A collaboration between MINI
, Airstream trailers and Danish furniture designers Republic of Fritz Hansen has resulted in this hip, beach-ready design study made up of a modified MINI Cooper S Clubman and a customized 6.8m long Airstream trailer. While largely retaining the familiar metallic look of the iconic Airstream trailer on the exterior, the inside of the trailer is kitted-out with wood panel flooring, ergonomic Egg chairs and, in keeping with the sun-loving vibe, neoprene lining and floral prints add to the interior trimming while a bisected surfboard provides the shelf space. But the killer app is an electrically operated fold-out side panel that incorporates an open air day bed where you can kick-back while waiting for the tide to turn. Traditionalist may disagree but, parking issues aside, we think the concept definitely points to a stylish advance on throwing your surfboard and a sleeping bag into the back of a Combi Van.
Busting out of simulated ice blocks in one of the more notable pieces of razzle dazzle at last week's Detroit Auto Show preview was MINI's new convertible. Due for release in March, the 2009 MINI convertible gets new generation turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines (118 hp for the MINI Cooper Convertible and 172 hp for the MINI Cooper S Convertible), a pop-up rollover bar activated by the car’s central safety electronics, a redesigned storage compartment and an electrohydraulic-powered soft-top roof that can be opened in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 20 mph. There's also a new "Openometer" feature which keeps track of the time spent traveling with the roof down. Gimmicky? Yes, but it will give you one unique stat that your non-MINI convertible driving friends can't match.
Following a preview
a few weeks back, the all-electric MINI E has hit the boards at the LA Motor Show for its world premiere. With its lithium-ion powered 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor driving it from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds, an electronically limited top speed of 152 km/h (95 mph) and a range of 156 miles, the MINI E will make an impressive test bed for the BMW Group as it heads towards series production of all-electric vehicles.
In a further sign that full-electric drive vehicles are headed for the mainstream, BMW Group will showcase a lithium-ion battery powered version of the MINI
at next month's Los Angeles Auto Show ahead of a pilot project that will see 500 of the cars evaluated on US roads in 2009. Based on the current MINI Hatch, the MINI E will initially appear in two-seater form with rear seats dropped to make way for the battery pack. Rather than an in-hub motor arrangement, an electric motor mounted under the bonnet drives the front wheels through a single-stage helical gearbox derived from the Cooper S, and being all-electric, the full power kicks-in from a standing start delivering quite adequate acceleration of 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds with a top speed electronically-limited to 95 mph.
As the curtain falls on the Paris Motor Show for 2008 we take a look back at some of the biggest surprises and brightest innovations to emerge from this massive global automotive extravaganza. As a starting point it's hard to go past Lamborghini, which emulated its 2007 most-talked-about crown by showing its Estoque concept
. As a mid-engined four-door coupé with a V10 motor and permanent four-wheel drive, it's not really eco-inspired but a weapon to behold for the family man. Mazda definitely made our short-list for the most striking design with the aerodynamic Kiyora Urban compact
and Citroen also floated some compelling concepts including the colorful Hypnos
luxury hybrid crossover and the virtual-meets-real-world GTbyCITROEN
which will appear on-screen in the next installment of Gran Turismo.
Previews from the upcoming Paris Motor Show
keep rolling in, this time from MINI in the form what it calls a 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 Crossover Concept design study - four doors, four drive wheels, four single seats and four meters long. With the wheels pushed to the corners and familiar styling it looks like a MINI, but the unique four is the doors - three of the doors are stock standard but the rear drivers' side door slides backwards. The rear door also swivels to one side to ease process of getting your gear into a MINI which boasts more storage space than any other. If the reaction to the debut is positive there's a good chance it will hit the showroom floor in the not too distant future.
September 9, 2008 The imperatives of better fuel economy and reduced emissions are breeding some fascinating developments of the good ol’ Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). One of the most logical ideas could have been invented by any schoolboy – turn off the engine when it isn’t being used. VW was the first to trial the idea and BMW, MINI, smart, Citroen and Peugeot have followed suit, all using electrical power to restart the engine, requiring beefed up starting systems to cope with ever-more-congested urban conditions (25% of European driving time is now spent at standstill). Now Mazda has come up with a better idea - restarting the engine through combustion. Mazda’s system initiates engine restart by injecting fuel directly into the cylinder while the engine is stopped, and igniting it to generate downward piston force.
Honda's CRF450R motocross bike has been hugely successful since its launch in 2002 - and although the bike is already recognized as the class leader, it's receiving a kitchen-sink included upgrade for 2009. Lighter, quicker, more powerful and with even tighter mass centralization for quick handling, the 2009 CRF450R also sports a Honda first - battery-free, programmable fuel injection that raises output power and control while dramatically reducing fuel consumption. Out of the box, Honda says it's two seconds faster around a supercross track than this year's bike.
August 2, 2007 Mini
seems very keen to pack all the technology it can into the newest addition to its range – the Mini Cooper Clubman. Almost but not quite a Mini wagon, the Clubman seats five in relative comfort, with a backwards-opening barn door behind the passenger door opening out to give your friends some sense of dignity as they climb into the back seats. The Clubman also features run-flat tyres, smart regenerative braking and a clever fuel-saving system that automatically stops the engine when you’re sitting at the lights in neutral with the clutch out, firing it back to life in an instant the minute you put the clutch down. Twin rear doors, each with its own windscreen wiper, finally give the Mini a decent carrying capacity, but the extra space doesn’t get in the way of the model’s famous go-kart style handling. Safety-wise, the cabin is packed with airbags from all directions, ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, Cornering Brake Control, Stability Control and a hill assist system that stops the Clubman from rolling backwards on hill starts. A technophile’s delight, the car even provides a real-time analysis of what gear you should be in for maximum fuel efficiency. Dear Mini designers, it appears you’ve left out the kitchen sink…
July 20, 2007 The MINI has topped the Lex
retained values list for second-hand automobiles in the U.K. for the second year running, beating out a long list of seemingly far more prestigious vehicles. The Lex listing looks at how much each model will be worth in the second hand market after a typical three year/60,000 mile contract and the MINI had the highest retained value at 54%, taking out top single car honours. Viewed by brand name, Audi was the most coveted used car brand according to the data compiled by the UK’s leading leasing company. Last year's results can be found here