• Facelifted Nissan Versa to debut at NY Auto Show

    April 6, 2014

    A facelifted Nissan Versa could be appear at the New York International Auto Show this month.

    Though Nissan is gearing up to launch the next-generation Murano, which it has already teased, a minor model change Versa could share the stage, according to Autoblog. The 2012 redesign of Nissan’s subcompact, known for its cabin volume and status as the cheapest new car you can buy in the US (starting at $12,800), debuted at the NYIAS three years ago.

    Styling is expected to mirror the recently refreshed Chinese market Nissan Sunny (photos shown). If that proves correct, the grille would adopt slight curves and a ridged surface for its vertical sides. Headlights would be larger at the base with sharper points at all corners. The rear would see new, more geometric taillights as well. Hard points and surfacing would remain largely unchanged.

    The interior would see some upgrades as well, with higher quality satin inserts on a revised center stack. The passenger side of the dash would get an additional parcel shelf above the glove box.

    No mechanical upgrades are expected, meaning the Versa would still be powered by Nissan’s 109hp 1.6-liter inline-four, mated with either a 5-speed manual, 4-speed auto, or CVT.

    Overall, the Versa would fall more in line with the styling of the mid-sized Altima sedan in an effort to bring the Nissan lineup together visually.

  • Subaru considering WRX hatch

    April 6, 2014

    Subaru is pondering a hatchback version of its WRX performance sedan due to strong interest from the US market.

    WRX project manager Masao Takatsu made the statement at the Australian launch of the WRX sedan earlier this week, as reported by Motoring.au.com. According to Takatsu, 50 percent of WRX sales in the United States were of the hatchback variant.

    By contrast the hatch comprises only 15 percent of the Australian market, according to Subaru Australia’s managing director Nick Senior. Oddly enough, Australians tend to prefer hot hatches like the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST in the rest of their performance car segment, whereas despite a strong percentage of Subaru hatches sold, American buyers prefer sedans in general.

    Nevertheless, the US is Subaru’s largest market, says Takatsu, with Japan and Australia rounding out the top three. This bodes well for American enthusiasts who were critical of the sedan-only WRX decision at the time of the WRX launch last fall.

    Takatsu cites limited resources as the reason for a lack of a WRX hatchback at launch, as well as the absence of an automatic STI.

    If produced, the WRX hatch would likely share the same drivetrain — a 268hp turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer with either a six-speed manual or CVT auto putting power to all four wheels — as the recently launched sedan, which starts at $27,090.

  • BMW prices 2015 M4 Convertible

    April 6, 2014
    BMW has announced the 2015 M4 Convertible that will bow in New York later this month will carry a base price of $73,425, making it $8,300 more expensive than its hardtop counterpart. The price tag includes a mandatory destination charge.

    Based on the 4-Series Convertible that bowed in Los Angeles last year, the M4 Convertible wears a muscular look thanks to deep bumpers with wide air dams, flared wheel arches all around, wide 18-inch light alloy wheels and four prominent exhaust tips integrated into an air diffuser out back.

    The M4 Convertible’s cabin is similar to the one found in the standard 4-Series, meaning it features four easy-to-ready analog gauges, upscale materials and a tablet-like 6.5-inch display screen mounted on top of the center stack. Cars equipped with the optional navigation system are upgraded with an 8.8-inch screen.

    A three-part metal hardtop retracts at the push of a button in 20 seconds and at speeds of up to 11 mph. The hard top features a noise-absorbing headliner that BMW says noticeably reduces wind noise at high speeds.

    Power comes from the same 3.0-liter straight-six engine found under the hood of the M4 and the M3. Fed with two large turbochargers, the mill sends 431 horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch unit. The M4 comes standard with a limited-slip differential designed by BMW’s M division regardless what gearbox it is ordered with.

    Equipped with the dual-clutch transmission, the M4 Convertible sprints from zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds.

    The 2015 BMW M4 convertible will land in showrooms across the United States shortly after greeting the show-going public in the Big Apple.

  • Beijing preview: Citroen DS 5LS R concept

    April 6, 2014
    France’s Citroën will travel to this month’s Beijing Motor Show to unveil a performance-focused show car based on the recently-introduced DS 5LS compact sedan.

    Dubbed DS 5LS R, the concept is billed as a follow-up to the DS3 Racing and the DS4 Racing hot hatches. It draws on Citroën’s WRC expertise with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a sequential gearbox controlled by shift paddles.

    Upgraded brakes on all four corners and a stiffer chassis keep the extra power in check.

    The DS 5LS R is lower and wider than the regular-production sedan it traces its roots to. It is also lighter thanks to the widespread use of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum.

    Visually, Citroën’s latest concept wears an unusually dynamic look thanks to a deep front bumper with a wide air dam and a carbon fiber body kit that runs all around the car. 20-inch alloy wheels and bespoke emblems on the hood and on the trunk lid wrap up the look.

    Interior pictures are not available but the automaker promises the sporty treatment continues in the cabin with real carbon fiber trim on the door panels, a stopwatch integrated into the center console and a three-spoke steering wheel. The front passengers are treated to sport seats upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara.

    Citroën hints the DS 5LS R could be added to its lineup as a limited-edition in the near future. If given the green light for production, the sports sedan will be exclusively built and sold in China.

    Stay tuned to Leftlane for live images of the DS 5LS R straight from the Beijing show floor.