• Tokyo Preview: Datsun subcompact crossover concept

    October 19, 2015

    Nissan has teased an image of a new Datsun to be revealed at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

    Showing just a rendering of the headlight, foglamp, and part of the grille, the image does not reveal much, but Indian Autos Blog suggests that it could be a compact crossover. The protruding foglamp surround, large chrome grille surround, and just a hint of body cladding over the front wheel well certainly all seem to point in that direction.

    There is a chance the car will be a close-to-production version of the Datsun I2, a Subaru Outback-ified version — meaning slightly taller ride height and some “adventure” body cladding — of the Datsun Go subcompact.

    IAB also reports that it will likely be built upon the Renault-Nissan CMF-A platform, which underpins the Renault Kwid. The Common Module Family architecture is similar to that of VW’s MQB, in which floorpans, engine bays, rear underbodies and cabins can be mixed and matched depending on the vehicle. CMF-A applies to the smallest of entry-level vehicles. However, the I2′s interior and engine are both expected to be different from that of the Kwid.

    The Datsun I2 is scheduled for a launch at India’s Auto Expo 2016 next February and will be the revived marque’s third model.

  • Porsche developing sub-Macan crossover?

    October 19, 2015
    A new report coming out of Germany finds Porsche is in the early stages of developing a small crossover that will slot below the Macan.

    The yet-unnamed soft-roader will look more aggressive than the Macan (pictured) and the bigger Cayenne thanks to a bold, dynamic design. It will feature a rakish, almost coupe-like roof line, and it will allegedly be offered with either two or four doors. Surprisingly, German magazine Auto Bild reports the sportier — and more expensive — two-door model could be billed as a Cayman on stilts.

    The crossover is unlikely to receive Porsche’s upcoming turbocharged flat-four engine for packaging reasons. Instead, it will be offered with straight-four gasoline-burning engines plucked straight from the Volkswagen Group parts bin. Buyers will be asked to choose between rear- and four-wheel drive, and most models will ship with a dual-clutch transmission controlled by shift paddles.

    If the rumor is accurate, Porsche’s entry-level crossover will likely be previewed by a thinly-veiled concept that is expected to debut at a major auto show in 2017. The production model will be introduced the following year, meaning it will land on our shores in time for the 2019 model year. When it goes on sale, it will be positioned at the very bottom of the Stuttgart-based company’s lineup.

  • Turkish government buys rights to Saab 9-3

    October 19, 2015
    The Turkish government has announced that it has purchased the right to build the aging second-generation Saab 9-3 from National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS).

    The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) has been working with NEVS over the past few months to transform the 13-year old 9-3 into what the government calls a “Turkish national car.” Official details aren’t available yet, but the camouflaged prototypes (pictured) that were recently shown to government officials appear to be heavily influenced by the 9-3-based Cadillac BLS that was briefly sold in Europe.

    The design hasn’t been finalized yet so the Cadillac influence could be toned down for production. Regardless of what it ends up looking like, the sedan won’t wear the Saab name or the Griffin emblem.

    “We bought the Saab 9-3′s intellectual property rights, but not its name,” explained a spokesperson for TÜBITAK in an interview on Turkish television.

    The deal is beneficial for both parties involved. On one hand, it’s a way for troubled NEVS to generated much-needed cash by putting its assets to work and to keep its investors satisfied. On the other hand, it gives the Turkish government quick access to a proven platform upon which to develop a car. How much the rights were purchased for hasn’t been made public, but a source close to the matter said the 9-3 was “very affordable.”

    Although Turkey’s 9-3 will launch with gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines, TÜBITAK ultimately hopes to develop an all-electric version of the sedan. At least 85 percent of the parts that make up the car will be built locally.

    When TÜBITAK’s version of the Saab 9-3 will be introduced is up in the air. It will be built with the Turkish market in mind, but authorities already have plans to export the car to neighboring nations — notably those situated in the Middle East — in order to give the economy a boost.

  • 2016 Honda Civic Sedan pricing leaked

    October 19, 2015

    Pricing for the 2016 Honda Civic Sedan has been leaked, indicating that the model will remain a competitive choice in a hotly contested segment.

    The information comes via what appears to be a dealer pricing sheet was posted on CivicX.com, a forum site devoted to the tenth-generation Civic. It purports to show both invoice and retail pricing for all trim levels in the Civic line.

    The base LX model, equipped with the standard 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter, i-VTEC four-cylinder twin-cam, will go up $150 in price. That bump is offset by the EX model, which drops $150 in price. The EX is available with either the 2.o-liter or Honda’s new 174-horsepower, 1.5-liter, direct-injection turbocharged four. Meanwhile, the EX-L model, powered only by the turbo 1.5, increases by $860.

    The cheapest 2016 Civic you’ll be able to buy is an LX with 6-speed manual transmission, which starts at $18,640. The EX and EX-L, which are only offered with a CVT, start at $21,040 and $23,700 respectively. At the top of the range, a new Touring trim level maxes out at $26,500. All of these prices are before the $835 delivery charge.

    The difference between the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter and turbocharged 1.5-liter is $1,160. Meanwhile, all cars are available with the new Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment, including collision and lane departure mitigation braking, as well as adaptive cruise control with tractor beam following functions at low speed, a $1,000 option.

    The effective date on the pricing sheet is mid-November, so expect to see the 2016 Civic in dealerships around that time.

    Images by Ben Hsu.