Tesla Model S Plaid hits Nürburgring in refreshed widebody with massive rear diffuser

Tesla has returned to the Nürburgring with a Model S Plaid Powertrain, sporting a refreshed aerodynamic package that includes the addition of side vents and a massive rear diffuser. The California-based electric carmaker is back at the famed German race circuit in an attempt to break its own lap record of 7:23 set last month.

With high hopes to push closer to a low 7-minute lap time this time around, Tesla’s tri-motor prototype with a newly refreshed and performance-oriented body kit is expected to further distance itself from rival Porsche Taycan in track performance.

A blue widebody Model S with “Dual Motor” badge included a noticeably different side vent behind each flared front fender, likely added to improve airflow and reduce aerodynamic lift. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, side vents are commonly found on high-performance vehicles and designed to combat the turbulent airflow that’s generated inside the wheel well as a result of the rotation of the tire. The modification becomes increasingly more valuable at high speeds.

The Nürburgring often referred to as the “Green Hell” is one of the more demanding circuits in the world, requiring a combination of high speed and extensive hard braking due to the circuit’s aggressive changes in elevation, high speed sweeping turns and blind corners. Tesla’s introduction of the side vent in its Plaid Model S prototype is expected to provide increased cooling for the massive carbon-ceramic brakes located upfront.

Teslarati also spotted a massive rear diffuser on the refreshed blue Model S Plaid. Rear diffusers are designed to increase downforce at high speeds by accelerating low-pressure air beneath the car and channeling it through the rear of the vehicle. By smoothing out airflow and decreasing drag, the rear diffuser can also aid in handling.

All of these new features, including the large rear spoiler with Gurney flap, have likely undergone a month of simulation testing in between Tesla’s visits to the actual Nürburgring. Assuming that Tesla’s record lap time last month was simply a benchmark test to determine the vehicle’s baseline performance, the additional measures taken by the Silicon Valley-based automaker prove one thing: they are coming to break every record set by any car at the track. We already know that the company is planning an extended stay at the Green Hell with the addition of an in-house Supercharger installation at the track, as well as Elon Musk’s additional plans to smash all-time track records with the 2020 Roadster. However, the real insight of these further developments proves the company’s competitive streak and shows their hunger to be recognized as the best performance car available for consumers on the market today.

Tesla Model S Plaid hits Nürburgring in refreshed widebody with massive rear diffuser

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First drive review: Speed never felt so good in the 2020 Bentley Flying Spur

It takes 10, maybe 15, seconds before grown adults are reduced to toddlers in the 2020 Bentley Flying Spur.

That’s just the way it is.

Have you rubbed your toes into the thick-pile carpet that felt like stroking a sheepdog with a perfectly coiffed, high-and-tight flat-top? That’s the Flying Spur. 

The thin felt that is stretched into every nook of the glove box and the rear center console must be like the 18th green at Augusta. Must be. 

Don’t get me started on the diamond-quilted leather shod on the massaging seats that adjust and stretch out my spine in ways better than Bikram and just as embarrassing for others to watch. My smile grows, and my stress melts. Namaste. Now shoo, hoi polloi.

Then there are the things that are designed to be touched. There are four touchscreens in the Flying Spur and somehow the most impressive one is also the smallest. A 5.0-inch screen automagically protrudes from its black perch on the center console between the two rear seats.  It becomes a remote control for opulence. It weighs about 8 ounces, has knurled metal on the back, and can raise or lower the Bentley Flying B on the hood—synchronized to the animation on the digital screen, of course. The handheld remote is included in what history guessed the future would be like in 1969—a remote for everything and personal robot masseurs. The only thing missing? Two matching keyholes for rear passengers that need a synchronized turn to bring forth the magic touchpad remote. (Just press the small eject button on the top right, instead.)

That’s just the first 15 seconds. Maybe 10.

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

It’s a new world inside the cabin of the Flying Spur. A world of textures and materials, worth touching to commit to sense-memory what each hide, surface, wood, grain, metal, texture, and stitch feels like. The feeling doesn’t leave in the Flying Spur for oh, at least 250 miles—the amount of time I could sit in one.

