Sabtu, 19 April 2014

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan

If you’ve paid attention to this space, you’re probably aware of our opinion of Nissan’s sad-sack Versa. It’s no secret that we’re not fans of the little sedan—which was recently joined by a marginally better hatchback iteration, known as the Note

Since being introduced in 2012, the current Versa has earned a spot on our 10 Cheapest New Cars Sold in America for 2014 (cheapest!) list, and it finished so distant a sixth place in a 2011 six-car comparison test it might as well have placed seventh. Or eighth. Nissan could do just about anything to the Versa sedan and have a shot at improving it, and the automaker’s 2015 update does indeed see some things changed. 

Nissan says the Versa’s restyled front and rear fascias were influenced by those of the larger Sentra and Altima sedans, although we see more of the ho-hum Sentra than the better-looking Altima here. Regardless, sticking a chrome grille, the Sentra’s boomerang-shaped headlights, and a more-tailored rear bumper on the Versa’s lumpy shape doesn’t do much to improve its looks. 

Inside, Nissan subtly re-contoured the center-stack shape, added a nifty little plastic hood above the central air vents, and painted the climate controls black. For 2015, the Versa’s four trim levels—S, S Plus, SV, and SL—carry over, but Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel audio controls, and white LED gauge-cluster lighting are newly standard across the range. The SL Technology package now includes the NissanConnect navigation system with mobile apps, and 15-inch wheels borrowed from the sporty-ish Versa Note SR are optional as well. On the opposite end of Versaland, it’s telling that a radio, assist grips, and a passenger vanity mirror are still called out as standard features on the baser-than-base Versa S. Oh, before we forget, there is also new seat fabric. 

Buyers of the 2015 Versa can look forward to—if that’s the right phrase—the same grainy, unsatisfying 1.6-liter four from before. It puts out 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, and strains against the pavement via a five-speed manual, a four-speed automatic (optional on base S models only), or a CVT automatic that’s standard on S Plus, SV, and SL models. The best performance-related thing we can say about the last Versa sedan we tested is that it made it to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Fuel economy is still a Versa strong suit, with EPA ratings of 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway on CVT-equipped models. A big back seat is still part of the equation, and remains the car’s main boast-worthy feature. 

Pricing has yet to be announced, but we doubt Nissan will cede its coveted “least-expensive new car in America” title to another manufacturer. So don’t expect big increases from the current model’s base price range of $12,800 to $17,700. 

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Nissan Murano

Nissan’s “Innovation that Excites” marketing tagline often falls a bit flat—we’re still searching for any excitement or innovation in the Versa or Sentra, for example—but in the case of the 2015 Murano, it’s right on the money. Whether or not you think the Murano is attractive, its design certainly couldn’t be called derivative or boring. This is a design that busts the mid-size crossover segment wide open like the Kool-Aid man bursting through a wall. Heck, we think the design of the production crossover looks even more expressive than that of the Resonance concept on which it is based, which doesn’t happen often. 

The 2015 Murano’s look might seem extreme, but the nameplate has a history of envelope-pushing design dating back to the first-generation model introduced for 2003. With its high-style-on-a-budget mission statement, the Murano’s long been positioned as the semi-luxurious choice in the mid-size crossover segment, straddling the line between mainstream offerings such as the Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander, and edgier entries like the Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50. Without a drop of irony, Nissan calls the two-row, five-passenger Murano its “flagship crossover,” essentially relegating the larger three-row Pathfinder to pedestrian family hauler duty. 

Relative to today’s soft-edged Murano, the 2015 model exhibits a far more aggressive countenance. The Murano’s V-shaped front end, boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights, and robust fender sculpturing carry over nearly verbatim from the sporty Resonance concept. Most surprisingly, the show car’s rear quarter panel “hump” that reaches for the corner of the roof panel survived the design’s evolution to production. A cleverly placed blackout trim piece covers each D-pillar and gives the impression of a floating roof supported by a thin wand of glass extending from the front windows on back. 

