LXM checks in as 48 Pall Mall's first tenant

Property Week News Feed - 19 min 17 sec ago
Investment banking provider LXM Group has relocated its UK headquarters from Belgravia to the redeveloped 48 Pall Mall offices, becoming the building’s first tenant.
Categories: Property

Charities Property Fund buys Chichester department store

Property Week News Feed - 54 min 17 sec ago
The Charities Property Fund, managed by Savills Investment Management, has purchased the freehold interest in House of Fraser in Chichester for a price of £13.4m.
Categories: Property

CBRE GI announces Seven Dials redevelopment

Property Week News Feed - 1 hour 4 min ago
CBRE Global Investors has announced a full-scale redevelopment of Seven Dials Warehouse in Covent Garden, which will create 40,000 sq ft of prime office space.
Categories: Property

L&G acquires Staples Corner office and shed investment for £51.85m

Property Week News Feed - 1 hour 31 min ago
Legal & General has acquired the headquarters of JVCKENWOOD UK on behalf of its UK Property Fund for £51.85m, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.15%.
Categories: Property

Land Securities shares fall

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 1 min ago
Shares in Land Securities fell 0.75% on Friday, after Goldman Sachs cut the property company to “neutral” from “buy,” as it expects the firm to deliver a cautious outlook on the market during results next month.
Categories: Property

Cain Hoy and QIA provide £450m loan to Canary Wharf Group

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 4 min ago
Cain Hoy Enterprises has provided a £450m development loan to Canary Wharf Group to fund its office development One & Five Bank Street, in what is believed to be the largest development financing to complete following the triggering of Article 50.
Categories: Property

Ashtead falls amid delays to US infrastructure boom

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 13 min ago
Ashtead fell 2.7% on Thursday amid diminishing expectations of a US infrastructure boom.
Categories: Property

Sagi takes Market Tech private

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 18 min ago
Market Tech Holdings has agreed a takeover offer from Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi’s LabTech Investments, which values the company at almost £900m.
Categories: Property

Kennedy Wilson Europe agrees $4bn merger with American cousins

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 19 min ago
Shares in Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate (KWE) lept 13% in early trading following the revelation it had agreed an all-share merger with Kennedy Wilson Holdings (KWH).
Categories: Property

Tritax seeks £200m from shares issue

Property Week News Feed - 2 hours 21 min ago
Tritax Big Box REIT is seeking to raise £200m in a share issues in order to fund further acquisitions.
Categories: Property

2018 Audi S4 and S5 First Drive Review: S is for “Smoove”

Motortrend News Feed - 3 hours 14 min ago

When we first saw Audi’s sexy S5 coupe (on architecture internally known as B8 in 2007 as a 2008 model), we fell in love with the car’s Coke-bottle profile, near-perfect proportions, and the company’s brilliant 4.2-liter V-8 that made 353 baritoned horsepower. Later updated with a 333-hp supercharged V-6, we felt the car had lost some of its masculine mystique. However, we’re already on record as fans of Audi’s current A4 2.0T quattro, which recently took second place in our Big Test of compact luxury sport sedans. Despite it being the quickest of the bunch in both straight-line acceleration with its 252-hp turbo-four and around our figure-eight test with its all-wheel drive, we said the A4 lacked the personality to take the top spot. If that A4’s 0–60-mph time of 5 seconds flat didn’t blow your hair back, Audi has just the thing: the 2018 Audi S4 with a 354-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 shoehorned into the same competent chassis but with a retuned all-wheel-drive system, as well as the other B9-chassis stable mate, the 2018 Audi S5.

Measuring Up

Because there are many similarities, hence the double-car First Drive, it’s tempting to assume Audi’s five-passenger S4 sedan and four-passenger S5 coupe are merely four- and two-door versions of the same car. Besides the door disparity, a quick glance at specs shows a 2.4-inch variance in wheelbase, 2.1 inches in length (S4 is longer), and small differences in width and height (the S5 is slightly wider and lower by about an inch). It’s worth mentioning that the S5 is also offered in Convertible and four-door Sportback (hatchback) variants. As expected, the sedan has a 1.3- and 3.0-inch advantage in rear head- and legroom over the coupe. Plus, its trunk is 1.4 cubic feet larger than the coupe’s.

