History has shown us that when two manufacturers collaborate and develop a jointly-built car, usually the effects are tremendous. The Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ is an excellent example of collaboration done right. Using Subaru’s flat-four engine with Toyota’s D-4S fuel injection system, modifying the Impreza’s chassis, and going through five different prototypes to get the best manual transmission this side of an MX-5, this joint effort bore fruit in the form of an award-winning affordable sports car.
There are many other collaborative efforts in the works at the moment. It makes sense financially for companies to join hands to reduce costs and increase profits. I’m not talking about Google and Fiat Chrysler’s driverless Pacifica MPV which is interesting but not really exciting. Loads of manufacturers have tied up with car sharing companies and autonomous tech start-ups to bring new technologies into the market. However, the collaborations listed here are the ones that enthusiasts can look forward to:
BMW and Toyota
The alliance between the German and Japanese car makers began in 2011. It includes collaboration on fuel cell cars, as well as BMW supplying diesel engines for European Toyotas. The best part of this collaboration is the joint development of a new family of front-engine rear-wheel drive sports cars from both manufacturers, the first of which will arrive in 2018.
There have been spy shots aplenty of BMW’s new Z4 replacement, a soft-top roadster that will be named the Z5. Internally codenamed the G29, this Porsche Boxster rival will sport BMW’s new range of inline-four and inline-six engines with a high possibility of a hybrid powertrain as well.
In order to avoid cannibalising sales (a factor that has affected the GT86/BRZ), Toyota’s next-gen Supra will be a tin-top coupe. To further differentiate between the Z5 and the new Supra, the Japanese manufacturer will have its own set of inline-four and V6 motors powering the sports car, besides the jointly-developed electric powertrain. All-wheel drive would also feature on the hybrid model.
Besides the Z5 and the Supra, a shortened version of this platform will also be used to build the next-generation GT86. Affordable sports coupes and roadsters incoming!
GM and Ford
As I had mentioned in an earlier post, General Motors and Ford have jointly developed a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2017 Ford F-150 already uses this gearbox mated to a 375bhp 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 mill. A hotter version of the F-150 with the iconic Raptor nameplate will have a tuned version of the same engine putting out 450bhp and mated to the transmission. Chevrolet’s 2017 Camaro ZL1 will also carry the transmission coupled to the 650bhp supercharged 6.2-litre engine from the current Corvette Z06. GM has also said that they will offer the torque converter automatic gearbox in eight additional vehicles by 2018.
Based on Car and Driver’s review of the new F-150, the new truck feels more powerful and delivers better fuel efficiency when compared to the older model with the same engine. While the transmission does feature more gears, it is only marginally bigger and heavier than the previous 6-speed gearbox used on the F-150. For a more in-depth look at the 10-speed torque converter, check out 10 Things to Know About the New Ford/GM 10-Speed Automatic Transmission. American muscle that shifts cleanly and rapidly, delivers more power, and is economical?! It’s a bold new world we live in.
Mazda and Toyota
In 2015, the two Japanese manufacturers entered a long-term partnership to share development costs and collaborate on future models. The deal is mutually beneficial as Toyota can learn a lot from Mazda in how to make fun-to-drive and decent-looking everyday cars, while Mazda can gain financial solvency in case another financial crisis brews and gain some hybrid know-how.
Neither manufacturer has revealed any concrete details regarding the alliance but here are some educated guesses at what could come out of it. The boring side is that Mazda could benefit from the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain in Toyota’s new Mirai FCV and launch a number of affordable hatchbacks and saloons with the technology. The exciting bit is that the next generation of the GT86 sports car could be powered by Mazda’s brilliant high-compression engines.
If this happens, the 2018 GT86 could potentially have a flat-four engine (courtesy of Subaru) combined with ultra-high compression ratios (from Mazda) and high-tech direct fuel injection (Toyota’s D-4S), and built on a platform jointly developed with BMW! Can you tell I’m extremely excited?!
Honda and McLaren
When Honda announced its return to Formula 1 as engine supplier to McLaren in 2013, they had also hinted at developing a road car. Some had expected the new Honda NSX to feature some F1 inspired bits from both manufacturers but those hopes were dashed. While nothing has been revealed about the alliance since, one can hope that they have something cooking in their respective workshops.
Imagine an entry-level McLaren slotting in below the 540C; sporting the now ubiquitous carbon fibre chassis and Honda’s reliable stonker of an engine, the 306bhp turbocharged VTEC 2-litre mill. Conversely, imagine the next NSX with McLaren’s 3.8-litre putting out 666bhp. Until the manufacturers give us some information, we can only dream…