Caterham goes Kei, cheapest Jeep on 35s, world’s fastest SUV wears a B
Caterham simplifies the Seven and adds lightness
Intake: The smallest, lightest Caterham Seven ever has been launched to appeal to fans of the featherweight in Japan. Caterham was recently taken over by its Japanese importer VT Holdings and the new car complies with Kei car regulations. Weighing in at just 970 pounds and measuring less than 58 inches wide (four inches narrow than any other model) the new Seven 170 should be right at home on the streets of Tokyo. With a 660cc turbo three-cylinder from Suzuki making 85 hp and giving the car a purported power-to-ratio of 170 hp per metric ton, the little Seven should also be fun on the runs outside the city as well. The Seven 170 will reach 62 mph in 6.9 seconds and top out at over 100 mph. Offered in road trim or a more track-focused R spec (windscreen, sports suspension, race seats and harnesses and a limited-slip differential), the Seven 170 is available in the U.K. as well as in Japan, priced at £22,990 ($31,536) in kit form.
Exhaust: You can’t fault Caterham’s new owners for fully embracing the Colin Chapman lightweight philosophy. However, the previous Seven 160, fitted with a marginally less powerful version of the same engine, wasn’t exactly a huge sales hit. The new model is also rather pricey, but its Kei car creds could well make it a success in Japan.
Ford’s brash 2022 F-150 NASCAR truck debuts with a silent tow rig
Intake: Ford pulled the silk off its 2022 entrant into the NASCAR Camping World truck series today. The reveal video heavily featured Ford’s 2022 F-150 Lightning, first towing the covered race car, and then eventually powering quite a few lights at Flat Rock Speedway in Carleton, Michigan. The truck’s race debut will come in late February of next year in Daytona.
Exhaust: A quiet, futuristic electric pickup and a loud, brash, V-8-powered NASCAR race truck are quite the juxtaposition. Frankly, this feels more like an advertisement for the Lightning than it does a celebration of a new race truck. For fun, we checked how far it was from the Rouge assembly plant to the Carleton speedway seen here: roughly 20 miles. If nothing else, we now know the F-150 Lightning can tow a trailer with a race truck on it at least 20 miles! Data!
Wrangler Willys dons 35-inch tires with Xtreme Recon package
Intake: The Jeep Wrangler Willys will join the Wrangler Rubicon and Rubicon 392 as a recipient of the Xtreme Recon package starting in 2022. The $3995 package nets massive 35-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires to bolster approach and departure angles (now 47.5 degrees and 40.4 degrees, respectively), as well as overall ground clearance (12.9 inches), and water fording capability (33.6 inches). The package also includes 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, 4.56:1 axle ratios, a 1.5-inch suspension lift, and upgraded brakes in an effort to round out the enhanced off-roading capabilities. Stickering at $40,390, including destination and the Xtreme Recon pack, the Willys is now the cheapest avenue to 35s on a Wrangler.
Exhaust: Jeep is playing catchup to the Bronco in the big tire department. The Bronco offers 35s in whichever trim you choose, courtesy of the Sasquatch package (included on First Edition and Wildtrak builds, $2495 on the Badlands, and $4995 on any other trim). Regardless of who’s first to the party, we’re exciting to see the stable of factory-backed 35-inch offerings grow as more and more folks begin to consider their vehicle as a key component of outdoor adventuring. Expect the Xtreme Recon pack to be a popular option.
Brabus Rocket is the new world’s fastest SUV
Intake: Whoever said the Germans don’t have a sense of humor? Brabus has taken the jello-mold GLE Coupe and turned it into a 205-mph rocketship. Using the same 900-hp, 4.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 that the shop has already fitted to the G-Wagen and AMG GT 63, the GLE can also blast from rest to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds. Coupled with the massive power upgrade, Brabus has treated the GLE to an aero overhaul, with a new chin spoiler to reduce lift, a rear diffuser, side skirts, and rear spoiler, all made from carbon fiber. Carbon also adorns the fender flares, and there’s a big, illuminated Brabus B in the center of the grille. Owners can choose from 24-inch or 23-inch wheels fitted with aero discs, but if you want to hit the car’s V-max then you’ll need to opt for the smaller rims, fitted with special Continental tires. Only 25 Rockets will be launched at a price of €381,243 or $447,414.
Exhaust: Besting the 190-mph Bentley Bentayga Speed, the Lamborghini Urus, and the Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk is no mean feat. The Brabus Rocket engine really does offer stellar performance. However, on paper the Tesla Model X Plaid still has this ‘roided-out GLE pegged from 0–60, so it would be interesting to see the pair go head-to-head in an epic battle of amps v ICE.
Volvo goes vegan
Intake: Beginning with the C40 Recharge, Volvo plans to strip its upcoming EVs of any interior leather. If the marque makes good on its commitment to go all-electric by 2030, you can expect to find Volvo’s entire lineup animal-hide-free by the end of the decade. What will replace leather? Synthetics, clearly, likely similar to the the vinyl/leatherette offered standard in the Polestar 2. Volvo’s getting creative with materials made from recycled bottles and wine corks, but the headliner (pun intended) is its Nordico material—about which we know very little. Wool blends will continue as part of the brand repertoire.
Exhaust: Will Volvo be able to advance its luxury aesthetic with substitute materials? Small stature aside, the C40 Recharge starts just under $60K, and these new materials need to be worthy of that price tag at first glance—not to mention prove functional and durable over the long run, which is usually a strength of synthetics over leather.