Track Day

New Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series super sports car priced from $325,000

The car is the halo model in the Mercedes-AMG lineup.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Its heart is the most powerful V8 AMG has ever built. The new Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series super sports car is priced to match, starting at $325,000.

The Black Series has been known as the pinnacle of performance since 2006 when Mercedes-AMG introduced the branding. The models aren't designed to gather dust in garages or sit on display appreciating in value. They're meant to be driven. Fast. Though primarily built for track use, the models are road-approved.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series Drivers can choose from two splitter settings: Street and Race.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The super sports car is track-ready out of the gate. Under the hood is a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine that's been handcrafted by AMG and delivers 720 horsepower. It has a flat-plane crankshaft and has active aerodynamics that have been honed using design from the AMG GT3 racing car. The engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

In addition to the 720 horsepower, the engine generates 590 pound-feet of torque. The car redlines at 7200 rpm.

The connection between the engine and transmission is made of carbon fiber and weighs just 30.6 pounds, making it 40 percent lighter than the same component in the traditional AMG GT. The driveshaft is also made of carbon fiber.

The new engine gets off the line and to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. It can get to 124 mph in less than nine seconds. Its top speed is 202 mph - something Mercedes says is, "only sensible on closed-off racetracks."

The car's Race Start function has increased starting revs. its transmission cooling functionality has been adapted to tougher requirements and transmission ratios have been modified.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series The car's wing has large carbon fiber supports.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The car's carbon-fiber front splitter has two manually adjustable settings - Street and Race. Race is designed specifically for race track use. When in Race mode, the splitter moves to accelerate air flow to the underbody of the car creating a Venturi effect, increasing downforce.

A large wing, completes with carbon fiber supports, works in tandem to increase downforce even more. The wing has an adjustable top flap that can be retracted or extended using a button on the center console.

Additional body modifications from a typical AMG GT include extensive use of carbon fiber on the body (hood, hatch), use of lightweight aluminum in place of steel, and a lightweight laminated front windshield. Its standard ceramic high-performance compound brake system with black painted brake calipers and white lettering is also lightweight.

The car rides on 19-inch wheels up front and 20s in the back. It's shoed with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tires, which were customized for the Black Series car.

Mercedes has customized the interior of the car as well. It is upholstered in nappa leather that's combined with Dinnamica microfiber in black with orange contrast stitching. The doors have loop pulls instead of handles. Trim is in, what else, carbon fiber.

The car's fully digital instrument display measures 12.3 inches and is adjacent a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. Drivers can choose their view of the instrument display: Classic, Sporty, or Supersport.

An AMG Performance steering wheel is standard and outfitted in Dinnamica microfiber.

The AMG Interior Night Package is also included as standard equipment. In this package, the shift paddles, steering wheel spokes and seat insert in the AMG Performance seats are finished in high-gloss black, while the door sill panels are finished in black brushed stainless steel, further emphasizing the car's sportiness.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series will begin arriving in U.S. dealerships in early 2021.

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Updated compact SUV

2022 Nissan Rogue gets new VC Turbo engine

The Rogue was fully redesigned last year.

Nissan

Nissan refreshed its best-selling vehicle, the Rogue SUV, in 2021 with a grown-up new look and plenty of new tech. Changes the year after a major overhaul are usually minor, but for 2022 Nissan's giving the Rogue a new powertrain. A brand-new 1.5-liter variable compression (VC) Turbo engine is on board, producing 201 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Nissan Rogue The new VC engine can change its compression to adapt to driving conditions.Nissan

Power is up 11 percent and torque is up a staggering 24 percent with the new power plant. The variable compression engine is capable of adapting to changing driving conditions. When the driver needs more power, the engine shifts to higher compression, which delivers better acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. When efficiency is best, the engine changes its compression again. The VC engines made their debut in 2019 in both the Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Altima. It's trick engine technology, but it doesn't always deliver on its promise of efficiency gains. Nissan's continuously variable transmission is still in place, though it has been improved with 17 percent wider gear ratio coverage and 32 percent lower friction. The automaker says it helps deliver better acceleration and fuel economy.

2022 Nissan Rogue Top Rogue trims get upscale finishes and a handsome cabin.Nissan

Pricing for the 2022 Rogue S FWD starts at $27,875, including a $1,175 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the price by $1,500. Nissan offers three packages for the SUV as well, including a $2,660 SV Premium Package, a $1,320 SL Premium Package, and a $400 10.8-inch head-up display for the top Platinum trim.

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The Integra returns next year as a 2023 model.

Acura

In the last couple years, we've seen a few big-name nostalgic automotive nameplates return to the market. There was the Land Rover Defender and more recently the Ford Bronco. Now, it's Acura's turn to stroll down memory lane, as it gears up for the release of the fifth-generation 2023 Integra. The car will return in 2022 as a four-door with a liftback, and most importantly, it gets plenty of go-fast bits in the places that matter.

2023 Acura Integra While it's true that the Integra looks like other Acura sedans, it's not an indication of how it will drive. Acura

Before we go too far: Yes, the Integra looks like the ILX and the TLX sedans, and yes, it has four doors. Remember that the first-, second-, and third-generation cars were available with four doors. It wasn't until the Acura RSX (sold as the Integra in Japan and Australia) that the car shaved two doors and became exclusively a two-door hatchback. So, while the look may be disappointing to some, it's not out of place.

2023 Acura Integra The new Integra will come with a limited-slip differential and an optional manual gearbox.

All the specs are here, too. The 2023 Integra will get a high-output 1.5-liter engine, a limited slip differential, and an available six-speed manual gearbox. If that isn't the recipe for a fun front-drive enthusiast car, we don't know what is. The prototype rides on matte-finish 19-inch wheels and comes with Brembo high-performance brakes.

2023 Acura Integra Acura will release more details closer to the car's launch in 2022. Acura

Acura says that the 2023 Integra will mark the car's first time being built in the United States, and notes that the car will enter production at its Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio. The car will be formally introduced in the first half of 2022, so we'll have to wait until then for detailed specs and pricing information. The good news, however, is that Acura says the car will start around $30,000, making it accessible to a wide swath of the car buying public.

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