Mini, the brand that has been an icon of everything that is quintessentially and vibrantly British and youthful, is poised to celebrate 60 in 2019. And doing so by being plugged in to their passionate customers who love driving and winning races.
Mini quickly became the car of choice for rock stars, film personalities as well as royals an common folk alike when it was first introduced in 1959. The little cars caught they eye of racing legend John Cooper whose name has become synonymous with the brand. Who then took the brand on to win many races in the 1960’s. Today not much has changed,
What Makes a Mini?
At a recent meeting of automotive journalists in New York City, MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri shared the five essential elements of what makes a Mini.
Emotional: Mini is not a rational purchase, you buy a Mini for the fun of it.
Excitable: The mini makes people excited and has since it was first introduced as an answer to expensive fuel prices.
Fun to drive: Known for go kart-like handling, Khatri stated that the Countryman is no-doubt the best driving SUV on the market.
Personable: 70% of owners name their Mini and make them an important part of the family.
Customization: Even the banner on the outside of the UK factory says 1 in 800K. Mini has always offered customers a high level of customization for their cars.
Mini takes its owners and enthusiasts very seriously, involving them in events like Mini Takes The States, a two-week long driving adventure in the USA each year. This is a chance for members of the Mini Corporate Staff, parts of the racing team, and everyday owners of the vehicles get a chance to enjoy time driving the cars together, as well as getting feedback on new and experimental products.
Racing is Heritage
Mini has taken racing seriously since 1960 when John Cooper first raced one of their cars. Mini has both a Professional race team in the USA, LAP Motorsports as well as supporting owners of its cars by sponsoring them to take it to the track at SCCA and other ametur events that often lead drivers into a full-time racing career. As Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport found out after taking delivery right off the dealership floor of a couple of JCWorks cars his team would drive to win. He stated “Mini’s street cars are race cars.”
Perocarpi shared that the best kept secret in the automotive sector is how good the JCWorks factory cars are. That in the short preparation time his race shop had to prepare a couple of Mini’s to get out on the track, he found out they needed little tuning, just roll cages. Though on their first race, how officials made them remove the stock Brembo brakes from their JCWorks Mini and replace them with brakes from a Mini SE, and they still won the race. Not unlike the middle 1960’s when John Cooper’s Motorsports Team’s Mini was disqualified for having double filament light bulbs.
Electrification, while the rest of the industry was busy looking at hybrids back in the late 2000’s, Mini in 2009 leased an exclusive Mini-E edition of 500 Mini-E cars to the USA and 40 to the UK. Using that experience, Mini’s owner group, BMW, took this real-world experience and developed the 2012 BMW 1-Series Active-e and the I3 as well as BMW’s I8 super car.
Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager with Mini shared that the Mini Countryman PHEV and BMW’s I8 shared similar powertrain components, just inverted, Mini’s PHEV Countryman has the 3-cyl in the front and the
electric motors in the back, with the I8 has the ICE (internal combustion engine) in the back and electric motors in the front, both with AWD when needed.
Expect to see a third generation Mini SE EV, built on BMW’s electric architecture, in production and on sale in 2020. And yes there already is a John Cooper Works GP Concept out there so expect to see the JCW Performance being powered by electricity as well.
Mini developed to be an urban brand does not take its heritage nor future technology for granted. You will find that they will continue to build fun to drive vehicles after 60 years and plan to do so in the future. Plus Mini is still offering a manual transmission on their internal combustion powered products, a rarity in today’s automatic world.Mini has found special edition limited production vehicles to be part of its success. The latest, a Black Knight Edition, will be debuting at the 2018 LA Auto Show. A JCW 3-door hard top with- custom trim, handles and black color combination of which 150 examples will make it to the USA, arriving in first quarter 2019. An International Orange and Starlight Edition will join the Black Knight.
And they will never take their customers for granted, continuing with a successful enthusiast programs along with racecar driver training.
Words and Images (except where noted) by William West Hopper
Formula E Racing completes the 2018 eleven-city tour on July 14 & 15 by returning to Brooklyn’s Red Hook, for the second year, running on a purpose-built closed 14-turn, 2.373 Km long street course. The Panasonic Jaguar Race team will go into the New York Race in fifth place, with drivers Mitch Evans and Nelson Piquet Jr. at the wheel of a Jaguar I-Type 2 race car.
Formula Racing, thought of more as an international event, racing in cities like Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, has found its way to the USA once again. Racing has always been a way automakers test vehicles and components to build better street vehicles as well as promoting the brands. Over the past four years, Formula E Racing has helped promote and develop the technology used in the modern-day world of electric vehicles by brands like Jaguar, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and others.
