2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo

Initially introduced at the Tokyo Motor show, the 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo, was re-launched to the North American public at this week’s LA Auto Show.

Usain Bolt with GT-R Nismo

Usain Bolt with GT-R Nismo

Leveraging the world’s fastest man, Usian Bolt as pitchman of their premiere sports car model is a smart move by Nissan as this 600 HP monster is one of the fastest production vehicles ever made. With an incredible 0-60 mph (96 km/h) time of in the two seconds range it’s faster than pretty much anything on the road including a Porsche 911 Turbo or a Ferrari 458 Speciale. This thing is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure.

Nissan GT-R Nismo 2015

Nissan GT-R Nismo 2015

It’s other major claim is equally amazing as it recently achieved the fastest lap time of any production car on Germany’s Nordschleife track as it broke the 7 minute and 10 second record.  Check out the video as proof that Nissan means business with its Nismo series.

The Nissan GT-R Nismo will land in Canada and US middle to late next year and although North American pricing won’t be released until much closer to its availability here the Japanese car starts at 15,015,000 yen, which works out to around $150,000 USD depending on exchange rates. Yes, we know that is a lot of money for a car but seriously, as one of the fastest cars ever mass produced we think the Nissan GT-R Nismo is actually a bargain compared to its competition.

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2014 Chrysler 300C Luxury Series AWD

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The 300 is Chrysler’s roomy full size sedan offered in both rear wheel and all wheel drive versions. It was first introduced in the 2005 model year and underwent a major redesign in 2011. RedlineNorth recently had a chance to test drive the 300C Luxury Series AWD version. First impressions we noted were the nicely appointed interior and the bold exterior styling.  By the end of the test period we had a number of other reasons to like the 300C. Read on to find out why.

In Canada, the Chrysler 300 Touring starts at $34,295 with the base price of the ‘C‘ starting at $39,295 and the Luxury Series AWD version starting at $43,495.  Optional equipment in our test vehicle included an upgraded Harman Kardon audio package, dual-pane panoramic sunroof and the Uconnect 8.4N infotainment system among other extras. These options brought our test vehicle in at $50,955. The 300 comes with a 5 year or 100,000 km power train warranty, with basic warranty coverage for 3 years or 60,000 km. 

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The 300C offers plenty of interior room

The stated fuel efficiency of our test vehicle with all wheel drive is a respectable, 11.4L/100 km city and 7.3L/100 km highway, for a full size all wheel drive sedan.  During our review we did exceed these estimates by a marginal amount with a combination of 50/50 city and highway driving.

The interior of the 300C is well refined with a leather trim throughout.  The analogue clock adds a nice touch, as does the blue backlighting to the instrument panel.  Additional nice to haves in our test vehicle included the heated seats and steering wheel, which warmed up quickly, along with the steering wheel mounted shifters.  While not a big fan of paddle shifters in an automatic car, they performed adequately in the 300C. The addition of the dual-pane sunroof which covers 70% of the roof gave the interior a very open and airy feeling.

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Leather trim permeate the interior cabin

The interior cabin offers plenty of leg room both in the front and rear seats and provides a pleasantly quiet ride even at highway speeds. In addition, a technology feature standard on all models is the humidity sensor, which continuously monitors the windshield for risk of fogging and automatically adjusts the interior climate level to prevent the windshield from fogging up.  We thought this was a nice touch.

The 8.4 inch touch screen utilizes Chrysler’s Uconnect system and is one of the more intuitive menu systems on the market.  We also appreciated the ability to balance the audio in the vehicle through the touch screen allowing you to target zones within the vehicle. Overall, the sound system in the 300C was above average with very nice acoustics in the interior cabin.  This is thanks to the upgraded 19 speaker, 900 Watt Harman Kardon system GreenEdge speaker and amplifier technology.

Combined, these features and the interior fit and finish truly did make the 300C Luxury Series live up to its name. If we were to point to any improvement in the interior cabin it would be in regards to more usable storage space for every day items like smartphones and keys, along with larger cup holders but we’re bordering on nitpicking here.

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Blue illumination compliments the instrument panel

Optional with the 300C is a number of safety systems including a forward collision warning system, a blind spot monitoring system and a rear cross-path detection system.  The latter providing a warning when backing out of a parking spot as to whether vehicles are approaching.  We found the systems worked very well in everyday traffic, identifying potential hazards and were a comfort knowing they were there and in use.

