Some Maniacal Russians Built a MiG Jet Fighter-Powered BMW E30

There are crazy engine swaps, such as a Dodge Viper's V-10 into a Chrysler PT Cruiser, then there's putting bits of a Cold War jet fighter into a BMW 3 Series.

Indeed, that's what one Igor Negoda did to his E30 Bimmer. Negoda pulled a TS-21 turbine engine from a Soviet-era MiG-23 fighter jet, where it served as the auxiliary power unit (APU), akin to both the starter motor and alternator on a car. According to a website that cites the powerplant's service manual, the TS-21 is capable of producing 83 horsepower at an output shaft speed of 2,400 rpm and is capable of revving up to 3,000 rpm. Peak torque according to comments left on the video is 400 newton-meters or 295 pound-feet.

While that may not be a lot of horsepower, it's far more torque than you'd find in any stock BMW 3 Series of the era, meaning the TS-21 does a handy job of propelling the BMW. In the video, Negoda uses a smartphone's GPS to measure his speed and achieves an apparent 54 kilometers per hour (34 miles per hour) in the alleys surrounding the workshop in which the car was built.

Negoda later takes the car out to a specious, yet secluded area for a more thorough test of the car's top speed, and measures 87 kph (54 mph). He celebrates his achievement with a colossal burnout nearly three and a half minutes in length, which burns the tires bald and leaves a smoldering patch of rubber on the road. Naturally, the only thing left to do was finish the job by gutting the tire's carcass on the ground.

If love makes the world go 'round, then this turbine-powered BMW will certainly help keep things spinning, because we absolutely adore cars as crazy as this. Hats off to you, Mr. Negoda.

Chevrolet Is Debuting This 2019 Camaro SS in Eye-Searing Shock Yellow at SEMA

At this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Chevrolet will debut a new shade of neon paint called Shock Yellow on the newly refreshed 2019 Camaro SS coupe. Chevy says that the new color will be available on the Camaro in early 2019 along with Crush, Riverside Blue Metallic, Shadow Gray Metallic, and Satin Steel Gray Metallic.

The Camaro SS show car on display also features a concept front-end styling, a relocated bowtie, and new hood and fender graphics.

2019 Shock Yellow Chevrolet Camaro SS Headlight

At Chevy's SEMA booth, the brightly colored Camaro will be displayed alongside new performance parts and accessories like the second-generation ground effects body kit, a black rear wing, carbon-fiber fuel door, black fender badges, 50-state-legal cold-air intake kits, Recaro seats, an upgraded Brembo six-piston front brake kit, and 1LE suspension components.

According to Chevrolet, all the performance parts and accessories on display at the booth were designed by the same designers and engineers who worked on the updated Camaro. This means that when consumers purchase these accessories and performance parts from an authorized Chevrolet dealer, they will not be voiding the Camaro's factory warranty.

2019 Shock Yellow Chevrolet Camaro SS Right Front Three Quarters

As of now, Chevrolet has not announced the pricing on the new performance parts and accessories for the 2019 Camaro SS. However, potential buyers can check out the Shock Yellow Camaro and its accessories at Chevy's display booth at SEMA, which runs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Russia Rages At Pentagon Plans To Build U.S. Made Derivatives of Soviet-Era Small Arms

The U.S. military has supplied hundreds of thousands of Soviet-style assault rifles and machine guns to allies and partners over the years and acquired some of its own for special operations and other training purposes, but it has had to largely source those weapons from friendly third-party countries that still make them. Worried about the reliability of this supply chain, U.S. Special Operations Command has hired contractors to build derivatives of certain guns in the United States, a move that has now incited the ire of Russia.

In 2017, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put out a contract notice through the U.S. government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program calling on private companies to submit proposals to build analogs to the 7.62x54mm PKM light machine gun and the 12.7x108mm NSV heavy machine gun. Dillon Aero, Knight’s Armament Company, and McNally Industries all subsequently received deals to conduct research studies into the feasibility of building these guns, according to Military Times.

