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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
Lamborghini's first application of hybrid technology won't improve the Sián FKP 37's fuel consumption, shocking nobody. 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. No heavy batteries are weighing down the formidable wedge of steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Instead, a supercapacitor employs a regenerative braking system enabling it to store energy at lightning speed and discharge it with similar immediacy. On those rare occasions when owners of the FKP 37 find enough road and courage to explore its performance envelope, the energy developed braking hard into the corners charges the supercapacitor, which can immediately discharge the power to an electric motor, adding an instantaneous 34 horsepower. Next to the 800 horses the Sián produces in total, 34 may seem inconsequential, but the electric motor provides the additional boost when needed most, helping to catapult the Sián hybrid out of the corners. Unsurprisingly then, Lamborghini's first application of hybrid technology is a performance innovation that will do nothing to improve fuel economy. Not that it matters, 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 battery and supercapacitor technology and plans to extend the model lineup to include electric options. The electric hypercar technology of today will drive the sports sedans of tomorrow. Expect Lamborghini to lead the way in building hybrid cars that appeal to those of us who don’t really want them.
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. 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 of Southern California. 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 an EV, a Tesla S, in 2016, it overheated on the first lap. 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. 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.’ Notably 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 eclipsed 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 the Toyota Prius started wafting around our streets in the late ’90s, there was alot to hate. These slow, ugly, utilitarian devices were also impractical, thanks to their limited range and a lack of charging stations. Enter Elon Musk, a purported environmentalist in a car enthusiast's body. Tesla’s are anything but slow, and concerns about their 0-60 acceleration were gone in 3.1 seconds. And neither are they ugly. The Model S' interior is up there with Porsche and not remotely utilitarian. Musk proved that appealing EVs were commercially viable, forcing the industry giants to catch up, invalidating all the rational reasons to hate them. All but two. 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 all the latest Teslas and the Toyota Yaris, reducing battery requirements and recharging times. While the evolution of affordable, lightweight ultracapacitors, which have the potential for immense energy storage densities and can be recharged thousands of times with little or no degradation, promise to transform EVs, improving range and handling. A Quiet Revolution As the electric vehicle revolution gathers pace, those of us for whom driving is a rewarding and visceral experience 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 each have our favorite because, to enthusiasts, the audible idiosyncrasies characterizing each configuration and marque are inseparable aspects of their appeal. But for most car owners, driving is rarely more than 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, and Vincenzo Lancia were automobile pioneers behind many of the most illustrious cars of all time. They 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 a derivative of advancement and, at the urban level, worth celebrating. An all-electric M has the potential to be faster, lighter, and more engaging than its predecessors, precisely the things we petrolheads esteem most. In under two seconds, Tesla claims, its new Model S Plaid will accelerate from 0-60 mph. EVs are already (much) quicker. Just how many times the Paid will let you floor it, before creeping off to the nearest charging station in limp mode, remains to be seen. But for how long? Exponential advances in battery and capacitor technology promise extraordinary power with less weight, the holy grail of performance car design. We, devotees of noisy, smelly, combustion-powered cars, will keep and cherish them. But, if the next generation of sporting EVs lives up to their billing, the time will have come to embrace the silence.
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.