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The News for December 1st, 2017

Greg Kachadurian December 1, 2017 The News! 34 Comments

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:

  • Mazda 6, now with premium features and a turbo

  • Mercedes-Benz shows off new styling and straight-six with 2019 CLS

  • It was inevitable – Chevrolet reveals Corvette ZR1 Convertible

  • BMW is finally building an i8 Roadster

  • Nissan is replacing the Juke just for Kicks

  • Volvo prices out comprehensive XC40 subscription plan

  • What’s your automotive news?

2018 Mazda 6

As part of Mazda’s push to become a more premium automaker, they’ve turned their attention once again to their flagship sedan. The Mazda 6 has been receiving updates every year since it’s been on sale, but this year’s updates are a bit more significant. It may not look totally different, but it’s been re-engineered underneath the sheet metal to deliver a more refined and more engaging driving experience.

The updates start at the chassis which has been “thoroughly” revised to provide a more supple ride, greater agility, and improved noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Basically, it’ll ride like a premium car should.

The updated interior is also befitting of a premium car thanks to a beautiful mix of brown Nappa leather, gold-tinted Ultrasuede NU, and Sen wood accents, a type of wood often used in taiko drums and Japanese furniture. Mazda also redesigned the front seats to be wider, more supportive, absorb more vibrations, and now have a cooling feature for the first time.

Other new features include a 360-degree view monitor, a reconfigurable 7-inch TFT gauge display on higher end models, an 8-inch infotainment display with a sharper color contrast, available radar cruise control with stop and go functionality, windshield wiper de-icers, and a revised heads up display.

Updates that we’d care more about come with two new (to the Mazda 6) engines. The base engine is an updated version of the N/A 2.5-liter four cylinder gas engine we’ve seen before, but this one gets a major update in the form of cylinder deactivation. It can seamlessly shut down half the engine and run on two cylinders between 25-50 mph. A centrifugal pendulum in the torque converter counterbalances any vibrations caused by just two cylinders firing.

The top-of-the-line engine option is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from the CX-9 crossover. It produces 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter of which comes in as early as 2,000 RPM. Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo builds boost nearly instantaneously by using a small inlet port to force air into its turbocharger and a secondary valve can open up at higher a RPM for increased airflow and maximum horsepower. Translation: it’s gonna be fun. If you want to wait for their revolutionary compression-ignition gas engine, you may need to wait another year or two.

Mazda’s six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the turbo four, but it keeps its torque converter locked through most of its operation to give a more connected sense of “controllability” (manual drivers get it) than many other automatic transmissions. A six-speed manual is standard with the naturally-aspirated four cylinder.

Mazda’s re-engineered beauty goes on sale next spring. No pricing info yet.

[Source: Mazda]

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS

I hope you like the way this looks, because it’s exactly how every new Mercedes-Benz is gonna look for the next few years.

Benz’s big news item this week was the introduction of the all-new CLS “four door coupe”. It’s about as all-new as a car can get these days – new design, new interior, new tech, and a very new engine.

Styling-wise, it’s a culmination of a few design concepts they’ve been teasing lately and it’s almost certainly the new family face that you’ll start to see on future models. This design has fewer sharp lines and creases in the sheet metal but more angular optics front and rear. Inside, Mercedes-Benz continues to get it right with an all-digital gauge cluster connected to the infotainment center, premium cabin materials, and tons of accent lighting.

The bigger updates come beneath the skin though. Mercedes-Benz has been talking about bringing back the inline-6, but it’s finally happening with the CLS. It’s a 3.0-liter inline-six which produces 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Supplementing the I6 is a new 48-volt electrical system which, among other things, can boost output by 21 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque for short periods of time and even accelerate the car on its own in certain situations. A nine-speed automatic and rear wheel drive are standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive as an option.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS arrives next fall.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz via Autoweek]

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible

Remember the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 that was just revealed a few weeks ago? It’s that but as a convertible. It costs $123,995.

