Tag Archive | "Nissan"

Feeling Your Pulsar

For a long time now the car makers of the world have looked at arguably the most popular hatchback in the world (clue: it comes from Germany) and wondered how on earth they can better it. There have been several attempts recently, especially from the Far East, but all have fallen short of the iconic automotive benchmark.

Now it is Nissan’s turn. Riding high on the surge of popularity of the Qashqai and Juke crossovers they have decided to pitch into this market with the new Pulsar hatchback. It will be interesting to see more of this attractive looking vehicle when it is unleashed upon us in November.

pulse2 Feeling Your PulsarClearly, the company have put the memory of their last effort – the uninspiring Almera – behind them and are coming at the opposition with a new car allegedly packed with innovation and technology.

The suggestion is that they intend to price the new car very aggressively. The rumour mill is saying the difference could be as much as fifteen hundred pounds at base price level. That’s confidence – but is it wise?

People who buy that German car do so precisely because it is so good. They do not baulk at the price differential between it and the rival offerings. So the question has to be asked: can the Pulsar steal the limelight based on price alone? It seems unlikely.

Nissan are pinning their hopes on what they describe as ‘exciting new technology’. For example, the Pulsar will feature Google ‘Send To Car’. This apparently allows owners to send addresses to the car’s navigation device remotely via an app from their mobile devices. Quite how often anyone will actually do this remains to be seen.

Nissan say that their new hatchback will be powered by a four pot turbo-charged 1.2L petrol engine or a similar 1.5L diesel. Later they will introduce a 1.6L turbo-petrol presumably in a hotter version. Nissan also say that the 1.2L turbo-petrol will be capable of 67mpg which, although good, is hardly new territory.

Will it be enough to tempt buyers away from the German favourite? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Infiniti offers Steer By Wire

Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti are the first to offer the very latest steer-by-wire technology on their forthcoming Q50. No less a driver than Sebastian ‘The Finger’ Vettel – who is the company’s performance director – has been heavily involved in developing this car in which the steering wheel talks to a computer which in turn talks to the wheels. Instantaneously, we hope.

Apparently this new technology fitted to Infiniti’s all-new car has been inspired by the latest jet aircraft technology. No, we don’t know either – cars go along the ground, planes go in the air. That’s all we’ve got.

The Q50 is set to take on the might of the Audi A4 / BMW 3 Series in the premium mid-sized market. Designed, according to Infiniti, to ‘appeal to both the heart and the head’ the car marries the brand’s flowing design themes with technology and traditional craftsmanship. It will come in two or four-wheel drive with a choice of two high performance, low emission engines – a 170PS diesel and a 360PS petrol hybrid. It will apparently be competitively priced in this sector from around £28,000. On sale later this year.

But back to the future. Direct Adaptive Steering is to be standard on certain models and will allow the driver to choose how the wheel feels in their hand. Round would be our first choice but presumably they mean road feel. This used to be something we took for granted but with the introduction of electric steering and the like, some of that ‘feel’ has been lost. Witness the grumbling about the latest 911, for example.

The computer software allows the driver to adjust the steering so that it is smooth and easy – ideal for parking for example – or as sharp and responsive as a F1 car and it is all adjusted via the touch screen. Preferred settings can be memorised. The idea is that by eliminating mechanical losses the steering response will be faster and vibrations will be non-existent. All this is achieved with a level of feedback from the road that is central to every Infiniti’s performance feel, although we have got to think that this will now be simulated feel.

Potential buyers of this car may baulk at something that somehow smacks of a loss of personal control. It seems though that Infiniti have realised this by ensuring that there are fail-safe systems just in case and, if all else does fail, the steering column will remain as additional reassurance. For now!

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The Welsh Knight Rises

Night. Cats’ eyes flicker in the alleyways. The Bat-Tumbler rolls and growls through the mean and darkened streets. A menacing, matt-black, yet strangely familiar vehicle follows. Where are we? Is it Gotham City? Who is driving – could it be The Bat Man himself?!

