The hotly anticipated Mercedes-AMG GT R looks set to make its world debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this June, after Michelin listed the car as an attendee for the event's Supercar Paddock.
The track-inspired version of the range-topping GT has already been spotted during development testing in the cold climates of the Arctic Circle, but its display at the 2016 event will be the first time Mercedes has officially shown the car to the public.
When it eventually goes on sale, the new two-seater is expected to be a key rival to Mercedes' Stuttgart neighbour Porsche and its highly rated 911 GT3 RS. It'll be built on the same assembly line as the GT and GT S at Mercedes-Benz?s Sindelfingen factory in Germany.
The GT R is the third in a planned five-model line-up and is the most aggressive incarnation of the GT yet. Together with an upgraded engine delivering around 570bhp, it receives heavily reworked underpinnings developed as part of a homologation package for the GT3 race car unveiled at last year?s Geneva motor show.
Although AMG remains tight-lipped about production plans for the GT R, information supplied to dealers by Mercedes-Benz suggests volumes will be limited in a move that will push the price of the GT R well above the £110,500 of the GT S.
Reflecting its track focus, the GT R receives a number of functional aerodynamic upgrades aimed at improving airflow to and from the engine bay, as well as increasing the downforce acting on the front and rear axles for improved stability and cornering speeds.
The GT R has a new front bumper that features a prominent splitter element, along with an enlarged central air duct and altered secondary ducts on each side.
These are joined by a modified duct within the trailing edge of the long front wings, wider rear wings and a boot-mounted carbonfibre rear wing. In addition, there is a new rear bumper that houses a horizontal air duct to extract hot air from the rear differential, a large hexagonal-shaped central exhaust and a reworked dual-channel diffuser.
However, the most distinctive stylistic change is the adoption of what Mercedes-AMG officials describe as a new Panamericana grille originally unveiled on the track-only GT3 race car late last year.
Inspired by the grille treatment of Mercedes-Benz?s 1952 SL Panamericana race car, it features an altered shape along with 15 vertical slats among the familiar three-pointed star emblem. The effect is to give the GT R a more instantly aggressive presence than the standard GT.
According to a leading member of the Mercedes-Benz design team, the new grille is set to become a signature element of future AMG models, replacing the blade-style treatment of today?s models.
As part of efforts to reduce the kerb weight of the GT R below the 1570kg of the GT S, its bonnet, wings and bootlid are made from carbonfibre. Although the GT R has yet to undergo certification at the hands of the German Transport Authority, AMG insiders hint that weight has dropped by up to 60kg, suggesting it will hit the scales at around 1520kg in production trim.
By comparison, the smaller but less powerful 911 GT3 RS has a kerb weight of 1420kg.
The weight-saving touches continue inside, with the GT R sporting a lightly reworked version of the standard GT S?s dashboard and manually operated seats, among other changes.
Mercedes-AMG?s latest model is powered by a more heavily tuned version of the GT and GT S?s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine. New performance-enhancing features include a revised inlet manifold, extra boost pressure and a more free-flowing titanium exhaust system.
Details remains scarce ahead of the new model?s unveiling this summer, but sources close to Mercedes-Benz?s performance car division say the M178- designated V8 will pack in the region of 425kW. This equates to 570bhp, which would give the new GT R at least 60bhp more than the GT S.
AMG?s powertrain engineers, headed by Christian Enderle, have also raised the torque loading of the 90deg V8. Again, nothing is official, but Autocar has been told the new track-focused model is to receive up to 552lb ft, or some 70lb ft more than the less highly tuned version of the engine used in the GT S.
To put this into perspective, the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat six engine used by the latest 911 GT3 RS kicks out 493bhp and 384lb ft. The added reserves of the GT R are channelled through a strengthened version of AMG?s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle gearbox. It features revised ratios and a recalibrated electronically operated rear differential.
Although development has focused more on providing the GT R with added circuit prowess than outright speed, the new model is expected to undercut the straight-line performance of the GT S, which has an official 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and a 193mph top speed.
The underpinnings have also been suitably upgraded, with adjustable springs and dampers, revised bushings up front and a rear axle that is bolted directly to the body structure. The wheels have a diameter of 19in up front, with 275/35 tyres, and 20in at the rear, with 325/30 tyres.
The introduction of the GT R later this year will not be the final flourish for AMG?s high-performance coupé. Plans also call for the launch of an even more powerful GT Black Series next year, as well as a GT Roadster in 2018.
Design house Kahn?s next partner model will be the Jeep Wrangler, it has confirmed to Autocar.
Kahn was responsible for the Aston Martin DB9-based Vengeance and various Land Rover Defender projects. This new project follows the end of the Defender?s production.
A Kahn spokesman said: ?We?ve just launched a wide-body styling package for the Jeep Wrangler, and we?re looking for that car to take over where the Defender finished.?
Around 500 Wranglers are sold in the UK each year, with the Kahn-owned Chelsea Truck Company accounting for a fifth of these. The US, on the other hand, buys 160,000 Wranglers a year, so this is where Kahn is eyeing expansion.
The Kahn spokesman also hinted at the possibility of an electric model. ?We?ve got other programmes in the stages of research and development at the moment,? he said. ?Provided that we get through those evaluation stages, I?d like to think that we?ll have something on the market within 12 months.?
The EV project is being kept under close wraps and no further details were disclosed.
The new Mitsubishi Shogun Sport is set to be launched in the UK before the end of the year, according to UK managing director Lance Bradley.
The car was introduced to Asian markets last year, badged as the Pajero Sport. Mitsubishi is working on UK-spec homologation ahead of its expected on-sale date of November. It's due to be priced between the Outlander and Shogun, meaning it should cost from around £26,000.