Nissan added 2.5 inches of length and 1.3 inches of width, and also shaved some height to make the 2015 Murano appear lower and wider, and it pays off. This is an athletic-looking design, especially in profile, and we like the crossover’s aggressive stance. It stands apart from the crowd—which is no small feat in the typically milquetoast mid-size crossover arena. And the amped-up style doesn’t come at the expense of passenger space, which is roughly equivalent to that of the previous generation. Rear legroom increases by 2.4 inches, while headroom, hip room, and shoulder room don’t change appreciably. 

We’re fairly certain, however, that the interior’s minor dimensional tweaks will garner less attention than the exterior. Nissan calls the cabin’s appearance “lounge-like,” but we think it’s more womb-like. Every surface is rounded and conveys a warm, enveloping feeling—especially cuddly when the light-hued Cashmere color scheme is specified. 

Underneath the Murano’s designer duds lies a fairly run-of-the-mill chassis. Nissan again utilizes a front strut, rear multi-link independent suspension setup, and front-drive is standard with all-wheel drive remaining optional. Every Murano is powered by a carry-over 3.5-liter V-6 engine making 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and Nissan’s JATCO-supplied Xtronic CVT is the only transmission choice. While the V-6 should be sufficient, we’re a bit disappointed Nissan didn’t squeeze more power out of it; 260 ponies isn’t a lot of output for a 3.5-liter, especially in the face of similarly powerful—but more efficient, at least to the EPA—turbo fours from competitors. 

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Infiniti QX80

One of the key appeals of traditional full-size SUVs is that they provide a spacious container for packing a vast array of luxury goodies many buyers like to keep close at hand. Formerly known as the QX56, the full-size QX80 is Infiniti’s full-size body-on-frame traditionalist that’s a little bigger (and heavier) than a Chevy Tahoe. The exterior dimensions don’t change for 2015, nor do the underpinnings or the powertrain—a robust 5.6-liter V-8 (400 horsepower, 413 lb-ft of torque) and seven-speed automatic transmission driving either the rear or, optionally, all four wheels. 

But the 2015 model will definitely look different, with new front and rear fascias, new wheel designs (including a new 22-inch forged-aluminum version), three new exterior colors, and a number of interior refinements. 

Infiniti cites the Q50 sedan as the inspiration for the new front end, which includes a redesigned upper grille and adds a lower grille opening. The headlights and fog lights are all LED, as are the turn signals, and the new front bumper incorporates sonar sensors for the adaptive cruise control and forward collision-alert system. 

Inside, the redesigned cabin sports new trim elements, a comprehensive range of standard features—premium audio, navigation, leather upholstery, a sunroof, a new auto high- and low-beam feature—and two revised option packages: Driver Assistance and Deluxe Technology. The latter includes elements you might expect, such as a 15-speaker Bose surround-sound system, new Stratford Burl trim, and adaptive front lighting, plus something you might not—a climate-control system with auto recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier, and a grape polyphenol filter. 

While a loaded QX80 is unquestionably posh, Infiniti market research shows that the appetite for luxury features is almost insatiable, which has inspired an even higher-lux trim level for 2015: the QX80 Limited. 

Exterior differentiators include dark-finish headlight lenses, tinted rear lamps, and pool lighting beneath brushed-finish running boards. Exterior chrome trim has a dark finish, as do the standard 22-inch wheels, and there are three new colors exclusive to the Limited model. The main color of the seven-passenger interior is a shade Infiniti calls Truffle Brown, the ash wood trim is specific to the Limited, and the overall effect, according to Infiniti Americas president Michael Bartsch, is “decidedly masculine, what might be unapologetically described as a mobile man cave.” In addition to its specific trim touches, the Limited will also include the contents of all the QX80 option packages: Driver Assistance, Deluxe Technology, and Theater. 

