• Next Nissan GT-R to spawn Infiniti sedan version, will be global R&D effort

    August 9, 2015

    The next-generation Nissan GT-R is reportedly going to be a global effort, and will spawn a four-door sedan badged as an Infiniti.

    Australia’s Motoring is citing an unnamed source within the company that says development of the next GT-R has shifted to Europe and North America. Meanwhile, Japan will continue its with R&D as part of its SuperGT race program.

    Notably, UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering, a subsidiary of the Formula One constructor Williams Grand Prix Engineering, will be taking the “lion’s share” of the work. Derived from its experience with F1, WAE’s current business includes fields as diverse as aerospace, military defense and renewable energies.

    The source also said that Nissan believes there is a lasting trend towards high-performance luxury sedans such as the Aston Martin Rapide, Porsche Panamera, Lamborghini Estoque. As such, Nissan will take the GT-R drivetrain “down that path” and develop a sedan, likely to be sold as an Infiniti, positioned to go head-to-head with products from Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, BMW’s M and Audi’s RS lines.

    Since plans for the much-hyped Eau Rouge, a Q50 powered by the GT-R 560hp twin-turbo V6, are dead, hopes are pinned on new platform engineered with a four-door in mind right from the start.

  • Mazda discontinues Mazda5 minivan

    August 9, 2015

    After serving dutifully since 2006, it appears that the Mazda5 has reached the end of the road. The 2015 model year will be the model’s last, and there are no plans for a replacement.

    According to a press release outlining the automaker’s plans for the 2016 model year, the Mazda5 will be axed, leaving it without a minivan in its lineup. Instead, the company will rely on the seemingly unyielding demand for crossovers and sales of its hotcakes CX-5.

    The Mazda CX-5 crossover, regarded as one of the best in the segment, sold 9,530 units last month and 62,873 over the last year. In addition, sales have increased about 6 percent since 2014. In contrast, the Mazda sold just 551 units of the Mazda5 last month, and 6,835 in the past year.

    The departure of the Mazda5 means there will be no more compact sliding-door minivans left in the US market. The class that is still booming in Asia, where models like the Honda StepWGN and Toyota Voxy are hot sellers. Until this year, the Mazda5 was also the only minivan available in the US with a 6-speed manual.

  • Kia Soul gets minor updates for 2016

    August 9, 2015

    The Kia Soul is entering the 2016 model year with a handful of updates inside and out.

    All models regardless of trim level now come standard with alloy wheels. Starting at the bottom of the lineup, base models equipped with the Convenience Package get a 4.3-inch color touch screen, Sirius XM radio and a rear-view camera.

    Plus models gain a rear-view camera, gloss black trim on the bumper and fog lights. Additionally, the mid-range trim can be spruced up with a new Designer Collection package that adds 18-inch alloys as well as leather upholstery on the steering wheel and on the shift knob. The package also brings a two-tone paint job inspired by the Soul EV.

    Exclaim models come standard with leather upholstery. Finally, a new Premium package bundles driving aids such as a lane departure warning system and a forward collision warning system, two firsts in the nameplate’s history. Cars ordered with the Premium package also benefit from navigation, an upgraded sound system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats up front and heated seats all around.

    Kia is not making any mechanical modifications to the Soul for 2016, meaning base models carry on with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 118 lb-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. Buyers who step up to the Plus and Exclaim models get a 2.0-liter tuned to deliver 164 ponies at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb-ft. of twist at 4,000 rpm.

    All engines send power to the front wheels only. The 1.6 comes standard with a six-speed manual, while the 2.0 is exclusively available with a six-speed automatic.

    The 2016 Kia Soul will go on sale across the nation in the coming weeks. Pricing information will be published closer to its on-sale date.

  • Lego Creator introduces Ferrari F40 kit

    August 9, 2015
    Ferrari built just 1,311 examples of the F40, and the iconic supercar is worth well over half a million dollars today. That means putting one in your garage is easier said than done, but you can now build one from scratch and display it on your desk thanks to a new Lego Creator kit.

    Lego’s Creator kits are generally relatively well detailed and the F40 is no exception. The supercar’s overall silhouette is surprisingly realistic, Lego even went through the trouble of including features that characterize the F40 like NACA ducts on both sides and on the hood, pop-up headlights, round tail lamps and triple exhaust pipes.

    The doors open up to reveal red bucket seats, a pair of gauges and a three-spoke steering wheel adorned by a Ferrari emblem. Designer Michael Psiaki even included the cable that’s used to open the door in the real car, though it takes a well-trained eye to see it.

    Similarly, the massive decklid neatly lifts up to show a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V8 engine. It’s possible to remove the eight-cylinder from the engine bay by simply popping off the rear bumper.

    Lego worked closely with Ferrari to ensure that the kit is faithful to the original, and it even designed a few specific pieces, including the rim inserts, the windshield and the mirrors. Psiaki explains the most difficult part of designing the kit was getting the hood right.

    “It was very tricky to figure out how to get that section built correctly and I was very proud that we found a way to build the air intakes from standard LEGO elements,” explained the designer.

    On sale now, Lego’s scaled-down Ferrari F40 is made up of 1,158 pieces, and the company suggests it’s best suited to master builders who are at least 14-years old. It stretches three inches tall, 10 inches long and five inches wide.