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2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed First Drive – An unlikely Nostradamus

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The new Bentley Continental GT Speed may be helping close out a golden age of big gas engines with equally big personality, but its legacy is more than just power and profligacy. On paper, it’s an amply over-endowed love letter to one of the British automaker’s enduring successes, with over 100,000 W12 engines built since 2003. In practice, though, the GT Speed paints an unusually prescient picture of what we might expect from Bentley’s fast-approaching future.

It’s more than fair to say the Continental GT has been a huge success for Bentley. While the shapely coupe may no longer be the company’s best-seller – overtaken there by the Bentayga SUV – across its three generations it has helped shift the British marque’s reputation away from mere old-school luxury.

The 2019 Continental GT W12 demonstrated it was still the benchmark grand tourer, pairing effortless power with style. Come the 2020 V8 version, meanwhile, and Bentley showed the Continental had plenty of dynamic credibility, too. Now, the 2022 Continental GT Speed is here to blend them both: a fitting flagship as the British automaker approaches the end of a long era.

You can have the GT Speed in coupe or convertible form, and as always the scope for customization is effectively endless. Beyond Bentley’s standard and extended range of paints, cabin trims from wood and leather through to carbon fiber and knurled metal, and an optional carbon fiber exterior styling pack, the talented Mulliner team can pretty much deliver anything your imagination – and wallet – can stretch to.

Some things do consistently set the GT Speed apart from its Continental siblings. The special 22-inch wheels – in a choice of three finishes – are most obvious, but there’s Speed badging on the front fenders, dark mesh for the grilles, twin oval tailpipes, and a new sports sill design. Inside, more Alcantara has been used, with a special Speed color split and matching embroidery, Speed tread plates, and a Speed fascia badge.

Nobody does cabins quite like Bentley, and it’s hard to find flaw with the Continental’s accommodations. Yes, some of the tech may be borrowed from Audi and Porsche, but it’s been beautifully integrated. All the switchgear feels solid and premium, and some of Bentley’s more technical finishes – like 3D carved wood and steam-molded leather – are legitimately exciting at a time when the palette of luxury can seem somewhat staid.

Bentley’s twelve-cylinder engine is an increasing rarity among even performance cars, too. 6.0-liters in size and twin-turbocharged, in GT Speed form it offers 650 horsepower from 5,000-6,000 rpm, and a hefty 664 lb-ft of torque from just 1,500 rpm up. As a result, 0-60 mph arrives in a mere 3.5 seconds in the coupe or 3.6 seconds in the convertible, and both Continental rocket on to a 208 mph top speed.

It’s combined with the same ZF eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive as the other Continental GT models, though with some Speed refinements. Gearshifts are apparently twice as fast in Sport mode – not that they ever seemed laggardly before, quite frankly – and the car pushes more power, more of the time, to the rear axle.

The Bentley V8 may bring a sense of urgency, but it can’t quite live up to this twelve-cylinder’s personality. The W12 throbs and gurgles like tectonic judders through rich custard, gutters from the sports exhaust tamped down in Comfort mode but released to frolic like the unruly upper classes in Sport.

Other fast cars, when mechanically coaxed into more aggressive performance, tend to lose their ability to cosset as well. It’s easier, after all, to shift the whole experience: everything gets firmer, every drive mode gets louder. What actually sets the Continental GT Speed apart so noticeably is, ironically, how familiar its Comfort and Bentley modes are.

Stick to those, and the big two-door remains the superlative grand tourer. Compliant and smooth; almost magically divorced from subpar asphalt. Power comes in lavish waves, its well seemingly endless, while the steering has heft but not undue weight. For a cross-country road trip there’s little more compelling this side of a Gulfstream.

Bentley’s changes have been primarily focused on the Sport mode, and it’s there you unlock the GT Speed’s upgraded talents and toys. The new all-wheel steering and recalibrated all-wheel drive combine with the electronic limited slip differential; the result is a more agile shifting of power from front to rear, and from side to side.

At the same time, there’s the automaker’s first implementation of drive mode-based ESC. Rather than a single set of overarching electronic controls that apply to each mode, the settings in Sport are dialed in for more enthusiasm. Or, with a short press of the ESC button, you can switch it off altogether; this is a Bentley you can drift, or do donuts in.

It all requires some further recalibration, this time of your own expectations and senses. The GT Speed never feels like a small car, or a light one; this is no Miata or even a 911, doing its level best to hide either scale or presence. That you can provoke it into going sideways, then, isn’t so much the surprise as how manageable that actually is.