Introduced at the New York show, the updated QX80 will be on sale in the fourth quarter of 2014 as a 2015 model. 

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Ford Focus Sedan

Ford is determined to soak up every last ray of spotlight available during the protracted 2015 Focus debut. Revealed in hatchback and wagon trims at Geneva earlier this year, the maker saved the global premiere of the Focus sedan for the bright lights of New York City. True, the New York auto show doesn’t officially begin for a week or so, but makers have grown fond of stringing reveals out in an attempt to capture as much attention as possible. 

Aside from the obvious differences—it’s got a more steeply raked backlight and trunk instead of a hatch—the Focus sedan falls right in line with its refreshed five-door counterpart. (The Focus wagon variant isn’t scheduled to make the trip to the U.S. anytime soon.)  

The big news is the arrival of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine mated to a manual six-speed transmission that we’ve already driven in a Euro-spec Focus. Currently available in the U.S.-market Fiesta, the 1.0-liter Focus will come standard with a fuel-saving stop-start system. To address driving dynamics, which we think were already good, the rear suspension setup on all 2015 Focus models receives a tweaking, and the electric power steering has been retuned. Ford claims shock absorbers with a new valve design help improve interior quietness. 

The 2015 model also marks the arrival of an SE Sport package trim, which includes new body treatments, paddle shifters (when equipped with an automatic transmission), a revised touring suspension, and 17-inch gloss-black aluminum wheels wrapped in P215/50 tires. 

Exterior updates include fresh styling for the hood, grille, and trunklid, and signature LED lighting arrives for both the headlamps and taillamps. The interior gets a new center console with improved storage capacity and adjustable cupholders (Big Gulpers rejoice!), new seat trims, satin chrome detailing, and an available heated steering wheel. Ford is also getting a leg up on the approaching 2018 backup-camera mandate by making a backup camera standard across the Focus lineup for 2015. 

Images from the camera will appear on a dash-mounted 4.2-inch screen; customers who spring for the optional MyFord Touch system will get upgraded to an eight-inch display as part of the deal. Also making its first appearance on the standard side of the order sheet of all trim levels is Ford’s MyKey programmable vehicle settings. 

Safety nanny systems such as blind-spot warning and a lane-keeping system will also be optional, the latter incorporating an active steering-correct function that applies steering to center the car in its lane if initial warnings go unheeded. To help keep things quiet inside, Ford specified thicker carpets and window glass, and improved engine-compartment insulation. 

Final EPA fuel-economy numbers for the 1.0-liter EcoBoost aren’t in yet, but Ford isn’t shy about its hopes, stating that it “expects the 1.0-liter EcoBoost Focus to raise the bar in fuel efficiency among non-hybrid compact vehicles.” We’ll let you know how that works out, as soon as we put one through an instrumented test.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe

The new Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupe has made its public debut at the New York motor show. The hot version of the S-class coupe will go on sale in the UK in November at an estimated price of approximately £100,000.

The plush four-seater replaces the CL63 AMG at the upper end of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, where it aims to provide stiff competition for the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin Rapide.

Power for the hot new coupé comes from AMG’s twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine. With 577bhp at 5500rpm, the direct-injection petrol unit kicks out 40bhp more than the similarly configured engine used by the CL63 AMG. Torque remains the same as before, with a peak of 663lb ft at 2250rpm.

The heady reserves are channelled through a standard seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic gearbox. As with the recently introduced S63 AMG saloon, buyers can now choose between standard rear-wheel drive and optional 4Matic four-wheel drive.

Mercedes-Benz claims a 65kg reduction in overall weight over the old CL63 AMG, both for the rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive S63 AMG coupés, which are claimed to weigh the same 1995kg.

The identical weight is down to differing underpinnings. The rear-drive car has as standard AirMatic air suspension with optional corner tilt function, whereas the four-wheel-drive version receives a more conventional and lighter steel-sprung suspension.