Unlike the A4/A5 twins, and because they are intended to be above-premium sport-oriented cars, there are no front-wheel-drive versions, and the all-wheel-drive system is biased 40/60 front to rear. For these models, Audi continues to exclude the usual Premium base trim level and only offers Premium Plus and Prestige for both the S4 and S5. As such, standard equipment levels are generous and thorough: an intelligent key (locking and ignition are keyless), a sunroof, full LED headlights/taillights/DRLs and interior lighting, auto-dimming mirrors, Audi Drive Select (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual modes), Alcantara trim, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, a rearview camera, low-speed automatic braking, and heated leather front sport seats with powered eight-way adjustability, diamond stitching, power side bolsters, and massage. There’s also satellite and HD radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports that access Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard. The S4 gets a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, which is optional on the S5. Both come with three-zone auto climate control and eight airbags to keep passengers comfy and safe.

The S4 and S5 test cars we drove were identically trimmed Prestige variants with the same options. They included Audi MMI Navigation Plus with touch, a color head-up display, a top-view camera system, and Audi’s benchmark reconfigurable virtual cockpit instrument panel, which supports Google Earth mapping or a constellation of displays/gauges.

New Engine; new transmission

Last year’s S4 and S5 quattros were powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, and gear changes were handled by either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. All that’s changed for 2018. The new driveline consists of a re-engineered 3.0-liter V-6 (now turbocharged) and an eight-speed automatic. There weren’t enough takers for a manual transmission last time, so blame your “I don’t want to be bothered with a third pedal” neighbors for that. Rest assured, however, the cars’ new eight-speed automatic shifts with the same quickness and seamlessness as the previous seven-speed twin-clutcher. It also performs the same throttle-blipping matched-rev downshifts with ease. Displacing the same 2,995 cubic centimeters, the new engine opts for the so-called hot-V configuration, where intake is on the outer portion of the engine and the exhaust manifolds feed the single twin-scroll turbocharger that nests inside. The net result is output that increases by 21 horsepower and a not-insignificant 44 lb-ft of torque. Audi claims a 4.4-second 0–60 time, but we already clocked a 2013 S4 with that very acceleration and beat the beloved V-8 powered 2008 S5. We’re betting the 2018 S4/S5 quattros will reduce the time to 60 mph by at least 0.2 second. At the same time, fuel economy has improved, as well. The previous supercharged S4/S5 cars earned 18/28/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the seven-speed. The new turbo eight-speeds get 21/30/24 mpg ratings from the EPA.

Both S4/S5 ride on the same multilink front/rear sport-tuned suspensions and standard 8.5-by-18-inch alloy wheels and summer tires. Our test cars instead wore optional 19-inch wheels ($800), and both featured the S Sport package ($2,500), which includes adaptive/adjustable suspension and red brake calipers clenching the standard 13.8-/13.0-inch vented discs. More important, it also includes an electronically controlled sport rear differential that actively (and noticeably) shifts torque between the rear wheels.

German Pointer

Unless variable-ratio steering is linked to the amount of dial on the steering wheel itself (more turn, quicker ratio), we’re generally opposed to systems that only take their orders from vehicle speed. They tend to provide incongruous responses and behave unpredictably. Yet both of our test cars featured Audi’s optional dynamic steering systems ($1,150), and although neither gave us a sense through our fingers of how much work the front tires were doing to turn the car, neither one was unpredictable at speed. (Parking speeds produced the single most unnatural feeling.) We wish there were at least one test car available without variable ratio steering so we could have compared them. Yet at speeds that would (and did, for some) get the notice of the local constabulary, both cars felt planted yet eager without feeling heavy or darty. Turn in is crisp (a little crisper in the S5, thanks to the shorter wheelbase and wider track width) and authoritative through the friction-free wheel. We know part of this crouched-and-ready feeling has to do with the electronic rear differential in the S Sport package. Quick to respond, the torque-vectoring differential routes power to the outside wheel to help point it in, but more important, it puts the power down on exit. Mat the throttle on corner exit, and the car simply sticks and goes where the front wheels are pointed. There’s no tail-out rally-style antics here. It’s all steady and precise without a need for correction, tracking through corners felt almost like a nonevent. The positive spin says this allows a driver to pay attention to his or her chosen line or avoid a large stone or road kill—all of which we did. We even tried unsettling the cars mid-corner with deliberate, ham-footed jumps into and out of the throttle. The car merely displayed extremely mild understeer in off-throttle moments and utter neutrality on-throttle. “Smoove” seems to be a theme for these “S” cars.

