The Future of Performance Cars
When it comes to high-performance machinery, there has been no better time in the history of the automobile. From 1200-horsepower, multi-million-dollar Veyrons to $23,000, 300-horsepower/30-mpg muscle cars, we really do have it all.
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AUDI: WHEN DOES INTERNAL-COMBUSTION DIE?
"I will not be alive any more. And I hope I'm still living some time, but I'm convinced it will still be in existence. It will stay one of the best solutions, and not only for motorsport.'' - Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport
BMW: M5 UPS THE ANTE
DODGE: A FUTURE WE CAN AFFORD
Dodge Charger SRT8
What will the SRT8 look like in 2021?
There will still be a handful of V-8s out there, but we're going to invest in fours and sixes. With the SRT, we've had turbo fours in the past. We're looking at active dampening, which we actually have today in the SRT8 Charger. So it's taking all these technologies that people associate with relatively exotic cars, and bringing it down to the Dodge customer, making it much more affordable. - Ralph Gilles, SRT Brand President/CEO; Chrysler Group Product Design Senior Vice President
FORD: WHAT ABOUT THE MUSTANG?
Ford Mustang Boss 302
Maintaining / improving power and performance while delivering outstanding fuel is a must and will ensure the sustainability of the brand. Mustang will continue to deliver on its promise while paving new ground into the future of high-performance vehicles." - Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang Chief Engineer
GM: A DIFFERENT FORMULA
What will be the key performance-enabling technologies of the next decade?
To the extent that we can boost small-displacement engines, I think it's not just engine technology, because the power-to-weight ratio needs to be good. We have to do things in the industry relative to performance cars to really enable a different formula.
But I also think there are a lot of things yet to come on internal-combustion engines that will be helpful and enable that as well. So it's not over, but it will change, and it will change quite dramatically. The displacement and horsepower piece of that will only get better, in terms of how much we get out of lower displacements, but also it will move to lower displacements, and numbers of cylinders. Because we're going to go after the car -- with a vengeance. - Mark Reuss, General Motors North America President
JAGUAR: TAKING THE NEXT LEAP
A 1.6-liter, highly boosted gasoline internal-combustion engine with "not just one simple blower," according to Jaguar-Land Rover engineering director Bob Joyce, combines with two powerful electric motors and four-wheel drive to bring on a sub-3-second 0-60-mph time and sub-6-second 0-100-mph time, plus a top speed of more than 200 mph. All-electric range is up to 31 miles, and Jaguar's estimated CO2 emissions of less than 99 grams per kilometer comes to more than 55.2 mpg.
Will man's thirst for power ever be quenched?
"Where it's going to end up en masse, that's going to take time to find out, but I think it'll be a bit of everything. As far as internal-combustion engines, I think we'll still see V-8s, V-12s, V-6s, whatever they might be. But the jury's out and time will tell... "It's all about efficiency now. If you can get 500, 600, 700 horsepower out of a more efficient engine, then it will happen. When you think that 100 horsepower per liter was once a goal...we're talking 200, 250 horsepower per liter now. That's phenomenal! Man will always want to strive for faster, bigger, better...it's the natural human state." - Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director
LAMBORGHINI: THE DNA MUST BE RETAINED
What is the key to the future for Lamborghini?
Turbo or hybrid Lamborghini?
Normally, you talk about turbochargers when you think about downsizing, and downsizing is something that is difficult for a super sports car [manufacturer] like Lamborghini to think about at this moment. I think it is against the heritage of the DNA of the flagship like Aventador. The turbo is something...but at the end, the really sportive car is naturally aspirated. If you are a good engineer, you are able to achieve the best performance without using boost. And for us, the challenge that we have is to be the best. To have the best means to use the best possible, that means the flow efficiency of the intake manifold, of exhaust, reduce the backpressure...everything in the best way. If we talk about [a] hybrid solution, it is the same discussion. We want to use everything in order to achieve our target of reduction of the CO2 of 35 percent compared with 2007. To reach this, you must maintain the DNA. If you put 400 kilograms [880 pounds] of batteries it will be difficult to have a car that can be able to run with handling that we want.
The 2021 Aventador?
