The 25th anniversary of the convertible Mini

Mini Convertible anniversary 1Just 300 anniversary edition Mini convertibles will be built to celebrate 25 years since the first ever convertible Mini (then run by Rover) but what’s so special about this anniversary edition, Mini have after all been building Mini convertibles ever since that first car rolled off the production line. Well on the surface not much has changed over the standard car. All 300 cars will be painted Starlight Blue with contrasting white bonnet stripes. The list of standard items is basically the standard Minis ‘chilli’ pack, which comes with a full Harman Kardon sound system, and a top spec sat nav. The roof of the Mini convertible anniversary car does come with the Union Jack printed into the canvas but this is also available on the standard car.

Mini Convertible anniversary 3So what is the difference between this and the standard car, pretty much nothing the only difference I could find was the Mini Convertible comes with some nice grey leather seats that aren’t available on the other cars. It’s just another excuse for Mini to sell you a more expensive car, and this car is nearly £10,000 more expensive than the standard Mini Convertible, which I think you’ll agree is absolutely ridiculous for a car that is not unique in any noticeable way. This limited edition car is just another badge special, a car BMW have stuck a badge on that means they can charge more and more money for. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Mini Convertible anniversary 2This is a dangerous trend that is growing exponentially as the years go on. Companies are conning customers into spending more for a limited edition car that is in fact available already straight off the production line. I know this will fall on deaf ears and all 300 Mini anniversary convertibles will walk out of the showroom in seconds but do not support this. Soon enough we will all have a badge on our cars that says limited edition and yet all the cars will look sound and drive exactly the same.

What do you think of Mini’s latest badge special car the Anniversary Convertible, let us know in the comments.
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The New Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury

Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury 6 Now, Maybachs have never been the prettiest of cars, they sort of look like elongated Mercedes S Classes rather than the uber luxurious transport of the rich and famous. But with the new Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury they are breaking new ground in the world of ugly cars.

The Maybach Vision UL is a high riding luxury SUV with what is trying to be a swooping saloon body but on such a big car just looks stretched. To put it into perspective of how big this car is, its bigger wider and taller than the already gargantuan Bentley Bentayga. The Vision UL rides on 24 inch wheels that look more suitable on Puff Daddys Hummer than they do on a German example of luxury.

Now with such a massive car you might expect a giant engine, V10 or V12 maybe even V16 like the original Phantom concept. But believe it or not this new Maybach monstrosity is fully electric. The output of the UL’s four electric motors is 740BHP giving the big loaf a top speed of 155mph, not bad for a giant electric SUV.

Where Maybach are known for succeeding however is the interior, the new Maybach continues this trend with swathes of white leather and aluminium. Where a Rolls Royce feels like a smoking lounge inside, the Maybach feels like an up to date trendy bar. Its clearly for the UK market at there is a full tea set in the rear centre console.

I’m fine with companies making ‘ultimate luxury’ concepts but at least make them look good. The Maybach Vision UL is hideous on the outside, which really lets down a fantastic interior if Maybach were to ever bring the UL to market (which I doubt) I will forever fear driving behind one, because I may have to burn  my eyes to remove the sight from my mind.

What do you think of the Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury Concept, let us know in the comments.

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Morgan Aero GT Rolls off the production line

Morgan Aero 8 GT 5Morgan have never been a particularly modern company, its cars seem more at home in the 1940’s than on a modern racetrack. But that hasn’t stopped the small British company from taking on the world with their old timey sports cars. The latest of which, the Morgan Aero GT has just started to roll of the production line in Malvern. Designed as a celebration of the end of the Aero 8 (Morgan’s most modern car to date) the GT was revealed at the recent Geneva Motor show with a 4.8 litre V8 bringing 367BHP to the party. The Aero 8 GT is capable of going from 0-62 in just 4.5 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 170MPH.

