Auto Sleuth: Nissan boosting horsepower in 2016 GT-R

Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt poses in front Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt poses in front of the 2015 Nissan GT-R that debuted at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. (Nov. 20, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Nissan's next GT-R will blow your mind
Just when you thought that Nissan's crazy-quick 545-horsepower GT-R (595 ponies in NISMO trim) couldn't be topped, word has reached The Sleuth that the automaker has a significantly more powerful version in the works that it plans to unleash for the 2016 model year. That's when we'll see a twin-turbocharged 580-horsepower V6 pared with an electrical assist system that will reportedly develop more than 800 total horsepower. The hybrid unit is being developed by the Williams Formula One team, which uses similar technology in its racecars. Nissan's expectation is that the new GT-R will be capable of rocketing to 60 mph from zero in an eye-blink-quick 2.7 seconds, cover the quarter mile from a standing start in just 10 seconds and reach a top speed of 211 mph. Clearly this will make the GT-R a threat to the upcoming Acura (Honda) NSX, BMW i8 and other rapid transit machines in the six-figure-plus price bracket.

Chevrolet's Z/28 won't let it slip
Here's one problem that The Spy Guy has never heard of before. Word is that Chevrolet's clever track-ready Z/28 experienced problems with its wheel and tire package at some point in the car's development when the Pirelli P Zero rubber created so much stopping grip that they were causing the wheels to rotate around the tires under hard braking. Even the use of special abrasive paint applied to the edge of the rim was apparently not enough to correct the problem. It wasn't until Chevrolet's engineers tried media blasting the inner surface of the area where the wheel and tire lip meet that the problem went away. Of course the Z/28's 505-horsepower (and 481 pound-feet of torque) 7.0-liter V8 gets some of the blame for that "problem".

Jaguar's F-Type takes over for the XK, for now
The recently released 2014 F-Type Jaguar roadster is proving so popular that the British brand that's owned by Tata of India has decided to cancel the XK coupe and convertible after the 2014 model year. The roadster will soon be joined by a coupe version, followed by an entry-level four-cylinder model plus a performance-oriented F-Type R. However, XK lovers shouldn't fret, there are plans afoot to launch a higher-end series of luxury-sports Jag by the 2017 model year, although the XK handle appears to be gone for good (G-Type, perhaps). There's also an XJ coupe planed for 2019, the first such model since the short-lived XJC that sold in limited numbers from 1975-'78.

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The U.S. Secret Service goes limo shopping
The Presidential car that's affectionately called "The Beast" will soon be phased out, according to The Sleuth's sources. The current car looks like a Cadillac, but is in reality a heavily armored mobile command center that's built on a heavy-duty truck platform. Weighing in at about 10,000 pounds, it also features blast-proof windows and an interior that's completely sealed off in case of a gas or chemical attack. The contract for The Beast's replacement is open to any U.S.-based company, which means that General Motors could be in the running with Ford, Chrysler, or even Tesla, for that matter. Even a manufacturer that doesn't currently build vehicles, but knows a thing or two about keeping the country's top leader safe and sound could be a potential bidder. The contract is to be awarded by the end of August and the finished limo completed in time for the next inauguration in January 2017.

A gesture is worth a thousand words

Voice commands for navigation, communications and vehicle operating systems is fairly commonplace, but now The Sleuth hears that the next-generation of these controls could actually operate by hand gestures. A number of automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Honda, Hyundai and Ford (the company that introduced the foot-motion-operated liftgate for its current Escape tall wagon) are developing hand-gesture technologies in partnership with Apple, Google and Microsoft. Apparently hand gestures would control basic communication systems as well as operating the windshield wipers, cruise and audio volume controls and other basic vehicle functions. The Raincoated One thinks that hand-gesture controls are as close as two-three years away.

Market indicators

DOWN: The Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon & Restaurant: The drinking and dining establishment that's named for the title character played by Will Farrell in the movie Talladega Nights is being sued for copyright infringement by Columbia Pictures, which owns the trademarks to film. Along with unspecified damages, Columbia is asking for an injunction against the restaurant for its use of the Ricky Bobby name as well as part of the restaurant's profits.

UP: Germany's world-famous test track is saved: The famed Nürburgring racetrack, which for years has been open to the press, public, racing drivers and numerous automakers that use the course for product testing, has been rescued from insolvency. An auto-parts and accessories company called Capricorn has stepped in and will operate the facility as well as open a technology center nearby. The takeover, which must be approved by the European Union, has been in bankruptcy since 2012.

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