The Experience

The standard seats, optionally wrapped in Nappa leather, were coddling and appropriately firm. The side bolsters were effective without being intrusive. From inside either of the cars, the exhaust note was sporty and reedy but also somewhat muted and shy of what we’d call snarly. We’ll assume raucous behavior will be reserved for the RS versions—the 2018 Audi RS5 made its debut recently in Geneva with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6, but we haven’t heard it yet. The S4/S5’s multivalve dampers have distinct ride qualities between Dynamic and Comfort modes, and Automatic mode is so clever that it doesn’t seem to get flummoxed by much of anything. It’s also nice to have two ways to select driving modes: either from the MMI controller or, even more handily, cycling up or down through them with the toggle switches hanging off the dashboard. In Dynamic mode, road irregularities have sharp edges, and in Comfort they are handled in the classic one-and-done fashion without secondary body motions. Throttle, steering, and damping responses are all heightened in Dynamic mode, yet both cars remained composed, predictable, and ready in their max-attack modes.

Like the previous supercharged V-6s, the new turbocharged engine’s power delivery was remarkably linear. However, unlike the previous engine where torque peaked at 2,900 rpm and horsepower at 5,500 rpm, maximum torque is now produced from 1,370 up to 4,500 rpm. Horsepower now peaks at 6,400 rpm, giving the new engine an even broader driveabilty and longer legs. Quick as they might prove later in testing, the new S4/S5 quattros acceleration is not shocking and explosive the way the recent RS 3 was. They do, however, feel relentless all the way up to the indicated 6,500-rpm redline and beyond. Remember when turbos used to whoosh and hit hard? Instead, speed piles on in that sneaky “Whoops! I’m going 80?” sort of way. Although it doesn’t have the aural qualities of the long-gone 4.2-liter V-8, this more powerful and more efficient turbo-six feels remarkably similar to that gem of a motor but without the bark or engine braking of the V-8.

The Competition

Starting at $51,875, the 2018 Audi S4 Premium Plus quattro (354-hp turbo V-6 and all-wheel drive) lands right between the current BMW 340i xDrive (320-hp turbo inline-six and all-wheel drive) and the Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic (362-hp turbo V-6 and all-wheel drive). Undercutting them all is the Cadillac ATS-4 Premium Luxury (335-hp V-6 and all-wheel drive). In terms of straight-line performance, interior sophistication, driver engagement, and overall confidence, we’d say the Audi and Mercedes are pretty well matched. Even if it could manage to maintain pace on a twisty road, the BMW 340i feels older, heavier, and more ponderous. The Cadillac ATS certainly has a world-class chassis, but because it lacks a turbocharged engine, it would not likely rise to the occasion if that meant venturing to climes where the air gets thin. To make an objective choice, we’d really have to bring them all in for a proper comparison test.

With a nearly identical relationship in price, performance, and overall execution, at $55,575, the 2018 Audi S5 Premium Plus quattro again would find itself in the midst of a battle with a Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Coupe, to a lesser degree with a BMW 440i xDrive, and a Cadillac ATS-4 Coupe.

What we can tell you is that both the 2018 Audi S4 and S5 quattros have added a new level of interior and exterior sophistication to what were already competent—if a little bland—cars in their previous iterations. We especially appreciate the S5’s finer-line attention to surface detailing and the instantly recognizable hips and roofline. Check out how the hood’s cutline is now hidden in the front fenders’ character line. So cool. The new turbocharged engine is better in every measurable way from either the supercharged V-6 it replaces or the once-burly V-8 it outpaces. The new eight-speed automatic should not be dismissed out of hand. Its logic when left to its own devices is very good. There are few if any “C’mon already!” moments. The transmission responses in Dynamic mode—or when manually forced to swap cogs up or down the scale—are practically indistinguishable from most twin-clutch automated manuals. These two B9-era S variants are finally threatening the best in the class and perhaps have even set new benchmarks in several categories.

Audi is certainly cranking out some of the best-looking, best-equipped, and most-engaging hardware these days, and these two enthusiast-oriented (just shy of RS hardcore) examples prove Audi knows how to not only create consumer friendly sedans (A4, A5, and A6) and full-on sports cars (TT RS, RS 3, and R8 V10 Plus) but also how to also fill in the middle bits with these attractively priced, powered, and poised newcomers.

2018 Audi S4 (Premium Plus/Prestige) 2018 Audi S5 Coupe (Premium Plus/Prestige) BASE PRICE $51,875/$56,775 $55,575/$59,975 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 3.0L/354-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.0L/354-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 3,850 lb (mfr) 3,850 (mfr) WHEELBASE 111.2 in 108.8 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 186.8 x 72.5 x 55.3 in 184.7 x 72.7 x 53.9 in 0-60 MPH 4.2 sec (MT est) 4.2 sec (MT est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/30/24 mpg 21/30/24 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY/COMB 160/112/140 kW-hrs/100 miles 160/112/140 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.80 lb/mile 0.80 lb/mile ON SALE IN U.S. Currently Currently

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2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Update 6: Comparing Powertrain Choices

Motortrend News Feed - 3 hours 14 min ago

As our year ensconced in rich leather, natural woods, and minimalist Swedish design draws to an end, it is time to revisit the quality of what is under the hood.

