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Nissan slammed by DVSA for failing to fix Qashqai diesel

Nissan criticised over dirty diesel response

Nissan has come under fire from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for its reluctance to tackle excessive exhaust emissions from Qashqai dCi diesel models.

Nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions were found to be well above what prior testing had established in new WLTP tests – and beyond acceptable standards.

The WLTP fuel economy test was introduced last year and includes RDE (Real Driving Emissions) measurements. It replaces the old NEDC test, which was less realistic in ‘real world’ driving.

Nissan criticised over dirty diesel response

The DVSA’s findings have so far failed to prompt any action from Nissan. It says the Qashqai meets all current standards, and that its priority is future product – rather than re-calibration of existing diesel vehicles.

“All Nissan vehicles fully comply with today’s emissions legislation,” the company’s response reads. “We support the new RDE tests that have now been adopted and have introduced a range of drivetrains to meet them.

“We will continue to develop affordable and innovative solutions to reduce our impact on the environment, such as our Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 electric vehicles.”

Nissan criticised over dirty diesel response

Nissan’s sister company, Renault, has taken a more pro-active approach – something the DVSA highlights in its latest Vehicle Market Surveillance Unit report. Renault, which uses the same engine, has ‘issued a voluntary offer to customers visiting a Renault dealer to implement a NOx upgrade’.

The kicker is that if Renault offers it, then a diesel fix exists that could pertain to affected Nissan models.

The Nissan Qashqai is built at the marque’s Sunderland plant in the UK. It has been one of the UK’s best-selling cars for more than a decade.

 

Nissan Qashqai moves a step closer to being a self-driving car

Nissan Qashqai with ProPilot

Nissan’s advanced ProPilot drive-assistance technology is now available on all automatic variants of the Qashqai crossover.

Used during single-lane driving, the system maintains the car’s lane position and distance from the vehicle in front, edging the UK’s best-selling crossover a step closer to self-driving autonomy.

According to Nissan, ProPilot is the “first step on the journey towards autonomous driving” and is designed to be a ‘hands on, eyes on’ technology.

In other words: the driver remains in control and responsible for the vehicle at all times.

2019 Nissan Qashqai

ProPilot is designed for low-speed congestion and high-speed cruising, with Nissan claiming it “liberates drivers from some of the more mundane elements of motoring”.

It’s activated via a ProPilot button on the right of the Qashqai’s steering wheel, with the ‘SET’ button used to maintain the current speed and a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

The Qashqai will slow to a complete stop if the traffic conditions require, before pulling away if the car is stationary for three seconds or less. If the wait is longer, the driver can continue by using the ‘RESUME’ button or tapping the accelerator.

‘Confidence, control and enjoyment’

Nissan Qashqai built in Sunderland

Kalyana Sivagnanam, managing director Nissan GB, said; “The Nissan Qashqai has always been a leader in terms of innovative design and technologies that enhance the ownership experience.

“Our advanced ProPilot drive assistance adds a greater level of confidence, control and enjoyment to the UK’s best-selling crossover.”

ProPilot is currently available on the Leaf and Qashqai in the UK, with the X-Trail set to receive the technology later in 2019.

On N-Connecta grades, ProPilot is a £595 option, but the technology is standard on Tekna and Tekna+ grades. For Qashqais with a manual gearbox a Drive Assist Pack is available as standard on Tekna and Tekna+, and as a £595 option on N-Connecta models.

Drive Assist Pack is essentially ProPilot ‘lite’, with the system not featuring the stop/resume function.

ProPilot debuted on the Nissan Serena in Japan in 2016, and since then more than 350,000 vehicles have left the factory equipped with the technology. It is available on the all-electric Nissan Leaf as well. 

Tokyo swift: 50 years of Nissan Z-cars and the GT-R

Nissan sports cars

Fifty years ago, two iconic Nissan sports cars were born. We tell the story of the Z-car and the GT-R, from 1969 to the present day.

