Nissan 370Z first official images released

October 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan 370Z fq1

Nissan has just offered the first look at the upcoming 2009 370Z Coupe, which is set to make its world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on 19 November.

The all-new 2009 Nissan 370Z, is the first full redesign of the iconic Nissan Z since its reintroduction as a 2003 model. It’s rumored to be packing a new 3.7L V6 and will go on sale from early 2009.

Full details of the vehicle will be released on 19 November.

Nissan X-Trail Diesel 2008 — Road Test

October 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

nissan-x-trail-fq

In the circus that the international motor industry has become recently, roles have altered and versatility has become a true virtue. The crowd has stopped paying to watch tired elephants from the bleachers and now wants to see dynamic magic shows from a comfortable seat. Nissan, always a solid performer has now stepped up to the main stage and shown that it has a few tricks up its sleeve. The latest X-Trail is a testament to Nissan’s ability to try new moves and listen to its audience whether applauding or jeering.

The concept of a highly versatile, easy to operate, compact 4wd is a true tightrope balancing act. The 2008 X-Trail is the model’s second incarnation, and although the styling is very similar, improvements have been made in many areas over Nissan’s first attempt.

The X-Trail’s styling is square and basic, it’s the type of shape that will always get an even split of critics and admirers. Chrome detailing and sharp 17-inch alloys dress up the basic look of the X-trail. What impresses me about the overall styling of the X-Trail is its ability to still look like a 4wd, with a chunky and sharp-angled appeal. One big advantage of the boxy styling is being able to see exactly where the front ends, and also being able to guess well at the rear. Unfortunately the rear pillar is quite wide and this can create a blind spot, but this is negated to an extent by large and effective wing-mirrors.

The X-Trail’s interior is where the real magic happens. The cabin is spacious and comfortable. The seats could offer more side support but are well padded and finished in soft leather. There is a feeling of quality to the cabin – everything that opens shuts again well and anything that’s touched feels sturdy. The centre control console is easy to use and the buttons are thoughtfully laid out so you seldom need to take your eyes from the road for more than a split-second. Equipment-wise, the X-Trail brings a big bag of tricks including climate control, cruise, power-heated front seats, six-stack CD player, sunroof, alarm and trip computer. The back seat has a 40/20/40 split system where two passengers can sit in the rear while folding down the centre seat for long objects like skis. For the X-Trail’s grand finale there is a false floor in the back with drawers underneath, so expensive items can be hidden away. When this floor is removed and the backseats are folded down the X-trail has a whopping 1773 litres of storage space, so there is little need for a roof rack.

At performance time the X-Trail is no clown. The tested vehicle had a 4-cylinder diesel motor with a 6-speed automatic transmission putting out 110kW of power and 380Nm of torque. It won’t break land speed records but can move well when required. The diesel motor runs quite loud particularly when cold which was disappointing. Fuel economy is top notch considering the X-Trail’s portly weight, achieving 8.1l/100km combined. The 6-speed box changes gear well but the power delivery from accelerator pedal through to tyres has a moment’s delay, and needs to be worked accordingly.

The X-trail can’t offer sports car handling, and does have the body roll you’d expect from an SUV. However, the steering is very predictable and the despite the X-Trail’s size it’s very manoeuvrable at all speeds. Grip is good thanks to the large wheels and the overall ride is absorbent and comfortable with generally good noise suppression in the cabin while cruising. If the scene changes and you’re heading off road the X-Trail can be changed into 4wd with the flick of a knob. There is also an ‘AUTO’ setting where the driver can relax knowing the vehicle’s clever electronics are dictating how to divide power for optimum traction. Drive can be redirected as much as 100 percent to the front (with 0 percent to rear) or up to 43 percent rear (57 percent front) almost immediately and as required. This makes the X-Trail well capable of sliding round a paddock or climbing a steep gravel path.

