2009 Mazda6 Debuts, Mazdaspeed Version On The Way
It's taken almost a year for Mazda to release its redesigned Mazda6 in North America. At first glance, it looks virtually identical to its European and Japanese counterparts. Look closer, however, and the subtleties become more apparent. The 2009 Mazda6 gets a reworked fascia with a bisected grille and fog lamps mounted at the outer edges of the air dams, while a new bumper, tweaked trunk and reworked exhaust rounds out the rear.
Under the lengthened chassis is the same double wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension found in the European and Japanese models, with ABS-assisted ventilated front and solid rear brake discs. At the entry-level end of the spectrum, a 170bhp 2.5-liter four-cylinder is mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. Opt for the 3.7-liter V6, and 273bhp and 270lb-ft of torque will be sent to the front wheels via a six-speed auto 'box equipped with a 'manumatic' sport shift.
Early reports of a Mazdaspeed version suggests that a 280bhp, turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter four will power all four wheels, the package augmented by a stiffened suspension, upgraded brakes, aggressive aero kit and larger wheels wrapped in sticky sport rubber.
By the time you read this, the 2009 Mazda6 will be on sale in either Sport, Touring or Grand Touring trim, with no plans to introduce a five-door or wagon variant in the US. Expect the Mazdaspeed6 to arrive some time in 2010.
Dream Tc: Ken Gushi's Rear-Drive RS*R Scion
If Toyota had asked us to design the Scion tC, we sure wouldn't have made it a front-driver powered by a Camry engine. But Toyota has seen the error of its ways. Not only is the company bringing out a proper rear-wheel-drive coupe for 2011 (with the help of Subaru), it's also providing backing for RS*R to convert the staid tC into a Formula D contender.
JDM obsessives are well aware that the Scion tC shares a platform with the all-wheel-drive Toyota Avenis and Caldina, so shaping Scion's popular coupe into a rear-wheel-drive track tool is only a fat check and some serious mechanical fortitude away. RS*R stepped up to the challenge.
After yanking out the stock 2AZ-FE, it fabbed a series of mounts to facilitate the coupe's transformation from a transverse to a longitudinal layout. Under the wild wide-body kit lies a BEAMS-built, 3S-GTE four-pot that uses an HKS GT3037 turbo. Coupled with a flat-mounted HKS intercooler, Blitz Dual SBC boost controller and an AEM EMS engine management system, this engine sends 400bhp through a Tilton triple carbon clutch and down to the rear wheels via a G-Force five-speed sequential gearbox.
Suspension duties are handled by a set of RS*R coilovers, while 18-inch Enkei RPF1 wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes R1R tires (245/40/18) frame upgraded brakes courtesy of Project Mu. Inside, Formula D driver Ken Gushi is strapped in to a Sparco Corsa race seat and keeps tabs on engine vitals through a Stack ST8130 race display.
Naturally, a full roll cage, five-point harness and fuel cell ensure that Gushi can concentrate on pleasing the judges without having to worry about the unthinkable. The 2008 Formula D season kicked off in Long Beach on April 12; you can follow Gushi and the rest of the competition at formulad.com.
Reworked GT-R Laps 'Ring In 7:29, V-Spec Under Development
Nissan was understandably proud of the GT-R's 7:38 lap around the famed Nrburgring Nordschleife, but the company's fanatical engineers couldn't leave well enough alone. Nissan has spent a considerable amount of time tweaking the US- and European-market GT-R to extract every last bit of performance from its everyday supercar. These revisions include stiffening spring rates and using three harder engine mounts with a more rigid transmission mount to limit the drivetrain's movement under acceleration, braking and cornering loads. That OCD-level of detail has allowed the GT-R to slice a full nine seconds off its original lap time, with a 7:29 run around the 'Ring. But Nissan's geeks aren't stopping there.
