Monthly Archives: May 2016

Nissan Unveils Updated GT-R Nismo In Germany

Following the recent unveiling of the updated 2017 Nissan GT-R, the Japanese carmaker has unveiled the updated Nismo variant and chose to make its debut more dynamic by traveling to the famed Nurburgring race track.

The exterior styling shares many of the same updates that first made their mark on the standard model. These include the new V-motion grille, revamped front splitter, tweaked 2017 GT-R Nismo front fascia headlights, as well as more splashes of carbon fiber trim on the front bumper. The rear fascia is more reserved, but a new rear bumper and four round exhaust tips highlight the extent of its updates.

Like the exterior, the Nismo’s cabin also recieves its own host of updates, and benefits from the upscale touches that made their debut on the standard car. Alcantara upholstry Nismo interioris standard equipment, and the updated center console boasts fewer switches and buttons than before. The Nismo also benefits from an eight inch touchscreen infotainment system as well as model exclusive Recaro seats with red inserts.

Nissan engineers chose to not make any revisions to the performance hardware lurking under the hood. This is actually not a bad thing since the car still retains its hand built 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V6 which makes an earth splitting 600 horsepower and an equally stout Nismo shifter481 lb-ft of torque. A six speed dual clutch automatic transmission channels power to all four wheels  and should allow the Nismo to make the sprint to 60 mph in the low 2 second range.

The heavily modified body also allowed Nissan engineers to unleash hidden levels of handling potential thanks to stiffer springs, new shock absorbers, and new stabilizer pieces which makes the car more stable at higher speeds while also allowing it to outshine its predecessor on the track.

The 2017 Nissan GT-R Nismo is expected to arrive in dealer lots later this year with pricing information being released closer to its official launch date.

 

Morgan Resuming Full U.S. Production This Year?

Morgan’s full lineup has been MIA ever since revised safety standards put virtually all of its four wheeled vehicles out of reach of many U.S. buyers. However, it appears that these tasty four wheeled treats maybe making a comeback if a recent statement from the brand’s key U.S. importer is to be believed.

Currently the only new Morgan available for U.S. buyers is the popular, but segment blurring 3-Wheeler. The model itself is formally known as a “cycle car” and because it is classified as a motorcycle, it does not have to follow the same safety standards that define four wheeled offerings. We had the chance to experience a 3-Wheeler a few years ago, and we praised its retro charm, as well as its tenacious performance characteristics. These two traits have allowed the 3-Wheeler to exceed its initial sales projections, and the trike has become one of the brand’s hottest selling models.

As for its four wheeled prospects, a recently signed U.S. law allows low production volume automakers like Morgan to offer reproductions for sale, which could give offerings like the Plus 4 a lucrative ticket to our shores. This was cemented further by a statement from California based Isis Imports which is the biggest Morgan dealer in the western U.S.

“While details remain to be finalized, the latest word from the Morgan Motor Company is that they anticipate opening the order books for new Morgan cars for the USA possibly as soon as this summer. It is possible that production may begin on U.S. spec cars before the end of the year” the importer revealed in a brief statement.

While the statement is brief, and does not reveal any hint on what model will exactly be offered, Isis revealed that it would most likely be a V6 powered Morgan roadster. Unlike the Aero 8 which makes use of a highly tweaked version of BMW’s 4.8 liter V8, the mystery model could arrive with a Ford sourced 3.7 liter naturally aspirated V6. The potent six cylinder is good for 280 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque which would allow the retro themed convertible to make the sprint ti 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. In addition, the use of a Ford engine would also coincide with the Ford branded four cylinder engines that already see duty in the current generation 4/4 and Plus 4 models, while also catering to its heritage with Ford being the preferred supplier of choice for Series II and newer 4/4 models.

For its part, Morgan Motor Company has so far not issued a formal statement regarding Isis Import’s claims of a U.S. bound four wheeled model, but look for more information to perhaps be revealed later this summer when ordering for the unknown model is expected to be open. Morgan could also launch a teaser campaign right around that time as well with the theme being similar to the campaign that defined the current generation Aero 8 roadster.

Aston Martin Unveils Vanquish Zagato

With the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este scheduled to take place at Lake Como in just a few days, Aston Martin And Zagato have unveiled their latest masterpiece, the Vanquish Zagato coupe.

