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2020 Mini JCW GP revealed – 302bhp and bespoke styling for the hottest Mini yet




The Mini GP is back in its third iteration, following the template of its predecessors in offering a lighter, harder and more focused limited-run package. First revealed in concept form at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, and since spied multiple times in pre-production testing, Mini has finally officially revealed its most powerful model yet.

The powertrain is based around the same underlying B48 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as found in the standard Cooper S and JCW, but with a collection of detail changes that substantially build on the figures of the standard Mini John Cooper Works. New for the GP is a larger twin-scroll turbocharger, running on a lower compression ratio with new high-flow injectors. Mini’s (or rather BMW’s) Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double Vanos systems are also standard.

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> 2019 Renault Megane Trophy R review – is Renault’s record breaker worth its price tag?

The result is some pretty substantial gains in performance, with a peak power figure of 302bhp available between 5000 and 6250rpm, a hefty 72bhp more than in the standard Mini JCW. Torque is also up, with a plateau of 332lb ft from 1750 to 5000rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential, but the new GP will not be available with a manual gearbox, rather an eight-speed torque-converter automatic. Although immediately disappointing for those with a natural inclination towards their hot hatchbacks offering three pedals, Mini has developed a GP-specific software upgrade designed to sharpen downshifts and allow for multiple downshifts on kickdown. Also bespoke to the GP is a set of 3D-printed paddles mounted to the steering wheel that are larger and follow a 3D-printed theme throughout the car.

As a result of the powertrain upgrades, the new Mini JCW GP will hit 62mph in just 5.2sec, the fastest time yet in a production Mini, and go on to an unlimited top speed of 164mph. That 0-62mph figure is nearly a full second quicker than the standard Mini JCW manages when fitted with the same automatic transmission.

The chassis has also picked up some considerable upgrades, Mini having widened the track front and rear by 40mm, and lowered the body by a further 10mm compared with standard JCW models. Suspension all-round is typical Mini, with an independent rear suspension design, but now incorporating stiffer rubber bushings, lower springs and bespoke passive dampers. The front axle also features new swivel bearings that increase camber angle, while stiffer GP-specific engine mounts and bushings improve control at the front axle. The iconic rear bar has also made a comeback, replacing the rear seats like in GPs before.

One of the Mini GP’s most obvious aesthetic features is the return of its distinctive four-spoke alloy wheels, which are now 18 inches in diameter and forged to reduce unsprung weight. Behind the front wheels sits a set of 360mm brake discs, gripped by four-pot calipers. New for this GP are its floating wheelarch extensions made from carbonfibre, which complement the big colour-coded front splitter, rear spoiler and new diffuser, while detail aesthetic changes, such as the removal of chrome elements from inside the LED headlights and new mirror caps only emphasise how much detail effort has gone into this GP.

Although it has lost its rear seats and some level of sound insulation, the interior is not quite the stripped-out affair of previous GPs. The steering wheel and front seats are bespoke to the GP, so too the 3D-printed passenger-side clip-on trim that displays the build number of that specific car. A new highlight is the adoption of the digital driver’s display first revealed in the Mini-e, which looks far more sophisticated than the standard Mini’s analogue set-up and its almost apologetic rev counter.

It can’t be ignored that our relationship with the current third-gen Mini has been a strained one. It’s too much BMW and not enough Mini, comfortable and refined, yes, but also uninspiring and inert compared to the excellent R53 and R56 that came before. Look at the GP with a cynical eye and you might also notice its power and torque figures are identical to those of the M135i, and that its 40mm wider track is also found on the Clubman estate, but rather than see this as a parts bin special, the stance, aggression and detail upgrades deep inside the chassis point to this being more than the sum of its (borrowed) parts.

The GP will reach customers in March next year in a 3000-unit build run (1000 more than previous iterations), with 575 of those coming to the UK. The GP is available for pre-order now from £33,895, a figure that’s actually quite reasonable considering the work that’s gone into it. In an era of £72k Renaults and £50k A-classes, the JCW GP might just be the third-generation new Mini that finally lives up to its ‘Go-Kart feel’ mantra.

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First Look: 2021 Nissan Ariya




The 2021 Nissan Ariya is about the size of a Rogue SUV – but features the interior space of the bigger Murano.

Nissan is singing a new tune. With the arrival of the 2021 Ariya, Japan’s second-largest carmaker hopes to rebuild its once-lofty position as an innovator in the emerging market for battery-electric vehicles.

