Mini factory offers classic EV conversions, goodbye U.S.-market Passat, Aston dangles V-12 super SUV

Mini | Bernhard Filser

Mini’s Oxford factory will now convert classic Coopers to electric power

Intake: Classic Mini owners can now have their cars converted to electric power under an official works program. The Mini Recharged project at the company’s Oxford plant switches out the original A-Series engine for an EV powertrain providing 90 kW of power, and a range of around 100 miles. The Mini Recharged is said to be able to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in nine seconds and is aimed at city drivers who wish dodge emissions and congestion charges while driving an iconic British classic. Unfortunately, for now, the program is limited to the U.K. Each car converted will be numbered individually and the conversion is reversible, with Mini keeping hold of the original powertrain just in case an owner wants to revert to ICE in the future.

Exhaust: With a number of other firms already converting Minis to battery power, it’s no surprise that the BMW-owned brand is getting in on the action. The Mini Recharged closely resembles the one-off example built for the 2018 New York Auto Show, which was extremely well-received by pundits, so this factory-backed process will likely prove popular.

Ford to auction custom, Popemobile-inspired 2021 Bronco to serve Detroit’s homeless

Intake: As if it weren’t busy enough Raptorizing the Bronco, Ford has also made time in its Bronco-building schedule to invest in the city of Detroit. This one-off 4×4, a custom-built tribute to Detroit’s Pope Francis Center, will be auctioned off this Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona, by Barrett-Jackson. All proceeds will benefit the Center, whose mission is focused on serving the city’s homeless. 

The trucklet itself was donated to Ford by David Fischer Jr., president & CEO at The Suburban Collection Holdings, LLC. The First Edition model is awash in first-gen Bronco nostalgia, starting with a lacquered coat of Wimbledon White paint. (The shade was available on the ’66 Bronco but is not available on any modern Bronco trims.) As only appropriate, wheels are by Detroit Steel Wheels and, like the body, are Wimbledon White accented with Rapid Red. Various metallic bits receive a silver treatment. The build also dips into the Ford Performance Parts bin for extra lighting elements and into Ford’s accessory catalog for tube doors. There’s even an in-vehicle safe. 

Exhaust: Ford’s Dearborn headquarters are situated just outside of Detroit, and we applaud the OEM’s worthy investment in the metro community. This for-charity build makes even more sense considering that, back in 1980, Pope John Paul II rode in a specially modified, Wimbledon White Bronco on his trip to the United States. This build is no Popemobile, but we expect the Vatican approves nonetheless.

Is this what Acura’s reborn NSX should have looked like?

Autobacs ARTA carbon fiber rebody Acura NSX bodykit
Autobacs | ARTA

Intake: Perhaps you’ve heard of Autobacs, the Japanese retailer of automotive parts and accessories. Its racing team, ARTA, has evolved into a self-proclaimed “racing sports brand” that even builds custom carbon-fiber body panels. Enter ARTA’s new “Legavelo,” a radical design based on the modern-day NSX. The name is a portmanteau of Lega (Italian for alloy) and Veloce (speed), and the end result is a vehicle with carbon-fiber/fiberglass-reinforced carbon body panels, unique wheels and a suede-lined interior. Purchasing the Legavelo conversion is almost as complex as that fancy styling, as prospects need to fill out a “Business Negotiation Application” with ARTA, and there are only five reservations available—ARTA’s only planning to build five. Considering the exclusivity, one shouldn’t be surprised the cost is 25.3 million yen (or a little over $222,000) which doesn’t include the cost of an NSX donor car (clean, used examples retail for roughly $150,000).

Exhaust: It’s nice to see Japanese brands taking a page from Italy, tackling the world of custom, low volume coach built, vehicles for well-heeled car enthusiasts. In many ways, the NSX needs the Legavelo upgrade to truly shine. ARTA’s creation is arguably what the NSX should have looked like in the first place: a super car with styling to match its radical hybrid powertrain. Whether or not its worth the hundred of thousands of dollars needed to make this vehicle are somewhat moot considering the five examples ARTA plans to make, it’s gonna sell and appeal to fans of supercars, JDM engineering, and those who love any custom vehicle.

After nearly 50 years, Volkswagen waves goodbye to the Passat in the U.S.

Intake: The last Volkswagen Passat has rolled off the assembly line at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory. First sold in the U.S. in 1974 (under the Dasher name), the Passat accounted for 1.8 million units sold over its 48-year lifespan. The Chattanooga plant will now turn its focus to the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models as well as the ID.4 electric SUV. VW is investing $800 million in the facility to optimize it for production of EVs and their components, such as battery packs.

Exhaust: We’re not surprised to see the Passat reach the end of the line. The sedan’s biggest selling point in recent years has been the price, and while it’s a fine car, the Passat has not received the same level of investment and development that remaining U.S.-market sedans—such as the Camry and the Accord—have enjoyed from their manufacturers. The current Passat was 10 years old this year, and that’s simply too long to let a mid-tier product languish. Those insistent on a Volkswagen sedan can still choose between the everyman Jetta and the stylish VW Arteon.

Refreshed Honda CB300R looks like a recipe for small-bore fun

22 Honda CB300R ABS_Matte Blue RHP
Honda Powersports

Intake: Honda was one of the first brands to make small motorcycles popular stateside, but things have come a long way since the “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign. The CB300R ABS is the latest bike to get a refresh and now packs features well above its $5549 price tag (that number includes $400 for freight and $200 for destination). Weighing in at just 317 pounds ready to ride, the CB300R now comes fitted with a slipper clutch for smooth downshifts, along with IMU-controlled ABS and the same 41-mm forks as its larger CB siblings.

Exhaust: The sub-400cc motorcycle market was once a destitute land that many dismissed as full of “beginner bikes.” That perspective has changed thanks to manufacturers’ increased focus on building small-bore bikes that reward both novice and veteran alike. The ’22 CB300R has our attention as a machine that possesses all the features of the big CB1000R while still managing to be playful and fun. We think it would be perfect for the vast majority of riders and hope to get our hands on one soon to try it out.

All-powerful Aston Martin DBX to launch on February 1

Intake: Aston Martin is inviting you to join the live reveal of the most powerful production SUV on the planet. If the rumor-mill is to believed the DBX will be powered by the company’s V-12 engine, boosted to 700 hp, to surpass the likes of  the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Bentley Bentayga Speed, and the Lamborghini Urus. Aston has launched a new website for fans to follow the unveiling which will go live on February 1 at 1 p.m. GMT (8 a.m. EST).

Exhaust: The teaser film is titled “Change is coming,” which supports the suggestion that the DBX’s V-8 will be swapped rather than merely enhanced, and spy shooters have previously captured the sounds of a V-12 Aston Martin crossover testing at the Nürburgring. We’ll find out for sure next week.

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