Auto Car News and Review

Nissan Canada offers box-fresh racecar for $19,998 [w/video]

October 18th, 2014 0 Comments
Nissan Micra Cup racing

Nissan Micra CupNissan is seriously emphasizing its commitment to motorsports with projects like next year’s GT-R LM endurance racer at Le Mans and the company’s participation with GT Academy. At least in Canada, the automaker is adding another opportunity to get people onto the track with the new Nissan Micra Cup one-make race series. Sure, the Micra might not as quick as a GT-R, but this series offers Canadians a chance to start racing for a reasonable price. Nissan claims the events have “the lowest running cost of any Canadian series,” and we can’t think of a cheaper turnkey new racecar in all of North America.

The cars are all based on the not-for-US Micra 1.6 S M/T model with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine making 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque and a five-speed manual gearbox. The only real performance upgrades are a Nismo suspension kit, new exhaust, improved brake pads and sticky Pirelli tires. For added safety, the interior is entirely stripped out and is replaced with a full roll cage with a driver protection net, FIA-approved racing seat with five-point harness, fire extinguisher and front and rear tow hooks. The whole, race-ready package will set competitors back $ 19,998 Canadian dollars before taxes.

The inaugural Micra Cup series begins in May 2015, and the first season is exclusively taking place in Quebec, with the promise of moving to other provinces if it’s a success. Each event includes a half hour of practice, a half hour of qualifying and a pair of half-hour races. Nissan is estimating impressive fields of over 25 cars of competitors.

Drivers obviously shouldn’t expect to set any track records in these little hatches, but they do look like a ton of fun to pitch around a circuit. Scroll down to see the Micra in action and read the full release.

Ford Focus RS ready to make our hot hatch dreams real

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
Ford Focus RS Spy Shots

Ford’s current hot hatch siblings the Fiesta ST and Focus ST are already two pretty great entries into the segment, but there’s always a desire for a little more. Thankfully, it looks like the Blue Oval is ready to satiate that need because it’s continuing to test the even more powerful Focus RS around Europe. According to our spy shooters, these shots come from near the Nürburgring.

As with previous photos, Ford engineers continue to heavily camouflage the front end of the RS prototypes, but there’s a big difference here. Unlike earlier ones, this example appears to have a closer-to-production-ready front bumper rather than just a horizontal strip for the license plate. That may point to development getting somewhat closer to wrapping up. Although, this one lacks the larger rear wing from prior testers, and the exhaust also appears to be a work in progress with the rear diffuser covered in mesh in these latest shots.

The RS is rumored to be using the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2015 Mustang, but power is reportedly turned up from 310 horsepower in the ‘Stang to somewhere between 325 hp and 350 hp for the Focus. Routing all that just through the front wheels could be a recipe for serious torque steer, and all-wheel drive is potentially being used for better traction.

Unfortunately, no release date is known for the RS yet, but we keep seeing evolution in the test mules. Indications point to it eventually going on sale for the US market, too. Until then, see what you think of these latest spy shots in the gallery.

Volvo to add 1,300 jobs, ramp up production in Sweden

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
Volvo factory

The expansion of the factory is part of an $ 11-billion investment Volvo’s Chinese owners, Geely, are making.

Volvo Cars is adding 1,300 new jobs and ramping up production at its factory in Gothenburg, Sweden, in response to increased consumer demand for its vehicles.

The jobs will support a third shift at the 50-year-old plant, called Torslanda. They will come online in the first quarter of 2015 as production of the XC90 crossover begins. With the addition of a new body shop, the factory will be capable of making 300,000 vehicles per year.

The additional employees will lift the headcount at Torslanda to 4,600 people. It comes as Volvo has announced a new agreement with its workers that will allow the factory to be more flexible and support the increased output. Volvo is forecasting further increases in production at the factory next year due to high levels of demand for the upcoming XC90, which launches as a 2015 model.

The expansion of the factory is part of an $ 11-billion investment Volvo’s Chinese owners, Geely, are making in the 87-year old Swedish brand. Geely purchased Volvo from Ford in 2010.

Volvo expects to have its best-ever sales year in 2014 and forecasts total volume of 470,000 vehicles.

For more details, scroll through Volvo’s announcement.

MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
1991 Acura NSX drive from Motorweek

It’s easy to poke a joke here and there about John Davis, the long-time host of MotorWeek. His voice is so monotonous that, from time to time, if you closed your eyes, you may think it’s generated via a computer. But you have to give him and the rest of the show a lot of credit. The program has been on the air for decades, giving people direct, straight-down-the middle automotive reviews.

