Whatever that may mean

The Car Talk newspaper column continues, and sometimes it throws me for a loop:

The standard trucks, like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado, are humongous now. And the so-called smaller trucks, like the Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, are simply “big.”

Of those smaller trucks, the Chevy is the most modern, the Tacoma is the most reliable and the Nissan is the most Nissany.

Damning with faint praise, or praising with faint damns? I’m not quite sure what “Nissany” actually means.

I do know one person who has owned two Frontiers in succession. Perhaps I should ask her.

In the meantime, I probably should try to make up adjectives for other auto marques. I plead guilty to using “Bimmeresque” once or twice.

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With hair-shirt upholstery

Car and Driver’s comparo panels typically award a maximum of 240 points, though few cars come close to maxing out every single category. There’s a 25-point maximum for “Fun to Drive,” and once or twice a car (not a truck, to your undoubted amazement) has actually hit it. In the July test of compact sedans, won by the Mazda 3 — 203 points total, 23 for Fun to Drive — the hummer-than-humdrum Nissan Sentra, which amassed only 141 points in aggregate, had the embarrassing FtD score of six. A late bus full of catcallers on a rainy day would surely score more than 6; in fact, I think this is the lowest such score I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been reading this crazed mag since the late 1970s. The only thing that comes close is Jonathan Richman’s Dodge Veg-O-Matic, and it has worse acceleration than the Sentra. For that matter, it has worse acceleration than a garden slug.

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A sweet little car

Literally so, it would seem:

Now I wonder what a High Fructose Corn Syrup conveyance might look like. (Probably a slammed Civic with fart-can exhaust and a wing the size of a slab of drywall.)

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Gimme back my gears

Nissan is busily bolting continuously-variable transmissions into almost everything it sells, though it should be noted that the only Infiniti that gets a CVT, the QX60, is the only one that’s also sold for a few dollars less as a Nissan (the Pathfinder). That said, the upcoming Q30/QX30 will presumably be fitted with the Mercedes-Benz 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, because people will avoid it in droves if it has the rubber-band box — and because its engine, albeit built by Nissan in the States, is a Mercedes design. There has been no suggestion that any other Infiniti will be saddled with a CVT, which is a good thing, given Dale Franks’ opinion of the CVT inflicted on every Nissan Altima:

Some people, of course, will find the Continuously Variable Transmission perfectly acceptable, but for me, it’s a hump I can’t get over. Which, I must say, biases me against Nissan in general, because the CVT powertrain is their bread and butter, and it appears in nearly all of the cars in their lineup. Nissan, as I’ve mentioned before, is fully invested in the CVT, and they’ve done everything they can to make as good a CVT as possible. Yet, the end result is like a gourmet pastry, baked by Paul Bocuse, and made from the finest flour, the richest chocolate, the purest cane sugar, the freshest heavy cream, and bat guano.

But is it the highest-quality bat guano? Not at the Altima’s price point, I suspect.

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Quote of the week

Preston Lerner, in the September Automobile, on Nissan’s entry at 24 Hours of LeMans:

Some race cars inspire love. Others generate hate. Nissan’s GT-R LM NISMO does both. It couldn’t be more polarizing if it were a nuclear-powered, transgender cyborg engineered to perform Masses and abortions on alternating weekends.

I’m betting editor-in-chief Mike Floyd stared at that for several minutes before finally putting down his pencil.

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Cheesy suspension parts

Perhaps even dangerously cheesy:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How much deos it to fix a 2004 Nissan queso axle?

Truth be told, I would be surprised if the garage in fact has any cheese at all.

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Apocalypse may be imminent

What we have here is a sport-utility vehicle. From MG. Yes, that MG, kinda sorta:

MG CS concept

SAIC, the Chinese automaker which has owned MG for the past decade, showed off this concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2013, and now it appears they’re going to build it:

[The MG CS is] set to debut just after the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016 and will be MG’s first ever entrant into the hotly-contested small SUV segment dominated by the Nissan Qashqai.

It’ll measure up to compete against the larger offerings in the segment like the Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V, and more than likely be offered with a 2.0-litre diesel and a 1.8-litre petrol with two- or four-wheel drive.

Of course, we don’t get the Qashqai here either, ostensibly because Nissan thinks it’s too small for the US market, though I suspect Nissan doesn’t want to have to teach us how to pronounce it. (Hyundai is “HYOON-dye” everywhere but in the States, where we’re considered too dumb to handle Korean names.)

If you’re asking “But where are the sports cars?” here’s your answer, or at least an answer:

MG’s new focus on SUVs has come at the cost of a new MG two-seater roadster. Since the demise of the MG TF in 2010, fans have been crying out for a new sports car harking back to the MGA, MGB, MGF and TF. [MG] told us that a new sports car would arrive in the future, but not for the next five years at least as the brand concentrates on more profitable sectors like the SUV market.

That TF, of course, is nothing like this TF, except for minor details like having four wheels.

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Dream yon, autocorrupt

As more and more mobile users enter the fray, you’re going to see stuff like this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Where is the speed control sensor for a 2000 Nassau maximum?