When it comes to safety the X-Trail is a total strongman, packing an electronic stability programme (ESP) with hill descent control and hill start assist. Six airbags are loaded and ready to turn on a pyrotechnic show if things turn ugly.

To summarise, the X-Trail is rightly marketed on its versatility but is no one trick pony and has strengths in ride comfort and ease-of-use. It has a solid build quality, works well for carrying various cargo and passengers and offers good value for its admission price. Even with the X-Trail’s generous dimensions you never feel like you’re riding an elephant and it gives the illusion of a smaller car for the driver while retaining all the advantages of a large vehicle. The new X-Trail is undoubtedly one of Nissan’s finest acts.

Click through to the next page for specifications.

Price: from $35,750

What we like

  • Highly functional
  • Off-road capable
  • Spacious
  • Clever interior storage options
  • Good economy for size

What we don’t like

  • Noisy diesel motor
  • Wide rear pillar
  • Front seat support
  • Looks like a circus freak from some angles

Nissan X-Trail Diesel (2008) – Specifications

Engine

2.0 litre, Turbo Diesel
Displacement (cc)  1995
Bore x Stroke (mm) 8 84 x 90
Compression ratio  15.6:1
Max power (kW @ rpm) manual/auto 127@3750/110@4000
Max torque (Nm @ rpm) manual/auto 360@2000/320@2000
Induction — Sequential multi-point fuel injection with detonation sensor
Common-rail — Direct Injection
Emission control — Catalytic converter
Alternator — 12 volt

Transmission

6-speed automatic with M-Mode Opt OptContinuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with M-Mode Opt Opt OptIntelligent
ALL MODE 4×4-i with electronic 4WD selection Including Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) & Traction Control System (TCS).

Ratio 1st automatic  4.199
Ratio 2nd automatic 2.405
Ratio 3rd automatic  1.583
Ratio 4th automatic  1.161
Ratio 5th automatic  0.855
Ratio 6th automatic 0.685
Ratio Reverse automatic  3.457

Dimensions

Overall length (mm) 4630
Overall width (mm)  1785
Overall height (mm)  1685
Wheelbase (mm)  2630
Track front/rear (mm) 1530/1535
Turning circle (m)  10.8
Ground clearance (mm)  200
Tare weight (kg) manual/auto  1643/1673
GVM (kg) manual/auto  2150/2170
Approach Angle (degrees) 26
Departure Angle (degrees) 22

Rated Towing Capacity

Trailer with brakes (kg) manual/auto  2000/1350
Trailer without brakes (kg) 750

Fuel

Fuel type — Unleaded (ULP)
Diesel
Fuel tank capacity (litres)  65
Fuel economy — ADR 81/01 1/100km manual 7.4
Fuel economy — ADR 81/01 1/100km CVT auto 9.3
6-speed auto  8.1

Words Adam Mamo, photography Adam Mamo and Darren Cottingham

Nissan Navara DX 2008 — Road Test

October 21st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

nissan-navara-dx-fq

Coming out of retirement is usually an activity reserved for poverty-stricken heavyweight boxers, but Nissan has proved that even a ute can return to former glory with its Navara DX. The D22 model Navara was a big seller for Nissan from the late nineties till 2004 when it was replaced by a cocky new model in the Navara ST-X. Utility vehicle sales dropped and Nissan decided to return its old champ to the ring to see if it could still be a crowd favourite. After some reconstructive surgery in face-lift form, the Navara DX is back, but is it still a true contender in the highly competitive pick-up truck division?

The Navara measures up well. Most of the new styling has been done around the front end with new lights, bumper and grille, giving the vehicle an honest-looking face, neither aggressive or soft. Recently utes have become overly concerned with aesthetics, pushing them toward being more car-like in their styling, this cannot be said of the Navara DX. A thick black plastic front bumper and guards show that it is still a working vehicle and the matching black bonnet scoop lets everyone know it’s packing a punch. It is exactly this decision not to have flashy chrome detailing and a more curvaceous shape that may appeal to many buyers in the niche utility vehicle market.