Nissan 240Z

Z cars

Six generations of Nissan Z-car began with the 240Z in 1969. In Japan, it was known as the Fairlady – and ‘fair’ it was, with styling that paid homage to the epochal Jaguar E-Type. From day one, the notion of six cylinders out-front, with power going to the rear wheels, was set in stone.

Nissan Skyline GT-R ‘Hakosuka’

Nissan sports cars

The KPGC10 was unveiled in October 1970 before going on sale in March 1971, and the classic two-door box-shaped Skyline GT-R was born. A total of 1,197 two-door Skyline 2000 GT-Rs were built, making it more common than its four-door sibling. That said, the ‘Hakosuka’ is a rare beast, as many were lost in racing. Loosely translated, the nickname means ‘boxy Skyline’.

Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R

Nissan sports cars

A second-generation Skyline GT-R was unveiled in 1973. The KPGC110 was bigger and heavier than its predecessor, but its engine remained the same, meaning it was also slower. Its styling was more American muscle car than Japanese family saloon, but it did usher in one of the Skyline GT-R’s signature details: four round rear lights. Fewer than 200 GT-R coupes were built – all of which were sold in Japan – with production lasting just six months.

Nissan 260Z

Z cars

The 260Z was released in 1974 and, although it’s closely related to the 240Z, it came with some significant updates. These included increased engine displacement – to 2.6 litres – plus a longer-wheelbase 2+2 version.

Nissan 280Z

Z cars

More updates to the first Z in 1975 brought it up to 2.8 litres and added Bosch fuel injection. Although more powerful at 170hp, this update was also heavier, thanks in part to US federal safety regulations, as well as added luxuries.

Nissan 280ZX

Z cars

The 280ZX of 1978 is considered the true second-generation Z car. It added yet more creature comforts, an optional T-top and a turbo for the American market. Like the E-Type that influenced it, the Z-car and its 60s curves had evolved over the course of a decade – and not for the better.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Nissan sports cars

The GT-R name sat dormant for the rest of the 1970s and most of the 1980s. However, in 1985, Naganori Ito was given the task of developing a new range of Nissan sports cars. Work started on the top-secret Project GT-X in 1986, with Nissan launching a succession of production cars based on the Skyline R32, including a true icon: the GT-R. Alongside the Porsche 959, it pushed the boundaries of performance car development, and was the first all-wheel-drive GT-R.

Nissan 300ZX (Z31)

Z cars

It wouldn’t be until 1984 that the Nissan Z-car got a major overhaul The 1980s hit the Z hard, with the 240’s sexy styling sacrificed for pop-up lights and a wedgy silhouette. Underneath, the inline six made way for the VG V6, which would later be turbocharged and used in IMSA GTP racing.

Nissan 300ZX (Z32)

Z cars

Another six years of tinkering would go by before the original 300ZX was replaced by the futuristic second-generation car. By 1990, we were comfortably into the era of the high-tech Skyline, and so the Z followed suit. This 300ZX was one of the first cars to be developed using computer-aided design.

Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33)

Nissan sports cars

Today, Nurburgring lap records are two-a-penny, but the R33 Skyline GT-R sent shockwaves through the performance car world when it became the first production car to lap the ‘Green Hell’ in less than eight minutes. Its 2.6-litre straight-six engine was carried over from the R32, with output restricted to 280hp as part of a Japanese ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. A few engine tweaks meant that the R33 was a tad quicker to 62mph, but many people chose to take advantage of the RB26 engine’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for tuning. This was the first Skyline GT-R to be officially imported into the UK.

Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34)

Nissan sports cars

If you’d somehow managed to miss the hype surrounding the Skyline GT-R, there was no escaping the R34 of 1999. Thanks to Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), the Skyline GT-R was thrust into the mainstream when it appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. But the R34 was more than just a movie prop – this was one of the most technically advanced cars on the planet, featuring a trick four-wheel-drive system and four-wheel steering.

