Weekly News - January 27 2022

We’ve got everything this week, from a dune-bashing Bronco to an electric classic Mini, plus some new family crossovers and a hybrid crossover that’s gone rallying. So much for the January blues.

The auto industry is doing its best to beat off the January blues this month, much like the rest of us. This means a few new models heading our way, a number of interesting announcements and a bit of motor sport that had us on the edge of our seats.

First up is some big news out of Bentley. The British luxury car maker has made serious commitments to electrification and sustainability, but it’s now filled in a bit more detail and announced investment of £2.5bn to get there. Its first new battery-electric model will come in 2025, although boss Adrian Hallmark won’t say anything more about it except that it will be a “game changer”. It will be followed by four more, one every year which could be electric replacements for existing models. There will be more plug-in hybrids too and a new state-of-the-art factory, but execs are promising that the traditional craftsmanship will remain. 

Then to new models and one of the ones that really grabbed our attention is the new Ford Bronco Raptor, which looks absolutely awesome. Granted, its removable doors make it look like a Baja or Miami Beach plaything but that’s okay with us. It has a 400hp twin-turbo 3.0-litre engine, Raptor Hoss race-ready suspen-sion system and standard 37-inch all-terrain tyres. Yes, we’re as excited about this as you are, but sadly we can’t have one here in the UK, at least not officially. If you’re reading this in the good old US of A then en-joy it, you lucky, lucky

If its performance you are after then it goes without saying you can get that from a Porsche, but with sales of its Taycan electric model really taking off in 2021, the Stuttgart automaker has expanded the range. We already had the crossover style Taycan Cross Turismo, but now the pseudo off-roader looks have been dropped to create the Taycan Sport Turismo. Whether you call it an estate, a shooting brake, a sportback or anything else, it’s an electric performance car that offers style, tech, comfort and space for the dog of a Saturday morning flatpack purchase. This could well be the Taycan we were waiting for, not that we are planning on buying one, but you know, if we were.

We’re also not likely to be buying a Morgan Plus Four LM62 anytime soon, not least of all because only 62 people will even get the chance to shell out upwards of £78,995 for one. The LM62 celebrates Morgan’s class victory at Le Mans in 1962 and features a number of homage elements, such as the 62 roundel on the side, a standard Heritage White hard top, unique Jet Green or Tertre Rouge colours and of course a plaque with your build number on it.

Now let’s get to some more normal stuff, like the new Kia Niro which was recently unveiled. It will be availa-ble as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and will be bigger than previous generations including an additional 20mm in the wheelbase. This means more space inside to accommodate not just a family and all their stuff but the latest design and technology, including new driver assistance systems.The exterior design is evolutionary, based on the 2019 HabaNiro concept car, although toned down slightly for production. Inside things are far more exciting, with a real premium look to the de-sign, materials and technology. Kia and for that matter its sister company Hyundai, really are upping their game these days. A Europe-spec model is still being finalised so will probably only see that later in the year but it shouldn’t be much different and when we know a date for UK availability, we’ll let you know. 

From Niro to Kiiro, Nissan has announced a limited edition of its Juke crossover that it is calling the Kiiro, a name that means yellow, although the car will be Ceramic Grey. It will have yellow trim bits inside and out though, as well as yellow stitching on the upholstery. The limited edition of 500 models have been made to celebrate the new Batman movie, called The Batman, quite a lot of which was filmed in the UK and which will be released on 4 March. 

Still with crossovers and Citroën has revealed its new C5 Aircross which will go on sale in the UK in the sec-ond quarter. It has a much more athletic and premium look about it which we rather like. There’s lots of great Citroen stuff such as Citroën Advanced Comfort suspension and seats, as well as the latest tech including a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and the availability of a PHEV powertrain with an electric-only range of up to 34 miles. Straightforward petrol and diesel versions are still in the range too and offer around 100 litres more boot space than the PHEV models.

Sticking to the Stellantis stable and Fiat has updated its 500X to make it look more like the new 500. It’s also updated the Tipo but the only people like to pay attention are the rental car companies. 

Still sticking to the Stellantis stable, because as stables go, this one has a lot of horses these days and there are a few new Jeeps on they way. Strictly speaking they aren’t actually new, but Jeep has added mild-hybrid technology to its Renegade and Compass models. Seeing as we are strictly speaking, mild hybrids aren’t really proper hybrids at all and you’d be much better off buying a 4xe PHEV version to really enjoy the benefits of hybrid motoring, but there are a few things the little 48v 20hp electric motor can do, like re-duced fuel consumption and give you electric mode for parking. 

On the subject of hybrids, if you are into your motor sport then you might well have seen the new Rally1 hybrid cars debut in Monte Carlo for the first round of the 2022 World Rally Championship. If you didn’t then go and watch it online because wow what a season opener it was, full of drama, close racing and dramatic scenery. The fight between Ford, Hyundai and Toyota eventually saw Ford take the win in what was the very first event for the new Ford Puma hybrid. Not only that but the race was won by multiple champion Sebas-tien Loeb who at the age of 47 made a triumphant return to the WRC. If the Monte is anything to go by then it is going to be one of the best WRC seasons for years.

Finally, let’s wrap up with the news that BMW has jumped on the classic electrification bandwagon and an-nounced its Mini Recharged programme. Available for classic Minis, the factory in Oxford will strip out the old petrol engine and ancillaries and put them in storage to make the conversion reversible. It’ll then drop in a 120hp electric motor and battery pack together with revised dashboard and 6.6kW charging capability. Mini says it will provide a 0-62mph time of around nine seconds and a range of 99 miles. There are other companies converting classic Minis to electric and they do seem to be lots of fun, but while BMW won’t give us the price yet, it’s likely to cost more than the average Mini is worth. It’s all about the circular econo-my of course and we’re all for that, but we might take some convincing when it comes to the Mini Re-charged conversion.


Written by Mark Smyth