“If someone wants to carry out this work legally ... they should approach [Russia’s state arms exporter] Rosoboronexport and discuss it,” Russian state-run conglomerate Rostec, which oversees various defense firms, including gun maker Kalashnikov Concern, said in a statement on Oct. 10, 2018. “Otherwise, this would amount to the illegal copying of Russian innovations or theft, simply speaking.”

"Several countries hold licenses for manufacturing Russian machine guns of this model, but the US is not among them,” Viktor Bondarev, a member of Russia’s Duma, the country’s top legislative body, and Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security, told state-run media outlet TASS separately that same day. “If U.S. intentions evolve into real actions, if they start making concrete steps in an effort to use our technologies without permission, if they start re-engineering and manufacturing our heavy machine guns on the US territory, then we should react decisively and promptly.”

A member of Iraq's security forces fires a PK-style machine gun during training overseen by members of the US-led coalition.

The remarks from Rostec and Bondarev highlight one of the core reasons why SOCOM is pursuing this project in the first place. Since 2014, the U.S. government has imposed a raft of sanctions on various arms of the Russia government, including Rosoboronexport, over the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, meddling in the U.S. electoral process, and more.

This has made it all but impossible to source weapons like the PKM and NSV from Russia directly. This has already had far-reaching impacts on U.S. military assistance programs, most notably leading to an American-backed decision to replace the Afghan Air Force’s Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters with U.S.-built UH-60 Black Hawks.

A Romanian Gendarmerie, at right, trains a member of Afghanistan's Uniformed Police to fire an NSV machine gun.

Defense contractors situated within certain NATO members, such as Bulgaria, as well as in other ostensibly friendly countries, such as Ukraine, do still produce versions or derivatives of Soviet-era guns, providing alternative sources. They might not have the capacity to meet American demands or do so quickly, though.

At the same time, guns such as the PKM and NSV remain extremely popular around the world and in demand, including among U.S. allies and partners. In addition, the U.S. military has its own demands for these types of machine guns in order to train personnel who will act as advisors and mentors for foreign forces. There may also be a need to equip units that will be operating in close cooperation with those forces with similar weapons or to have them on hand to issue to personnel engaged in covert or clandestine operations.

Members of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command shoot Kalashnikov AKM-style rifles during a training exercise.

Having a steady supply chain for the weapons based entirely in the United States would simplify the logistics of the situation immensely. It would also help ensure uniformity in the weapons the U.S. military is acquiring for its allies or for its own use. The Soviet-style assault rifles and machine guns the U.S. government has sourced from countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in the past may be functionally identical, but do not necessarily have 100 percent commonality in parts.

“Foreign made weapons lack interchangeability and standardization which hinders field and depot level part replacement,” SOCOM said in its 2017 contracting announcement. “Developing a domestic production capability for foreign like weapons addresses these issues while being cost effective as well as strengthens the nations [sic; nation’s] military-industrial complex, ensures a reliable and secure supply chain, and reduces acquisition lead times.”

As for Russia’s claims of potential intellectual property theft and plans to try and block the U.S. military program, it’s not clear if they will have any legitimate claims to the American designs. The SOCOM plan specifically calls for guns that “resemble” PKMs and NSVs, but are not necessarily direct copies thereof.

A Pecheneg-SP light machine gun, one of Russia's most modern versions of the PK-family.

If the guns use the same types of ammunition, which are widely available, and feature the same basic control arrangement, it would be relatively easy for foreign forces to transition from their Soviet designs. It would also mitigate the logistical and maintenance burdens of switching to an entirely new type of weapon.

Even if the new machine guns were to incorporate parts from the PKM and NSV designs, it’s not clear if this would present a legal impediment to their production. Private companies focused on the civilian market in the United States build components for various Soviet-era rifles, shotguns, and machine guns and do not appear to pay licensing fees or royalties to Rostec in order to do so.

It wouldn’t be the first time a U.S. company has made a derivative of a Soviet-style military weapon system and sold it commercially without issue, either. American firm AirTronic USA is building its own take on the iconic RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade and has sold examples to the U.S. military and Ukraine, among others.

A US Army soldier prepared to a fire an AirTronic PSRL-1, an American-made derivative of the Soviet RPG-7.

