• New 702-horsepower Ram puts the Raptor on notice:
Ford owns the off-road pickup category with the Raptor, but that dominance will be put to the test by the 2021 Ram Rebel TRX. The new model comes with a 702-horsepower supercharged 6.2-litre V-8 that’s identical to the engine installed in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat model. There’s also 650-pound-feet of torque.
Apparently Ford has accepted the challenge and will answer by installing the supercharged 5.2-litre V-8 that originates with the Mustang Shelby GT500. That engine makes 760 horsepower and has a torque rating of 625 pound-feet. There’s no word from General Motors as to if, or when, the company might join the fight with a sand- and-mud-conquering Silverado or Sierra pickup.
• The Infiniti QX series takes the coupe route:
It’s common for upscale automakers to convert squared-off utility models into more attractive (but less roomy) hatchbacks. The latest such brand is Nissan’s Infiniti division, which will reveal the QX50-based QX55 this fall for the 2022 model year. It will also be the first of a number of new gasoline and electric vehicles to wear the Infiniti logo as Nissan attempts to revive what has become a slow-selling brand.
The QX55 will likely use a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that in the QX50 makes 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The Sleuth is hearing that those numbers might be increased slightly to give the “coupe” a bit more dash with its flash.
• A small GMC utility vehicle is in the works:
The platform and drivetrain used for the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX are rumoured to form the basis for a similar GMC model. In fact, the General Motors division displayed just such a model a decade ago and labeled it the Granite. Whatever the name, you can expect it to be fitted with a 137-horsepower turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, or an optional turbo 1.3-litre three-cylinder producing 155 horses. The 1.2 uses a continuously variable transmission, while the 1.3 gets a nine-speed automatic. Should this littlest GMC make it to production, it would likely be for the 2022 model year at the earliest.
• Ford is planning a third pickup to slot below the Ranger:
Not content to stick to the full-size and midsize truck classes with the F-150 and Ranger, respectively, Ford is apparently developing a small compact pickup for the 2022 model year to round out its range of haulers.
Maverick is one possible name, but it likely won’t be a particularly tough pickup since it will employ a unitized structure that’s similar to that of the current Ford Escape. That would position the Maverick in direct competition with the upcoming 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz. It would also offer the same range of turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines as the Escape, which produce 180 and 250 horsepower, respectively.
• Is a special-edition Corvette coming soon?
It’s no secret that Chevrolet will introduce more potent versions of its mid-engine Stingray sports car over the next year or two. One such model is speculated to be the Stingray R, a version of which recently served as a pace car at the Road America racetrack near Elkhart Lake, Wis. That ’Vette had unique front and rear spoilers that would be ideal for owners who enjoy outings at their local race facility or at a parking-lot autocross.
There’s no word as to the R’s output, but it’s conceivable that the current 495 horsepower V-8 would be elevated to somewhere in the vicinity of 560 horses. That would be a nice bump while still leaving plenty of room for the upcoming Z06 performance model to grab headlines. The Sleuth’s guess is somewhere around 700 horsepower.
UPS AND DOWNS
Up: Buy a new Bugatti for US $35,000:
The company that sells the multi-million-dollar Chiron supercar is making three-quarter-scale versions of the brand’s classic Type 35 racecar that dates back to the 1920s. Called the Baby II (the original Baby was half-scale replica), it uses a 13.4-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of about 65 km/h. Nearly all of the 500 examples are reserved.
Up: 1929 Bentley Blower redux:
With the help of 3D laser-scanning technology, the VW Group’s luxury division has commissioned a “Continuation Series” of one of the earliest supercharged racecars. All of the Blower’s components — including body panels, chassis and 4.5-litre four-cylinder engine — will be identical to the original. The release date for the 12 additional cars hasn’t been announced. Prices start in the US $2-million range.