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Hongqi L-Concept is a modern take on Chairman Mao’s limo

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Hongqi L-Concept - 2021 Shanghai auto show

Hongqi, the brand favored by leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, used this week’s Auto Shanghai 2021 to unveil a concept boasting enough luxury to make a Bentley or Rolls-Royce owner feel poor.

Called the Hongqi L-Concept, the show car is a striking sedan with a fastback profile, suicide-style doors, and we’re told even hanging mood lighting with crystal elements. Just don’t call it a chandelier.

The interior features a three-seat layout, with two seats in the rear and one seat for the driver. The only problem is that there isn’t a steering wheel, meaning the concept likely teases what a future self-driving car from Hongqi might be like.

Could something like the L-Concept make production? There isn’t much official information out but some Chinese media have reported that a production version could be launched as early as 2023.

Hongqi L-Concept – 2021 Shanghai auto show

The concept’s name and styling point to it being a preview of a replacement for the L5. The L5 serves as an official state car of China and was introduced in 2014. It’s the spiritual successor to the CA72 which was launched in 1958 as Hongqi’s first car and used to transport Chairman Mao Zedong.

Hongqi is one of the most respected brands in China, though in recent years most of its lineup have been badge-engineered versions of cars from other automakers. Its parent, FAW Group, is in the process of reviving Hongqi as China’s premier automotive label in order to provide well-heeled patriotic buyers a local alternative to the foreign luxury brands.

Some recent Hongqis include a full-size sedan and SUV, the latter offered with battery-electric power. The brand also used the Shanghai auto show to present a 1,400-hp hypercar dubbed the S9.

For our full coverage from Shanghai, head to our dedicated hub.

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Autos

2021 Ford Shelby GT, 2022 BMW X3, 2023 Porsche Cayenne: This Week’s Top Photos

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2021 Genesis GV80

Ford has offered a number of Shelby-branded Mustangs in recent years, but you can also purchase a tuned ‘Stang direct from Shelby American. The company’s latest is the 2021 Ford Shelby GT which comes standard with 480 hp but can be upgraded to 700-plus-hp.

2021 Genesis GV80

One of the vehicles we tested this week was a BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class rival from Genesis. Called the GV80, the luxurious mid-size crossover appeals with good looks, superb build quality, and non-intimidating tech.

2023 Porsche Cayenne facelift spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Porsche Cayenne facelift spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Buyers looking for more performance from their mid-size crossover should definitely consider the current third-generation Porsche Cayenne. A prototype for an updated version was spotted this week.

2022 BMW X3 facelift spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 BMW X3 facelift spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Another crossover out testing was an updated BMW X3. The X3 is among BMW’s best-selling vehicles, and the automaker plans to keep the momentum going with some mild tweaks.

Ferrari 812 Competizione A

Ferrari 812 Competizione A

This week Ferrari unveiled the 812 Competizione, the hardcore version of the 812 Superfast. There’s both a coupe and an open-top version, the latter featuring a targa-style roof with a removable panel made from carbon fiber.

Ford NASCAR Next Gen Mustang race car

Ford NASCAR Next Gen Mustang race car

NASCAR this week unveiled its Next Gen race car, in Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota guises. Among the changes are independent rear suspension, modular construction, a 5-speed sequential transaxle, and 18-inch, center-lock wheels.

1936 Duesenberg Model J Rollston Convertible Berline - Image via Mecum

1936 Duesenberg Model J Rollston Convertible Berline – Image via Mecum

Two Duesenbergs are coming up for sale, including a car originally purchased by a president of Coca-Cola. The cars will be sold at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction later this month.

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

And finally, Ford unveiled the Explorer Timberline. With more ground clearance, all-terrain tires, increased departure and approach angles, and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, the Timberline promises to be the most capable Explorer off the road.

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First customer McLaren P1 is for sale

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First customer McLaren P1 (Photo by Silverstone Auctions)

McLaren’s P1 plug-in hybrid hypercar launched the automaker’s range-topping Ultimate Series when it started production in 2013, and now the first customer car is scheduled to be auctioned online by Silverstone Auctions on May 22.

As a refresher on recent hypercar history, the P1 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 with electric assist, for a combined output of 903 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. McLaren quoted 0-62 mph acceleration in 2.8 seconds, 0-124 mph in 6.8 seconds, and 0-186 mph in 16.5 seconds when new. Top speed was billed as 217 mph.