The Navara’s interior styling is consistent with the exterior, its spartan and purposeful, various plastics cover the entire cabin including footwells making the entire area easy to clean with a wet sponge if not a hose. The dashboard and instruments are one area where the Navara does show some age – the heater controls and two adjacent ashtray set up really required more revision. The steering wheel is thin and poorly suited for big rough farm-workers’ hands.. The velour front seats are comfortable and easy to jump into and out of. In the double cab the rear seat is a tight fit for an adult, but comfort can be found with some leg positioning. The back doors are narrow which makes entry and exit tricky, it is still useful having this extra seating as an option, if not for everyday use. Good cabin storage is provided between the front seats, in the large glove box and two cup holders. Air-conditioning, electric windows and a single CD player come as standard; airbags are optional. The tested Navara had central locking but no keyless entry — useful for rugged conditions where an electronic remote may get wet or damaged easily, but annoying if it’s used for regular stopping, vacating and returning to the vehicle.

The Navara DX packs a tidy punch with a 2.5 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel powerplant that produces 98kW and 304Nm of torque. This unit offers some grunt when worked well through the gears and cruises smoothly at motorway speeds, if noisily. The high level of torque generated makes the Navara DX a true brawler-hauler with an impressive load potential of over 1,000kg for the double cab and 1,300kg for the single. Towing is a breeze too with a pulling capacity of 2,800kg.

Handling? The Navara leaves you in no doubt that it’s a truck, dealing with corners more like a punch drunk has-been than a heavyweight champ. Independent suspension at the front and heavy-duty rear-leaf suspension at the back is set-up for heavy loads so quick cornering with an empty load-bay isn’t advised. Potholes and dips can cause a bouncy ride and driving over judder bars is an easy indication that the Navara is more suited to a rural setting. The grip is generally good, even in the wet the tyres shouldn’t slip if driven sensibly so footwork isn’t the Navara’s weakness. Off road credentials are good with a ground clearance of 230mm, an approach and departure angle of up to 31 degrees and it can cope with a climb of 39 degrees.

The Navara DX has had a big career and Nissan has done well to extract so much from this platform, but it doesn’t have any title fights left. That said, the Navara does score points for being no-nonsense, highly functional and strong in the working duties that utes are expected to perform. The age of the model and its no-frills appearance are reflected in its pricing so it offers good value for money. The ride could be more refined and the interior is dated but the Navara remains a competent journeyman if no longer a king hitter.

For the full specifications of the Nissan Navara DX click through to the next page.

Price: from $32,995

What we like

  • Good load capacity and towing power
  • High clearance
  • Hard-wearing interior
  • Reasonable price

What we don’t like

  • Ride comfort
  • Dated styling
  • Noisy engine

Nissan Navara DX – Specifications


Engine

2.5 Litre Diesel DOHC, 4Cyl In-line Turbo

Capacity cc: 2488
Power kW:
@ rpm 98 @ 3600
Torque Nm: @ rpm 304 @ 2000
Bore and Stroke mm: 89 x100
Compression Ratio:16.5:1
Fuel System:Common-rail Diesel

Fuel

Direct Injection, Common Rail

Fuel Type:

Diesel

Fuel tank capacity litres: 75
Fuel economy L/100km: 9.2
CO2 Emissions g/km: (LTNZ Standard) 239.7
Emission Compliance Standard: Euro 4

Transmission

5 speed Manual
Gear Ratios:
1st

3.580
2nd
2.077
3rd
1.360
4th
1.000
5th
1.760
Reverse
3.636
Transfer Ratio Low
2.02 : 1
Final Drive
4.625

Suspension

Front Suspension: Double wishbone with stabiliser bar

Rear Suspension: Leaf spring with telescopic shock absorbers

Measurements

Overall Length mm: 5090
Overall Width mm: 1825
Overall Height mm: 1715
Wheelbase mm: 2950
Track – Front / Rear mm: 1525/1505
Ground clearance mm: 230
Minimum Turning Circle m: 12

