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.

2011 Nissan Juke commercial – Ultimate donut machine?

October 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

2011 Nissan Juke commercial – Ultimate donut machine?

Next generation GT-R to go all-electric?

September 14th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

There is speculation Nissan might be going all-electric with it’s Nissan GT-R. A new report penned by Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga explains the radical idea and suggests the possibility of turning Nissan’s already heavily electronic sports car into a pure EV.

Shiga’s statements are rather sketchy with no suggestion of conforming the super-EV, but his considerations of fuel economy and carbon emissions together with the desire to keep the GT-R badge alive do make a mild implication. We have seen reports that the GT-R could go hybrid, so perhaps the leap to all electric isn’t as extreme as once thought.

Anything built with the GT-R badge with an all-electric powertrain is likely to be well into the $100,000 (U.S) plus bracket.

With the current GT-R still in the early planning stages of new enhancements in SpecM or “Egoist” guise, the next generation Nissan will be easily at least two years away. Which allocates time to make the move to pure electric drive, as well as look at the legislative requirements of tighter emissions requirements which will justify the move.

2012 Nissan GT-R updates leaked to the web

August 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The go-fast specialists at Nissan are at it again reworking the GT-R, this time for the 2012 model year. Following on from the initial launch of the GT-R in 2007, and after the revisions in December 2008 and October 2009, Nissan is getting ready to present the very latest version of its flagship sports model.

The Japanese automaker still hasn’t made anything official but that hasn’t stopped resourceful car nerds posting leaked images and info on the upcoming model up to the web.

So, what’s new on the 2012MY GT-R? Well, in terms of sytling, the Japanese sports car receives a reworked front bumper with LED running lights and a new rear diffuser. These changes will apparently help drop the GT-R’s drag coefficient figure from 0.272 to 0.268 and also improve rear downforce by 10%.

Packing out the guards are a new set of Rays forged aluminium wheels, which reportedly save a total of 12kg in weight. There is also two new colour options a new shade of blue and black.

Interestingly, there is also rumour of a possible RWD-only mode, which is hidden under the fuel saving setting, accessed by holding down the ‘fuel save’ button for a few seconds. This will put the GT-R into RWD mode but only till it is turned off, then it will return to normal. Perfect for a bit of impromptu drifting.

The 2012 GT-R will also benefit from some subtle interior upgrades, as well as some chassis and engine tweaks, but little more is known at this stage.

Check back as we bring you more details on the 2012 Nissan GT-R.

Nissan Navara ST-X 2010 Review

August 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When Nissan launched its current model Navara ST-X ute a few years back it came packing 403Nm of torque — the most in its class. It was a mighty figure that allowed ST-X owners bragging rights on building sites and rural pubs around our great country. Then Mitsubishi fought back unleashing its Triton ute with 407Nm of torque and there was a new sheriff in town. But the importance of this mini arms race clearly hasn’t been lost on Nissan because the 2010 Navara has been given a mild facelift, 450Nm of torque and a special badge branded on its hind quarter to let everyone know. Car and SUV saddled up with the refreshed Navara ST-X to see if it makes for a wild ride.

What’s most impressive about the jump forward in torque is that Nissan have retained the same engine with the same displacement and still achieved it. The 2.5-litre turbo diesel motor has received a new cylinder head design, an upgraded direct-injection system and a new variable-nozzle turbocharger. The end result is a 12kW increase in power to 140kW and the 12 percent gain in torque to 450Nm. Surprisingly fuel economy has also improved and is rated at 9.0l/100km combined with the automatic box that our test vehicle used.

The figures are impressive and so was the drive with the effortless and generous supply of torque being a defining characteristic. Almost anywhere in the rev range and at all speeds a prod on the gas pedal would bring on rapid acceleration and only minimal turbo lag. At open-road cruising speeds the Navara is settled and easily capable of quick overtaking manoeuvres. The motor while brawny is also fairly refined and happily potters along in urban traffic with minimal engine rattles or vibration entering the cabin.

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2011 Nissan X-Trail updated for NZ market

August 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Late 2010 will see the launch of the new 2011 model Nissan X-Trail, which undergoes a series of extensive updates to maintain its position in the New Zealand SUV market.

The changes refresh X-Trail’s exterior styling; improve the interior perceived quality and functionality, as well as mechanical and aerodynamic changes. These revisions contribute to X-Trail’s improved economy and CO2 emissions.