At least, I think he means “speed control sensor.”

Still: “Nassau”? Could this actually be the bitchin’ Camaro his folks drove up from the Bahamas?

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And lo, the meter shall run

Nissan has been calling it the Taxi of Tomorrow, and this is what it’s like:

2.0L 4-cylinder engine, a low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking, sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, transparent roof panel (with shade), independently controlled rear air conditioning with a grape phenol-coated air filter, breathable, antimicrobial, environmentally friendly and easy-to-clean seat fabric that simulates the look and feel of leather; overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings, a mobile charging station for passengers that includes a 12V electrical outlet and two USB plugs, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat that features both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed; standard driver’s navigation and telematics systems; front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, as well as seat-mounted airbags for the front row; standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), lights that alert other road users that taxi doors are opening.

Needless to say, this little darb is controversial. Consider, if you will, Greater New York Taxi Association v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which apparently has now gone as far as it can:

New York’s plan for a new fleet of cabs from Nissan Motor Co. is legal, an appeals court ruled, overturning a judge who said the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission overstepped its authority by requiring owners to buy a specific vehicle.

The so-called Taxi of Tomorrow program is a “legally appropriate response to the agency’s statutory obligation to produce a 21st-century taxicab consistent with the broad interests and perspectives that the agency is charged with protecting,” Justice David B. Saxe wrote [this week] for the appeals court in Manhattan.

Nissan won a contract in 2011 valued at $1 billion over 10 years to supply more than 15,000 minivans with sliding doors, more luggage space and airbags in the back, for the city’s taxi fleet. The commission in September 2012 designated the Nissan NV200 as the official “Taxi of Tomorrow” and required owners of medallions, which confer the right to operate yellow cabs in New York, to buy the $29,700 vehicles.

What does Hizzoner think of this?

Mayor Bill De Blasio, who received more than $200,000 in taxi-industry donations during his campaign, said before taking office that he opposed the plan because not all cabs would be wheelchair-accessible. The proposal calls for about 2,000 of the taxis to be fitted for disabled riders.

But this, too, had apparently been settled:

U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled in December 2011 that the commission subjects disabled people who use wheelchairs and scooters to discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York overturned Daniels’ ruling in June 2012 and found that the act doesn’t obligate the commission to require taxi owners to provide access for disabled people.

It seems to me that we could have avoided all this, or most of it anyway, by forcing Ford to keep building the Crown Victoria.

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Needs an eye-bleach dispenser

Nissan, perhaps due to rubbing up against corporate cousin Renault for all these years, always seems to have a weird mix of genuinely handsome and downright fugly vehicles. I drive a 14-year-old Infiniti sedan which I think is at least acceptable-looking (apart from a really dumb aftermarket spoiler), especially considering the atrocities that have been vended in this size class in recent years in the name of fuel economy/aerodynamics/designer perversity. On the other side of the divide is the Juke utelet, of which Car and Driver said: “There are no logical reasons for it to look the way it does, so clearly drawn without conventional aesthetic considerations in mind.” And they liked it.

The revised Infiniti QX80, née QX56, née Nissan Patrol, may get similarly blistered in the press. At TTAC, Cameron Miquelon made no particular observation about its appearance, other than to note that the hood was “massive.” However, Michael Zak at Autoblog brought out the pejoratives:

[I]t’s hard to call this SUV anything but ugly. It’s bulbous and almost brutish, which aren’t generally words you want to have to use when talking about any kind of luxury vehicle.

Or even Lincolns.

On the basis that you should be able to make this fine judgment call on your own, here’s the new QX80, as seen at the New York auto show:

2015 Infiniti QX80

No amount of ethanol could persuade me that this thing is desirable. (Your mileage, of course, may vary.) Then again, the driver only has to look at the inside of it, except when refueling — which, given the size of this thing, he’ll be doing rather frequently.

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I suppose I asked for this

Yesterday I answered another question at Yahoo!, this one having to do with continuously-variable transmissions, and somewhere therein I said this:

CVTs (such as the Jatcos used by Nissan, which owns most of the company) behave differently than ordinary slushboxes, and J. Random Goober, confronted with rising engine noise and a stock-still tach, goes completely to pieces.

This morning, having been notified that I’d been awarded Best Answer, I returned to the page and discovered that Yahoo! had stuck a link under “Random Goober.” Curiosity won out, and this is what I saw:

Random Goober images

Well, um, okay. Who’s that guy in the center?

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Babe magnets, how do they work?

I really hate to dash anyone’s hopes — no, really, I do — but I don’t think this will end well:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I am a 27 year old black male and drive a 2007 glacier pearl white nissan murano sl. am I going to get ladies?

It’s not entirely stock, either:

It has tints and a mesh grille and a black hood deflector instead

James, my man, I hate to break it to you, but the woman who falls for you because of your wheels won’t last beyond a couple of oil changes. Sorry.

