Toyota recalls 3.8 million cars, automakers gear up for the Tokyo Motor Show, Garmin sets a date and price for the Nuvifone, and we go for a ride in Lincoln's smallest luxury car.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 138 SHOW NOTES
Nissan has developed a mini robotic car that can move autonomously in groups while avoiding crashing into obstacles (including other cars).
The Eporo, Nissan says, is the first robot car designed to move in a group by sharing its position and other information. The aim is to incorporate the technology into passenger cars to reduce accidents and traffic jams.
Although a group of Eporos may look like a gang of cybernetic Jawa, Nissan says the cars' design was inspired by the way fish move in schools.
Nissan has announced that it will begin taking reservations for its upcoming Nissan Leaf electric vehicle starting in the Spring of 2010. The automaker predicts that it will have about 20,000 preorders lined up before production of the Leaf begins late next year.
According to Nissan's press release:
Nissan will invite people to "opt-in" and receive updates and information about Leaf through a reservation system that will tell them when the electric car is available--either for test drives or to take home. Participants will receive the latest news about the company's zero-emission activities as well … Read more
I love coupes. I would go so far as to say that the coupe is the best style of car in the world. Limiting a full-size car to two doors may fly in the face of practicality, but it allows for much more body style than a sedan. Automotive designers get to play with the roofline and equip a coupe with real fenders, making for a sporty-looking package. The best a sedan can do is look stately.
Roadsters are loads of fun, but a soft top just says you're not taking driving that seriously. A coupe means business, ready … Read more
Every automaker needs letters denoting which models incorporate high performance tuning. BMW has its M, Mercedes-Benz has its AMG, Lexus has its F, and Nissan its NISMO. That last, which stands for Nissan Motorsports, has just been added to Nissan's new sports car, the 370Z. We reviewed the Nissan 370Z Coupe last year, but only recently got to drive the 2009 Nissan 370Z NISMO.
Nissan took the standard 370Z Coupe, a very impressive sports car in its own right, and bumped up the power, fitted it with custom wheels, and stiffened the suspension. Body mods include chin and rear spoilers, a rear bumper with wheel well vents, and even an extended nose for better aerodynamic performance. The NISMO letters find their way onto the sport seats, the tachometer, and the rear badging. The result is a car that will be fun at weekend track events, but terrible for the daily commute.
We spent a good afternoon throwing a 370Z NISMO around the bends of colorfully named mountain blacktops such as Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road (the latter not being flat at all). Having just gotten out of a 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster gave us an excellent opportunity to note the NISMO upgrades to the standard 370Z. The thing that stands out the most is the ride quality, very harsh in the 370Z NISMO compared to the 370Z Roadster. We could feel the road's various textures being communicated up through the tires to our spinal cords. … Read more
When we reviewed the new Nissan 370Z Coupe last year, we applauded the company for doing a sports car model update right. Rather than bloating out the car, Nissan reduced size and weight, at the same time putting in a bigger engine. But there was no equivalent convertible model. Nissan remedies that lack for the 2010 model year with the all new 370Z Roadster, and we got to drive it.
On a sunny California morning, we followed a route that let us slam the 370Z Roadster through turn after turn. The top was open to provide a nice view of the forest canopy overhead, the scent of redwood trees was in the air, yet our attention was all on the road and the car. Holding the engine speed at around 5,000rpm in third gear, lighting up the brakes on each approach to a turn, maybe a downshift to second if the turn looked particularly tight, the 370Z Roadster acted just like the hard-top model on which it is based. A bit of understeer became apparent, but that was easily tamed with more throttle, the rear-wheel drive helping the nose correct toward the line for which we aimed.
Like the 370Z Coupe, the Roadster's six-speed manual transmission comes with the SynchroRev Match feature. Nissan hasn't yet brought the dual-clutch technology from its GT-R down to other models, but SynchroRev Match is a nice little high-tech helper, automatically blipping the engine speed during shifts to make a smooth change. That feature, along with the gear indicator on the instrument panel, makes the 370Z line seem like a training sports car, but we'll take all the help we can get when we're piloting 3,500 pounds of metal, plastic, and rubber at speed down a mountain course. … Read more
According to a recent Bloomberg article, the Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle will be equipped with a noise generator that will add a futuristic sound to the silent vehicle at low speeds.
