Tag Archives: twin-turbo

2023 Nissan Z Performance

Z (it’s only Z now) nails modern, yet retro, looks and power …

Not many car lines go all the way to Z.

But Nissan has been going all the way since 1969 when it launched the Datsun 240Z its long-hooded sports car for the rest of us. I thought of it as a mini-Corvette at the time and, well, I still do.

In fact, Nissan’s relaunched 2023 version, now just called Z, has a nose that reflects both past and present Corvettes with its sleek pointy snout. Yet the new model has been smoothed and the hatch roofline slimmed to give the care a sleeker look. The Z also has been powered up with a 400-horse twin-turbo V6 and given a spiffy new digital-laden interior to bring it in line with today’s usual electronic wizardry.

My pre-production test car (dealers are to get theirs soon) was a stunning Seiran Blue Metallic with black roof, that two-tone paint scheme adding $1,295 to the sticker. But if ever I’d pay extra for paint, this may do it. Folks looked, some gave a thumbs up, others came out of their houses to see it up close at the curb. No doubt Nissan nailed the modern, yet retro, styling.

No pretense of this being a family car or carrying more than two as there are just two seats here and a long cargo area under a glassy hatch, but still just minor cargo space. Again, there will just be two of you with a suitcase each and Z accommodates that. Golfers may have to make other arrangements and forgo a hand cart.

Styling aside, and that’s hard to even say, the tested Z Performance was a well-controlled rocket with those 400 rear-wheel-driving horses pushing this up and down highway entry ramps like it was heading out of the pits at Road America. Heck, it just might!

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Z Car – YouTube

Unlike almost any other sports car the Z comes standard with a 6-speed manual, otherwise known as a standard transmission or stick shift. Younger drivers may not be aware, but this is the way many vehicles used to arrive, an automatic tranny costing extra. Ironically, today’s automatics (a 9-speed is optional) now get better fuel economy than the manuals, but that’s another issue.

The stick is fun and easy to slide between the gears, although the throws are longer than I had anticipated. Mazda’s Miata still has the shortest throws I’ve encountered, but this works nicely and the clutch is moderately weighted so not a leg cramper in stop-and-go traffic. My one initial concern was how hard I had to push the shifter down to slide it far right for reverse. I got used to it.

Also need to mention that there’s a SynchroRev Match system here to blip the engine and match its revs to the gear you’ve selected. So as you downshift into a corner that sweet burp of the engine lets your passenger know you’re a legit road racer. Thanks techies!

Nissan’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine is stout and smooth. It feels strong as you slip through the gears and can easily lead to tire squawks. This had low-pro performance 19-inch tires that gripped the road like crazy until we had an early fall monsoon. Shifting early to maintain traction was needed in the wet. All-season tires would help, but then you lose performance and, well, Performance is this model’s last name.

Handling as insinuated above was sports car fun, meaning responsive. Wheel feel is moderate and this steering wheel is wrapped in leather, as is the shift knob. The Nissan Z is well-balanced with neutral handling. I’ve heard some say it’s too easy to swing its tail, but until it rained I was having no issues.

Ride is firm as you’d expect in a car of just 100-inch wheelbase. Plus the Performance model adds a sportier tuned suspension, so if like me you prefer a bit softer ride (I’m 60+) then the standard Z may be a more comforting choice, plus it will save you some dough.

Z’s brakes also deserve a mention here. The Performance trim gets enhanced brakes with red calipers with Nissan labeling. Front and rear discs are vented 14 and 13.8 inchers, so stopping distance and quickness is awesome. I suspect the standard brakes aren’t too shabby either.

Inside Nissan designers have created a very comfy, livable interior that would allow for long highway jaunts.

The digital dash is clean and the 9-inch touchscreen (8-inch is standard) is big enough but not overpowering, plus simple to use. I had no issues and the Bose sound system is solid too.

Interior styling and the comfy seats likely will dazzle most riders though.

First, this one featured blue leather seats and blue dash and door trim under a soft black dash top. Door inserts are suede trimmed in leather and the seats feature a suede center section that’s perforated.

Console and dash are basically a matte black so no nasty sun reflections here, something other car makers could learn from. That console is trimmed in blue leather to add visual pop too.

