Vintage & Classics

Is the mishmashed Biagini Passo a step too far?

The Biagini Passo had a very short lived run in Europe during the early 90s.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

What exactly is a step too far in the automotive world? Some may say the 1933 Dymaxion or the Ford Gyron. Some point to the Pontiac Aztek or Nissan Murano Cross-Cabriolet. Others extend a Vanna White-esque hand in the direction of the Biagini Passo.

The car sits at the intersection of obscene fun and the Volkswagen Golf. It's both a crossover and a cabriolet, like the fabled Murano, but it's rugged with styling that is reminiscent of a Volkswagen Thing. Basically, it's a lot.

The story goes that the ACM model was inspired by the Meyers Manx, among other sunshine-ready models. Thomas Crown would not be caught dead in this, however.

Biagini Passo

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Underneath, the car is almost all VW. It has a slightly modified body of the VW Golf I Cabrio that was meshed together with the technology of a Golf II Country via a unique subframe. The front and rear are completely different than the Volkswagen Golf, with bits borrowed from other automakers giving the car wannabe Suzuki X-90 vibes.

Its headlights are from a first-generation Fiat Panda while the taillights come from a 1983 Opel Kadett D sedan. Its side turn signals are sourced from a 1983 Fiat Ritmo.

ACM designers removed the luggage hatch and replaced it with a large flap that opens downward. The PVC rear window can be folded up separately from the rest of the convertible top, which was sourced from a Golf I Cabrio. The dashboard is also from that Golf model.

With the top down, the model can seat five. It has a bull bar up front and raised ride height over the traditional stance of the Golf.

It's powered by a 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

The Passos was not popular nor long lasting. Very few were sold (some sources say less than 300 while others say less than 100) and poor corrosion protection meant that most headed to a scrap heap long ago.

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The Nissan Re-Leaf is designed to help in disaster zones.

Photo courtesy of Nissan

When you need disaster relief, this Nissan Leaf is there for you, at least in theory. The Nissan Re-Leaf, an electric emergency response vehicle concept vehicle, takes the idea of portable electricity to a new level.

The Re-Leaf isn't just all-show. It's a working prototype that is designed to serve as a mobile power supply that can be used following natural disasters or extreme weather events. The Leaf was the world's first mass-market electric vehicle when it debuted a decade ago.

Natural disasters are the biggest cause of power outages. A 2019 World Bank report found natural shocks and climate change caused 37 percent of outages in Europe between 2000 and 2017, and 44 percent of outages in the US over the same period.

Nissan Re-Leaf

Photo courtesy of Nissan

Usually, when a disaster hits, the time for electricity supply to be restored is typically 24-48 hours if the damage is not too extensive. During that time, electric vehicles can provide mobile emergency power.

The Re-Leaf has a few modifications to make it disaster-ready. That starts at the exterior of the vehicle where weatherproof plug sockets mounted directly to the exterior enable 110- to 230-volt devices to be powered by the car's lithium-ion battery.

It is designed to drive into disaster zones and provide a mobile power supply. The integrated energy management system can run medical, communications, lighting and other life-supporting equipment.

The cars can also act as mobile storage batteries to supply homes with electricity during non-emergency situations by using the LEAF's bi-directional charging ability, a standard feature of the model since its introduction in 2010. This means the LEAF can not only 'pull' power to recharge the high-capacity battery, but also 'push' it back to the grid through V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology, or directly to electronic devices through V2X (Vehicle-to-everything).

Acting as a portable power station, the latest generation Nissan LEAF e+ with a fully charged 62 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery can provide enough electricity to power the average UK household for around six days.

This concept may look futuristic but the future is already here. Nissan has used the Leaf to provide emergency power and transportation following natural disasters since 2011.

