Zagato’s gorgeous SWB Giulia, Hyundai restyles the Kona, Takata airbags claim another life

Zagato | Marco Zamponi

Zagato’s one-off Giulia SWB is the Quadrifoglio coupe Alfa failed to deliver

Intake: Alfa Romeo and Zagato have finally pulled the cover off their latest creation, a one-of-one short-wheelbase Giulia coupe. The car celebrates 100 years of collaboration between the two firms, which began in 1921 with the TIPO G1. The origins of the Alfa Giulia SWB Zagato, as the name hints, are found in the modern Giulia Quadrifoglio performance sedan. Zagato took the Giorgio floorplan that underpins the modern Giulia (and the Stelvio crossover) and shortened it, dropping two doors in the process. The carbon-fiber bodywork features aggressive front-end styling evocative of the max-attack Giulia Quadrifoglio GTAm, as well as a signature double-bubble roofline. Zagato says the car is a blend of its SZ (Sprint Zagato) and TZ (Tubolare Zagato) design languages. The front end is more evocative of the SZ cars, with tight proportions and a raked hood line akin to the 1991 Alfa SZ Zagato sports car. The kamm tail at the rear is a TZ special reminiscent of the Alfa 8C Competizione. Power comes from the Giulia’s 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6, which is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Specific power figures weren’t provided, but we’d guess that that six-pot makes 540 horsepower, as it does in the Giulia Quadrifoglio GTAm. The one-off car will head to a German client whose collection already boasts many great Zagatos and Alfas.

Exhaust: Zagato has bodied some of the most desirable Alfa Romeos over the past 100+ years. We’ve been pining for a Giulia coupe since the debut of the current four-door model in 2015, and have thus far been left empty-handed. Leave it to Zagato to conjure the perfect solution, but only for one special client. While the competition-bred SZs and TZs of the 1950s and 1960s range from the high six figures to low seven figures, one inspiration for this car—the 1989-1993 Alfa Romeo SZ Zagato (Il Mostro) is worth $62,000 in good condition. Both cars feature two-doors, a coupe body, and the highest-hp V-6 available in an Alfa Romeo (210 hp in 1989 and 540 in 2022). However, the Giulia SWB Zagato features something that may get even more attention than its distinctive bodywork—a manual transmission. — Nathan Petroelje

Not all new Konas are EVs, but that’s the vibe

Intake: Hyundai’s giving us the first look at its new Kona. The compact SUV was introduced in 2018 as a smaller option to Hyundai’s top-selling Tuscon, and it’s become a fixture of college towns and the driveways of empty nesters. The first update to the Kona makes this funky little crossover slightly larger and even more unusual looking. An ultra-squinty light bar dominates the front and rear fascias, with the head- and taillights placed low and towards the outsides. Even on the internal-combustion models, a traditional mesh grille is de-emphasized, shoved so low in the “face” that the blackwork looks mostly like a textural flair. Inside, the gear shifter has disappeared from the console; PRND are now accessed via a stalk on the steering column—another decision that steps away from combustion-engined norms. A single, curved screen integrating speed, range, and media duties dominates the dashboard, though we wouldn’t be surprised if lower-budget Konas use a split-screen theme with smaller displays.

Exhaust: Since crossovers are now the default new-car silhouettes, it’s savvy for Hyundai to make one of its most utilitarian offerings so distinctive at first glance. Honda’s gone the other direction, with the unobjectionably generic HR-V; though the new Kona may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is, as the youths say, a vibe. That’s encouraging. —Grace Houghton

Jay Leno drives a fabulous prewar Lancia

Intake: Fillipo Sole brought his 1930 Lanci Dilambda to visit Jay Leno’s Garage and shared stories of the car’s unique build process along with his history of the car before the two took the 4-liter V-8 roadster on a leisurely cruise around southern California. Check out the video to learn more.

