Lotus Type 131, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Tailor Made Ferrari 488 Pista: Car News Headlines

Lotus is working on a series of sports cars to replace its aging Elise, Exige and Evora models, all three of which bow out of production this year. A teaser hints at the design of the new cars, the first of which is code-named the Type 131 and expected on sale in 2022.

Mercedes-Benz’s new electric powertrains will vastly improve the stability of the automaker’s cars. Mercedes demonstrated this with its upcoming EQS sedan in a new video.

Ferrari’s latest car customized by Tailor Made is a 488 Pista that features unique touches inspired by the brand’s racing past. Among the unique touches are white accents featured inside and out.

You’ll find these stories and more in today’s car news, right here at Motor Authority.

Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora to bow out in 2021 ahead of new series of sports cars

Mercedes-Benz shows off torque-vectoring ability of upcoming EQS

Ferrari shows off a 488 Pista customized by Tailor Made

Ford forced to recall 3 million vehicles with Takata airbags

Argo AI’s 4th-gen self-driving car prototypes fitted with “product intent” hardware

Electric DeLorean “time machine” revival now a possibility with replica rule

Carlos Sainz prepares for first test in Ferrari F1 car

2020 Audi A8 review

1980 BMW M1 AHG once owned by Paul Walker for sale

Will BMW i4 outdo Model 3 in handling performance?

Here are the cars rejected from 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious”

Here are the cars rejected from 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious”

From the Mitsubishi Eclipse to the Toyota Supra, the original 2001 hit “The Fast and the Furious” turned many cars into stars. But even more cars didn’t make the cut, as Craig Lieberman, a technical advisor for the early films in the franchise, explains in this video.

First off, the original movie focused on tuner cars, and producers only wanted cars that were available in the United States at the time. That ruled out JDM models, rare muscle cars, and supercars, although some exceptions were made (including Dominic Toretto’s Dodge Charger) and these rules were relaxed in later films.

Many cars that met those ground rules still didn’t make the cut, though. Producers turned down the Volkswagen Beetle, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and BMW Z3 for not being “manly” enough. Lieberman also noted that convertibles were usually avoided because it made it hard to hide stunt drivers’ faces (remember that Johnny Tran’s Honda S2000 was always shown with the top up).

1992 Toyota MR2

1992 Toyota MR2

The script also originally had Brian O’Connor starting out in a Mitsubishi 3000GT, then switching to an Eclipse. However, none of the modified 3000GTs that showed up to the car casting call impressed producers, and the Supra was a better fit because of its removable large roof, which was needed for the truck-chase scene later in the movie, Lieberman said.

Toretto was always slated to drive an FD Mazda RX-7, but other members of his crew could have ended up in different cars. Lieberman originally suggested an E36 BMW M3 or Audi S4 for Jesse, who got a Mark III Volkswagen Jetta instead. Initial car ideas for Vince included a Toyota MR2, Lexus GS, and Honda Prelude, but Lieberman’s own Nissan Maxima was chosen instead. Leon went from a Toyota Celica to an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R.

The original script also named a Ford Mustang as Tran’s car (and referred to the character as “Pete”). That didn’t make sense in a movie about tuner cars, but the change from Mustang to S2000 actually came about because producers saw a modified black S2000 they liked. Villains always drive black cars, the theory went.

Mercedes-Benz EQA, Tesla Model S convertible, Genesis G80: This Week’s Top Photos

Mercedes-Benz EQA, Tesla Model S convertible, Genesis G80: This Week’s Top Photos

Mercedes-Benz’s GLA-Class compact crossover SUV this week spawned a battery-electric version in the form of the EQA. Just the one grade has been announced but more are planned, including one with over 268 horsepower.

2021 Porsche Taycan rear-wheel drive

2021 Porsche Taycan rear-wheel drive

Porsche also introduced a new base version of its Taycan electric sedan. Aside from a lower price of entry, the base version is the only rear-wheel-drive variant in the Taycan lineup.

Tesla Model S convertible conversion by Ares

Tesla Model S convertible conversion by Ares

For anyone looking to drive away in a new Tesla convertible today, Ares has the solution. The Italian coachbuilder and vehicle customizer this week revealed a stunning convertible based on the Model S.

Sale of 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra owned by Carroll Shelby - Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions

Sale of 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra owned by Carroll Shelby – Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions

An original Shelby Cobra owned by Carroll Shelby right up until his passing was sold at auction this week. The car managed to bring in the big bucks, though it still isn’t the most expensive Cobra ever sold at auction.

2021 Genesis G80

2021 Genesis G80

We spent more time behind the wheel of the Genesis G80 and posted a new review. To sum it up, the G80 is beautiful inside and out, and has a solid feel. However, it’s not quite at the level of its German rivals due to a lack of chassis sophistication.

Aston Martin Vantage vane grille conversion

Aston Martin Vantage vane grille conversion

You can now add a more classically styled grille to your Aston Martin Vantage. Aston Martin unveiled a new grille and front fascia unit that can be added new or retrofitted to an existing car.

2021 Hennessey Mammoth 1000 1500 TRX

2021 Hennessey Mammoth 1000 1500 TRX

And finally, a new beast emerged for those who think the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is under powered. Hennessey Performance Engineering announced a version of the super truck spitting out over 1,000 horsepower.

Cruise self-driving cars headed to Japan

Cruise self-driving cars headed to Japan

Cruise will start testing prototypes on the streets of Japan later this year, the self-driving technology startup said Wednesday.

Cruise will test the prototypes in partnership with Honda, which is a shareholder alongside General Motors and as of this week Microsoft, too.

While Cruise’s current prototypes are all based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the plan is to eventually launch a self-driving taxi service using the Cruise Origin shuttle unveiled a year ago.