The fifth such vehicle to carry the Zagato moniker, the Vanquish Zagato highlights the 50 years partnership between the two firms, and follows up on its predecessors the 1960 DB4 GT Zagato, the 1986 V8 Zagato, the 2002 DB7 aston-martin-vanquish-zagato-concept_05_resizedZagato, as well as the 2011 V12 Zagato. The exterior styling of the Vanquish Zagato is a tasteful blend of Aston Martin and Italian styling cues with Aston’s signature proportions remaining intact. However the rear of the car features Zagato’s trademark round headlights, and is decidedly more aggressive looking than the standard Vanquish.

In addition to its slick styling, the Vanquish Zagato also features a high degree of purposeful functionality which includes a bigger front grille, massive side skirts, and a aston-martin-vanquish-zagato-concept_10_resizedrevamped rear diffuser that blends in with the forementioned skirts to produce a distinctive profile that stands out in a crowd. This functionality will undoubtedly enhance its aerodynamics but it’s unknown by how much.

It’s also capable of standing out when pushed on a track, and while Aston is keeping performance details under wraps until the big unveiling, look for the car to still feature a V12 power plant, but with slightly more horsepower than before which should please performance minded buyers. Expect the eight speed automatic to also be retained, but with similar tweaks to help it take full advantage of its newfound aggression.

Look for more information to be revealed when it makes its debut in Italy including whether it will achieve limited production status like its predecessors. If it does, expect the Zagato version to wield a sizable premium over the base car’s MSRP. But that shouldn’t stop well heeled buyers from adding one to their car collection.

 

BMW Unveils World’s Most Powerful Diesel Engine

The BMW 7-Series has always been known as the flagship of the BMW model lineup. Boasting an impressive range of standard equipment and amenities, its no wonder why it has been a hit with luxury car buyers. It is also known for its fair share of innovations and the Bavarian car company has unveiled the latest in this category revealing that the 2017 7-Series now has the world’s most powerful diesel engine.

Making its debut in the 750d xDrive and the 750Ld xDrive models, the new 3.0 liter inline six cylinder engine is based on the company’s current family of engines, and arrives with several key updates that help it stand out from other diesel offerings. For instance, its 3.0 liter quad turbo dieselTwinPower turbo technology now incorporates multi-stage turbocharging and four strategically placed turbochargers that are linked to a common-rail fuel injection system. These updates as well as other revisions to the engine, allow the potent diesel to produce 400 horsepower, and 560 lb-ft of torque. These figures allow the 750d xDrive to make the sprint to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds with the 750Ld xDrive clocking in at a slightly slower 4.7 seconds.

All of this power is routed to either the rear or all four wheels through an eight speed Steptronic automatic transmission that has been slightly tweaked to help it make better use of the massive pool of torque that is wielded by the diesel. However, all of this power BMW 750d dieselhas not blurred the engine’s true purpose as a fuel sipping engine with the car achieving an impressive 49.6 mpg  while slashing emissions by 11%. This impressive mileage figure is also enhanced by its all carbon fiber body which allows the 7-Series to make full use of this new found fuel economy while also improving performance at the same time.

BMW did not formally confirm whether the new engine will make the voyage across the pond to our shores. But with emissions regulations tightening all over the globe, chances are good that this engine will eventually be offered in other markets to help the brand comply with its mandated fuel efficiency target.

M240i Convertible

BMW Confirms M240i Model For 2017

Confirming earlier rumors, BMW has revealed that it will add a new model to replace the current generation M235i sedan with the unveiling of the 2017 BMW M240i.

Known as the M240i, the new model benefits from an engine transplant that pitches the M235i’s engine and shoehorns the same 3.0 liter turbocharged inline six that powers the 340i as well as other BMWs. In this case, the engine makes 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. While it’s five horsepower less than the 340i, it makes up for it by making 15 more horsepower than the old model. Buyers can choose from either the standard six speed manual transmission or an optional eight speed ZF built automatic transmission.

Rear wheel drive is standard fare but can be swapped out for all wheel drive which should please buyers in snowieM240i Couper climates. The all-wheel drive system also helps in acceleration with the car capable of making the sprint to 60 mph in a swift 4.2 seconds. This is a 0.2 seconds improvement over the M235i, and the convertible is no slouch either with that model accomplishing the same feat in 4.4 seconds. With the M240i serving as a very visual attention grabber, it’s comforting to know that BMW has not forgotten about the entry level 2 models. The 228i for example becomes the 230i for 2017 and comes equipped with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that produces 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. BMW has not released formal performance figures, but look for them to be on par with rivals.

The 2017 BMW M240i and 230i are slated to go on sale across the U.S. with pricing expected to be released closer to its formal launch. As for the hatchback variant, it is also receiving the new engine and will be known as the M140i. However, like the current model, it will most likely not make the trek to our shores which might disappoint hot hatch fans that wanted a focused Golf R competitor on American roads.

