Your daily automotive news roundup will also look at Max Verstappen's latest honor and new developments in the world of Toyota and Lexus sports cars.
Good morning, CarBuzz readers, and welcome to both Cold Start and Labor Day weekend! Before you run off and have a good time, you may want to check out the latest news from the last 24 hours. Among these recent developments have been leaked images of the ghastly BMW XM, the news of a new Chevrolet Cavalier, and the stupidest and scariest quad bike ever made.
Our roundup will focus on more intriguing news, however, including the return of the Mitsubishi Ralliart brand. There's a special edition of the Volkswagen Golf R to discuss, and the leaked news that the BMW Z4's top trim is getting a manual transmission. Max Verstappen has also been honored by the Dutch government and now officially outranks Sir Lewis. Finally, we have news from Lexus as it prepares to launch an all-new sports car.
If you grew up watching the World Rally Championship during the 1990s, then this one is for you. Mitsubishi's Ralliart division churned out some spectacular machines during this period, but in recent times, we've seen very little to get our hearts beating faster because the Ralliart name has been unashamedly plastered onto boring cars as little more than an appearance package. Sadly, that doesn't appear to be changing too much, as the Ralliart trim will arrive in early 2023 on dull vehicles like the Outlander, Eclipse Cross, and Mirage. All Ralliart models will feature White Diamond paint and a black roof, but we feel Mitsubishi is copping out here. Time for a true revival a-la Toyota Gazoo Racing.
A few months back, Volkswagen in Europe revealed a 328-horsepower special edition of the Golf R, the most powerful production Golf ever. This also got an Akrapovic exhaust system, two-tone blue-and-black Estoril wheels, an Emotional Start feature that revs the engine on startup, and retuning of the DSG transmission for more "noticeable" feedback. Awesome right? Well, not for us.
The American version gets none of these upgrades, although it does gain some blue R badges, real carbon fiber in the cabin for the first time ever, and blue mirrors on models ordered in white or black. "Around 1,800" will be made at a cost of $44,940 for the manual (which is exclusive to North America) or $45,740 for the dual-clutch variant. But with no more power, is it worth the premium of a couple of hundred bucks over a regular R?
When the current generation of the BMW Z4 was launched, it was exclusively available with an automatic transmission in the US. Over the water in lands like Australia and Europe, the base model could be had with a manual, but not the B58-powered top trim that shares its 3.0-liter straight-six with the Toyota GR Supra. But now the Supra is getting a manual, and following a leak from BMW Netherlands' online configurator, it appears that the Z4 M40i will get the same treatment, at long last. Will this be enough to make the Z4 an overwhelming sales success? Probably not. Will we get it in the USA? Probably not. Will American Z4 buyers complain? That remains to be seen, but... Nah, probably not.
Cheeky headline aside, both of these drivers have a lot of respect for each other, but now Max Verstappen has a slight edge over his British rival. The Dutch Red Bull Racing superstar has been honored with what is the equivalent of a Dutch knighthood. He's been appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a civil and military order of chivalry. Much like Sir Lewis, this is little more than a title, but based on where the honor of Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau ranks compared to Hamilton's Knight Bachelor with an MBE, Super Max is now technically a higher-ranking honoree.
For a short time, an image was visible on the Lexus Enthusiasts website, and this depicted the Toyota GR GT3 Concept wearing a Lexus badge. Before it was removed, we saved it and the accompanying information, which revealed that the photograph was captured at a Lexus dealer meeting. This suggests that the GR GT3 will form the basis of the Lexus RC's successor. This is outstanding news, as Lexus "sports cars" have typically been rather laidback, comfortable grand tourers, not true sports cars. With a production sports car based on a true race car that is based on a wild concept, Lexus has the opportunity to transform itself into a competitive BMW/Audi/Mercedes rival. We can't wait to see the fruits of this strategy, rumored twin-turbo V8 and all.