• Nissan confirms 2015 Versa sedan for New York debut

    April 11, 2014
    Confirming earlier reports, Nissan has announced that its 2015 Versa sedan will make its official debut next week in New York.

    The subcompact features modernized aesthetics, exemplified by redesigned headlights, a bit more chrome on the enlarged grille, and a new foglight finisher. The front-end changes bring the entry-level Nissan into line with the latest Sentra, Altima and Maxima designs.

    The rear fascia design has also been tweaked to fit with the “Nissan family” look, while SV and SL trim levels feature new side mirror designs. The SV packages can also be purchased with new 15-inch V-spoke aluminum alloy wheels.

    Refinements can also be found within, greeting occupants with improved fabric, a revised meter display — illuminated via white LEDs rather than orange — and a new center stack. Drivers can also take advantage of a new steering wheel with standard audio and Bluetooth controls.

    Like the exterior changes, the interior refinements provide a more substantial, higher quality look and feel,” said Nissan North America product-planning VP Pierre Long.

    The 2015 Versa maintains the existing powertrain, with 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque produced by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder mill. Power is delivered to the wheels via five-speed manual, four-speed automatic or CVT gearboxes. The constant-velocity Xtronic option achieves the best fuel efficiency, rated at 31 mpg city, 40 mpg highway or 35 mpg combined.

    All of the refinements arrive without an increase in price, as the 2015 model maintains an $11,990 entry point (excluding $810 destination charge).

  • Bugatti shows Veyron Vitesse ‘Black Bess’ Legends Edition

    April 11, 2014
    Buggati has revealed its fifth model in the Legends Edition collection, the Veyron Vitesse ‘Black Bess.”

    The package celebrates the company’s legendary Type 18, one of the fastest road vehicles of the pre-war era. Powered by a four-cylinder five-liter engine, it was capable of topping out at 100 mph when it was raced by company founder Ettore Bugatti.

    One particular Type 18, named after the English racing horse ‘Black Bess,’ was delivered to famous French aviator Roland Garros after he successfully crossed the Mediterranean in an airplane.

    The name has been revived by a Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, with a glossy all-black finish accented by thin gold stripes and genuine 24-karat gold inlay on the horseshoe and other exterior and interior accents.

    The beige and brown leather interior features hand-painted motifs on the rear storage compartment and door panels. Both the Type 18 ‘Black Bess’ and Garros’ Morane Saulnier Type H airplane are visible.

    Bugatti will be bringing the original Type 18 to Beijing, presented alongside one of three ‘Black Bess’ Legends Edition cars.

  • NY preview: Volkswagen Golf SportWagen concept

    April 11, 2014
    Volkswagen will unveil a new Golf SportWagen concept at next week’s New York International Auto Show. Although labeled a concept, the Golf SportWagen is essentially a thinly-veiled production model that will replace the current Jetta SportWagen early next year.

    Based largely on the seventh-generation Golf hatchback, the Golf SportWagen utilizes VW’s latest MQB modular architecture. Thanks to that high-tech basis – which is compromised mostly of high- and ultra-high strength steel – the Golf SportWagen will weigh less than the outgoing Jetta SportWagen.

    In addition to being lighter than the Jetta, the Golf SportWagen will also offer more room. The new model is 1.1 inches longer and 0.7 wider than the current SportWagen, netting a cargo area that is about 10 percent bigger than in today’s car. Despite being nearly an inch lower than the current SportWagen, the Golf SportWagen will boast a 0.4 inch increase in headroom.

    The Golf SportWagen’s default powertrain will be a 170 horsepower 1.8L TSI four-cylinder driving the front wheels. Buyer will be able to choose between a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. VW estimates that the 1.8L-equipped SportWagen will be about 17 percent more efficient than the current SportWagen model.

    VW’s latest 2.0L TDI clean diesel will also be available for order in the Golf SportWagen. Generating 150 horsepower, the oil burner can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

    The new Golf SportWagen will also offer VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system.

    VW says the Golf SportWagen will arrive in dealer showrooms during the early part of 2015.

  • Is this Hyundai’s global market compact crossover?

    April 11, 2014
    A single leaked image might have prematurely revealed Hyundai’s upcoming compact crossover ahead of its scheduled debut at next week’s Beijing Motor Show.

    Tentatively called ix25, the compact crossover wears a tall front end that borrows a fair dose of styling cues from the larger Santa Fe Sport. The ix25′s roofline peaks above the driver and gently slopes towards the rear, while its back end appears to wear a more squared-off design than that of its larger sibling.

    Rumors indicate the ix25 rides on the same platform that will underpin the upcoming second-generation i20, a small hatchback that will be roughly the same size as the Accent hatchback. If that is the case, the crossover will likely be offered with a host of three- and four-cylinder gas and diesel engines pulled from the Hyundai parts bin. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and all-wheel drive will be offered as an option on select models and trim levels.

    The Hyundai ix25 will be built in China for the local market. It might be offered in neighboring countries, but whether it will join Hyundai’s U.S. lineup as a smaller alternative to the Tuscon is not known.

  • GM to replace lock cylinders in vehicles with defective ignition switches

    April 11, 2014
    General Motors has announced that it is planning to replace ignition lock cylinders in 2.2 million vehicles that have already been recalled due to defective ignition switches.

    The company now acknowledges a problem that allows the engine to continue running even after the key is removed from the cylinder.

    The issue has been merely an annoyance for many drivers, however it also poses a potential safety threat for cars equipped with manual transmissions. When parking, some drivers simply leave the car in gear and turn off the engine without pulling the handbrake. This could cause an accident if the driver takes their foot off the clutch pedal without realizing the engine is still running.

    Searches of GM and government databases found one rollaway in a parking lot that resulted in a crash and one injury claim,” the company notes.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaint database includes several hundred complaints of such behavior. Another popular complaint points to an opposite problem, with keys sticking in the lock cylinder.

    GM plans to replace the ignition lock cylinders in the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2007-2010 Saturn Sky and 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR.

    The company has redoubled its forecast for the costs associated with the ongoing recalls, bumping the estimate up to $1.3 billion.