When it comes to high-performance automotive choices, there has been no better time in the history automobiles for the enthusiast consumer. From 1200-horsepower, multi-million-dollar Veyrons to $23,000, 300-horsepower/30-mpg musclecars, the current automotive market really does offer it all. But for how long? Are we at the peak of automotive performance, or just the beginning?
We know the future of the automobile will keep getting greener, but where does that leave those who love rev-matched downshifts and the synchronized scream of pistons, cams, valves, and crank at wide-open throttle? Just what is the future of performance? We surveyed the industry and asked several key experts to look 10 years into the future of high-performance cars. You’ll be surprised at what they told us…
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
The heart of any BMW M5 is its powerful engine. For the 2012 model, this meant the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that produces 555 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque that’s already found in the X5M and X6M. This engine has a considerably higher output than the 500-horsepower, naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-10 in the 2010 M5. To increase fuel efficiency 25 percent over the V-10, which was rated at a mere 11/17 mpg, the 2012 model uses an automatic start-stop function in combination with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The M5’s suspension tuning will take advantage of decades of racing knowledge and countless development hours spent lapping the Nürburgring. For 2012, an Active M differential has been employed to split power between the rear wheels, which should improve handling by over-driving the outer wheel in a turn. At the pavement are lightweight 20-inch, five-spoke, forged-alloy wheels wrapped in 265/35ZR20 Michelin tires. BMW assures us the M5 has large enough brakes to lap the ‘Ring right from the showroom.
DODGE: A FUTURE WE CAN AFFORD
Anytime we’ve gone through a bit of an oil crisis, technology always bounces back. Everyone probably said the muscle car was dead 30 years ago, but it’s actually in full force even stronger. So this year we start with the SRT8, with the first time it’s had cylinder deactivation. I keep seeing technologies enabling performance, not being hindered by it. I see that happening…probably more radical swings in the ability to have, let’s say, a 400-hp engine that gets 40 mpg as well. We’re finding that multi-speed transmissions is also a phenomenal thing that’s just now starting, almost like the 20-speed bicycle back in the day, that’s just now becoming more commonplace. That’s a huge advantage — having an engine that sleeps when it needs to, that performs. On top of that I see Porsche has already started to dabble in this space where you’re using hybrid technology as a performance enhancer, not just for fuel economy. So I see the future being all about duality, having your cake and eating it too. Because everyone’s going to need that intellectual alibi when they buy their next performance car in 10 years.
What will the SRT8 look like in 2022?
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?
“Innovations in technology, including improvements in aerodynamics, lighter weight materials, and powertrain performance will definitely influence the design and function. The challenge for performance cars going forward is to continue to deliver the ‘and’ solution that we started with the 2011 Mustang. 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: 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. It’s not really dissimilar to everybody saying we weren’t going to have performance cars in the 1970s, and all of a sudden, we see a roar back here, with lots of good technology things that fire more efficiently, burn gasoline in a cylinder for a piston. At some point, you can’t get much more out of it, and you’re better to spend your money on taking the mass out of the car. So you’re going to see that first. 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
Jaguar takes on the Porsche 918 on the road, if not the track, with its C-X75 hybrid supercar. It’s set to take orders this fall, with deliveries beginning in late 2013. The vehicle’s name will change, and Jaguar will build just 250 examples at a base price of $1.151 million or more, depending on the market and taxes, based on recent exchange rates. 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. “Fundamentally, I wanted to deliver the concept car. But in the time frame, we can’t do that with the [2010 Paris concept’s] gas turbines,” said Bob Joyce, Jaguar-Land Rover engineering director. “The piston powertrain fits the design envelope. It will be just like the transformation from Range Rover LRX to Evoque.” It will not use an existing engine or an F1-based powerplant, Joyce said, though it will use Williams F1 principles. Williams F1 is involved in developing the high-profile, low-volume supercar, and will contribute aerodynamic, carbon-fiber, and hybrid technology know-how. The cars will be built in the United Kingdom, though the project is part of Tata Motors’ $1.7 billion per year, five-year investment in new technology and product. Hallmark would not say whether Williams F1 is a subcontractor or a partner on the car’s development and production. “The commercial details are secret. But this is our project.” It doesn’t matter whether Jaguar makes money or not on the C-X75, says Jaguar-Land Rover chief executive Carl-Peter Forster. It’s a recruitment program for 1000 engineers JLR will hire as part of Tata’s five-year investment. “This car is a step to developing future technologies for us. In order to explore technologies, we need research projects. Here, customers can pay for it.
” Isn’t the much-anticipated Boxster/Cayman fighter more urgent?
“We will never break out of our current brand position by just repeating what we’ve always done in the past. We need to move the brand, and then fill in the gaps. And what if the small sports car was actually better than the 911, not the Boxster? And this is better than the 918? This isn’t a distraction for us. It fits perfectly within the rest of our future.” –Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar Global Brand Director
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 >>> Future Performance In A Greener World – Part 2 of 3
To be continued…