Nissan 350Z

Z cars

The last Z had a slow death towards the end of the 90s, with increasing prices and slowing sales bringing the model line’s validity into question. But by 2002, the Z had been reinvented for the new millennium. With a naturally-aspirated V6, chunky yet sporty styling and back-to-basics sports car driving dynamics, the 350Z was a breakout success and helped ease the loss of the R34 GT-R.

Nissan GT-R (R35)

Nissan sports cars

In truth, the Skyline GT-R story ends here, because Nissan chose to ditch the Skyline name. But the R35 GT-R didn’t just move the game on, it re-wrote the rulebook. With the Japanese agreement limiting horsepower consigned to the history books, Nissan was free to unleash fury. The £60,000 R35 featured a 485hp 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine at launch – and has been regularly upgraded ever since. As it stands today, it’s a 600hp supercar-slayer.

Nissan 370Z (Z34)

Z cars

Even after seven years on sale, the 350Z didn’t evolve much to create the 3.7-litre 370Z. With a dusting of GT-R influence, it went on sale 10 years ago and continues to soldier on today, along with the R35 GT-R.

Nissan GT-R50

Nissan sports cars

A coach-built GT-R by Italdesign is Nissan’s 50th birthday present to its most famous son. It will also be one of the most exclusive Nissans ever made, with just a handful of examples making their way to owners. As for the next-generation GT-R, rumours suggest a petrol/electric hybrid.

The next Nissan Z-car

Z cars

The future of the Z-car is even more mysterious – with a sporty crossover initially mooted. Those rumblings have since died down, with recent news suggesting a true sports car is on the way. Sadly, we’re not sure the six-cylinder engine will survive. For now, let’s enjoy this 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition and hope for more Z-badged muscle to come.

Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary and updated Nismo revealed

Nissan GT-R 50th NYAS

The legendary GT-R badge turns 50 this year, and Nissan is celebrating with a 50th Anniversary Edition GT-R.

It has been revealed at the 2019 New York Auto Show, alongside an updated Nismo version.

50th Anniversary Edition GT-R

Nissan NYAS

You could be forgiven for thinking this 50th Anniversary Edition is nothing more than a stickers-and-paint job, especially after the bespoke, hand-built GT-R50 by Italdesign. You’d be wrong, however.

As is the way with the GT-R, a new version and model-year comes with tangible incremental updates. These include new more refined turbos for better power delivery and efficiency, plus an updated exhaust manifold for ease of servicing and ‘potential tuning’ – their words. There are also new titanium exhaust mufflers, along with upgraded gearshift and suspension software.

As for the 50th Anniversary bits, Bayside Blue, previously seen on the legendary R34 GT-R, makes a return. The livery replicates that used on the original Hakosuka for the Japan GP series. There are more subtle highlights on the inside, including special trim for the shift knob and steering wheel.

Nissan GT-R 50th NYAS

“A GT-R is about total balance management,” said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist for the car. “It is not about chasing a power figures, but creating a new GT-R, where no aspect has been overlooked. This is appropriate to celebrate the GT-R 50th anniversary.”

We’re not sure we’d call it ‘new’, but tinkering is always appreciated.

2020 GT-R Nismo: to the extreme

Nissan GT-R 50th NYAS

There are updates for the Nismo GT-R, too. The car is around 30kg lighter before, thanks to more extensive use of carbon fibre for the race-inspired bodywork. New Porsche-style vents over the front wheels improve air extraction from the wheel wells and increase downforce.

The Nismo has turbochargers straight off the GT3 car, for a 20 percent improvement in power delivery. Peak power is still 600hp, but you get access to it quicker.

Nissan NYAS

It wouldn’t be a fettled GT-R without a touch of the aftermarket, though. New for the 2020 Nismo are stunning 20-inch forged Rays alloy wheels, wrapped in new Dunlop tyres that increase contact patch by 11 percent. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.

Inside, it’s business as usual. That’s to say, lots of red flashes, Alcantara and some mean-looking bucket seats.