The P1 appeared around the same time as the Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid and Ferrari LaFerrari mild-hybrid, introducing electrification to modern performance cars in a big way. Only the McLaren and Porsche have plugs, meaning they can be charged without using the engine and driven short distances solely on electric power. EPA ratings peg the McLaren’s electric range at 19 miles, compared to 12 miles for the 918 Spyder.

McLaren later introduced a P1 GTR track car (some of which were converted for road use). The last standard P1 was finished in December 2015, with the final GTR shortly after that. Just 375 cars were built in total.

 

First customer McLaren P1 (Photo by Silverstone Auctions)

Finished in Volcano Yellow with black leather upholstery and an Alcantara dashboard, this car is the first of those 375 P1s delivered to a customer, according to the seller. A personal letter from then-McLaren designer Frank Stephenson to the first owner is provided as confirmation of that.

The car has covered 3,666 miles in the hands of two U.K. owners, both from the same family, according to the seller. Its last service was at a U.K. McLaren dealership in September 2020, and prior to that a different dealer replaced the lithium-ion battery pack in 2018, per the seller.

Silverstone Auctions lists pre-auction estimates ranging from £885,000 to £985,000, equivalent to between $1.2 million and $1.3 million at current exchange rates. For context, the P1 had an estimated price of $1.1 million when new, and sold out almost immediately, so this estimate seems conservative.

McLaren is reportedly planning a P1 successor, but it isn’t expected to start deliveries until 2025. The automaker isn’t expected to launch another Ultimate Series model until then, having recently introduced the Senna (including GTR and LM variants), Speedtail, and Elva models in that series.

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2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 spy shots and video: Flat-plane-crank V-8 sings

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2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The C8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has been out for over a year and the general consensus is that the Bowtie brand has a huge hit on its hands.

But the Stingray represents just the first stage of the mid-engined C8 Corvette’s performance. There is still a handful of models to come, one of which will be a track-focused Z06.

Fresh prototypes of the Z06 have just been spotted ahead of the expected reveal this summer. The car should arrive as a 2022 model.

The prototypes may look like previous testers for the Stingray but there’s no missing the much wider rear wheels. The rear fenders also appear to be wider than on the Stingray, which makes sense given the wider rubber. On the Stingray, the rear tires max out at 305 millimeters, but the rear tires on the Z06 are expected to max out at 345 mm. We can see on some of the prototypes that the front tires, in this case Michelin Sport Cup 2 R tires, already measure a meaty 275 mm.

Inside, we can expect a few elements unique to the Z06. An official sketch has teased what appeared to be the Z06’s cabin. The layout of the dash matched the design used in the Stingray, but the controls on the steering wheel were different and included a giant red button with “Spec Mode” written on it. There was also the layout of a racetrack in the instrument cluster, and carbon fiber on many of the surfaces instead of the usual leather.

As for what’s powering the car, we can count on an engine related to the 5.5-liter V-8 fitted to the C8.R race car. The race car’s engine is a naturally aspirated unit complete with dual overhead cams and a flat-plane crank—and this is the same configuration expected for the Z06. Just listen to the engine in our latest spy video.

2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Peak power is expected to hover around 625 hp. Although this is less than the 650 hp of the C7 generation’s supercharged V-8, there are plenty of buyers who appreciate naturally aspirated power, even if it means a lower top-end compared to a force-fed mill. The engine in the new Z06 is also expected to scream all the way to a 9,000-rpm redline, which should appease the many fans who were saddened to see the Z06 switch from naturally aspirated to supercharged power when the C7 generation arrived.

For the power hungry, a twin-turbocharged version of the new V-8 with something closer to 800 hp is expected in a new Corvette ZR1. Beyond the new Z06 and ZR1, expect Chevy to launch a pair of hybrids. One is expected to be a model to replace the Grand Sport. The other is expected to be a flagship combining the ZR1 engine and an electric motor (or two). Don’t be surprised if it ends up being badged a Zora, after Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov. An electric Corvette is also thought to be in the works.

Sadly, there’s no word whether a manual transmission will be offered in any C8 variant, and there’s a good chance one won’t make it at all, though it’s hard not to love Chevy’s brilliant 8-speed dual-clutch transmission that debuted in the Stingray.

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