Mini take inspiration from the 1275 GT in the 1499GT

Mini 1499 GT 9Mini have shown off the newest addition to the range, the 1499 GT. The new model is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT model from the original range. The new 1499 GT uses a turbocharged 1.5 litre 3 cylinder engine producing 101BHP, the same engine as the rest of the base Mini range. The 1499 GT 0-62 time is the same as the rest of the base level Minis, 10.1 seconds.

Mini 1499 GT 4So what’s different about the new Mini then, well the new 1499 GT is only available in two colours, white or black. The Black model features exclusive decals in gold, whilst the white version gets the same decals in black. The Mini 1499 GT also gets the front and rear bumpers and the spoiler from the top end JCW Mini. The key part of the Mini 1499GT is the JCW Mini suspension it gets. Making this Mini more than just a visual upgrade.

Mini 1499 GT 7The Mini 1499 GT is on sale now for £16,990 and Mini are expecting the 1499 examples to sell out quickly. But is it worth it? Not really the handling of the standard Mini is exceptional, is the JCW better yes but it’s not life changing. The 1499 GT is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT, my personal favourite Mini. What was special about the 1275 GT was the bigger engine than the standard 998CC. To keep the base model engine in this supposedly special edition gives the view that this is just an on paper upgrade and has no real significant value to the Mini brand. Nothing is new on the 1499 GT its just a new combination from existing Mini parts.

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The London Motor Show

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I attended the London Motor Show this week end and whilst its not exactly first on the list of priority motor shows (it may not have even made the list) that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great. Whilst it doesn’t have unveiling of new concepts or stunning live show its small size makes it a lot less tiring to get around. As time has gone on the London Motor Show has shrunk a lot in size and admittedly in quality. This years event took place at Battersea park and the small venue certainly hurt the event, a few years ago I attended the show at the Excel centre, a much larger arena and it also had a live show going on at the same time. This years show was less than half the size of that event and I feel the London Motor Shows days may be numbered.

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The cars though didn’t disappoint, a strong showing from Aston Martin led the show with the Vantage, Rapide, Vanquish, DB11 and the new concept the Valkyrie all in attendance. Aston was one of the few major manufacturers to make the trip but Porsche also attended, with a Cayenne, Panamera, 718 Boxter and 911 Turbo S. the star of the show however and the car that drew the most eyes was from the little company called David Brown Automotive, with their newly unveiled Mini Remastered. The little car was swarmed with people through out the event with a neighbouring Rolls Royce Ghost and Lamborghini Aventador being left in the corner to sit and sulk.

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The show also saw the new Alpine A110 on show, another popular choice among the attendees the stunning white example drew eyes all over. The Abarth 124 Spyder looked great in an impressive shade of blue. Outside the building the Chelsea Cars showroom put out a selection of gorgeous classic to look at including a Mercedes 190SL convertible, and Aston Martin DB6 and a Jaguar XK140.

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Whilst I doubt this event will be the last, I do suspect it may be one of the last, the show struggles to gain the attention of the major manufacturers and is barely scraping the number of attendees it needs to succeed. The show is basically forgotten internationally, being overtaken by the likes of Detroit and Tokyo auto shows even the Paris Motor show.

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Enough with the retro styling

MINI grows

Cars get old. It’s just a fact of life and when cars get old you replace them with something new and better. The trouble comes in when something is so iconic that the public just can’t seem to let it go. So the company decides to just make the old car again just with new technology. We first saw it with the New Beetle, which was just a Golf in a dress with a flower pot stuck to the dash. Then we saw the new Mini from BMW, which was a bit more successful but has in no way reached the iconic status of the original Mini. Finally we had the Fiat 500 a car that in the past pretty much ran Italy, but again the new 500 is just a Fiat Panda with a new body.

BeetleThis obsession with the past has to stop. Cars become iconic over time and trying to recreate them in the modern age just doesn’t work simply because those legendary cars of the time in fact weren’t that good to begin with when you compare them to todays standards. The VW Beetle was a car born out of war just to get Germany back on its feet and I don’t think it would be as revered today if it hadn’t had a red and blue stripe down it and the number 53 on the door. Both the Mini and the Fiat 500 are death traps you would be safer on the road in a paper bag than one of those.

Citroen Type HWhy am I ranting about this now, well because Citroen have decided to get in on the action with a new body kit for their Citroen Relay van, the kit is meant to look like the Citroen type H van, which was first made in 1947. Now this is a van that is quite literally a shed with wheels and while it maybe old, maybe even a classic, it in no way deserves to be modernized in this way. The new H is to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the original and thankfully only 70 will be made.

