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Gone Too Soon - The Jaguar XE 3.5t R-Sport
The best small sports sedan Jaguar has ever made and one of the best of its generation deserved more. Jaguar has stopped selling the XE in North America, in any of its configurations, and even in Europe, the (admittedly thirsty) supercharged V6 is no longer an option, leaving only a sub 300 horsepower four-cylinder as the sportiest version available. Guy Pickrell laments the loss of the little cat with a big heart.
Green on the Outside
With the Sián hybrid, Lamborghini has dipped its first toe in electrified waters. The result is not a shock. Based on the Aventador SVJ, the Sián FKP 37 is similarly equipped with a furious 6.5-liter V12 engine, sports the familiar fighter-jet styling, and shares the active aero technology. So why does it cost over two million bucks more? In a word, supercapacitor. Lamborghini’s first hybrid electric car is no plug-in. There are no heavy batteries adding weight to the formidable wedge of steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Instead, a supercapacitor employs a regenerative braking system to generate energy, which it can store at lightning speed and discharge with similar immediacy. For example, when braking into a corner the system charges the supercapacitor, which can then release the energy to the electric motor, adding an additional 34 horses for accelerating hard out of the corner. Although 34 horses don’t sound like much, the Sián produces over 800 horsepower in total, and the electric motor provides the additional boost when it is needed most. Unsurprisingly then, the first Lamborghini hybrid has been designed purely for the sake of speed and will do nothing to improve fuel economy. Not that it matters to most of us because the Sián is a limited-edition showpiece that costs the same as a house in Beverly Hills. Nonetheless, Lamborghini has invested heavily in researching both battery and supercapacitor technology with a view to extending the model lineup to include electric options, and today’s hypercar electric technology is likely to be driving the sports sedans of tomorrow. Expect Lamborghini to lead the way in building hybrid cars that will appeal to those of us who don’t really want one.
The Porsche Taycan, an EV to Give the Never EVers Pause. Next year will mark a decade since Tesla launched the Model S, the first EV with broad market appeal. I would argue that history will come to define this moment as the beginning-of-the-end of the combustion engine. To the never EVers, that may seem a bold statement indeed. After all, not so long ago, the headlines raced to report the numerous issues plaguing Tesla’s launch of the affordable Model Y, hedge-fund managers were actively betting against Musk’s improbable crusade, and a consumer revolt against industry efforts to develop a US market for small cars, popular in Europe, was credited to the glut in oil. Back then, many of us felt that the future for EVs could still go either way. But bold it isn’t, and we’re only going one way - electric. Not because Tesla continues to confound its critics (despite ongoing issues), and not because the growing demand for EVs appears wholly unaffected by the glut in oil, but because of cars like the Porsche Taycan. While I begrudgingly admire the Jaguar I-Pace, and the Audi e-tron, as practical competitors to the Tesla, I wouldn’t buy either. They look great, inside and out, they each offer a practical range, and they are blisteringly quick, but they are not driver’s cars. Most Sundays will see me drive, or ride up the first 26 miles and over 100 corners, of the Angeles Crest Highway to Newcomb’s Ranch, 5,340 feet up in the mountains. This is not EV territory, and you will regularly find the Tesla’s that silently whistled past you at the mountain base, struggling to maintain at the top. So, as I read the results of Car and Driver's annual Lightning Lap, I was amazed to learn that Porsche had sent their latest EV, the Taycan Turbo S, which not only survived but thrived at the event. For the uninitiated C&D’s Lightning Lap is a side-by-side test for the year’s leading hot cars conducted on Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course; four demanding miles of varied elevation, encompassing 24 turns. Keep in mind that the last time C&D ran a Tesla S in 2016, it overheated on lap one at the first mile marker. It is all the more remarkable to read that the 5,200-pound (2.4-tonne) Taycan managed a better lap time than the Supra 3.0, the Jaguar F-Type R, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, and even pipped the BMW M8 Competition. There are plenty of well-reviewed reasons behind this exceptional performance. Much like its conventional cousins, the Taycan benefits from Porsche’s four-wheel-steer, carbon-ceramic brakes, race-spec suspension, and immense power (over 600 bhp). Then there’s the 800-volt system and the two-speed gearbox, both firsts for EVs, not to mention the price - (ahem) nearly $200,000. Expectations are high, but this is still a jaw-dropping achievement. Okay, it is still an EV attempting to race around a track, and by the time the Taycan had completed its second lap, excessive battery heat had compromised power output. Nonetheless, it completed six laps, over two sessions, as with all the cars on test, refueling in the interim, and returning with 40% in the ‘tank.’ Car and Driver report similar consumption from the Shelby GT500 (only 2-mpg on track!). No doubt, progressive governments will claim a share in the glory of the EV revolution, but as Musk proved, this was always going to be a consumer-driven affair. To resign the combustion engine to the history books, EVs have to be better, not just work. Porsche has made the best, eclipsing Tesla and many of its ICE-driven rivals. The Taycan may be the first true driver’s car without an engine, perhaps marking the end of the beginning for EVs. 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Base Price: $186,350 Curb Weight: 5246 lb. (2358 kg.) Power Output: 616 bhp (boost to 750 bhp) 0-60: 2.4 sec Range: 192 miles