[Source: Chevrolet]

BMW i8 Roadster

Remember the BMW i8 Spyder concept we saw back in 2012? It’s almost exactly like that, but it’s called a Roadster now and they’re finally building it.

[Source: BMW]

2018 Nissan Kicks

Nissan is launching a new nameplate for the first time in eight years to replace the ugliest nameplate in company history. Say hello to the Nissan Kicks, a new compact crossover which effectively replaces the Juke when it goes on sale next spring. It’ll serve as their “gateway to Nissan’s adventure-ready sport-utility portfolio” for singles and young couples who want the benefits of a crossover at a sub-$19K starting price.

Styling-wise, it’s a Nissan Sentra on stilts with a floating C-Pillar. But it’s meant to look fresh and expressive. It certainly looks better than the Juke.

The cabin was designed around providing more space for back seat passengers and offering one of the largest load areas in its class. It’s also fitted with a 7″ infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto support as standard. Some of the various optional extras include Bose Personal Plus sound with a pair of speakers in the headrests and an around-view monitor.

The only engine/transmission combination is a 125-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a CVT. For now you can only get your Kicks in front-wheel drive.

The saturation of the crossover market continues, but at least this one looks a little better than the one it replaces.

[Source: Nissan]

Lincoln Nautilus

Remember the Lincoln MKX? It’s like that, but with a new face, more legroom, and more safety features. It’s now called the “Nautilus”.

[Source: Lincoln]

Volvo Prices Subscription Plan for XC40

Volvo has been hyping up their “Care by Volvo” subscription plan for a few months now, but we’re just now getting some information on pricing and all the perks associated with it. For those in need of a quick refresher, this is a 24-month subscription plan for Volvo cars that redefines what a lease can be. It’s modeled after cell phone subscriptions.

The first Volvo to be priced out with a Care by Volvo plan is the recently announced XC40 compact crossover at a flat fee of $600 a month for 24 months. That sounds like a lot to lease a compact crossover, but that flat fee also includes all maintenance, personalized concierge services (such as cleaning, fueling, and temporary car swapping), and even insurance. An XC40 R-Design with more premium packages is available for $700 a month. No other additional fees ever get applied.

This offer is available nationally (in the US) and signups are open now. The XC40 launches in March but you can reserve your spot early. If you can handle a $600 car/insurance payment and the thought of car ownership scares you, this is likely the best lease option out there right now.

[Source: Volvo]

What’s your automotive news?

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.

[Image © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

  • Victor
  • Sjalabais
  • Victor

    In memory of Craigslist Crapshoot…. What is the strangest VW motor ? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2f6f086861a79ac87ad4001737a8756e9492cf2790593188eb829ce093b85abc.jpg

    • I miss the Craigslist Crapshoot

    • Harry Callahan

      I’d hate looking up that exhaust pipe…..

  • Tylerd5079

    I love my small Nissan SUV, a 2005 X-Trail, and I would love to be able to purchase a 2017 version in ten years, but I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed by this one.

    “The only engine/transmission combination is a 125-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a CVT. For now you can only get your Kicks in front-wheel drive.”

    My X-Trail has a 165-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and 5-speed manual. It also has a switchable AWD system (FWD, Auto, Lock).

    I’m sure Nissan will sell a tone of those Kicks, though. Good for them.

    • Tylerd5079

      Also, what really is the difference between the Qashqai/Rogue Sport and the Kicks?

      Do they not occupy the same market position?

      • outback_ute

        If it is replacing the Juke, even if a bit larger it will still be a size smaller than the Qumquat.

        Looking at the dash of the Mazda I can’t help thinking I’d rather have the lower controls within easier sight & reach instead of a blank sweeping plastic piece. What is ergonomics?

        • Tylerd5079

          The Kicks is actually closer to the Q-Machine than it is to Juke, assuming Wikipedia dimensions can be trusted.

          I understand that they appeal to slightly different markets, but I still think that they will cannibalize a good number of sales from each other.

