Nissan Talks About What It Has In Store For Us

Nissan’s chief designer, Shiro Nakamura, who styled hugely significant cars including the GT-R, Qashqai, 350Z, Juke, Leaf and Cube, retired in March after 17 years with the manufacturer. Nakamura has been replaced by Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti’s previous head of design, with ex-BMW design chief Karim Habib taking Albaisa’s role. Nakamura, 66, was brought to Nissan by Carlos Ghosn. Continue reading “Nissan Talks About What It Has In Store For Us”

An Unforgettable Journey With Mazda MX-5

IT TAKES A LOCAL TO SNAP ME OUT OF MY blissful ignorance. Partly because the thrashing of a Nissan Patrol’s 44-inch tyres is difficult to ignore when it’s occurring at eye level, but mostly for the look its occupants give as they pass. Incredulity would cover it, but pity is an appropriate surrogate. Either way, the drawn-out passing manoeuvre and perplexed looks are enough to remind me that what I’m doing isn’t, by Icelandic standards, normal. Driving certain cars endows one with something approximating celebrity. Continue reading “An Unforgettable Journey With Mazda MX-5”

Nissan GT-R And Lotus Evora Sport 410: Same Purpose, Different Style

CHALK AND CHEESE. APPLES AND ORANGES. Night and day. Six things with more in common than the Nissan GT-R and Lotus Evora Sport 410. And yet, this odd couple make a compelling pair. For although their differences in approach are clear and numerous, key similarities are there if you care to look. While the respective outputs of their forced-induction V6s are wildly different, physics applies its own parity via the power-to-weight ratios. Each has a supercar-challenging top speed of 300km/h or more. Crucially, both cars offer an alternative take on established and more conventional rivals, with you – the driver – at the centre of their world. Continue reading “Nissan GT-R And Lotus Evora Sport 410: Same Purpose, Different Style”

Nissan Micra IG-T 90 Tekna

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£17,275

As sometimes happens with Japanese cars, different generations of Micras have had bewilderingly different characters. They’ve been cute or boring, elaborate or straightforward… and loved or ignored in Britain. The last one sat at the wrong pole of all those spectra, at least from our perspective. But then it wasn’t designed with us in mind, instead looking to India and Thailand.

Continue reading “Nissan Micra IG-T 90 Tekna”

Nissan New Hybrid Turn Brought By Mitsubishi Deal

NISSAN has made a U-turn on its plans to forge ahead with only pure-electric vehicles, as senior execs confirmed to Auto Express that the manufacturer is working on a plug-in hybrid solution for Europe. The Renault-Nissan Alliance recently acquired a 34 percent controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors, and Takashi Shirakawa, Nissan’s European R&D boss, has hinted that its eventual plug-in hybrid could share tech with Mitsubishi’s best-selling Outlander PHEV. Continue reading “Nissan New Hybrid Turn Brought By Mitsubishi Deal”

Nissan GT-R Track

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Hard-core Track edition proves that Nissan’s Godzilla still has plenty of fire in its belly

nissan-gtr-trackIf I had not looked at the spec sheet beforehand, I’d have sworn that the GT-R Track was at least 125kg lighter than the standard car (if you can call a regular GT-R ‘standard’). There is a very modest 5kg saving but the sensation of lightness is promoted by the taut chassis. Unlike the GT-R Premium, where you can just potter along as though you are in a Pulsar, the Track feels constantly on edge, like it’s just consumed two Red Bulls. It wants to go. Always.

It looks more on edge, too. You can see the effort put into the Track edition, deeper splitter here, extra air ducting there and a rear wing that is full of purpose and intent. It looks like a detuned Nismo product rather than a tuned-up Nissan one.

Leaving the pits I can instantly feel the true purpose of this car and I find myself mentally congratulating Nissan on creating a car that actually deserves the word ‘Track’ associated with it. It’s not merely a marketing-department ‘Track’ car.

Where the Premium feels stable, the Track feels ready to bite. That ‘bite’ zone is where the GT-R Track truly entertains and rewards in equal measure.

