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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New sports car

Toyota announces pricing for 2022 GR86

The new GR86 gets more power and chassis refinements.

Toyota

Toyota and Subaru are among few remaining automakers still building small sports cars. The 86 and BRZ twins are a rarity these days: Two-door, rear-drive sports cars with available manual transmissions. Even so, the cars were down on power and needed structural improvements to truly stand out, both of which they got for the 2022 model year. Today, Toyota announced pricing for the 2022 GR86, which starts at under $30,000.

2022 Toyota GR86 Pricing is reasonable at under $30,000.Toyota

The new GR86 addresses many of the complaints that buyers had about the last generation cars. A new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is on board that makes 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque – both improvements on the previous model's 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration improves from a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds to 6.1 seconds for cars equipped with the manual transmission(MT) and from 8.0 to 6.6 seconds for cars with the automatic transmission (AT).

2022 Toyota GR86 Power and torque are both up for 2022. Toyota

Toyota says that the GR86's chassis is stiffer for the new model year, thanks to new front cross-members and bracing under the hood. Engineers focused on weight control for the cars, resulting in a curb weight of just 2,811 pounds for MT models and 2,851 for AT models. For reference, that's between 400 and 500 pounds more than the tiny Mazda Miata, depending on transmission choice.

2022 Toyota GR86 Small sports cars are a dying breed.Toyota

The base GR86 with manual transmission starts at $27,700 before destination and the top GR86 Premium with automatic transmission starts at $31,800. Pricing for the 86 is reasonable, no matter which way you cut it, but there's a bonus that makes the deal even sweeter. Every buyer of a 2022 GR86 will get a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), which includes the ability to attend a high-performance driving event and admission to other NASA events.

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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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