Morgan Aero 8 GT 3Only eight Morgan Aero 8 GTs will be built making each model special. The Aero 8 certainly has come a long way since its cross-eyed beginnings back in 2001. The various aerodynamic upgrades such as the rear diffuser and front canards are directly aimed at improving the rather tail happy Aero 8, the Aero 8 GT also uses Morgan’s latest adjustable suspension. Each Aero GT will be built in direct contact with the customer making each car unique and a special celebration of the Aero 8’s history.

Morgan Aero 8 GT 6It’s sad this is the last Aero 8, whilst not exactly a world-beater the Aero 8 has always held a soft spot in my heart for being one of the last true British sports cars, its looks are straight out of a history book and could in some cases be mistaken for a kit car, but the Morgan Aero 8 is a classic example of British engineering at its best, not the best mechanically but certainly one of the few cars left that did it their own way and didn’t conform to what a sports car should look like, the Morgan Aero 8 went its own way and should be proud of that.

What do you think of the end of the Morgan Aero 8 and its GT send off, let us know in the comments.

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Yet another classic reimagining?

Electric Mini 10BMW haven’t had a problem shifting the new Mini, every year there seems to be a new model slightly bigger, slightly faster or slightly more efficient than the last. But in 2019 BMW are taking a gamble with the Mini, they are producing a fully electric Mini that BMW hopes will one day become their main Mini car. To get people excited about the idea of an electric Mini BMW may have made a mistake though. BMW have produced a one off electric classic Mini. Why is this a mistake you ask, well if they are capable of making one electric classic Mini whats stopping them from reproducing the original Mini that has been such a success since the 60’s. If someone had to choose between the modern Mini and the original there would be a lot of new Minis left over.

Electric Mini 1The electric Mini was specifically built for the New York International Auto show as promotional material for Minis electric future. The Mini on the surface resembles the very same Mini on which its based with its classic red paint complemented by the white roof and iconic bonnet stripe. On closer inspection though the original Mini badge has been replaced with a classically styled version of the new Mini electric emblem seen on both the bonnet and wheel hubs. BMW are saying: “The spontaneous power of its electric motor provides a new dimension to the unmistakable go-kart feeling”. Shame nobody will ever get to feel that ‘new dimension’ as they aren’t making any more.

Electric Mini 5Why is it that when nobody cares about a classic car, the company seems to be determined to bring it back, cars such as the Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip that I talked about last week. But when there is a clear want for a modern version of a classic the company refuses such as this Mini. BMW make us a new Mini! (well not a new Mini just the old one again). I guess we’ll just have to pick up an original classic or buy an incredibly over priced Mini Remastered from DB automotive.

Classic Mini Electric Gallery

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What do you think of an electric Mini, let us know in the comments.

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Jeep unveil 7 ‘New’ concepts ahead of the Moab Easter Safari

JeepJeeps have never been massively popular in the UK, the UK has always preferred to go with a Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser for their off road pursuits. Maybe it’s out of national pride for the UK car industry in the case of Land Rover, or maybe its because of the Land Cruisers reliable go anywhere ability but Jeeps have never really set the market on fire over here. In the US however the Jeep pride is alive and well. The Jeep is the American Land Rover, and it is completely the reverse situation of the UK the Jeep is king where the Land Rover has never really succeeded across the pond.

This is probably why Jeep goes all out for the Jeep enthusiasts who congregated at Moab for the 52nd annual Jeep safari. Jeep have unveiled no less than 7 new concepts for the fans of the classic machine which is still recognisable as the original Willys Jeep from back in WW2. “Pushing the limit is something the Jeep brand is no stranger to and these seven new, exciting and capable concept vehicles are the latest example of that,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep brand, FCA “Every year, we look forward to introducing new concept vehicles to our enthusiasts. The Moab Easter Jeep Safari presents a unique and perfect opportunity to collect valuable insight from our most loyal customers.”

