On Motoring Monday we’ve got the new 2016 Mini Clubman and the more powerful Audi S7. The Ford GT returns to 24 Hours of LeMans, and a new world record has been set in a Volkswagen Golf TDI.

First Look: 2016 Mini Clubman

MINI unveiled their new 2016 Clubman, the quirky version which just grew up a bit now running the risk of being an oxymoron. It is after all the largest MINI ever.

It’s no longer simply a stretched out Cooper with extra doors but an enlarged and separate model – the un-MINI if you will. The new 2016 MINI Clubman is nearly 11-inches longer and almost 3-inches wider than the MINI Hardtop 4-door, pitting it against sport wagons from Volkswagen and Volvo.

It’s all part of a repositioning of the MINI brand more upscale. And in so doing they’re being more out with its association with BMW by using feature content and marketing terms the two brands share, such as TwinPower and Steptronic.

This can be found under the hood where available engines include a 1.5 liter 134 horsepower 3-cylinder TwinPower turbocharged engine and a larger 2.0 liter 4-cylinder variant with 189 horsepower. Both engines are shared with BMW as is the 8-speed Steptronic transmission.

The interior is cavernous by MINI standards, offering rear-seat passengers generous space in every direction. With the rear seats folded, the cargo area expands to a never before seen 48 cubic feet. And of course that’s still accessed by Clubman’s trademark dual swinging doors.

Styling for the most part breaks no new ground, looking and feeling like a MINI from virtually every angle, other than looking well, not mini. The rear tail lamps are the one exception to the rule, with a new elongated look which while a pushing anew, still look “English” in some way.

The new 2016 Clubman is closely related in chassis architecture to the upcoming 2016 BMW X1, and will likely at some point to offer an ALL4 all-wheel drive option in a more off-road oriented model. Countryman anyone?

The new 2016 MINI Clubman will be available in both Cooper and Cooper S, going on sale in North America early in 2016. Pricing will be announced this coming September.

Racing: Ford GT returns to 24 Hours of LeMans

To say Ford’s drivers in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be under the gun is an understatement as the Ford GT returns to the race on the 50 year anniversary after its 1,2,3 win in 1966.

Ford has announced the return of the all-new Ford GT to the 24 hour race that made it famous in the first place. The Ford GT race car is based on the all-new EcoBoost powered Ford GT which goes on sale next year.

The Ford GT will make its competitive debut first next January at the Daytona Rolex racing series with two Ford teams headed up by Chip Ganassi Racing and Felix Sabates who together will field four cars.

The Ford GT race cars are being built by Multimatic Motorsports and Roush Yates Engines will build the racing versions of their 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6’s. Ford said other partners include Castrol, Michelin, Forza Motorsport, Sparco, Brembo and CGRFS.

Returning to the limelight on the 50 year anniversary of the original Ford GT is no coincidence, a move which serves to launch the new Ford Performance brand that replaces and encompasses all which came before it globally.

Ford Racing, SVT, and ST are all now rolled into the Ford Performance umbrella. The new Ford Performance brand will launch more than 12 new production vehicles in the coming 5 years in addition to being the go-fast parts house for Ford.

And don’t forget, in September you can also download the new Ford GT in Forza Motorsport 6 on your Xbox gaming consoles. That’s the big race we can all drive in.

First Look: 2016 Audi S7

I’m happy to share that the Audi A7 series remains likely the sexiest four-door coupe on the market, and for 2016, it only gets better.

While it’s largely the same as the 2015 model, Audi gives the new A7 and S7 we see here a new front fascia and standard LED headlamps. The rear fascia also gets the plastic surgeon’s noodling and a new LED tail light design as well.

Under the hood, the 2016 Audi S7 gets a 30 horsepower bump for its 4.0 liter turbocharged V8, now up to 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That power flows through an 8-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels courtesy of Quattro for a blistering run from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds so says Audi.

Rolling stock starts with 19-inch wheels standard with optional 20 and 21-inch alloys like on the ones you see here. Several appearance option packages are available to go along with an available sport exhaust system with black tips.

You can also upgrade to a revised sport differential which has new software algorithms Audi says help to vector torque for higher levels of responsiveness and agility than before. Handling upticks come by way of a sport tune for its air suspension.

The interior is largely carryover save for a few trim and color updates. You see rich Valcona leather seats with quilted inserts, a flat bottom steering wheel with shift paddles, aluminum pedals, and carbon fiber finishes.

Those who live for their infotainment systems will not be let down with the next generation MMI interface. It’s got a new suite of Audi connect programs like online traffic, Apple Siri Eyes and Web radio streaming. Last but not least, there also a 4G LTE data connection and in-car Wi-Fi.

Yeah that’s all a mouthful but for some people today, connectivity is as sexy as horsepower and that beautiful body the S7 teases us with mercilously.

Test Drive:

In our test drive this week we drove the also sexy 2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum, the new crown jewel of rolling large imported to Detroit.

Yeah I said to Detroit, after all this American Clipper is made in Canada. That said, for 2015 Chrysler brings a new level of luxury, feature content and refinement to their broad shouldered full-sized rear-wheel drive sedan.

Inside you’ll find rich Poltrona Frau leathers, genuine open pore wood trims, and a healthy dose of the most modern and expected touches in any luxury car today like a well executed touch-screen infotainment system.

These new world touches blend well with the rumble of its old world 5.7 liter HEMI V8 which now puts power down through an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s less thirsty than before, but still thirsty if you roll large with your right foot.

You can watch our full test drive review by clicking the link below or on our website TestDriven.TV.

Reality Check: VW TDI Guinness World Record

We’ve achieved as much as 10 mpg over EPA estimates in Volkswagen TDI models, but fellow auto journalist Wayne Gerdes has once again put us to shame.

On a planned road trip of the lower 48 states, closely monitored by the Guinness World Records team, Gerdes and co-driver Bob Winger set a record in a 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI of 81.17 mpg.

On the tour which covered 8,233.5 miles in two-weeks, they used a total of 101.43 gallons. And on today’s diesel fuel prices, the total fuel cost was $294.98.

This set a new Guinness World Record for “lowest fuel consumption – 48 U.S. Contiguous States, “ beating his previous record of 77.99 mpg set in a Passat TDI in 2013.

There has to be a trick right? Well, Gerdes says that indeed some well practiced hyper-miling techniques were employed, but these are things that we can all do.

Some of these include the obvious, not exceeding the posted speed limit. But also terrain management like keeping the accelerator at a constant set when approaching mild hills such as an overpass and let it slow a bit, then letting the car’s momentum push it back up to speed on the downside.

He knows what he’s talking about. He’s piloted many similar ventures before and has made a career of it.

Up until now I was proud of myself in my recent week with the 2015 Golf TDI where I got 46 mpg. That’s a far distance from 81. My hat is off to you Wayne. You can follow him at his website. cleanmpg.com.

Money Shot

Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the best photo from this week’s automotive news and we show it to ya!

A less fuel-efficient Volkswagen Golf is being cooked up for the racetrack. You’re looking at a 330-horsepower concept car which could become a track-only race car available for use in club racing series. That’s one angry looking rabbit.

Well that’s it for Motoring Monday, thank you for watching us. Click on the link right here and subscribe to our YouTube Channel where we’ll keep you updated on all we do. We test drive a new car every week and produce almost a new video every day, so there’s always something new.

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