FBI Alerts America to the Dangers of Car Hacking

Earlier this week, the FBI issued a public service announcement warning drivers of the dangers of car hacking. The announcement tells drivers how to prevent cybersecurity attacks, and what to do if the vehicle is hacked.

According to the statement, vehicles have become “increasingly vulnerable to remote exploits” thanks to connectivity features. What connectivity features? Keyless entry and ignition, tire pressure monitoring, infotainment, navigation and diagnostic systems. All of these allow the bad guys to easily access cars. The FBI cautions drivers about the dangers of connecting a third-party device to ports in their vehicles.

The FBI also tells you to be on the lookout when installing updates recommended by the manufacturer. Criminals may send illegitimate emails to owners and trick them into downloading malicious software. This happens with computers and phones, so it should come as no surprise that automotive computers are just as vulnerable. How does one prevent this? Be very careful downloading software from third-party websites or file-sharing programs. Always check the manufacturer’s website to ensure that a software update is truly needed. It’s always a good idea to use a trusted USB or SD card when downloading and/or installing software on a vehicle. Basically, the same precautions you would take with your computer.

What happens if you believe your vehicle has been hacked? First of all, don’t take it lightly. If you think your car has been hacked, check for outstanding vehicle recalls. You should also contact the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized dealer. You should also contact NHTSA and the local FBI field office.

Several security scares have come to light in the past few months. A pair of hackers has already demonstrated how they were able to remotely control a Jeep Cherokee via it’s Uconnect infotainment system. Different hackers also were able to hack into a Tesla Model S. Both Jeep and Tesla have taken steps to fix these vulnerabilities. Another security scare was with the Nissan Leaf. The mobile app for the Leaf was shut down by Nissan after a massive security breach.

I guess the solution is to build an old-school hot rod without any electronics on it!

The Next Porsche 911 GT3 Will Have a Manual Transmission

Traditionally, high-performance versions of the Porsche 911 are offered with a manual transmission. The 911 is a car built for enthusiasts, and very few cars are as amazing to drive as a Porsche 911 with a manual transmission. The yowling, burbling, screaming flat-six cylinder engine a few feet behind you, and an easy-to-shift transmission make it a wonderfully engaging car to drive.

However, the current Porsche 911 GT3 isn’t offered with a manual transmission, like it was with the previous generation. Many enthusiasts were angry at Porsche. They felt like the PDK transmission took some of the soul out of the car. Don’t get me wrong – the PDK is a great transmission. It’s a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission that was developed from Porsche’s blindingly fast and reliable race cars. But it doesn’t have the same kind of incredible preciseness that the 991 (chassis designation GT3 has.

At the Geneva Motor Show, Porsche unveiled the 911 R, which is basically a more toned-down version of the GT3 RS. It has the same 500-horsepower flat six cylinder engine as the GT3 RS, but it has a six-speed manual, unlike the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that the GT3 RS has. What I find amazing about the 911 R is that it brings back memories of racing-spec Porsches of years past. It has a magnesium roof, the front fenders and luggage compartment lid are carbon fiber, no rear seats, less interior insulation, and air conditioning is a no-cost option. This is serious.

The 911 R is far more toned-down in terms of bodywork than the GT3 RS. It doesn’t have a massive wing, less flourishes along the sensuous body, but still looks hardcore. It has bold racing stripes, available in red or green. What provides downforce? An automatically-deploying spoiler and rear underbody diffuser do that.

One of the best options about the 911 R is that it has an optional front axle-raising system that can boost front ground clearance an extra 1.2 inches, which will certainly save expensive repairs when you try and go into a driveway. The same wheels from the 911 GT3 RS finish off the looks of the 911 R.

Take a peek inside the 911 R, and you’ll find it’s all business. It has bucket seats with carbon fiber seatbacks, a special steering wheel, and a racing-derived short-throw shift knob.

Back to the next 911 GT3. The head of Porsche GT cars promised Motor Trend that all future GT-series 911s will stay naturally aspirated, except for the GT2 (which has always been turbocharged). While the Cayman is downsizing engines from flat six-cylinder engines to turbocharged 4-cylinders, the next-generation Cayman GT4 will have six cylinders (and likely a manual transmission).

Until we get a next-generation 911 GT3, we’ll have to watch this video of the 911 R attacking what looks like an incredible twisting mountain road, with even better views. You can watch it at:¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60uUFO9Wrng

What do we want? A Porsche 911 GT3 with a manual transmission, of course! Until we get one of those, I guess we’ll have to make do with a 911 R…

McLaren Introduces Track-Only 570S GT4 and Sprint Models

The McLaren 570S is a wonderful “affordable” supercar. Affordable is in quotation marks, because it’s a relative term. If you want a semi-affordable supercar, get a Nissan GT-R or a Dodge Viper.

McLaren has long been known for race cars that are both beautiful and win all the time. It should come as no surprise that they recently introduced the 570S GT4 and 570S Sprint. Both are, for all essential purposes, track-ready versions of the road-going 570S. The GT4 is the homologated for competition in the British GT Championship, while the Sprint is an unrestricted track-day model.

Who will be racing the GT4 this upcoming season? Good question, and we already have an answer! The Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse customer racing team will be racing the GT4 in the full nine-round British GT Championship season.

The GT4 is based off of the carbon-fiber Monocell chassis that forms the underpinnings for every single McLaren Sport Series car. The GT4 has a wider body, a GT4-spec aero package, Pirelli racing slicks, magnesium alloy wheels, and a massive rear wing providing downforce. What powers the 570S GT4? A twin-turbocharged V8 that’s been adapted for racing use. In the road-going 570S, it makes 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, and puts the power down through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While McLaren doesn’t list any power output for the 570S GT4, rest assured it will be within GT4 regulations.

Then there’s the 570S Sprint. Details right now are scarce on it, but McLaren has promised that more details will come in the following weeks. They did satiate our curiosity by saying that the 570S Sprint will come with the same upgrades as the 570S GT4. The 570S Sprint is a hardcore track car not built to any one specification.

Yet another announcement from McLaren was that Ansar Ali will be joining the McLaren team as the Motorsports Director. Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, said in a press release, “I am extremely pleased to welcome Ansar to McLaren Automotive in such a key role. Motorsport is part of the lifeblood of the McLaren brand, and this role will be key to our long-term plans as we continue to expand the product range and customer-appeal around the world.”

Have $225,500 just burning a hole in your pocket? You can buy a McLaren 570S GT4 for the 2017 season, but here’s the hitch: you need to be a customer racing team. Pricing and availability for the 570S Sprint at a later date, but expect it to be more accessible than the GT4.

The McLaren 570S GT4 certainly looks mean, and I can’t wait to see it blasting around a track!