You find yourself braking deeper and deeper, trying to keep it in the entertaining zone of being just unsettled. Here, just over the edge, is where the Track comes alive and where it really delivers. That tightness allows turn-in that is scarcely believable for a car with four driven wheels. Where the GT-R Premium points and squirts out of corners, the Track punches and attacks. When you get a little offline you simply aim where you want to be, ignore the nervousness (both yours and the cars, but mainly yours) and push harder on the accelerator. The GT-R just snaps itself (and you) back into order.

I have no doubt that the Track would smoke the regular Premium GT-R on back roads as well, but I think its pointiness would make the experience a sweaty one. Best to keep its exploits to the title of its badge.

For once the word Track being applied to a road car actually makes total sense. But it is track first and road second. That said, no one will trouble you on the way to the track and, based on our experience, very few people will trouble you once there. The Track edition is an amplified GT-R.

Theory of Evolution – Nissan MY17 GT-R

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For a decade, Nissan has evolved the GT-R with small but constant tweaks. The MY17 GT-R represents the biggest leap

nissan-myIt’s hard to believe that the R35 Nissan GT-R has been with us for nearly 10 years (it launched in 2007 at the Tokyo motor show). Like most significant cars, I clearly remember the first one I saw in the metal. Wheels magazine had one in the garage and, like kids the day Dad brings home the new family car for the first time, we all went down to check it out. It looked like nothing else before it but also strangely very familiar. In hindsight; its familiarity was due to its cover-star status on every motoring magazine and an increasing number of Gran Turismo promotions.

Yet even though the R35 GT-R has been around for a decade it remains relatively rare on our roads. A point made even more eye-opening by the fact that since the GT-R launched in Australia, it has been outsold by all Ferrari models on sale in that same period. Looked at in that light, the GT-R is more exclusive than a car wearing the famous prancing horse.

Speaking of Ferraris, the GT-R’s lifespan covers the on-sale periods of the F430, 458 and now 488. Given the advances Ferrari has made in the last decade, it’s quite the achievement that you still have to drive hard in a 458 or 488 to stay with a GT-R.

nissan-my17From a distance, the MY17 GT-R looks like the same car that was launched back in 2007. Only when you get closer can you see the level of detail that has gone into evolving the R3S. Clever attention has been paid to increasing air intake volume while reducing drag. The overall look is a car that has become more aggressive yet simultaneously more refined. Put it this way from 100 metres you would not be able to tell the MY07 and MY17 apart, but put them next to each other and you will find yourself staring at the details of the newer car.

That same experience greets you inside the cabin. The fit and finish of the interior is a class above what it once was and the leather reminds me of that in a Ferrari California. It feels like a purposeful executive office in here. It is also less fussy than it once was, less Playstation handset and more iPhone touchscreen. It has grown up.

I’ve witnessed more races at Phillip Island than I can count, yet this is my first experience of actually driving the famous circuit. It is an amazing place and just being here feels special. However, now when I think of Phillip Island my first thought will be passing the pits on my ‘sighting’ lap and looking at the speedo to see 250km/h showing – I honestly thought I was closer to 120km/h.

Origin of the Species – Nissan KPGC10 Skyline GT-R ‘Hakosuka’

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The legendary ‘Hakosuka’ was the first Nissan Skyline GT-R, and now we’ve driven one the DNA is clear to see

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Tacked-on black wheelarch extensions at the rear add a sense of muscle

Skyline. It’s such a familiar term amongst car enthusiasts and conjures strong images and even stronger reactions. There are lovers and haters. The former, as is so often the case, fuel the fire of the latter. They’re almost religious about the big, complex Japanese coupe and their fanaticism is matched by the blind rage that characterises those who take against the Skyline.

Of course, I’m talking about the Skyline GT-R, the car that arrived in 1989 with all-­wheel drive, four-wheel steer and twin turbochargers, and then evolved through two more generations and endless refinements. The car that swept all before it in Group A touring car racing and was inevitably banned. But the Skyline we’re driving today couldn’t be more different: small, light, rear-wheel drive and without even power steering. And everyone seems to love it. This is the 1971 Skyline GT-R. Also known as a KPGC10 or, for many, simply Hakosuka (‘hako’ for box-shaped, ‘suka’ as an abbreviation of Skyline in Japanese).

