A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
VW claims EV record at Nürburgring
As expected, the Volkswagen ID.R can now add a second record to its name, being both the fastest vehicle up Pikes Peak, and the fastest electric car to lap the Nürburgring. It completed the circuit in six minutes and five seconds, beating a longstanding Porsche Group C racing car record.
The ID.R, however, is not nearly the quickest car around Germany’s most famous circuit. Not by a longshot. Last year, Porsche’s LMP1 prototype hybrid racer set a time of 5:19, significantly faster.
What good is having bragging rights for the fastest EV? Not much really, though it does shine a further spotlight on VW’s electric aspirations. Don’t expect the consumer-grade versions of the ID to be quite this quick, but do expect VW to have learned a thing or two about quick-charging while running test laps.
Nissan mulls partnership with Renault-FCA
I’ll save you the boring bits about global auto markets and the advantages of shared R&D budgets. Suffice to say that Nissan and Renault-Fiat-Chrysler are circling each other cautiously, making overtures about a complete partnership.
What’s interesting to you, the consumer, is what offspring such a partnership might have. And no, nobody mention the Renault Alliance, that early-1980s slice of seriously whiffy fromage.
Instead, think about what Renault could bring to the table in exchange for some decent Nissan and Jeep underpinnings for its crossovers. Why, you could perhaps get a Nissan-branded version of the Renault Zoe, a happy little EV hatchback with a range of 300 kilometres that’s cheaper and zippier than the current Leaf.
Or there’s the zesty Renault Alpine, a mid-engined, lightweight machine that’s like a Cayman except much lighter on its feet. Perhaps such a thing could actually get people excited about the Fiat brand.
A little bit of French zest to wake up Nissan and Chrysler’s product range would be no bad thing. They might tie the knot to keep the accountants happy, but there could be benefits for the rest of us.
Hellcat comes with parole violator
If ever there were a car to feature in a headline about parole violations, it’s the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Years from now, when we’re all getting shuttled about in sleek electropods while being force-fed ads for various types of prescription medications, we’ll all remember the bad ol’ days when Dodge would sell you a 707 horsepower sledgehammer.
In this case, however, the car is blameless. There wasn’t even anyone in the driver’s seat.
Instead, at a worker at the Manheim Auto Auction processing site discovered, to his surprise, an unexpected surprise in this particular Hellcat’s trunk. He popped it open to take some photos for the auction, and discovered a man hiding in there, somewhat dehydrated.
Turns out our trunk-lurker was wanted for various parole and weapons violations, so the next stop after a hospital visit was jail.
Cadillac demotes its V brand
Once, as with BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, a V-badge stood for something. If you spotted one on a Cadillac, you’d know it was the fastest thing to carry the crest and shield forward to glory. If pressed, I’ll note the much-missed CTS-V wagon as a particularly good V-series.
However, the German marques have long been watering down their high-performance marque, while raking in the Deutschmarks. An M-badge on a Bimmer doesn’t mean it’s the fastest, merely that it has a little sporty essence sprinkled on it. As a marketing strategy, it’s vaguely annoying to the purist, but people seem to be lining up to buy ‘em anyway.
Now it appears Cadillac wants to get in on the game too, releasing the new CT4-V and CT5-V performance sedans with 320 h.p. and 355 h.p. respectively. And that first one makes its power with a turbocharged four-cylinder with roots in the Chevy Silverado.
That’s not to say there won’t be V variants that are even quicker coming soon, the better to match top-spec German rivals like the M3 or E63 AMG. I mean, there’d better be.
Here’s why this is probably a mistake. Currently, the luxury market is skewed towards crossovers, not so much performance sedans. Cadillac is all about big, brash, and unapologetic American luxury. They should embrace that nature, aiming for luxury rather than sport.
That’s what Lincoln’s up to, and the sales charts will show which is the smarter move. For now, keep your hands on your CTS-V wagon, as it’s only going to become more collectible as Cadillac’s marketing department figures things out.
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