Jeep 4SpeedThe first of the seven concepts is the Jeep 4Speed, the 4Speed is a lightened and simplified version of the standard Wrangler, featuring the first introduction of an all new 2.0 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine the 4Speed uses a number of carbon fibre parts to reduce weight this means the 4Speed rides two inches higher than the standard Wrangler. Despite its name the 4Speed teams it’s 4 cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The 4Speed has been shortened by 55cm whilst retaining the same wheelbase, which means greatly improved approach and departure angles, essential for off road motoring.

Jeep SandstormThe Jeep Sandstorm Concept is a Baja inspired truck which Jeep say is “all about blitzing long sandy straightaways whilst still being capable of handling the daily driving duties”. To do this the Sandstorm uses high tech and ‘extremely heavy duty’ suspension and a high-powered 6.4-litre V8 engine the Sandstorm uses a much longer wheelbase than the standard Wrangler to improve its high-speed capabilities and stability.

Jeep B-UteThe Jeep B-Ute is a car that most Britains may recognise as it’s based on the Renegade. The standard Renegade isn’t the most off road capable of cars so Jeep have given it a buff makeover with aggressive wheels and tyres, higher ground clearance and a roof rack, transforming a previously baby Jeep into a off road machine.

Jeep Wagoneer RoadtripThe next vehicle is something that is becoming more and more common lately, it’s a remake of the original Jeep Wagoneer, called the Roadtrip. The Wagoneer Roadtrip is a hark back to the early days of Jeep where they finally strayed away from the Wrangler platform and built something that would eventually become the Grand Cherokee in the UK. To try and keep the nostalgia intact Jeep have used a 5.7 Litre V8 teamed with a comparably small 4 speed gearbox, underneath however the Wagoneer Roadtrip is an all new Jeep with modern suspension and wheels and tyres.

Jeep Nacho JeepThe Nacho Jeep is probably the least interesting of the new concepts because its basically just a Jeep Wrangler with all the options added on, Jeep have even called it a ‘rolling catalogue’ the only other major upgrade is the striking Nacho yellow paintjob making the Nacho Jeep really standout amongst the black and grey cars on the road today.

Jeep JeepsterLike the Wagoneer Roadtrip the Jeep Jeepster is essentially a celebration of Jeeps past, using a clour palette from the 1966 concept the Jeepster is really trying to evoke the past with modern styling, the windscreen is raked back by 2.5 degrees to create a compact design along with the shortened roof. Very little of the Jeepster is any different from the standard Wrangler Rubicon and is just trying to reminisce about the early days of Jeeps success, like many other retro remakes.

Jeep J-WagonThe J-Wagon is appears to be just another Jeep with all the options selected, based on the long wheel based Wrangler Sahara the J-Wagon is a sea of black and leather, basically a premium Wrangler, Jeeps attempt at combating the incoming sea of Range Rovers whilst the J-Wagon will almost certainly be more capable off road that the little Evoque and maybe even the new Velar its unlikely to stand up in the luxury stakes.

When I first got the release on these 7 new Jeeps I was excited, finally a company going all out for the enthusiasts but on close inspection it seems that Jeep have merely gone through their catalogue and built a number of cars in interesting colours, the most interesting appears to be the Wagoneer Roadtrip as it’s a celebration of Jeeps past and is something actually new.

What do you think of Jeeps new wave of concepts, let us know in the comments.

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The Best looking everyday cars

Vauxhall InsigniaThere are a lot of cars on the roads today, most are just shapeless blobs that fade away into the background but occasionally there are cars that like to stand out from the crowd, not million pound super cars, not one off special editions just your everyday family saloon. Here are just some of the cars that stand out against the dull grey background and ooze style, design and creativity.

Citroen C6Citroen C6: Now when all cars are commissioned we see countless design drawings and fantasy sketches that make any car look cool and stylish, but rarely does the final production model look anything like the concept car let alone these initial design drawings. The Citroen C6 is the exception, this big executive saloon has so many interesting features I could write this whole article on just this car. Everything from its concave rear window to its sweeping lines stand out from the sea of German black and grey boxes. Unfortunately the public didn’t agree and the C6 was a flop but every now and again you’ll see a C6 on the roads and think that is just a special design that we rarely see these days.

