April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Chihuahuas are considered cute, even laughably so, right up till the moment they bite you. Once those pin-like teeth are nibbling on your leg, there is no doubt left in your mind that however harmless the Chihuahua looks it’s still an animal. What Chihuahuas are to the dog kingdom the Nissan Micra is the same for the automotive world, it’s compact, it’s cute but it still has the most of the same abilities and bite as any other car. The Micra story began back in 1982 when a boxy first-generation model was built to battle the Honda City. It would go on to have two more generations and become known for its budget price tag and quirky styling. Now, for its fourth generation this super-mini has toned down its radical design and is baring its teeth to its competitors in the light segment through strong equipment levels and improved practicality. Car and SUV took the new top-spec Micra Ti for a run to see if it has the bite to match its bark.
The new Micra is set to be a true global car for Nissan, with sales planned for 160 countries worldwide and production at four different factories. With this broad focus in mind, the Micra design is now much more conventional. The bug eyes remain but are better molded into the bonnet line and there’s a more discrete single-bar grille. A wider lower air dam and fog lights on the Ti spec model give it a sporty, more purposeful face. Along the flanks it’s fairly tame with nice colour coding on the wing mirrors and door handles, with 15-inch 7-spoke alloys filling the guards. Out back there’s an integrated hatch spoiler with stop lamp, vertical taillights and a wide-opening hatch. The new styling slims the Micra down compared to its bulbous predecessor but a keen eye will notice that the new model is larger in wheelbase, width and length. Even with the more subdued styling the Micra won’t blend into the background, particularly when finished in ‘Spring Green’ like our extroverted test vehicle. Continue reading “Nissan Micra Ti 2011 Review” »
April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Electric cars haven’t really made their way into motorsport circles just yet but that doesn’t mean there’s not parties already pushing for full EV racing classes. Some are even going so far as to suggest that the technology could be used in F1 first and then filter down to lesser motosport divisions later. Western Springs speedway would certainly get much less noise complaints if it was electric-powered cars lapping the dirt oval. But before all that, the first step would be to organise the first fully electric racing class and Nissan have taken the first steps towards it.
Nissan have recently unveiled its Leaf Nismo RC (Racing Competition) concept at the New York Auto Show. The prototype racing hatchback has lost a couple of doors from the production model and nearly four inches out of its wheelbase, but it’s wider and longer with a minimal ground clearance of just 2.4 inches.
The dedicated racer also gets a full carbon fibre monocoque bodywork with removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and taillights and a driver-adjustable rear wing. Nissan says the racing special weighs just 938kg – around 40 percent lighter than the production Leaf. Continue reading “The Future of motorsport? Nismo RC electric race car” »
April 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
So you thought you were pretty choice that time you dragged your mate off at the lights, or that time you blew away that V8 Commodore through some twisty back roads. Well that’s all good, but you aren’t nothing till you’ve battled a fully trained Mexican racing chicken.
That’s right – a Mexican racing chicken, they’re out there and they are fast little critters. Nissan UK got involved recently and put it’s latest 370Z up against a racing chicken in a straight-up race for a TV advertisment. It was a brave move with the chicken expected to be quicker through the corners but the Z car has more power, through its 6-cylinder motor, on the straights.
The ad sets the scene for the race in a bleak underworld where poultry is put up against metal in reckless racing matches for bragging rights. This Mexican racing chicken goes by the name ‘Pepe’ and he’s not like the Tegal number 6 job you have in your freezer at home, he’s the real deal and Nissan really should have entered its GT-R into this battle to guarantee victory. Can the 370Z do it?
Think this is a joke, well you better watch the clip below and find out. Continue reading “Nissan 370Z races Mexican chicken for TV ad (+video)” »
April 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
‘Strength through simplicity’ isn’t a tag line that Nissan uses for its current X-Trail range, but it’s a line that in many ways reads true. Since it’s inception in 2001 the X-Trail has been a tidy seller for Nissan and its likeable blend of practicality and usability has put a fair few people into SUVs over the years. For 2011, Nissan has given its second-generation X-Trail some mechanical upgrading, an interior refit and a nip and tuck to the boxed-back exterior design. The net result is the further graduation of an already solid package. Car and SUV tagged in on a new diesel X-Trail TL to put it through its paces.
It may be a bit sharp-angled for some tastes, but the X-Trail has an on road presence all its own. Distinctive light clusters front and back are distinguishing features and a strong flat roofline highlights the X-Trails profile. A big glasshouse lets in a ton of light but tinted rear windows keep it cool inside. 18-inch standard spec wheels fill up the high guards and a redesigned chrome grille adds bling. Other exterior revisions include a new front bumper and those unmissable rear LED lights. Overall the exterior tweaking has given the X-trail a modernised, more purposeful look and realigned it closer to the rest of Nissans current range. Continue reading “Nissan X-Trail TL 2011 Review” »
March 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Nissan has just released a video of its upgraded 2012 GT-R breaking its existing record on the Nürburgring-Nordschliefe track.