No. Because this is downtown Carmarthen in West Wales and the driver is a local baker called Adam Williams. Trouble is, everyone in Wales is called Williams but you’ll know this one because he is driving a Batman inspired  Nissan Juke NISMO. Mr Williams won his one-off ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Juke in a Nissan competition and the car was delivered – accompanied by the Tumbler – beneath the historic walls of Carmarthen Castle much to the amazement of the locals who don’t get a lot of Super Hero action in their neck of the woods.

The special edition was created to celebrate Nissan’s partnership with Warner Brothers and the release of the most recent Batman movie. The Nismo can best be described as a ‘hot crossover’. It has a 1.6L turbo engine driving the front wheels with a unique body kit and tuned suspension. It’s quick and by all accounts engaging to drive, satisfying the needs of the family man who wants a decent driving experience.

Adam William’s new car is matt-black and – crucially – is loaded with groovy Dark Knight stuff. Aluminium Bat badges adorn the front grill and tailgate whilst the unique gloss black 18” alloys have bespoke red detailing. Open the door and you’re greeted by Bat logos on the kick plates and reflective Bat badges nestle on the headrests of the suede-trimmed NISMO sports seats.

Saving the best until last, the real kicker, which will make Adam the envy of the masculine world, is that there are down-lighters mounted under the door mirrors to project the Bat-signal on the ground around the doors. Wait! That isn’t the best bit! There’s an up-lighter inside that projects the Bat-signal onto the black headlining! Seriously, it just doesn’t get any better than that!NIS2 The Welsh Knight Rises

It is bound to have an effect on Baker Williams. Welsh miscreants will tremble at the sight of the Dark Avengers car, lightly covered by a dusting of flour, approaching at high speed through the gloom of criminality. It’s about time we had our own super hero. Fortunately, Adam is a good bloke and a genuine Bat-fan who is over the moon with his win. Let’s hope he enjoys his new car. The rest of us will have to make do with the regular model but it’s OK – the Juke Nismo is a good car and at around £20k, something of a bargain.

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Be Friend-ME in Shanghai

Something happens to executives of motor companies when they give names to their concept cars, falling prey as they do to wild flights of fantasy. When new cars actually come onto the market they regain a modicum of decorum. Nissan for example – the company that brought you the excitingly named Note – have gone especially off their corporate rockers by naming their latest concept the Friend-ME (only teaser images available, sadly) which apparently features a consul described as unique and that allows “Four Seats, One Mind Connectivity – equal information sharing among all on board”. Boggling.

Another company struck by the curse of over-ripe language is Citroen who will be show-casing their concept SUV, the Wild Rubis. The plan is for this to be a new addition to the DS range and very good it looks too (pictured). It has been seen before in a previous concept incarnation, the DSX.

The Wild Rubis is designed to rival the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Citroen say that the SUV is primarily aimed at the Chinese market but could well make it to the UK where the DS range is proving very popular. It’s a bigger car than the Q5 and Citroen seem confident that a version will appear as this concept is described as the “ forerunner of the future DS SUV”.

The styling of this concept is dramatic. Roof rails that flow into the C-pillars augment the bold crease along the shoulder line. The ruby paint work apparently changes depending on the intensity of the prevailing light. Other details – engines, interior – are scarce but the company state that the Wild Rubis is a full plug-in hybrid.

This car is based, surprisingly, on the older C5 platform and will be built in China. It will be followed by a big saloon (seen in concept form as the Numero 9 shown last year at Beijing) and a smaller saloon; all of which are designed to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese auto market.

Also at Shanghai we can expect to see the new BMW X4, the coupé /SUV design of which is splitting opinion. The X4 will probably go on sale in 2014. Mercedes are expected to launch a new SUV based on the A-Class and Ford will announce a new global concept, about which they are being very secretive. Couple that with the arrival of the exquisite Maserati Ghibli and the revamped Porsche Panamera and we are in for another automotive treat.