The Re-Leaf sports an amber color scheme, a nod to the ancient Greek word for amber – electron – the origin of the word 'electricity'. There's a roof-mounted LED light bar that flashes amber lights as well. Nissan has raised the car by 70 mm and given it a wider track and all-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the rear seats have been removed and the floor levelled to provide storage for essential equipment. A custom bulk-head cage also separates the front seats from the cargo area.

A bespoke pull-out desk extends from the cargo area with a 32-inch LED screen and dedicated power supply creating an operational hub to run communications from and manage the recovery process.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is the company's first long-range electric vehicle for the U.S. market.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The long-teased Volkswagen ID.4 has arrived. Volkswagen will make the battery electric vehicle (BEV) its first long-range model sold in the U.S. The model will be made in the U.S.A at VW's Chattanooga plant and go on sale in early 2021.

"The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package."

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Platform and battery design

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With a serviceable body design, the highlights of the ID.4 reside in the details. Its battery pack consists of 288 pouch cells in 12 modules. The pack resides under the vehicle's center and doesn't intrude on passenger space. The battery pack is attached to the car via an aluminum hold and connects with an electric motor at the rear.

VW will offer the ID.4 with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery at launch. The power source is capable of achieving 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet for torque, which are good numbers for its vehicle size, though some of that may be undercut by the heaviness of the vehicle - the weight information is still forthcoming from the company.

The ID.4 82kWh RWD 1st Edition models will have a range of 250 miles. A more powerful all-wheel-drive variant with 302 horsepower will go on sale later in 2021.

Each ID.4 that is purchased comes with three years of free charging capability via Electrify America infrastructure. The ID.4 can be charged with both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) fast-charging capability. The onboard 11-kilowatt charger allows for charging the battery 33 miles in about an hour and charges to full in around 7.5 hours on a Level 2 charger. At a DC fast-charging station, with 125 kilowatt charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is touting the vehicle's nimble drivability. VW knows a thing or two about five-door vehicle nimbleness. They're the makers of the Golf GTI, one of the most beloved hot hatches on the planet.

As for dimensions, the ID.4 is 4.6 inches smaller and shorter than the Tiguan, and has a shorter wheelbase. Despite this, the passenger space of the model is similar to the Tiguan. It has cargo space similar in size to the Mazda CX-5.

The ID.4 will available in six exterior colors—Glacier White Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Moonstone Grey, Scale Silver Metallic, Blue Dusk Metallic and King's Red Metallic. All models come with a body color roof, black roof rails, and 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Statement package adds a panoramic fixed-glass roof, premium LED projector headlights with Volkswagen's Adaptive Front-lighting System, and power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamp signature. The Gradient package (sold on top of the Statement package) upgrades to 20-inch wheels, black roof, and silver roof rails and accents.

A 5.3-inch digital instrument display replaces the traditional instrument cluster in front of the driver. It's operated with touch-sensitive controls on the car's leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There is no gearshift because an electric vehicle does not require gears. Instead, the vehicle shifts to drive using a rocker switch on the dashboard.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Interior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Piano Black material is featured on the steering wheel, steering column, door controls, and display housings. The car's standard cloth seats are finished in black cloth on entry models and Lunar Gray or Galaxy Black leatherette on models with the Statement package. Entry ID.4 models feature six-way adjustable seats with power recline, while the Statement package adds 12-way power seats, with massage lumbar and memory, as well as 30-color ambient lighting.

The roster of standard features includes rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone Climatronic climate control, and KESSY keyless access, heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors and washer nozzles, wireless mobile charging, wireless App-Connect, and Volkswagen Car-Net with in-car WiFi capability, and, on all-wheel-drive models, a heated windshield. The Statement package adds satellite radio, an adjustable trunk floor, and a power tailgate with Easy Open & Close.

Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995, for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro, before a potential federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is applied. Volkswagen Credit will offer qualified customers a monthly lease payment $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing for a 36-month lease with a 10,000-miles per year limit.

Starting later in 2021, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,675) will be available. These models can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500). The ID.4 launches with a limited-run ID.4 1st Edition ($43,995).

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