Retro gauges, but more useful ones would be a help!

Atop the dash for a retro look are three gauges that might matter if you were racing as they tell Boost, Turbo Speedm and Volts. I’d challenge most folks to know what voltage their car should be showing on a gauge (about 14 here) and as long as I can feel the turbo boost I’m not sure I need a number placed on it. So while I appreciate the retro look, I’d say substitute more useful info such as a fuel gauge or clock.

Nissan’s performance seats are beautifully sculpted and fitted to encircle the driver and passenger so they don’t slide about, or even move, when the car is rocketing around tight rural highway twisties, or during a track day. Shorter folks may find these a bit too confining, but I loved the seats, which are partially powered. That’s right, there are two power buttons on the inside edge (toward the console) of the seat. These control fore and aft movement and the seat back’s angle. Takes a bit to get used to the location, but I did within a week.

The power seat controls are on the inside seat edge.

On the left side are manual controls to adjust the seat bottom’s angle and a height adjustment for the rear of the seat bottom. I’d like it to go just a tad higher, but I’m just 5-5. Nissan heats the seats too.

The Z’s steering wheel is a manual tilt/telescope model, but round and not heated. I’d prefer a flat-bottom wheel in any sports car and especially to create more knee room when one is shifting a manual and also when exiting. I found too that unless I could open the door to its maximum sweep I had trouble getting my right foot clear of its edge when getting out.

A couple other issues to consider inside. First, the cup holders are so far back on the console they are difficult to use, although easier for long-legged drivers who may position the seat all the way back. The storage box there also is way behind the elbow, but then again, this is a two-seater and space is limited, especially with a manual shift lever on the console.

There also is no wireless phone charger in the tray under the center stack, just a nice spot to lay your phone. And while I know this is a sports car with a throaty growl, road noise, especially on cement, can make listening to the radio a bit of a chore.

That hatch opens wide, but the cargo bay is mighty shallow.

I did like the three climate control dials, all of which can be set to automatic for fan speed, temperature and the directional. Nice!

Safety features are solid here too with smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitor.

Fuel economy is nothing special, but you’re buying this for power, not efficiency. The EPA rates Nissan’s Z at 18 mpg city and 24 highway for the manual version and I got 22.8 mpg in a mix of city and highway. And yes, this drinks premium fuel.

Note that the automatic is rated better at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Big disc brakes with red calipers confirm this is a sports car!

Pricing?

The base level Nissan Z is an absolute bargain for power, looks and handling, starting at $41,015, including delivery. So think of it as 400 hp for $40k. There are two more levels though, and these push the envelope a bit, exceeding $50k.

The tested Performance model starts at $51,015 with delivery and ended up at $53,210 adding just the snazzy paint job, illuminated kick plates ($500), and floor mats ($400). The top level Proto Spec lists at $54,015.

Z epitomizes modern fastback style sports car and is an automotive icon. At its base price it’s extremely attractive. Move up to the higher versions and you’re in the Audi TT and BMW Z4 range. So at that level you may just want to consider a Kia Stinger or Ford Mustang and get a rear seat to boot!

FAST STATS: 2023 Nissan Z Performance

Hits: Stylish 2-seater, excellent power, balanced neutral handling, good brakes, slick stick shift. Excellent seat comfort, heated seats, automatic climate control dials, good info screen size and function and good level of safety devices.

Misses: Firm ride, considerable road noise at highway speeds, tough exit when door isn’t 100% opened, awkward cup holder placement, no heated steering wheel, no flat-bottom wheel, long shift throws, no wireless charger, little cargo room and premium fuel preferred.

Snazzy door handle styling on the Z!

Made in: Japan

Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, 400 hp/350 torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,507 lbs.

Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

Length: 172.4 in.

Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 18/24

MPG: 22.8 (tested)

Base Price: $51,015 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Illuminated kick plates, $500

Two-tone paint, $1,295

Floor mats, $400

Test vehicle: $53,210

Sources: Nissan, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Nissan Z

#Z car

#Nissan

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Compact 228i gives BMW a true entry-level model … 

Back in the day, less than 20 years ago, BMW was known for its 3 Series compact sport sedans and coupes. They were cute, taut, models that were meant to introduce enthusiast drivers to the Bavarian automaker’s wares.