The most obvious changes have been made to the frontal aspect of X-Trail, with completely redesigned grille, new headlights and bumper assembly. The lower part of the bumper is also angled further outwards, indicating a more solid stance.

At the rear, the X-Trail’s distinctive vertical lights have been updated to incorporate LED light technology for the running lights and braking.

In profile, the X-Trail’s stance has been updated by an increase in wheel size, with a ten-spoke 18 inch alloy wheel design which is also wider, now up to 225/55R18 in size, giving the X-Trail more stance to the road. A 17 inch alloy wheel is fitted to some variants, a new design featured for the 2011 model.

In the interior, the design has been updated with new materials and colour coordination. The materials used for the switch surrounds on the steering wheel, around the gear selector and on the door-mounted armrest have all been upgraded, while thicker, soft-touch materials have been chosen for the cloth seats.

Across the entire X-Trail range, all models now feature a 6CD in-dash autochanger with MP3 CD compatibility and auxiliary input, along with integrated Bluetooth handsfree phone system. All models feature steering wheel controls for audio, Bluetooth phone, drive computer and cruise control.

With optimised underbody aerodynamics, X-Trail’s drag coefficient is reduced from 0.36 to 0.35 and the X-Trail’s environmental impact has been lessened, with noticeable improvements in CO2 output and fuel consumption. These aerodynamic enhancements along with other improvements in the drivetrain result in fuel economy improvements of 2% for the petrol variants, and almost 9% for the diesel variants.

Full specification and pricing will be released closer to the New Zealand launch date, later this year.

Nissan Pathfinder 450T 2010 Review

August 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Sometimes if you can’t find a path you just have to make a new one and that’s exactly what Nissan did back in 1986 when it released the first generation Pathfinder. Now, three generations of Pathfinder later Nissan are still cutting that same path towards a large SUV that mixes a comfortable, well-equipped interior with rolled-up-sleeves off-road ability. For 2010, the third-gen Pathfinder has received a facelift that has brought aesthetic and mechanical upgrades to the single-variant model. So how good is this refreshed bastion of boxy styling? Car and SUV made tracks in the new Pathfinder 450T to find out.

Externally, it’s not immediately obvious that anything has changed with the no-nonsense design, but a closer look reveals some subtle differences. The facelifted Pathfinder is 80mm longer than its predecessor thanks to a new, more pronounced front bumper. The bonnet and grille are also new and Xenon headlamps have been added which boast auto leveling and headlight washers hidden in the bumper mouldings. Elsewhere the Pathfinder’s styling is generally straightforward and almost timeless in its traditional SUV two-box shape. One interesting design detail is the high, vertically mounted rear door handles that certainly look cool but may prove difficult to reach for children or midgets. Our NZ-spec Pathfinder is better dressed than most and comes with integrated roof rails, front fog lamps, side-steps and 17″ alloys which finish off the distinctive look.

Jump into the Pathfinder cabin and what’s immediately noticeable is the cavernous space, it’s wide and very long. Three passengers can fit on the rear seat with plenty of shoulder and legroom and air-con vents in the ceiling will keep them cool too. If that’s not enough the Pathfinder also comes with a third row of seats that easily fold flat into the floor to create a massive luggage area. The middle row can also be folded flat to make a 2-metre long loading bay — perfect for large cargo or taking a nap.

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Königseder gives some tuning treatment to the R35 Nissan GT-R

August 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

If the R35 Nissan GT-R in factory form just isn’t enough machine for you then Austrian tuning firm Königseder will help out with a new styling package along with some performance upgrades for the top-model Nissan. To most it will just look like your standard GT-R with a McLaren orange paint job, but don’t be fooled as this Godzilla has a new ECU tune installed.

The upgraded ECU takes the standard 3.8-litre V6 engine – which in standard form produces 485hp – up to a whopping 572hp. In addition to the reworked ECU, a new air filter a full Akrapovic exhaust system are included. In terms of performance 0 to 100kph figures haven’t been provided but the car will be able to hit 200km/h in just 9.8 seconds.

The GT-R also receives a revised suspension set-up with an adjustable coilover kit from KW and new 21-inch HRE alloy wheels shod in Yokohama Advan Sport rubber size 245/35 up front and 285/30 at the rear.

Body changes are fairly limited consisting of a new and more dramatic front lip spoiler and matching side skirts.

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