10 cars we wish automakers would build
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Forget about sales numbers and balance sheets. Forget about ground clearance and tire regulations and laws that make cars vanilla. Forget about Camrys and Accords. Forget about reality. This is about the dream cars manufacturers should build. Cars that serve the minority. The 1 percent. The drivers.
Here are 10 cars that could be built using parts (engines and transmission, largely) that already exist. In that sense, they aren't utterly impossible. Most won't be built because they're too wild. Or too deadly. Or too costly. Others, however, should already exist.
Whatever the case, we want every single one.
Audi R8 Tom Kristensen Edition
Forget Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Tom Kristensen is a living legend among drivers and race fans, with his palm print immortalized a record eight times in the Saint Nicolas district of Le Mans, France. How does a race driver get his hands cast in bronze for display in a small French town? Simple: Win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The R8 Tom Kristensen Edition honors the famous Dane with a special version of Audi's new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Massaged to make 610 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, it matches the output of the R8 he drove to victory back in 2000. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is scrapped in the interest of weight savings and rear-drive nirvana, while a three-pedal, six-speed sequentially shifted manual will be the only gearbox. To top it off, the R8 TKE's full-carbon bodywork is painted to match the silver and red livery of the winning No. 8 car.
This one is as easy for Audi as, say, one Le Mans win.
Chevrolet Sonic Boom
Chevy does well for itself with performance players at either end of its product line. The Corvette ZR1 successfully takes the fight to the bank-account-draining exotics, while the Sonic RS brings bold design to a competitive subcompact segment. But its standard 138-hp 1.4-liter mill isn't even competitive with the other hot rods in the class: Ford's Fiesta ST and Fiat's 500 Abarth.
By combining the best thing that ever happened to a Corvette with the only relevant small car Chevy has ever built, the brand has an undeniable image changer. Shoehorning the ZR1's supercharged LS9 V8 into this diminutive hatch is no small task. The longitudinal arrangement means losing the backseat and coupling the transaxle directly to the engine. But it's worth it. We're talking 638 hp driving the rear wheels through the C7's all-new Tremec seven-speed manual with active rev-matching technology.
Think BMW 1 Series M Coupe, if the M Coupe had an engine for each of its rear wheels. This isn't playing by the traditional Motor City code of warfare, and that's a good thing.
And Chevy thought its current ZR1 was crazy.
Ford F-150 SVT Super Raptor
Good ideas are born out of necessity. The day we watched a YouTube video of an SVT Raptor launching more than 90 feet to its death was the day we realized Ford needs to build a more robust (and far more powerful) beast.
The Super Raptor is the beast to vault hooning to another dimension: a redneck's ultimate fantasy. Ditching the weak-sauce 6.2-liter V8 (411 hp? Hah, that's cute) and replacing it with the 662-hp 5.8-liter supercharged Shelby GT500 V8 is just the beginning. Never again will you be burdened with annoyances like "approach speed." With 37-inch self-inflating beadlocked tires and 25 inches of Ram-trampling suspension travel damped by electronically adjustable magnetorheological shocks co-developed by Delphi and Fox Racing, the Super Raptor is every wannabe desert racer's reason for living. It's a literal trophy truck for the street.
The Super Raptor's version of "launch control" monitors midair throttle for perfect body pitch and automatically softens the suspension upon detecting an impending touchdown. When roaming the urban jungle's highways, the suspension can stiffen for a wallow-free ride. True, you may never see the inside of another parking garage, but real badasses don't need shade anyway.
Come on, Ford. Build one they can't break.
Honda's CR-Z could be a hit with the sport hybrid crowd, assuming those people actually exist. Right now the biggest hang-up is its 130-hp 1.5-liter IMA engine trying to drag around 2,700 pounds. The result is a worse power-to-weight ratio than a Kia Rio.
There are rumors of a non-hybrid powertrain, but our solution retains the car's initial eco-friendly philosophy without being such a wuss about it. Raiding the parts bin across the street, the CRZ-Y utilizes SH-AWD hardware from its Acura brethren. But rather than try to cram an Acura RLX engine into its schnoz, the 310-hp V6 and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox are mounted beneath the hatch to drive the rear wheels. Individual electric motors drive the front wheels, just like the upcoming 2015 Acura NSX. Total output is 370 hp.
On the steering wheel is a manual regeneration switch to force-charge the hybrid battery pack and a push-to-pass button to channel the juice back through the system for a brief boost of 30 additional horses. Sure, you'd sacrifice the rear seats, but some cargo space could be had by utilizing the remaining space under the hood. We wouldn't even mind if the CR-Z looked exactly the same, though our version looks a few orders of magnitude cooler.
If you're running off "the power of dreams," it can't hurt to dream a little bigger.
Infiniti lost the custody battle for the sixth-generation R35 GT-R, due largely to heritage making a strong argument in Nissan's favor. Still, this doesn't excuse the fact that Nissan's premium brand is yet to fill the throne atop its product line. Infiniti needs a halo car and we've got its angel right here.