Our 2016 XC90 T6 AWD Inscription has Volvo’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and small supercharger, generating 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our seven-seater is responsive and peppy with plenty of power to merge, pass, and anything else we ask of it.

We can now add more context after hopping in a few alternatives. In Finland we rented an XC90 D5 with a 235-hp 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, which is usually the entry-level model in Europe. The diesel delivered a quiet ride and smooth acceleration with plenty of low-end torque while saving some power for passing at higher speeds. We prefer our gas version. It has more power in all the right places, checking all the boxes for us, even in snow or while towing.

We also got some seat time in an XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid with the turbocharged/supercharged gas engine and an 87-hp electric motor for a combined 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque (that XC90 is shown in blue, above). It is the best for delivering power off the line, past the line, and to the finish line. It has a range of about 13 miles on electricity alone, and the model we drove had the lovely Orrefors crystal gearshift knob. It also is the most expensive.

It was worthwhile to experience the greater breadth of the XC90 lineup. It confirmed there are no real bad choices when it comes to powertrain—it comes down to availability, preference, and price. It was also a nice validation for our long-termer, which continues to be an office favorite on long trips.

We have accumulated 26,767 miles and averaged 20.4 mpg on a wide assortment of trips with the varied conditions and terrain that a Michigan starting point provides. We discovered a glitch in the digital information being received by the trip computer because the long-term average fuel economy shows a ridiculously low single-digit number while our records prove the figure is always above 20 mpg. It might need another service call—that is, if we can find a moment between road trips.

Read more on our 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription:

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Build Your Own Powered Porsche Flat-Six Scale Model Engine

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 21:54

Attention Porsche fanatics and car enthusiasts! Ever wanted to build your own Porsche flat-six boxer engine but never had the time, or more importantly, the know-how? The people at Franzis have you Porsche fanboys covered with a detailed 1:4 scale model transparent engine kit modeled after the 2.0-liter 1966 911 boxer engine that features a motorized rotating assembly and an electric sound module with genuine flat-six engine sounds.

The intricate air-cooled flat-six scale model kit also includes a spinning engine fan, transparent casing, cams driven by the belt, working, gear-driven distributor, timing chains (belts in the model), and LED lights that simulate the firing order of the spark plugs. The only tool needed is the supplied screwdriver for the many screws that come with the kit.

Assembly shouldn’t be hard thanks to the supplied illustrated book made in cooperation with the Porsche Museum in Germany that provides instructions on assembly, history on the production of the Mezger engine, and historical photos, drawings, and posters straight from the Porsche archives. Once assembled, power the model up and watch the engine assembly rotate in the clear engine casing.

This 290+ piece 1:4 scale model kit requires three AA batteries, but don’t worry about any glue, not needed for this superb flat-six scale model engine.

The real 2.0-liter flat-six engine in the 1966 Porsche 911 was naturally aspirated, had a single-overhead camshaft, came mated to a five-speed manual, and produced 130 hp.

Watch the mesmerizing videos below showing the assembly process and how the model engine looks running created by Flat Six Fanatics.

The post Build Your Own Powered Porsche Flat-Six Scale Model Engine appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

There’s satisfaction. Then there’s trust. – The Reference Mark

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 09:00

There might be no two words in the English language more emotionally freighted. Reciprocating this vow entails an intimate contract of honesty, liability, and concession. When given, received, and honored, trust leads to unbounded loyalty. When the bond is broken, it often leads to the incineration of the relationship.

But what does it mean to trust those with whom you do business?

Buying and owning a car is often seen as a straightforward transaction. You give money, you get sheetmetal, and you hope it doesn’t break down. You trust that the automaker’s factory had a good day and that your car will provide you years of trouble-free reliability.

Trust goes much deeper than that. Buying a car is an extremely emotional event—often the second most expensive purchase in our lifetimes, after a house.

A recent survey of car owners by marketing firms AMCI and C Space not only measured how much consumers trust automakers but also how much consumers feel trusted in turn by automakers.

The survey involved more than whether consumers felt sleazed by the salesperson or F&I agent when they bought their car. The experience in the service lane (especially when dealing with a recall, warranty claim, or extended service contract) often had more to do with long-term trust.

But let’s not slag the dealers alone. Turns out several brands’ dealers had higher trust indexes than the automakers they represented. This would be a case where a dealer shows respect and takes special care of a customer while the manufacturer might blow him or her off.