The automaker was, in fact, the first to mass market a BEV, but a decade after the launch of the original Leaf model, Nissan has not only been eclipsed by Tesla, but is being challenged by more conventional competitors, such as Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors,  each rolling out waves of new long-range battery-cars.

The 2021 Nissan Ariya is the long-overdue battery-SUV meant to keep Nissan in the game. It’s a ground-up offering, not just a redesigned Leaf, with a brand-new platform and electric drive system that is more powerful and able to deliver longer range. Ariya also debuts Nissan’s first hands-free driving system.

(A week with the 2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.)

The Nissan Ariya will be offered in either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

The new model “is the spearhead, showing our vision of the future,” said Ivan Espinosa, the carmaker’s senior vice president of global product planning, during a media roundtable ahead of the battery car’s Wednesday debut. “Ariya is not just an EV,” he emphasized. “It is showing the technical prowess of Nissan…what Nissan stands for.”

Pronounced like the song an opera diva sings, a concept version of the Ariya made its first appearance at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show last autumn, followed by a U.S. debut at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Though there were some design details unique to exotic concepts, like the oversized wheels, the show car will go into production with only minor changes.

The 2021 Ariya rides on a flexible new architecture, Espinosa explained during the online meeting. It eventually will be used for a variety of battery-cars to be produced not only by Nissan but also by its two alliance partners, Japan’s Mitsubishi and France’s Renault.

(Nissan lifts the covers on the next-gen Rogue.)

Features like the grille-less nose help reduce aero drag.

“The beauty of this platform is it’s modular (which) allows us to accommodate different possibilities,” he said, adding that the three partners have “a lot of questions about what new areas of the market we can explore.”

As with key competitors like Tesla, Ford, GM and VW, the platform positions its batteries, motors and other key components below the load floor. That reduces the size of the traditional engine compartment, allowing significantly more freedom, said Nissan’s global styling chief Alfonso Albaisa. And the development team found other breakthrough strategies. Rather than mounting the climate control, or HVAC, system within the instrument panel, it was moved into the modest space left where an engine would normal go, freeing up more space for the passenger compartment.

“You get inside and you’re really shocked,” suggested Albaisa, pointing out that the exterior footprint of the Nissan Ariya is about as big as the subcompact Rogue SUV, but the cabin has the roominess of the much larger Murano.

(Nissan among automakers taking big sales hit in Q2.))

The interior borrows heavily from the Ariya concept.

From an exterior design perspective, the Ariya is far less geeky than the Leaf which was designed during an era when green machines were expected to look like something from a sci-fi flick. That said, there are some obvious cues that tell you it’s a BEV, starting with absence of a conventional grille – electric vehicles needing far less disruptive airflow under the hood. Slit headlamps each feature four distinct LED bulbs. From the side, the crossover adapts a curvaceous, coupe-like shape, with plenty of subtle details designed to cheat the range-stealing wind – including twin rear spoilers.

Inside, Albaisa’s team adopted a minimalist approach, with a floating, horizontally oriented instrument panel featuring side-by-side video screens, each measuring 12.3 inches. One of the neat tricks is the ability to swipe across the infotainment display and move elements to the primary gauge display. The lack of a center tunnel creates a flat floor that makes it possible to sit five inside with reasonable comfort.

The new modular architecture is, fundamentally, front-wheel-drive, though buyers also will have the option of ordering an all-wheel-drive, twin-motor package. Nissan started all but from scratch, developing a new electric drive system it has dubbed e-4ORCE. The system has been described as the “spiritual offspring” of the automaker’s GT-R sports car, and that underscores a fundamental shift in thinking. No longer does Nissan believe BEV buyers will sacrifice that fun-to-drive quality just to go green.

Ariya will offer a standard battery or a 300-mile option.

The front-drive system delivers 160 kilowatts, or about 214 horsepower, and 221 pound-feet of torque. The twin-motor AWD system bumps that up to 290 kW, or 389 hp, and 443 lb-ft. The e-4ORCE system can direct power to individual wheels, using torque to assist driver input, among other things, when tracking through a corner.

That also pays off when using the next-generation ProPilot Assist 2.0, Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving system. The original version could help center the vehicle in its lane, among other things, but required drivers to keep hands on the wheel at all times. The new system, Nissan explained, allows “attentive drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel under certain conditions.”

Specific details have yet to be released but it appears to follow the format of GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s new version of CoPilot 360, operating on limited-access roads mapped in high-resolution. A monitoring system makes sure a driver remains alert and ready to take control in an emergency.