Nissan Motor engineer Toshiyuki Tabata was charged with recreating the sound of a gasoline engine to increase safety for blind pedestrians and to address the potential for U.S. and Japanese mandates for adding artificial sounds to silent EVs.
"We fought for so long to get rid of that noisy engine sound," said Tabata, Nissan's noise and vibration expert. With electric cars, "we took a … Read more
For years, style was absent without an excuse from American subcompacts. But the days of slab-sided, no-frills hatchbacks may soon be history.
For decades, something was missing in the small cars designed, built and sold in the United States. It was gone for so long that most American consumers probably didn't know what it was.
But to Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group's chief designer, the missing ingredient was obvious. U.S. subcompacts lacked emotional appeal.
"Small cars of the past were not necessarily done with passion," he said.
Generations of Detroit designers seemed to say: No one buys a small car for its styling, so why bother? Uninspired, appliancelike econoboxes? What else did you expect?
American subcompacts had none of the attributes found in the cool, quirky and even elegant small cars created elsewhere in the world, from the original BMC Mini to the first Peugeot 205 to the modern Citroen C3.
U.S. automakers were forced to churn out small cars to raise corporate average fuel economy averages, so they could keep selling big trucks. Small-car design? An oxymoron.
But consumer preference has shifted -- the result of higher gasoline prices, new fuel-efficiency standards and concern about climate change.
"Small cars and vehicles powered by four-cylinder engines have been on a steady increase since 2004," said Ford Motor Co. sales analyst George Pipas.
U.S. fleets must average 35.5 mpg by 2016, compared with 25.3 mpg this year. Combined with stricter emissions standards, it means the number of small-car nameplates for sale in the United States will increase.
And when a market segment gets crowded, automakers must rely on styling to set their vehicles apart from the crowd.
"It's not business as usual for small cars here anymore," said Moray Callum, Ford Motor's design director for cars.
The expanding lineup of new small cars means styling will get a lot more creative and appealing, just as it did with mid-sized cars recently. (Think of the modern Chevrolet Malibu, the new Ford Taurus and the current Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.)… Read more
What happens when you mix a fire engine with a 193 mph supercar co-designed by the makers of Gran Turismo? Well, if these pictures are anything to go by, you get the fastest, coolest emergency vehicle in the world. Apart from Thunderbird 1, of course.
The Nissan GT-R ultra-rapid response emergency vehicle was modified by M&M Automotive to offer some serious firefighting abilities. Its two rear seats were removed to make room for a 13-gallon tank secured by a roll cage, while in the trunk, there's a medium-pressure (20 bars) extinguisher system and winding device for a 65-foot hose. According to Nissan, the car will dispense both water and foam, and can fight fires for approximately two minutes on a single tank.
The car was built specifically to patrol the iconic Nurburgring race track in Germany's Eifel region, where hundreds of amateur drivers try their luck on the high-performance circuit every year. Accidents are, understandably, quite commonplace, so having a fast emergency vehicle on hand is a smart idea. Ordinary fire engines would take ages to reach an accident, but, despite carrying an extra 440 pounds of firefighting equipment, the GT-R can lap the twisty 13-mile Nordschleife circuit in less than eight minutes.
Car geeks the world over will tell you the GT-R is the perfect car for the job. Not only is it ludicrously fast, but it also has all manner of high-tech gizmos to help the driver arrive in a hurry. … Read more
Chevy Volt gets 230 miles per gallon (for a day) while Nissan says we can play that game, too. BMW gets hybrid religion (again), and we take you for a ride in an Audi Q5 and point out what we love and what we wish we could.Subscribe now: iTunes (audio) | RSS (audio) SHOW NOTES