While Jaguar has historically been involved in auto racing, they returned to racing in October 2016 by being the first premium manufacturer to join ABB FIA Formula E series with an I-Type 1 racecar and have plans already confirmed for an I-Type 3 car for next year’s series.
This year’s I-Type 2 electric racecar has a 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph. powered by a 200 kWh McLaren built battery, and charged by a sustainable glyercine fuel source. The car produces 270 bhp in qualifying mode and runs at 180 kWh producing 240 bhp in an energy saving race mode. The I-Type 2 racecar has a completely new powertrain, including motor, inverter, gearbox, cooling system and brake by wire, replacing last season’s mechanical brake system. In all 219 components have been changed from the original I-Type 1 car. While the batteries are charged prior to running the race, the driver adjusts the brake pads from within the car to get the best regenerative braking power available.
Formula E Racing
Formula E is the world’s first electric street racing series powered by renewable energy with a focus on developing electric vehicle powertrains. To control costs, all of the race cars share common components including the carbon fiber chassis and battery. The team and manufacturers can customize their own powertrain, which includes the motor, transmission, inverter, rear suspension, and software to maximize speed and endurance.
Electric vehicles are as fast on the track as they are in the planning and development stage. FIA Formula E cars are proposed, prepared, tested and qualified in a short five-month period prior to the opening of each season. With one-day races, they get just 2 to 3 practice sessions to qualify for each race.
Formula E is disrupting the boundaries of motorsports with a focus on technology, innovation, and sustainability, as well as spectator entertainment. Environmentally friendly and clean electric vehicles show how sustainable transportation can be the key to lowering air pollution in urban centers and lessening global emissions. The series is committed to reducing the carbon footprint with improved efficiencies by powering the races by 100% renewable energy by next season.
Electric Production Racing Car – The Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY Street E-Racecars
When the Jaguar I-PACE, a fully electric four-door hatchback, goes on sale later this year, the brand will be the first to have both a Formula E race team and a road going production EV available to consumers. Both the Jaguar I-PACE and the current I-TYPE 2 Formula E racecar use shared technologies. Similarities include the use of high-efficiency permanent magnet electric motors and pouch battery cell technology for maximum powertrain performance.
While the actual FIA Formula E Grand Prix Race takes up only a portion of the four-day stop in each city, an eTROPHY Street E-Race series is being initiated with next year’s 5th season starting in December of 2018. Jaguar is participating with 20 identically set up I-Pace racecars designed, engineered and built by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
The I-Pace eTROPHY is an all-wheel drive with front and rear synchronous motors for a total of maximum peak power output of 400PS 700Nm torque. With a lightweight interior with an FIA approved spec safety cage, seat, and harness. As well as a modified racing chassis to increase stiffness, aerodynamic enhancements, and chassis adjustability to ensure closer racing. Using the same 90kWhr lithium-ion battery found in the production I-Pace, dedicated motorsport software and controls system developed by Jaguar Racing for Formula E to provide sophisticated energy, power, and regen strategy control.
Jaguar’s Team Director, James Barkley, shared details the brand’s “Race to Innovate,” how the Formula E experience creates tangible R&D benefits for the electrification of future Jaguar and Land Rover road cars. How the new all-electric I-Pace has benefited from the real world of Formula E series racing.
“We are developing the next generation of EV technology on the race track. This is why we race,” said James Barclay, Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team Director. “Formula E racing provides an ideal performance test bed for EV technology in a punishing, high-performance environment. It is incredibly exciting for the team to be a part of this revolutionary engineering exchange. We’re looking forward to finishing off our second season in New York City next month, a year which has seen us go from strength to strength.”
Twenty I-Pace eTROPHY will be available for a complete Ride and Drive package from Jaguar at a retail cost of £200,000 + VAT per car and eligible for three years. Not including the FIA eTROPHY fee of £450,00 + VAT entry fee per annum, providing entry into ten international race weekends as the main support Championship to ABB FIA Formula E. Drivers are required to have a minimum of an international C Circuit Race License and be categorized as bronze, silver or gold FIA Driver. Teams will compete for race by race prize money for top ten competitors and an end of season prize for three entrants and top three drivers.
Words by William West Hopper, Images by Jaguar Media and William West Hopper
March 15 – Dearborn, MI, U.S.A Ford Motor Company held a Ford Uncoveredevent today to bring the media up to speed with the upcoming vehicles, systems, and process that the Blue Oval Brand is bringing to market over the next few years.
Ford’s products will be some of America’s freshest lineup by 2020, replacing more than 75 percent of its current portfolio and adding four new trucks and SUVs.