BMW M2 2002Please car companies stop with the retro cars, how can any new cars grow to be as iconic when you keep reminding us of the past with these new retro cars that merely act to damage the reputation of the original. Let the icons live on in classic car form and create new classics, cars like the VW Corrado or the BMW M2 (which while it copies the 2002 Turbo ideas is its own car entirely), cars that are as brilliant today as they will be 20 to 30 years from now.

What do you think of this retro revolution sound off in the comments.

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The Mini Clubman gets the JCW Treatment

 

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The Mini Clubman is now more powerful and sportier than ever. the Mini Clubman has been given a going over by the John Cooper works team, to create a car that BMW say: “Offers all the style, practicality and fresh-thinking of the Clubman, combined with the high performance and sporting dynamics of the John Cooper Works range.” The New JCW Clubman boasts an impressive 231BHP from the new 2-litre turbocharged engine, 39 more than the standard Cooper S. The larger intercooler on the JCW gives the added bonus of 350nm of torque.

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However all the sporty new upgrades don’t mean Mini have forgotten about the emissions. The JCW Clubman reaches a respectable 38.2MPG with CO2 output of 168g/km however if the optional 8-speed sports steptronic gearbox is fitted the Mini gets boosted to 41.5MPG and only 154g/km certainly a worthy option. The new Clubman JCW also features a unique four wheel drive system allowing the car to reach peak performance in all road conditions. The system along with the aid of launch control allows the Clubman JCW to get to 62MPH in 6.3 seconds.

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The Clubman JCW sees all the suspension upgrades you expect to see on a quick Mini, variable suspension options with Sport, Mid and Green. Sport mode also increases the sensitivity of the throttle pedal along with providing a louder engine sound through the vehicle acoustics. Brakes have been upgraded as well with the Clubman JCW seeing 4 piston calipers from brake specialists Brembo.

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As you’d expect the upgrades aren’t just underneath the body, the exterior has received the sporting treatment with the addition of complete new front face with intakes in the place of the standard Clubman’s fog lights directing cool air to the cars brakes. Unique sills roof spoiler and rear apron have been added to reduce aerodynamic lift. And of course not forgetting the smattering of JCW badges across the whole car, on the sills the front wing indicators and the front grill.

Mini Concepts could make production

 

Mini Superleggera

Two of Mini’s concepts have the possibility of making production, thanks to overwhelming support from the public. The concepts in question are the Rocketman first unveiled in 2011, and the Superleggera, a two door convertible sports car revealed in 2014. Ralph Mahler, Mini’s Product Chief said to Autocar: “The Rocketman is inspiring us as of today”. He went on to say that the Rocketman would be more likely to make production as a electric car, based on the underpinning of parent company BMW’s i3.

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The likelihood of us seeing the Superleggera are much more in question however, one of the few things keeping it going is the love the public had for it when it was revealed in 2014. The Superleggera was a team effort from both Mini and coachbuilder Touring Superleggera. With the complete flop of the Mini roadster in the last generation of mini, it’s difficult to say whether BMW will bite the bullet and put it into production.

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This does show a fascinating future for Mini though, what with the release of the next generation Mini, 5 door and Clubman last year. Mini also plan to reveal another concept at the celebrations for BMW’s centenary on June 16th in London. At the moment it is too early to say that you’ll be seeing the Rocketman and the Superleggera on the roads any time soon but it is certainly a step in the right direction, taking Mini back to the forefront of car production. They are two fields Mini haven’t entered for a long time, the tiny car market has been held by the Japanese since the death of the original Mini, and the Germans are only just daring to step into it, with the VW Up, hopefully the Rocketman will be the next.

Mazda reveal Speedster and Spyder MX5’s

Mazda MX5

Mazda have revealed two new concepts at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The MX5 Speedster and the MX5 Spyder were both revealed. The Spyder is roughly a standard 2016 MX5, but instead of the standard folding roof, it features a bikini top. The Spyder tips the scales at just over a tonne in weight. And features a sleek mercury silver exterior with brown leather interior, to match the bikini roof. The Spyder features various aerodynamic accessories along with lightweight 17-inch Yokohama ADVAN Racing RS II wheels. Overall nothing to get excited about, it may be released as a special edition further into the MX5’s life cycle.

MX5 Spyder

What you should get excited about is the MX5 Speedster, similar to past speedsters its unlikely to make production, but with rumours of the Mini Superleggera maybe making production in the future, the Speedster would be a perfect rival for it. The Speedster is a fully striped back version of the MX5, weighing just under a tonne, they’ve removed the windscreen, and given the car carbon fibre doors and seats. Mazda say it was based around vintage roadsters. They wanted to recreate the classic wind in the hair feelings of the past. (I thought that was what all convertibles were for) and with removing the windscreen they also added the lovely taste of bugs in the teeth.

