New Dino in the pipeline
Ferrari set to revive its most famous name | by Andrew Frankel
Forty years after the name was last used, news comes from Ferrari that it is to build a new Dino. Details are very sketchy at present, but it seems the car will be powered by a new twin-turbo V6 developing about 500bhp. The best guess at an on-sale date is 2018.
This is not news Ferrari intended to communicate any time soon, but it emerged during a conversation between Ferrari’s new chairman Sergio Marchionne and two British journalists at the recent launch of the new 488GTB. It was my good fortune to be one them.
The main points Marchionne wanted to get across were that Dino was the most revered of all names currently sitting on the shelf of any car manufacturer and that it would be used again in the right way or not at all. But he was then kind enough to concede that a new Dino was ‘a question of when, not if’, from which it is fair to conclude he has already given the project the green light. He was also emphatic in his insistence that a new Dino would not be any kind of entry-level Ferrari, which means it will be priced no less than the £150,000 currently asked for the California T.
As for the V6, Marchionne said Ferrari was actively considering such an engine and that internally the response had been positive. Such a motor would of course have a direct link to the V6s used in the original 206GT and 246GT Dinos and won’t exactly be news to Ferrari: it’s been making Maserati V6s for years.
What follows now is the purest speculation, based on little more than nods, winks, knowledge of Ferrari’s current line-up and perhaps some understanding of the way Maranello works. It will be interesting, for me at least, to look back at these words in three years to see just how close to – or far from – the mark they are.
I expect the new Dino to be a mid-engined two-seater, available in open and closed form with an electrically retractable hard top for the convertible GTS. I expect the engine to be essentially the same as the 3.9-litre V8 used in the 488GTB, but minus a couple of cylinders. On a purely mathematical basis, that would reduce its capacity to about 3.0 litres and power output to approximately 500bhp. So equipped and presuming the car is somewhat lighter than the 488GTB, it should have no problem whatever breaking the 4sec barrier to 62mph, with 100mph coming up in comfortably less than 10sec. So it’s not going to be slow.
The car should also trigger a realignment of Ferrari’s sports car range, allowing both the 488GTB and the F12 (or their successors) to be pushed further upmarket into even more premium pricing territories. This would then allow Ferrari to let the Dino maintain or increase profits without dramatically increasing production, a point about which Marchionne is very specific: “I would rather build 500 fewer cars than the market demands than 500 too many.” And so say all of us.
Which just leaves the question of what kind of car the Dino will be. I hope it’s more than just a junior 488GTB. I hope Ferrari takes specific steps to imbue it with a character of its own, and the option at least of a manual gearbox would do that very well. And Ferrari should learn from the values of Dinos today (£300,000 and counting for a nice one) that it doesn’t matter how fast such cars go, but how they go fast. It should be a delicate, precise, beautiful instrument designed purely for the provision of driving pleasure.
Murray & Cosworth at TVR
It appears that TVR’s death has been somewhat exaggerated. Reports of the resurrection of TVR have peppered the news pages of car magazines in the near decade since the most recent of these striking British sports cars was delivered, but now they carry more than a ring of truth, not least because they come backed by two of the most respected names in the industry.
The all-new TVR model to be launched in 2017 will be developed by Gordon Murray Design and powered by a normally aspirated dry-sump V8. It will be a traditional British sports car in layout, with its engine at the front and driven wheels at the back but featuring a composite structure. It will have a manual gearbox and Cosworth branding on its cam covers, although the engine is believed to be a proprietary unit extensively modified for the purpose by Cosworth rather than a brand-new design.
Lots of questions remain unanswered, such as where the car will be built, how much will be charged and what volumes are anticipated. The description and positioning suggest, however, that the new TVR will pick up where the last ones left off. TVR boss Les Edgar – who bought the rights to the company in 2013 – has said in the past that he envisaged the new car’s closest rival to be a second-hand Aston Martin, which implies a price point of perhaps £70,000.
This is tricky territory for low-volume British sports car manufacturers: venturing onto such ground with cars of inadequate construction quality is often blamed for the demise of the old TVR, Lotus has struggled to sell the Evora for such money while Noble Automotive failed to find enough people prepared to spend Porsche 911 money on such cars. There could hardly be two names with more kudos than Murray and Cosworth, so perhaps the company founded by Trevor Wilkinson in 1949 may yet and at last realise its full potential. Nothing, however, will be as important as the quality of its construction. Get that right and TVR might yet have a future, and a bright one at that.
Return of the 911R?
Porsche is believed to be on the point of launching a third GT-series 911, to go with the extant GT3 and GT3 RS. The new and as-yet-unnamed model will be designed to be a pure driver’s car and, as such, unconcerned with such issues as ultimate speed or lap time. Instead it will aim to provide maximum driver involvement and, to that end, will have at least the option of a manual gearbox for the first time since the demise of 997-based GT3 RS in 2011. Expect a car shorn of aerodynamic addenda, featuring less extreme wheel and tyre combinations and perhaps a more accessible price point to provide a bridge between the Cayman GT4 and the standard 911.
The change of heart concerning manual transmission in a GT3 is believed to stem from the manual-only Cayman GT4, demand for which has taken Porsche completely by surprise. What would you call it? I think 911R has a certain relevance and ring to it…
Lambo commits to SUV
Lamborghini has announced that its SUV will go into production after all. Many had thought the company had gone cold on the idea because it is more than three years since the concept version of the so-called Urus was shown, but now it has been given the green light and sales should start in 2018.
The introduction of a third model line for Lamborghini will more than double the company’s sales and, if built in Italy, require a total redevelopment of the Sant’Agata site.
Lamborghini is not saying much about the car’s specifics, but it is safe to say that it will be constructed around VW’s large SUV platform. As such it will share underpinnings with the recently launched Audi Q7 plus the next-generation Porsche Cayenne and, probably most relevant of all, Bentley’s forthcoming Bentayga SUV. Power is most likely to come from the 4-litre twin turbo engine already used by Audi and Bentley because its relatively small capacity is attractive to the Chinese market, it can easily be boosted to beyond 600bhp and it can also be turned into a plug-in hybrid.
Bentley’s success in lobbying VW to have the Bentayga assembled in Crewe will provide Lamborghini with a powerful argument to have the Urus built on home turf.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, response the confirmation of the Urus elicits from Ferrari. At last year’s Paris motor show Sergio Marchionne confirmed Ferrari had no plans to build an SUV, but since then not only has its closest physical and conceptual rival now confirmed such a car, but so has Rolls-Royce. With the Bentayga and Maserati Levante now moving closer to production, Ferrari would seem isolated as the only major player in the super-luxury sector without firm plans to sell into what is now car for the car the world’s most lucrative market segment. Can Marchionne really afford to turn away that kind of opportunity, even if it comes with snorts of derision from the purists?