AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Our regular Ask AutoGuide feature is all about helping distressed shoppers find the perfect vehicle, be it a cavernous crossover, a sensible sedan or something else entirely. Patrons send us a list of what they need and we get to work separating gold nuggets from gravel to generate a list of recommendations. But this week things are a little different. James forwarded us a message asking for guidance choosing between two different vehicles. Making things easy for us he’s done all the hard work, now all we have to do is share our opinion.
You Know You Want One
Your grip on the steering wheel tightens. Your eyes fixate on the yellow line. Your brain screams about the trees just beyond the shoulder. Wait for it… wait for it… ok, NOW! You pounce on the clutch as your right foot stabs the accelerator. A wrist-flick completes the downshift. Feather the brake, turn into the corner and scrub off some speed; the radius decreases slightly. You nail the apex, tires howling like a bloodhound on the trail. You roll back on the throttle for a speedy exit and dive into the next corner.
Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars
Lawmakers in Washington D.C. and California are armed with a legislative battleaxe and they’re bringing it to bear against the automotive industry. Fuel-economy regulations are hitting like a war hammer, disrupting the market and crushing carmakers. In a mad dash to meet upcoming CAFE standards manufacturers are dramatically shifting their product offerings. Downsized vehicles, hybrid drivetrains and diesel engines are some of the tools in their defensive arsenals.
One unfortunate victim of this efficiency stampede is rear-wheel drive. Slowly but surely over the last 30 years automakers have made the switch to front-drive, a layout that’s more economical in a number of ways. But not everyone is content driving a Nissan Sentra, or getting by in a minivan. For enthusiasts that care about performance rear-wheel drive is king, but it’s a monarch that’s under siege. Keeping the dream alive, here’s a list of the Top 10 (reasonably) affordable RWD cars on the market today. Act fast before they’re gone in a puff of tire smoke.
Top 10 Track Specials Under $60,000
Driving is a mundane task for some people, but for others it’s a sport, and there’s no better proving ground than a track.
Automakers see that opportunity as well, and love to offer up cars that are designed specifically with track use in mind. Take a look at the latest offering from Subaru and Scion, the BRZ/FR-S twins. Both cars were designed with a priority on light-weight, and achieves an impressive weight balance. In true sporting fashion, it’s rear-wheel drive and can be had with a slick-shifting six-speed manual, or quick automatic with race-inspired paddle-shifters.
The FR-S isn’t the only car out there with racing in its veins. Here’s a list of factory-customized machines designed for time at the track.
What’s in a name? Out in Japan, the name ‘Fairlady’ goes a long way back in a storied sports car history; it belonged to the Datsun Fairlady which eventually became the Z models of today.
10. Subaru WRX STI: 305-hp $34,095
One of the most wonderful sensations come when you command a whole handful of power just with the flexing of your right foot. Horsepower is an intoxicating element when it comes to driving, but that doesn’t mean that it’s saved for the most expensive vehicles out there.
The same 3.7L DOHC V6 making 337 hp sits under the hood, or 350 hp out of the NISMO tuned version. A new euro-tuned suspension is the only performance-minded change to the updated Z car — the rest is cosmetic. The company actually revealed it yesterday, but this is the first time we’ve had a chance to get up close and personal.
Brand enthusiasts will appreciate the LED accents on the car’s lights and the brake calipers which match the paint job. The car also gets new 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels on the Sport package models and 18-inch alloy wheels for the coupe. Those thinking of buying the car when it becomes available can look forward to two new exterior colors as well: magma red and midnight blue.
GALLERY: 2013 Nissan 370z
See video of the updated 370Z below:
The updates for the 370Z will be almost strictly paint and plastic, with new Euro-tuned shock absorbers being the only new feature that will add to the performance of the car. For looks, the car will sport a refreshed front fascia, 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels on the Sport package models and 18-inch alloy wheels for the coupe, brake calipers finished in red paint and two new exterior colors, magma red and midnight blue.
On the inside, the 370Z will get a new dark finish fuel gauge trim, and if you opt for the NISMO tuned 370Z, you will get a Bose sound system complete with sub-woofer and two additional speakers.
The engines offered in the 370Z are unchanged from 2012. For the 370Z coupe and coupe touring you have a 3.7L DOHC V6 capable of making 337 hp and for the NISMO 370Z you get the same 3.7L DOHC V6 paired with an H-configured exhaust system design and an optimized Engine Computer Module which as a package puts out 350 hp.
The 2012 model of the 370Z started at $32,690, but prices for the 2013 will not be announced until closer to the June release date.
Check out the video after the jump to see exactly how the 370Z will look inside and out.
GALLERY: 2013 Nissan 370Z
In a bit of surprising news, Japanese automaker Nissan has confirmed that it will be unveiling two vehicles at the upcoming 2012 Chicago Auto Show, one of which is its a refresh to their popular sports car, the 370Z.
The 2013 Nissan 370Z will reportedly be getting some changes, which comes as a surprise since there have been no rumors of such an update. The current model 370Z convertible and coupe last saw changes in the 2009 model year, so it is about time for a refresh.
The other vehicle Nissan will be unveiling is part of the NV commercial vehicle line. There’s a strong possibility that it will be the NV200, which is currently sold in 40 other countries and Nissan had already spoken about plans to bring it to the US market. Earlier this year, Nissan had debuted the e-NV200 Concept at the Detroit Auto Show.
Look for coverage from the Chicago Auto Show on February 8th and see the complete Chicago Auto Show preview here.
[Source: Chicago Tribune]
The team of racers assembled from the Nissan Playstation GT Academy earned themselves a remarkable honor at the Dubai 24 Hour race this weekend, finishing third in their class and 26th overall. All four drivers, Lucas Ordoñez, Jordan Tresson, Bryan Heitkotter and Jann Mardenborough, are GT Academy grads, having started out behind the wheel of virtual race cars to win the opportunity to attend the GT Academy racing program.
