photo credit Ian Whelan

Autos around the Bend

2019 Nissan GT-R50 Italdesign Concept
Nissan and the storied Italdesign company have teamed up to build 50 special-bodied GT-R50s to mark the 50thbirthday of both the design house and the GT-R. The prototype is based on a 2018 GT-R Nismo model but with a revised suspension and a GT3-racecar-derived 710-hp and 585-lb-ft-of-torque twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6. A 54-mm lower roofline makes for a totally different profile, and fans of the GT-R will be able to spot myriad other design changes that completely alter the car’s character. One hopes the GT-R50 will inspire the next generation of GT-Rs, which have traditionally had all-business styling, rather than a focus on beauty. Meanwhile, if you want a GT-R50, it will cost you about $1.1 million.

VW ID Buggy Concept
VW used to sell some of the most unconventional automobiles on the market, starting with the air-cooled Beetle, but the automaker has since become a bit more conventional. In an apparent bid to redeem itself, the company is showing its electric ID Buggy concept, which features a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform—the first since the air- cooled models disappeared. The plastic body panels pay homage to the 1964 Meyers Manx dune buggy, which was a fiberglass-bodied kit car based on the Beetle chassis. VW is making its electric platform available to manufacturers that may build the ID Buggy and other cars with it, including e.Go Mobile, a small-volume, electric-vehicle German company. The drivetrain offers 201 hp, 228 lb-ft torque, and a 155-mile range, making it the perfect toy to keep at your beach house. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

VW ID Buggy Concept

2020 Porsche 911 Speedster
Porsche is celebrating its 70thanniversary, and for the occasion it has debuted the 911 Speedster, a nod to the stripped-down 356 Speedster of the 1950s. More than just a trim level with a few tweaks, it’s essentially a GT3 sans roof. Like the GT3, it sports a six-speed manual gearbox and 4.0-liter, 502-hp, 346-lb-ft flat six engine with a 9000-rpm redline, good for a 3.2-second 0–60 run. It also runs a similar suspension and carbon ceramic brake setup. Porsche’s engineers shed 200 pounds from a standard 911 Cabriolet through extensive use of lightweight body panels in carbon fiber and polyurethane, and by foregoing a few features. (You’ll have to manually operate the roof.) The most visually distinctive elements of the Speedster are the chopped windshield and integrated double-hooped fairing over the area where back seats usually reside. Unfortunately, Porsche is limiting production to 1,948 units, and the price is about $275,000. That’s almost twice as much as you’d pay for a GT3—which is ironic because the original 356 Speedster was actually a lower-priced model built for racing. Times have changed. 

2020 Porsche 911 Speedster

2019 Bentley Continental GT
As the name suggests, the Continental GT is built for crossing continents in grand touring style. Think supercar performance in ultimate comfort at speeds exceeding 200 mph. This all-new version of the Continental GT benefits from Volkswagen AG sister company Porsche’s influence on the eight-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox and a shared platform with the Porsche Panamera. That new rear-wheel-drive-based platform should benefit handling and allows for more appealing body proportions than the previous front-wheel-drive-based model. Retained from its predecessor is the 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, 12-cylinder engine, now producing 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels. All that torque helps move this 5,056-pound diamond-quilted-leather-and-wood-clad cruise missile to 60 mph in only 3.3 seconds. Base price is $219,925.

 2019 Bentley Continental GT

2020 Toyota GR Supra
Toyota stopped building the cult-classic fourth-generation Supra in 2002, but enthusiasts have eagerly awaited a successor to the twin-turbocharged inline-six-powered grand tourer, which delivered 321 hp—a significant figure for the time. Toyota has teamed up with BMW to resurrect the nameplate, adding the initials GR, which stand for Gazoo Racing—Toyota’s new performance division. The sports car will be built in Austria on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the BMW Z4 convertible and will share a 335-hp, 369-ft-lb torque twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six BMW engine. Many interior components come from BMW, too. Let’s hope the engineers at Toyota have managed to bake some of the character of the previous-generation car into this very German rerelease. Strangely, it looks as if an eight-speed automatic is the only gearbox option, but perhaps we’ll see a manual later. Base price is $50,920.

2020 Toyota GR Supra

Genesis Mint Concept
Genesis, Hyundai’s premium brand, started out selling larger cars but is now exploring thevirtually nonexistentluxurious small-car segment with the Mint concept. The automaker is pitching this two-passenger EV concept to city dwellers who may not find a larger car practical for their lifestyle. The sporty shape suggests a wide and low Mini Cooper influence, but rather than a rear hatch, the designers have developed scissor doors in the rear flanks to access the baggage area. These entry points are meant to be easier to get to when the car is parallel parked. The interior is concept-car futuristic and simple: the dashboard’s only instrumentation is a display built into the steering wheel. The drivetrain isn’t set in stone but expect a range of about 200 miles and 350 kW fast charging. EVs make a lot of sense in cities, but right now the hurdle is the charging infrastructure, especially for street-parked vehicles. Assuming that changes, we’ll see the Mint and other similar carsreach production. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

Genesis Mint Concept

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