Ferrari’s droptop swap, Ford’s Maverick and Bronco recall, e-fuels offer hope
Ferrari Portofino M bows out in favor of new Roma Spider
Intake: A new report from Road & Track indicates that the Ferrari Portofino M will cease production soon. The recently revealed Roma Spider will take the Portofino M’s place as the company’s entry-level droptop ride. It uses the same 612-hp twin-turbo V-8 that the Portofino did, and it carries the same front-engine, rear-drive 2+2 playout, but the new car ditches the Portofino M’s bulky folding hardtop in place of a much lighter soft-top setup. The origins of the Portofino begin back in 2008 with the arrival of the Ferrari California, which first employed a 453-hp 4.3-liter naturally aspirated V-8. In 2014 the California T arrived, scoring two turbochargers and a power bump to 522 hp. The California T morphed into the Portofino in 2017, and power was bumped to 591 hp. Then in 2020 the Portofino M arrived, lifting power to 612 hp, where it has remained to this day.
Exhaust: Though it was much easier on the eyes than the California, the Portofino always struck us as a bit too aggressive for its form factor. The new Roma, on the other hand, is a bit softer around the edges, and the elegant shape is more befitting of the front-engined droptop grand tourers of Ferrari’s heyday. — Nathan Petroelje
2024 Nissan GT-R order books open in Japan
Intake: It’s too early in the U.S. to order a 2024 Nissan GT-R, but the car has just become available in Japan, and if the prices there hold similar for the U.S. market, you’d better plan to work a little overtime. Carscoops pulled out the calculator and converted the prices to dollars, and they say the base model, or the Pure, starts at $104,788, increases to $116,982 for the Black edition, $113,095 for the Premium Edition, and $144,494 for the Premium Edition T-Spec. The Nismo-engineered Track Edition is $134,510. It will cost you a whopping $218,341 for the GT-R Nismo, and $222,152 for the Nismo Special Edition.
Exhaust: Despite some tweaks for 2024, it’s amazing that a vehicle as old as the GT-R still commands such premium prices. The Japanese version of the base GT-R has a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 that pumps out 565 horsepower, and it’s attached to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car still works amazingly well and has a classic look that every car-loving teenager covets, so we expect the U.S. allocation to sell out as usual. Nissan has promised the 2024 model will show up this spring, so U.S. pricing should come soon. — Steven Cole Smith
Ford recalling Mavericks, Broncos
Intake: Ford is recalling a relatively small number of Broncos and Mavericks for separate issues—with the Maverick, 2716 of the 2023 pickup trucks need work on electric circuits in the engine bay to fix trailer taillights that may not illuminate. Letters should go out to owners on March 27. Also, 1651 Broncos from 2021 and 2022 are being recalled for rear-view camera issues. Apparently, these affected vehicles might show the rear backing camera on the 8-inch SYNC infotainment system after backing up has ended and the vehicle is put in forward gear. Letters should go out to owners on May 1.
Exhaust: If you think you might have an affected vehicle, have your VIN number ready and either log onto Ford.com, or call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236. — SCS
European Union: E-fuels could become a legal alternative to electric
Intake: Reuters is reporting that the European Commission has drafted a plan allowing sales of new cars with internal combustion engines that run only on climate-neutral e-fuels, “in an attempt to resolve a spat with Germany over the EU’s phasing out of combustion engine cars from 2035,” similar to the plan adopted by California and a number of other states. The draft proposal, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, suggests creating a new type of vehicle category in the European Union for cars that can only run on carbon-neutral fuels. “Such vehicles would have to use technology that would prevent them from driving if other fuels are used, the draft said. This would include a ‘fueling inducement system’ to stop the car from starting if it was fueled by non-carbon neutral fuels.”
Exhaust: While e-fuels have been most often mentioned as a way to keep ICE-powered race cars on track, there’s a groundswell of research going into the manufacture of e-fuels for street cars, too. Check out our visit to a plant in Chile that’s at the forefront of the technology. — SCS
VW responds to “Gold Rush” atmosphere in the U.S.
Intake: In a story titled “VW Says There’s Never Been a Better Time to Build an EV Factory in the U.S.,” Bloomberg outlines the reasons why Volkswagen moved so quickly to build a new plant in South Carolina to make the new Scout SUV. Volkswagen said lucrative new U.S. incentives for EV makers “were just too good to pass up when weighing to pick a partner or build its own factory to make cars for the new Scout brand.” VW will build the $2 billion factory to produce electric SUVs as part of Scout Motors, Inc. The factory is due to open in 2026 and will eventually build 200,000 EVs a year.
Exhaust: “We view it simplistically a little bit like the Gold Rush,” Scott Keogh, chief executive officer of the Scout brand told Bloomberg, as Keogh was “equating the 1849 California Gold Rush with the federal Inflation Reduction Act that provides incentives” for domestically produced EVs. “There’s never been a better time to build a factory in America,” Keogh said. — SCS
2007 F1 champ goes NASCAR Sunday at COTA
Intake: The 2007 Formula One World Champion, Kimi Räikkönen, will make his second NASCAR Cup Series start on Sunday driving the No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series race on the road course at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Although it is his first time in a race car in 2023, the Finland native has one big advantage this weekend: He knows the COTA circuit well, as one of Räikkönen’s 21 Formula One victories, and his most recent, came at COTA on Oct. 21, 2018, when he led 39 laps on his way to victory driving for Ferrari. He’s raced eight times on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course. He’ll be part of the Trackhouse Racing team, joining Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.
Exhaust: “Obviously, it’s helpful that I know the track,” said Räikkönen. He raced with Trackhouse at Watkins Glen in August of 2022. That day Räikkönen used his skills in the rain to climb into the top 10 before a late-race accident ended his day. – SCS