The exterior styling of the 300C is one of those love it or hate it type propositions for some. It has a some what stately look blended with boxy and squared off styling.  Combined with the jeweled C-shaped headlamps, chrome grille and bold wheels the 300 lives up to its Made in Detroit moniker.  We liked the unique styling which grew on us even more by the end of our time with the vehicle.
The 300C offers unique styling

The 300C offers unique styling

Although the 300C is a full size sedan, sight lines in the driver’s seat were surprisingly good and parking in a downtown environment was quite easy, especially with the addition of the rear view camera. Another nice feature is the Adaptive Forward Lighting which aligns your vehicle-to-road pitch, automatically turns the headlamps in the direction you’re steering and computes your speed and steering wheel angle to determine headlamp projection. This system both improves safety, but also adds to the driving enjoyment of the vehicle.
Overall, the 300C Luxury Series AWD is a worthy competitor in the full size sedan market segment.  The attention to detail in the interior with leather trim throughout really provided that sense of luxury usually found in vehicles at a higher price point. As a full size sedan it provides a roomy interior and significant trunk space, however, the performance of its 3.6L, 8 speed engine and suspension demonstrated that full size can still be fun to drive.
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Key competitors to the 300C are the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Chevy Impala, Ford Taurus, as well as the Hyundai Genesis and Buick LaCrosse.  We think Chrysler has a lot to offer with the 300C Luxury Series in this market segment.  Next week find out how the 300C stacks up against one of its key competitors, as RedlineNorth reviews the Chevrolet Impala LTZ.

Porsche Macan

At this week’s 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show one of the models making a big splash is Porsche’s all-new 2015 Macan crossover.  Marketed as Porsche’s new entry-level compact crossover with all the comforts of its Cayenne but with a lower starting price. Designed for the soccer mom’s tasks during the week while also providing owners with a solid weekend track day partner.  It all sounds pretty good eh?  We sure think so, and it does not hurt their pitch person is the “out of this world” Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova.

Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan – Photo C/O Forbes.com

Set to go on sale in the first half of next year, the Macan will be available in both an S and Turbo trim levels.  Prices will start at $49,900 but as is often the case with luxury rides the price ranges dramatically as you choose various options making the total price sky rocket. For example, decide on a Macan Turbo and you’re looking at a base price of in the $72,000 range.  Nevertheless, Porsche has kindly provided all its pricing information through its very cool new online configurator.

As for the name, according to the UK’s Car Magazine Porsche continues to leverage its wild naming convention as the name Macan “is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger and combines suppleness, power, fascination and dynamics” – core characteristics of the new off-road car.  Well, not sure I love the name but I do eagerly await getting behind the wheel of the Macan for a test drive at some point in the near future.

The Magnum MK5

Created from a passion for motor sport in the late 60s, when original founder Jean-Pierre St-Jacques built Magnum’s first formula race car, Magnum Cars is now entering the lightweight supercar segment with the introduction of its MK5. The brainchild of his son Bruno St-Jacques, himself a well-rounded and successful race driver, the Magnum MK5 aims to offer an incredible driving experience to the enthusiast.

Magnum Mk5

Magnum Mk5

Featuring an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 460 bhp per tonne, remarkable handling with cornering forces of over 2Gs, Quebec based Magnum Cars has officially entered the greatest segment in the automotive world.  Having recently completed its development program, including three years of extensive track testing, the Magnum MK5 is now ready to be unveiled to car enthusiasts around the globe.

This elite world of street-legal race cars tailor-made to suit the needs of the wealthy track enthusiast is not for the faint of heart.  Between the difficult design challenges and the safety certifications to make it street legal this creation is a real gem of engineering. Keeping with its focus of being a “burn rubber” track car, the MK5 is powered by a modified Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine that develops its peak power at the 11,000 rpm range. It’s performance numbers are impressive to say the least:

  • 0-100 km/h (0-60 MPH): 3.2 second
  • Maximum speed: 240 km/h (150 MPH)
  • Curb weight – 1,200 lbs (545kg)

With pre-orders already taken, Magnum MK5’s will be built on order at an initial annual production rate of 20 cars. Deliveries are projected to start by late 2014.

The Magnum MK5 price will start at $139,000 USD (excluding taxes and delivery). The base price includes many features such as carbon-fiber bodywork and seats, removable racing steering wheel, data-logger system, cockpit adjustable brake bias, rear-view camera & monitor, 6-point racing harnesses, fully adjustable racing dampers and anti-roll bars, ultra-high performance tires, 18-inch ultra-lightweight alloy wheels, and limited-slip differential.

Optional features including a variety of street and track packages will also be offered so that MK5 owners can personalize their car.

Hopefully, we will be lucky enough to see one of these beauties on a track day soon.