The early Skyline story is complicated and littered with all sorts of codes unintelligible to the uninitiated. So much so that I hesitate to try to explain it all for fear of our offices being razed to the ground by those who like to quote chassis numbers. Anyway, for the good of the story, here goes…

The Skyline was launched by the Prince Motor Company in April 1957 and featured a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with just 44kW. In 1964 the Prince Skyline GT (SS4-generation) was created and a seed of something special was planted. This new model took the 2.0-litre ‘G7’ straight-six from the bigger Gloria Sedan and was devised to go racing. Prince built 100 road cars (SS4A with a single-carb 78kW engine and S54B with triple carbs and 92kW) and turned up at the 1964 Japanese GP at Fuji to contest the GT-11 race.

The Skyline GT was a narrow, square-edged sedan but in race tune it produced 122kW at 6800rpm and weighed 990kg. It was fast. So fast that for one glorious lap it headed the Porsche 904 GTS that would eventually go on to win the race, while Skyline GTs finished in positions second to sixth. Tetsu Ikuzawa’s overtake on the 904 GTS became the stuff of legend and, perhaps, the Skyline myth was guaranteed. In 1966 Prince merged with Nissan and the former was quickly phased out. ‘Skyline’, of course, couldn’t be erased so easily and in ’68 a new generation – the C10 – was launched. The now iconic GT-R badge was created in February 1969, attached to a four-door Skyline fitted with a 2.0-litre, 24-valve straight-six engine (called the S20) related to the GR8 motor seen in a mid-engined prototype, called the R380, that had finally vanquished Porsche (now with the 906 GTS) at Fuji in ’66. That first Skyline was called the PGC10 and in March 1971 it was joined by a two-door coupe version: the KPGC10. In Japan, skylinethe GT-Rs enjoyed a period of complete domination, winning SO races in two years and 10 months with 49 victories consecutively.

Okay, so now you’re up to speed. Or horribly confused. What you need to know is that this particular Skyline GT-R coupe was built in August 1971 and arrived in the UK in January 2016 thanks to the expertise and persistence of Torque GT, who hunted down and imported the car for new owner lan Griffiths. That double-overhead-camshaft S20 engine produces 118kW at 7000rpm and 178Nm at S600rpm and the car weighs around 1100kg. It features struts up front and a semi-trailing- arm arrangement at the rear, a five-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential. There’s no power steering, the brakes are unassisted (and feature rear drums) and it looks, well, boxy. But these cars are rare and highly sought after. You want one? Be prepared to pay $25OK

Nissan’s Marvellous Micra

Nissan took the wraps off a bold new Micra at the Paris motor show, and doing so began a new chapter in the small car’s history. The new car, now in its fifth generation, will be built alongside the Clio at Renault’s factory in Flins, France and shares some of the car’s underpinnings. The latest Micra is more focussed towards European tastes compared to its lucklustre predecessor, that was built in India and had a low-rent feel to the cabin materials. Taking its styling cues from the Sway concept car from the 2015 Geneva motor show, the new Micra is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, delivering extra interior space for occupants, for which Nissan claims is best-in-class.

The rear door handles are hidden in the rear pillar, the roof line appears to be floating and incorporates a spoiler, while up front there’s a distinctive V-shaped grille. Extensive work has been carried out to reduce cabin noise, while aerodynamic efficiency is top-notch for a small car at just 0.29 Cd. Technology plays an important part, with lane departure prevention, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist for the headlights, and blind spot warning offered on all models.

