It’s once again time for one of our semi-regular bursts of news, where we bring you up-to-date on interesting things happening in and around the automotive world that you’re probably not going to read about in the newspaper. (If you actually read the paper, that is.)
Let’s start off with two bits of sports car news regarding vehicles that, like Misters Plessy and Ferguson, are quite separate but of equal importance.
First up comes news that despite several public denials, Toyota is hard at work on a successor to the much-loved Supra sports car. Rumor has it the next-gen car will pack a hybrid V6 drivetrain putting out a total of 400 horses; however, they’ll also be offering a non-hybrid version for people who’d rather screw the planet over, thank you very much. Rear-wheel-drive will almost certainly be a given; styling inspired by the FT-HS concept car is a possibility. Expect to see a concept car version sometime next year, with production models coming in the fall of 2011.
Given the success Nissan has had with its Z, it’s surprising Toyota has waited this long to bring out their own middleweight sports car. It should be interesting to see how the hybrid technology holds up in a performance car – especially since Toyota’s hardly the only manufacturer exploring the tech’s sports-car potential. (More on that further down.)
The other sports car news from Japan regards the much-rumored “Toyobaru” – the cheap sports car being jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota. According to 7Tune, Subaru will be making a sportier STI variant of the car, even if Toyota only chooses to offer the car with one engine.
The insiders’ report reveals the Toyobaru will also feature styling similar to the Lexus LF-A supercar that’s been taunting car enthusiasts for years as a concept, a prototype and even a subtly disguised race car. Supposedly, the Toyobaru joint task force (I don’t know what they call themselves, I just like the sound of that) wants to keep the price under 2 million yen – as of today, a little more than $20,000.
If they can bring it stateside for that price, equipped with the rumored 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual, they can start the line right behind me. If you want in, we’ll be lining up sometime in 2011.
In other sports-car related news, Ferrari told AutoCar they may be unveiling their successor to the F430 at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show in December – as a hybrid. Go on, take a second to clean away that coffee you just spit-taked onto your monitor, I’ll wait.
Yes, folks, Ferrari – who usually rank between Bentley and Pratt & Whitney in terms of environmentally-friendly engines – want to start nudging forward the idea that, hey, maybe hybrids can be fun! Indeed, they recently filed patents for an all-wheel-drive hybrid system, among other environmentally-friendly technologies that seem as bizarre as George Clooney’s bat-suit nipples.
However, don’t expect to see a hybrid AWD system under your brand-new F450, as everyone is referring to the new mid-engined Ferrari until they unveil the actual name. The company is understandably concerned about whether customers are ready for “green” Ferraris – hence the “concept” moniker attached to the hybrid version set to be unveiled this winter. Production F450 Hybrids should become available sometime in the middle of the next decade.
Few concrete details are known about the F450, but don’t expect much departure from the formula that made the 360 Modena and F430 successful – a high-revving V8, two seats, and a sleek design. Power will probably be in the 500-550 horsepower range, with the California’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
In addition, the folks at CzechFerrari.cz have posted some pictures they claim to be the F450. The pictures don’t reveal much, since the prototype in them is missing its front end…and its back end…and wheels…and most of the interior. But if nothing else, they hint at the overall shape of the car – and it looks pretty good so far. (For some reason, the images won’t seem to save, so we can’t show you them, but we can point you to the CzechFerrari page with all the images.)
Finally, Kelley Blue Book has just released a list of what they consider this year’s coolest cars for under $18,000. While we don’t like to be nitpicky (oh, who am I kidding – I live to pick nits), there are a couple worth mentioning. First off, Kelley, I think you mean cars for less than $18,000, unless you’re literally referring to cars with 18 grand of cash plopped on the roof. Secondly, some of those picks seem like padding. The Focus’s SYNC system may read your incoming Tweets aloud, but it doesn’t change the fact that beneath the skin it’s pretty much the same car that went on sale a decade ago.