The Nissan GTR is a bit of an enigma. It’s one of the rare few that satisfies more than one personality traits. It’s nearly untouchable at the Ring, only beat by the million dollar Porsche 918 when counting series production vehicles.
We live in an age where almost everything is automated, as machines carry out tasks with more efficiency and precision than humans. So, when everything is taken care of so conveniently, is there even a reason to do things manually anymore?
Manual transmissions have been on a steady decline for a while now in terms of sales numbers. In fact, only five per cent of new cars sold in Canada had manual transmissions (as of July 2013). Even sports cars with manual transmissions are not doing as well – and we are talking about Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins here!
But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t drivers who search high and low for a ride that come with a gear stick. Here are their reasons to do so:
Reason #1: Performance
One of the main reasons to choose a manual transmission over an automatic one is superior acceleration. Manual transmissions don’t weigh as much, have shorter gearing and require less power to function because they don’t do any gear shifting themselves. If you are a beginner, this may not benefit you right away, but if you are an experienced driver, then a manual transmission can provide you with the performance boost you are looking for.
Double-clutch automatic and semi-automatic transmissions are an exception to this since they shift at the speed no living human being can match, but they are still rare. So, unless you procure one of those, then the manual transmission is still the best option.
Reason #2: Driver Engagement
There’s no doubt that driving stick can be a challenge for beginners, especially since most of us are accustomed to automatic transmissions. The challenge is learning how to use the clutch pedal in harmony with the gear shift to switch between gears, and while it’s not always easy, it’s very rewarding when you get to connect with your car on that level. Braking is also easier since manual transmissions don’t come with torque converters, which cause more torque to be transmitted to the wheels once the car is on the move.
Having this level of control makes manual driving more engaging because drivers get to feel “at one” with their cars.
Ford has issues a recall which will impact nearly 452,000 of their midsize vehicles; approximately 411,000 impacted cars are in the U.S., 34,000 in Canada and 7,000 in Mexico. Vehicles impacted in this recall include the Ford Fusion with a build date between 2010 through 2011 and the Mercury Milan sedans built in Mexico between July 21, 2008 through March 4, 2011.
Ford says the issue is with a gas tank that can possibly leak fuel. A valve on a gasoline vapour recovery canister can get stuck which causes repeated air pressure changes in the gas tank. This constant pressure change can eventually cause a crack on the top of the tank and a potentially result in a fuel leak. Ford states that there are currently no reports of fires or injuries from the problem.
Owners are encouraged to contact their local dealers for additional information. Dealers will inspect the vehicle’s fuel tank and valves for leaks and replace them if needed.
Last year at the LA Auto Show, Mazda unveiled their new baby-ute, the CX-3 and also gave the larger CX-5 and Mazda6 design refreshes and now for the 2015 edition of the LA Auto Show they complete their crossover makeover by giving the CX-9 the overdue refresh with their KODO design. When I saw the CX-9 with the updated KODO design language for the first time, all I see is skeptical dog (google it if you don’t know). I guess the design doesn’t translate well into a full sized, three-row crossover. The CX-3 and CX-5 both look great, but I’m undecided on the CX-9.
This update wasn’t limited to just bringing over the new design language to the CX-9, Mazda made quite a few changes. For starters, the new CX-9 is just over an inch shorter than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase has been extended by over 2 inches resulting in much more room in the rear. The tapered fenders and shorter overhangs both in the front (2.3 inches) and in the back (1 inch) give the appearance of a wider more aggressively looking vehicle. The paintjob you see in our pictures, Machine Grey, is the newest color choice available for the CX-9.
Under the hood, Mazda has done what every manufacturer has done in recent memory and have chosen to go with a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder instead of a V6. What’s new however is what Mazda calls a “Dynamic Pressure Turbo”, the world’s first turbocharger with the ability to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine RPM. At low RPMs exhaust gases are routed through a smaller outlet allowing the turbo to spool quicker creating instant boost up to 17.4 psi. At higher RPMs, exhaust gases are routed through larger valves allowing more exhaust gas to pass through the turbo. Just think of a garden hose when you put your finger over the end. The end result? 310 lb-ft of torque at just 2000 RPM and 227 horsepower at 5000 RPM on 87 octane fuel. Fill up with 93 octane premium and that figure jumps to 250 horsepower.
After much criticism garnered by the public for the last iteration of the Civic couple, Honda is ready to step things up by introducing the all-new 2016 Civic coupe which very much resembles the concept Honda revealed at the New York Auto Show. Jeff Conrad, Vice President of America Honda, says, “Our customers are going to be utterly surprised by what this new coupe delivers in terms of refinement, safety, efficiency and fun-to-drive performance”.
Sharing an all-new platform with the sedan, the 2016 Civic has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the last generation giving it a much needed boost in the styling department. The coupe will be an inch lower and 5.5 inches shorter than the sedan while the cabin gains 8.4 cubic feet and rear legroom stretches five inches more than the last generation.
Powertrain will be shared between the coupe and sedan with a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional continuously variable transmission. Power output is expected to be 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Performance oriented customers can opt for the 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine optional on higher trim levels which pumps out 174 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque.
One look at the 2016 Civic from the LA Auto Show and you know the goal was to amp thing up. Lead Exterior Designer, Guy Melville-Brown, says, “We took the philosophy of the sedan and cranked up the volume. Everything had to get a little louder…This car had to be more charismatic, more sporty, even more ambitious.”
We can’t wait for the next iteration of Civic to hit the showroom floor. More photos of the new Civic Coupe below.