Exhaust: This gorgeous roadster, intended for the American market, is a one-of-one and it’s fabulous that Sole would share it with us all on Jay Leno’s Garage. We can’t get over the amazing sounds, from the whir of its ancient starter to the gear whine of the transmission and its almost stately burble. Considering its impressive performance and cross-country reliability, it’s hard to imagine that this car is nearly 100 years old. — Brandan Gillogly

Five deaths this year in U.S. from faulty Takata airbag inflators

Inflated airbag closeup
Flickr/Automobile Italia

Intake: The first Takata airbag recall was in 2013, when Takata held nearly 20 percent of the global airbag market. Since then, tens of millions of vehicles with Takata air bags have gone under recall, says NHTSA. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause airbag inflators to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused hundreds of injuries and 24 deaths in the U.S. alone. And they still are, despite the largest automotive recall in history. Five people in the U.S. have been killed this year, with the latest confirmed death in a Stellantis/Chrysler/Dodge product; the company issued a “do not drive” warning to 276,000 vehicle owners last month, and according to Automotive News, only 2000 of those owners have gotten repairs. The latest fatality was confirmed when the airbag in a 2010 Chrysler 300 malfunctioned. The “do not drive” warning covers the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, Challenger, and Charger from 2005 through 2010 that have not been repaired. Earlier this month a 17th Honda death was confirmed due to a faulty airbag inflator, a February crash that killed the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord. In November, NHTSA confirmed another death due to a defective Takata airbag inflator in a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup.

Exhaust: Get the repairs done. Odds are creeping up as the airbags and the inflators get older. It isn’t worth taking the chance if you own a recalled vehicle. — Steven Cole Smith

MAHLE will supply IndyCar with hybrid tech

106th Indianapolis 500
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Intake: Yesterday, IndyCar confirmed that MAHLE will supply the hybrid system for the series in 2024. This announcement comes two weeks after the series announced its plans to pause development of the 2.4-liter engine that was originally slated to debut next to the hybrid system. According to IndyCar, the Stuttgart-based German manufacturing company will supply a “first-of-its-kind hybrid system to provide on-demand acceleration at the driver’s request.” To develop the hybrid tech, MAHLE worked with IndyCar’s two engine suppliers—Chevrolet and Honda Performance Development.

Exhaust: After delays and suspensions in development, it’s great to finally have some hard-and-fast details surrounding IndyCar’s new hybrid powerplant. Sure, pausing the 2.4-liter engine was a blow to the future system’s novelty. However, the proven 2.2-liter mill paired with the MAHLE system could take IndyCar competition to another level in 2024. Will we see faster speeds and quicker lap times with the new unit? Time will tell. Until then, enjoy the last season of pure internal combustion propulsion. IndyCar takes to the streets of St Petersburg, Florida on March 5  for the season opener. — Cameron Neveu

Acura’s camo-clad ZDX EV continues real-world testing

Intake: Acura is continuing its testing and development of the 2024 ZDX and ZDX Type S electric SUVs. The company released shots of the ZDX out and about sporting a special Type S camouflage wrap. Acura says that the ZDX will feature many of the styling themes that debuted on the Precision EV Concept that bowed during Monterey Car Week late this past summer. The ZDX will be the fruit of Honda’s partnership with General Motors, which will see the brand’s first two EVs built on GM’s Ultium battery platform. Honda will lead the way with the Prologue EV, followed by the Acura ZDX. Expect to see both sometime next year.

Exhaust: Honda is late to the EV game, forcing it to play catchup by tying in with GM, who is further along in its development of platforms and battery systems. Size-wise, the ZDX looks like a two-row crossover—similar to the brand’s existing RDX. — Nathan Petroelje

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    For clarity I should add the Alpha. And from the side view it looks like a C7 Corvette from across the kitchen!

    I’ve long thought about running some cables across my steering wheel to contain the bomb within it. At 5’6″ all modern wheels aim right at my chin if they tilt down, square at my nose if rigid.

    The side view of the Alpha is what the new Z should like like instead of a blunt front thing that Nissan if pushing out with no styling.

    If you’re curious if your car is a Takato car, if you go to the website you’ll see an annoying redirect link, “search NHTSA for all recalls on your car” directing you to a more generic search… but don’t go to that link and keep scrolling down and there’s a list with expandable models per maker.

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