If I close my eyes, I want to retain the DNA of Lamborghini, but I want also to be more and more aggressive in the CO2 reduction and fuel consumption. I must think something like this: Cylinder deactivation-we have 12 cylinders, but if I can use in the town three, four, six...if I can have some energy storage, something like this, can be another opportunity. But what is important is to maintain the DNA of Lamborghini. If when I want to open the throttle body, I push the accelerator, I must have 12 cylinders that push me from behind. I must hear the noise. If I don't have this, it is finished emotionally for Lamborghini. And if it's finished emotionally, then there is no sense for Lamborghini to exist. - Maurizio Reggiani, Research and Development Director at Automobili Lamborghini, s.p.a.
MAZDA RX-9: RETURN OF THE ROTARY
Mazda RX-9 Rendition
"We want to take the RX-9 to the next level, but just can't find the man-hours to do it," says our insider. "We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we have only a small band of guys working on the RX-9."
Unlike the outgoing RX-8, with its complicated rear-door setup, the RX-9 will be a coupe. This means it will be more of an RX-7 for the 21st century, but with a twist. That twist will reportedly be in the form of hybrid technology Mazda will borrow from Toyota, thanks in part to an agreement the automakers signed last year. Apparently Mazda will only use Toyota's hybrid drive unit, with the main power coming from the Mazda-built rotary. The hybrid unit will reportedly be used primarily as a power booster and range extender. Our confidant tells us there is no point in doing with a rotary what a current gasoline engine can do, hence the move to a hybrid-assisted setup.
"Smaller, lighter, cleaner, more fuel-efficient, and more fun to drive. That's where we want to take the next rotary car," says our source, who hinted at a late 2013 debut. Given the bad rap the RX-8 suffered -- fuel-guzzler, oil-guzzler, weak mid-range torque -- such a radical rotary rebirth is the only way to take Mazda's greatest legacy forward.
MCLAREN: PUSHING THE PERFORMANCE ENVELOPE
McLaren MP4-12C GT3
What will the McLaren flagship supercar be like 10 years from now?
We will undertake further research into the use of carbon-fiber composites. McLaren hasn't produced a road or race car with anything other than a carbon chassis for 30 years. I expect us to continue to find intelligent ways to use carbon in more applications in our future range of sports cars. We'll also consider alternative powertrain concepts. Key to success in this area will be developing energy storage units that are lightweight and efficient, yet allow us to push ultimate performance and increase driving pleasure. We understand sports car customers won't accept compromise, so our future cars must provide class-leading fuel efficiency and deliver the performance one expects of a car wearing the McLaren badge. - Dick Glover, McLaren Automotive, Inc. Research Director
MERCEDES-BENZ: DOES A STAND FOR AMG?
Mercedes A-class Concept
"That car screams sportiness. Whereas we haven't made an official commitment or a final decision, it's something that we're looking at very carefully," says Kaellenius. Selling a small Benz in the U.S. is something the company has been hesistant to do thus far, but as Americans continue to downsize and car companies face CAFE pressure, the question may no longer be if, but when. Question is, will it be a platform suitable for AMG?
"When we put together a performance package for AMG, it's about the holistic engineering experience," says Kaellenius. "Our goal is to not only have benchmark performance, but also benchmark efficiency in the segment. It's a lot about the chassis. For a lot of AMG cars we re-engineer the chassis completely to fit to the driving profile we're looking for."
NISSAN: THE ELECTRIC GT-R
Nissan electric GT-R Rendition
Of course, zero emissions can be achieved without going full electric, but Nissan has already set a couple of precedents. The Leaf is currently the only electric car available in the U.S. by a major automotive manufacturer, and the company took it racing with the Nismo Leaf RC.
"Well, the GT-R is going to have, of course, a different balance of those attributes. But you have here the Nismo Leaf RC, which is, of course, a racing car. But it's a racing car to make a statement that there is nothing contradictory between an EV power source and the pleasure of driving fast-in a racing car in this case." Electric GT-R? You heard it here first...
