Winter Driving

Maserati takes its new MC20 super sports car to an ice circuit for testing

The Maserati MC20 was recently spotted testing in winter weather.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

The Maserati MC20 sports car is undergoing final calibrations ahead of its turn on the assembly line in Italy. The automaker showed off those tests in a series of photos showcasing the model in an environment not usually thought of as supercar-friendly - in snow.

Maserati's engineers are testing the super sports car on the road and track, and in inclement conditions. The automaker went to the snow-covered roads of the Valtellina and at the Ghiacciodromo Livigno (Sondrio), Italy's most notable snow and ice circuit, which is shown in the photos.

Maserati MC20 at the Ghiacciodromo Livigno 

Photo courtesy of Maserati

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The extensive cold-weather trials on snow-covered roads are crucial to the vehicle's development as customers expect to drive their car at all times of the year. The tests also serve as a proving grounds for the vehicle's engine cold starting, low-temperature performance of its elastic components, and the car's handling on cold and low-grip asphalt surfaces. The car's climate control system, battery, suspension, and brakes were also put through their paces.

As part of its development, the Italian automaker's engineers fine-tuned the car's dynamics before they headed out in the snow using a Virtual Vehicle Dynamics Development system. It uses a mathematic model to perform 97 percent of the dynamic tests required for a new vehicle to become production-ready, shortening development time.

It took 2,000 man-hours to fine tune the design of the vehicle using Maserati's Dallara Wind Tunnnel and an additional 1,000 hours of computational fluid dynamics simulations. The car comes in a rear-wheel drive configuration and features a rear limited slip self-locking mechanical differential. An electronic differential is available.

Concealed under the hood is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that achieves 630 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. The engine was designed and engineered in Italy by Maserati and is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

In front of the driver and at the center of the dashboard are two 10-inch screens. The driver's information screen provides a fully digital look at the car's speedometer, odometer, and tachometer, among other functions. The infotainment touch screen on the dashboard joins a host of convenience and performance technology including a wireless phone charger, drive mode selector (GT, Wet, Sport, Corsa, and ESC Off), two speed selection buttons, and power window controls in the cabin.

Production of the model is schedule to commence at the end of the year. Orders are currently being accepted.

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The Polaris Slingshot is one of the most unique vehicles on sale today.

Polaris

The Polaris Slingshot is an interesting beast. It is, by far, one of the most unique vehicles you can buy in the U.S. today, though depending on where you live, it may require a motorcycle license. However, in most states, you can buy and drive one just like a normal car, albeit one that should only be driven while wearing a full-face helmet.

I recently spent a week with a 2021 Polaris Slingshot R and came away from the experience more than a little conflicted. On one hand, it's too much for me on a personal level, as I think it's too wildly styled and costs too much money. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore the charm of the thing. It's loud, too quick for its own good, and a totally crazy driving experience that lands somewhere between being a complete riot and terrifying, depending on how and where it's driven.


2021 Polaris Slingshot There's no ignoring this when it's next to you in traffic.Chris Teague


However, for many, the Slingshot remains a complete mystery, so here are three things you need to know.

It's Loud

No, I don't mean loud in the sense that you can hear it coming – though that's part of the deal, too. I mean loud in the visual sense. Like, 1990s ugly sweater loud. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the one thing that isn't up for debate is that the Slingshot is eye-catching. Add a couple of people wearing full-face helmets and it's nearly impossible to look away from the thing.

It's a Crazy Driving Experience

It's true that this isn't a motorcycle, but the way the Slingshot puts its passengers' rear ends just a couple of inches off the road surface and not all that far away from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine creates one lively experience. Every bump, crack, and sound can be felt and heard, though it's not unpleasant at all and adds to the experience. Couple that with the open-air driving experience and giant tires communicating it all into the steering wheel and the Slingshot is a wild ride.

It's Surprisingly Quick

I tested the Slingshot R, which is one of the flashier and more expensive models Polaris makes. Its in-house four-cylinder engine checks in at 2.0 liters and delivers 203 horsepower, 144 pound-feet of torque, and a whole lot of noise. The advertised 0-60 mph time for the R is 4.9 seconds, which is quicker than some sports sedans, though it feels much more violent and faster than that in person. The optional Autodrive five-speed gearbox is an automated manual, which means that it will shift itself when asked, but is happiest with the driver firing off shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.



The Slingshot is one of the few vehicles that defies almost everything to be what it is. It doesn't make sense for people who want a motorcycle and it's not particularly appealing to someone wanting a convertible or roadster. You have to be in the market for a Slingshot to end up buying a Slingshot, and for those that are, they've never been better than they are now.

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President Joe Biden visited Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn plant today

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Compan

When the president of the United States shows up to give a speech at an automotive factory, you might expect to hear talk about jobs, the environment, and international trade. You might even hear stories about the economy. What you probably aren't expecting is to see the president hop behind the wheel of a pre-production vehicle for an unscripted test drive. That unlikely event took place yesterday, as President Joe Biden buckled into the driver's seat of a Ford F-150 Lightning and took off down the company's test track.

As it turns out, being president does have a few upsides, one of which appears to be the ability to commandeer unreleased electric pickup trucks for a quick joyride. While touring Ford's historic Rouge complex, which has been tapped to produce the automaker's new electric F-150, Biden remarked that he'd like to test drive the pickup truck. Beyond the fact that presidents just don't drive, the truck hasn't even been officially unveiled to the public (that's scheduled to happened May 19 at 9:30 p.m. EST).

Ford CEO Jim Farley told The Detroit Free Press that a White House staff member approached him after the tour and asked him to accompany Biden's motorcade to a nearby test track. A short bit later, there was the president, sitting behind the wheel of a camouflaged F-150 Lightning. After a lap or two, a visibly impressed Biden remarked "this sucker's quick!" before flooring the truck for an acceleration test in front of members of the media.

An impromptu drive by the president is great publicity, but it's not as if the F-150 Lightning was going to be a low-key vehicle launch to begin with. Ford's F-150 sales average more than 100 units every hour, so an all-new electrified version of one of the world's best-selling vehicles is big news.

The new truck is expected to carry a large battery pack and two electric motors, which will send power to all four wheels. In the glimpses of the truck we can catch behind Biden at the podium, the new truck appears to have bodywork that is very close to its gas-powered counterparts, but the grille and front lighting are different. The F-150 Lightning's grille features an LED light bar that runs from one headlight unit to the other, which is consistent with leaks that we've seen from The Blue Oval in recent months.


The electrified F-150 is set to be revealed tonight, May 19 at 9:30 p.m. EST. If you're hoping to catch the event, you can watch it live on Ford's YouTube page. We'll also have an in-depth post on the truck around that same time, so stay tuned.

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