Good Oil; Ferrari SUV goes from ‘not happening’ to ‘overdue’
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Talk about a 180-degree turn. It seems like about 10 minutes ago Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne was loudly insisting that Ferrari would never make an SUV, despite what nonsense near-neighbour Lamborghini was threatening with the Urus.
What a difference 10 minutes — well okay, 12 months — makes. Now the Italian performance car company is promising an SUV as soon as next year. We’re not suggesting Marchionne changed his mind when he saw what they were up to at Sant’Agata, but ... well okay, that’s pretty much what we’re suggesting.
Difficult model name aside, the Urus looks like it could be an absolute weapon; a four-door Lambo that retains most of the DNA of the brand’s supercars, mixed with what looks , if you squint a bit, like an SUV.
And so, Ferrari is set to join the SUV party. It’ll be late through the door, which could be a good and bad thing. The Ferrari SUV will, however, need to do better than just go fast while carrying four people. Because the Urus looks as if it will dispense with an off-road track of reasonable gnarly-ness with Italian disdain; the Fezza will need to follow suit.
Marchionne now huffily insists the Ferrari SUV will “look like whatever a Ferrari utility vehicle needs to look like. But it has to drive like a Ferrari.”
He has rather infamously commented in the past that media would “have to shoot me” if the resultant load-lugger wasn’t quintessentially Ferrari. So, a jacked-up GT4C Lusso, then?
The car company boss admitted at the Detroit Auto Show last month that he had already seen the car, although he didn’t elaborate on whether that was a sketch pinned to the fridge of one of his design team, a clay model or rolling pre-production mule. But the company has clearly decided the deadline for the SUV needs to be sooner rather than later.
With Ferrari’s parent company, Fiat, now mummy and daddy to Jeep (through Chrysler), it could be presumed the off-road mechanicals will be sourced from the mud-plugger part of the family. Jeep’s Quadra-Trac system will easily nestle under anything reasonably sized that Ferrari comes up with. Recast a few components in carbon fibre: Luigi’s your uncle.
We remain eager to learn more. Although with the Lamborghini Urus pre-launch marketing campaign having been strung out across two or so years, we’ll probably be sick of the sight of carefully shadowed teaser shots of red Ferrari panels covered in meticulously airbrushed desert sand by the end of 2019.
Veloster N? We’re more excited about the i30, really
Hyundai has doubled down on the whole hot hatch thing, unveiling a Veloster N at the recent Detroit Auto Show.
Now, taken as a whole, this is a good thing. We like that a company such as Hyundai is actively building on its performance perception with hot hatches and an active motorsport regime. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a talented chap from Geraldine in the driver’s seat of one of its works rally cars.
The Veloster was probably ripe for being “N”-ified too. There’s already a turbo version. It’s a low-slung coupe-like car, with bulging over-stylised wheel arches and other lumps and humps. It already looked like a half-finished SEMA custom project, anyway.
Which is also the problem. The Veloster is “quirk” personified. No, it’s more than just the fact it features three asymmetric doors (the driver’s side features only one door, whereas the passenger side has two). It’s also a bit of a falls-between-stools car. Is it a coupe or a hatch? Is it supposed to be sporty, or is it for empty-nesters wanting to freak out the Suzuki Swift-driving neighbours?
The Veloster N sounds like it’ll pack the punch the original car never had; 205kW pushed through the front wheels via a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo and a six-speed manual gearbox.
There’s no word on an automatic, which — if absent — would probably rule it out of the local market, anyway.
There’s also no mention of theoretical performance figures, but it will be a lot faster than the turbocharged Veloster previously seen on sale.
The car will also boast an electronic limited slip diff and “track focused” electronically controlled suspension.
All well and good but the hot Hyundai we’re looking forward to is the soon-to-land i30 N; the first such car off the ranks for the Korean carmaker’s fledgling performance sub-brand.
The i30 N has Volkswagen annoyed at reports that it’s faster than a Golf GTI. Hyundai says that car, along with the Ford Focus RS, was benchmarked in the creation of the i30, which sounds like a good place to start.
It also has a regular number of doors, a normal rear windscreen and doesn’t look like a novelty jelly mould either. So, thanks for the Veloster N, Hyundai, but we’ll stick with the i30 of a similar disposition.
Mugabe Rolls-Royce in convoy crash
From the “Nothing to See Here” file comes news of a nose-to-tail prang in Botswana involving some interesting characters and cars.
If you were to itemise reasons vehicles crash in Southern Africa: 1) livestock wandering on to the public highway, and 2) disgraced, ousted oligarchs fleeing at speed would be high on the list.
May we turn your attention to a slightly crashed Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Porsche and a Range Rover?
The three high-end vehicles collided last week while driving in close convoy when the lead car (the Rolls-Royce) allegedly slowed to avoid cattle crossing the road.
The fact the driver of the Ghost was none other than the son of Grace Mugabe, wife of former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, only adds another layer to the tale.
Details are sketchy but it appears the lead vehicle in the incident was being driven by Grace Mugabe’s son from her first marriage, Russell Goreraza.
All three cars are also apparently from the Mugabe family garage.
Goreraza claimed the cars were being driven to South Africa for regular servicing, although Botswanan authorities impounded the vehicles on suspicion of them being used to smuggle cash and other valuables out of Zimbabwe.
The Good Oil has failed to turn up any mention of whether said contraband was discovered inside the vehicles.
Grace Mugabe hasn’t been seen in public since her husband’s 37-year rule was ended in not-at-all-a-military-coup.
But Botswanan police will be keeping a look out for Maserati Quattroportes, Mercedes-Benz S-Classes and other vehicular finery innocently passing through en route to wheel balancing appointments in South Africa over the next few weeks.