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Turning Over A New Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was launched in 2011 and to date the company have sold over fifty thousand cars worldwide. In many ways it is a very good car but with the drawbacks that afflict all electric cars. Potential owners remain concerned about range as the cars arrived long before the introduction of any meaningful electric infrastructure around the nation. Never mind – the Leaf has a market and is an ideal vehicle for urban lifestyles.

Nissan have been listening to customers and have announced a wide range of improvements to the next generation EV, which will be built, along with its batteries, at the successful Sunderland plant in the North of England. Production begins in the Spring. This seems like an admirably perfect time for a new Leaf.

Crucially, the range has been extended. The original car could manage 109 miles at best. The new maximum is 124 miles. It’s not a lot if we’re honest but that extra bit could just give buyers peace of mind in knowing that 100 miles should be reliably feasible. This is aided by a new heat pump which reduces electrical consumption in cold weather thus boosting range.

In addition to the standard eight hour charging arrangement, customers can now opt for a 6.6kW charger which halves charging time. Additionally, the charger has now been relocated under the bonnet which has freed up additional luggage space at the back. An amount of judicious re-engineering has bought the car up fully to European driving standards which means handling has been improved.

To further enhance performance Nissan have made some styling changes to the car which will improve aero efficiency. In keeping with the green credentials the new Leaf is more recyclable than its predecessor, not that owners are likely to be thinking that far ahead. The company has listened and they say that there are over one hundred improvements and enhancements on the new model.

Battery life is another concern expressed by customers. It would be a hugely expensive fix and nobody really seems to know how long they will last and how much capacity they will lose over time. To counter this Nissan have a new comprehensive warranty plan. There’s a five year / 100,000 mile guarantee for workmanship and defects and, because lithium-ion batteries lose capacity over time, they will be covered by a ‘State of Health’ clause to cover this. Thus, if the batteries wear out earlier than expected they will be repaired or replaced.

The interior has been improved too with new colours, more supportive seats with environmentally friendly fabrics and more equipment including the Around View Monitor. Overall, Nissan have paid attention to the reaction to the original Leaf and acted accordingly. The new Nissan Leaf is an attractive proposition for a large percentage of car users.

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News From Nissan

Camera technology has been featuring on cars for some time now and Nissan has carried the science forward to perfection with a new Qashqai model, the 360.  As the name suggests this version of the popular crossover uses four separate wide angled cameras situated at the front, back and sides (in the wing mirrors) to give a 360° view all around the car. This is translated rather cleverly onto the 5” touch screen as a bird’s eye view of the car.

This is a brilliant visual aid to the driver who can see how the car is orientated in a parking space and where the lines and obstacles are. The system is called ‘Around View Monitor’ and is standard equipment on the 360. Additionally, it helps the driver locate kerbs. This will help to ensure that the standard fit 18” Onyx alloy wheels remain unblemished by sloppy wheel-to-kerb alignment.

It seems that the average cost of simple and slow car park collisions resulting in mechanical and bodywork damage is around £1500. Investing in the Qashqai 360 should mean a bit more peace of mind when it comes to avoiding parallel and parking space accidents and higher premiums. All the usual extras are there as you’d expect and the best news of all is that this car is available at around a very creditable £20,000.

Also just announced is a new concept from Nissan called the Resonance (pictured). The company state that this boldly futuristic design is a statement for the future direction of Nissan crossovers. Described by the company in motor-speak as edgy and sophisticated, it signals the Nissan commitment to an environmentally sensitive power train coupled with intelligent utility. Roughly translated this means that the car will be clean and frugal with the added benefit of the very latest techno gadgets.

The Resonance has advanced aerodynamics (V-Motion) and is powered by a  new hybrid-electric power train. Inside, it has been described by Nissan as a ‘VIP Lounge’. Passengers will be welcomed by sequential interior lighting which, the company insists, will add warmth and drama. And you thought this was just a new car.

Nissan are scoring highly in the crossover sector with the Qashqai and the Juke and with this concept they are showing the way forward to the next generation. It is fair to say that in today’s market the need for power and speed is giving way to the car as a lifestyle statement where fashion and design take the place of brake horse power and adrenalin fuelled rides. If the cars of the future look as good as this then most of us won’t mind a bit. Just make sure you don’t kerb those 22” aluminium-alloy chromed wheels!

