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Ten things we learned this week: 4 August 2017 edition

Lexus LFAs for sale, Hyperloops and more diesel emission fixes

  • There are still some Lexus LFAs for sale

    Yup. Apparently, 12 LFAs sit unsold among American dealers. Seemingly Lexus struggled to sell every one it made, and allowed LFA customers and dealerships to order an additional car if they so wished. A rolling spares-and-repairs supply, perhaps…

    Somehow, 12 of these never reached customers, perhaps kept by dealers as a nice little showpiece among the hybrid saloons and slashily styled SUVs.

    Which leads us to only one conclusion, put best by TG telly man Chris Harris on Twitter: “stop bleating about it and tell us how much they are and what colours are available.”

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  • There’s a surprise Mercedes concept coming

    And such is the way of the world, it’s been revealed-but-not-really on Instagram. Merc’s chief design officer, Gordon Wagener, wielded his phone and made a video. The shaky filming suggests he did so with the confidence of a selfie-taking granny, but then his job is to design cars, not make YouTube videos, so we’ll let him off.

    The car is promised in the summer, suggesting it could arrive at the Pebble Beach concours event rather than the Frankfurt motor show in September. Which would point toward this being a Maybach concept – or a very top-level Mercedes – rather than anything affordable or sensible.

    It will be a ‘big surprise’ and ‘very beautiful’, as well as a ‘new icon’. That's not it above, by the way. Any ideas what it is, though? Give us your best guesses below…

  • Old diesel cars could have their emissions cut

    As the cities looking to ban diesel cars – or penalise their drivers – swell in number, it’s time for some action. But rather than promote less polluting alternative fuels, some carmakers are looking at software that cuts diesel emissions. Because that’s never caused problems in the past.

    Bloomberg reports that VW, Mercedes and BMW will look at tweaking five million existing cars to help reduce their emissions, perhaps as a stop gap while longer-term plans are worked out. There could also be trade-in bonuses for owners who chop in an older diesel model for something newer and less polluting. Diesel’s not dead yet, it seems…

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  • The new Leaf should look quite good

    The current Nissan Leaf is a very good car. It makes the EV life easy, fun and relatively affordable. It is, deservedly, the best-selling electric car around. But it’s fair to say it looks a bit… odd.

    Not so its replacement, if the teasers we’ve seen so far are representative of the finished product. The latest is this side profile sketch, which shows a more angular car with more than a hint of new Micra about it. Great if you like the new Micra, which we do.

    It also suggests that the Leaf may be two-tone, at least as an option, with a black roof contrasting with a bluey silver body here. The full thing will be revealed on September 6. Excited?

  • While the current Leaf is still doing well for itself

    Heathrow airport has just added 17 Leafs to its fleet of, um, 8,000 cars. Eight thousand. It’s the start of a small electrical evolution, with the UK’s busiest airport hoping to have its whole car and van fleet electrified by 2020. So just the 7,983 other cars to replace, then…

    “We are aiming to establish Heathrow as a world-leading airport in reducing emissions from all sources of activity,” says Heathrow’s Head of Operational Strategy, Peter Leeming. What next, electric planes?

  • Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop One’ has nearly tripled its speed

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    As Ten Things gets older, it’s easy for it to grow increasingly jaded with the Way Things Are These Days. 

    Be it boring, cookie-cutter design, #branding or a seemingly interminable stream of pointless crossovers, it’s hard to find anything that lifts Ten Things from its generally unimpressed and sarcastic standpoint. 

    Well, Hyperloop One may be just the thing. It’s quixotic and outlandish enough to get attention, and the benefits, if it works, are enough to shine a hopeful ray of light through the drudgery that is the modern motoring world. 

    Yeah, it’s been a rough week for Ten Things. It just found out that Nine Things has been having an affair with TopGear Magazine. 

    Let’s move speedily along, shall we? Because, as it turns out, so has the Hyperloop – both in development and actual, moving speediness. At a 500-metre test track in Nevada, a prototype pod has hit 192mph, propelled by nothing more than magnets and electricity. That’s nearly three times faster than the initial test run, where the pod topped out at 69mph. 

    By now, you might be wondering how it all works. To start with, the entire Hyperloop tube is depressurised to the point of a near-vacuum. This means there’s hardly any air pressure for the pod to overcome – a known killer of speed – and there’s no danger of breaking the tube with a concussive bow wave. As for the pod itself, it’s suspended above the floor of the tube thanks to electromagnetic suspension (imagine holding the north pole of two magnets together), so there’s no friction with rails and even less to slow the pod down. 

    So, where to from here? Well, further testing is the reductive answer. Ten Things would suggest that longer test tracks, higher speeds – up to a theorised 700mph – and lots of laying tunnels. Maybe Mr Musk’s Boring Company could come in handy?

  • We’re already imagining a future without the F1 ‘halo’ system

    By now, you’re likely aware that next year’s Formula 1 cars will grow a massive buttress to better protect drivers from errant wheels to the face. Seems like a noble enough goal, right? Well, not if armchair pundits are to be believed. Go ahead and find a single keyboard warrior who’s a fan. Go on; we’ll wait. 

    Rather than complain, a designer by the name of Antonio Paglia has looked to a possible future in which head protection didn’t mean something that looks like the TV aerial on a 1980s limousine. The prospective canopy solves many of the drivers’ – and armchair critics’ – concerns, by looking entirely badass and not unlike an F-15’s cockpit. 

    The only issue Ten Things can think of? Getting Harold Faltermeyer’s exceptionally catchy Top Gun Anthem stuck in your head while racing. Whether that’s a problem or not remains to be seen. 

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  • Suzuki showed us the inside of the new Swift Sport

    The Suzuki Swift Sport has always been a bit of a Top Gear hero. Naturally aspirated, light, a joy to manhandle and styled presumably to resemble a baby sports shoe. It is - it was - really good.

    The new one will make its debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Initially, Suzuki only revealed one pic of the exterior - which you can view here - but today we see the insides for the first time.

    And Ten Things can exclusively reveal that the new Swift Sport has a steering wheel, a gear lever, three pedals, some dials, a touchscreen and some vents.

    #journalism

  • Panel beaters have just been one-upped

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    Remember when you last had your car in the shop for a front-end respray or dent removal? And remember how that took many weeks of back-and-forth, before your freshly repaired car was delivered, resplendent in ‘Almost the same shade of’ Blue? Maybe that was just us.

    Anyways, as impressive or professional as your local body shop may be, the worker-ant-like team at Nismo has them licked. 

    After their GT-R GT3 met a Belgian wall at 100mph during the 24 Hours of Spa, Nismo’s engineers performed a resurrection that Lazarus himself would watch with open-mouthed disbelief. 

    So, remember kids – anything is possible and nothing is ever truly broken. Yeah. That’s a nice message. 

    Disclaimer: this message only applies if you have buckets of money and spare parts, and access to a team of devilishly talented and possibly masochistic mechanics. 

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  • Dodge’s parent company has secured the rights to call one of its cars the ‘Angel’

    So, after reviving the Demon name from the early 1970s Dodge Dart – and invoking all sorts of exceptionally obvious wordplay from the majority of the internet – it seems that Dodge (or perhaps another of the Fiat-Chrysler empire’s brands) will call its upcoming model the Angel.

    Whether it’ll be an all-electric car, ethically manufactured from recovered sea plastic and destined for an epic showdown between Angels and Demons – or just another appellation dreamed up in a flight of fancy – remains to be seen. 

    In any case, Tom Hanks is on standby.

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