It’s not that the limits aren’t clear, they’re just far, far beyond what you’d expect for a $274,900 luxury coupe or a $302,400 convertible. And, like a big animal, the GT Speed responds best to determined, confident inputs, particularly when it comes to the prodigious brakes. Bentley’s standard iron anchors aren’t exactly undersized on the regular Continental GT, but the GT Speed offers a carbon-ceramic package and they feel positively planet-stopping.

Bentley could’ve brought me to a track to show me all this, but instead it gave Comiso Air Base perhaps its most unlikely reinvention as the strangest autocross I’ve ever experienced. The sprawling facility on the island of Sicily began its life in 1935 and played a key role in the Second World War; was reborn as a nuclear missile base during the Cold War and played host to 112 Cruise missiles alongside 2,000 military personnel and their families; and then saw a third epoch as home to Kosovar refugees in the late 1990s.

For the past few decades, though, Comiso has been abandoned. What once was all crisp concrete and military precision has been softened with trees and vines; the contours of the facility blurred with neglect.

Having scythed a path through nature’s attempts at reclamation, Bentley scored a course that snaked between the residential buildings and the nuclear silos; cut through the echoing garages and skirted the empty swimming pool. On domestic-scale streets, liberated from the fear of pedestrians stepping out or other cars appearing, the GT Speed could demonstrate exactly what its creators have achieved here.

It felt, for want of a better description, as though I’d stumbled into a Bond movie, or maybe a new addition to the Bourne series. Suddenly forced to give chase through a city, the incongruity of the GT Speed’s howling sports exhaust reverberating off the looming walls and buildings that made the idea of slipping off course seem a whole lot more fraught than losing your line on a race track.

My takeaway – beyond the fact that I will be asking for an abandoned air base for my next birthday – was that the GT Speed is no one-trick pony, only good primarily for a straight line. Sport mode exposes the sum of Bentley’s changes here, in the unmistakable way a 5,011 pound coupe can suddenly hustle. Whether, in fact, that’s around a corner or when going sideways.

Bentley’s gasoline days, of course, are numbered now. Rather than dragging its heels and trying to ignore the transition to electrification, the company opted to embrace it with a far more aggressive plan than most in the luxury vehicle space. Come 2025 we should see the first all-electric Bentley; by 2030, electrified will be the status quo.

It’d be reasonable to ask, then, why Bentley has clearly put so much effort into the new Continental GT Speed and its lavishly oversized gas engine. Beyond, that is, the fact that it clearly has an audience for outlandishly potent luxury cars, and one with deep pockets.

What I can’t help but think about, though, is that the GT Speed’s true triumph is in how it overcomes weight. Not by stripping it out, or curtailing performance to accommodate it, but by making it an inherent part of the overall experience. That’s important, because EVs are generally heavy beasts.

Bentley’s future electric models won’t have a twelve cylinder gas engine under the hood, but they will have sizable battery packs: that’s an inevitability, if the automaker is to deliver on range and yet still include the plentiful creature comforts it’s known for. So while the drivetrain may be different, and the weight located in different places, the lessons learned here seem directly relevant to making hyper-luxury EVs that can still be considered drivers’ cars.

For all its heft, for all its artisan detailing, the 2022 Continental GT Speed doesn’t lumber, it dances. And though the future for Bentley may be changing dramatically, and very soon, the steps it has choreographed here feel just as relevant in the coming electric age.

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Ram unveils limited 1500 TRX Ignition Edition, Longhorn SouthFork, and 1500 (RED) Edition

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The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX is getting a trio of limited-edition models with custom features and unique exterior appointments. The 1500 TRX Ignition Edition, 1500 Longhorn SouthFork, and 1500 Ram (RED) Edition recently made their first appearances at the State Fair of Texas. The latter is particularly worth mentioning as Jeep, Fiat, and Ram cemented with U2 frontman Bono’s (RED) organization to fight global health crises.

“Ram customers demand even more, and our new models deliver that with a selection of exterior and interior appointments and content for greater personalization,” said Mike Koval Jr., Ram Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis.

The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition has the TRX Level 2 Equipment Group. The package includes custom Ignition paint and body graphics, a panoramic sunroof, a spray-in bed liner, a bed step, cargo tie-downs, a cab-mounted LED brake light, and bespoke 18-inch machine face black wheels. Under the hood is the same 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 motor pumping out 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

Other goodies include orange interior stitching, embroidered TRX logos on the seatbacks, copper carbon fiber trimmings, a heads-up display, and an orange center console badge. The Ram TRX Ignition starts at $91,585 (plus $1,695 destination), and only 875 units will arrive at US dealerships near the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Ram 1500 Longhorn SouthFork is all about luxury. It replaces the Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary model and has an impressive lineup of standard kits like a multi-function tailgate, metal pedals, a deployable bed step, LED bed lighting, a spray-in bed liner, and a cargo divider.