MotorWeek‘s massive back catalog of reviews are slowly making their way onto YouTube, and they provide a fascinating chance to look back on how performance cars rank against their contemporaries from back in the day. Two recent additions include the show’s old looks at the 1986 Toyota Supra, the dawn of the third-generation model, and the now-iconic 1991 Acura NSX.

Both reviews are interesting in their own way. These days you hear nary a negative word about the original NSX, but MotorWeek isn’t afraid to point out a few flaws. And the Supra really shows the progress of suspension tuning in the intervening decades because it has some serious body roll in the corners. Scroll down to check out both videos and get a blast from the automotive past.

2015 Lexus NX starts at $34,480*

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
2015 Lexus NX

Lexus has announced pricing for the 2015 NX crossover lineup, which goes on sale next month.

The NX 200t starts at $ 34,480, and the all-wheel-drive model adds a $ 1,400 premium to lift the sticker to $ 35,880 (*destination charges of $ 925 are not included in the prices). The 200t uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 235 horsepower, and it’s Lexus’ first-ever gasoline-fed turbo.

The hybrid version, the 300h, starts at $ 39,720, and all-wheel drive tacks on $ 1,590 for a price of $ 41,310. The hybrid teams a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor to generate 194 hp. Though power dips, Lexus anticipates this version will get a combined 33 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive when the EPA ratings are announced – a considerable leap when compared with the combined 24-mpg estimate for the turbo model.

The NX goes on sale Nov. 18 in markets on the West Coast, followed by an East Coast launch Nov. 26, a spokesperson said. Pricing for the F Sport was not disclosed but is expected to be revealed early next week.

The NX is Lexus’ much-anticipated entry into the growing premium compact crossover segment. Lexus is projecting sales of 36,000 per year, and the brand expects most of those will be turbo models, with perhaps only a 10-percent take rate for the pricier hybrid.

Meanwhile, Lexus also confirmed the RC and RC F Sport coupes will go on sale Nov. 3 across the country. The base RC starts at $ 42,790, plus destination.

Jay Leno’s new CNBC series will indeed be Garage-based [w/video]

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
TV Leno's 15th

Last we heard, Jay Leno was almost ready to sign a deal with CNBC to get back on television regularly for the first time since he left The Tonight Show. Well, it’s official, and with the ink on the contract barely dry, we’re getting some new details about Leno’s upcoming car show.

Tentatively titled Jay Leno’s Garage, just like the fantastic web series, it premieres sometime in 2015 with spotlights on restoration projects and road tests of supercars and classics. Being on CNBC, the show is also taking a financial angle to “focus on the car collector’s market, including best investments and valuations in the space,” according to the network.

Leno said in the statement published by CNBC: “The show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise. We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

Based on that description, it sounds like we’re getting the Jay Leno’s Garage series directly transplanted to television with touch of financial info too. As long as the quality remains high, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Scroll down to see a video announcing the show from CNBC, though it mostly focuses on Leno himself and his opinions on Elon Musk. Jay must be taking the deal seriously because he’s not wearing the usual head-to-toe denim in the clip.

GM hit with $10B lawsuit for losses on 27M recalled cars

October 17th, 2014 0 Comments
General Motors-Recall

Attorneys are continuing to fight to prove that the recalls from General Motors this year allegedly affect vehicle resale values. A $ 10 billion lawsuit, which is hoping to obtain class-action status, could cover as many as 27 million vehicles and consolidates hundreds of smaller claims. This latest case appears to be related to the one from June in California but is now in a New York court. Both are brought by the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The case covers people who bought or leased a recalled vehicle from the so-called New GM from July 2009 to July 2014, as long as they kept it through at least mid-February when the repair campaigns started in earnest, according to Bloomberg. “The value of all GM-branded vehicles has diminished as a result of the widespread publication of those defects and New GM’s corporate culture of ignoring and concealing safety defects,” says the legal complaint, according to Bloomberg.

The attorneys might have an uphill battle to fight to win the case against the company, though. In regards to the earlier case in California, an analysis into GM’s recalls found that they had no effect on resale value. Another study discovered basically the same thing when looking at other major repair campaigns, as well. Also, Kenneth Feinberg, the man in charge of the automaker’s compensation fund, has refused lost value claims, at least against the Cobalt. Feinberg has already paid out 27 cases alleging deaths from the faulty ignition switches with at least 151 more to evaluate.

The automaker is also facing another, smaller lawsuit focused on just ignition-switch-related claims. Since this falls under the so-called Old GM, a bankruptcy judge has to rule whether the case can move forward. The decision is expected sometime next year, according to Bloomberg. The company would like the claims to be invalidated.

GM’s latest official tally puts the company at 74 recalls in 2014 covering roughly 26,495,070 vehicles in the US.