If the contractors can build PKM- and NSV-like guns that meet SOCOM’s requirements, it’s very possible that the concept could extend to other Soviet-era weapons, as well. Entirely American-made derivatives of Kalashnikov AKM-style assault rifles already exist. One of these is Kalashnikov USA, which has possible ties to the Russian firm of the same name and is presently under investigation for possible sanctions violations.

As such, it's entirely possible the Kremlin's posturing actually reflects a concern that U.S. companies making Soviet-style guns, or improved derivatives thereof, could challenge traditionally Russian-held markets abroad, even outside of established U.S. military assistance programs. The companies that are involved in the SOCOM program are well established and have good track records for creating quality products. Knights Armament is world renowned for producing high-quality small arms specifically.

It could also edge out the Russians from the lucrative commercial market in the United States itself, since gun makers generally make civilian-legal versions of their military designs to sell to private citizens. In April 2018, Rosoboronexport outright accused the United States of using sanctions simply to try and drive it from the international arms market. "This is unfair competition in its purest form," a Rosoboronexport spokeswoman told Reuters.

We don’t know what SOCOM’s projected timeline is for moving its existing program from Phase I, where it is now, through to Phases II and III, the latter of which is the establishment of a full production line to build the guns. But unless U.S.-Russia relations improve quickly, we may start seeing American allies, and even some U.S. troops, wielding American-made derivatives of Soviet machine guns in the coming years.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Tesla Finalizes Land Purchase for Its Upcoming Gigafactory in Shanghai, China

Tesla confirmed the purchase of a 534-square-mile plot of land in Shanghai, China for the future site of its upcoming Chinese Gigafactory. The announcement was made official Wednesday morning, following the signing of an agreement with the Chinese government in July of this year.

Despite having kicked-off the employee hiring process back in August, Tesla has remained tight-lipped about its latest endeavor, especially the price it paid for the ginormous piece of real estate. However, the Shanghai Bureau of Planning and Land Resources told Reuters that a plot in Shanghai with nearly identical dimensions recently sold for the equivalent of $140.51 million at auction. That’s a small drop in the bucket for Elon Musk's new factory project, which is set to cost around $2 billion total.

“Securing this site in Shanghai, Tesla’s first Gigafactory outside of the United States, is an important milestone for what will be our next advanced, sustainably developed manufacturing site,” said Robin Ren, Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales.

China’s growing car market has a voracious appetite for Teslas, and the American automaker fully plans to take advantage of that. However, with President Trump and the Chinese government trading punches in the current trade war, tariffs on U.S.-made goods have raised the price of Tesla models substantially in the Asian country. The solution to this problem will be locally-produced Teslas, which will circumvent tariffs, lower overall costs, and capture a much larger portion of the Chinese electric-car market.

While China’s car market is cooling overall, the demand for alternative-energy vehicles is steadily growing. In the first nine months of 2018, 721,000 new-energy vehicles (NEVs) have been sold in the country, cites Reuters. Tesla says its new factory will have an annual capacity of 500,000 cars, effectively doubling its international business.

Man’s BMW Misidentified and Destroyed by Government While He’s in Surgery

A Great Britain man’s BMW 323 was incorrectly designated as abandoned in a hospital lot by the Flintshire, Wales city council as he was having ankle surgery. The car was subsequently seized and destroyed, according to the BBC. The city council agreed to pay the owner a nonimal amount for the nuisance it caused.

When Mr. G returned to his house in Flintshire from a three-day stint at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for ankle surgery in Nov. 2016, his car was gone. The vehicle had been declared as being off the road and parked outside of its registered address. He then reported it missing to the local police, with officers investigating the matter and quickly realizing what had happened.

An inspector’s report found no evidence that the Flintshire council even attempted to locate the vehicle’s owner before taking action, which the owner himself described as “utter ineptitude.”

Chief officer for Streetscene and Transportation at the Flintshire council, Steve Jones, said it accepted the report’s findings, and would, as a result of this destructive mistake, pay the owner $3,612 (2,750 pounds) for demolishing his car and the time it took to settle the matter.