Embrace the Silence
Car enthusiasts are stumbling at the last hurdle to EV acceptance. It's time to get over it. To witness an old Ferrari V12 storm a hill at close range is an experience as sweet of sound as it is of sight. Just hearing one tick-over is childishly exciting, and while the sonorous rasp of a V6 is just a characteristic of its intrinsic imbalance, the resulting noise (perhaps best demonstrated by Alfa’s Busso engine) literally makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So, when I read Daniel Berman’s post, The Next BMW M Car Will Be Going All-Electric on DRIVETRIBE, I wasn't surprised to see so many of the comments lamenting the silence that will inevitably replace the joyous scream of a straight-six. From EV1 to Mach-E When GM’s EV1 and Toyota’s Prius first started wafting around our streets in the late ’90s, there was a lot to hate; these slow, ugly, utilitarian devices were also impractical, thanks to their limited range and a lack of charging stations. Enter Elon Musk, an environmentalist in a car enthusiast's body. Tesla’s are anything but slow; that avenue of hate was gone in 3.1 seconds. As is the ugly issue, the Model S' interior is up there with Porsche and not at all utilitarian. Musk proved that appealing EVs were commercially viable, forcing the industry giants to catch up and invalidating all the rational reasons to hate them. All but two - that is. With range came added weight; a Tesla S battery pack weighs over half a ton. Although the speed at which battery technology is developing suggests this will not remain true for long. Supercapacitors already feature in the latest Teslas and the Toyota Yaris, impacting battery requirements and recharging times. While the evolution of cheap, lightweight ultracapacitors, which have the potential for immense energy storage densities, and can be recharged thousands of times with little or no degradation, are likely to transform EVs in terms of cost, range, and handling. A Quiet Revolution As the dawn of the electric vehicle turns into its day, those of us who savor the viscerality of driving are finding it hard to get over the one thing that won’t change, the noise EVs make or lack of it. Straight six, V6, V8, V12, even the humble four, we all have our favorites; to enthusiasts, the audible idiosyncrasies, which characterize each configuration and marque, are an inseparable aspect of their appeal. But for most car owners, driving is a means to an end, and our complaining about the lack of engine sound, as though it were a beloved sonata, is anything but rational. They have a point. Enzo Ferrari, Sir William Lyons, Vincenzo Lancia, automobile pioneers behind some of the most celebrated cars, shared a passion for pushing the boundaries of engineering and aesthetics. The resulting sounds made by their creations were merely a (pleasing) by-product, not an end of itself. The silence of EVs is precisely that, a by-product of advancement. An all-electric M has the potential to be faster, lighter, and more engaging than its predecessors - precisely the things we petrolheads esteem most. Those of us who love our noisy, smelly, combustion-powered cars will keep and cherish them, but if the next generation of performance EVs lives up to their billing, the time will have come to embrace the silence.
My mate Kit and I take two, new Moto Guzzi V85 TT’s on a 3,000 mile trip from Seattle, east to Glacier Park, and south following the Rockies through eight iconic national parks, and seven states, ending our journey in Los Angeles.
Welcome to Petroleum Spirit
petrospirit.com is dedicated to automotive adventures and experiences, large and small, anyone can endeavor to do. The only requirements being a license and the will to get out there... My first wheeled adventure occurred one summer morning when my friend, eager to try out his new bicycle in earnest, suggested we ride to the town of Henley-in-Arden. By the time we completed the 36-mile round trip half the village was out looking for us. We were only nine years old at the time. That illicit journey ignited a passion for speed and discovery that has never waned, and to this day, I continue to seek out new automotive adventures and experiences Cars, motorcycles, 4x4, touring, racing, learning new skills, discovering new places. Petroleum Spirit aims to inspire you, with detailed stories, the latest updates, and stunning photos and videos, to seek out your own adventure or experience. To help you plan, our resources include recommended products and companies, reviews, route maps, and more to come.