For instance, although Acura, Jeep, and Subaru received more trust at the manufacturer level than their dealers did, Kia and Chrysler dealers had higher trust indexes than the automakers themselves.

Why does this matter? A recent study by big-data giants IHS Markit found that out of the 17.5 million new-vehicle registrations during the 2016 model year, only 53 percent of customers returned to the same brand they already owned. Just barely half stay loyal—and IHS says this is the best level they’ve recorded. So for all the automakers’ efforts to keep owners devoted, it’s the same odds as a coin flip.

“Think of all the money automakers spend on quality and satisfaction, and yet the industry keeps paying people incentives to buy their cars,” says AMCI chief strategy officer Ian Beavis. “Satisfaction doesn’t get you to intend to purchase again. Trust does.”

Beavis knows a thing or two about automakers and consumers. His career has spanned marketing and product planning posts for Ford, Kia, and Mitsubishi. He’s also been in the executive suites of advertising giants Nielsen; Carat; Saatchi and Saatchi; and Foote, Cone & Belding.

Beavis posits that quality and satisfaction have become commodity items that no longer move the needle. But other industries have proven that trust does.

So how do you build that trust?

Beavis says one big trust-breaker is when dealers upsell unnecessary additional items (such as polishing the muffler bearings) when folks go in for routine service. So while the service manager pats himself on the back for a quick score, the brand just lost a customer who could have spent tens of thousands of dollars down the road. The same goes for when a manufacturer denies a fix-it claim for a car a couple months past (but many miles under) the warranty expiration.

According to the survey, the intensity of trust is based on feeling special and receiving personalized, respected treatment—regardless of the retail location, the size of the store, or the cost of the product.

When compared to other industries rated by C Space, automakers fare only slightly better than telecom, the government, the media, healthcare firms, financial services, and department stores. That’s not great company to keep.

“The human interaction is key,” Beavis says. “When you go to a dealer who has really good people skills, isn’t it the most marvelous experience? There’s still tremendous possibility of human interaction and brand intimacy.”

For an industry so intently focused on things gone wrong, it might be better instead to look at the emotional connectivity of things gone right.

Trust me on this one.

More by Mark Rechtin:

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Watch Roadkill Drive Half a Lincoln in 1,800-Mile Beater Rally

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 21:27

In the latest episode of Roadkill, hosts David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan take on a brand new challenge from the creators of the 24 Hours of LeMons, the LeMons Rally. A 1,800-mile road rally from Moscow, Pennsylvania to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama in the worst, but still street-legal, car you can find. During this time/distance challenge, the hosts must rack up points along the way by visiting popular sights and attractions, completing challenges, and for finishing the rally. Their competition: a wide variety of some of the ugliest cars you have ever seen.

Failing to buy a car before flying to Pennsylvania, Freiburger buys the first and ugliest car he can find on Craigslist when he lands, a $3,500 1978 Lincoln Continental that has been converted from a four-door to a two-door. Sitting in the car for the first time, they find the usual crazy stuff like they do in most old and ugly cars they buy, furry blue polka-dotted sun visors, a random headshot of someone they end up using as a mascot, mold on the seatbelt, 6X9 boxed speakers sitting right behind their heads not bolted down, and something that rotted so bad they can’t figure out what it is. However, the electric bench seat somehow still works.

At the start of the drive the usual happens, the car breaks down and they spend hours fixing it before releasing it was something simple, and get pulled over by the cops for no plates. Why, because Roadkill. Along the way, the guys complete crazy challenges like collecting as many waffles as they can and driving on the 11-mile, 318-turn Tail of the Dragon road.

Did Freiburger and Finnegan finish the rally? Did they collect enough points to win the LeMons Rally? Click the video below to find out.

The post Watch Roadkill Drive Half a Lincoln in 1,800-Mile Beater Rally appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO First Test: The Return of the Hot Sentra?

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 09:00

The last time Nissan offered a sporty Sentra was 2012, when the SE-R and SE-R Spec V models were powered by a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4. Since the current Sentra entered production, a sporty variant had been absent—until now, with the Sentra NISMO. This time, the sporty Sentra comes with a loud exterior design with red stripes, wider lower air intakes, a different rear diffuser, side sills, a lower stance, and a rear lip spoiler. How does it compare to  the sporty Sentras of the past? Let’s find out.

