Impreza 2.5 RS returns, NACOTY finalists announced, will NASCAR go racing in the rain?


Subaru brings back the Impreza 2.5 RS

Intake: We’ve shown teaser photos for the Subaru Impreza twice in the last week: Now, here’s the whole car, as revealed at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Impreza debuted 30 years ago at the 1992 L.A. show, offering customers a “value-packed compact car with available Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive,” Subaru says. That still applies. The Impreza also laid the foundation for the WRX, the performance car with rally championships spanning four decades. The big news is that the sixth-generation Impreza sees the return of the once-beloved 2.5-liter RS hatchback, with 182 horsepower and alas, no manual transmission, only a CVT automatic, although it does have paddle shifters choosing from eight predetermined ratios.

Exhaust: In the lonesome days before the WRX was available stateside, the 2.5 RS was as good as Subarus got. If only we could get this new, sharp-looking hatch with the current WRX’s potent guts. Today’s reborn RS iteration is functionally a Civic Sport competitor, with similar lukewarm performance but no manual transmission option. Color us curious. –Eric Weiner

Six of nine NACOTY nominees are electric

2022 Silverado ZR2 descent
Brandan Gillogly

Intake: The nominees for the North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year were announced Thursday afternoon. Twenty-six vehicles were voted semifinalists from an initial field of 47 eligible vehicles, and a second vote by NACTOY’s 50 jurors, all of them journalists for different outlets, determined the nine finalists following an extensive test-drive and evaluation period. The jurors vote based on elements including automotive innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, user experience, and value. The three finalists for each category, in alphabetical order, are: North American Car of the Year: Acura Integra, Genesis G80 EV, and Nissan Z. Truck of the Year: Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Lordstown Endurance. Sport Utility of the Year: Cadillac Lyriq, Genesis GV60, and Kia EV6.

“Our nine finalists for 2023 represent a diverse cross-section of this year’s best new vehicles, ranging from sports cars to powerful pickups to three electric utility vehicles—which is the first time in our history that all three finalists in a specific category are battery-electric,” said NACTOY president Gary Witzenburg.

Exhaust: The winners will be announced January 11. The 2022 winners were the Honda Civic, Ford Maverick, and Ford Bronco. Full disclosure: I’m a NACTOY juror. –Steven Cole Smith

Kia Seltos freshened for 2024

Intake: The refreshed 2024 Kia Seltos, which made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, gets a mildly updated look outside, and inside, a segment-first available panoramic display with two 10.25-inch screens. There’s also a new trim package called the X-Line exterior package that adds a new front grille design, unique 18-inch wheels, a black bridge-type roof rack, and gloss-black door garnish. There’s more power for the optional 1.6-liter turbo-GDI engine, up 20 horses to 195. It can be paired with an available eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the current seven-speed. (Standard is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and a CVT.)

Exhaust: The Seltos is one of the more satisfying small SUVs, and the added muscle and the extra gear for the 1.6-liter package should make it more fun to drive. Look for the 2024 Seltos is the first half of 2023. –SCS

Garage 56 Camaro tests for 2023 Le Mans

Garage 56 test car rain aero tailwind
Hendrick Motorsports

Intake: In 2012, the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious sports-car endurance race, set aside an entry called Garage 56 for a vehicle that showed genuine, and often untried, innovation to run as an exhibition. Not much has happened with Garage 56 since that first year, when the bizarre Delta Wing debuted, but 2023 should be interesting: Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet have entered a Camaro that started life as a 2022 NASCAR Cup Car and has been morphing into a serious road racer. The Camaro tested for three days at Virginia International Raceway driven by 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller.

“It’s a huge milestone for us,” Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition and Garage 56 program manager Chad Knaus said—Knaus, of course, being best known as Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief during Johnson’s championship years.

“It doesn’t go without its challenges of course, but that is why you come to the racetrack to test. With all the people here and all the resources that have been here at VIR today, it shows the importance of this program and what a big commitment it has been from everybody.”

