Honda’s 11th-generation Civic (in prototype form) looks cleaner and more modern. We like! Here’s what else is happening in the car world:
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
In this space a month or so ago I asked if Jeep’s Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept has a place in the production Wrangler lineup. After a conversation with Jeep design boss Mark Allen I concluded that putting the 392 into production sounded like “more than a possibility.” Jeep answered in the affirmative earlier this week, announcing production plans for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. The production car is scheduled to arrive in showrooms early next year. The 392’s 6.4-liter Hemi V8 produces 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, full-time all-wheel drive is standard and, as you can imagine, the car has all the off-road goodies. Jeep projects the beast should hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Earlier this week Jeep officials gave Autoweek the 392’s backstory.
Jeep brass told us that for starters the production car is nearly identical to the concept with the major difference being the production vehicle’s increased horsepower. They also told us one of the biggest reasons the 392 is being put into production is customer demand. “That’s an understatement,” Jeep marketing boss Scott Tallon told us. “Customers have been asking, if not begging us for years now. When we did the concept in the summer the social media chatter was loud and unanimous. Fortunately we were well under way with the development so that just reinforced that we were on the right track.”
Tallon added that the 392 is not a response to Ford’s Bronco. “We’ve been working on this since before we knew anything about the Bronco.”
He said that overall 392 production will be limited. “It’s clearly a special Wrangler in many ways so production is going to be limited, but we really can’t get into any specifics yet. Demand is going to be high, and we’ll do our best to meet it.”
To handle the extra power the Dana 44 axles front and rear have been strengthened, chief engineer Jamie Standring told us. “We considered Dana 60s, but our package space was limited.” He said Jeep made the axle tubes thicker and upgraded the gear sets, as well. He also said the reason there will be no low-gear transfer case is because the 392 won’t need it. “Because of the V8’s torque we’re able to get more torque to the wheels than the 3.6-liter six with the 4:10 ratio set.
“During testing we put this thing through everything a Wrangler does,” Standring continued. “The only difference is we also took it to the drag strip.”
Powertrain guru Micky Bly said the SRT performance engineering team helped work on the 392. “They’re proud of this,” Bly said. “It’s a crown jewel for them. It’s been a great program for them to work on. They had a great time.”
Marketing boss Tallon told Autoweek the 392 would only be available as a four-door and will have all the top options. Jeep has also just now brought back the half-door option; the 392 will have that available, too.
And lastly, alas for you Gladiator fans, for now the V8 is reserved only for the Wrangler.
Like I said before, I can’t wait to drive the 392.
CAR NEWS AND NOTES
Twenty-eight companies, including most major EV automakers, are forming the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA). The goals are fairly obvious: Promote policies that push for EVs to account for 100% of new-vehicle sales in various segments by 2030. ZETA being formed comes just days after reports surfaced that the U.K. government plans to phase out new gas- and diesel-engined sales by 2030. That’s similar to California’s aiming for the same thing by 2035. The hurdles are fairly obvious, as well. Read the story here to find out what they are.
Honda launched the 11th-generation Civic in prototype form earlier this week. The car has a cleaner front end, a more pronounced shoulder line and with the A pillars moved back a bit, a longer-looking hood. The interior sketch shows a simpler layout with a 9-inch center screen. The production Civic, a 2022 model, goes on sale next year.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who raced for the now-shuttered Acura Team Penske in IMSA, is moving to the World Endurance Championship for the 2021 season. Montoya, 45, will race for the 10Star DragonSpeed LMP2 program. The campaign includes the full WEC schedule, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona. He teams with Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman. The 2021 WEC season kicks off March 19 at Sebring.
Drivers have been testing NASCAR’s next-generation Cup car—the consensus is that it’s still a work in progress, at least on the intermediate tracks. Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. ran the new car on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval after they’d run on the roval configuration earlier in the week. They expressed mostly positive reviews after the roval test. John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, said the oval feedback “frankly wasn’t as good as it was on the road course. We collected a significant amount of data from the last three days that we’ll start going through at the R&D Center. We’ll figure out what modifications we need to make.”
WHAT WE’RE DRIVING
Hyundai is expanding its N and N Line models from the Veloster to include the Elantra N Line available at the end of the month. “Next year” Hyundai says a more potent Elantra N and Sonata N Line and N will arrive. The N Line includes performance upgrades and cosmetic touches, while the N is more about pure performance. Mark Vaughn tried an Elantra N prototype and writes that it’s promising—at least among small, sport compact front-wheel drivers—and competitive with the Civic Sis and GTIs of the world.
MOSTLY ODDS, SOME ENDS
The holidays are coming up and next thing you know it’s going to be spring. It’s never too early to plan for a summer car that won’t break the bank. Rather than go with the all-too-common Boxster or Miata, we present some left-field cars you can import from Europe or Japan for $15,000 or less, sometimes far less. Check out the gallery here.
In the latest Quick Spin, Blondie guitarist and sports car enthusiast Tommy Kessler reviews the Lamborghini Huracán Evo. He starts with a walk-around and then brings you along while he takes it for a spin. Kessler then joins host Wesley Wren and Robin Warner in the studio for more Lambo talk. Tune in here, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever podcasts are played.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The Huracán STO is the purest incarnation of Lamborghini Squadra Corse heritage, directly transferring technologies from the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO and drawing on the Huracán GT3 EVO’s unique accomplishment of winning three consecutive times in the Daytona 24 Hours.”
—Automobili Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali on his company’s latest launch.
That’s it for this week. As always we’re on the case this weekend, monitoring and reporting on automakers’ and sanctioning bodies’ latest happenings. We’ll continually update the site, of course—you’ll know what’s happening when we do. Check back often!
Thanks for reading Autoweek and please stay safe.
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