The Flying Spur sedan dates back to the automaker’s days before it was just a different grille slapped onto a Rolls-Royce. It’s the more comfortable companion to the Continental GT—it was called the Continental Flying Spur—suited for four adults, and just as powerful. It’s not a pure luxury sedan; it’s tuned specifically to be a driver, too. It’s part of Bentley’s DNA, since the Turbo R defined what a modern Bentley sedan should be. 

According to Bentley, fewer than one in 20 buyers will purchase a Flying Spur to be solely driven in it. That’s an astonishing number to me, considering how many things there are to touch, feel and experience. About two in five buyers will drive the Flying Spur and be driven in it, which means they’ll have even less time to touch things.

The knee-slapping, spit-on-the-floor, gut-punching reality? The rest of the Bentley Flying Spur buyers actually want to drive the world’s fastest four-door sedan. It’s not surprising, considering more than half of luxury jet owners are also certified pilots. That’s not to say piloting is a lucrative career; no, no. It’s that mentality among the wealthy set who buy cars that cost more than $200,000 to start ($214,676 in the case of the Bentley Flying Spur) that everything must be mastered, business to cars.

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

For those people—more than half of buyers, says Bentley—the Flying Spur’s rewarding W-12 and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic dole out a silky finish like chocolate mousse after dinner. The Bentley’s hand-built 6.0-liter W-12 churns out 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, identical to the Continental GT. Not identical to the Continental GT: The Flying Spur’s top speed of 207 mph, faster than the Alpina B7, and 0.26 times the speed of sound of Vivaldi cruising through the sublime 21-speaker Naim system.

You could light the Flying Spur’s fuse and sprint up to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. You could chirp the rears in Bentley’s new all-wheel-drive system that only sends power to the front wheels when the rear tires, which still have some sidewall after being stretched around 22-wheels, give up their herculean task of moving more than 2.5 tons. You could press the Flying Spur into sport detail despite lugging more hide than the Horween Leather Co.

So, I did. All of the above. Yep. Wouldn’t you?

The Flying Spur shoulders into corners like a grizzled fullback, but with all of the grace of a princess and all the right looks. Thanks to rear-wheel steering that dials in just 1 degree of relief for overburdened front tires in a similar direction, the Flying Spur’s 125.8-inch wheelbase gets cut down to less than three yards—instead of the mile-and-a-half wheelbase it feels like from the inside. (The rear wheels can countersteer to the fronts at up to 4.1 degrees at lower speeds, which is far more useful for parking.)

The W-12 sounds like it could use another day at finishing school when the accelerator is mashed even though it’s kind and attentive. The same goes for the 8-speed, which clunks into an unrefined shift when the work of hauling so much mass from 35 mph to 80 mph is summoned, immediately. First of the first-world problems, really. 

The real magic is done by a three-chamber air suspension at every corner—a first for the Flying Spur, somehow—paired to continuous damping control systems that watch every move the wheels make like the CIA. One wrong foot in the Flying Spur and the systems fire off orders to the suspension quicker than missile command. 

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

It’s possible to miss the Flying Spur’s exterior, but impossible to look away once you notice it. The Flying Spur four-door sedan, like the Continental GT that it’s based on, has fine features that are neither “delicate” nor “handsome.” Instead, they’re subtle and striking at the same time, like the flavors of 18-year-old whisky that whispers oak and vanilla but burns like hell on the way down to your gut.

It’s also impossible to miss the wide grille with thin vertical chrome slats that punch your face with polished silver knuckles. Bentley chief exterior designer JP Gregory, a man who’s stylish, genteel, but also wiry like the chrome knuckle-dusters, worked hard to place the four round headlights around the Flying Spur’s grille in a way that makes you forget about the Bentayga’s drunk, 1,000-yard stare. The Flying Spur’s LED headlights, which burst white refracted light into the gentle Monaco night like the brief reflection from a 2.5-karat boat anchor hanging on to a thin tanned finger, are flanked by round and smaller lights. Those lights sit on top of a lower front fascia with chrome stretched dental-floss thin, curved around the wheel arches, and double backed with all the tension of a strung bow.