The owner, known only as Mr. G, paid $18,415 (14,000 pounds) for the BMW 323 in 2004. He also spent $3,282 (2,500 pounds) on a new engine and brake system. All in all, his reimbursement covers little beyond the engine and brake system additions.

While a council officer claimed that a search of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (the U.K.'s equivalent of the DMV) could not identify who the vehicle was registered to, the inspector’s report said there’s not a single bit of evidence such a search ever occurred. Additionally, the DVLA was unable to prove it had issued a notice of its intent to remove the car to the landowner before doing so.

“I was utterly horrified and so confused because I couldn’t understand why they took away a vehicle that was registered to me at my address,” said Mr. G. He added that after the council’s insurers refused to pay him, the DVLA “shut up shop and denied responsibility.” Mr. G also said he had about $2,626 (2,000 pounds) worth of tools in his trunk, which were crushed together with his vehicle.

“This is as classic a case of maladministration as I have witnessed in four years of office,” said Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett.

Fortunately for the rest of Wales, Jones said preventative measures have been instated for an incident like this to become an anomaly. “Officers have conducted a full review of the processes for dealing with abandoned vehicles, and measures are now in place to prevent reoccurrence,” said Bennett.

The 1,000-Horsepower 2019 Yenko/SC Camaro Is Now on Sale at a Dealer Near You

Specialty Vehicle Engineering (SVE) has released its latest creation, the 2019 Yenko/SC Supercharged Camaro with a whiplash-inducing 1,000 horsepower in Stage II trim.

The Stage II product is built upon a new Camaro 1SS or 2SS with the 1LE track package to take advantage of the car's magnetic ride control, electronic rear differential, and performance traction management software offered by General Motors. The Yenko package is ordered through your Chevrolet dealership and the Stage II add-ons will be limited to 25 units. The vehicle was unveiled Wednesday morning and, according to a company spokesperson, several dealerships have already bought into the package.

Propelling the Yenko Camaro is a supercharged 6.8-liter version of the LT-1 engine found in the standard Camaro SS. The Stage II package adds a 20 percent larger supercharger with 25 percent more boost, high-flow catalytic converters, a higher capacity fuel system, a more aggressive tune, and, of course, special badging on the blower that reads "1000HP Supercharged." It also features a custom stainless steel exhaust system that retains dual-mode functionality.

A less powerful Stage I setup is also available with only 835 horsepower and can be built upon on any of the Camaro SS trims. It uses the same 6.8L V-8 with CNC ported LT-4 cylinder heads, a forged steel crankshaft, and forged aluminum pistons as well as an upgraded fuel system and injectors. The base model also comes with a high output supercharger, custom tune, and special badging. There is a heavy duty transmission available for Stage I models equipped with GM's eight-speed automatic.

Yenko/SC Stage II Supercharger

Both packages include 295/30 front and 305/30 rear Michelin PS4S tires to get the added heaps of power to the road. A painted carbon fiber hood and unique 20-inch, five-spoke wheels highlight the exterior along with Yenko/SC branding everywhere including the door sill and crest badges, plus optional Yenko/SC side strips. A three-year/36,000-mile engine, supercharger, and non-powertrain component warranty is included in the deal to retain mechanical support from SVE.

Unfortunately for California residents, the Yenko cars are not up to the Golden State's emission standards and can only be used during sanctioned motorsports events.

SVE has released pricing for its packages which do not include the cost of a new 2019 Camaro 1SS or 2SS. The Stage I package starts at $46,995 before options, while the Stage II starts at $66,995. Both packages are only available for order through an authorized GM dealer.

2019 Genesis G70 Review: The Best Sport Sedan Most People Have Never Heard Of

If imitation is the sincerest flattery, then established luxury brands must be blushing over the new Genesis G70. The rookie sport sedan from Hyundai’s luxury division cribs shamelessly from the veterans: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar. Yet if you’re going to steal, Genesis seems to be saying, at least steal the best parts from the best. That includes not just G70 design tropes—including what appears a precise replica of Audi’s knurled-aluminum, steering-wheel-mounted scroll wheels—but the pilfering of top talent. Readers who follow the industry may be aware of Hyundai and Kia’s busy HR department, whose recent coups include Albert Biermann, the former chief engineer of BMW’s storied M Division, and Luc Donckerwolke, the former Bentley, Lamborghini, and Volkswagen designer tapped to lead the Genesis and Hyundai styling studios.