The video is in Japanese so it’s a good chance to brush up on your skills and we also get to see the full 7 minutes and 24.22 seconds of the GT-R’s track run from inside the cabin. Porsche, as always have been quick to point out that the GT-R’s new time is still slower than its 911 GT2 RS, which ‘apparently’ comes in at 7m and 18 seconds. It also costs tens of thousands dollars more.
The 2012 Nissan GT-R comes packing a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine and produces 395 kW of power and 661 Nm of torque. It can achieve the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 3 seconds flat, but the GT-R’s launch control function is needed to get that figure.
The 2012 GT-R beats the 2011 model’s track time of 7 minutes 26.7 seconds by almost 2.5 seconds and has huge amounts of grip through its all-wheel drive system. The GT-R’s chief designer Kazutoshi Mizuno also makes a cameo in the video so keep an eye out.
Check out the GT-R lapping the Nurburgring in the video below. Continue reading “2012 Nissan GT-R smashes old model’s Nürburgring record (+video)” »
March 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti has confirmed its intentions to enter the Australian car market from 2012.
Infiniti is on a drive to expand its reach around the world and will begin sales of its range of sedans, coupes and crossovers in Australia from the third quarter of 2012. Australia is the latest new market for Infiniti after it set up shop in the UK, Western Europe and select Asia Pacific markets.
The Japanese company said it will create Infiniti centres in each of the three major east coast capitals of the country in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The initial lineup will include the FX sport crossover, G37 hardtop convertible and coupe, and the M luxury sedan.
Infiniti will launch in Australia with three models: the FX sport crossover, the G37 coupe and convertible, and the new M luxury sedan (pictured). The M sedan comes in sports-focused forms and will be available as the M37 and M56, with a 235kW 3.7 litre V6 or 313kW 5.6 litre V8 under the bonnet.
Kevin Snell, newly appointed to the General Manager role, believes Infiniti will act as a “clear alternative to the traditional premium makes” adding that the brand will target a younger buyer demographic aged between 30 and 40 years.
‘Infiniti customers are ‘‘quiet rebels’’. They’re rebellious of the mainstream and are typically looking for something different,’’ says Snell. Continue reading “Infiniti luxury brand coming downunder next year” »
March 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Nissan’s latest Z car the 370Z is certainly a looker and has the power to match but it isn’t getting any younger. To stretch out the lifespan of the Japanese sportscar Nissan’s announced an update of the 370Z Coupe, initially for the European market. For the new model year, Nissan is introducing a number of suspension, transmission and equipment improvements for the entire 370Z Coupe range while also adding a new trim level named the GT Edition.
The good news is that some of the upgrades are mechanical with the new 370Z Coupe receiving retuned dampers which promise to provide a better balance between ride comfort and high-speed handling. Nissan has said that with the higher average speeds that are a part of driving in Europe, technicians from Nissan Technical Centre Europe sorted out the changes. For 2011, refinement is also being increased through revisions to underbody insulation reducing road noise.
While many buyers go for a bit of self-shifting in their Z-car, the optionally available seven-speed automatic transmission now gains a snow mode. When used the 370Z sets off in second gear and controls engine revs to prevent wheel spin on ice or snow.
Equipment upgrades include a rear view-parking camera as part of the new Nissan Premium Connect satellite navigation option. Continue reading “Nissan upgrades 370Z with new GT Edition” »
February 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Nissan has revealed details on its latest concept vehicle, an eco-friendly sports car concept called the Esflow. This space-age-styled concept is set for a debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next month.
The released batch of images show a vehicle with traditional sports car proportions, but with economy and ecology on its mind there may be no big burnouts and drag racing on the cards.
The Esflow uses similar technology used in the popular production Leaf EV hatchback. However, the concept makes use of a separate motor to turn each rear wheel and can sprint 0-100kph in under five seconds. The laminated lithium batteries are fitted low down in the vehicle to keep the centre of gravity low and can achieve 240 km on a charge. While the energy storage system may be heavy it is offset by an rollbar-integrated aluminum chassis and a composite shell.
It seems very unlikely a high-tech, high-cost machine like the Esflow will reach production but it’s good to see electric tech finding its way into Nissan’s sportier offerings. While the Leaf might be the current champion for Nissans EV program, the future could see the Japanese brand lead the way in affordable electric sports cars.
Check out a short promo video and images of the Esflow concept below. Continue reading “Nissan reveals futuristic Esflow concept (+video)” »