In terms of batteries, Nissan has continued tinkering with the chemistry of its lithium-ion cells and has both cut their cost and increased their energy density, storing more power in less space. The base 2021 Ariya stores 63 kilowatt-hours. That’s within a kWh of the current, longest-range version of the gen-2 Nissan Leaf Plus. The Ariya offers an extended-range 87 kWh battery expected to get around 300 miles per charge, according to the EPA.

Ariya’s 2nd row folds to create a flat load floor.

As for charging, Nissan officials weren’t ready to offer details beyond noting Ariya can handle up to 137 kilowatts of power, a big jump up from the roughly 50 kW limit for Leaf. That would suggest an 80% recharge for the smaller pack in perhaps a bit over an hour at a CCS charger.

And that signals another big shift by the automaker which had been the only key player in the U.S. market committed to the older, slower CHAdeMO system. Nissan’s policy “is to have happy customers,” said Espinosa,” and with more – and faster — CCS chargers now available, the switch was overdue, according to EV analysts.

As for pricing, the base version of the 2021 Nissan Ariya will start at $40,000, said Espinosa. It is set to go on sale in Japan in the coming weeks, with U.S. dealers beginning deliveries “later in 2021.”

For the first half of the past decade, Nissan dominated EV sales charts. It has lost its lead to Tesla and is facing plenty of other competition going forward. Whether it can come close to being a significant player with Ariya is far from certain. But Nissan officials are betting that the new BEV has enough going for it to make Ariya a serious contender.

(Ford’s Bronco is back…and it’s now part of a new family of SUVs.)

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2022 Nissan Ariya EV crossover revealed with stylish looks and up to 300-mile range




Not quite a year ago, Nissan showed its Ariya electric crossover concept with a clean, elegant design inside and out. And as it turns out, the production 2022 Nissan Ariya, just revealed, looks exactly like it. It’s also boasting some impressive numbers.

From the outside, the concept and production model are almost indistinguishable. They each feature a smooth, glossy panel at the front in place of a traditional grille, with a textured panel underneath and accent lighting in the badges and running lights descending the edges of the “grille.” The same curvy profile and two-tone paint scheme sticks around, and from the side, the only differences are a less well-integrated charger cover and possibly longer overhangs. Even the wheels are the same smooth, minimalist design.

More important, the interior remains basically the same. It’s an airy cabin with a minimalist dashboard that features full-length air vent trim and dual 12.3-inch screens for instruments and navigation. The concept’s capacitive buttons under the faux wood trim even made it to production, creating a futuristic but warm feeling in the cabin. Nissan also opened up the entire area under the dash by moving climate control equipment under the hood. There’s a storage compartment down there as well as a fold-out tray table. Other striking details include a wrap-around line of ambient light at the top of the dash and door panels, a two-spoke steering wheel and backlit door trim.

As cool as the crossover looks, it needs a powertrain to back it up, and Nissan will offer two, each available with two different-size batteries all packaged into a new modular platform that will underpin future Nissan EVs. The entry-level Ariya will have a single motor powering the front wheels and producing 215 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Above that is the all-wheel-drive model with two motors. This uses the e-4ORCE system we’ve tried out in Leaf prototypes. In the Ariya, total output will be 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. As to why the Ariya’s single-motor layout will be front-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive as with competitors such as VW, Nissan executives noted that front-drive was selected for the Ariya to provide familiar, friendly handling for drivers who are not as experienced. Additionally, there are packaging conveniences with having all the equipment up front.

As for the batteries, entry-level battery pack is a 63-kWh unit, and an optional 87-kWh unit is available, each mounted in the floor. Nissan has only given a range estimate for the front-drive 87-kWh model, which will go the farthest at approximately 300 miles, and that’s based on the EPA test. Based on other EVs with battery packs in the 60- to 65-kWh capacity range, we would expect a front-drive Ariya with the 63-kWh battery to have a range in the low 200-mile region. The Ariya’s battery packs will also be liquid-cooled, unlike the air-cooled unit in the Leaf. The all-wheel-drive version won’t have as much range as the front-drive version, and it also intrudes on cargo space, shrinking the cargo area from 16.5 cubic feet to 14.6.

Nissan will also offer plenty of technology in the Ariya. It comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Amazon Alexa integration. It will be the first Nissan with over-the-air updating. In addition to the dual screens, it will have a full-color heads-up display. Front and rear automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high-beam headlights are standard, too. The second-generation ProPilot Assist with hands-free single-lane highway driving will be available as an option.

Despite being revealed with many details, we’ll be waiting a little while for the Ariya to go on sale. It’s slated for late 2021. Pricing will start around $40,000 for the base model, and it should be eligible for a federal tax credit.