The rear-drive S63 AMG coupé is claimed to hit 62mph from standstill in 4.3sec and return 28.0mpg. The S63 AMG coupé 4Matic can crack 0-62mph in 3.9sec and is rated at 27.4mpg. Each model has a top speed limited to 155mph.

As well as air suspension, the rear-wheel-drive S63 AMG coupé comes with Mercedes-Benz’s so-called Magic Body Control system. This consists of a number of different functions, including the road surface scanner and active body control system available on the S63 AMG saloon.

In a first for the S63 AMG coupé, buyers can also add the German car maker’s new cornering tilt function, which automatically inclines the body by up to 2.5deg at speeds between 19mph and 112mph.

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2014 Highlights: Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept

Land Rover has revealed the future of its expanded Discovery range with a versatile and technology-packed SUV concept at the New York motor show.

The Discovery Vision Concept heralds a range of initially four SUV models that will wear the Discovery badge, taking the 25-year-old nameplate to a whole family of ‘leisure’ vehicles in the same way that Land Rover has with Range Rover and Defender.

The new concept car establishes the design themes, versatile, high-tech interiors and off-road prowess of the Discovery family. It also previews a whole raft of advanced technology that’s set to come from Jaguar Land Rover in the coming years, including the ability to control the car remotely.

“The Discovery concept vehicle represents a vision of our future family of leisure SUVs,” said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern. “Its modern, relevant and compelling design is a significant shift from Discovery as we know it. Vision puts design at the core, design which resonates on an emotional level.

"It has beautiful proportions, it's poised, it has a strong stance as all Land Rovers do. It's versatile inside and out and can be associated with lots of different lifestyles.

The first Land Rover model to wear the Discovery name in the next generation of vehicles will be a replacement for the current five-seat Freelander. It is due to be seen before the year is out and is based on the Range Rover Evoque platform. There will also be a seven-seat Freelander replacement.
The staple Discovery model and a new addition to the line-up will be a rugged seven-seat off-roader in the mould of Toyota’s Land Cruiser. This will be a sister car to Jaguar’s upcoming SUV and a new Range Rover model that will slot between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport.

Crowning the range will be a direct replacement for the current Discovery, but with an even plusher and more premium execution. It is this model — built on the all-aluminium structure that underpins the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport — that the Discovery Vision Concept most closely previews.

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2014 Highlights: 2015 Kia Sedona

The new Kia Sedona has been revealed at the New York motor show today.

With seating for up to eight, Kia says the new MPV represents the "final chapter" of its brand redesign under design boss Peter Schreyer. As such, the new Sedona gets Kia's larger, more prominent corporate front-end with a "European-inspired" design.

The new Sedona is 1.6-inches longer than its predecessor, and sits on 19-inch alloy wheels. Kia says it has given the Sedona a muscular design at the front, enhanced by the new roof-mounted spoiler at the rear.

Inside, the Sedona is available in seven or eight-seat guises. Usual MPV storage solutions, including removable slide-forward seats and a centre-console storage space feature, alongside retractable lower leg rests in the second row of seats.

As well as soft-touch furnishings, Kia says it has also given the Sedona new anti-bacterial and anti-static fabrics in the cabin. The top-level SXL trim also features Nappa leather trim
Kia says the new Sedona is the first car to offer its next-generation UVO infotainment and telematics system. As well as applications for navigation and music, the system also handles Siri 'Eyes Free' technology for iPhones.

The new Sedona sits on an all-new chassis, made from 76 per cent high-strength steel, alongside a suspension set-up which Kia says should improve its ride and handling.

Powering the MPV is a 3.3-litre V6 engine, replacing the current 3.5-litre V6, and the same unit found in the Sorento and Cadenza models. That engine has 272bhp and 248lb ft of torque, and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The new Sedona is scheduled to go on sale in the US by the fourth quarter of this year, with pricing announced closer to its launch date. Kia has confirmed the new model won't be coming to Europe.

Thanks to: Autocar
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