Pace Notes

9 FAST CAR THINGS MAKING HEADLINES

Chris Thompson

01 FOCUS ST EXPOSED

GAME ON! Ford infuses Focus with GTI-fi ghting punch

THE HOTTEST VERSION of the new Ford Focus, so far, is here. Or will be a year from now, says Ford Australia.

The new Focus ST is inbound, and it’s pulling out all the stops in this new hot hatch golden age.

Significant output increases, the addition of several new developments from Ford Performance, and a broader range of driving characteristics are what Ford hopes will make the new ST a knockout in the hot hatch boxing ring.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four, which first featured in the Mk3 Focus RS, now finds a home in the new ST with a respectable 206kW and 420Nm, up 22kW and 60Nm from the 2.0-litre powerplant of the previous ST.

Ford expects a 0-100km/h sprint in less than six seconds, which means it should pip a Golf GTI to the tonne and could even give a Civic Type R a run for its money on a good day.

A 147kW/400Nm diesel engine will also be available overseas, but Ford Australia says that won’t be coming Down Under, nor will the ST wagon.

But, for the first time ever in a Focus ST, Australians will have the choice of either a six-speed manual, with ‘killable’ rev-matching, or seven-speed automatic transmission. Previously, only manual STs were sold locally.

Ford Performance has also thrown a host of new kit at the Focus ST, including adaptive dampers, or Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) in Ford-speak, and an electronic LSD between the front wheels.

The breadth of customisation to each drive mode that these additions allow has led Ford Performance’s European director Leo Roeks to call the new Focus ST a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ car.

When in its more performanceoriented modes, Sport and Track, the Focus ST’s new anti-lag system keeps the throttle open during lift-off for gear changes to avoid falling ‘out of boost’. Ford says the system was originally developed for the Ford GT supercar and the F-150 Raptor, so it’s getting some rather varied use.

A set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres will come as standard with the new Focus ST, developed specifically for this model, providing what Ford says is the best grip to suit the ST’s character.

It would want to be, particularly when using the launch control mode available with a Performance Pack.

Stopping is also improved, with larger 330mm by 27mm front discs and dual calipers and 302mm by 11mm rears.

The exterior of the new ST, as seen in a set of leaked images late last year, features revised aerodynamic elements over standard Focus models, with front grilles also optimised for better cooling, and a rear roof spoiler designed for more downforce.

Ford also admits its previous single-tailpipe design affected its performance… as a tow vehicle. For those needing to haul gear, this Focus ST has dual pipes.

Inside, the Focus ST is adorned with either leather, cloth, or a mix of leather and Miko Dynamica microfibre, with an aluminium gear knob and scuff plates.

Extra ST-specific design elements separate its interior from that of a lowerspec Focus.

Ford Australia says the Focus ST will be on sale locally in early 2020, but hasn’t specified pricing or availability yet.

The previous ST sat just below the $40K mark, but with more kit, don’t be surprised if a $40K-plus asking price becomes ‘the norm’.

- Chris Thompson

X-RATED 02 X4 M

Psycho SUV debuts new 375kW S58 engine set to power next M3

BMW HAS PROVIDED the biggest clue yet as to the make up of the next M3. Tucked under the bonnet of its new X3 M and X4 M super SUV siblings is the latest engine from M Division, dubbed the S58. It’s the high-performance version of the B58, which has found its way into just about every BMW product.

The S58 won’t be as ubiquitous, however, expect it to appear in the next-generation M3 and M4 and, perhaps, the next M2, if BMW decides to build it. We’ll go into much more detail on the S58 next issue, but here are the main points. At 2993cc it’s 14cc bigger than the S55 it replaces, the extra capacity coming courtesy of a 0.4mm increase in stroke.

M Division has used every trick in its arsenal to extract as much power and response as possible, including a forged crank, closed-deck crankcase, wire-arc sprayed cylinder walls and a 3D-printed cylinder head core, which BMW claims allows a design not possible using conventional metal-casting techniques. Variable valve timing takes place on the intake and exhaust ports.