Ford is investing in new propulsion systems and delivering full connectivity to pave the way for over-the-air updates and the Transportation Mobility Cloud. Including an all-in push on hybrid-electrics and battery electric vehicles with rollout starting in 2020, and performance utility as well as six BEVs by 2022.
And YES, There is a Bronco! We have been hearing about it for well over a year now. And Yes it is going to be in dealer showrooms.
BEV and Next-Gen Hybrids
Battery electric vehicles: Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) represent more than a different
powertrain – they represent a lifestyle change for consumers, especially for those who have never driven an electric vehicle
Next-Gen Hybrid Electrics: Part of Ford’s new strategy includes going all-in on hybrids to bring more capability to customers of our most popular and high-volume vehicles like F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco – and serve as a hedge for customers against higher gas prices.
Ford’s truck business will continue growing as the company adds new models and powertrains with an eye toward continued growth in high-end trims. Some highlights include:
2018: New 3.0-liter Power Stroke® diesel engine for F-150, an updated version of the popular F-150 Raptor
2019: Ranger returns to the midsize truck segment; new F-Series Super Duty debuts
2020: New F-150 debuts with new hybrid powertrain featuring a mobile generator
Ford Co-Pilot360TM, a package that includes standard automatic emergency
braking, blind spot warning, and other driver assist features.
Ford also shared that new manufacturing tools and technologies. With the increased use of augmented and virtual reality helping reduce Ford’s plant changeover time by an estimated 25 percent. Simulating various production processes and assembly line configurations in the virtual world help to identify potentially hazardous maneuvers and fine-tune workflows before construction even begins, saving an estimated 20 percent of tooling cost on each vehicle program. The company also is increasing its use of collaborative robots that can perform jobs quickly and repetitively, helping reduce the risk of injury to employees, freeing them up for more high-value jobs.
Content from this was taken from the Ford Uncovered Press Release
2018 will be the 14th year for the annual awards and the for the fifth consecutive year based on Prime Research’s 2017 media report. The World Car Awards were inaugurated in 2003 and launched in 2004.
2018 marks the 12th year of World Car’s partnership with NYIAS, and the fifth consecutive year that the World Car Awards have retained their ranking as the No.1 automotive awards program in the world in terms of media reach. While the awards and ceremony are a recognition of automotive excellence is on an international scale and intended to complement and not compete with other national and regional Car of the Year celebrations.
The awards are administered by a not-for-profit association, under the guidance of a Steering Committee of pre-eminent automotive journalists from Asia, Europe, and North America. Peter Lyon (chair – Japan), Jens Meiners (vice-chair – Germany), Mike Rutherford (vice-chair – UK), Tim Stevens (director – USA), Siddarth Patankar (director – India) and Gerry Malloy (director – Canada and president, WCOTY Association).
Automobiles Nominated for the
World Car Awards
2018 World Car of the Year:
– Mazda CX-5
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60
2018 World Urban Car:
– Ford Fiesta
– Suzuki Swift
– Volkswagen Polo
2018 World Luxury Car:
– Audi A8
– Porsche Cayenne
– Porsche Panamera
2018 World Performance Car:
– Honda Civic Type R
– Lexus LC 500
2018 World Green Car:
– BMW 530e iPerformance
– Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
– Nissan LEAF
2018 World Car Design of the Year:
– Lexus LC 500
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60
The Road to the World Car began in Frankfurt on September 19, 2017, and was followed by the first-ever Tokyo Test Drive conducted at the BMW Tokyo Bay facility in October giving jurors yet another opportunity to evaluate contenders that might not be available in their home markets. Then, the fourth annual “L.A. Test Drives” took place across a six-day period in November with a record number of 35 jurors participating. At the Geneva show in March, they close in on the end of the Road to World Car journey which will end on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, when World Car opens the New York International Auto Show and also declares all winners in all categories.
New York International Auto Show
Owned and operated by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the New York Auto Show is an awesome combination of new ideas, technological innovation, exceptional concept cars and nearly 1,000 of the latest new cars and trucks. Over one million visitors are expected to visit the show this year to see what is truly possible from the automotive industry.
Information for this post is from the World Car Awards Press Release. Photos are from the various automotive media sites. Collated and edited by William West Hopper.
We were welcomed to New York City prior to the New York International Auto Show by Nissan to take a drive in their Mobility Concept Vehicle (NMC), an ultra-compact, all electric, four-wheel runabout. This was an informal meet and greet with the #NissanFutureLab Team.
Nissan held an informal gathering prior to The New York International Auto Show
to drive their Mobility Concept Vehicle.