Fortunately, the G70 has also cribbed the chassis dynamics of some leading sport sedans. This is a legitimately fun-to-drive, handsome, and luxurious sedan. It's fast, too, especially with the 365-horsepower, twin-turbo V-6 that escorts the G70 from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds when paired with optional all-wheel-drive and launch control. Underlining the bona fides is another option, a six-speed manual that’s only available on the lighter 2.0T G70 model with its 255-hp turbo four. (That engine makes 252 hp with the eight-speed automatic.) If all that’s not enough to make friends, the Genesis—like its critically lauded cousin, the Kia Stinger GT—will stuff a fat wad of savings into buyer’s pockets. With rear-wheel-drive and the paddle-shifted automatic, the 2.0T’s starting price of $35,895 undercuts a 240-hp BMW 330i by $5,350, and it's $4,280 cheaper than an Audi A4 Premium Plus 2.0.

Genesis G70 3.3T is the definition of an up-and-comer

Prices do jump sharply for a V-6-powered 3.3T, from $44,745 for a rear-drive Advanced model to $53,145 for the limited-edition 3.3T Dynamic AWD. But as with Kia’s Stinger, the G70 doesn’t play bait-and-switch pricing games. The German brands, on the other hand, are like Lucy screwing with poor Charlie Brown: Just when you're about to put your right foot into that “affordable” BMW, Audi, or Benz, the dealer yanks it away to show you what it really costs after options, leaving you flat on your back. A 320-hp BMW 340i xDrive—with 45 fewer horses than the Genesis G70 3.3T, and a few ticks slower to 60 mph—starts for $52,000, but costs about $61,000 comparably equipped. A 362-hp Mercedes-AMG C43 sedan starts at $54,395, but ends up closer to $64,000 once the goodies are added; it’s also a touch slower to 60 mph than a V-6 G70. The 354-horsepower Audi S4 equals the Genesis’s 4.4-second scamper to 60 mph, starts from $52,375, and tops $62,000 at similar equipment levels. But the G70 AWD 3.3T Prestige I drove cost $50,995, all-in. Its only extra-cost option was a $1,750 Elite package that includes a big sunroof, wireless phone charging, rain-sensing wipers, parking-distance sensors, and automated high beams.

Genesis G70 design is elegant, if not all that original

Where the Stinger's exterior is a straight-up homage to the Audi A7 and A5/S5 Sportback, the Genesis fills its design basket from a longer aisle of luxury sedans: some Audi here and there; a touch of Jaguar in the crouched stance and finely-etched hood; a whole lot of BMW in the rearward silhouette. Genesis claims the lowest overall height and width in its class. It’s an appealing and straightforward design, if a bit anonymous, fronted by Genesis’s huge crosshatched grille. But someone has to say it: The Kia Stinger looks even better, with its stretched-GT hatchback design.

365-hp G70 3.3T takes curves in New York's Harriman State Park

The appealing cabin, with its authentic materials, quality switchgear (including milled aluminum controls), and clean layout, also delivers on the promise of luxury-for-less. It’s airy and spacious up front, but cramped in back, especially when it comes to knee room. The front seats are shapely and comfy, and I got a kick out of the controls that let a driver adjust the passenger seat without a straining reach, a feature usually reserved for top-end luxury models. The 8.0-inch touchscreen perched atop the center stack is another hat-tip to BMW and Mercedes, but Genesis does go its own way by eschewing the rotary-knob console controller found on every German competitor. (As a result, the G70's version can demand a bit of a stretch to poke the screen.) And the screen graphics are largely identical to those of lesser Hyundai models—something for Genesis to work on. Though I wasn’t mortally offended, because everything just works inside the G70, with no learning curve to speak of, a blessed change from the over-complicated likes of Lexus. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, and SiriusXM satellite radio are standard. An optional 15-speaker, 660-watt Lexicon audio system brings crisp music reproduction, thanks to Harman's ClariFi tech that spiffs up compressed audio sources and subwoofers mounted below front seats.