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

The Origin is slated to enter production in 2022 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. In Japan, the service will be operated by a Honda-owned mobility company known as Honda Mobility Solution, though timing remains unclear.

“Cruise’s mission to provide safer, cleaner and more accessible transportation is not limited to the U.S.,” Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise, said in a statement. “These are major changes that are needed almost everywhere in the world, and this is a small, but symbolic step with Honda on our global journey.”

Cruise is testing self-driving prototypes in a number of cities here in the U.S., and some of them are testing without a human behind the wheel. Cruise’s prototypes rank at Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, as the cars are limited in the areas in which they can operate on their own. The final goal is Level 5, where a self-driving car is able to operate at the same level as a human driver. While Level 5 might be a decade or more away, companies plan to start offering commercial services involving Level 4 self-driving cars much sooner.

Audi E-Tron GT to debut Feb. 9, first examples already in production

Audi E-Tron GT to debut Feb. 9, first examples already in production

Audi’s long-awaited E-Tron GT battery-electric super sedan is set to be revealed on February 9, but the first customer examples are already in production at a plant in Germany.

The stylish sedan was first previewed as a concept at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and shown as a prototype last fall. A date for the sales launch hasn’t been mentioned but we’ll likely see it land at dealerships in the United States later in 2021, meaning we’ll likely see it arrive as a 2022 model.

Audi E-Tron GT production at Böllinger Höfe plant in Neckarsulm, Germany

Audi E-Tron GT production at Böllinger Höfe plant in Neckarsulm, Germany

Production is taking place at Audi’s specialist Böllinger Höfe plant in Neckarsulm, Germany, where the R8 supercar and various racing models are built. The plant is unique at the Volkswagen Group in that it is the first to build two technically different cars on the same line, one a battery-electric sedan and the other a V-10-powered, mid-engine supercar. Both models are moved through the plant using either self-driving sleds or a common monorail system.

Although the E-Tron GT is still a couple of weeks out from its debut, we already know a lot about it. That’s because the car rides on the same J1 platform as the Porsche Taycan and is very similar underneath, though on the outside only the windshield is common to both cars. Like the Taycan, the E-Tron GT uses a three-chamber air suspension and adaptive dampers at each corner. Each car has been tuned to reflect the driving feel of the respective brand, however.

2022 Audi E-Tron GT prototype suspension and electric drive units

2022 Audi E-Tron GT prototype suspension and electric drive units

For the powertrain, the E-Tron GT at launch will feature a 235-horsepower front motor and a 449-hp rear motor that will combine to produce 590 hp and up to 640 hp in an overboost mode. The front motor will have its own single-speed transmission and the rear motor will have a 2-speed gearbox, just like the Taycan. It isn’t clear if there will be multiple grades for the E-Tron GT, like Porsche does with the Taycan, but there’s a good chance we’ll see more than one.

The battery will be an 83.7-kilowatt-hour (net) unit that should deliver at least 200 miles of range with mixed driving.

2022 Audi E-Tron GT prototype liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery

2022 Audi E-Tron GT prototype liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery

Audi has also crafted unique sounds for the E-Tron GT, not only to add to the emotional experience but also to warn pedestrians. There will be a standard external speaker setup to meet safety regulations for EVs, but Audi will also offer a more emotional package as an option.

Interestingly, Chris Reinke, head of Audi Sport’s customer racing program, has hinted that we might also see the E-Tron GT serve as the basis of a customer race car for the GTX World Tour, a race series with separate classes for battery-electric, hydrogen-electric, plug-in hybrids, and eventually self-driving cars that has been proposed by the Stephane Ratel Organization. An exhibition event for the proposed GTX World Tour is planned for Europe in 2021.

GM’s “Hyper Cruise” trademark filing hints at fully autonomous driver-assist feature

General Motors’ Super Cruise is one of the most advanced autonomous driver-assist features found on a production vehicle, but the automaker may be almost ready to announce the next stage in capability.

Enthusiast website Muscle Cars and Trucks has discovered a trademark filing for “Hyper Cruise” made by GM with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on January 13 (the same day incidentally that Ford renewed its own trademark for the “Thunderbird” name).

In the filing description, GM said Hyper Cruise refers to an “electronic speed and steering control system for facilitating the autonomous driving of a motor land vehicle, sold as an integral part thereof.”

When contacted, a GM spokeswoman told Motor Authority the automaker doesn’t “have anything specific to share today, but stay tuned.”

Last spring, GM’s head of global product development and purchasing, Doug Parks, said the automaker was working on a version of Super Cruise that would function in “neighborhoods, city streets and subdivisions,” which he referred to as “Ultra Cruise” and said would still need the driver to monitor it, just like with Super Cruise, thus ranking it at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability. Level 3 is the first stage where no driver monitoring is required and Level 5 is the ultimate goal, i.e. a system that can function at the same level as a human.

Interestingly, GM filed a trademark for Ultra Cruise in 2018, though in this case GM said in the description that Ultra Cruise was “for the semi-autonomous driving of motor vehicles,” the key word here being “semi.” This word doesn’t feature in the description for Hyper Cruise, which suggests GM may be preparing a new driver-assist feature more capable than both the Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise systems, one capable of operating without the need for monitoring by the driver. Such capability has already been demonstrated by the Cruise self-driving technology startup that GM backs.

Super Cruise is currently limited to some Cadillac models but GM plans to expand it to the rest of its brands, starting this summer with the yet-to-be-revealed Chevrolet Bolt EUV. The feature combines several driver-assist features including adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist with pre-defined map and GPS data to accurately place a vehicle in its lane. GM last fall confirmed that Super Cruise will be offered as a monthly subscription.