Prior to our taking this little quad out for an exciting drive in New York City’s crazy traffic, we sat down with Nissan’s Josh Westerhold, an Urban Planner by training and mobility guru by profession, to hear all about this vehicle.
No rear window on the Nissan Mobility Concept Vehicle.
The NMC is all electric with a top speed of 45 mph and a range of 40 miles on a single charge. Designed for the sole purpose of transporting one or two people from place to place. The NMC vehicle has a rugged look with outboard fenders, exposed wheels and struts.
While it has a cabin with a windshield and scissor-like doors that swing forward. It is open to the elements with no side windows.
The interior is clean and simple, with a single driver’s seat. It can either be fitted with a tandem rear seat, or a package tray, to carry a second person or a small cargo of items. The NMC is without HVAC, but has an instrument cluster that tells you speed and battery life.
#NissanFutureLab’s Mobility Concept Vehicle is a single/tandem seat, open air vehicle .
Nissan Mobility Concept Vehicle has exposed fenders, headlights and a mono-blade windshield wiper.
Outside it has the basics of a road vehicle, a mono-blade windshield wiper and turn signals, headlights and rear view mirrors, as there is no back window.
Segway showed this single passenger, two wheeled, self-balancing experimental vehicle at the New York Auto Show in 2008.
This little runabout is more like a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle or a Golf Cart that you would see in private suburban gated communities. It reminded me of the Segway/GM experimental vehicle shown at NYIAS about ten years ago.
Indeed the NMC is on the tiny side of compact, smaller than the NYC Pedi-cabs, and a Nissan Leaf is a behemoth in comparison. So wrangling for space on NYC’s crowded streets with taxicabs and black car limousines was like flying an RC plane alongside 747’s.
Cars appear bigger while driving a small vehicle.
Driving on NYC streets in any vehicle is a testimate to your metal. Driving the NMC reminded me of when I was a kid, hot-rodding the riding lawnmower at full speed. While the NMC does have a suspension, you did get to feel every bump, and driving over rattling manhole covers, made you wonder if they were going to swallow you before a bus ran over you!
Charging port and windshield washer fluid resivor located on the front of the NMC.
But size has its advantages in the jungle of NYC, the NMC slipped into small openings in traffic, pulling into the space between vehicles, that the drivers of larger vehicles thought were already tight. The NMC was nimble enough to slip in, and the battery powered electric motors were powerful enough for you to speed off when you had the chance.
The Nissan Mobility Concept is a product of the joint partnership between France’s Renault and Japan’s Nissan, known as theTwizy, debuting a concept vehicle in 2009, and has been on the market in Europe since 2012.
This little Electric Vehicle is already in use in European cities, and here in the USA, it is part of a test fleet in San Francisco’sScoot Network, (a scooter rental service) and labeled the Scoot Quad.
While not planned for the consumer market, other than a few urban test fleets, you can find out more about this vehicle on Nissan’s website. #NissanFutureLab
We had a chance to put 1800 miles on a 2015 Infiniti QX60 out of the Mid-Atlantic press fleet for a trip to Florida, it arrived with just shy of 25K on the odometer.
Infiniti’s QX60 the luxurious modern full-size Station Wagon.
While the PR Staff from Infiniti apologized about the high miles, and that it was last year’s model, for me, it is good to see how a car holds up after the initial new car smell is gone.
The inside of the Infiniti QX60 features wheat colored leather
and maple wood trim accents.
This one was doing just fine! Its bright wheat beige leather seats and black carpeting were not heading to the rough trade of being a press car that gets a new driver every week. Hint, press fleet cars have a rougher life than rental fleet cars.
The long muscular hood of the Infiniti QX60.
The first thing I noticed getting into it, was the size of the and muscular look of the hood, not unlike that of a Porsche Cayenne.
The dash of the QX60 lacks the iconic Infiniti oval analog clock.
While the inside was clearly an obsessively designed Japanese dash with plenty of buttons and controls to manage everything from the headlights, to the heated seats. The only thing I felt was missing was the oval analog clock that Infiniti was chastised for when it came to market in the 1990’s.
Infiniti’s 3.5 6-cylinder engine under the muscular hood.
What I enjoyed while driving it, was the power from 265 hp, 248-pounds of ft.-torque, 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder engine and intelligent all-wheel drive with continuously variable transmission. The good fuel economy (in excess of 24 mpg on this trip.) And the wide range of active safety features, such as forward and rear collision warning systems, blind spot warning and prevention, intelligent cruise control with distance cruise assist, which kept an eye on the vehicle in front, and matched its speed without running up onto its tail.
Infiniti’s Active Safety Display
features lane departure and
blind spot warning systems.