There’s also an intelligent 360 degree camera system and a seven-inch colour display that gives access to functions like Apple CarPlay, downloadable apps and the navigation system. Nissan has teamed up with Bose for a new six-speaker sound system that uniquely incorporates a pair of Ultra Nearfield speakers that are integrated into the driver’s head rest. The engine range is brought bang up-to-date with a choice of an 89bhp 1.5-litre dCi turbo diesel unit or 89bhp 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, while a naturally aspirated 72bhp 1.0-litre powerplant will join the range soon after and will act as entry point for the new Micra line-up. The range will consist of five trim levels, kicking off with Visia, Visia+, Acenta, Acenta+ and flagship Tekna. A palette often colours will be on offer, including vibrant Energy Orange, with the option to colour co-ordinate the interior, too.

Taking its styling cues from the Sway concept car from the 2015 Geneva motor show, the new Micra is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor…

While it’s a little early to predict costs, a Nissan spokesman said that they will price the Micra in-line with its main rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo when it arrives in showrooms next March. That puts the cheapest diesel model at approximately £15,000 for a mid-range Acenta version. One casualty of the Micra’s increased size is the Note mini-MPV which is expected to be discontinued next year. Nissan’s Sunderland plant will continue to build the Juke B-segment crossover, as well as the Qashqai, which is set to get a facelift next summer, including the availability of autonomous driving technology.

Predator Evolved – Nissan GT-R 2017

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Nissan’s boffins try to tame the animal inside

Design

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Nothing on the new 2017 Nissan GT-R got as far as production without the engineers having calculated the smallest affect it would have on aerodynamics or weight. Nissan’s most radical redesign is what other brands refer to as a minor lifecycle enhancement, but it effusively proves that the original shape was no fluke. The front bumper and rear bumper operate in unison to stabilise the car when storming beyond its 300km/h top speed.

Power

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Right on cue, as the competition turns up the heat, Nissan responds by spooning in power to that same 3.8-litre V6 twin turbo that has remained the GTR’s primary weapon since the icon’s rebirth. Now hard-hitting midrange punch adds muscle to those bruising sub 3-second 0-100km/h launches. The engine, each one hand-built by a single craftsman collectively referred to as Takumi, gets this surge of power from new turbo chargers, while it’s no coincidence that the road version of the GT-R has scribbled some notes from the brand’s on-going motor sport division.

Handling

Take the GT-R to the track (where it belongs) and Nissan claims an increase in chassis stiffness will be noticeable. And since the Nissan GT-R has always been a factual piece of kit, it’s best to agree and study the lap times. Sticky Dunlop tyres specifically developed for GT-R and lightweight 20-inch alloys allow the all-wheel drive system to operate at its peak.

Cockpit

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Nissan has silenced the tacky noises that plagued and cheapened previous models before designing a titanium exhaust system as the new car’s official soundtrack. Carbon fibre and nappa leather replace previously inferior panel quality, and a larger 8-inch capacitive touchscreen cuts down the number of buttons from 27 to 11.

Nissan X-Trail 2.0 dCi 2017

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Nissan’s X-Trail has been a popular choice in the seven-seat S UV sector, with 110,000 models sold in Europe since its launch in 2014. But owners have been craving a more powerful engine option and, after two years, the wait is finally over, as Nissan has dropped in a new 175bhp 2.0- litre diesel to attract those who discounted the X-Trail for not having enough grunt.

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As well as the extra power, the new engine produces a useful 380Nm of torque – 60Nm up on the 1.6 dCi diesel. Outright performance is adequate, but not exceptional. The sprint from 0-62 mph takes 9.4 seconds – just over a second faster than the 1.6 – but that figure doesn’t highlight the useful in-gear overtaking punch on offer. While it never feels brisk, the new model does seem a little more eager than the 1.6.

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Under load, the 2.0-litre doesn’t sound quite as refined as the 1.6, with noticeable clatter as the revs build up. It shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, though, and once up to speed the 2.0 dCi X-Trail is just as subdued as the smaller-engined model.

Efficiency figures don’t suffer too badly, either – our 4WD manual model’s claimed 48.7mpg compares reasonably well with 52.3mpg in a similar spec 1.6-litre diesel, while the larger engine emits 10g/km more CO2, at 153 g/km. You also get a further 150 kg of towing capacity, which is a bonus.