MX5 Speedster

Overall I doubt either of these cars will see production, not anytime soon at least but they are at least exciting glimpses into what could be. But the Lotus 2-Eleven made production and I never saw that coming, the Speedster is remarkably similar to that, why not? It would undoubtedly sell, provided they kept production low, they could create a true limited edition sports car, not some mass produced plastic track day car.

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New cars spotted at the Nurburgring

Jag F pace

(Photos courtesy of Autocar)

Two new cars have been spotted at the Nurburgring this week an its not what you think, not the usual lightweight sports cars or all out track monster. Two 4×4 cross over type vehicles, why I don’t know. But Jaguar and Mini have been testing at the famous ring of death.

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Jaguar have been testing their new F-Pace cross over ahead of its reveal at the Frankfurt motor show, first of all I have to say I really don’t like the look of the F pace, its kind of like the Cayenne in that it looks like a vertically stretched sports car, ie: ugly. The F-Pace has been seen with a 3.0 litre Jag V6 but in the future we may see r version with the usual 5.0 litre V8 we have come to expect from the Jaguar sports division. The F-Pace is expected to have a price tag of between £35,000 and £50,000 and go up against the likes of the Porsche Macan and the BMW X4 in 2016.

Mini Countryman

Mini however were for some reason testing their new version of the Countryman around the ring. The 2016 Countryman appears to be a much lower riding car than the previous model, it almost appear to be a cross between the Countryman and the Clubman we saw at the Geneva motor show this year despite its larger dimensions than the previous Countryman, don’t worry its still ugly but what large cross over isn’t these days.

Finally why are they testing these at the Nurburgring, I understand testing them on the road but how many mothers on the way back from picking the kids up from school are going to head straight for the race track. These cars may be able to tackle the ring but why, just why?

Mini are at it again

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Mini are at it again designing stupid cars nobody wants. This time they’ve made a Pick-up version of the Paceman. WHY! Nobody wanted the Paceman in the first place and now there’s a version that still nobody wants. And do you know what’s even more annoying. I kinda like the look of it. It’s similar to the old street cars that were made to go off-road like the Renault Espace Off-road and the Rover 25 Streetwise. Please bear in mind these cars were crap and should never have been made.

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Why do I like the look of it, well its something that’s so familiar but ruggedized and made to look more classic off-road car with big wheels and fog lights on the roof. Happily the car is only a concept at the moment but the worrying thing is that the Clubman, Countryman and Paceman were all just concepts at one point.

The New GIANT Mini

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 Yes there’s a new Mini and guess what its still giant. The third generation BMW Mini is still a giant of a car compared to its predecessors. And this time the engines are smaller. Hmm, bigger car smaller engines, I think someone needs to tell BMW they got it wrong. The brand new 3 (yes that’s right) 3 cylinder 1.5litre engine in the cooper get 134 BHP whilst the 2 litre 4 banger in the Cooper S gets 189 BHP.

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This new Mini is just a badge for BMW to sell this car is no relation to the original classic mini its too big, too safe, and too German. In the original if you crashed you died simple as that. BMW Board member Peter Schwarzenbauer said, “It’s a brand new car under the skin and it retains that go-kart feel to drive”. I somehow doubt this new Mini will be able to out handle the original Mini as that car was a sensation.

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Until BMW can make a Mini as small and fun as the original I reserve the right to completely ignore it. This mini isn’t a mini it’s a BMW in a retro coat, and no painting a union jack on it does not make it British. BMW say the car will be built in there Oxfordshire plant with sales to start early next year.

Another Legend Dies

land rover defender

Last week it was announced that the VW Camper will die at the end of the year. Now it has been announced that the definitive off-roader the Land Rover Defender will die at the end of 2015.  What is it will all the legends dying lately its horrible. However the Land Rover has lasted longer than most, land rover began in the same year as TVR and the Citroen 2CV.

Land Rover

Its said that 75% of the 2 million Landy’s made are still on the road today. The Defender has been a legend around the world, and legendary in England particularly, it goes along with the Jaguar E-Type and the Original Mini, true British legends. Although the Defender has evolved over the years it has still kept the original style and look.

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The Land Rover Defender name will live on a new car but it will never be the same. The Land Rover DC100 won’t ever have the same following as the original. It has an uprated version of the current Discovery 4 chassis, and will bring all new 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to the party. Land Rover have said that we are unlikely to see the new Defender until 2016 at the earliest this would follow the death of the Defender.

DC100

The problem with the new Defender is that it makes a turn to the newer electronic 4×4 terrain response system used in all the current Land Rovers, and Range Rovers. This means one of the few companies who use the mechanical system is gone and now we are stuck with little lights telling us we’re in 4×4 mode rather than a big clunk from underneath the car, which is annoying.