Whoa, that's pretty fancy. What kind of car do you call that?

For all the interior’s fancy goodness, it still struck me as a bit Xeroxed, taking so much inspiration from other luxury makers—including optional, Audi-style quilted Nappa leather—that there’s little sense of a Genesis designer applying his or her distinctive stamp. Perhaps that’s a lot to ask from a fledgling brand that doesn't have a century of design history and familiarity behind it, as with Mercedes. I lodged similar criticisms of Lexus's original models that seemed blatant Mercedes reproductions, so let's give Genesis time to spread its wings to go along with its winged badge that looks just like Bentley's. And there’s something to be said for learning from your betters: Since Cadillac, for one, can’t seem to design an interior to save its struggling ass, maybe the company should also borrow from the Germans until it figures out how to do it on its own.

Genesis starts from below $36,000

G70's performance leaves little to be desired

If the cabin doesn’t show many designer fingerprints, the fingerprints of Herr Biermann are all over the G70’s driving experience. That begins with a well-chosen balance between a quiet, comfortable ride and sporting performance, even on my 3.3T’s 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. Its AWD system brought brake-based torque vectoring, along with an optional adaptive suspension. (All rear-drive models get a mechanical limited-slip differential.) Up to 20 percent of the power can be diverted to the front wheels, and a Drift mode lets you prioritize rear-driven torque to bust those sticky Michelins loose. My G70 did display some unwanted dive under hard braking, and an overly-soft brake pedal—though the Brembo brakes themselves are powerful, packing four-piston front calipers and 13.8-inch rotors.

In sharp contrast to older Hyundais or the original Genesis G90, whose steering could be downright awful—lifeless, artificially heavy, just plain weird—this G70’s electric-assisted rack feels natural and sophisticated. The steering ratio isn’t super-quick, at 3.3 turns lock-to-lock, and the rack-mounted electric unit filters out a bit more of the road surface than I'd prefer. But this G70 carves as faithfully as Dad at the Thanksgiving table, tucking into fast corners with grace and confidence. It felt more a glider than a track-oriented fighter, responding best to smooth, precise inputs of power and steering angle.

Chassis balance is a high point, though my AWD model evinced some telltale understeer near the limit, especially on the windiest roads through the boonies north of Manhattan. I’ll further suggest that the G70 feels mildly underdamped in some situations, especially when settling itself through high-speed curves over broken pavement. There is a Dynamic Edition with a sportier suspension tune, performance brake pads and some other extras, but it’s limited to a 400-unit run for the 2019 model year only. As for the adaptive suspension, I couldn’t suss out much difference in body roll or ride quality between Comfort and Sport models—though the throttle felt a bit jumpy in Sport, causing the G70 to lurch from stoplights. I also learned that my mega-powered G70 preferred to exit many corners in third gear rather than second, where there was still ample torque available, but not so much as to upset the chassis.

Quilted, diamond-pattern Nappa leather doesn't reach Audi heights, but it's still nice

“Ample” definitely describes the twin-turbo V-6, offering a mesa-flat powerband and a lusty 376 pound-feet of peak torque. Engine sounds are piped into the cabin via the audio system, amping up as you dial toward the Sport setting; you can switch the subtle concert off if you prefer. Both the four- and six-cylinder engines are powerful workhorses that deliver the bottom-line acceleration specs that enthusiasts love to bandy about.

But time for more perspective: Both powertrains come up a bit shy in the character department. The V-6, for all its might, doesn’t spin the silken magic of a BMW inline-six or Audi’s 3.0-liter V-6. (I haven’t sampled the four-banger in the Genesis, but I’ve driven the identical engine in the Stinger). And while the Genesis’s eight-speed automatic transmission is competent, it’s slow on the uptake compared with the Mercedes-AMG C43’s sparkling nine-speed, or BMW’s and Audi’s own eight-speed units. Sure, whether the Germans charge too much is a valid question, but you’re definitely getting something for the extra $5,000 to $12,000 they charge, and it’s more than a socially approved badge. I haven’t even brought up the Alfa Romeo Giulia, which remains the pure-performance benchmark among every one of these compact sport sedans. It also starts from nearly $75,000 in 505-hp Quadrifoglio form, though you can get a solid lease deal on the four-cylinder version.