The team qualified the #100 car fourth in their class and despite some mechanical issues the four drivers endured all 24 hours of the race without any damage to the Nissan 370Z while earning a podium finish.
This is truly an unprecedented achievement in the world of motorsports. As we all know, it’s tough enough to earn a podium finish as a professional racer with a complete team backing you up. So to take four virtual gamers from Gran Turismo, train them – with Heikotter and Mardenborough having less than a year to go from gamer to racer – and to finish third in the class, the GT Academy should be extremely proud.
Who said video games are a waste of time?
Nissan and Playstation are flexing their GT Academy muscles this year, enlisting four winners of previous GT Academies and campaigning a full gamer line up at this year’s Dubai 24 Hours Race. In previous years, GT Academy only used one winner along with three pros, but this year the team of drivers will consist of all virtual-to-reality competition winners.
The four drivers will take on the race in a Nissan-prepped, 410-hp 370Z as they try to take the crown as the first ever “all-gamer-turned-real-racer-team to tackle a major international race”. The four drivers are Lucas Ordoñez from Spain, the winner of the first GT Academy in 2008. His accolades since then also include second place in the LMP2 class at Le Mans 2011, winner of the Le Mans Intercontinental Cup (ILMC) series and ILMC Rookie of the Year in 2011. Winner of the 2010 GT Academy is Jordan Tresson from France, who was also the winner of the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series. Winner of this year’s GT Academy is Jann Mardenborough from Great Britain and the last driver is Bryan Heitkotter from California, US who was the winner of GT Academy USA 2011.
Both recent winners Jann and Bryan undertook a rigorous five month Driver Development Programme, competing at regular races in a standard 370Z then in a GT4 race car. Both qualified for their International C race licenses quickly, but continued to undertake personal training sessions at Silverstone, karting to improve their race craft, physical training, race psychology, heat chamber sessions and race simulator sessions.
It will be awesome to see all four drivers compete on the big stage and to see how well they do – all thanks to Gran Turismo.
GALLERY: GT Academy Dubai 24 Hours Line Up
Get ready to see more Nissans competing on race tracks across American, with the Japanese automaker announcing the debut of a new 370Z race car. A factory backed team isn’t in the company’s plans, but Nissan is building a spec Z racer with its NISMO motorsports division, that will be eligable to compete in the World Challenge’s GTS class and Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Challenge GS class.
In addition, Nissan is supporting all those out there racing their Nissan vehicles by offering contingency payouts. Prizes range from $250 for a Formula Drift first place finish, to $5,000 for a World Challenge or Grand-Am win.
To get more on the new 370Z race car or the Racer Support and Contingency Awards Programs, contact Nissan Motorsports at 888 833-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.nissan4parts.com.
*Note: The above image is that of the NISMO Z-based BRE 370Z race car. Photos of the new car have yet to be released..
Companies like Abflug have developed a reputation over the last couple of decades for having some of the most aggressive body kits out there. And while it still fits the desires of some, our eyes just aren’t accustomed to finding it attractive.
In Abflug’s defense, this Nissan 370Z kit isn’t as extreme as we’d expect from the body kit manufacturer. The front end design of the car is pretty acceptable, not our favorite but surely not the worst we’ve seen. But the rear bumper and spoiler is just way too extreme and aggressive. We’re sure some love this race-inspired look for the street, but we feel it’s way too much for such a refined sports car like the 370Z.
This particular 370Z was built by Mid Night International and also sports a set of 19-inch Abflug Gran Revolfe Prism II wheels. For the most part they’re OK, but again, not exactly on the top of our list for 370Z wheels (especially with the assortment out there that fits the car). Performance wise a Power Craft Hybrid exhaust system was bolted on.
Perhaps wild aero kits are set to make a return? Then again, maybe not.
[Source: Farm of Minds]
GALLERY: Abflug Nissan 370Z
There’s no questioning just how popular Nissan‘s 350/370Z has become in tuning circles, reminding us of how well the Supra caught on as a tuner car. And while some have believe the car’s VQ35DE/VQ37HR motor has the potential of overtaking Toyota’s 2JZ as the new formidable powerplant, very few have achieved reliable, high horsepower figures. But that’s to say no one is trying, and 370ZTune.com is currently working with one of their customers, Mike out of Georgia, to hit the 1000-hp mark in style.
A video has been teased about the car, and while we’re more interested at how they’ll be hitting the 1000-hp mark, it’s worth showing off what’s been done to the exterior of it. Zele Performance, based out of Japan, specializes in aerodynamic kits for the Nissan 370z, Infiniti G37 and Nissan R35 GT-R; and this is actually the first time we’ve seen the full 370Z body kit on this side of the world. It is definitely plenty aggressive to back up the Z’s inevitable performance.
And to achieve the famed 1000-hp mark, 370ZTune.com will be outfitting this 370Z with GTM’s 4.5L stroked block (which includes a 96mm stroke crankshaft and Arias Extreme HD pistons) paired to their stage 6 turbo kit featuring twin GT35R turbos. The built shortblock will be mated to a GTM’s stage 1 head featuring their proprietary valve springs and retainers. Plenty of fuel will be supplied through Denso’s 2150cc injectors.
Getting the power to the ground will be an OS Giken triple-disk ceramic HR clutch and flywheel while tuning comes through a collection of HKS electronics.
We’re just hoping this is one of those projects that actually gets completed, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on it in hopes to see some videos and dyno runs. One thing’s for sure, they’ve already got the aesthetics handled, we can’t wait to see under the hood.