Source: Magnum Cars

Ken Block’s Gymkhana Six

It’s that time of year again! Ken Block along with sponsoring partner Need for Speed have come out with a new installment of the epic “Gymkhana series”.  Having covered the infamous series for the past few years there is nothing in the world like it.  This latest version picks up where the fifth installment from the streets of San Francisco left off. Titled Gymkhana SIX: The Ultimate Gymkhana Grid Course this new version is set in an industrial area where once again Block is able to do the impossible; drifting between shipping containers, hitting man-made jumps while narrowly avoiding Lamborghini Aventadors and cops on Segways.

Ken-Block-Gymkhana-6

Ken Block in Gymkhana 6

After watching the six and half-minute video it’s no surprise this series is one of the most watched and shared web franchises of all time.  Ken Block truly is a magician while in the driver’s seat of his purpose-built, out of this world, 2013 Ford Fiesta ST RX43.  I only wish I was a member of Ford’s marketing team when the deal was signed to get Block to switch from Subaru.  I’m sure they pay him a pretty penny but seriously there is no better advertisement in the world for the blue oval.

Please beware after watching this film you may think you are a rally star but I’m afraid you will still be an armchair star like the rest of us.  Please note: video participant is the best professional stunt driver in the world…..Don’t try this at home.

Review of 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Edition

It feels like just yesterday; I was in university with friends driving around Mom and Dad’s hand-me-down Grand Cherokees. Although those years are a bit hazy from all the 90s grunge rock, I have one fond memory of a ride home from a very cute blonde who drove a classic, green Jeep Grand Cherokee.  As a young car guy at the time, that combo was equal to a royal flush in poker…..So it comes as no surprise that I have had a soft spot for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Then

Jeep had incredible success with its 1990 Grand Cherokee models which went on to set the standard for the medium-sized SUV.  More recently, sales of the Grand Cherokee model have provided significant help to Chrysler’s bottom line through a very critical time in its history. To this day, the Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to build on its success as the benchmark in luxury and performance capabilities within the SUV marketplace.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit – Now

To say the new 2014 Grand Cherokee is not your average soccer Mom’s ride is a complete understatement. This new model is an exceptional piece of craftsmanship and precision built on an outstanding legacy which Chrysler has carefully refined for the past twenty years.  Today’s end product is something very special and as a result, we were excited about taking a closer look.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Driver’s view

The new 2014 model has amazingly clean, sleek lines along with an aggressive 4×4 stance that’s ready to take on any type of road or weather condition.  Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to use the selec-Terrain 4 wheel drive system but we can easily imagine how much fun it is for owners to select and go.

Throughout the week, friends, neighbours and car folks we ran into on our travels were all eager to chat about the new ride and many complimented its stellar good looks.  Having driven in both city and highway environments we can say the Grand Cherokee was a real treat to drive in both situations.  It has the power and rawness when you need it while also providing the creature comforts of a luxury car with its character and function.

Our tester came with the 3.6L V6 which has a posted fuel consumption rating of 12.4L/100 km city and 8.3L/100 km highway. The Grand Cherokee is able to get these stingy fuel numbers as a result of Chrysler’s newly developed eight speed automatic transmission and its Econ fuel saving model.  This new improved fuel efficiency does not come at the cost of performance though as the V6 has a 0 to 60 time in the seven second range which is very respectable for a vehicle of approx 4900 pounds.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Side rear view

Our test vehicle came in the top of the line Summit trim which includes a range of extras which brought the sticker price to $62,085 CAD.  This prices includes some out of this world features not even imagined yet back in the 90s.

Some of these new technology features include:

  • 8 speed automatic transmission with E-Shift
  • Steering wheel mounted shift controls (paddle shifters)
  • 3.6L Pentastar™ VVT V6 – 290 hp – 260 lb-ft torque
  • Power 12-way driver’s seat with lumbar adjust
  • Memory settings function for driver’s seat and mirrors
  • 7-inch reconfigurable in-cluster display centre
  • Exotic open-pore wood accents
  • Dual-pane panoramic sunroof
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel
  • Adaptive Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with headlamp washers
  • LED tail lamps
  • Remote start system
  • Quadra-Trac I™ 4×4 system
  • Quadra-Trac II™ 4×4 system with Hill Descent Control
  • Quadra-Lift™ Air Suspension System
  • Select-Terrain™ with Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock settings
  • harman/kardon® 19-speaker audio system with 825-watt amplifier
  • SiriusXM Satelitte Radio
  • UconnectTM 8.4AN multimedia centre with 8.4-inch touch screen
  • 8-way power passenger seat
  • Power liftgate
  • P265/50R-20 All Season Tires
  • Advanced multistage front air bags
  • Seven air bags including driver’s knee blocker
  • ParkView® Rear Backup Camera with dynamic grid lines
  • Park-Sense® Rear Park Assist System
  • Park-Sense® Front Park Assist System
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Brake Assist
Jeep Grand Cherokee