Based on the Emerg-E Concept, the Infiniti XS super coupe utilizes a repurposed version of the GT-R's twin-turbo V6. Stroked to 4.0 liters and arranged longitudinally behind the front seats, it's coupled to the GT-R's six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which sends power to a fortified ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system. Making an easy 800 hp in full attack mode, Nissan's new dial-an-engine feature will allow for deactivation of two cylinders, effectively turning this gas gulper into a more socially responsible 2.7-liter V4. Godzilla will always be cool, but it's nothing compared to life in XS.
It's the car Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen will build if he has the guts.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Coupe
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata (or just "MX-5" to the guy trying to distance himself from the stigma) is one of the best cars ever built for the driving enthusiast. But it's never been the focused driving machine it should be. It lacks two crucial components: structural rigidity and power.
The solution is obvious. Not only are fixed roofs "manlier," they also serve to improve handling, make bodies more aerodynamic, and in most cases, improve cargo space. And considering we live in an age where Kia Optimas are pumping out 274 horses, there's no excuse for this Miata coupe to make less than 200 hp. Under its hood sits a proven 263-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder from the 2013 Mazdaspeed 3. This coupe transforms the current MX-5 from cute and fun to purposeful and capable. It should have been built 15 years ago.
Don't pretend otherwise, Mazda.
Mitsubishi Outlander Evolution
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution XI is a long way out at best, and that's if natural selection doesn't catch up with it first. We can only handle uncertainty for so long, which is why the Mitsubishi Outlander Evolution must happen now.
Starting with the 2013 Outlander shell, Mitsubishi Ralliart U.K. will provide its FQ-400 version of the 2.0-liter 4B11 engine (which includes a new ECU, fuel injectors, turbocharger, intercooler and exhaust system) to push output to 403 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque. Mitsubishi's six-speed dual-clutch gearbox will handle shift duties, while the Super All-Wheel Control system manages torque distribution across front, rear and center differentials. If it wasn't obvious already, this thing was built for the dunes of Dakar, which means it's easily over-engineered for any actual road you might visit.
If Ford can make a success of the SVT Raptor, there's room in the world for this badass Outlander.
Nissan Versa V6
Popularity isn't always desirable, especially if it's earned by being the cheapest mass-produced subcompact available in North America. With that in mind, Nissan's Versa makes the perfect charity case for developing a lust-worthy car of our dreams. Exploiting Nissan's alliance with Renault, the Versa will channel the original Renault R5 Turbo and Clio V6, evolving into a spectacular two-seat, midengine, rear-drive homage to homologation.
Fenders stretch and flare over huge 285-millimeter rear tires driven through a six-speed paddle-shift sequential gearbox, sourced from Renault's Alpine A110-50. The engine (a derivation of Nissan's naturally aspirated VQ35 V6) generates 400 French-tuned hp and 311 lb-ft of torque from air drawn through its ducted fender flares. Launch control and effortless sub-4.0-second 0-60-mph times are expected, but a new Pendulum Turn Mode feature will combine torque vectoring and the company's SynchroRev match technology for hairpin-destroying speed.
Nissan, this is your ticket back to being cool. Think about it.
Porsche Cayman GT3 RS
If Cinderella were a car, her name would be Cayman. Cayman isn't tasked with scrubbing floors and toilets around Stuttgart and forbidden to attend royal balls, but she is destined to forever live in the cold shadow of her elder sibling: 911 Carrera. Frankly, we're tired of Porsche pretending to throw us a bone with an inferior (yet still pretty good) substitute that is the Cayman R. We demand an uncompromised effort, the sum of Porsche's greatest parts, which would culminate in the Cayman GT3 RS.
A direct-injected 475-hp, 3.8-liter flat-6 fitted with forged pistons and titanium connecting rods is centrally mounted and paired with the latest-generation seven-speed PDK. Its carbon-skinned aluminum unibody weighs no more than 2,800 pounds. All the usual high-tech goodies like dynamic engine mounts and Porsche torque vectoring are included, as are forged aluminum center-lock wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber. The 911's track record speaks for itself, but it's standing in the way of a more proficient platform starving for power.
Porsche, we dare you to prove us wrong.
Tesla Model R
With its Lotus-based Roadster a distant memory, Tesla Model S family sedan production in full swing and a new gullwing Model X SUV on the horizon, Elon Musk and the Tesla team are due for a dedicated all-electric performance car. The Model R coupe trades passenger seats for a more useful cargo, something Musk himself claims is the future of electric mobility.
Its stressed battery-casing substructure grows slightly to accommodate additional lithium-ion cells, totaling 100 kilowatt-hours, but that energy feeds two competition-spec supercapacitor modules. These supercapacitors, seen in use on Toyota's TS030 Le Mans Prototype, are designed for the perpetual dumping and scavenging of enormous amounts of power on command, in an instant. This means that your maniacal driving tendencies won't be as wasteful. With a Model S Performance motor mounted on each axle, the all-wheel-drive Model R produces a synergistic total of 832 hp and can send an asphalt-rippling 886 lb-ft of torque to the ground.
Musk has already proven he's not a wuss. The Model R can only reinforce the notion.
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