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Best used-car ad ever

If I didn’t already have a newer model, I’d be sorely tempted:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Datsunny dispositions

In thirty-five states, the Ford F-150 pickup truck is the single best-selling motor vehicle. This of course means that something actually outsells the F-150 in the remaining states, but I have to admit, I wouldn’t have figured this: Oklahomans buy more Nissan Altimas than anything else.

Then again, maybe I should have. If everybody actually shows up to work, the parking lot will be awash in Nissan products: apart from my Infiniti, you’ll find a Frontier pickup, a Maxima, and two — sometimes three — Altimas. (El Jefe has, or at least had for several years, the massive Armada SUV, and I’ve seen him in a Z.) Only Chevy comes close. I’m guessing this is because none of us, El Jefe included, are getting rich.

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An almost-new Leaf

You will now be able to get Certified Pre-Owned Nissan Leafs (Leaves?), assuming some are actually traded in:

Beginning in September, Certified Pre-Owned Nissan LEAF vehicles will be backed by the company to provide years of quality and performance at a great value.

In addition to the existing 8-year/100,000 mile battery warranty coverage protecting against defects in materials and workmanship, and 5 year/60,000 mile coverage for battery capacity loss below 9 bars of capacity as shown by the vehicle’s battery capacity level gauge, Nissan will extend the EV system and powertrain warranty coverage to 7 years or 100,000 miles.

All warranties, of course, are Whichever Comes First.

The battery gauge has 12 bars, but this does not necessarily mean that capacity eventually drops to 75 percent; if I’ve learned nothing else as the owner of a Nissan-built vehicle, it’s that the gauge calibrations, other than speedo/tach, are more arbitrary than linear.

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You’ll note it’s not the Y-Trail

Doug DeMuro’s Frankfurt Auto Show recap for TTAC contained the following paragraph:

Nissan revealed the all-new X-Trail, which will be sold stateside as the Rogue. Female drivers rejoiced, while male car shoppers thought to themselves: Am I comfortable enough with my sexuality to like this?

No photo was offered, so I went out hunting, and came up with this rendering courtesy of Australia’s The Motor Report:

2014 Nissan X-Trail

It’s not as bizarre as the Juke, but scarcely anything is as bizarre as the Juke. Still, I continue to maintain that a Real Man™ drives what he damn well pleases. Were I buying in this class, I’d probably rather have a Mazda CX-5, which is similarly devoid of the sort of boy-racer styling cues that DeMuro suggests, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that the lads covet.

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Perhaps a tad overextended

I mean, he put up something like £76,000 to own this car:

Quoted £400 per tyre for Nissan GT R, does anyone know of cheaper tyres in S.E England?

Wonder if he’s had his 30,000-km service yet.

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Amphibian chaff

From Car and Driver‘s take (8/13) on the Nissan Juke NISMO:

There are no logical reasons for it to look the way it does, so clearly drawn without conventional aesthetic considerations in mind. And its 1.6-liter turbo four is an overachiever, imbuing this automotive non sequitur with the verve to match its shape. There’s not a cynical bolt or negative bead of adhesive in the Juke’s batrachian body.

The online version of this same half-paragraph is a lot less scintillating:

There are no logical reasons for it to look the way it does; its aesthetics are so clearly drawn without concern for what critics would think. Its 1.6-liter turbo four is an overachiever, imbuing this automotive non sequitur with the verve to match its shape. There’s not a cynical bolt or bead of adhesive in the Juke’s spunky, amphibian body.

I have to assume that someone in the Web department choked on “batrachian,” and that’s a shame, unless you’re Miss Piggy.

(Title from this recording, a copy of which I have owned for close to forty years.)

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We’re having leftovers

Actual Nissan ad from Fark.com, screencapped on Sunday, 2 June 2013 at just after 11 pm:

2012 Nissan Frontier for lease

Hope they can unload some of these before the ’14s start showing up.

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Failure to adapt

Species that exhibit non-optimal behavior, says Mr Darwin, are on the royal road to extinction. Two or three cars from now, you won’t have to deal with some joker like this anymore:

Today I went to verify that I love the 2013 Nissan Rogue which I got to know as a rental on two long business trips. The salesman thought I’d save a lot of money if I bought the 2012 because it [was] essentially unchanged. I told him no, so he went to retrieve the car I asked for so I could try out the equipment I wanted and he brought back a 2012 for me to test drive.

Perhaps this was his way of proving that the ’13 was not so different from the ’12, inasmuch as he couldn’t tell them apart himself.

But no, that’s giving the fellow too much credit:

I didn’t stay to hash it out because I had to leave when he referred to my fatness. (Yes he did.) (The one absolutely unlivable thing about the Rogue is that it has crappy fabric like a reusable grocery bag on the door handles and console cover when I was explaining that my current car has that and it’s a problem with hand prints and wear, he said something like “Larger people like you and me have special problems and we need a lot of room to maneuver around.” Dude, I might be fat but I’m not so fat that I rub the fabric off of car doors.)

Way to go with the synthetic empathy, chump.

How long do we have before dealer-franchise laws are yanked and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down? Ten, fifteen years?

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