According to Bradley, the introduction of the Shogun Sport would increase Mitsubishi's annual sales by 10-15%, or 3000-4000 cars. ?It will increase our sales quite a lot if we get it,? he said. ?It looks fantastic and it's really torquey.?
The Shogun Sport, which is based on the L200?s platform, has a 2.4-litre diesel engine that develops 179bhp and 317lb ft. This is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and Mitsubishi's Super Select 4WD II four-wheel drive system, which can operate in either two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive mode.
The previous-generation Shogun Sport model was last seen in UK showrooms in 2006, before being discontinued.
Meanwhile, the fifth-generation Shogun, which will be available as a plug-in hybrid, is expected by 2019. "The Shogun is slightly hard to justify for investment, being a small-volume car," said Bradley.
He added that one of the advantages of Mitsubishi's newly formed tie-up with Nissan was platform sharing, hinting that this would help to accommodate the next-generation Shogun.
The Mercedes-Benz F100 was revealed at the 1991 Detroit motor show, looking almost production ready. However, it was, in fact, a technologically advanced concept packed with remarkably prescient ideas, including some that wouldn?t appear in Mercedes-Benz production cars for another 20 years.
The F100 was in many ways the ancestor of today's Mercedes executive models. Features such as cruise control, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, voice recognition and a collision avoidance system all featured on the concept.
After scrutinising the car in Detroit, Autocar?s Peter Robinson described it as ?a mobile test bed for impending technologies and, not least, an effective generator of publicity?, as well as ?a complex and complicated camouflage, interesting in its own right for its problem-solving potential?.
At the time, the US was Mercedes? largest export market, absorbing 78,000 cars a year ? 13% of annual production. Hence the Detroit debut for the F100, which was ?plucked from the depths of the advanced research department to act as a focal point for Mercedes? stand?.
Somewhat against the grain for 1991, the F100 was a ?rakish MPV?, and it impressed Robinson. Styling, he mused, was ?superbly finished, tall but sleek, and original?, while the interior, accessed by ?open to the touch, electrically powered doors?, revealed ?bucket seats for only five occupants, despite an overall length of 4869mm?.
The front three seats were positioned in a layout similar to that which appeared a year later in the McLaren F1, with the driver in the centre. ?Crash test research proves the centre of the car is the safest position,? explained Robinson. ?Since Mercedes? statistics show that, on average, cars carry only 1.3 passengers in commuting driving, priority was given to driver protection in frontal offset crashes and side impacts.?
Under the bonnet sat a 2.6-litre, 90deg V6. It was not new, however, having been designed in the mid-1980s, but the 1991 Detroit show was its first public appearance. Focus on new components was instead diverted to ?blending into one concept car the various techniques and systems developed within the giant Daimler-Benz group of companies?.
Of the cabin, Robinson was enthusiastic about the excellent vision afforded by the huge windscreen, while video and radio systems eliminated blind spots and allowed the F100 to maintain a predetermined distance from the car ahead. This was technology that wouldn?t appear on a Mercedes-Benz road car until 2005.
Somewhat prophetically, Robinson went on: ?Mercedes? research suggests that in the future, cars will combine independent movement with integration into traffic flow via onboard computers that use satellite information to show where you are, how to get to your destination, where to park and how to avoid congestion.? The Japan-only Mazda Eunos Cosmo became the first car with sat-nav in 1990, but it was still a novel idea when the F100 appeared and didn?t become common until the 2000s.
?The F100?s destiny is no more than to occupy a prominent spot in the Mercedes museum,? concluded Robinson. ?It takes a small step towards the centralised control of the car, although Mercedes admits this vision of the future is at least a decade away from reality.?
Previous Throwback Thursdays
10 March 1979 - A Rover SD1 with a difference
4 September 1996 - The original Porsche Boxster driven
5 April 1986 - Audi Quattro vs Porsche 944 Turbo
16 May 1987 - Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet
17 October 1981 - The £12,000 baby Aston Martin
16 January 1985 - The launch of the Sinclair C5
15 April 1960 - Porsche's four-cylinder roots
17 August 2004 - The Honda NSX's last hurrah
11 October 1986 - Hyundai's second UK market foray
15 March 1980 - Triumph's TR7 Drophead
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Ford has launched a limited run of special edition models for its Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS and Mustang for the French market, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its one-two-three finish at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours.
With 50 vehicles fashioned for each model, the 200 cars are modelled on the winning GT40 racer of 1966, which beat Ferrari to the podium with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon at the helm. Made exclusively for the 24 Hour race?s home market, the new commemorative road models are painted in Black Mica, contrasted with grey racing stripes to mimic the livery of the winning car.
They also get exclusive 50th Anniversary badges at the rear and a unique plaque in the passenger compartment, while the Focus RS and ST gain the usually optional City Pack as standard, adding rear parking sensors and an active city stop system.
The Focus RS also gets the Comfort Pack Premium Pack as standard, adding cruise control, a speed limiter, the top of the range sound system and keyless entry, while the ST gets the Style Pack as standard, bringing 18in wheels and red brake callipers.
The 50th Anniversary Fiesta ST benefits from both the Performance and Parking Packs, which add 17in alloy wheels, red brake callipers and parking aids. The special edition version of the Mustang GT V8 comes with the Premium Pack, including 19in wheels and standard satellite navigation.
Unsurprisingly, prices increase slightly over the regular models, with the cheapest 50th Anniversary model, the Fiesta ST, starting at the equivalent to about £20,500, while the most expensive, the Mustang, starts at about £37,500.
Buyers who purchase their 50th Anniversary cars before the weekend of the 2016 race will also be entered into a prize draw for free VIP access to Le Mans. At this stage, it looks like the 50th Anniversary models will remain a France-only offering.