Weights and Capacities

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) kg: 2860
Kerb Weight kg: 1765
Total Payload kg: 1095
Gross Axle Front kg:1380 Rear kg: 1800
Towing Capacity Brake kg: 2800
Unbraked kg: 750

Words Adam Mamo, photos Darren Cottingham

Nissan allows first press access to 370Z

October 20th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan 370Z s

Although we are not quite sure how, the folks over at an American-based car magazine managed to talk Nissan into letting them drive the all-new 350Z successor, the 370Z. Images of the car have been seen before, but these were merely shots taken on camera phones from motorists who happen to see the new sports coupe out testing on public roads. So, although the new Z is still camouflaged, this is still the best look at the machine thus far.

According to the journos involved, the 370Z is a full five inches shorter in wheel base than its predecessor, and looks to be sporting Nissan’s kick-arse new VQ37VHR 3.7 litre V6 motor, which should be good for around 340hp. Full details will not be known until a complete specification list release from Nissan on the 11th of November. Make sure you check back here for the latest.

Nissan unveils EV and hybrid prototypes

August 7th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

nissan-cube-ev-fq

Nissan has unveiled all-electric and original hybrid electric prototype vehicles, both powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries. Under the NISSAN GT 2012 business plan, the company has committed to zero-emission vehicle leadership, and has announced plans to introduce an all-electric vehicle in 2010 and mass market globally in 2012.

Powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries, the EV prototype is part of Nissan’s substantial research and development programme on zero emission vehicles. This latest generation vehicle features a front-wheel drive layout and uses a newly developed 80kW motor and inverter. The advanced laminated compact lithium-ion batteries are installed under the floor, without sacrificing either cabin or cargo space.

Nissan say the production vehicle to be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model.

The Nissan original HEV delivers two breakthrough technologies — a high-performance rear-wheel drive hybrid system and parallel-powertrain hybrid system. The hybrid employs Nissan’s own originally developed hybrid technology and its first rear-wheel drive hybrid powertrain.

The parallel-powertrain system comprises an energy-optimising system with two clutches, where one motor is directly connected to an engine and transmission via two separate clutches. Under changing driving conditions, the motor switches between the two clutches to optimise and conserve energy utilisation as well as improve fuel-efficiency.

The parallel-powertrain hybrid system eliminates the need for conventional torque converters, contributing to higher responsiveness and linear acceleration for improved driving feel.

The dynamic characteristics of the clutches are as follows:

* Idle-stop: The battery is used to power the motor to save on fuel.
* Regular driving: The engine is used to power the motor as well as regenerate the battery.
* Acceleration: Both the engine and battery (power assist) is used to power the motor to achieve smooth acceleration.
* Deceleration: Energy from braking is conserved and re-routed back to regenerate the battery.

The advanced lithium-ion batteries used in both prototypes are sourced from the Nissan-NEC joint-venture, AESC (Automotive Energy Supply Corporation). These advanced batteries offer superior performance, reliability, safety, versatility and cost competitiveness, compared to the conventional nickel metal-hydride batteries. Its compact laminated configuration delivers twice the electric power compared to conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries with a cylindrical configuration. The compact batteries also allow for improved vehicle packaging and a wide range of applications.

Nissan has long experience in electric-powered vehicle development, commencing from the first EV “Tama Electric Vehicle” back in 1947.  The company introduced the world’s first application of lithium-ion batteries to the Prarie Joy EV in 1996, followed by the ultra-compact electric vehicle, Hypermini, released in 2000.  Nissan also introduced its first original hybrid vehicle Tino Hybrid back in 1999 in Japan. In 2006, the Altima Hybrid was introduced in North America using licensed technology.