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Infiniti Comes To Sunderland

If anyone fancies a job in the car industry it looks like it would be a good idea to move to Sunderland. Car giant Nissan, already well established in the city and providing some 6000 jobs, have announced they are to build yet another car there – this time it’s a global luxury model under the Infiniti brand. To accommodate this a further 280 jobs are to be created at this successful plant. As a result an additional 700 or so are expected to be added to ancillary sites around the UK.

The problem is that this £250 million expansion has highlighted the lack of capacity in Sunderland which means that, as things stand right now, a planned ‘C-Sector’ hatchback that was due to be made at the plant will now be built elsewhere. The Infiniti model is expected in 2015.

In a country sadly losing its manufacturing heritage this good-news story shows that we can still do it if we try when given the opportunity. Nissan has only be active in the Britain – in manufacturing terms –  since 1986. Now Sunderland is not only the largest car plant in the country, it is also the most productive in Europe. That’s a great achievement. Obviously the Japanese work ethic has rubbed off.

This involves three philosophies. Kaisen means ‘continuous improvement’ in Japanese. Kaisen teams are used throughout the factory and address any aspect of any job to ensure it is in the best interest of the worker in terms of efficiency. It works and also helps to eliminate H&S issues and injuries.

‘Just in Time’ encourages the minimum use of resources required to achieve maximum value and a job rotation scheme ensures that all workers can do three different jobs within the factory. This helps to eradicate boredom amongst the staff and ensures cover for sickness and the like. The Coalition’s Business Secretary is taking a strong interest  as well he might. Maybe he could carry over some of these philosophies into government!

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Small, Clean, Green And Capable

In a time, long ago, 4×4’s were a breed apart. They were usually massive with thirsty growling engines that breathed out noxious fumes like enormous dragons with halitosis and an attitude problem. They were loathed by people of the green persuasion and were only acceptable if the driver was a farmer, a vet or a Chelsea mummy. Well, not any more.

With the technical improvements in diesel (especially the common rail direct fuel injection systems) and petrol engines, the motors in these all-purpose vehicles are much cleaner than before and considerably more economical too. What’s more, some models are much more compact and targeted very much at the family market rather than for, say, agricultural use. The manufacturers haven’t been slow in bringing to market some compact 4×4’s which, they claim, significantly reduce emissions and achieve in excess of 40mpg. Not bad for cars that should be able to handle general off-road conditions well. They’re not really full blown mud-pluggers but how many of us really needs that?

Take the Fiat Panda 4×4. The previous model was capable but a bit of an ugly duckling; the new one introduced in 2012 is not only very capable on and off road but is also good looking and a decent drive. It’s the only 4×4 city car, effectively, so if you’re an urban dweller who feels the call of the wild from time to time then this is the car for you, especially with emissions of just 125g/km.

No consideration of any type of car, large or small, can be complete without a BMW in the list and it should therefore come as no surprise that this German company has something that fit’s the small off-roader bill in the guise of the X3. The latest model is a great improvement on the old one (even BMW can get it wrong sometimes); it drives well on the tarmac and is quite capable of tackling more difficult terrain. It only comes with diesel options but a claimed 50mpg is a pleasant surprise and, coupled with CO² emissions of just 149g/km, makes this all-rounder a quality and stylish choice.

For something a little different how about a Hyundai? They used to make a leviathan called the Tucson but that has now be superseded by the much more acceptable ix35 (pictured). This car is a massive stride forward for Hyundai – its build quality and design make it a truly premium product. Buy it in the gutsy 2.0L diesel 4×4 version and you’ll be delighted with the low CO² and decent fuel economy.

There’s plenty of choice in this small 4×4 sector with cars like the popular Ford Kuga and Nissan’s excellent Qashqai competing with models from VW, Toyota and Honda. Although the gas-guzzling behemoths of old are frowned upon these days you can still have useful off-road ability that won’t shame you on the streets.

