It was a busy week here at the Gear Patrol motoring desk. When we weren't plowing through Netflix's newest season of Drive to Survive and getting pumped for the start of the F1 season, we reviewed the Volkswagen of the future, the ID.4 crossover, and also informed you about electric vehicle platforms and Subaru teasing their new badass Outback and launching another new car next month (hopefully a hot hatch).
But, as per usual, there wasn't quite time enough for us to get around to everything we wanted to tell you about. Here are some of the noteworthy news items we missed this week.
Elon Musk loves his cryptic tweets, and Tesla loves to add features that arguably sacrifice simplicity and safety for the sake of being innovative. The latest collision of these two trends? A March 25th tweet from the Tesla CEO where, after being asked for some news on the forthcoming Cybertruck, he said "There will be no handles." Presumably, this refers to door handles; presumably, emergency service workers will be taking issue with this.
Car thieves love their Hemis, and high-performance Dodge Chargers and Challengers are basically target 1A. More than 1,000 Chargers were stolen in the Detroit area alone during a single calendar year.
To fight this, FCA has announced it will thwart key spoofing on SRT V8 Chargers and Challengers with multi-factor authentication, like on your email account. In Security Mode, the engine will limit itself to 2.8 horsepower unless you enter a 4-digit PIN on the infotainment screen. Dealers will install it for free on 2015 or newer models.
Volkswagen has been flirting with joining Formula 1 for so long, even former Friends writers think the "will they or won't they" narrative has gone on long enough. But CAR magazine in the UK is reporting that it's finally happening...or at least very likely to happen.
The reason? F1 is cutting the cost to play dramatically and ramping up electrification in its powertrains, which should make entry more attractive. We could see Porsche (and/or Audi) launch a team when the new rules go into effect in 2025.
The next big deal in aftermarket off-roading? Jeep thinks it will be the Wagoneer. We're probably going to get some SEMA concepts with lift kits and big chunky tires. And we wouldn't be surprised if Jeep offers Wagoneer mods at its new customization facility. (Also, yes, the CEO of Jeep actually was quoted as saying "crazy shit.")
BMW tuner Alpina has released their take on the 8 Series Gran Coupé, the B8. It brings swanky leather, exclusive colors, 612 horsepower, a top speed of 201 mph — and perhaps most importantly these days, a reasonably proportioned kidney grille. It arrives at U.S. dealers in late spring. Starting MSRP: $139,900.
Volkswagen's electric future is coming quickly. The brand followed corporate cousin Audi this week by announcing that it will wind down development of internal combustion. Models that currently use it won't be going away, and their existing engine will likely continue to be developed, but VW will not be whipping up any new combustion engines from now until the end of time. We wouldn't be shocked if the VW Group's combustion lineup by 2030 is down to the Porsche 911, a couple Lamborghini models and maybe the Golf R and GTI.
Love the idea of a vintage Defender, but not so keen on the poor fuel economy? Well, Himalaya, one of the best custom Defender builders out there, built an electric one, and it's being given away in an Omaze sweepstakes. Every donation supports the African Community & Conservation Foundation.
Porsche is bringing a software update to the 2020 Taycan Turbo S, installed at dealers for assurance even though over-the-air updates are available. The update shaves the blistering 0-124 mph of the Taycan Turbo S down to 9.6 seconds...from 9.8.
Aston Martin will provide one of the official Formula 1 safety cars for the 2021 season, and they're also selling a production version of it, cleverly called the Vantage F1 Edition. It sports about 25 extra horsepower, has a specially-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission and receives a host of aero upgrades. Deliveries start in May.
Tesla's Model S refresh confused most of us when it launched. The picture showed a Knight-Rider-style yoke steering wheel, which may or may not make it to production. The Model S also did away with the gear shifting stalk, leaving customers to trust the car to guess what direction you want to go (seriously) — or, as a backup, t0 shift manually through the touchscreen.
This video shows Tesla is experimenting with a digital slider to shift into drive and reverse, instead of offering simple PRND buttons. We'll take a hard pass on that functionality.
NASCAR is a lot of things...but it's been a while since those things were cool, fashionable or mainstream. The racing series is hoping the combined marketing power of new team owner Michael Jordan and the grid's only black driver, Bubba Wallace, can change that. It seems to be working: when the new team, 23XI Racing, announced merch on Twitter, it sold out in five minutes.
This week, a dump truck driver in Toronto rammed a Mini when getting on the highway, turnin it sideways — then kept driving on, apparently oblivious, for a third of a mile on the expressway. Thankfully, the Mini driver only suffered minor injuries. Toronto police say the truck driver is facing "several charges."
Kelley Blue Book has released their best cars to buy awards for 2021. The results may surprise you.