Powering the 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO is a 1.6-liter turbo-four mated to a six-speed manual (a CVT is optional), the same unit found in the Sentra SR Turbo and the Juke crossover. Unfortunately, the Sentra NISMO didn’t get a power bump and is still rated at 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. At the track, the Sentra NISMO hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 92.4 mph, putting it on par with the Honda Civic Hatchback and Mazda3 2.5. In comparison to the Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V models we tested in 2007, the Sentra NISMO is 0.1 second quicker to 60 mph and 0.4 seconds quicker to the quarter mile, where it was traveling 2.5 mph faster than the SE-R. However, the more powerful 200-hp Sentra SE-R Spec V was quicker than the NISMO, hitting 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 93.6 mph. Braking performance, on  the other hand, saw the most improvements—the Sentra NISMO stopped from 60 mph in 112 feet, thanks to its larger brake discs and high heat-resistance brake pads. In comparison, the older Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V stopped from 60 mph in 133 feet and 126 feet respectively.

Like the rest of the Sentra lineup, the NISMO features MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in the back. An upgraded suspension with monotube rear dampers,  unique tuning for the front springs and struts, and 18-inch alloy wheels shod in 215/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport all-season performance tires distinguish the Sentra NISMO from more pedestrian variants. The car lapped the figure-eight course in 26.7 seconds with an average of 0.66 g and generated 0.87 g of lateral acceleration. This puts the Sentra NISMO ahead of the old Sentra SE-R, which finished the figure-eight course in 28.3 seconds with a 0.59 g average and produced 0.79 g of lateral acceleration. The more powerful Sentra SE-R Spec V did the figure eight in 27.4 seconds with an average of 0.64 g, putting it behind the NISMO; however, the older SE-R Spec V had slightly better lateral acceleration than the NISMO at 0.88 g.

After putting the Sentra NISMO through our testing regime, we took to the winding roads of the San Gabriel and Malibu Mountains to see if it lived up to the coveted badge adorning its trunk. Sadly, this was where its flaws came out. The Sentra NISMO’s 1.6-liter turbo-four isn’t like the small turbo engines from Hyundai/Kia, Volkswagen, and Honda, all of which offer plenty of low- and midrange torque. Under 3,000 rpm there’s not much power, so you have to keep it above that especially when you need to pass or merge into highway traffic. This wasn’t the case in a CVT-equipped Juke because that transmission has the ability to mask turbo lag by keeping the engine in the meat of its powerband almost all the time. The Sentra NISMO does have a Sport mode, but it doesn’t change much until you’re higher up in the rev range where the throttle response gets a little too aggressive.

On the road, you’ll be fighting with turbo lag frequently, the opposite problem faced by cars such as the turbocharged Honda Civic Hatchback, which has a more usable powerband. The Nissan has plenty of power once you get it up to higher revs. The six-speed manual has long throws that can slow down one’s ability or desire to shift quickly.  The clutch is vague and uncommunicative, making it hard to find its engagement point. This puts the Sentra NISMO behind cars such as the Honda Civic hatchback, which has a better shifter and a clutch with an engagement point that’s easier to find.

With its upgraded chassis and steering, you’d expect the 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO to handle well and be fun to drive when the road gets twisty. Up on the winding roads of Angeles Crest and Malibu, the car proved capable and entertaining to drive with minimal body roll; however, on the tighter bits, the car understeers a lot. The steering, on the other hand, isn’t communicative and lacks precision. Should you want better handling, Nissan offers Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R summer performance tires as an option, which should help mitigate understeer and allow the Sentra NISMO to stick to the road better.

The torsion beam rear suspension doesn’t help the Sentra NISMO’s ride quality because it gets nervous and jittery over imperfections. Go over a large pothole or big bumps, and the rear end gets jumpy, especially if you do so while taking a corner. It does smooth out on better-maintained surfaces, but it’s still a little too stiff for what it is. When you take into consideration that the Sentra NISMO’s driving dynamics fall short of other sporty compact cars, it becomes obvious that what you lose in ride comfort isn’t made up in superior handling. An independent rear suspension would go a long way in improving the Sentra NISMO’s ride and handling balance because it can soak up imperfections better and prevent the rear end from getting upset too easily over less-than-perfect surfaces. Rivals such as the Honda Civic hatchback, Mazda3 2.5, and Volkswagen Jetta GLI utilize independent, multilink, rear suspension to offer better ride and handling packages.

Material quality is a mixed bag with soft-touch material in the upper dash and a sea of cheap, hard plastics throughout the rest of the cabin, including the center stack and console, door panels, and armrests. The dash and front seat frames of our tester rattled and squeaked, making the cabin feel even cheaper. However, with a spacious interior for five passengers, a 15.1-cubic-foot trunk, and standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats, the Sentra NISMO is as practical as its more run-of-the-mill siblings. Seat comfort is average even with the sport seats exclusive to the NISMO model, but because of the high seating position, it doesn’t exude a feeling of sportiness despite its aggressive bolstering and thigh support.