A GT-R test mule has been seen at the Nrburgring outfitted with a new front splitter, redesigned wing and upgraded wheels, confirming speculation that Nissan is developing a V-Spec version. Sources suggest that several components have been replaced by carbon fiber items to drop the car's weight by over 300 pounds. Combined with changes to the twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6 (supposedly kicking out another 70bhp over stock), this has allowed spy photographers to clock the prototype's lap times roughly in the seven-minute, 20-second realm. Considering the Porsche Carrera GT laps the 'Ring in 7:28, these newest developments are a testament to the GT-R's inherent strengths and Nissan's dedication to making it the fastest production car in the world.
Audi A3 Tdi Clubsport Quattro ConceptAudi has been working feverishly over the last few years to change the general perception of diesel performance. With its campaign of the R10 TDI racecar in the Le Mans series and the release of the R8 TDI LeMans concept, Audi is intent that enthusiasts have a reason to sacrifice high-revving thrills for kidney-punishing torque. Its newest attempt at making diesel appeal to petrolheads is the A3 TDI Clubsport Quattro concept, unveiled at the Wrthersee tuning show in Austria.
Based on the three-door, Euro-only A3, Audi's in-house tuners widened the track by 1.3 inches in front and 1.8 inches in the rear and fitted 20x9 wheels sporting 265/30 ZR-rated rubber. The bodywork is inspired by the German DTM race series, with a pair of massive air intakes in front, an underbody diffuser and a rear wing that wouldn't look out of place on a Cessna.
The McPherson front suspension and multi-link rear arrangement is complemented with a set of custom coilovers that lower the A3 by 36mm. Stock discs handle braking duties out back, but Audi spared no expense in the front, equipping the Clubsport Quattro with 14-inch carbon-ceramic discs gripped by six-piston calipers.
Motivating this 3,250-pound concept is a 2.0-liter TDI engine producing 224bhp and a staggering 332lb-ft of torque available at 1750rpm. Before that grunt reaches the ground through Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system, it's channeled through a six-speed manual 'box, allowing the car to hit 62mph in 6.6 seconds before topping out at 149mph.
Inside, Audi has blended a bit of race-car purposefulness with show-car chic in the form of molded buckets, a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum trim and toggle switches, plus a red starter button. More impressive is the Audi Drive Select system that can change throttle response, power steering assist, traction control settings, magnetic ride dampening and even the exhaust note on the fly.
While Audi insists the A3 TDI Clubsport Quattro is strictly a design exercise to showcase the potential of diesel performance, don't be surprised if some of the kit featured here filters down to the automaker's oil-burning offerings in the future.
Not For You: Subaru Legacy STI S402
Subaru has a tradition of producing limited-edition versions of its hottest models. Unfortunately, it also has a habit of never making these factory-tuned rides available in America. Such is the case with the Legacy STI S402, which officially went on sale in Japan this June.
With 402 units in both wagon and sedan trim, it's doubtful that either model will hang around dealer lots for long. Both versions are powered by a 300bhp, turbocharged, 2.5-liter flat four, with power going to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission equipped with Subaru's SI-Drive. The front fenders have been widened by 0.8 of an inch on each side, housing 18-inch BBS wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires. Bilstein struts suspend the upgraded rolling stock, as six-piston Brembo brakes in front and two-pot calipers in the rear keep the party in check. No special-edition model would be complete without a bit of bling, so Subaru has added all the required badging to the inside and outside, along with new gauges, a Momo steering wheel and an aluminum shift knob.
Rumors&Lies* There's little doubt that Mitsubishi and Subaru are working on hardcore versions of their road-going rally rockets. And the first few details have confirmed our suspicions. The Evolution X MR is expected to debut in Japan next year with an additional 20bhp (up to 305bhp in JDM spec), with a revised ECU that boosts torque throughout the mid-range. Equipped with Mitsu's SST twin-clutch transmission, the MR's zero-to-60mph time is expected to drop well below five seconds and will be distinguished from its lesser siblings by a new front fascia, revised rear wing and bespoke wheels. Subaru will release the Impreza WRX STI Spec C around the same time, but rather than focus its efforts on engine output, it plans to lose around 150 pounds through the use of a lightweight roof, aluminum trunk lid, smaller fuel tank, thinner glass and a compact battery. Although the Evo X MR should make its way to the US, don't hold your breath for the Spec C.