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The new engine has no obvious effect on the handling, so the X-Trail is still a tidy and composed drive,with slick controls and a good balance between comfort and body control. Our Tekna-spec model costs £1,250 more than an equivalent 1.6-litre diesel, which is a little steep, but buyers can spec the new engine across the range, and can choose between two or four-wheel drive and a CVT auto gearbox if desired.

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SPECIFICATIONS


Nissan X-Trail 2.0 dCi 177 Tekna

nissan-x-trail-4Price: £33,760
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel
Power/torque: 175bhp/380Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 9.4sec
Top speed: 127mph
Economy: 48.7mpg
CO2: 153g/km
On sale: Now

VERDICT

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Adding a 2.0-litre diesel to the X-Trail’s line-up should satisfy buyers who want extra performance. It feels slightly more urgent than the 1.6, and if you’re carrying six passengers it won’t go unnoticed. For those who don’t use the X-Trail’s full load capacity, the more refined 1.6 diesel is still a fine choice.

More Details About Nissan’s ProPILOT Drive Assist Tech Were Revealed

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Nissan’s new autonomous drive assist technology, ProPILOT, is likely to start out as a £1,500 option in the updated Qashqai next year, but bosses have told it won’t be a scalable system that could later be updated with more advanced autonomous technology.

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The first version of ProPILOT, Traffic Jam Pilot, is to be featured in the new, 2017 Qashqai, and will be able to control the car’s acceleration, braking and steering in single-lane traffic and highway use. Takashi Shirakawa, senior vice president of Nissan’s European Technical Centre, told us: “In Japan the option [sold on the Nissan Serena] is around 200,000Yen; it could sell for around £1,500 in the UK.”

The next versions of ProPILOT, called Highway Pilot and Intercity Pilot, are due in 2018 and 2020. The former will allow vehicles to automatically switch lanes and overtake on motorways, while the third version will be able to drive autonomously in certain urban environments.

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New Qashqai – hinted at by the Premium Concept at the Geneva show in March – will bring self-drive tech. But buyers won’t be able to upgrade this.

However, early adopters of Nissan cars with the first iteration of ProPILOT won’t be able to upgrade to more advanced autonomous technology in the coming years, as they can with set-ups from other manufacturers such as Tesla. “The second and third generations will use different kinds of sensors,” Shirakawa added.

Nissan Set To Offer Micra Hybrid

NISSAN has revealed a new hybrid powertrain called e-Power, which is likely to make its European debut in the latest Micra supermini. The new system uses electric motors to drive the wheels and a front-mounted petrol engine to charge the batteries. Nissan says the solution is suitable for more compact models, and that despite a smaller battery, its electric system operates in a similar fashion to the Leafs in the real world.

Images released by Nissan suggest that the Note will be the first car to use the technology, but because it’s set to be discontinued in Europe, e-Power is likely to appear here first in the new Micra. Fuel efficiency is said to be similar to “leading conventional hybrids”, which would indicate economy figures of around 70mpg to match the Toyota Prius.

A Careful Analysis of Nissan GT-R

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Model tested: Recaro Price: £81,995 Power: 562bhp Torque: 470lb ft 0-60mph: 3.4sec 30-70mph in fourth: 6.0sec Fuel economy: 21.6mpg C02 emissions: 275g/km

In the press blurb for the latest incarnation of the GT-R, Nissan confidently claims a place for its cultish product on the “cutting edge of the premium sports car sector” earned since its launch way back in 2007. A more accurate version of that sentence, though, would replace the word ‘since’ with ‘at’.

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At its launch, very nearly a decade ago, the GT-R arguably set the performance benchmark for its price point – a price point substantially lower than the Porsche 911 Turbo.

Devastatingly fast it has undeniably remained on the top, and it apparently continues to loom large in the imagination of anyone under the age of 35. Yet in so many ways other than outright speed, the cutting edge of the premium sports car segment has long since moved out of the reach of the GT-R, even as Nissan blithely inflated its list price to suggest parity with markedly superior opposition.