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Sao Paulo Sensations

Motor shows are perennially popular. They are the conduit for manufacturers to let the buying public know about their latest offerings and concepts. They tell us which way the industry is going. Up here in the hard lands of the winter we’re used to hearing about the shows in Europe and the Far East, but down in the Southern Hemisphere, where the other half live, people buy cars too apparently and one of their most prestigious motor shows has just closed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Manufacturers are keen to commit to Brazil as they see it as a growing and productive economy, unlike stagnant Europe. Brazil is now listed as the fourth largest car market in the world and car makers have sensibly been revealing new models to this burgeoning market.

Volkswagen have been aware of this for decades of course. They’ve been building cars there since 1959. This time they have introduced the new, and frankly sensational Taigun concept to the world (pictured). It’s an SUV, Jim, but not as we know it. Based on the UP! City car but with slightly larger dimensions, it is a full five-seater with a punchy one litre engine driven through a six speed ‘box. Lined up against it’s bigger siblings the Tiguan and Toureg, the family resemblance is there but in a tiny dimension. If it is finally built, and it looks probable, it will almost certainly sell in droves.

In keeping with the small is beautiful theme, Nissan have shown the Extrem concept – and yes, that is the right spelling. Designed to sit below the Juke and Qashqai models, the Extrem is based on the Micra platform and is believed to be demonstrating Nissan’s future look.

Interestingly, Renault sell their Dacia brand in South America badged as Renaults. This is apparently because there the people don’t really go along with the rather pretentious idea of low budget ranges and the like. There are cheap cars and there are expensive cars and that’s it. Thus the Dacia Duster becomes the Renault DCross and very butch it is to, with many manly embellishments to the exterior. Brazilians like their motors a bit tougher than us soft Europeans, which is why Honda add bigger bumpers and body cladding to the Jazz and call it the Fit Twist!

Things are changing in the car world. Sao Paulo is now arguably the most vibrant of auto industry market places. All the brand names had a car or two on show and many new ideas have been seen. It demonstrates the continuing trend to smaller vehicles with smaller, more efficient engines. Maybe it would shake up the European market if customers decided to go Latino!

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Turning Over A New Leaf

Understandably, considering the amount of investment involved, Nissan would appreciate it very much if we would all buy an electric Leaf as soon as possible. To encourage us in this green endeavour they are using social media to promote their zero-emission cars. The campaign is called ‘The Big Turn-on’, which is a 100 day labour of love to demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles, and to bust the myths that surround them through online influencers, owners, and celebrities. No doubt the terrible play on words was deliberate. In the interest of your sanity Motor Blogger will try to avoid using daft puns and the like in the rest of this article.

Those bright sparks at Nissan say that the idea behind the campaign is to encourage communities to support electric vehicles. They’ve got a website of the same name – as well as using the social sites as conduits – where prizes can be won and information gained. The original plan was to get one million people switched on to the Nissan Leaf but they have achieved that easily, Europe wide.

The city that achieves the most ‘turn-ons’ (and there was us thinking that Amsterdam has had that record for years) wins 30 Quick Chargers – which can give an 80% charge in 30 minutes – and the company plan to donate some 400 in all to aid the current efforts to speed up the electric infrastructure development. Additionally the most successful ‘influencer’ in each country will win a new Leaf.

As well as encouraging European drivers to consider the benefits of zero-emission motoring they also want to show that the Leaf is safe, environmentally friendly and cheap to run. They suggest that the vehicle range is sufficient for most local daily journeys. This would depend on the frequency, obviously. Mind you, range anxiety aside, the Leaf is a good car, winning top prizes on the award circuit around the world. It has achieved the five star safety rating from NCAP and comes with the expected air-con, sat-nav and parking extras.

Nissan say that the AC motor in the car develops 80kw of power and an impressive 280Nm of torque from its in-house developed laminated lithium-ion battery. Over night 100% charging from a normal source will take eights hours as is usual these days so no shocks there.

The drive towards electric motoring seems to be gaining pace despite the efforts of the nay-sayers. So why not log-on and turn-on to the Nissan Leaf?

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