* Infiniti's business plan for the next five years involves more models in more regions throughout the world. So in order to compete with the big boys of the luxury set, Infiniti intends to roll out models to match them point for point. Nissan announced that it would finally bring an Infiniti G37 convertible to market (most likely fitted with a retractable hard top) along with a compact competitor to the BMW 1 Series. However, don't expect a swoopy coupe from Nissan's luxury arm. Infiniti is describing it as a 'mini SUV.' For shame.
* Spy photographers caught a race-ready version of the Lexus LF-A, sporting aggressive aerodynamic body parts and a large wing, running around the Nrburgring. Lexus later confirmed that it would be running a prototype version of the LF-A in the 24 Hours of Nrburgring race this year. Too bad we'll still have to wait past the turn of the decade to see a production model.
* The Japanese tuners at Top Secret have taken their legendary V12 Toyota Supra to the Nardo test track in Italy and hit a top speed of 222mph. The Supra received its heart transplant from a JDM Toyota Century sedan and, with two HKS GT2540 turbos blowing a healthy amount of boost, the car was able to put down over 1000hp to the rear wheels. While 222mph is nothing to sneeze at, Top Secret is planning another outing to the banked circuit later this year to reach 248mph.
GT Academy Puts Gran TurismoSavant Into Driver's Seat
It's safe to assume that, if you're reading this, you're familiar with Gran Turismo. It's even possible that friends, loved ones and possibly parents have criticized the unhealthy amount of time you spend tethered to your PlayStation3 since GT5 Prologue came out. We're not telepathic. We're you. But if you live in Europe, that time behind the virtual wheel could pay off. Nissan and Sony are teaming up to offer one lucky Gran Turismo addict the chance to test their mettle in the real world though the GT Academy.
Over an eight-month period, players will duke it out online through the European Playstation Network for a single spot in the GT Academy. After which, the winner will spend four months training and accumulating the necessary FIA licensing to prepare for some real wheel time during the 24-hour Dubai endurance race next January. However, don't be confused by the liveried GT-R.
The virtual racing virtuoso will be piloting a race-prepped 350Z during the event. But if you live on the other side of the pond and think you have what it takes, log on to the Playstation Network and make the gamers of the world proud.
Cosworth VQ35 Build-Up Update
In our July 2008 issue, we revealed plans for a naturally aspirated 400-plus-bhp VQ35DE. Partnering with renowned engine builder, Cosworth Engineering, we will be making our non-turbo monster V6 within the Castrol Syntec Top Shop Challenge. This means obeying specific rules and that our stroked 3.8-liter engine will be going head-to-head with engines built by shops picked by our sister magazines eurotuner, Turbo, Import Tuner, Modified, Super Street and Lowrider.
After some measurements and examination, Cosworth developed a plan of attack and formulated a recipe. Starting with a bare VQ35DE block, Cosworth would be basing this project around its already available forged piston set, twin-plenum intake manifold and CNC-ported cylinder heads. With a few of these hard parts pulled off the shelf, Cosworth assembled a prototype and has spent the last few weeks on one of its two engine dynos, testing various camshaft profiles for naturally aspirated use.
With cam development nearing completion, it's only a matter of time before our final competition VQ35DE is assembled and we see how much power can be obtained using 100-octane fuel. With the stock-displacement, 3.5-liter, 11.1:1-compression cam powerplant making 370bhp, we're confident we can do much better with more displacement and a 12.1:1 compression ratio.
In the meantime, log on to www.sportcompactcarweb.com and www.cosworthusa.com for more information on our engine build and visit www.SyntecTopShop.com to vote for SCC and Cosworth. The winning engine from the competition will be given away to a lucky reader who voted for the winning team, so go and place your vote now.
Remember, figuring out what to drop a Cosworth-built VQ35 into is a problem we'd all like to have.