Thursday, September 10, 2020

Passing the Trident: Maserati Unveils The MC20 Super Sports Car

Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


Founded more than 105 years ago, Italian luxury car builder Maserati has manufactured creations blending the exclusive, high-end luxury with passionate sports car athleticism. While Maserati spent recent years championing their Levante sport utility vehicle as well as the Ghibli and the heavily-updated Quattroporte premium sedans, fans of the brand eagerly awaited the time more personalized driving experiences connected to the Trident logo. The long-anticipated replacement to the GranTurismo and GranCabrio grand tourer line, excepted to borrow design language communicated with the elegant Alfieri concept car, is planned for sale either next year or 2022. With September 9th MMXX: Time to be audacious” event, Maserati took the covers off their exceptionally powerful, lightweight MC20.

Radiant in an elegant yet race car-like appearance, the Maserati MC20 is said to be the start of a new era for the Italian automobile company. The MC20 (a name combining Maserati Corse and 20 for the year 2020) is a two-seat, mid-engined performance car with tightly wrapped body panels honed through over two thousand hours in a wind tunnel. More than a thousand hours of simulations using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) has also been used to shape the super sports car. Maserati’s first production application featuring lightweight carbon fiber monocoque construction, the MC20's design allows a driver to experience an exceptionally high weight to power ratio while maintaining strong rigidity. Introducing their MC20 to the world in a coupe body style, Maserati states that a convertible version is in the cards for the future.


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.

 

The Maserati MC20's key source of performance is a new racing-derived Nettuno engine. The twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 powerplant is Maserati’s first in-house developed engine in more than 20 years. Generating an astounding 621 horsepower and 538 lb.-ft. of torque, the MC20's  V-6 power unit contains patented Maserati Twin Combustion ignition technology as well as an engine fuel delivery system featuring direct injection and port injection. A dry sump oiling system with fully variable oil pump as well as an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is paired with Maserati’s Nettuno powerplant. 


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


Weighing 3,306 pounds, the weight to power ratio of the Maserati MC20's is recorded at 5.3 pounds per horsepower. Acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0 to 62 miles per hour) is realized in 2.9 seconds while the top speed of the MC20 is advertised at 325 kilometers per hour (202 miles per hour). The rear-wheel driven, mid-engined supercar’s handling is supported by front and rear double-wishbone suspension with virtual steering axle as well as limited slip self-locking rear differential (An electronic differential is optional). Providing steady means to counter the Maserati MC20's 621 horsepower, ventilated disc brakes include front Brembo six-piston calipers.

Entering the vehicle through butterfly-style opening doors, the driver and passenger of the MC20 rides in high-tech performance atmosphere. Strategically placed controls with steering wheel-mounted controls provide both a driver-focused experience and a clean dashboard layout. This appearance is aided by a pair of 10-inch screens. One serves as the driver`s instrument display of the Maserati MC20 while the other is the multimedia unit. The Maserati Multimedia System is paired with Maserati Connect featuring up-to-date navigation, WiFi hotspot and Amazon Alexa connectivity. Luggage space for the MC20 is modest totalling 150 liters (50 liters at the front and 100 behind the vehicle`s occupants). 


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


The MC20 is Maserati’s fifth mid-engined production vehicle and the first since the limited edition, Ferrari-based MC12. Maserati has grand plans behind the car that is being produced with pride in Modena, Italy. Along with desires to parlay the Maserati MC20 into a return to motorsports for the brand, the Italian auto company also indicates the potential to introduce a fully electric version of the super sport car.



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

An Off-Roading Legend’s New Charge: The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America


The figurehead of the Jeep brand, the image of the Wrangler is a storied shape in automotive history created by necessity. The military-developed four-wheel drive vehicle related to the modern Jeep Wrangler was manufactured as a specialized mode of transportation for reliability handling rough terrain. Since the end of the second world war, the vehicle was steadily contemporized over the decades improving its looks, function and comfort. When the latest generation Wrangler was introduced in 2018, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) retained much of its rugged off-roading personality but applied the flexibility to accept advanced technologies. Along with a powerful Pentastar V-6 engine, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler arrived with the choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that included the additional electric power punch of an eTorque system. For 2021, the introduction of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid allows drivers to chart a new path with the popular sport utility vehicle.

Based on the four-door Wrangler body style, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s heart is an advanced powertrain operating in conjunction with a full-time four-wheel drive system. Primary electric power for the plug-in hybrid Wrangler arrives from two motor generators with one replacing the traditional alternator and the other mounted ahead of the transmission. Collectively generating up to 147 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque, the electric motors are fed by a 400-volt, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack featuring a nickel manganese cobalt anatomy. Capable of carrying the Wrangler 4xe up to 25 miles without burning gasoline, the electric power system is paired with long-lasting regenerative braking. A gasoline-powered, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission allows the plug-in hybrid Jeep to reach greater ranges and conventional on-road and off-road performance.