Ford MondeoFord Mondeo: It’s weird that the Mondeo isn’t the only car on the road these days, one of the best cars to drive in its class, affordable and good looking are just some of the reasons the Mondeo should lead the way for car design, and whilst popular it isn’t the world dominating car it was from the late 90’s to early 2000’s. But weirdly it is the best looking it has ever been, its sloping rear screen makes the Mondeo look sleek whilst its front end is quietly aggressive and purposeful. Top Gear did a news piece on the show by briefly revealing an image of the Mondeo and asking the audience what they thought it was. The audience thought it was an Aston Martin, and that’s as higher praise as I can think offer to describe your everyday family saloon.

Renault Laguna CoupeRenault Laguna Coupe: The Renault Laguna had always been a bit of a slush box prior to 2007 it was a fairly mundane cheap saloon but nothing more. It felt like Renault had cared more about their safety ratings than how the car looked and drove, but that all changed in 2007 when Renault unveiled the amazing Laguna Coupe. Suddenly Renault were the centre of attention again with this amazing sweeping coupe that most Italians would be jealous of. But again it seems the public couldn’t recognise good design and the Renault Laguna again flopped with Renault pulling the plug entirely in 2015 with the Lagunas replacement the also great looking Renault Talisman not even being sold in the UK.

Vauxhall Insignia 2Vauxhall Insignia: Vauxhall’s previous attempts at a good-looking saloon only went as far as the Vectra, ie not well. But since the introduction of the Insignia replacement in 2008 the company has been going from strength to strength improving on the design with every iteration. The current version of the Insignia also manages the difficult task of looking good in both saloon and estate form. The Insignias best achievement is to fade into the background. It doesn’t try to hard like you could say about the Citroen C6 previously mentioned, you could just pass by it in the multi storey car park, but when you do look it grabs your attention and holds your attention till it goes out of sight.

Volvo S90Volvo S90: Much like Renault on this list Volvo were better known for their safety rather than their stylish design, but in the S90’s case it manages both. Volvo has been on a roll as of late, the XC90 looks fantastic, the XC60 and XC40 the same. The S90 is just the next in line of great looking Volvo cars. Volvo are on the ups with the S90 and are taking direct aim at the German elite from Mercedes Audi and BMW. Its smart front end makes a change from the rather boring styling of previous Volvos, and its striking rear end is dramatically different from Volvos of the past making the S90 one to look out for on the roads.

What do you think are the best looking everyday cars on the roads today, let us know in the comments.

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Nissan are ready for the slopes with the Nissan 370Zki

The Nissan 370Z is getting a bit on the older side nowadays, its still a great driving reliable sports car that can still compete with its much fresher newer competitors. But it’s the boring choice, when somebody asks you the question what are you driving now? And you answer the 370Z there is never a follow up question. The 370Z doesn’t need one it’s a known quantity. But like most sports cars (particularly convertibles) it does struggle when it gets cold. Driving a rear wheel drive car in the snow can be a scary experience as the front wheels seem to offer no indication of what direction you’re going.

 

To combat this clearly dire error on their part Nissan have unveiled a new version of the Nissan 370Z to directly address the cars winter issues. The Nissan 370Zki (pronounced 370 Ski) is what happens when you cross a convertible Japanese sports car and a snowmobile. Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show the 370Zki uses a set of ‘Dominator’ tracks from American Track Truck inc and a set of custom skis instead of the front wheels also from American Track Truck inc. The Nissan 370Zki is only a custom car for the show as explained by Michael Bunce, Vice President of product planning at Nissan North America: “The Nissan 370Zki continues our recent tradition of bringing imaginative winter vehicle concepts to the Chicago Auto Show. With the Nissan Z’s long heritage of motorsports competition, the 370Zki seemed like a natural combination”.