A pair of mono-scroll turbos pressurise the air, one turbo feeding cylinders 1-3, the other 4-6, while cooling is taken care of by three radiators and separate oil coolers for the engine and transmission. Keeping emissions under control requires two petrol particulate filters and four catalytic converters thanks to the stringent new WLTP laws.

Installed in the X3 M and X4 M, the result is 353kW at 6250rpm and 600Nm from 2600-5600rpm in standard guise, while Competition variants produce an extra 22kW. Despite the max torque figure being the same, it’s stretched over a wider 2600-5950rpm band.

The latest X3 M isn’t a lot smaller than the previous X5 M, which makes its 1970kg kerb weight very impressive (the X5 M was 2275kg).

Thanks to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive, 0-100km/h takes just 4.2sec for the standard car and 4.1sec for the Competition.

Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h, which lifts to 280km/h with the M Driver’s Pack and 285km/h for the Competition. An M Sport exhaust is also standard on Competition models for a more aggressive bark.

Common to all variants is the M xDrive all-wheel drive system first seen in the F90 M5. Power is sent from the engine to the rear wheels, which then apportions drive left or right depending on the circumstance via an active limited-slip differential. When the 265/40 rear rubber finally gives up, drive is sent to the 255/40 fronts thanks to an electronically controlled multiplate clutch in the centre diff.

There are two 4WD modes, 4WD Sport activated by engaging the M Dynamic DSC mode for a greater rear-drive bias. You can make up your own mind whether the omission of the M5’s rear-drive only mode is a good or bad. DSC can also be deactivated completely.

Standard cars ride on 20-inch wheels whereas the Competition variants wear 21s, behind which you’ll find 395mm ventilated and drilled discs clamped by four-piston calipers at the front, and 370mm ventilated/drilled discs with single-piston calipers at the rear.

M Division has gone to extreme lengths to stiffen the bodyshell, particularly at the front end, with the engine bay sporting a carbon fibre strut brace, two further strut braces linking the strut towers and the nose of the car and another A-brace near the firewall.

Adaptive dampers feature at both ends of the M Division SUVs - the front suspension is a double-joint spring strut system with a five-link rear. The variable ratio steering also has speed-sensitive power assistance.

On a more practical level, the X3 M offers 550 litres of luggage space with the seats up and 1600 litres with them down, while the swoopier X4 M limits this to 525 and 1430 litres respectively.

BMW Australia has yet to confirm its local offering, but based on previous form don’t be surprised if only the Competition variants find their way Down Under. We’d expect pricing to sit around the $130K mark. And now, about that new M3...

- Scott Newman

5 GREAT BMW M ENGINES

147kW

S14 Inline four, powered the E30 M3. Began at 2.3 litres and 147kW, stretched to 2.5 litres and 175kW for the final Evo 3.

252kW

S54 Inline six revving to the heavens, gave the E46 M3 one serious induction roar. Made 252kW/365Nm but had conrod bearing issues.

309kW

S65 Derived from the S85 V10, a bespoke V8 for the E90-series M3s. Four litres in standard form, it was stroked out to 4.4 litres for the M3 GTS.

373kW

S85 BMW’s only V10, corresponding to its time in F1. Hugely technical, it could run in 298kW or 373kW modes, achieving the magic 100hp/litre.

461kW

S70/2 Possibly BMW’s greatest engine but didn’t power a BMW. The 6.1-litre V12 masterpiece in the McLaren F1 set new standards with 461kW/650Nm.

03 MINI JCW GP GETS SET

WILD CONCEPT previews vicious 220kW track weapon

MINI IS preparing to unleash its ultimate hot hatch in the form of a 220kW John Cooper Works GP.

Set to arrive in 2020, it could produce even more power than that thanks to an engine from the BMW Group portfolio, likely a modification of the newest high-powered turbocharged inline four which debuted in the BMW X2 M35i. That’s at least more than 60kW than the previous car’s outputs.

In terms of styling, we expect to see a very close link to the 2017 concept, with a large wing, aggressive splitter and diffuser, and motorsportinspired accents and trim.