An honest-to-goodness manual transmission, available on the four-cylinder G70.

Hard to beat this Genesis in terms of value

None of this is to diminish the achievement of the G70 in terms of bang-for-the-buck design, performance, and luxury. The price of that Alfa, along with high-powered Deutsche cars, underlines the difference—for many, many consumers—between the fantasy sedans you read and dream about, and the sedan you can actually afford. I can’t wait to drive the even-more-affordable, rear-drive Genesis 2.0T version; naturally, I'd prefer it with the stick shift you can’t get in most competitors, including the all-new 2020 BMW 3 Series that goes on sale in spring. I sure as hell can’t afford a $63,000 Audi S4, but I could afford a four-cylinder G70, and I’m sure I’m not the only sedan enthusiast in that position.

Flush oval exhaust tips are a luxury touch

The idea of Hyundai luxury cars, followed by this stand-alone luxury brand, elicited plenty of snickers just a few years ago. No one’s laughing now, as Genesis has delivered three worthy sedans, each in my mind better than the last: The full-size G90, the midsize G80, and now the compact G70. The brand remains an underdog, and sales are modest as Genesis makes the difficult transition to that stand-alone status, including creating new Genesis showrooms separate from existing Hyundai stores. At a recent lunch in Brooklyn’s fashionable Dumbo neighborhood (another underdog success story), Erwin Raphael, Genesis’s straight-talking North American brand manager—an Army veteran who’s also been an environmental engineer and Chrysler plant manager in Detroit—acknowledged the heavy lifting ahead. But the brand seems to be making all the right moves, including a focus on reliability and top-flight customer service, such as picking up your Genesis for service and returning it when it’s done. It’s a familiar template that helped launched Lexus to luxury heights beginning in the early Nineties.

The only head-scratcher may be that product rollout, with three traditional luxury sedans back-to-back, but nary a crossover SUV. Executives say the brand wanted establish itself in manageable, lower-volume segments—beginning with that flagship G90—before expanding, to the point that Genesis stopped importing sedans here from Korea for a chunk of 2018 as it readied new showrooms for Genesis customers. Still, those Genesis crossovers are in the pipeline, with one scheduled for 2020 and another in 2021. I’m not sure what shape they’ll take, but on the evidence of cars like the G70, I’ll hazard a guess: They’ll be well-built, fully competitive in performance, appealingly loaded, and smartly priced. Now, Genesis, bring just a bit skosh more daring, distinction, and personality on the design front, and I’ll be fully sold.

Lawrence Ulrich, The Drive’s chief auto critic, is an award-winning auto journalist and former chief auto critic for The New York Times and Detroit Free Press. The Detroit native and Brooklyn gentrifier owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may want to give it a good home. Email him at Lawrence.ulrich@gmail.com

Nissan Hints Its Future Sports Cars Could Be Electrified

Nissan's Vice President of Marketing in Europe, Jean-Pierre Diernaz, hinted in an interview that the company's future sports cars may utilize electric aid in one form or another.

"I don't see electrification and sports cars as technologies that are conflicting," stated Diernaz in an interview with Top Gear. "Maybe it's the other way around, sports cars can benefit lots from electrification. At the end of the day, a motor and battery are much easier to move from one platform to another, from one sub-segment to another, than a full internal combustion set-up."

Nissan's current sports car offerings are exceptionally old in comparison to the rest of the market. The younger of the two—the 370Z—was introduced in December of 2008, and the GT-R a year prior. Diernaz reaffirms the statements of company global design VP Alfonso Albaisa, who suggested in September that the 370Z's replacement is on the way.

"It's work in progress," Diernaz continued. "Not everything is confirmed in terms of dates. Sports cars are part of who we are, so one way or another they have to be there."

Rumors allege that the next Z car could be on a platform co-developed with Daimler and use Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder engines on its lower trims.