Nissan Buys Significant Stake In Mitsubishi

Following on the news that Mitsubishi falsified mileage records for every vehicle that it sold in Japan since 1991, and the subsequent collapse of its financial resources and stock value, the ailing Japanese automaker has been saved by an unexpected white knight, Nissan.

The Japanese auto giant confirmed this suprising news in an announcement earlier this week, revealing that it has bought one third of Mitsubishi’s stock (roughly 34 percent) for $2.2 billion. On the surface, this move makes sense for both companies, especially since Mitsubishi’s cover up was revealed thanks to data discrepencies in Mitsubishi assembled Nissan badged JDM vehicles. As such, it’s only logical for Nissan to come in and quickly do damage control before things spiraled further downward.

Mitsubishi’s chairman Osamu Masako claimed that the merger was inevitable revealing to the New York Times that “it would have happened one day” anyway. This move highlights Mitsubishi’s gradual decline over the last two decades, with the company ditching conventional performance models, and instead focusing on a green vehicle initiative that has so far not gotten very far off the starting blocks.  Even worse is that Mitsubishi’s current lineup does not standout from competitors with the Mirage economy car failing to make a dent in the entry level segment, while the all electric i-MiEV is lost in the EV sales shuffle.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is confident that he can make Mitsubishi profitable again revealing “We have the track record to make it work” citing Renault’s rescue and subsequent turnaround of Nissan in the early 2000’s. Ghosn also revealed that the deal will help save billions in development costs for both parties. This will be good for Mitsubishi since it can have better access to select Nissan platforms which can help the company fill multiple voids in its model lineup. This can include more crossovers as well as an SUV to help it profit from the increase in demand for those vehicles.

Chevrolet Silverado High Desert Blends Capability With Luxury

General Motors has taken the veil off of the Chevrolet Silverado High Desert which is based off off a 2014 SEMA concept that wielded the same moniker.

While the exterior styling does appear to pay tribute to the dearly departed Chevrolet Avalanche at first glance, Chevy claims that it actually High Desertcombines the capability of a Silverado with the luxury and refinement of the Suburban. Case in point is the addition of the Suburban’s Magnetic Ride Control System which adjusts the dampers in the suspension continuously to help the truck navigate varying levels of terrain while also improving ride comfort at the same time. The High Desert also marks the first time that the technology has ever been used on a Silverado which is a plus for buyers looking to standout from the crowd.

However its headline feature is an all new lockable storage system in the bed that helps protect cargo from the harshest of elements. This rugged system was also designed to compliment the standard side storage bins as High Desert 2well as the three piece tonneau cover that eliminates concerns about fit and capability. As a bonus, the truck even comes equipped with a flexible divider that can help accommodate various sizes of cargo.

The High Desert package is avalible on LT LTZ and High Country trim levels. The LT features 20-inch wheels with all season tires, while the other two trims feature bigger 22-inch wheels that are shod with all terrain tires. LTZ and High Country buyers will also appreciate the standard 6.2 liter EcoTec V8 which brings 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque to the festivities.

Chevrolet claims that the High Desert will land in dealer lots this fall with pricing and other information being released closer to its official launch. With previous special edition Silverado packages focusing more on styling versus outright hardware upgrades, it’s good to see the High Desert buck this trend and offer buyers a truly unique driving experience.

MINI Unveils Seven Special Edition

MINI has always been known for its tendency to bring back memories of the past with some of its special edition models, and it has continued that tradition with the unveiling of the Seven edition hardtop.

The Seven pays tribute to the very first Mini that was introduced back in 1959, though that particular distinction is shared by two brands P90211176in the old British Leyland empire, the Morris Mini Minor, and the original Austin Seven hatchback. The package is avalible on both the two and four door models, and can be had in both base and Cooper S variants. However, unlike other special editions, which had little distinction between each other. The Seven boasts an impressive array of options for buyers which helps it standout from the rest of the Cooper lineup.

This is especially apparent when it comes to exterior colors and interior upholstery with buyers being able to choose from four diffrent hues – Lapisluxury Blue (pictured), Pepper P90211177White, Midnight Black, and British Racing Green. This freedom of choice extends to the interior with choices including leather upholstry in Cross Punch Carbon Black, Lounge Satellite Grey, or MINI Yours Lounge Carbon Black (along with the model exclusive Diamond Brown Malt Black cloth/leather setup.) There are four diffrent dash trim options too with Standard Piano Black trim as well as optional Dark Cottonwood, Fiber Alloy, and Off White motifs.