          Nissan Qashqai:
          Wheelbase: 2,646 mm (104.2 in)
          Length: 4,370 mm (172.0 in)
          Width: 1,800 mm (70.9 in)
          Height: 1,595 mm (62.8 in)

          Nissan Kicks:
          Wheelbase: 2,610 mm (103.2 in)
          Length: 4,295 mm (169.1 in)
          Width: 1,760 mm ( 69.3 in)
          Height: 1,590 mm ( 62.6 in)

          Nissan Juke:
          Wheelbase: 2,530 mm (99.6 in)
          Length: 4,125 mm (162.4 in)
          Width: 1,765 mm (69.5 in)
          Height: 1,570 mm (61.8 in)

          • outback_ute

            Plus the Qashqai is incredibly close to the X-Trail

  • The Juke was quirky, bold and stood out in a sea of 2 box blandness. My co-worker’s girlfriend has one that he says is a hoot to drive (this from a guy whose summer driver is a custom built twin turbo 350z.)

    The Kicks is exactly the opposite – bland, derivative and underpowered. There’s nothing distinctive here to make me choose it over the Honda HRV or Toyota CH-R (is that the right 3 letter combination?)

    I find it’s inoffensiveness offensive.

    Speaking of confusing 3 letter names, kudos to Lincoln for giving their new SUV an actual name.

    • JayP

      Another move from Nissan towards bland.
      Juke, Cube… odd but at least had some character.

      When will the 370Z become the Rogue Sport-Sport?

    • Zentropy

      I love the look of 70s Datsun Zs and Nissan Skylines, and feel that the R34 might be one of the coolest cars Nissan ever made. But honestly, over the last 15 years, Nissan styling has tanked. Their cars today are either blandly forgettable, or downright heinous.

      • kogashiwa

        I mainly agree but … there’s something about the Maxima that, in person not in pictures, is really appealing.

        Mind you I’ve been having a lot of trouble with eye strain lately.

        • Zentropy

          To each his/her own. To me it looks like a large Altima, which itself looks like a large Sentra, which is not exactly ugly, but is damned boring.

    • Harry Callahan

      Bland sells in larger numbers than quirky. Which is why our roads are filled with bland cars, and why Mazda never seems to break through to Toyota-like market share.

  • Fuhrman16

    I will say, I like that Lincoln is returning to proper car names rather than a letter/numerical mumbo jumbo.

  • Maymar

    I don’t love the styling of the CLS (I actually sort of like the outgoing model, with its fairly accentuated hips), but I’m pretty excited about that I6, and can’t wait to see it spread throughout the rest of the Benz lineup (depreciated C/E Wagon? Yes).

    Also, the Mazda6 has the sort of interior Jags should have, by the looks of it. A 6 Turbo will be exactly the sort of super compelling car that absolutely no one will buy, and we’ll all mourn in ten years.

    • Zentropy

      My thoughts EXACTLY on the MB. The styling on the CLS is too gooey looking for my liking, but I’m stoked about the inline six (especially one that makes that much power!). A C-class wagon with that engine would be the bomb.

  • Dinner with Racers has a third season out.
    Falling off my bicycle on ice is fun for the first 20ft, then the gravel ate my pants. Still beats the public transportation offerings.

    • kogashiwa

      Schwalbe studded tires are magic.

      • So are 1″ high, longitudinal ridges: they are invisible!

  • Zentropy

    When I can honestly say the humble Mazda6 is considerably more elegant than the Mercedes CLS, then it’s time for MB to rethink their design strategy. The inline six is hugely desirable, but not worth driving that taffy-mobile.

  • Between yesterday evening and this morning someone broke into my International, rifled through the contents of the glove box, and stole, of all things, my spare pair of prescription glasses.

    I suppose the fact that my 47-year-old pickup was targeted should have made it self-evident that the thief is as nearsighted and astigmatic as I am…

    • Zentropy

      At least they didn’t steal the truck! My dad has a ’67 that I’d like to buy, because he never drives it. Old pickups that get actual use are damned cool.

    • Sjalabais

      Watch out for Freeway drivers with familiar glasses.

  • kogashiwa
    • Zentropy

      Not for the US? That’s a pretty wagon!