Lane departure warning and prevention system was helpful during the long drive, especially in the dark, (where it continued to work, even though visual distances were impaired by rain.)
Blind Spot Warning light on each door.
Blind Spot Detection was especially helpful in heavy traffic on the interstate, when drivers appear out of nowhere, though the rear view mirrors were ample in size, it was great to have the assistance of this technology.
The Caravan of cars to Florida featured a BMW Z3,
a rare Marcos GT, the Infiniti QX60, Ford Roush Performance
Mustang with Track Package and a Jaguar XKE Coupe.
The QX60 sporting the Amelia or Bust sign at a lunch stop.
While one would think that our Infiniti QX60 would not seem to be in step with this Caravan of classic and exotic vehicles, organized by a Hagerty Insurance. The Infiniti QX60 took it all in stride, holding its own, being the car that passengers from other cars wanted to ride in, when they were being overwhelmed by the journey, or just tired of riding in an old classic.
Wonder where does this the QX60 fit in, in this modern world of vehicles? Without sliding side doors, it can’t be a minivan! Without big tires and a discernible 4X4 drive train, it is more refined than an SUV. And its size and stature make it a hard fit for a crossover. In reality it is a little bit of all three.
2nd & 3rd row rear seats fold down to extend the cargo area.
The QX60 succeeds as a luxurious and capable mover of people and cargo. Like a classic full sizestation wagon of yesteryear, with plenty of room, comfort and luxury. Passengers who jumped in after riding in the vintage classics, enjoyed the infinitely adjustable, heated and cooled seats, and the quietness of the cabin. And as the QX60 had plenty of cargo room with the rear seats down, it ended up carrying luggage and other large items.
Around View® monitor gives a new meaning to backup camera.
The QX60’s luxury appointments seemed almost like the standard features you need. It remembered the driver’s seating position, and provided a great view of the road, fore, and aft, as well as with the Around View® monitor with moving object detection and front and rear sonar, which made a simple backup camera seem like an outdated polaroid photograph, as this system gave you an aerial view of the vehicle’s surroundings.
The QX60 features plenty of glass roof as well as interior space.
Our 2015 model stickers at $56,090 with options of Roof Rails, $95. Infiniti’s Technology Package, $2,800 (included much of the safety features we really benefited from on a long trip like backup collision intervention, intelligent brake assist, forward collision warning, blind spot and lane departure warning, intelligent cruise control and distance control assist.) Deluxe Touring Package, $3,450 (20-Inch alloy wheels, Bose ® cabin surround sound, advanced climate control, climate-controlled front seats, heated second row seats, power moon roof and maple interior accents, that did not appear to be fake plastic.) Premium Package, $1,550 (Bose® 13-speaker premium sound system, dual occupant memory system heated steering wheel and enhanced intelligent key, and remote engine start.) And Premium Plus Package, $3K, (Infiniti Connection™ and hard drive navigation, 8-Inch VGA Color touch screen, voice recognition, Sirius XM’sNavTraffic &NavWeather, Around View® monitor and moving object detection, rain-sensing windshield wipers.) That brought the price up from a base of $43,800. As I used all of those packages and options on this trip, except for the remote start, I would say they were an essential part of my positive Infiniti experience.
Hagerty Classic Car Insurance’s Motto
“Life is too short to drive Boring Cars.”
My overall impression of this vehicle is it is a great if you travel long distances or have people and cargo to haul. It will work as a great family mover, or as a vehicle for a traveling business person who needs to carry thing with them. The safety features made me feel secure and the luxury features made the drive comfortable and enjoyable, especially on such a long trip.
Infiniti Logo on the grill of the QX60.
Nissan’s Infiniti line debuted in the 1990’s bringing together what American automobile manufacturers were not providing consumers at the time, dependability in a luxurious vehicle. Since then, they have evolved as the American drivers looked for carry-all vehicles with luxurious touches. At a mid-fifty’s price, this QX60 is a vehicle that gives the buyer a lot of value for the money. The 2016 model, has been refreshed with new Infiniti design language, the chassis dynamics have been returned for a more engaging and comfortable drive, and the interior has been enhanced luxury for up to 7 passengers. An augmented suite of safety and driving assistance technology which include predictive forward collision warning and emergency braking with pedestrian detection. All of which are perfect for this or any other model.
Build your own Infiniti QX60. We built a 2016 model to the specs of the 2015 QX60 Infiniti provide us with, and came out with a price less than the 2015 model. Price includes the $995 destination & handling fee. As a prudent buyer, make use of your membership in a credit union, AAA, Costco, or similar organization. Often they have connections to local dealers which result in a lower price.