 

You would be surprised as to how much modification was needed to create the 370Zki, a custom lift kit was used to raise the standard car 3 inches, along with aftermarket springs and wheel spacers at the rear to ensure the tracks would fit onto the little convertible. The only other issues the team ran into were rerouting the standard brake lines and exhaust. The front end only saw modification to the suspension to ensure the skis could turn sufficiently, the skis were fitted to the standard wheel hubs with some spacers. The engine and gearbox were custom mounted but remained mechanically standard.

 

So expect the 370Zki to be roaming around your local high street next time there a light sprinkling of snow. It’s an insane creation and could only have come out of America. What I love about the 370Zki though is that it was created in house, its just a bit of fun which is something I feel the motor industry has lost over the years, not everything needs to be a dominating road warrior built to beat the world, sometimes a car can just be a bit of fun.

What do you think about the Nissan 370Zki, let us know in the comments.

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Range Rover to unveil SV Coupe at Geneva

Range RoverMore Land Rover news this week, Range Rover have announced the unveiling of a full size luxury SUV Coupe called the SV Coupe at the Geneva Motor show in March. The SV Coupe has also been built to celebrate Land Rovers 70th anniversary just as the Defender Works V8 I talked about last week was. The SV Coupe is designed to pay homage to the original Range Rover.

Range Rover SV CoupeGerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Design Officer, said: “The Range Rover SV Coupé is a highly compelling design with peerless refinement and uncompromised sophistication from its breath-taking exterior proportions to its sumptuous, beautifully appointed, interior. This is a vehicle that will resonate on an emotional level.”

Range StormerThe idea of a coupe Range Rover has been thrown around for a long time, the Range Stormer concept car was revealed at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. The Stormer concept eventually became the Range Rover Sport but the concept was an aggressive low-slung three-door coupe. All we have at the moment is an image of the luxurious interior. The Range Rover SV Coupe will be built at Land Rovers special operations centre in Warwickshire the Special operations centre is only for Land Rovers most premium vehicles, the Defender Works V8 will be built there alongside the SV Coupe.

Range Rover SportRange Rover are saying the SV Coupe will be a dramatic addition to their portfolio with a, “seductive body design and a supremely refined interior.” Only 999 SV Coupes will be built with an estimated starting price of over £150,000 making it the most expensive Range Rover currently on sale and what Range rover hope to be the most luxurious and premium SUV on the market today.

What do you think of a Range Rover Coupe, let us know in the comments.

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The Land Rover Defender is back, sort of

Land Rover Defender Works V8 2It was a sad day back in 2016 when Land Rover finally announced the death of the legendary Defender, a car that had been at the top of its league since 1945. The Defender was killed off due to emissions and safety concerns that made the Defender too expensive to continue making. Weirdly however Land Rover announced today the release of a new V8 Defender. Built to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Land Rover, the Land Rover Defender Works V8 is pretty much the same car that ceased production back in 2016, but this time comes with a 5.0 litre V8.

That big 5.0 litre V8 means that this defender is actually the fastest Defender ever, with a 0-62 time of just 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 106MPH, quick for what is essentially a shed on wheels. That modern V8 is teamed with an 8 speed automatic transmission with sport mode, another first for a Defender. The Defenders underpinnings have also been upgraded to cope with the abuse of that new engine, the Works Defender comes with uprated brakes, springs, dampers and anti roll bars.

Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classics director said: “The Idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014, when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”

Whilst little has changed on the outside of the Works Defender V8 other than a new fuel filler cap and some shiny new aggressive alloys the interior has been swathed in leather and the seats have been replaced with sports style Recaro seats. Both 90 (short wheelbase) and 110 (long wheel base) versions of the Land Rover Defender Works V8 will be built with prices starting at £150,000 for the special edition 90.

What do you think of the new Land Rover Defender Works V8, let us know in the comments.