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Biden reveals $2 trillion climate plan that’s also an infrastructure and jobs plan




WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden released a $2 trillion plan on Tuesday to boost investment in clean energy and stop all climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035, arguing that dramatic action is needed to tackle climate change and revive the economy.

In remarks near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee sought to reframe the politics of climate change. He rebuffed arguments from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies that Democratic plans to invest in clean energy would cost jobs.

“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax,'” Biden told reporters. “When I think about climate change, what I think of is jobs.”

The climate package added to a series of detailed policy proposals Biden has released, including a $700 billion plan unveiled last week that would increase government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and invest in new research and development to frame a contrast with Trump, who has struggled to articulate a vision for a second term in the White House.

Biden’s proposal on Tuesday didn’t go as far as some measures in the Green New Deal, the sweeping proposal from progressives in Congress that calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2030.

But it does align with a climate bill spearheaded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in reducing emissions to zero by 2050. And it goes farther than that bill on ridding the nation’s power sector from damaging fossil fuel pollution. House Democrats’ proposal sets a 2040 deadline for that goal, while Biden’s aims to achieve it five years faster.

The proposal would also include progressive priorities such as investment in retrofitting national infrastructure and housing to use and emit less carbon and addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change. Forty percent of the money he wants to spend on clean energy deployment, reduction of legacy pollution and other investments would go to historically disadvantaged communities.

Biden placed a heavy emphasis on updating America’s infrastructure, improving energy efficiency in buildings and housing, and promoting production of electric vehicles and conservation efforts in the agriculture industry.

Biden’s plan for cars would:

  • Build on a Clean Cars for America proposal crafted by Senate Democrats, autoworkers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
  • Create a consumer rebate plan, a la Cash for Clunkers, that would reward consumers for buying clean cars with high American content. 
  • Incentivize automakers in their transition to cleaner factories and zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Invest in vehicle infrastructure, including 500,000 public charging stations. 
  • Provide workforce training in areas like clean-energy vehicles.
  • Renegotiate fuel-economy standards to create more certainty for automakers and to save consumers money by avoiding high fuel costs. Trump, who had called Obama-era regulations “industry killing,” replaced the standards with weaker ones in March but created a legal fight with California, which sets its own standards.
  • Create a federal procurement program for clean vehicles and set a goal for all new American-built buses to be zero-emissions by 2030.

As he spoke about infrastructure on Tuesday, Biden needled the president for what has become a trope that the White House frequently turns to infrastructure when Trump “needs a distraction” from negative news.

“He’s never delivered,” Biden said. “Never even really tried.”

Some of the ideas in the proposal began with Biden’s more progressive rivals during the primary, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whose campaign centered on the issue of climate change.

“Joe Biden’s modern infrastructure and clean energy plan shows that he’s serious about defeating climate change and has a roadmap to become the Climate President that America needs,” Inslee said in an email to members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group.

The proposals could open Biden to attacks from Trump that he will hurt coal and gas industries in critical states such as Pennsylvania and Texas, where Democrats are growing more bullish about their prospects.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Joyce blasted Biden’s “wild obsession with eliminating all fossil fuels, raising trillions in taxes and reshaping the American economy to fit coastal elite values.” He claimed the plan “will destroy millions of jobs and devastate our economy.”

Biden’s proposal seemed designed to avoid antagonizing independents or moderate Republicans considering backing him.

The plan in fact makes no mention of banning dirtier-burning coal or prohibiting fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas that triggered a natural gas boom in the United States over the last decade. The issue is especially sensitive in some key battleground states such as Pennsylvania.

Some progressives have called for outright bans on the practice. Biden’s plan instead describes cutting back on burning oil, gas and coal, and doing better at capturing emissions, through more efficient vehicles, public transport, buildings and power plants.

And instead of a ban on climate-damaging fossil fuels, he embraced carbon capture technologies to catch coal and petroleum pollution from power plant smokestacks.

Biden also backed nuclear power, unlike some of his Democratic primary opponents. He called for pumping up research on still-developing power technologies like hydrogen power and grid-size storage to stash power from solar and wind, overcoming a key drawback of those carbon-free energy sources now.

Biden would spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his energy proposals, a significant acceleration of the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending in his climate plan during the primary.

The proposal doesn’t include specifics on how it would be paid for. Senior campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategy said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy.

The officials said that many of the energy measures would be included in the first stimulus package Biden plans to bring to Congress but that some could be achieved through executive action.

“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” Biden said Tuesday as he tried to build a sense of urgency around the issue.


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