The 3 Series was an entry-level sportster that with some budget stretching, maybe selling some of your favorite vinyl or the kid’s Cabbage Patch dolls (but not one of your kidneys), you could afford.

Things change and cars always grow. So now the 3 Series is less compact and less affordable. But not to fret, BMW now has the 2 Series, which is what the 3 Series was as recently as the mid-2000s. The 2 is compact, riding on a 105.1-inch wheelbase, is just 178.5 inches long and starts at a modest (for BMW) $36,295 for the coupe. Continue reading 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2019 Ford Edge Titanium AWD

Edge’s new turbo and tranny provide crossover zip …2019 Ford Edge Titanium AWD

Ford revamps and upgrades its popular Edge mid-size crossover for 2019, discarding its V6 for a twin-turbo I4 and a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

The result is a fairly peppy crossover that will easily haul five adults with oodles of rear seat legroom and equally expansive cargo area. Continue reading 2019 Ford Edge Titanium AWD

2018 BMW M550i xDrive

BMW’s M550i a hot, but sophisticated, rocket! … 2018 BMW 550i xDrive

BMW 5 Series sedans still rock.

I know I about drooled myself silly praising the BMW 530e xDrive I tested about six weeks ago. I lauded it as epitomizing BMW’s motto of The Ultimate Driving Machine, and I still believe that. But …

Along comes its sister sport sedan, the M550i xDrive, and well, my lather has returned. That’s because in place of the silky smooth plug-in hybrid system of the 530e, with its 248-horse twin-turbo I4 and electric hybrid system, the 550 drops in a throbbing V8. Yes, this one has a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that creates — hold on — 456 horsepower. Continue reading 2018 BMW M550i xDrive

2018 BMW 530e xDrive iPerformance

BMW 530e hybrid defines ‘ultimate driving machine’ … 2018 BMW 530e xDrive

The 530e sedan defines why BMW can justifiably lay claim to building the “ultimate driving machine.”

This plug-in hybrid exudes everything one would want from a luxury car, with the added benefit of a hybrid system. Continue reading 2018 BMW 530e xDrive iPerformance

2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

MINI’s Countryman is bigger, not necessarily better … 2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman

The new MINI Cooper Countryman goes too far, but maybe that’s what U.S. buyers want.

It’s the biggest MINI yet. I know that sounds contradictory for the small British-born make now made by BMW. But it’s true. This is MINI’s version of a crossover or small sport-ute with a longer and wider body, plus ALL4, its all-wheel-drive system is available.

It also appears to be less MINI in styling as it looks more bulky than cute. Think of that cute guy/girl in high school that packed on a few pounds by the 10-year reunion. In fact, the Countryman is just short of 500 lbs. heavier than the MINI Clubman that I enjoyed last year.

To put it nicely, the Countryman feels more substantial than earlier models and obviously is designed to accommodate larger U.S. passengers. The Countryman gains four inches of rear seat legroom compared to its predecessor and being a 4-door it’s easy to load five people aboard. I did it on a lunch run and one of the riders was a 6-footer.2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman

So while the MINI-ness of the Countryman seems a bit of a stretch (pun intended), the usefulness of it should make it more attractive to folks who intend to actually haul a family in it on a trip. Another family plus? The rear seats fold down flat in a 40/20/40 split to expand the generous 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space, but allow rear seat riders. Likewise the seats will recline slightly and the entire rear seat will slide forward a couple inches if you’re simply carrying cargo, not rear seat passengers. Continue reading 2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

Die-cast: Autoart’s 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak rally car a sexy winged warrior …2013 Peugeot 208 T16

I have to admit that European rally cars, the little high-powered mini racers with big engines and wings to match, fascinate me visually. They look tough and aggressive and fast and fun.

Now Autoart releases a sharp all black 1/18 scale version of the Peugeot 208 T16 that was raced up Pikes Peak here in the U.S. in 2013. It looks like it rocks with a giant wing on an equally giant pedestal and with tires so fat they look like they’d hold on to any road even if the car were upside down.

This is a beautiful little beast! Here’s the story on it.