Mini says aerodynamics and weight reduction will also be targets for development over the next few months, with suspension to be specifically tuned for the new engine’s outputs.

Although the concept sports heavily flared guards, there is no indication on whether that means it’ll be all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.

Mini VP of product and launch management Thomas Giuliani says he expects the new JCW GP to sell out quickly based on historical demand.

Limited to 3000 units, the JCW GP will follow in the footsteps of its predecessors from the previous generations of Mini Cooper from 2012 and 2006.

Locally, Mini Australia has expressed interest in the 2020 Mini Cooper JCW GP, after the previous GP model saw 55 units arrive in Australia in 2013 (and it won our Bang For Your Bucks). If confirmed, Australia could expect a 2020 arrival.

04 TYPE R SURVIVES PLANT CLOSURE

HONDA’S CIVIC Type R will survive the closure of its current UK-based manufacturing plant in 2021. Honda Australia’s Stephen Collins says “we will continue to take the Civic Type R from Europe throughout the current model’s production lifecycle and we intend for the next generation model to also have a home in Australia”. More than 3500 people will lose their jobs once the closure takes place, with production of the Civic slated for America and “other regions”. Honda also has said it will close its Turkey plant that builds the Civic sedan at around 38,000 units each year, axing another 1100 jobs. Honda cited “unprecedented” changes in the global industry and a new commitment to electrification as key motives behind the decision.

05 SUPERCHARGED V8 VELAR

RANGE ROVER drops 5.0-litre SVR donk into style-focused SUV

NOW YOU’RE talking. Range Rover has seen fit to install its 405kW/680Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in the Velar, the “world’s most beautiful SUV”. Is that really saying much? We digress.

Anyway, while this high velocity Velar is the work of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations, it’s is not an SVR, but rather the SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition.

There’s a new grille, bumper and side skirts as well as a new undertray to help to cleave through the air more effectively. Acceleration is sprightly, 0-100km/h is claimed to take just 4.5sec on the way to a 274km/h top speed.

Curiously, SVO claims to have spent 63,900 hours fine-tuning the ride and handling, which equates to more than seven years.

It’s been a difficult few months for JLR, plummeting demand in China and some tough accounting choices leading it to report a £3.4b (AUD$6.2b) loss.

As a result, its other supercharged V8 projects, the Range Rover SV Coupe and Land Rover Discovery SVX have, sadly, been canned.

06 SPECIAL EDITION BUGATTI CELEBRATES, ER, BUGATTI

NOBODY does special editions like Bugatti. The Veyron was subject to dozens of increasingly obscure tributes and it seems history is set to repeat itself with the Chiron. The ‘110 ans Bugatti’ celebrates the 110th anniversary of the brand while also paying tribute to its French origins. To be fair, it looks awesome, the front finished in Steel Blue exposed carbon and the rear a matte paint of the same hue, while the matte black wheels and exhaust add a hint of menace. The hand-polished aluminium petrol cap features the tricolour of the French flag, a motif which continues on the mirrors, rear wing underside and on the headrests and steering wheel. Just 20 will be offered.

07 HONDA GOES GOLD FOR 50TH

IT HASN’T taken long for the first modified Supra to pop up. This one is official, the work of TRD, and is dubbed the GR Supra Performance Line TRD Concept. Catchy. It consists of a carbon front spoiler, side skirts, door garnishes, rear spats and spoiler and a set of 19-inch forged alloy wheels.

08 GO-KART MANSION FOR SALE

AUSSIE GT and Carrera Cup racing stalwart Max Twigg is selling his Melbourne home. It has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, room for nine cars, a lovely pool, oh, and a go-kart track. Bathurst 1000 winner David Reynolds has even set a lap record for you to chase. Yours for $13.5m.

09 TRD SPICES UP SUPRA

HONDA AUSTRALIA celebrated 50 years of operation by wrapping every product it offers in gold chrome. Golden anniversary, y’see! The Civic Type R and NSX are cool and all, but who wouldn’t want a golden lawnmower? Honda is also planning events to mark the occasion with details to come.