And so as the GT-R ages, its brief subtly changes. Added comfort, luxuriousness and refinement are among the priorities of the comprehensive 2017-model-year update, which comes after the car’s last major facelift in 2011. Styling has been tweaked, the interior upgraded, refinement measures improved, the chassis revised and – inevitably – peakpower from the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 increased. Nissan calls them the most significant alterations since the car’s launch – and they will need to be to justify the breadth of the 2017 line-up.

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Three conventional trim grades will be offered: Pure, Recaro and Prestige, starting from £79,995. But the GT-R will also be available as a Track Edition engineered by Nismo, plus a distinct Nismo model costing £149,995. Which means it’s expected to incorporate everything from a 911 Carrera to the McLaren 570S as rivals. We drove the £81,995 Recaro version to test its new mettle.

DESIGN AND ENGINEERING 4/5

The lookis altered, but don’t expect a layman to necessarily spot the difference. There’s a new bumper, bonnet, daytime running lights and grille – hardly a bold reimagining of the mighty Godzilla. Instead, Nissan insists that most changes are less about improving the car’s thickset looks than they are enhancing its aerodynamic rigour. Thus, downforce, drag reduction and cooling airflow are variously cited as the reasons for the front spoiler extending by a few millimetres, the sills being reshaped and the rear bumper swapped for the one deployed on the previous-generation Nismo. So the latest GT-R cuts through the air marginally more cleanly and soothes its components slightly more efficiently – but enters the eyeballs in more or less the same way.

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There’s no change to the substantial rear spoiler. A brake light is still incorporated and the build quality is sturdy enough to make it a convenient handle for the boot.

That’s probably fine, though, because you’re likely either to buy into the Nissan’s idiosyncratic looks or dislike them to the extent that it would take more than a facelift to fix them. Of greater importance than the way it (still) looks are the structural improvements made in the pursuit of greater rigidity. Reinforcements in the A-pillar and C-pillar areas are said to result in better and more uniform stiffness and are accompanied by newly valved Bilstein adaptive dampers plus tougher suspension mounts. The steering remains by speed-sensitive, hydraulically assisted rack and pinion, but Nissan claims for it sharper responses and reduced effort at lower speeds.

Serious effort, too, has been devoted to exorcising the din that typically blights long journeys in the GT-R. The quality of the sound deadening behind the dashboard has been improved, the ‘booming’ exhaust resonance has been electronically damped and the car employs a noise cancelling system to mask unwanted sounds in the cabin.

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Visually, the quad exhaust hasn’t dramatically altered, except this one is now made of titanium and features Nissan’s Active Sound Enhancement.

The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has also been revised in the interests of quietness. Changes to the control software are intended to make shifts more precise, smoothing out the previously cranky low-speed changes and decreasing the whine that tended to emanate from between the rear wheels.

The ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system fed by that gearbox remains the same, sending drive to the rear wheels only until circumstances dictate otherwise, but the power source itself – the hand-assembled 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 – gets higher boost pressure and a new ignition system that more accurately controls timing at each cylinder for a more efficient fuel burn. Together with a new titanium exhaust, the engine now delivers 562bhp – a 20bhp hike – as well as marginally increased peak torque over a broader rev range.

Gov’t Deal Averted Possibility Of Nissan Plant Closure

NISSAN’S SUNDERLAND plant would have closed if the car maker hadn’t struck a deal with the government following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. A report by Bloomberg alleges an insider revealed that Nissan told officials the plant would eventually close and that construction of the next-gen Oashqai and X-Trail would have moved elsewhere. The plant employs more than 7000 people and is the UK’s largest car making plant.  It was recently announced that the factory would build the two new models following negotiations with the government.

Nissan is staying put in Sunderland post-Brexit
Nissan is staying put in Sunderland post-Brexit

Greg Clark, the UK business secretary, is under pressure to publish details of the negotiations with Nissan, but he has so far refused to do so, saying they would contain “sensitive commercial information”. BMW/Mini and Honda have said they see no reason to leave the UK as a consequence of Brexit. However, several car makers, including Ford, Honda and Suzuki, have raised car prices in response to the fluctuating value of the pound. A BMW spokesman said: “The situation regarding the UK’s future trade relationship with the EU remains uncertain.