Nissan GT-R 50th NYAS

Golden Godzilla: 50 years of the Nissan GT-R

50 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R

The iconic Nissan Skyline GT-R is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, but the story doesn’t begin with the ‘Hakosuka’ of 1969. Instead, the Skyline GT-R can trace its roots back to a saloon car of the 1950s, before the family tree branches off with the launch of the Nissan GT-R in 2007, culminating most recently in the Italdesign GT-R50. Here, we take a brief look at the history of one of Japan’s most exhilarating performance cars.

1957 Prince Skyline

02_skyline_GT-R_history

It’s hard to believe that the current Nissan GT-R is a direct descendant of the 1957 Prince Skyline. The Prince Motor Company had roots in the aircraft and electric car industries and was named in honour of Prince Michinomiya Hirohito. At the helm was the late Dr Shinichiro Sakurai, a man responsible for Skyline products up to and including the R30. He understood the importance of racing when influencing car design, but the Skyline of 1957 showed little in the way of sporting intent. The styling was influenced by American cars of the time, while power was sourced from a four-cylinder engine first seen in the Subaru 1500.

Prince Skyline GT

03_skyline_GT-R_history

The first racing version was the Skyline Sport of 1962. Still powered by a four-cylinder engine, the Prince Skyline Sport competed in the inaugural Japanese Grand Prix of 1963 at Suzuka, where it finished seventh in the Sports Car class. A year later, the Prince Motor Company unveiled the Skyline GT, a car designed to stop the European cars from dominating the Japanese Grand Prix. The wheelbase of the Skyline 1500 was extended by 200mm to house a six-cylinder engine, with racing enhancements comprising triple Weber carburettors, a five-speed gearbox and a non-slip differential. The Porsche 904 won the race, but the Skyline GT filled all positions from second to sixth. A road-going version followed – the GT-R seed was sown.

Prince R380

04_skyline_GT-R_history

Dr Sakurai wasn’t going to take the defeat lying down. The stunning Prince R380 was designed with a single-minded objective: to beat Porsche. Completed in 1965, the R380 was Japan’s first mid-engined car, with a platform and chassis design influenced by the Brabham BT8. It used the rear lights from the road-going Skyline, but the primary feature was the 2.0-litre six-cylinder GR8 engine – the genesis of the Skyline GT-R. Car number 11 driven by Yoshikazu Sunakothat won the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at the first attempt – the last race before Prince merged with Nissan. Prince also finished second and fourth – the Porsche 906 was vanquished.

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R

05_skyline_GT-R_history

Three years later, a star was born. The first GT-R had been in development for a number of years and was based on the 1968 2000GT. It might have looked like a humble four-door saloon, but power was sourced from a modified GR8 racing engine, complete with triple twin-choke Solex carburettors, an electronic ignition, a limited-slip differential and a five-speed gearbox. At a time when four-speed ’boxes were considered advanced, the GT-R pushed the envelope of performance design. This was one of the fastest production cars in Japan, with a top speed of 124mph. Just 832 four-door 2000GT-Rs were built.

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R

06_skyline_GT-R_history

The 2000GT-R (PGC10) made a winning start to its racing career, finishing first at the 1969 JAF Grand Prix at Fuji, before securing a string of 49 consecutive victories. In 1972, the Skyline 2000GT-R secured its 50th race win, with K. Takahashi taking the chequered flag on a drenched Fuji circuit. But with competition from Toyota and Mazda, the GT-R was less competitive in 1972 and 1973, but still managed to win a total of 58 races overall, including that magnificent 49-race dominance.

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R

07_skyline_GT-R_history

A two-door version (KPGC10) was unveiled in October 1970 before going on sale in March 1971. A total of 1,197 two-door Skyline 2000GT-Rs were built, making it more common than its four-door sibling. That said, the ‘Hakosuka’ is a rare beast, as many cars were lost during racing. Loosely, ‘Hakosuka’ is Japanese for ‘boxy Skyline’.