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America



The plug-in hybrid powertrain installed in the 2021 Wrangler 4xe can be operated in three main modes. With the Wrangler 4xe E Selec Modes, driver can choose to drive the sport utility vehicle in an ‘Electric’ setting or two selectable modes combining the electric motors and gasoline engine. A ‘Hybrid’ mode serves as a default setting or an ‘eSave’ mode that primarily uses the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s maximum available momentum is 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque.  Fuel economy for the plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle is rated at 50 MPGe.   

Available in three trim levels (base 4xe, Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe), the Wrangler 4xe boasts Jeep’s familiar, confident four-wheel drive appearance on the outside. The four-door platform is situated on a 118.4-inch wheelbase with a nimble 64.4-inch track. The base and Sahara versions of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe come equipped with an SELEC-TRAC transfer case, standard open front and rear differentials as well as Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza tires mounted to 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels. The Rubicon trimmed model contains a more robust off-road package with BF Goodrich Ko2 All-Terrain tires paired with 17-inch polished wheels, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials and a Rock-Trac 4x4 system. High-pressure gas-charged monotube shock absorbers with MTV technology comes equipped on the Sahara and Rubicon version of the Wrangler 4xe. With the Rubicon 4xe, off-roading prowess for the plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle features an approach angle of 43.8 degrees, departure angle of 35.6 degrees and a ground clearance of 18.8 inches.  


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America


Appearing much like a conventional gasoline-powered four-door Wrangler, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe features a subtle amount of specialized design cues. Rubicon-trimmed models are accented by Electric Blue colouring applied to the tow hooks and ‘Rubicon’ naming on the hood. Ten exterior colour options are offered with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe. With the battery pack tucked neatly under the second-row seating bench, the Wrangler 4xe’s interior maintains a comfortable five-passenger capacity. Electric Blue coloured stitching is found inside Jeep Wrangler 4xe with Rubicon trim models. 


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America



Arriving for sale in early 2021, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s debut is actually a long-pledged vehicle. In the late 2000s, Chrysler’s ENVI program was heavily involved in conceiving electrified products from Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. A plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was one of several concept vehicles shown off prior to the demise of ENVI following Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy and purchase into Fiat Group. 

While the Wrangler 4xe will be the first plug-in hybrid Jeep to be sold in United States and Canada, Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe models are already found in European showrooms. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Teasing the New Jeep Wagoneer

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles




Celebrating 75 years as a brand in 2020, Jeep has always emphasized versatility in conventional and unconventional means. Though the four-wheel drive and impressive off-road capabilities initially defined Jeep’s identity, there was a long-running marketing push by the marque to present their vehicles as an upscale product that can reach peaks few sedans would reach. Starting in the late 1990s, a growing driving consumer base entered the domain of the Jeep brand.  

First appearing in the 1963 model year, the Jeep Wagoneer was a longtime entrant in the sport utility vehicle category as a modern, premium product for its time. Sculpted by highly influential industrial designer Brooks Stevens, the original Jeep Wagoneer presented features attracting urban and suburban dwellers as much as drivers requiring a durable four-wheel drive vehicle. The SJ platform version of the Wagoneer endured the Jeep brand’s ownership by Kaiser Motors, American Motor Corporation and later Chrysler before being discontinued in 1991. A one-year appearance as a luxury level of the Grand Cherokee in 1993 under the Grand Wagoneer moniker was the most recent use of the Jeep signature model. Heading into 2021, the Wagoneer name is once again being set to establish iconic luxury. 


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles



FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has trumpeted the return of the Wagoneer ahead of a full unveiling on September 3rd with a series of teaser photos. On August 21st, an initial announcement included two images with the wording “Coming September 3 ...” featuring one shot appearing like a grille assembly with lettering W-A-G visible. Two more recent releases from FCA came with additional teaser images coupled with less secretive wording stating the debut a new Wagoneer accompanied with the reveal of an electrified Wrangler 4xe. The second media release also included an overhead shot of what is anticipated to be the new Jeep Wagoneer. Ahead of the official reveal, two facts that are safe to assume are that the Wagoneer will be Jeep’s luxury flagship and has the capacity for three-row seating.


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


During FCA Capital Markets Day held back in 2018, the auto company delivered a comprehensive outlook for their business strategy to analysts, investors and media that featured an opening address from CEO Sergio Marchionne (less than two months ahead of his untimely death). Among the announcements made was a road map for Jeep’s 2022 model lineup. Predicting that the crossover utility vehicle market would account for a more sizable portion of their total sales and revenue, FCA intended to greatly expand the Jeep global product range. With a five-vehicle portfolio in 2018, up to eleven products were estimated for the 2022 model year including a pickup truck that has most recently been realized as the Gladiator. Part of the 2022 outlook for the Jeep brand was a new, large scale sport utility vehicle named the Wagoneer.

FCA and Jeep will officially debut the new Wagoneer on a Youtube stream on September 3rd at 9 a.m. EDT.