Whether or not Nissan's GT-R halo car becomes a hybrid, Nissan executives confirmed a desire to ensure that the R36 generation will be "the fastest super sports car in the world." Regardless, Diernaz ruled out the possibility that the car will ever be designed with the influence of another automaker.

"GT-R is GT-R. That's Nissan. It has to stay specifically Nissan," he concluded.

Volkswagen Wants to Communicate Safety Messages Using Car Lights

Volkswagen believes headlights and taillights can do more than illuminate the road. The German automaker is experimenting with "interactive" lights that can show different messages. Like other automakers working on the concept, VW expects these lights to help improve safety and offer opportunities for personalization.

The system relies on matrix LED lighting, similar to the technology already offered on some headlights in Europe and that may soon be legalized in the United States. This setup uses many small individual lighting elements, which can be turned on or off using software to create different light patterns. Volkswagen claims its system uses 30,000 individual light points. In current production cars, these systems are used to redirect high-beam light away from oncoming cars to avoid blinding drivers, but VW has some other possible uses in mind.

This allows a car to project distinct shapes and messages using its lights. On the redesigned Touareg, lights can be project markings in front of the vehicle to indicate the width of the SUV and a following trailer. They can show how close the vehicle is getting to the extremes of a lane, and can follow the radii of curves to help guide the driver.

Taillights can also be used to project markings onto the road. VW thinks they might be useful for showing the path of a car as it’s pulling in or out of a parking space, which could avoid confusing other drivers. The LEDs could also be reconfigured to show different symbols, indicating everything from hazards to the state of charge of an electric car. It's unclear whether these features will be added to production cars—or when that might occur.

Ken Block Wants a World Rally Championship Race Near Los Angeles

The World Rally Championship races were last held in the U.S. in 1988, when the Olympus Rally in Washington was on the calendar. Now, viral video star, lifestyle brand owner, and racing driver Ken Block wants to bring the WRC back to the United States, near one of its biggest population centers: Los Angeles.

"I always fantasised about building a WRC round based in [Los Angeles]," Block told sportswriter and broadcaster Jeremy Hart, who shares with Block a lifelong fascination with hill climbs and rally. "There're [sic] incredible roads, not only tarmac but gravel too close to [Los Angeles]. Not only that but you would have the full infrastructure of Los Angeles to do it from."

North America's lack of presence on the WRC calendar is puzzling because it's one of the biggest markets in the world for multiple automakers that compete in the WRC, such as Hyundai, Toyota, and Ford.

Between the potential value of racing in the Americas and the rising enthusiasm for rally's short-form sibling rallycross, North America probably won't be absent from the WRC calendar for long. In February, the WRC announced that Canada is making a bid to host a world championship rally for the first time since 1979 that could come to fruition in the near future. Unlike Los Angeles, this potential Canada rally could face many of the same problems that have hampered previous attempts to bring the WRC back to the Americas.

"There are some great stage rallies in the States and Canada but they don't have the infrastructure needed like other EWRC events in Spain, Turkey or Wales. But, as always, it's all based around budget, money and public interest," explained Block.

He also believes that despite the internet's ability to inundate potential viewers with more entertainment than they could ever consume, rally can compete on even ground for viewers' attention.

"NASCAR are [sic] really struggling to get people to watch for three hours straight, but that's why I think they stage rally [and rallycross] work really well in today's world, because there's these short bursts of competitions over a few days makes it more entertaining—at least to me," he said.

Block continued, "I think that the current cars are really good—so highly modified that it really makes it you feel like they are from a fantasy world. They have a great sound. And just that performance that on camera it looks so impressive. So I think going rallying is going in the right direction. I'd love to see it back in the [U.S.] though."

Block is confident that as electric propulsion propagates, rally and rallycross can take advantage, as its cars typically look much more like road cars than those of other styles of racing, such as Formula 1.

"I definitely I think—as electric or steps to convert to that come along—rallycross and rallying is in a good place because they are very similar to production cars but they jump and they slide and so are a much more relatable and appealing motorsport [and future proof] than Formula 1, or NASCAR, or drag racing."