Uncertainty is not helpful when it comes to making long-term business decisions. However, unlike Nissan, we are not in the situation where a major UK investment decision needs to be taken imminently. “We continue to monitor the situation, but for now, BMW continues to operate ‘business as usual’ at its manufacturing bases in the UK.” A Nissan spokesman denied that the Sunderland factory would have shut down.

A Worldwide Superstar – Nissan GT-R 2017

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You could call it Godzilla or the Skyline, but definitely call the Nissan GT-R amazing

It was around the third or fourth turn, as I cornered the 2017 Nissan GT-R on a tight canyon road high above the cliffs of Malibu, that it hit me: This thing is utterly mind-boggling. Not in the purely figurative sense, but mind-boggling in a literal way that leaves one open to the possibility that, just maybe, there’s some mysterious place in the universe where mind can control matter. Such is the power of the latest iteration of the famed Japanese car also known by the nickname Godzilla. Fans of the massively popular and pioneering driving video game Gran Turismo may also know earlier models of the GT-R as the Skyline, which partially explains why I caught so many Los Angeles millennials drooling over the car.

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This wasn’t my first time driving a GT-R. I recall trying to contain my excitement after tackling a few Michigan back roads in the outgoing model some years ago. But the 2017 GT-R is far more exhilarating.

Much of that can be credited to a stiffer frame, which improves the car’s handling in situations that call for tricky maneuvering. The GT-R’s award-winning twin-turbo 3.8- liter V6 engine has also increased by 20 horsepower, for a total of 565 hp, which allows for quicker acceleration when you hammer down on the gas pedal.

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All that power is perfectly balanced by one of the most revolutionary all-wheel-drive systems in the game, leading to unparalleled confidence on the road.

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The GT-R’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission has been refined for smoother shifting in normal city driving, but it’s clear that the beast, which starts around $110,000, is most comfortable revving at higher speeds.

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Cosmetically, the 2017 GT-R has an entirely overhauled face and hood, redesigned to improve the car’s overall performance. And the interior has undergone upgraded modifications as well, including a new dashboard and an eight-inch touch screen, creating a more premium luxury feel.

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Still, it’s the intoxicating, thrilling feeling I get when pushing the GT-R through a wicked turn that sells me on the idea that there’s so much more to this supercar than its sheer power.

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4 Crossovers That Will Get Your Attention

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Ssang Yong Tivoli 1.6 EXG

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Price: $19,000
Power: 126 hp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 160 Nm @ 4,600rpm

SsangYong has made a comeback to the Philippine market after being handled by less-than-able companies in the past. Under the stewardship of Berjaya Auto Philippines, the Korean carmaker faces far brighter prospects in the local auto industry. I found the Tivoli, an unknown vehicle, very interesting and it definitely impresses with its specs and price!

Strong points:

  • Mini Countryman look-alike
  • Great customer service
  • Decent trunk space

Weak points:

  • Untested longevity
  • Unknown performance
  • Limited service centers

Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper

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Price: $20,000
Power: 114 hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 154 Nm @ 4,000rpm

After our brief visit to SsangYong on Quezon Avenue, we walk over to the Autohub Group-owned Nissan High Performance Center. This establishment is the only authorized service center for the recently launched R35GT-R. While we don’t check out the GT-R, we do take a closer look at the Juke, which is becoming a huge hit for the young and young at heart searching for a fun-looking crossover.

Strong points:

  • Within budget
  • Exciting but economical
  • Fresh brand presence

Weak points:

  • Very small trunk
  • Low rear headroom
  • Questionable resale value

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium

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Price: $20,000
Power: 108 hp @ 6,300rpm
Torque: 142 Nm @ 4,500rpm

Ford EDSA is slowly becoming a regular stopover due to its convenient location and proximity to other dealerships. The American carmaker’s cute and popular EcoSport is winning the hearts and garage space, particularly of the fairer sex. And owning a Ford nowadays has never been easier thanks to aggressive pricing, special deals and discounts, and freebies. There’s a readily available supply of EcoSports, too.

