Lamborghini unveiled a radically minimalist version of its Aventador super-car this week, called the Aventador J. (Martial Trezzini/AP)

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Lambo unveils one-of-a-kind super-car

Special to The Globe and Mail

Lamborghini unveiled a radically minimalist version of its Aventador super-car this week, a car that’s headed to “production,” but planned as a one-off performance special for one very passionate Lambo enthusiast.

Using the same 700 hp naturally aspirated V12 beast of an engine that’s in the regular Aventador, the plainly named Aventador J is anything but. It takes Lambo’s “Superleggera” concept of lightweight performance to the ultimate extreme, jettisoning the windshield, roof, air conditioning, roll-up windows, the GPS system, stereo, anything at all that could distract from the actual drive.

Released photos of the car in action, or at least digital images of what it would look like on the road, have the driver wearing a Darth Vader-like complete face space mask, which at least will keep one’s head dry if it starts to rain on this purest expression of Lamborghini performance to date.

Lamborghini doesn’t say how much weight was carved from the 1,575-kilogram Aventador, or relay any specific performance numbers for the J besides its 300 km/h-plus top speed, perhaps because it’s likely to have a lower top speed than the standard coupe. The name comes from the J appendix in the FIA’s sporting rule book, used by the international motorsport federation to define the allowed technical parameters of each class of race cars.

The highest point in the car then is not the roof or new rear roll bars behind the seats, but the inside rear-view mirror, which stands on a free-standing windswept angular perch in between the ultra-exclusive Aventador J’s two seats.

“There is only one of them, no prototypes and no others for the Lamborghini Museum,” said the company. “The buyer can look forward to a truly unique, street-legal work of art.”

Bentley unveils SUV concept

A new concept for an SUV from Bentley was unveiled this week in Geneva, the clumsily dubbed EXP 9 F, which would provide a new all-wheel-drive performance rival for the Maserati Kubang SUV, with a twin turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine from the Continental range.

The Bentley EXP 9 F has not been confirmed as the final model headed for production, but it’s widely believed that Bentley is planning a version of this SUV based on a Cayenne platform.

Super-luxurious Bentley touches include silk wool floor-mats that are reversible, the other side done in “durable, ribbed saddle leather, for use when the driver and passengers are dressed for the great outdoors.”

Although its current powertrain is the 600-hp W-12, it could also use the recently introduced Bentley 4.0-litre V-8, or a hybrid powertrain, which Porsche coincidentally introduced on the Cayenne last year.

GM, Chrysler to offer bi-fuel gas/natural gas pickups

Full-size pickup powerhouses GM and Chrysler both announced this week that they will start selling hybrid fuel vehicles of a different sort: bi-fuel gas/natural gas pickup trucks, using CNG tanks mounted in the truck beds.

The bi-fuel setup will help potential owners who are intrigued by the 30 to 40 per cent lower cost of CNG as well as its significantly lower emissions, but don’t want to be stranded by the dwindling number of public CNG stations. Shell pulled out of offering CNG pumps at all its corporately owned Canadian locations in 2011, saying the fuel never “took off” in Canada, with volume in steady decline for the last few years.

Honda also declined to make its redesigned Civic available in a natural gas version in Canada last year, even though new British Columbia green-car rebates specifically include the CNG Civic as eligible for a $2,500 rebate in the province, although the maximum $5,000 incentive is aimed at pure electric vehicles.

Chrysler expects to start delivering the heavy-duty CNG Rams in July. Chrysler Canada president Reid Bigland said Chrysler has tried hybrid pickups, and still is testing plug-in hybrid pickups, but that the more reasonable conversion costs of CNG bode better for its market acceptability in the short and long term.

“I think there’s a question as to how long the government incentives will last,” Bigland said when asked about which technology he sees more positively, with natural gas his clear choice. “It’s a great way to settle the chicken and egg dialogue, just to have the trucks switch between gasoline and natural gas.”

GM plans to have its bi-fuel CNG pickups available this fall, to both retail and fleet customers, though it has not set prices yet. Both pickups will lose a healthy chunk of their bed’s capacity to store the extra compressed natural gas tanks, with the Ram at first offering only a small 30-litre gasoline tank, with a larger 132-litre gasoline tank becoming available later.

According to the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance’s website, there are 80 CNG stations open in five provinces (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan), with fuel priced at the equivalent of between 70 and 82 cents a litre, depending on the area.

Justin Bieber receives Fisker Karma birthday gift

Most Canadians turning 18 years old would be lucky to receive any car, and usually from their parents. But teen heart throb Justin Bieber received an unexpected birthday gift on a recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show: his agent presented him with a gas-electric luxury sport sedan, the Fisker Karma, starting price $112,000 Canadian.

His legion of Bieber fans have now been introduced to the boutique gas-electric car maker, with one reportedly tweeting “I now know what a Fisker Karma is, thanks to #Bieber.” Likely not a huge number of potential customers in the “Bielieber’ pool” but it’s still a lot better PR than the company received a couple weeks back, when it said it had missed the production and sales targets needed to secure U.S. Department of Energy money, and whispers swirled online that the company was therefore on rocky financial footing.

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