A set of 17-inch two tone alloy wheels are standard equipment, and buyers are stuck with the Melting Silver hued roof regardless of color choice. The decreasing width stripes match the roof, and MINI claims that they feature Malt P90211170Brown rules. However in these pics, it appears to also feature red hued trim suggesting that other trim colors will be avalible.

Seven owners will also benefit frome an impressive level of standard equipment which includes heated seats, panoramic sunroof, Harmon/Kardon stereo, power folding mirrors, and a 6.5 inch MINI Connected system. As expected, there will also be an extensive pool of options with MINI highlighting the 8.8 inch Mini Connected XL system, and the optional adaptive dampers for the suspension.

Look for Mini to announce official pricing for the Seven package closer to its official launch later this summer, with ordering expected to take place earlier than that.

Buick Verano

Buick Axes Verano, Cites Low Oil Prices As Reason

In a world where lower than expected oil prices are forcing many automakers to rethink their long term sales strategies. Buick has become the latest name on this list with the brand potentially phasing out the Verano compact from the U.S. market.

This  report from Automotive News follows on the heels of the brand unveiling an updated version of the Verano in China late last year in both sedan and hatchback form. At the time it was speculated that the redesigned version could make its way to the U.S. to compete with the CLA as well as the updated ILX sedan. It would’ve also had some lofty shoes to fill with the current generation Verano not only being responsible for jump starting the compact luxury car segment, but also giving Buick a strong seller that has consistently outsold its larger brand mate the Buick Regal.

However low oil prices have effectively eliminated the sales niche that the Verano had when they were on the upswing, and many customers were still hesitant to buy a CUV. The Verano also had the goods to take advantage of the situation thanks to an impressive suite of standard equipment that served to justify the higher price premium that existed between it and the Chevrolet Cruze. In addition to the slide in fuel prices, the Verano is also stuck sharing showroom space with the popular Encore CUV.  As a result, the Verano’s value oriented pricing has actually become a liability with base Veranos sharing the same price as a lightly equipped Encore.  This also translates into a virtually identical list of standard equipment with both models offering rear view cameras, a seven inch touchscreen with Intellilink as well as Bluetooth and other goodies.

Killing the Verano will certainly cost Buick a large share of sales in the entry level luxury car market, but it also shows the high confidence that it has in its lineup of CUVs and their ability to lure customers into Buick-GMC showrooms. AN’s sources were quick to point out that the current generation Verano would survive till at least 2017 before being phased out. Unlike other vehicles, the Buick Verano has always had a special place in the Autoinfoquest office with this author owning a 2013 Verano Turbo model (pictured) that is used for daily driving duties as well as traveling to and from major automotive events.

Analysts Predict Strong Start For Chevrolet Bolt Sales

With Chevrolet preparing for perhaps one of its most important launches ever, the competition between the bow tie brand’s Bolt EV and Tesla’s Model 3 sedan is heating up. This was perhaps most noticeable during the Model 3’s highly anticipated unveiling in March which saw the Silicon Valley based car company garner hundreds of thousands of deposits during the first day. So how important will an edge in this heated battle be for Chevrolet?

Critically important, according to Kelly Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer who predicts that Chevrolet will sell between 30,000 and 80,000 Bolts during its first year on the market. These are ambitious figures for a pure electric vehicle, and the 30,000 unit low end that was forecasted by Brauer is nearly double the low end of other EV offerings currently on the market. The Bolt would also have an advantage in getting out to customers with the model expected to be released in late 2016 before being available nationwide in 2017. The Model 3 in contrast is slated to arrive in late 2017 with the vast majority of early adopters possibly not getting their hands on the car until 2018 and beyond. This late release would give the Bolt an early lead, and also prove to be enticing to fleet managers that want first dibs on a new vehicle for their commercial fleets.

In addition the Bolt could potentially be crowned the king of the EV’s and help score an impressive victory for Detroit while also dealing Tesla a key blow to both its image and prestige among EV buyers. In addition to this image boost, GM can benefit from the improved average fuel economy that the Bolt would provide. This improved figure would allow  the firm to sell more of its profitable pickup trucks and SUVs.

It would be interesting to see what happens if Bolt sales lean towards the higher end of this spectrum especially in regards to the fierce competition between the Bolt and the Model 3. More importantly the battle could turn into a three way affair when Ford’s 200 mile range EV gets involved in the festivities in its own attempt to shake up the EV sales race in Ford’s favor.