Exhaust: You know what would be interesting? If the Garage 56 Camaro has hybrid power, like the 2023 IMSA GTP cars will. NASCAR is, after all, expected to go the hybrid route for its Cup cars sooner rather than later. We aren’t saying the Garage 56 car will be a hybrid, just that the choice would be … interesting. –SCS

Report: NASCAR developing a wet-weather oval package

NASCAR Cup Series Blue Joey Logano Pennzoil car
Joey Logano’s Shell Pennzoil Ford sits on pit road during a rain delay in Martinsville, 2022. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Intake: NASCAR is working on a package that would allow races to continue in the rain on short oval tracks, says Road & Track, citing “multiple sources in the NASCAR paddock.” The story continues: “Like the package used on road courses, it will include a windshield wiper, flaps behind the wheels, rain lights on the back of the car, and Goodyear rain tires, of course.”

Exhaust: This has been under discussion for some time, with TV a major advocate: Any rain delay usually lasts an hour or more, and you can hear the channel changers clicking across the country when the action stops. We can see it maybe working at Martinsville, Bristol, or Richmond, but anywhere else? Certainly not a given. –SCS

Bradley bites the Bullitt

Bullitt Mustang
Warner Bros

Intake: Bradley Cooper is set to star as San Francisco cop Frank Bullitt in a Steven Spielberg–directed remake of the 1968 car-chase classic Bullitt. They each have some big driving boots to fill, with Cooper taking over from King of Cool Steve McQueen and Spielberg replacing Peter Yates in the director’s chair. According to Variety, instead of being a shot-for-shot reissue, the new Bullitt will be a different story, scripted by Josh Singer, who co-wrote Spielberg’s The Post. The original Bullitt was a huge hit, generating $42 million in ticket sales on a $4 million budget and winning an Oscar for Best Film Editing (for the chase sequence, we hope).

Exhaust: Cooper and Spielberg are a promising pairing, but what about the cars? A Shelby Mustang GT500 and a Charger Hellcat would be the obvious choices, but if the eco-police are involved, the new Bullitt could debut the first on-screen EV car chase with the Mustang Mach-E GT. Good luck to the sound effects team with that.—Nik Berg

Erik Buell’s Fuell electric motorcycle order books open

Fuell Fllow electric bike

Intake: Buell built its reputation on building Harley-Davidson-powered sports bikes, but now founder Erik Buell has switched over to electric and even renamed the firm Fuell. (We sighed, too.) Having launched a high-end e-bike called the Flluid in 2019, Fuell now has its first proper electric motorcycle almost ready.

The Fllow has been designed as a daily driver, rather than an out-and-out sportster, with a top speed of 85 mph courtesy of a 35-kW (47.5 hp) hub motor of the rather exotic, transverse-flux variety. Weighing in at 396 pounds and carrying a 10-kWh battery pack as a structural element of the frame, it will accelerate to 62 mph in a claimed 2.7 seconds, which makes it swifter than Harley’s Livewire One. A realistic range of 150 miles is said to be achievable, with prices starting at $11,995. Customers are being invited to put down a $200 deposit and if, 3000 reservations are received, production should go ahead.

Exhaust: The high specification, Tron-inspired styling, and low price look great, but the funding isn’t in place yet. Question marks remain over whether Buell will get his Fuell flowing. We hope he does. —NB

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    I’ve owned Subarus. Good cars. I’ll never buy a car with a CVT or a turbo four. It will be NA with an automatic; no EV, no CVT, no turbo.

    The last interesting 2.5 RS was in 2002. Been a pretty boring parade since then. Subaru CVT’s are garbage.

    Cooper and Spielberg are not a promising pair since Spielberg has run out of ideas and has been rehashing old stuff “for modern audiences” with crap-tastic results.

    The “Bullitt” remake will probably be exact opposite of the original. Cost 42 million and ticket sales of 4 million. Bet it won’t actually be shot in SF with all the issues they have going on.

    Rick, I agree. Especially if they try & use the all electric “Mustang”. That car is NOT a Mustang! It’s a mid size SUV

    On the subject of NASCAR going rain racing, DO IT! They already run rain equipped cars on some road courses, with teams changing tire to suit conditions. Rain delays are a pain for everybody involved, from track crews drying, to drivers losing their concentration, to tv people having to fill hours saying the same thing over & over. On NASCAR going hybrid, I predict a loss of a lot more fans because they’ve already dumbed down the cars with all looking exactly the same & the only difference being the number & the decal badge on the front. The whole idea of racing was bringing a better designed faster car than the other guys, not seeing how WOKE we can be. This new car is akin to everybody getting a participation trophy!

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