Under the Nissan Green Program 2010 environmental plan, the company aims to develop new technologies, products and services that can lead to real-world reductions in vehicle CO2 emissions, cleaner emissions, and recycling of resources. Nissan continues to invest substantially in a wide range of technologies including CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift), clean diesels, biofuels and fuel cell vehicles.

Nissan GT-R V-spec coming soon

August 1st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan GT-R V spec fq

For those who think the standard Nissan R35 GT-R isn’t fast enough, a hotter ‘V-spec’ version could be released as early as the end of this year in Japan with international sales starting in early 2009.

American magazine Road & Track say that the car will have 520bhp and 600Nm of torque and weigh 1640kg, but all this comes at a cost. US$130,000 (NZ$175,000) is the expected price which is a lot more than the ‘regular’ GT-R which costs from US$69,500 (NZ$ 93,000) in the States.

With the V-Spec it has been suggested that the GT-R could pull the Porsche GT-2 pants down on the around the Nurburgring by posting a sub 7m 25s lap. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Renault to revive Alpine name with Nissan underneath

July 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

It has been rumoured that Renault could launch a great-grandson of the original hot French rally car, the Alpine A110, based on the forthcoming 370Z platform

The fact that the A110 had the engine mid-mounted and the 370Z (successor to the 350Z) has the engine in the nose is a convenient detail left out of the rumour circuit, but if the new Alpine continues the bloodline of the Alpine-Renault A110/GTA/Spider it can’t be a bad thing.

With Renault increasingly going for hot FWD hatches, like the Megane R26.R, it would be great to see some track-focused RWD cars.

Nissan runs fuel-cell vehicle around the Nurburgring

July 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

nissan-x-trail-fcv-nurburgring

Lap runs on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany’s Eifel region are often cancelled due to rain. But the wet weather didn’t stop Nissan from taking its X-Trail fuel cell vehicle for a spin on the course recently, making Nissan the first automaker to record an FCV lap on the famous race track.

Frank Eickholt, member of the Nissan 24 Hours Nürburgring race team and Nordschleife aficionado, skilfully steered the 1.3 million euro prototype through ‘The Green Hell’ — as the course is often referred to — on standard street tyres. And although the 20.8 kilometre-long course was consistently wet — making it difficult to drive aggressively — Eickholt was thoroughly impressed with the X-Trail FCV which clocked in at 11:58 minutes.

“I was very surprised at just how comfortable it is to drive a fuel cell car. You get in, turn the key and off you go, just like with a normal car,” said Eickholt.

“Although some of the uphill sections were challenging, the speed was still very impressive. If the course hadn’t been so wet, I could have gotten more momentum out of the curves. Thirty to 40 seconds could have been shaved off for sure,” he added.

The five-seater X-Trail FCV is a zero-emission electric vehicle that runs in near silence. It is powered by electricity produced on board the vehicle, in a hydrogen fuel cell stack. Electricity is generated following an electro-chemical reaction between hydrogen — which is stored at 700 bar (10290 PSI) in a purpose-designed high-pressure tank — and oxygen. The only by-product is water vapour.

This electric current is channelled through an inverter to drive a powerful motor in the front of the car. The X-Trail FCV, which has been undergoing real-world trials in Japan and California since 2006, has an official top speed of 150 km/h and a range of 500 km. Maximum power is 90kW (120PS) while maximum torque is 280Nm.

It also features the latest in battery technology: a Nissan-designed compact lithium-ion battery with thin laminated cells. The Li-Ion battery is used to start the vehicle and to boost power under acceleration. Kinetic energy created under deceleration is captured and stored in the battery for future use.

Still in the early stages of development, Nissan is currently working to improve durability of the FCV componentry; to find a breakthrough in hydrogen storage systems; and to reduce the cost of the technology. The company hopes to see fuel cell vehicles in series production by 2015.

The X-Trail FCV is part of the Nissan Green Program 2010, Nissan’s midterm environmental strategy which is aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from the company’s products and activities around the world, as well as reducing other exhaust emissions and increasing recycling.