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R Racing Concept

08_skyline_GT-R_history

The Skyline 2000GT-R Racing Concept was exhibited at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show, with its number chosen to represent participation in races in the 1973 season. However, Nissan pulled the plug on its work team, with the technical team tasked with developing anti-pollution technology and increased fuel efficiency.

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R ‘Phantom’

09_skyline_GT-R_history

Although Nissan’s racing days were temporarily on the back-burner, a second-generation Skyline GT-R was unveiled in 1973. In common with many new-generation cars of the era, the KPGC110 was bigger and heavier than its predecessor, but the engine remained the same, meaning it was also slower. The styling was more American muscle car than Japanese family saloon, but it did usher in one of the Skyline GT-R’s signature details: four round rear lights. Fewer than 200 GT-R coupes were built – all of which were sold in Japan – with production lasting just six months.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

10_skyline_GT-R_history

The GT-R name sat dormant for the rest of the 1970s and most of the 1980s, but in 1985, Naganori Ito succeeded Dr Shinichiro Sakurai and was given the task of developing a new range of Nissan sports cars. Work started on the top-secret Project GT-X in 1986, with Nissan launching a succession of production cars based on the Skyline R32, including a true icon – the GT-R. Alongside the Porsche 959, it pushed the boundaries of performance car development and was the first all-wheel-drive GT-R. Few cars have moved the game on to such a great extent.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 Calsonic

11_skyline_GT-R_history

The Skyline GT-R R32 made its competition debut at the opening race of the All Japan Touring Car Championship in 1990, with the Calsonic car driven by K. Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki securing victory in the 300km race. It went on to win all 29 races of the four series held from 1990 to 1993, and three consecutive Group A championships in Australia, with the local media nicknaming the GT-R ‘Godzilla’.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

12_skyline_GT-R_history

Quite literally, the R32 changed motorsport. Such was the GT-R’s dominance – it won back-to-back Bathurst 1000 races in 1991 and 1992 – the Australian Touring Car Championship’s governing body banned all-wheel-drive and turbocharging, killing Godzilla in its tracks. But no matter, because the R32 GT-R had already cemented itself as performance car royalty, helped in no small part by its appearance in the Gran Turismo video game franchise.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R33

13_skyline_GT-R_history

Today, Nurburgring lap records are two-a-penny, but the R33 Skyline GT-R sent shockwaves through the performance car world when it became the first production car to lap the ‘Green Hell’ in less than eight minutes. The 2.6-litre straight-six engine was carried over from the R32, with output restricted to 280hp as part of a Japanese gentleman’s agreement. A few engine tweaks meant that the R33 was a tad quicker to 62mph, but many people chose to take advantage of the RB26 engine’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for tuning. This was the first Skyline GT-R to be officially imported in the UK and the lineage with the current GT-R is clear to see.

Nismo Skyline GT-R LM

14_skyline_GT-R_history

Needless to say, the R33 Skyline GT-R proved to be an effective racing car. In 1995, a Nismo Skyline GT-R LM completed 271 laps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 10th – a remarkable achievement considering the strength of the opposition. The race was won by a McLaren F1 GTR, but other competitors included the Porsche 911 GT2, Ferrari F40 LM and Callaway Corvette. To mark the occasion, Nissan produced a limited edition Nismo version, with an extreme 400R following in 1997.

Nissan Skyline GT-R LM road car

15_skyline_GT-R_history

This will be familiar to fans of Gran Turismo – it’s the one-off R33 LM road car. It was built to satisfy homologation rules, which allowed Nissan to go racing at the 1995 Le Mans. Beneath the bonnet lies a detuned version of the race-going 2.6-litre straight-six, while the arches are a full 50mm wider than the standard car. Amazingly, this thing was actually registered in the UK.

Nissan Skyline GT-R LM

16_skyline_GT-R_history

Nissan and Nismo launched the ‘3-Year Project: Challenge to Le Mans’ in 1995, but the programme ended in 1996 when living with the Porsche 911 GT1 was proving to be an impossible dream. Car number 23 finished 15th overall and fifth in class, with the engine output increased to 2.8-litre to deliver in excess of 600hp.

Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec R33

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V-Spec first appeared on the R32 Skyline GT-R of 1993, a high-performance variant with standard equipment including Brembo brakes and 17-inch BBS alloy wheels. A V-Spec version of the R33 was available from launch and featured uprated suspension and an active limited-slip differential. In 1997, Skyline specialist Middlehurst Nissan built 100 modified V-Spec cars, with changes including a 180mph speedometer, UK-spec bumpers and mechanical upgrades.

Pennzoil Nismo Skyline GT-R

18_skyline_GT-R_history

In 1998, this Pennzoil Nismo Skyline GT-R competed in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, picking up two race wins on its way to the GT500 title. The engine was upgraded from 2.6 litres to 2.8 litres to deliver a maximum output of 500hp.

Nissan GT-R Autech Version 40th Anniversary

19_skyline_GT-R_history

When tuning house Autech decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Skyline GT-R in 1998, there was only one thing to do – build a four-door version. This paid homage to the ‘Hakosuka’, and there had been plenty of four-door variants of the common or garden Skyline models. It is, perhaps, the greatest Q-car GT-R since the 1969 original. The final Skyline GT-R was built in November 1998, but we wouldn’t have long to wait for the next-generation model.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

20_skyline_GT-R_history

If you’d somehow managed to miss the hype surrounding the Skyline GT-R, there was no escaping the R34 of 1999. Thanks to Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), the Skyline GT-R was thrust into the mainstream when it appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. But the R34 was more than just a movie prop – this was one of the most technically advanced cars on the planet, featuring a trick four-wheel-drive system and four-wheel-steering.

Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec R34

21_skyline_GT-R_history

As is normal for the Skyline GT-R, it wasn’t long before tuning houses were creating monsters out of the R34, with Nissan creating some in-house specials of its own. Various flavours of V-Spec (pictured) were available, along with a range of Nismo editions. In 2004, Nissan launched the GT-R Nismo Z-Tune. Conceived to win a ‘tuner battle’, Nismo built 20 road-going versions, each one with more power and a host of mechanical upgrades.

Nissan Skyline GT-R M-Spec Nur

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There are far too many Skyline GT-R special editions to mention, but the M-Spec Nur is worthy of inclusion. ‘M’ stood for Mizuno, Nissan’s chief engineer, with ‘Nur’ derived from the Nurburgring, where the R34 was developed. Just 250 were built as the R34 bowed out, taking the Skyline GT-R name with it. But that’s not to say the GT-R badge was dead.

Nissan GT-R Concept

23_skyline_GT-R_history

Looks familiar, doesn’t it? Although the current Nissan GT-R as we know it today was still six years away, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s a pretty good preview of the production model. At least it would have been if it had an engine. Instead, Nissan said that it previewed the look of a 21st century GT-R, albeit without the Skyline name. You could even drive it – just as long as you had a copy of Gran Turismo 4. A further concept was launched before the production version made its debut in 2007.

Nissan Skyline GT-R Z-Tune

50 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R

The unofficial reboot of the R34 came out in 2005 courtesy of Nismo. Just 20 Z-Tunes exist, built up from low-mileage R34s. Updates include swathes of carbon fibre bodywork borrowed from the GT500 racer, a 500hp upgrade for the hand-assembled RB 2.8-litre straight-six – also race-influenced – and upgraded stability control systems. Chassis #001 commanded a £400,000 hammer price four years ago. Needless to say, this is the ultimate R34 variant.

Nissan GT-R

50 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R

In truth, the Skyline GT-R story ends here, because Nissan chose to ditch the Skyline name. But the R35 GT-R didn’t just move the game on, it re-wrote the rulebook. With the Japanese gentleman’s agreement limiting the horsepower consigned to the history books, Nissan was free to unleash fury. The £60,000 supercar-tamer featured a 485hp 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine – more than double that of its predecessor.

