Canyon AT4X

Brandan Gillogly

Intake: According to Musclecarsandtrucks.com, GMC’s top midsize off-road pickup, the Canyon AT4X, is going to receive the AEV treatment that we’ve previously sampled on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. The AEV hardware will include, in part, a bumper with an integrated winch, a snorkel, and new wheels with 35-inch tires. That will allow Canyon AT4X better compete with Ford’s Bronco, which can be equipped with 35-inch tires when optioned with the Sasquatch package. The bumper and winch may be the same parts we saw in the AT4X Edition 1 that was announced back in August.

Exhaust: Manufacturers are clamoring to build vehicles that can brave tough trails with confidence as buyers prove they want a turn-key adventure rig from their favorite truck brands. The new Sierra AT4X is also getting an AEV edition, and GMC is smart to give its premium truck brand the same off-road chops as Chevrolet. While we haven’t yet driven the next-generation Canyon or Colorado, the factory 33-inch tires on the Canyon AT4X and Colorado ZR2 should give them plenty of capability, but the new generation of mid-sizers have wheel wells that are pushed a bit further forward than before, allowing room for the larger tires. This is good news for those in the market for an AEV Canyon, but it also bodes well for the aftermarket, which will likely be right behind AEV in offering lift kits to bolster off-road performance. — Brandan Gillogly

Will Williams power the Porsche entry to Formula 1?

Nik Berg

Intake: The F1 paddock is full of chatter that Porsche has inked a deal with the once-dominant Williams team to get on the grid for 2026. Only weeks ago, the German sports car maker looked like it would be joining forces with Red Bull Racing, and even went so far as to trademark the term “F1nally”. However, Red Bull pulled out after refusing to give up significant control, leaving Porsche to keep shopping. Now, according to Dutch F1 reporter Jack Plooij of Ziggo Sport, “Porsche is talking to Williams. 50 per cent owner and supplier of engines from 2026. Almost done that deal,” he said. Williams is currently owned by U.S. investment group Dorilton Capital, who bought the British team from the Williams family in 2020.

Exhaust: Despite a few promising showings this season Williams, is running last in the World Championship and could certainly use a cash and technology injection to get back to its historic position at the top. Partnering with Porsche, and signing American talent Logan Sargeant would go a long way to revitalizing this once-great team. — Nik Berg

Is Tesla looking south to Mexico?

Intake: Elon Musk was seen in the northern Mexico state of Nuevo Leon last weekend meeting with government officials, raising speculation that the Tesla founder may be looking south as a site for a new Tesla plant, says Automotive News. The Milenio newspaper published a photo of Musk with Nuevo Leon first lady Mariana Rodriguez, reporting that Musk met with Governor Samuel Garcia and local economic development officials “to analyze the possibility of installing a Tesla plant.” The newspaper said the officials are proposing a manufacturing facility near the state capital of Monterrey. Other sources suggested Musk could be looking at the area to build a new parts factory or assembly point, as there are already factories in Mexico that are supplying the new Tesla plant in Austin, Texas.

Exhaust: It made sense for other manufacturers to go to Mexico, and it probably makes sense for Tesla to join them. The country already exports 2.7 million vehicles a year, most of them to the U.S. Mexico, Automotive News points out, is actively looking for EV business, which it already has as the manufacturing site for the Ford Mustang Mach-E. — Steven Cole Smith

The Ford Fiesta is reaching the end of the road

Ford

Intake: After almost 50 years and close to five million models sold, the Ford Fiesta will not be replaced when production of the current model finishes in 2023, according to numerous reports coming from the U.K. As Ford moves to a fully-electric portfolio in Europe, the popular hatchback will not be redeveloped with battery power. Auto Express says it “understands that an official statement with news of the Fiesta’s demise—as well as plans that outline when the Blue Oval’s iconic supermini will go off sale, possibly by the middle of 2023—could come in days as Ford’s march towards full electrification continues.” The Sun quotes a Ford insider who says, “This is a strategic decision to make way for a ‘new’ Ford. Fiesta has been a beloved icon and a faithful friend for millions of drivers but tastes are changing. People want high-riding crossovers — and we play to win.”

Exhaust: Generations of Europeans learned to drive in the Ford Fiesta, while boy and girl racers loved the hot hatch XR2, RS, and ST models. The Fiesta had an on-off relationship with the United States with the first generation being sold for four years from 1978, but then not arriving again until the sixth iteration of 2008. By the time of its demise in America only the quickest Fiesta ST was on sale, but it was all the more popular with enthusiasts as a result. It will be missed. —NB

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Comments

    Ford supplying U-Haul with Mavericks makes no sense. I would love to own a Maverick as a daily commuter and occasional light-duty hauler, as it is an affordable compromise vehicle that can wear a lot of hats. I hope to buy one next year. But, if I am going through the effort to rent a truck, I want to rent a truck, not a light-duty unibody commuter with a 4 1/2 ft bed. Mavericks are in high demand, so give them to the dealerships and let people buy them. Keep real trucks on the U-Haul lots.

    The driving by Ken is magnificent. The car is awesome. But the sound is just a long whine. I miss the noise from the Hoonicorn car.

    The Fiesta and Focus disappearing from the USA is to me not great for affordable small cars. Disappearing in Europe is the final nail in the coffin. Too bad small, affordable hot hatches are going away completely.

    They may be gone from the U.S. but there are dozens of cool little cars in Europe that are not sold in the U.S. We’re too addicted to big bloated thirsty trucks and SUVs.

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