Featuring a 5.8-inch touchscreen, the NissanConnect multimedia interface found in the Sentra NISMO is outdated, and touchscreen responses are slow. Controls for the head unit are simple, using buttons, knobs, and the touchscreen itself. When compared to the cleaner 5.0-inch multi-information display between the gauges, the touchscreen’s grainy graphics make the car feel even more dated . As for the optional Bose audio system, it sounds decent but could be a little more balanced because it gets a little too bass-heavy at times.

Our test vehicle with the six-speed manual checked in at $27,370, putting it in the same price range as the Civic hatchback, Jetta GLI, and Mazda3 2.5, but from the 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO’s stiff ride and suspension to its lackluster handling and laggy powertrain, it feels incomplete. Additionally, the interior’s age is amplified by an infotainment system that’s well behind the units found in competitors such as the Civic and in more mainstream compacts such as the Chevrolet Cruze. The 2017 Sentra NISMO could use more power and should handle better, but as it stands, we’re not sure the car is worthy of a NISMO badge considering its performance didn’t improve much over its predecessors from 10 years ago. However, because the current generation Sentra has been around since 2013, the NISMO might be its final hurrah before a new generation arrives in the coming years. Hopefully by then, a hot Sentra returns as better-rounded and more capable package.

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO BASE PRICE $25,855 PRICE AS TESTED $27,370 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 1.6L/188-hp/177-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,030 lb (62/38%) WHEELBASE 106.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 183.6 x 69.3 x 58.9 in 0-60 MPH 7.3 sec QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 92.4 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 112 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.87 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 25/31/27 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/109 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.71 lb/mile

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Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 Lincoln Navigator

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 01:01

Lincoln waited 10 years to introduce a next-generation Navigator, and the result is an SUV that looks very little like its predecessor. From the chrome accents to the shiny new wheels, the Navigator almost looks like it’s still a concept, despite having been shown in production form at the New York auto show earlier this month. The 2018 Lincoln Navigator promises a host of technology and ergonomic improvements over the old model, but has it become too flashy for its own good?

The Navigator receives a new grille that’s similar to what you’ll find on other Lincoln models. As the driver approaches, the Lincoln badge on the grille even lights up, while a welcome puddle lamp illuminates the ground below the front doors. Just about everything else up front, including the bedazzled headlights and the design of the lower front fascia, is also new.

Thanks to its high visual beltline and clean proportions, the new Navigator looks a little more upright than its predecessor. Looking at the side profile, a new character line shoots out of the headlights, runs along the top of the silver door handles, and reaches all the way to the taillights. The hood looks taller, giving the model a more confident posture. Silver accents on the bottom of the doors and on the Navigator emblem preceding the front door provide extra embellishment.

Just like on the old Navigator, the taillights on the new model are connected by a bar. But this time, the taillights rise up out of the bar instead of shooting down beneath it, eliminating the old model’s droopy appearance out back. Lincoln has also redesigned the license plate holder and other lighting elements.

Inside the cabin, there are too many changes to count. A large touchscreen sits above the dashboard, and the physical buttons and knobs are now clustered in a small area below the air vents. The center console box has been redesigned, and the traditional shifter has been replaced with four toggle switches for changing gears. Other features on the new Navigator include six USB ports, a head-up display, Sling Media access for watching live TV on the go, trailer back-up assist, a 12-inch configurable instrument cluster, and heated, cooled, and massaging front seats with 30-way power adjustability.

Is the 2018 Lincoln Navigator refreshing or revolting? Let us know in the comments below.

In last week’s Refreshing or Revolting, we asked for your thoughts on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. All 401 comments we received were pretty mixed.

“LOVE this car,” said Peter Papaleo. “In the looks department and more so that they have the balls to produce it.”

Although Guillermo Vega said he appreciates the Demon’s performance, he had a different take on the styling. “Revolting…Demon brings the Dragster DNA to an ‘everyday car.'”

“Makes the Hellcat look like a Prius,” noted Sledneck27.

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Renders Bring Cars From The Fast and the Furious up to 2017 Spec

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 00:30

Just like the last film in the franchise, The Fate of the Furious broke box office records, raking in $532.5 million in its opening weekend to beat the record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In recent years, the series has switched gears from street racing to all-out action. The new formula apparently has mass appeal, but we long for the old days when life was lived a quarter mile at a time. Apparently, we’re not the only ones. U.K. site wondered what the modern counterparts of the cars from the original film would look like painted in the same liveries, so they created the renderings you see here.