Nissan GT-R Nismo

50 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R

The R35 GT-R has gone through numerous iterations in its 12 years on sale. The Spec-V was the first variant that showed Nissan had every intention of regularly upping the ante. It blasted past 500hp, leading to the current range-topping 600hp GT-R Nismo. If you ask nicely, you can have the latter with the skunkworks ‘N Attack’ package, which helped it blitz the Nurburgring.

Nissan GT-R50

50 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R

The R35 GT-R has gone on to create its own legend, upsetting the establishment, setting lap records and evolving into one of the most formidable performance cars on the planet. The Prince of the road has turned into the king of the track, with the latest Italdesign GT-R50 celebrating Godzilla’s Golden Jubilee. Happy 50th birthday, GT-R.

UK Brexit pledge letter revealed: will Nissan get its £61 million?

X-trail production UK Brexit

Nissan’s decision to move production of the next X-Trail from the UK to Japan has hit the headlines. However, the firm also appears to be violating the terms of an investment offered by the UK government in October 2016.

Has Nissan defaulted on its side of the deal? We examine the story so far.

Investment “contingent” on UK production of X-Trail and Qashqai

After the Brexit vote in 2016, the UK Government pledged £80 million to Nissan on the basis that Sunderland would build the next X-Trail and Qashqai SUVs.

The recently released letter from Business Secretary Greg Clark to then-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stated the money was “contingent on a positive decision by the Nissan Board to allocate production of the Qashqai and X-Trail models to the Sunderland Plant”. That investment was later reduced to £61 million based on a review from an independent advisory committee.

However, based on the turbulent course of the UK’s EU exit so far, including the threat of a no-deal Brexit, Nissan has pulled the X-Trail from Sunderland. Nissan Europe chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, said on Sunday that “the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future”.

Nissan has yet to receive any more than £2.6 million of the promised money, but this latest move means a reapplication will be necessary.

X-trail production UK Brexit

The car industry’s feeling around Brexit wasn’t confident three years ago. Since then especially over the last six months as a potentially catastrophic no-deal scenario looms large that fear has worsened.

Nissan has risked this pledged investment, demonstrating its lack of confidence in what was described by the government as an “unrivalled business environment here in the UK”.

The letter contained promises to protect the presence of car manufacturers in the UK, saying they were a “critical priority of our negotiations to support UK car manufacturers, and ensure their ability to export to and from the EU is not adversely affected by the UK’s future relationship with the EU”.

This, without any guarantee of a continued membership of the customs union or a specific trading relationship…

How might Nissan get its £61 million?

The future of the UK’s investment in Nissan isn’t totally bleak. The money may go to the company as planned, for use in developing alternative energy technologies (electric and hybrid cars, for instance).

The real question, though, is where will they be built? Given that the electric Leaf continues to be made in Sunderland, the plant’s future seems assured for now.

What’s the fallout?

X-trail production UK Brexit

While Nissan defaulting on the X-Trail promise halted the creation of 741 UK jobs, production of the Juke, Qashqai and Leaf has been retained. That’s secured the jobs of the existing 7,000 Sunderland workers. For Nissan’s part, this is a warning of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.

Greg Clark said: “While the decision was made on broader business grounds, Nissan commented on the need for us to come together and resolve the question of our future trading relationship with the EU. I believe their advice should be listened to and acted upon.”

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, followed: “The government’s mishandling of Brexit, the reluctance to rule out ‘no deal’ and the lack of certainty around our future trading relationship with our biggest and nearest trading partner has made this decision sadly predictable, no matter what assurances may have been provided in the past.”

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf ad banned over unrealistic charging claims

Nissan Leaf

Nissan is in trouble with the advertising regulator over misleading claims about charging times for its all-electric Leaf.

The issue centres around the claim that the Leaf’s batteries can be charged up to 80 percent inside an hour. For that kind of performance, however, you’ll need perfect temperatures and the optimum charger set-up. “Quick charge on the move” is a difficult thing to guarantee, as Nissan has now discovered.

