Only this teaser sketch is available for now, but Aston Martin’s Project ‘003’ will be a petrol-electric supercar with some boot space.
Only this teaser sketch is available for now, but Aston Martin’s Project ‘003’ will be a petrol-electric supercar with some boot space.

Aston Martin has managed to squeeze in some hot projects amid its electric car programme. The company is reportedly preparing another mid-engined hypercar, the third for the company following the much vaunted Aston Martin Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro. It’s also reported that the new car is being developed with road and track use in mind.

It’s built around a lightweight structure and powered by a turbocharged petrol-electric hybrid engine with active aerodynamics and active suspension technology systems for high levels of precision and control driving.

While exceptional performance is expected, the hypercar is rumoured to yield more practicality, including space for luggage. Both left and right-hand drive versions are expected to be produced in limited numbers — 500 coupes to be exact — with launch expected some time in 2021.

Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer, is quoted as saying: "It was always the intention for the Aston Martin Valkyrie to be a once-in-a-lifetime project; however, it was also vital to us that Valkyrie would create a legacy: a direct descendent that would also set new standards within its own area of the hypercar market, creating a bloodline of highly specialised, limited production machines that can exist in parallel with Aston Martin’s series production models. I’m thrilled to announce that this car is the Project ‘003’, and our next step into a dynamic and exacting arena."

Mazda’s technical engineers have never shied away from breakthrough technology. HCCI is quite a wonder.
Mazda’s technical engineers have never shied away from breakthrough technology. HCCI is quite a wonder.

Mazda ignition-compression engine

Not long ago Mazda revealed it was working on new fuel solutions. Now the Japanese brand has provided the first glimpse of the next generation of Skyactiv-X petrol engines with Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) technology.

Fundamentally, HCCI combines characteristics of conventional gasoline and diesel engines. It’s able to operate as a petrol engine using a spark plug in low-temperature ignition, but it’s also able to use high compression and a high temperature to ignite the air/ fuel mixture like a diesel engine. This is said to significantly increase performance and efficiency while decreasing consumption and emissions. The technology is expected to be introduced in the new Mazda 3 to be unveiled next month.

Idling but still on course: Mercedes-AMG One supercar battles engine idle issues.
Idling but still on course: Mercedes-AMG One supercar battles engine idle issues.

AMG ONE delayed

The launch of Mercedes-AMG’s One hypercar has reportedly been postponed to mid to late 2020. That’s the word from AMG boss Tobias Moers.

The Project One, which was recently renamed the AMG One, has been in the offing since 2017 with a confirmed launch for 2019. "We have a delay; it’s not a secret," Moers said. "There were adjustments to be made on the powertrain."

He went on to explain that there are many issues, singling out a stable idle as one that’s particularly challenging.

The Formula1 One derived 1.6l turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain normally idles at a whopping 5,000rpm in Mercedes-AMG’s F1 race cars, but for road use AMG needs to get the idle down to 1,200rpm while still meeting emissions regulations.

Moers further explained: "At a 1,200rpm idle, you have to meet the emissions regulations. You need a stable, proper idle. If it’s unstable, your emissions are unstable."

Moers assured the media that a solution will be found. He also mentioned that customers aren’t concerned about the delay because they want the car to be launched without issues, as some have experienced problems with previous hybrid hypercars they’ve owned.

Another interesting morsel revealed by the AMG boss is that, with an 11,000rpm (4,000rpm short of an F1 car) redline, the One will sound just like an F1 car and feel like a GT3 race car with a 350km/h limit. At 50,000km a rebuild of the engine will be necessary and possibly the One will be optioned with slick tyres for track usage.

Possible trouble looms for 2019 SA Car of the Year competition after the exit of a number of brands.
Possible trouble looms for 2019 SA Car of the Year competition after the exit of a number of brands.

Car of the year blues

The South African Car of the Year contest run by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) has run into problems with seven vehicle brands deciding to pull out of next year’s competition.

BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Ford, and Kia have confirmed their withdrawal and will not honour nominations for the 2019 competition. They join Mazda, which severed its ties in 2016.

The National Automotive Association of Motor Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) commented that it didn’t have an official stance on the issue, and left it up to individual motor companies to decide whether to take part in Coty.

Asked to explain their stance, the car companies pointed to a variety of grievances such as disagreements with certain competition rules, or a lack of return on investment.

There has been controversy about Porsche winning the competition four times in recent years with its Boxster, Cayman, Macan and Panamera (the reigning car of the year), though none of the auto companies cited this as a reason for their withdrawal. Porsche is among the brands that are staying put.

According to SAGMJ chairperson Rubin van Niekerk, there is nothing to worry about. He is positive that the guild will hold a successful awards programme despite the exit of key brands that make up a large chunk of representation of the South African vehicle population.

"Let’s wait until after November 1, which is the official cut-off date for nominated brands to make final decisions," says Van Niekerk.

For brands that choose not to officially take part but have vehicles nominated as finalists, Van Niekerk said SAGMJ may choose the option of renting those cars to drive during the competition’s test days.

The SAGMJ recently announced Autotrader as the new main Coty sponsor, replacing Wesbank which was around since the competition’s inception in 1986.

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