The main liveries from The Fast and the Furious are represented, but each one has been applied to a newer model than what appeared in 2001. Brian O’Connor’s Toyota Supra, for example, becomes the 2014 Toyota FT-1 concept, which previews the design of the next-generation Supra. The orange paint job with green and silver graphics works pretty well on the FT-1, and the extra-wide wheels and tires are a nice touch. Another concept, the Mazda RX-Vision of 2015, is used as a stand-in for Dominic Toretto’s Mazda RX-7.

Not all of the movie cars get updated to exotic status. Because Mitsubishi’s lineup is vastly different today than it was 16 years ago, the Mitsubishi Eclipse O’Connor drives at the beginning of the movie morphs into the recently announced Eclipse Cross. The crossover features a more raked profile than Mitsubishi’s other utility vehicles, but bears little resemblance to the second-generation Eclipse coupe from the movie. Meanwhile, Toretto’s Dodge Charger from the end of the film gets updated to 2017 spec as a four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, complete with giant supercharger and intake sticking out the hood.

Though it was owned by a less memorable member of Dom’s crew, there was a Nissan Skyline in the first Fast and Furious movie. Leon drove a 1995 R33 Skyline GT-R, and that car’s yellow paint and weird flying knight decal don’t look much better on a modern R35 GT-R. Jesse’s Volkswagen Jetta is updated to the latest Mark VI body style and gets a tasteful set of staggered wheels. It’s difficult to tell, but it looks like the front brakes might even be missing the calipers as a nod to a notorious blooper from the first movie.

What do you think of these renders? Which car from the Fast and the Furious series would you like to see updated? Tell us in the comments below.


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Report: Apple to Test Autonomous Car with Steering Wheel, Pedals

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 22:48

Apple recently received a permit to test autonomous cars in California, and now, new documents reveal more of what the tech giant is planning.

Through a public records request, Business Insider was able to obtain training documents detailing Apple’s plans to test self-driving car technology. As the documents show, Apple has created an “Automated System” for self-driving cars and is gearing up to put staffers through a rigorous training program. Unlike many of Google and Waymo’s test vehicles, the Apple car includes a steering wheel and pedals. During testing, the system is controlled electronically, but drivers must be ready to take back control of the vehicle.

“The development platform is capable of sending electronic commands for steering, accelerating, and decelerating and may carry out portions of the dynamic driving task,” an Apple official wrote on a government form.

If the safety “driver” presses the brake or grabs the Logitech steering wheel, autonomous driving mode will be disengaged. However, stepping down on the accelerator pedal won’t override the drive-by-wire system.

According to the documents, Apple testers must pass seven tests before they can complete their training. After two practice runs, they get three trials to pass each evaluation.

Unsurprisingly, Apple remains tight-lipped on its plans. Rumors have persisted for years that it was creating its own self-driving car under Project Titan, although it’s possible that Apple is now focusing its efforts just on the technology required for autonomous vehicles.

Source: Business Insider

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Jeep Yuntu Concept for China Looks to the Future

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 21:30

The Jeep Yuntu Concept made its debut this week at the 2017 Shanghai auto show. The seven-seat, plug-in hybrid SUV concept was crafted for Chinese tastes. Before you ask, no, it’s not for the U.S. — well, at least not for now.

“SUVs are the fastest-growing segment in China and the Jeep Yuntu Concept showcases the potential for the Jeep brand to keep expanding in the country,” said FCA in a statement.

Yuntu translates roughly into “cloud map” in English. The snow-white concept Jeep sports sharp, clean lines, slim LED headlights and taillights, a chrome grille, golden bronze flourishes, and suicide doors.

Inside, the Yuntu offers up plenty of blonde wood trim on the dash, steering wheel, and center console. There’s a large color video display touchscreen that seems to stretch from the driver’s side all the way to the passenger’s glove box.

It also sports a funky gearshift knob, captain’s chairs with built-in monitors, and more golden trim highlights all around.

The concept was designed with families in mind and the second row of seats have the “ability to lie down and flip,” according to Jeep’s Chinese website.

It also features gesture controls and offers facial recognition software to identify the owner and passengers for security. No key is required to operate the Yuntu thanks to its biometric technology, the site claims.

Jeep’s Yuntu also comes with its own exploratory drone that scans the road ahead to help plan off-road driving routes.

The Yuntu has an all-electric range of approximately 40 miles and its batteries can be charged wirelessly, according to the automaker. No other details regarding its hybrid system were provided.

The design concept is a joint venture with Jeep’s Chinese partner Guangzhou Automotive Group (GAC), which currently produces Jeep Cherokees and Renegades for the Chinese market.

Source: Jeep

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