Some buyers who chose the car on the merit of the charging claim feel disenfranchised, which has prompted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to act.

The advert was initially changed, so it no longer promised 80 percent capacity in 40-60 minutes. The revised wording said: “get from 20-80 percent in around 60 minutes”.

Nissan Leaf

However, the ASA was still unhappy, viewing the update as a soft get-around, rather than an actual amendment of the original claim. As such, the ad has been banned.

We think carmakers shouldn’t, under any circumstances, make claims that their products can’t deliver on. When it comes to high and low bars, they should guarantee the minimum, not tout the maximum as the norm.

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Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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Nissan Leaf scores five stars in tough new NCAP crash test

Nissan Leaf scores five stars in tough new NCAP crash test

Nissan Leaf scores five stars in tough new NCAP crash test

The electric Nissan Leaf has been awarded five stars as part of a tougher Euro NCAP safety test introduced for 2018.

NCAP says it’s revised its agenda to focus on safety technology to help protect vulnerable road users, including the introduction of a cycling detection test for autonomous emergency braking.

Detecting cyclists presents new challenges to car manufacturers, says NCAP: “Sensors must have a wide angle of view to detect fast-moving cyclists in good time, and complex algorithms are needed to ensure correct identification of potential collision threats while avoiding false activations.”

The new Nissan Leaf is the first car to be tested for its cyclist-detection with auto brake technology.

“These latest updates in Euro NCAP’s active safety testing focus on both the protection of those inside the car and those who share road-space with it,” said Euro NCAP’s secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen.

“Our new assessments demonstrate the increasing level of sophistication that can be achieved by connecting various sensor systems installed on the vehicle. As the cost of these systems drops and computing capabilities increase, standard vehicles will soon become able to help prevent significantly more complex real-life crashes.

“Euro NCAP seeks to encourage this trend and in the context of a safe systems approach, will continue to challenge auto makers to deliver the highest levels of safety performance as standard, for car occupants and vulnerable road users.”

When the original Nissan Leaf was launched in 2011, it was the first all-electric car to be rated five stars by Euro NCAP. With car buyers being encouraged to turn away from conventional engines, NCAP says the Leaf proves that environmental friendliness does not need to come at the expense of improved safety.

As well as a focus on cyclist detection, other changes to the Euro NCAP test for 2018 include testing of pedestrian detection in darkness and obscure lighting conditions to ensure these systems work at all times.

Emergency lane keeping systems are also being tested – with NCAP ensuring they react to the road edge (marked and unmarked) so the vehicle does not run off the road or steer into the path of another vehicle.

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2018 Nissan Micra 1.0-litre

£11,995 Nissan Micra 1.0-litre entry-level model launched

2018 Nissan Micra 1.0-litreNissan has launched a new entry-level version of the Micra, with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine producing an insurance-friendly 71hp. How insurance-friendly? The firm is claiming it’s the cheapest car in its class to insure.

The low-power Micra joins the existing 0.9-litre turbo and 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel, and is expected to quickly make up 1 in 5 Nissan supermini sales in the UK. Europe-wide, it may rise even higher, to a quarter of all Micra sales.

That’s despite 0-62mph taking a yawning 16.4 seconds. Never mind that, reckons Nissan – look at 61.4mpg combined economy, CO2 emissions of 103g/km, and an insurance rating of a lowest-possible group 1.

Indeed, every variant is rated in group 1: the £11,995, Visia, £12,945 Visia+ and £14,145 Acenta.

Ordering is open now but, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to check the 0.9-litre turbo petrol alternative, won’t you? In Visia+ spec, it’s just under £1,000 pricier – yet cuts more than four seconds from the 0-62mph time, while actually proving even more fuel-efficient.

The 64.2mpg combined economy is backed up by a sub-100g/km CO2 figure, too. OK, the insurance rating rises to group 3 but, unless cheapest-possible insurance is absolutely paramount, we’d advise bypassing the 1.0-litre and choosing the 0.9-litre instead.

In this instance, good things really do come in smaller packages.

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