Backseats

The interior is beautifully appointed with all seats covered in a high quality leather with the Summit trim branding (pictured above). A real attention to detail is noticeable as Chrysler continues to up their game in this area throughout their 2014 line-up.  The combination of special interior features such as; heated steering wheel, dual-pane panoramic sunroof and wood trim sets the Summit model apart from its competition.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Rear cargo area

The storage capability is huge as you can see from the (above image) which illustrates how small one standard airline carry-on bag, a computer bag and two pairs of shoes appear in its cavernous rear storage area. With a very generous 36.3 feet of cargo space behind the rear seats it has space for all your gear and with the rear seats folded down you have access to a monstrous 68.3 feet of cargo room. Honestly, if you need more room than that just buy yourself a min-van.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Side view

As for its competition, many options are available for North American buyers in this market segment.  However, the main competitors include; the Ford Explorer, Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Lexus RX 350, Acura MDX, Range Rover Sport (significantly more money), and Hyundai Santa Fe XL. However, although some of these competitors can actually seat seven (Grand Cherokee only seats five persons) there is a range of varying levels in exterior and interior refinement, towing capacity and off- road capability of which the Grand Cherokee Summit all brings its “A” game.

After spending a week with our Grand Cherokee, I can seriously say if I was in the market for a mid-sized SUV this would be at the top of my list.  And most importantly, my wife really liked the look of it since it’s always a good thing when your partner appreciates another vehicle parked in the driveway.

Redbull Frozen Rush

Now that the weather has turned colder, at least here in Canada, our thoughts start to turn to winter racing.  In a few weeks the Rally of the Tall Pines will be taking place in Bancroft Ontario, which promises to be a great event.

For those into something a little less traditional check out the Redbull Frozen Rush is a head to head race competition between 900-horsepower Pro4 trucks down a ski slope. Eight trucks will compete in all at Maine’s Sunday River resort on January 10th, 2014. The race format will be a bracketed, single elimination with two drivers on course at a time.  In addition, the United States Auto Club has sanction the race and will oversee the competition.   If you happen to the be in the area you can simply walk up to the slopes and take a look at the action.

The race format sounds intriguing, with trucks barreling down slopes next to skiers and snowboarders and because it’s Redbull you know it’s going to be a good event.

Here’s a video from last year’s competition:

Happy Racing!

Record Setting Burn Across the USA

On Sunday October 20th, Ed Bolian set a new record for driving across the United States of America, in, wait for it, 28 hours and 50 minutes!  Bolian, his co-driver and support passenger, piled into a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG in mid-town Manhattan and drove at an average speed of 98 mph and a moving average of 100 mph. They stopped for a total of 46 mins along the way and arrived in Redondo Beach, California a little over a day later.

Ed Bolian

Ed Bolian and co-driver Dave Black

Their vehicle, a CL55, had two extra gas tanks fitted that could hold a total of 67 gallons (400 lbs worth) of gas in the vehicle.  This allowed them to travel 800 miles between fill ups (they stopped only three times for gas during the whole journey). They also never took a bathroom break (although one would think the co-driver may have been tempted to sneak one in during the refueling break). Additional equipment in the vehicle included police scanners, CB radios, two GPS units, two iPhones running traffic (and speed trap-related) apps and two laser jammers.

On route

On route

The sub-30 hour mark beats the previous record set by Alex Roy in 31 hours and 17 minutes in 2006.

Read all about the preparation and the journey on Ed Bolain’s blog and over at Jalopnik.

Source: Ed Bolian.com, Jalopnik.com

Documentary about Japan’s Yakuza underworld

Having lived in Japan back in 2000/2001, I experienced their car culture first hand.  It truly is totally unique and like no other place in the world. Specifically, their attention to detail with modifications to out of the ordinary rides is just not something that you see anywhere else in the world.  Beginning with high-end luxury cars, domestic step wagons, bad-ass turbo charged drift machines, to American muscle cars you see it all in Japan. But one group that stands out as the most “out there” is the Yakuza organized crime gangs that control the Japan’s underworld.

Yakuza car

Yakuza car

Recently, a new documentary titled Underground Hero chronicles this group and the admiration for their cars.  Take it for what’s it worth, as it is an incredible raw look at a dark, sinister world which is rarely seen by the masses.