The History

Rally superstar Sebastien Loeb (9 titles) was chosen to run this custom built Peugeot up Colorado’s Pikes Peak in 2013 to challenge the record time of 9:46.164 set a year earlier by Rhys Millen. Loeb crushed it, making the 19.9 km run in 8:13.878.2013 Peugeot 208 T16

The French Peugeot had to straighten 156 corners while climbing to Pikes Peak’s summit. The video is amazing (insert it), as there is no guard rail along the route that the likes of Bobby Unser and most of the other Unser clan have proven themselves champions through the years. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate

Genesis has it all, but the panache and name …2017 Genesis G90

When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, its first sedans impersonated Mercedes-Benz models, but cost a lot less. Now Hyundai has launched its impressive new Genesis luxury car lineup with two models and the top-level G90 looks like a Bentley. Even its logo resembles that of the British make.

Again the formula is to create a car that visually screams luxury while undercutting the original by thousands of dollars. To be sure the new G90 competes mostly with the large Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac sedans. But if you could convince your neighbors you were driving a Bentley, yet only spent $70 grand or so, well, you just might try.

That’s what Hyundai is betting on, just as Lexus did before it.2017 Genesis G90

Certainly the G90 is impressive and dressed in Caspian Black, a metallic black paint job, the tested rear-drive Ultimate model turned heads. People asked what it was. Genesis didn’t ring any bells.

But it may soon. Along with this 5.0-liter, 420-horse, V6-powered G90 Genesis offers the G80 with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that creates a substantial 365 horsepower. Both models are rear-wheel drive, but offer all-wheel-drive versions too. Continue reading 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate

2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD

New Q60 emphasizes performance, but ride suffers …2017 Infiniti Q60

Driving similar cars back to back puts both into perspective, an unfortunate turn for the sporty Infiniti Q60.

I’d driven the Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe with 4Matic, its all-wheel-drive system, the week before I slipped behind the wheel of the new Q60, which replaces the fine G37 in Infiniti’s lineup.

The Benz and Infiniti are nearly identical in profile, length and wheelbase. But the Infiniti’s ride, no matter the Drive Mode, was inferior, and by that I mean harsh. The Infiniti felt like I was driving on square tires from time to time when the road surfaces turned crumbly. If you live in a southern clime, or California, where smooth blacktop is prevalent, this wouldn’t be an issue. In the Midwest it’s an issue.

Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti is strong on power and handling. This is a luxury sport coupe with the emphasis on sport, so it actually feels sportier than the Benz. It packs more punch with its 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbos. It’ll crank 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels powerful from the get-go and will zip away from a stoplight with help from its 7-speed automatic that allows for rev-matching manual downshifts. The Infiniti is fun from a performance aspect.2017 Infiniti Q60

Handling likewise is fairly firm in all modes and precise so the driver feels in total control. There’s even an all-wheel-drive system on the Premium model I drove, or you can go with the standard rear-drive. This AWD system did not seem to keep the car from spinning its wheels under heavy power on wet pavement as well as the C300 though. Continue reading 2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD

2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport

 

CTS Vsport kicks butt on the sport luxury sedan frontcady1

Cadillac is beyond just being back, it’s now about kickin’ butt and takin’ numbers.

First, unlike most sporty luxury brands, Cadillacs now exude style. The new CTS is the beauty queen of luxury sport sedans leaving others only to compete for Miss Congeniality.

CTS’s well chiseled profile with long, wide hood and big mouthy grille give it some panache. But those vertical taillights that carry over from previous models, some dating back to the 1960s, plus the big headlights that extend back into the slender fenders give it an athletic presence – think pro athlete in a fitted Ralph Lauren suit.

Beyond the edgy styling that catches a potential buyer’s eye, Cadillac continues to deliver performance and luxury in equal doses.

cady2The tested CTS Vsport, the top-level model, now boasts a 420-horse twin-turbo V6. The 3.6-liter unit earns a torque rating of 430 that reportedly pushes the rear-drive sedan to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Power is readily available and smoothly delivered with Caddy’s first 8-speed automatic, which offers a manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Ride is comfortable too with GM’s magnetic ride control and a performance suspension that provides a firm, well-controlled ride. Plus CTS offers four driving modes, selected via a switch on the console between the front seats. Touring is for everyday driving and smoothes the ride while offering responsive steering. This would do for most of us 90-95% of the time. Continue reading 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport