Nissan Leaf makes history in claiming European Car of the Year award

November 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In a historic moment for Nissan and zero emission vehicles, the 100% electric Nissan Leaf has been awarded 2011 European Car of the Year.

The world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market beat 40 contenders to win motoring’s most important accolade. This is the first time in the 47-year history of the annual competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle. Nissan Leaf’s rivals included vehicles from brands such as Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo. The jury included 57 motoring journalists from 23 European countries.

Victory for the battery-powered Leaf, marks Nissan’s first win since the Micra took home the award way back in 1993.

“The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan Leaf is a breakthrough for electric cars. Nissan Leaf is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects,” said HÃ¥kan Matson, President of the Jury, Car of the Year.

Nissan Motor Co President Carlos Ghosn was suitably happy and said, “This award recognises the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan — and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault — Nissan Leaf represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future.”

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It’s back – all new Nissan Micra launched in NZ

November 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Nissan Micra has been launched into the NZ market at a special event held earlier this week.

This latest Micra is the fourth generation to wear the badge and represents an entirely new chapter in the history of Nissan’s compact city car. Set to appeal to loyal buyers, its distinctive looks have been restyled it also boasts improved quality and dynamic abilities.

Designed specifically to make day to day urban driving as simple as possible, it delivers good dynamic performance for a small hatch and has comfortable suspension tuning, light power-steering and confident braking. Those driving characteristics are backed up by high levels of convenience and good equipment levels.

Nissan NZ is marketing the Micra around simplicity: it’s simple to purchase, simple to own and simple to live with. The all-new Micra is a simple car to live with, with three-year scheduled servicing reducing the ongoing costs of ownership. Plus Micra is full of features that, combined with thoughtful engineering, make living with the car on a daily basis a simple exercise. From easy egress to a practical luggage compartment, and good levels of visibility from the cabin.

Since its global launch earlier in 2010 the all-new Micra has been a phenomenal sales success. In the Japanese domestic market alone, orders for the Micra totalled at over 20,000 vehicles after just six weeks.

It is Nissan’s first model to use the company’s new V-Platform and the first to be built not in Japan or Europe, but rather in four manufacturing plants in China, Thailand, India and Mexico. The Micra for New Zealand will be sourced from Nissan’s plant in Thailand.

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Finalists announced for 2011 European Car of the Year

November 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

While there are a multitude of automotive awards out there in cyberspace the one many automakers value most remains the European Car of the Year. To find a winner for the coveted title seven publications from seven different countries get together each year to nominate their collective Car of the Year, and then announce it in one united voice.

The process takes place over the course of months with the first step being the nominations, then the finalists and ultimately the solitary winner. The finalists for 2011 have just been announced, and as you’d expect it’s heavily loaded with European vehicles, but the list is not without some surprises.

The finalists include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën C3/DS3, Renault/Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, Nissan Leaf, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60/V60. The Alfa’s nomination is a decade after its predecessor, the 147, took the award in its launch year. The Nissan Leaf is an interesting inclusion and represents the first time an electric vehicle has made it this far in the competition.

The winner will be announced on November 29, so check back then.

Nissan Qashqai +2 2010 Review

October 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s always nice to have a little bit more. Like chocolate bars that come in ‘king size’ allowing that all-important extra bite. Or that mini-series on TV that begins with a double episode. Whatever way you look at it, a good thing is only really bettered by more of a good thing. With that in mind Nissan has taken its current good thing, the big-selling Qashqai and given it just a little bit more size. The enlarged Qashqai +2 now has the space for a third row of seating, allowing two more passengers and boosting total potential capacity to seven occupants. While the Qashqai was a gamble at the start being billed as a modern alternative to the traditional hatchback it was a risk that paid off handsomely, with more than 500,000 sales globally. Then it was facelifted for 2010 and has since been well received again. But is this larger +2 model a step too far? Car and SUV spent some time with the part crossover, part people mover to get the answers.

At first glance it’s difficult to distinguish the Qashqai +2 from its standard sibling, but look closer and its dimensions are clearly chunkier. The +2 is 211mm longer to allow for the extra seat and the wheelbase has increased by 135mm. Additionally the body is taller with a flatter roofline allowing for better headroom throughout and there’s a handy 55-litres of extra cargo space.  In terms of exterior design the +2 differs little from the standard model and benefits from the smoother look brought with the recent mid-cycle facelift. Raked headlights at the front and LED two-piece fittings at the rear help give the Qashqai a distinctive look but the standard 16-inch alloys struggle to fill the raised guards. The larger Qashqai boasts some practical features like integrated roof rails, tough black plastic mouldings all round, and longer rear doors than the standard model to help entry and exit from that third row of seats.

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All-new Nissan Micra arriving in NZ soon

October 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Nissan Micra is on its way, and after making its Australasian debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, its New Zealand launch is drawing closer.

With some innovative packaging and modern small-car engineering, the new Nissan Micra is set to be solid value for money vehicle and should have a good level of specification and safety equipment when it goes on sale in New Zealand.

The new Micra builds on the success of its predecessor, but aims to attract a wider audience with fresh styling, spacious and fashion-aware interior and a long list of standard safety and convenience features. In New Zealand, a single powertrain option will be available in two specification grades.

Standard will be a 1.5L four-cylinder petrol engine which produces 75kW of power. When mated to the four-speed automatic transmission, fuel consumption is 6.6L/100km and emissions only 156g/km. The all-new Nissan Micra comes standard with Vehicle Dynamic Control, Anti-Lock Brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, as well as dual front, front side and curtain airbags on both models.

Convenience features such as a multifunction Drive Computer and air conditioning are standard, along with a unique digital anniversary reminder, remote entry, CD player, auxiliary input jack and steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio system. The top-of-the-range Micra Ti model offers extras like keyless entry and push button engine start/stop, Climate Control air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and a unique convenience feature for female drivers – handbag storage on the front passenger’s seat.

If the front passenger seat is unoccupied, the rear section of the seat squab can be flipped forward, providing a secure well in which a bag or other small items may be stowed, to stop them rolling around in the footwell, or skidding off the seat under braking or cornering.

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Facelifted 2011 Nissan GT-R revealed with 390kW of power

October 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Those lucky cats over in Japan will be the first consumers to get a chance to check out the more powerful and more luxurious 2011 Nissan GT-R when it reaches Japanese showrooms from next month. The upgraded 2011 GT-R is expected to reach global markets from February next year with a range of tweaks and even two new model variants.

In terms of appearance the exterior will get a light refresh to better improve its aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, while the interior will also get some new appointments. Downforce has been increased by about 10 percent, while the coefficient of drag is further reduced from 0.27 to 0.26. This comes from an enlarged bumper and grille openings, a redesigned rear bumper with a lower center of gravity, an extended rear diffuser and additional air outlets. To finish off the new look is a set of fashionable LED daytime running lights and six different paint options including the new Meteo Flake Black Pearl and Aurora Flare Blue Pearl.

Inside there is a redesigned instrument panel with real carbon fibre trim and there are also new seats.

But it’s the 2011 GT-R’s internals that are the main talking point. The boost has been increased, the valve timing adjusted and the ECU recalibrated to increase output up to 390kW and 610Nm of torque — an increase from the outgoing model’s 361kW and 587Nm. A new strut brace has been installed to link the suspension towers and the suspension set up has also been retuned, and mounted to new 20-inch Rays wheels that sit in front of Nissan-developed 390-mm brake discs. .

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2011 Nissan Juke commercial – Juke takes on ‘The Dread’

October 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

2011 Nissan Juke commercial – Juke takes on ‘The Dread’

Smart and Nissan to partner up on new four-door model

October 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Smart recently announced that it will partner up with Nissan to build a new small vehicle to go on sale firstly in the States and then possibly global markets after. Details are fairly scarce at this stage, but Smart has revealed a couple of sketches to let everyone know whats in development. The new machine will be a five-door, B-segment entry powered by a conventional petrol engine, and it will reach the American market in late 2011.

With this short development time in mind, it’s likely the car will be heavily based on the Nissan Micra. The sketches don’t reveal too much, but they do show that Smart still has an eye for sharp design.

The new Nissan-based Smart model is part of a broader strategic cooperation between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Group that was revealed in April. Under the agreement, the two groups also plan to co-develop a new platform that will be used on the successors to the Smart Fortwo and the Renault Twingo. Stay tuned to see what else comes from this burgeoning partnership.