It also has a Mountain Brown interior, bucket seats, suede door bolsters, and leather interior trim. The Ram 1500 Longhorn SouthFork starts at $61,620 (plus $1,695 destination) and arrives at dealerships later this year.“Buyers demand a good-looking truck with easy-to-use features. They tell us their Ram trucks are an extension of their personality, and they want to stand out from the crowd,” added Koval.

Finally, the 2022 Ram 1500 (RAM) RED Edition is available in a crew cab body style and starts at $63,250 (plus $1,695 destination). The (RAM) RED model has red RAM letters on the front grille and a (RED) badge on the center console lid. Engine choices include a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque or Ram’s 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 with 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque.

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2022 Honda Passport arrives with a fresh face and new rugged TrailSport trim

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Honda is fortifying its SUV lineup with the redesigned 2022 Passport five-seat crossover. The new Passport comes with an outdoorsy TrailSport trim with chunkier bumpers, a wider track, and 18-inch wheels with chunky tires. Standard across the board is a more rugged façade (derived from the Honda Ridgeline) and a mild splattering of technology updates.

Honda has yet to show the standard 2022 Passport, so let’s focus on the off-road-ready TrailSport version. “Some may not realize the true rugged, off-road capabilities of our light trucks,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of National Operations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Now they’re getting tough, rugged looks to match, and the addition of TrailSport will further enhance the off-road capability of our vehicles in the future.”

The 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport has chunkier front and rear bumpers, a unique grille, and silver skid plates. It also has special Orange TrailSport badges on the grille and tailgate. In addition, TrailSport has a 10 millimeter wider front and rear track for a burlier stance and better stability. It also offers more room to accommodate all-new machine-finished 18-inch wheels wrapped in TrailSport-specific off-road tires.

Under the hood remains a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Power goes to a nine-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. However, standard in Passport TrailSport and Elite is Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. The drivetrain can automatically send up to 70-percent of engine torque to the rear wheels in rugged terrain. It can also send 100-percent of that torque to either the left or right rear wheels to keep you going.

All AWD Passport models have 8.1-inches of ground clearance and can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. All trims also get 50.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a power tailgate. Passport also has under-floor storage compartments in the back to keep wet clothes and dirty boots from mingling with your precious cargo.

Meanwhile, every 2022 Honda Passport has standard Honda Sensing. The package includes a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Additional standard safety equipment includes LED headlights, smart entry with push-button start, a rear-seat reminder, and a rear seatbelt reminder.

Inside, the 2022 Honda Passport gets an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Furthermore, the EX-L trim has perforated leather seats and contrasting stitching, while Passport TrailSport has amber interior ambient lighting, rubber floor mats, orange stitching. Pricing remains forthcoming, but the new Passport arrives at dealerships this winter.

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Aura EV Concept is a collaboration of brilliant British minds

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The Aura EV Concept is a long-range, all-electric speedster boasting 400 to 500 miles of driving range. It may not have the supercar-styling of a Bugatti Chiron or McLaren Elva. Still, the Aura EV is more about substance than style and results from a collaboration between four British companies: BAMD Composites, Conjure, Astheimer, and Potenza Technologies.

The four companies also got help from the UK Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles, with a common goal of creating the first homegrown long-range British EV. And when it comes to electric vehicles, aerodynamics is critical in squeezing out every ounce of driving range from the batteries, and the brainiacs behind Aura EV know this all too well.

But the future of Britain’s EV industry should not only have a more extended range. It needs to be sustainable as well, reducing every ounce of carbon footprints along the way. Aura EV has a lightweight composite body derived from natural fibers. In addition, its svelte yet minimalist silhouette is the result of computational fluid dynamics to make it as slippery as a fish in the water. And if those covered rear wheels are any indication, Aura EV can slice the wind almost effortlessly.

Unfortunately, some details are pretty scarce, but we were lucky to receive more information about Aura EV. According to sources, the car has two 44 kWh battery packs. One of them is on the floor, while there’s also a battery pack under the hood, enough to propel Aura EV to 400 miles (643 km) on a single full charge. If you came here looking for numbers, we’re sorry to disappoint. We’re expecting performance to be peppy for your weekend excursions, but don’t expect it to outrun a Rimac Nevera or Lotus Evija.

One of the central premises behind Aura EV is to reduce people’s perceptions of range anxiety, enabling buyers to adopt the EV lifestyle without further hesitations. Other quirks include a custom steering wheel with a self-positioning screen and a hi-tech human-machine interface with 3D visualization. Meanwhile, Aura EV’s Android-sourced battery and charging software can monitor the state of charge within 0.5-percent for superior accuracy, ensuring drivers will never unexpectedly run out of juice or wait unnecessarily at a charging station.

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