A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
Range Rover gives the Evoque a serious haircut
You can't buy one in Canada, but in the U.S. you can get something called the Murano CrossCabriolet. It is a monumentally stupid car, made by turning Nissan's crossover SUV into a convertible by losing nearly all of its functionality. It's also as bulbously unpleasant as a hippopotamus in a bikini.
Still, the CrossCabriolet proves that the idea of a convertible crossover isn't new, and apparently people actually buy these things. Range Rover has been paying attention and have decided to go a similar route with their award-winning Evoque crossover. On the other hand, with the Evoque, the results are quite different.
It looks fantastic. Due to drop at this year's Geneva Auto Show as a "concept" (yeah, right), the Evoque cabriolet is a four-seater convertible with the ground clearance and available all-wheel drive of the original. It is also a heck of a lot sexier than my old Series III Land Rover with the roof off.
Mini launches John Cooper Works edition of the Countryman
I had quite a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of Mini's small SUV, the Countryman. After all, what they were essentially up to was designing a larger, heavier Mini; a contradiction of the very badge on the nose of the car.
Then I drove one: wheeeeeeee! What a fun little trucklet.
Naturally, Mini subscribes to the same school of thought as I do; the University of If Some Is Good Then More Is Better. In Mini language, you can also call it the John Cooper Works.
We've seen the JCW designation on the back of a few Minis already, including the Cooper S and the Clubman, and the results have been hilariously fun. A standard Mini is quite a hoot to drive, so cranking up the boost on that tiny turbocharged engine makes it even more of a terrier in the twists. Unfortunately, previous JCW Minis have all been frontwheel drive and getting all that hyperactivity transferred to the pavement can be a bit tricky.
Not to worry, as the JCW version of the Countryman is equipped with Mini's All4 allwheel-drive system, and takes its performance characteristics from the rally-bred car that Mini has been campaigning in the World Rally Championships. With 211 horsepower on tap and 221 foot-pounds of torque, it's also the most powerful Mini yet.
Expect to see the Countryman JCW as a 2013 model coming this fall, and, like all highend Mini models, expect it to cost about as much as an apartment in Coal Harbour.
Tesla Motors dealing with "bricking" claims
It's called "bricking," a term that refers to hardware - usually a smart phone or similar - made useless by software or battery problems. Now, as it turns out, you can do it to your car.
Tesla motors is currently battling what can only be described as a PR nightmare for a manufacturer of all-electric vehicles. Customers are coming forward, claiming that early models of their Tesla Roadsters are bricking, leaving the cars functionally useless and requiring a $40,000 battery replacement.
Sounds like another case of early adopters being guinea pigs for untested technology, doesn't it? But, digging a little deeper, it may be a case of a lie running around the world twice before the truth has got its shoelaces tied.
Tesla has admitted that you can fully discharge the battery in a Tesla Roadster to zero, and that doing so ruins the battery. Having said that, they've made every effort to tell their customers not to do so, up to and including using GPS tracking to make sure the cars aren't sitting uncharged for long periods of time.
It's hardly cut-and-dried at this moment, with opinion divided on emotional grounds, rather than on the slow trickle of facts coming in. However, it would appear that Tesla's mistake has not so much been a problem with their product as with their missed opportunity to quash these rumours by replacing customers' ruined battery packs, even if they were damaged by neglect rather than a design flaw.
FERRARI REVEALS ITS FASTEST EVER
There are many reasons to buy a Ferrari: the looks, the sound, the fact that you really want to look like a mustachioed private detective from Hawaii. However, the only one that really counts? The speed.
At this year's Geneva Auto Show, Ferrari will be taking the wraps off its fastest car ever, the oddly-named F12berlinetta. This frontengine, rear-wheel drive grand tourer is to be the successor to the 599 GTB Fiorano.
Grand tourer? Oh, who are we kidding anyway? This 740 h.p. V-12 powered super coupe is hardly designed for leisurely touring: you could lap Europe's sightseeing hotspots in about 15 minutes.
Alternately, you could lap Ferrari's fabled Fiorano racetrack in one minute and 23 seconds, fully two seconds faster than the track-bred, million-dollar Ferrari Enzo.
Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_ mcaleer, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.