Since its introduction over twenty years ago, Lexus has built a reputation based on comfort and industry-leading reliability. Now the brand is trying to establish itself as a serious performance car builder. With the door opened by the LFA supercar and the ES increasing in size to cover the comfort end of the midsize market, the 2013 Lexus GS sedan was open for a sporty makeover. Critics were wowed by the car’s performance when it debuted, comparing it favorably with major players in the performance sedan market. Now there’s news of a coupe version on the way that will bring even better performance.
What makes the GS so different?
The shift in the GS’s mission began with the styling. Lexus introduced their new spindle grill on the car, while drawing other styling cues from the IS. The wide shouldered look of the old GS was gone, replaced by sharp creases befitting a sports sedan. Rear seat room increased to improve practicality, but lightweight materials kept the curb weight the same as the outgoing model.
A new adaptive suspension kept the comfort levels the same while making the car much more agile. All models allow the driver to tune throttle response on the fly with the “Eco,” “Standard,” and “Sport” modes, providing a trade-off between performance and fuel economy. The Luxury and F-Sport trims added another setting, “Sport+,” that sets the suspension and throttle control to provide maximum performance.
The car also got its own version of the F Sport line. Bulging fenders were added to cover the larger tires and wheels, but the designers also decided to add a striking angular lower clip to help differentiate it from the standard car. Instead of dropping in a massive engine, Lexus decided to use the same V6 for better weight distribution, concentrating on improving the F Sport’s handling. Central to this improvement is the Lexus Dynamic Handling System. This combination of rear wheel steering, variable ratio power steering and a retuned suspension gives the car controllable, balanced handling right up to the limit without a hint of understeer or oversteer. Although the computer control system is constantly making adjustments to keep the car in control, all that technology works so seamlessly that the driver will never feel like the computer is in control of the vehicle.
Can-Am glory days
This year McLaren is showing off the Can-Am side of its heritage, a lesser-known area of the British marque’s expertise. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the team’s rear-winged marvels won so many back-to-back Can-Am championships, they’re still considered the winningest competitors in series history.
In honor of this heritance, the world’s second-oldest racing team brought a storied lineup to the festival, including Fittipaldi’s M23, the 1988 MP4/4, the 1998 MP4-13, and the MP423, which claimed the world championship in 2008. We also caught a glimpse of the F1 GT3 ‘road car’ that famously left its purpose-built betters in the dust in the 1995 24 hours of Le Mans contest.
2014 McLaren P1
Folks at Goodwood were further treated to a live preview of ‘McLaren P1‘ – the long-awaited progeny of the legendary F1 road car of ’90s fame. Products of the ‘NASA of the car world,’ McLaren supercars are always dressed to impress and the featured P1 was no exception. Under the hood, the car is clearly an engineering prodigy, boasting a twenty-first century combination of McLaren’s Formula 1 secret sauce with state-of-the-art plug-in hybrid technology.
Clearly, even the most horsepower-obsessed carmakers are feeling the fuel economy squeeze. No matter; at just over 900 brake horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, the supercar will have as much restraint as a rocket at liftoff. With a twin-turbo, nearly 4-liter V-8 paired with an electric motor designed in-house, the P1 will be a unique beast. Even the sensible electric components have been tweaked to enhance performance.
Britain’s most celebrated and mysterious auto maker put on a memorable show at the 2013 Festival of Speed. By the looks of the P1, we’re sure this masterpiece will be wildly fun to drive. The 2014 P1 will be a lovely addition to the list of the most impressive automobiles we’ve seen so far this century.
What would a race spec F-Type look like? Jaguar is answering that with the new Project 7 concept car. The name comes from the brand’s 7 Le Mans wins between 1951 and 1990, and its design shares cues from the cars that delivered those victories.
With Jaguar banking on their racing heritage, it makes sense that the concept debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The event itself was created to celebrate Britain’s racing history, bringing classic race cars to the estate housing the Goodwood Circuit and hill climb courses.
The overall look is somewhere between the current F-Type and the D-Type, a car that dominated Le Mans in the mid-50s.
The lightweight aluminum body gets a ring of carbon fiber aerodynamic enhancements running along the bottom edge. The tall rear diffuser is aided by a low fixed spoiler.
There’s still a full cabin, but the passenger’s seat has been replaced by a holder for a helmet and the windscreen has been shortened. The fabric top has also been jettisoned: in its place, a fairing with a built-in roll cage extends behind the driver’s head for better aerodynamics.
French racing blue was chosen instead of the expected British racing green; this color was the one most often used on the D-Type.
While it may be a concept, this is a fully-functional car. A retuned version of the supercharged V8 together with a freer-flowing ceramic-finished exhaust bring power output up to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. of torque, which is 54 hp and 41 lb-ft. more than the production car. The suspension has been reworked, lowering the ride height by 10 mm and improving cornering ability.
Thanks to the lighter body, aerodynamic tweaks and more powerful engine, it can go from 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 4.2 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph.
Will it be built?
A race spec car seems like a no-brainer with Jaguar’s return to sports cars, and most of the Project 7′s are practical for mass production. Whether or not features like the headrest fairing make it to production will depend on how well they mix with current homologation requirements.
You can drive part of Jaguar history. Visit your Park Place Jaguar dealership in DFW today to see the full line.
Post Author: dans.