Strong points:

  • Affordable
  • Well-appointed
  • Cool features like sunroof

Weak points:

  • Initially feels underpowered
  • Parts availability issue
  • The smallest in the group

Isuzu MU-X LS-A 4×2 2.0 VGS AT

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Price: $29,000
Power: 161 hp @ 3,200rpm
Torque: 380 Nm @ 1,800-2,200rpm

Technically speaking, the MU-X shouldn’t be on this list because it’s much bigger and well over the budget. But the MU-X seems to offer the best value for money, for a 4×2 automatic variant. The biggest selling point of the MU-X is that Isuzu diesels last forever, and are also super-efficient.

Strong points:

  • Diesel powertrain
  • Biggest cargo space
  • Very good ground clearance

Weak points:

  • Well over the budget
  • Difficult to get in and out of
  • The biggest in the group

Nissan Backs UK Production

 

Nissan has confirmed that its next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be built alongside the Juke at its Sunderland production plant, despite concerns that the Brexit vote could lead to reduced investment. The move will make Sunderland a European hub for Nissan’s crossover production and ensures the survival of more than 7000 jobs in the region. Nissan said the decision was made following strong support from the British government, which is working to ensure the automotive industry remains strong during the UK’s departure from the EU. Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said: “Our [Sunderland] employees continue to make the plant a globally competitive powerhouse, producing high-quality, high-value products everyday.

Sunderland plant will make the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail
Sunderland plant will make the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail

“The support and assurances of the UK government have enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced at Sunderland. I welcome [the U K government’s] commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy.” The news followed the announcement from the Office for National Statistics that Britain’s economy grew by 0.5% between July and September of this year. A heavily updated Qashqai is set to go on sale next year, featuring Nissan’s sophisticated Propilot autonomous technology. The next-gen Qashqai and X-Trail aren’t expected until around 2019.

Godzilla Has Almost Broke The Bars! Nissan GT-R 2017 Preview

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Nissan’s boffins try to tame the animal inside

Design

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Nothing on the new 2017 Nissan GT-R got as far as production without the engineers having calculated the smallest affect it would have on aerodynamics or weight.

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Nissan’s most radical redesign is what other brands refer to as a minor lifecycle enhancement, but it effusively proves that the original shape was no fluke. The front bumper and rear bumper operate in unison to stabilise the car when storming beyond its 300km/h top speed.

Power

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nissan-gtr-2017-logoRight on cue, as the competition turns up the heat, Nissan responds by spooning in power to that same 3.8-litre V6 twin turbo that has remained the GTR’s primary weapon since the icon’s rebirth. Now hard-hitting midrange punch adds muscle to those bruising sub 3-second 0-100km/h launches. The engine, each one hand-built by a single craftsman collectively referred to as Takumi, gets this surge of power from new turbo chargers, while it’s no coincidence that the road version of the GT-R has scribbled some notes from the brand’s on-going motor sport division.

Handling

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Take the GT-R to the track (where it belongs) and Nissan claims an increase in chassis stiffness will be noticeable. And since the Nissan GT-R has always been a factual piece of kit, it’s best to agree and study the lap times. Sticky Dunlop tyres specifically developed for GT-R and lightweight 20-inch alloys allow the all-wheel drive system to operate at its peak.

Cockpit

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Nissan has silenced the tacky noises that plagued and cheapened previous models before designing a titanium exhaust system as the new car’s official soundtrack. Carbon fibre and nappa leather replace previously inferior panel quality, and a larger 8-inch capacitive touchscreen cuts down the number of buttons from 27 to 11.

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The Next Nissan Juke Will Opt For a New Look

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The next Nissan Juke will not be a straight forward update of today’s distinctive look, according to Nissan design boss Shiro Nakamura.

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“We don’t want the same design,” he said. “We want to go a step further. Its spirit is challenging; it needs to be like that again. Otherwise it’s not a Juke.”

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The current Juke’s look won’t be carried over the new model

A concept version of the new Juke will appear at some point next year, followed soon after by the production model, which is being co-designed by Nissan in Japan and its design studio in London.

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