PORSCHE: EMBRACING HYBRID TECHNOLOGY
Porsche 918 Spyder Chassis Rendition
"From our point of view, hybrid technology could help provide some additional performance. We are also thinking of additional downsizing. If you look at the 911 Turbo, it is an example of engine downsizing. We only have six cylinders, turbocharged, and we have the power of competitors' V-8 engines. In the future, we are also thinking about having a four-cylinder engine, but only if it can provide a strong level of performance. There is no decision made yet. There could be a hybrid version [of the 911] in 10 years. Most likely we will give the customer the choice between a traditional high-performance car or a hybrid car. It will depend on the market situation, on tax regulations and things like that, which car will be the faster one."
How far into the product line will Stuttgart apply hybrid technology? If the company's $845,000 918 Spyder hybrid is any indication, all the way to the very top.
SUBARU: UNVEILING THE NEW DUO
2013 Subaru WRX STI Rendition
Subaru Tecnica International (STI) is currently beefing up an STI model based on the new 2012 Impreza and soon-to-be released WRX. Expect to see a more muscular physique with wide shoulders and hindquarters. Handling benefits from a broader track, a heavily revised suspension, and an aggressively returned all-wheel-drive system. When it hits dealers sometime late next year, you can bet it will be the most powerful STI sedan ever, and likely the most efficient.
TESLA: STILL JUST SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
What will Tesla's flagship sports car be like 10 years from now?
Tesla Model S
TOYOTA: THE PERFORMANCE SCION
Toyota/Subaru Pre-production FR-S
The FR-S ticks many of the archetypal sports car boxes. The drive wheels are at the rear, and a six-speed transmission is under hand. A finely balanced chassis promises agile handling, helped by an ambitious low weight target and special engine selection. Sitting up front is a tidily packaged, 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder sourced from Subaru, and mounted as close to the ground as feasibly possible and pushed deeply toward the vehicle's middle to optimize the coupe's center of gravity and polar moment of inertia.
The lightweight Scion is expected to not only dance in the curves, but achieve impressive efficiency as well. With federal fuel economy and emissions police always around the corner, the FR-S' timing couldn't be better.
A FUTURE ACCORDING TO MAXIMUM BOB
What will be the key performance-enabling technologies of the next decade?
A lot of the performance mid-range and low-end torque may well wind up enabled by batteries and torque assistance, for fuel economy and performance. So, the idea of an ultra-performance hybrid car, maybe even plug-in, with say eight to 10 gasoline-free miles in town and the rest of the time the electric drive system serving to enhance torque, is a very credible proposition. Two generations from now, it's entirely conceivable that a Corvette -- not a GM plan, this is just purely hypothetical on my part -- would be a direct-injection, stratified charge, twin-stage turbo-boosted two-liter, four-cylinder engine developing 800 horsepower.
Is the V-8 dead?
I think it's definitely moribund. Absolutely. Everything is moving to smaller engines and smaller numbers of cylinders. This new generation of Malibu will not be offered with a V-6. In cars that had both sixes and fours, the six is being kicked out, and everybody is emphasizing the smaller engine.
We had 75 years of Communism in China, where we raised generations of kids who never heard the sound of a decent engine. And yet, the minute the shackles are off, the Chinese youth are performance-car crazy. So I think it's an innate part of the human being, you could argue especially males, that we love high-performance automobiles. And if they can't buy them when they're young, they buy them when they're old. - Bob Lutz, former vice chairman, General Motors, member of advisory board, Lotus Cars
BY THE NUMBERS: WE LOOK BACK TO SEE WHAT'S AHEAD
Even performance cars like the 911 and Corvette have weighed over a ton and a half for 30 years. That these cars will fall to an even ton in 10 years seems unlikely. We examined data from the past 20 years for the 911 Carrera 2, base Corvette, Mustang GT, Miata, and M3 and plotted power, weight and the resulting power to weight ratios. We then used that data to project where these cars would be 10 years from now with no outside intervention. While the projected weights of Mustangs, Miatas, and M3s seem unlikely, the numbers for the 911 and Corvette are almost believable. Likely the most believable of these graphs is pounds to horsepower. How we get there is another story.
Weight - past and projected
Horsepower - past and projected
POWER-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: While the Miata's power seems to have plateaued, we'd like to think that weight will start dropping substantially and decrease the pound/horsepower ratio. The Corvette is projected to reach 5 pound/horsepower by 2016, squarely where the ZR1 sits in 2011. Porsche can currently add more than 200 horses with a 250-pound KERS system, and the technology is still evolving.