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Car of the year 2017

So 2017 is over and done with which means it’s time for me to name my car of the year. The overall theme of last year seems to have been one of surprises, many car companies changed their ways last year and brought out cars that were surprisingly good as is evidenced by this list. The competition has been one of the fiercest ever and it was a struggle to come up with just 5 cars to make the list but I persevered and here we go.

McLaren 720S

  1. McLaren 720S

The McLaren 720S is an amazing car that beats the world in its segment and even challenges cars in much higher areas. Better than the Ferrari 488 and the Lamborghini Huracan, the 720S manages to continue McLarens dominance of the super car market. But the 720S doesn’t reach higher on the list because it does exactly what McLaren has done since their return to the road car game. All previous McLaren road cars have been world-beaters, the MP4-12C beat the Ferrari 458, the 650S beat the 488 the McLaren 720S should beat the world because that’s exactly what it was built to do, but nowadays beating the world seems just to easy for McLaren.

Kia Stinger

  1. Kia Stinger

In my introduction I talked about surprises, one of the biggest surprises of the year was the rise of Kia, a company more commonly known by their reliable yet boring hatchbacks. The Kia Stinger is an off shoot for the Korean company and one many may have missed purely because of the relatively humdrum badge on the front. Whilst the Stinger may not be a match for the big boys of the super saloon world like the Audi RS4 and BMW M3 the little Stinger is easily a match for the lesser S4 and 330i. The little Stinger is a step in the right direction for Kia and has brought them to the forefront of the motoring world, 2018 will certainly be a year of growth for the company and its exciting to see what they’ll come up with next.

Bugatti Chiron

  1. Bugatti Chiron

When we talk about world-beaters there’s only really one name in the conversation. The Veyron was one of the greatest cars ever made and its sequel is certainly something to worry about. The Chiron is an incredible machine, faster than the Veyron and possibly even prettier. Other companies from around the world have beaten its top speed but many of those are just stripped out racers, the Chiron is one of the fastest cars in the world but also one of the most luxurious, leather and carbon fibre team to create on of the nicest interior I have ever seen. The Bugatti Chiron is special because it dominates in both luxury and speed, whilst the handling may be compromised by its incredible power, its presence cannot be understated

Hyundai i30 N

  1. Hyundai i30 N

Who would have ever thought a Hyundai would be higher on this list than a Bugatti? Well this Hyundai isn’t just any old Hyundai, it’s the greatest car the company has ever made. Hyundai’s first foray into the fiercely competitive hot hatch market is a successful one, whilst the little i30 N is unlikely to keep up with the likes of the Golf R and Civic Type R the i30 N is much more of a match for the lower grade Golf GTI, its power and handling are much better than expected from the budget brand. The i30 N is yet another example of Hyundai’s desperation to be accepted as a serious contender in the hot hatch market, it’s a step in the right direction certainly but the lacklustre interior falls far behind that of the Germans meaning it only reaches second on my list.

Alpine Vision

  1. Alpine A110

When I first heard of the return of the long since forgotten Alpine brand I thought, “oh great another attempt to rekindle a brand nobody cares about that will eventually fail.” And when I heard about the new A110 sports car coming from the company I thought, “it’ll just be a badly built kit car with second hand Renault parts” but I’m glad to say I was wrong both times. The Alpine A110 is another of the retro remakes that we’ve seen in the likes of the VW Beetle and Fiat 500 but this is the first time we’ve seen a reimagined sports car. The A110 is going up against stiff competition in the form of the new 718 Cayman, and whilst being less powerful with only 249BHP compared to the 718’s 361BHP the Alpine weighs less meaning 0-60 times are similar of around 4.5 seconds. I didn’t want to like the Alpine I thought is was going to be a cheap money grab by Renault but the little A110 is a fantastically handling sports car that can take on the world which is why it has won my car of the year for 2017.

Congratulations Alpine

What were your highlights of 2017 let me know in the comments.

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