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

There is visual tension at all four corners of the Flying Spur. The front wheels, up to 22 inches large, are pushed ahead 130 mm on the platform that it shares with the Porsche Panamera, which creates a shorter front overhang on the Bentley sedan. The front fenders reach over the tall wheels thanks to a superformed process that Bentley created, which sucks hot aluminum into a press to create seamless panels with softer lines and fewer flaws than newborns.

That process also makes impossibly tall body sides with deep creases that blanket the lower doors with sheer darkness that requires a second look: That can’t be a different color, is it? The wide, rear haunches drape over squat 315-mm tires that are the Danny DeVito of rear rubber; they look almost as wide as they are tall.

In back? B-shaped taillights that whisper the W-12 engine’s prolific firepower into the wind, which is long since gone behind you.

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

2020 Bentley Flying Spur first drive

A few hundred miles in the Flying Spur helps just about anyone even out the strain. This third generation of the Flying Spur has more in common with its great, great, great-grandfather than perhaps the automaker intended.

That early Continental Flying Spur, a coach-built HJ Mulliner sedan, was powered by half the cylinders but was almost just as long—less than a foot shorter.

Chief designer of Bentley in the late 1950s, JP Blatchley, and lead engineer Ivan Evernden dispatched Mulliner and designer Arthur Talbot Johnston wanted, needed, begged for a four-door grand-touring car to lead the brand ahead. Johnston’s Scottish clan coat of arms of a spur with wings even gave the sedan its name.

The 1957 S1 Continental Flying Spur cost 8,034 British pounds when it went on sale, inflation-adjusted to $240,729 today.

My 2020 Flying Spur to drive in and around Monaco, a Dark Sapphire on Linen and Burnt Oak leather sedan, designed by JP Gregory, cost $214,600 and is dripping with pretty and far outside my reach. It too is a coach-built affair.

But at least I can touch it.

Bentley provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand review

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Tesla Powerwall home battery installations to begin in Japan

Tesla’s Powerwall, a device that stores energy from that is generated from the sun and captured by solar panels, will be available for Japanese homeowners in Spring 2020, according to recent reports.

The Tesla Powerwall is a 13.5 kWh rechargeable battery pack that is capable of supplying a residential building with multiple hours of clean, non-pollution causing energy. The Powerwall was unveiled by the Silicon Valley-based company in 2015, and is slated to cost around 990,000 Yen (about $9,000).

The price includes the installation of the Backup Gateway system that manages the grid connection. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in October that he would be decreasing the price of solar panel and Powerwall installations by around 10% in response to a California power company’s mandatory electric shutoff.

Japanese buyers will be able to purchase the Powerwall system through Tesla’s official website or through a limited number of third-party sellers. Although Tesla has been accepting orders for the Powerwall in Japan since 2016, there were delays on when installations would start due to feed-in-tariffs that were put into place to spike the initial costs of solar energy. These are set to expire later in 2019.

Tesla recognizes that Japan has a thirst for clean energy that could help improve the company’s presence in the country. Shinji Asakura, the Japanese manager of energy products said in an interview in Tokyo that “Tesla believes that the Japanese home battery market has big growth potential,” according to Reuters.

Japan has a lack of fossil fuels naturally and is forced to import many of its energy sources, those mainly being crude oil, natural gas, and uranium. The country utilized nuclear energy for 30% of its needs until 2011 when a power plant in Fukushima created the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Asakura believes that the addition of the Powerwall batteries to residential buildings will allow residents to supply their homes with power in a more energy-efficient fashion. He anticipates that residents will be using the Tesla battery pack as a backup for when natural disasters knock out power to homes. But hopefully, the up-and-coming installations will convince Japanese citizens to switch to solar power altogether.

Tesla’s global initiative to wean the world off of fossil fuels is becoming a reality. They have once again expanded the region of where Powerwalls will be available. Since 2015, Telsa has installed a Powerwall system at over 50,000 locations in seven different countries, according to a company spokesperson.

Tesla Powerwall home battery installations to begin in Japan

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