A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
New Outback set to launch in New York
Like many automakers, Subaru is choosing to tease us all with an indistinct photograph of an upcoming car, intended to drum up interest before its official reveal. In this case, it’s the all-new Outback, and we can make a pretty good guess here as to what it’s going to be like.
While named for the Australian wilderness, the Outback is ideally suited for North Shore living, and we buy a lot of them. I’ve made the argument that we should even consider putting one on the municipal coat of arms, alongside a Toyota Tacoma, and a Latin quote about being stuck in traffic because of a crash on the Second Narrows.
So, here’s what I think we can expect from the new one. From the picture you can see a lifted suspension, LED headlights and taillights that resemble those on the Forester, and a set of Yokohama tires suitable for light off-road use.
Now comes the part that’s not in the picture: what’s on the inside. Happily, the Outback is following on the heels of the Legacy sedan, and as the two are so closely related, expect things to be the same for both. That means a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine in the base model, and a new 260 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder in the XT version (the flat-six is going away). The Outback will also likely get Subaru’s camera-based driving assist system as standard, get a new touchscreen system, and there’ll probably be an X-mode button for the off-roady bits.
Overall, expect few surprises. However, with the Forester XT discontinued, the new turbo engine for the Outback is a good choice for families who’d like to get outdoors faster. And, as ever, here’s me signing off on a Subaru story by asking them to please bring back the WRX hatchback.
King of the undead: the Lexus LFA
The V10-powered Lexus LFA is a mighty machine, and a worthy rival to some of the world’s best supercars. However, it’s been out of production for almost a decade, so you may be surprised to hear that Lexus is still selling it. They no longer build them, but three LFAs were sold new in January of this year.
Enzo Ferrari once said that a company should build one fewer car than there was demand for. However, that’s not advice that car companies really take, with the result that there are sometimes leftovers. And not like the good kind of leftovers where you suddenly find yourself wedging pizza slices into the toaster for breakfast.
According to Autoblog, who have been tracking unsold LFAs for a while now, there are still five brand-new cars for sale in the U.S. market. There have also been new sales of other long-dead cars like the Dodge Viper and, weirdly, the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer.
The LFA was very expensive when it came out, and most people didn’t really understand paying more than Ferrari pricing for a Lexus product. However, if you’ve ever seen one, or better yet driven one, it makes perfect sense that it just seems to keep going and going.
Mini GP set to go absolutely bonkers
This year is the 60th anniversary of Mini, a brand that has consistently punched above its weight. The only problem, as I see it, is that the aforementioned weight has only gone upwards as the years advance. Bit like me, I’m afraid.
Thus we have things like the Mini Countryman, which is smaller than some crossovers, but looks like Hagrid standing next to Harry Potter when you compare it to one of the original Coopers. Modern Minis are too large, and need to cut down a little.
However, before they do that, and potentially embrace a world of electrification and autonomy, Mini’s engineers have decided that it’s time to quit mucking about and go absolutely mental. The new Mini GP has been spotted testing at the Nürburgring, and almost everything from an earlier concept is still on it: huge wing, massive fender flares, and enough cooling for the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Mini product.
Best guess is that Mini’s BMW owners have put the 302 h.p. four-cylinder engine out of the X2 M35i into the front of the Mini GP, and are sorting out how to get all that power to the ground. The result should be able to go toe-to-toe with cars like the Civic Type R, with the Mini aiming to take on the Honda’s Nürburgring record lap time.
It’s all good, wild fun. However, if you’re like me, are you not more interested in Mini putting out a whippy little hatchback with clever packaging that runs on battery power? After all, the Mini was always an urban runabout, and something like an inexpensive version of a BMW i3 would be true to the brand’s roots.
Watch this space for all the week’s best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.