A fuel line recall has been issued by Porsche Cars North America, Inc. which affects 21,835 vehicles. The recall is focused on 2015-2016 Macan S vehicles with a manufacture date between March 27, 2014, to October 27, 2015. The recall also extends to 2015-2016 Macan Turbo vehicles with a manufacture date between March 5, 2014, to October 27, 2015.
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. says the recall is to fix a low pressure fuel line in the engine compartment that could possibly leak and result in a fire risk as it is isolated to an area with an ignition source. Owners will be notified to bring their vehicle in to their local dealership for the recall to be completed. Dealers will fix the problem by installing a redesigned and improved low pressure fuel line at no cost to the owners. Due to parts shortages, owners should have received initial correspondence from Porsche Cars North America, Inc. on November 9, 2015 and a follow up notification will be mailed once parts are available.
Owners are encouraged to contact Porsche customer service at 1-800-767-7243 for any additional information referencing recall number AF06.
Audi opened up their LA Auto Show press conference by tackling the TDIGate scandal by reaffirming their commitment to investigate and resolve any TDI issues found as part of multiple investigations going on right now regarding the cheat software found in TDI vehicles. There was no mention of the misstated CO2 emissions numbers on their gasoline powered vehicles.
Audi quickly segued on a brief introduction of some new vehicles including the S8 Plus and RS7 Performance as well as the new R8 making its North American auto show debut before wrapping up with a summary of Audi’s plans for an electrified future.
Audi’s main stage was occupied by an A3 e-tron and the e-tron Quattro Concept vehicle that we’ve seen before at past shows. Audi is aiming to have 25% of their vehicle sales to be electric vehicles in 10 years time and a part of that lofty goal is Audi’s plans to launch a country-wide electrical charging network. The charging network will provide about a 320km range in just 30 minutes. Audi’s confidence in electric vehicles also comes at a time where battery costs have dropped dramatically and are now only about 10% of what a battery cost just years ago.
Fresh off the unveiling of the Impreza 5-door Concept in Tokyo, Subaru is taking the wraps off of the Impreza Sedan Concept. I’ve been wrong about this in the past, but I’m going to do it again and say that the next Impreza, and other vehicles based on this concept will look pretty good. I say this because the concept doesn’t look overly conceptual and looks pretty production-ready. Throw on some normal door handles, properly sized side mirrors, raise it up a bit, put on some standard wheels and smooth out the taillights and you’ve got yourself a great looking vehicle. It’s quite the departure from this great looking WRX concept that unfortunately never materialized. Hopefully this more sedate looking Impreza concept sees the light of day.
One big announcement Subaru did make is that the next-generation Impreza will be manufactured in the United States instead of in Japan. Plant upgrades that were scheduled have been moved forward by 6 months as well. This is a bit surprising to me as the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement being worked on right now was supposed to benefit Japanese auto manufacturers the most. The move will add about 1200 jobs in the USA.
Subaru says to look out for more news regarding the development of the next generation Impreza next year in New York.
I always thought the Nissan Murano convertible was a strange automotive anomaly but here I am in Los Angeles at Jaguar Land Rover’s booth wondering how in the world this abomination of an Evoque Convertible ever got green lighted by their executives. They have taken what I consider one of the better looking crossovers, the Evoque Sport, and chopped the roof of it and the result is a vehicle that looks like you could drive it into a lake and it would float (bloody shame). The Evoque caused the Macan to be redesigned before release it looked so good, why would they do this?
To house the roof, the rear cargo space is obviously sacrificed, but what JLR has done differently is that instead of providing a pull out barrier to delineate the rear compartment from the roof storage compartment allowing for more storage when the roof is up they have chosen to make the rear cargo space fixed. That is, whether the roof is up or down the same amount (not much!) of space is available. Thankfully there is a rear seat pass-through to fit larger items.
Speaking of the canvas roof, it can be retracted at speeds up to about 50kph and folds down in seconds. If there is going to be a market for this vehicle, it is definitely going to be California so I suppose this is THE show to be unveiling it. See more pictures in our gallery, let us know what you think.
I have been a huge fan of fast Fords for quite some time. Stemming from my inner desires to own Fords legendary RS Sierra Cosworth, anytime word spreads of a possible faster RS my ears perk up. This time, British based Autocar magazine quotes an un-identified inside source saying Ford is looking to build a “Super-RS” that can hit 0-60 in a flat four seconds.
The current version of the Focus RS winds its 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder all the way to 350 horsepower and 350 ft-lb of torque. It is likely that any additional performance gains will come from modifications to the driveline and putting the Focus on a strict diet consisting of carbon fiber bodywork and forged aluminum chassis parts. Word from Autocar is that a dual-clutch automatic and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential may make its way into the drivetrain in place of the manual only transmission with the normal Focus RS.
At this time, nothing is yet to be confirmed by Ford, but one can cross their fingers and toes and hope that a “Super-RS” may hit the market someday.
Volkswagen continues to push the envelope with their compact car designs and introduces the concept Golf GTE Sport. Setup as a two seater, the angular and sporty coupe pushes the design elements of the Golf and pulls in design queues from the Scirocco.
Power is delivered by a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motors on the front and rear axle with an estimated total output of 395hp and 494 ft/lbs of torque. Volkswagen claims a 4 second sprint to 60 mph, a top speed of 174 mph, and the ability to deliver 118mpg when driven on the European test cycle.
Weight of the vehicle will be kept to a minimum with construction of the body panels being formed from carbon fiber. Combining light weight and packing ample power, Volkswagen aims to “blur the lines” between motorsports vehicles and road cars.