You say you long for the Nissan Sentra SE-R that was once praised as a modern interpretation of the BMW 2002? Well, Nissan has decided the way to scratch that small-car performance itch is to offer you the Sentra NISMO. Powered by a turbocharge four, gears are manually(!) swapped via a six speed transmission with a good old-fashioned clutch pedal in order to best wring out the 188 horses and 177 lb-ft of torque. Large bolsters on the front seats and a red stripe on the steering wheel pointing up round out the enthusiast oriented interior. Red rocker panel trim hints that this car is more than basic economy transportation. The package is rounded out with 18” wheels. No pricing is officially announced by we expect this will run a couple thousand dollars more than the $21,990 SR Turbo.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a sight to behold. In full Quadrifoglio hot-rod trim it is pent up anger from every direction as if it’s been impatiently scolded to sit still when all it wants to do is go outside and bounce off the walls, or track curbing in this case. The sedan is a tight package with tidy overhangs and sexy wheels hiding massive carbon ceramic brakes. The hood hides a highly tuned 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 spitting out 505 hp and a plateau of 443 lb-ft of torque starting at 2,500 rpm. The 6-speed manual–yes, you read that right–is standard equipment and 60 mph is history in 3.8 seconds. This car is serious. So serious that it set the production sedan track record at the Nurburgring with a 7:39. Top speed is 191 mph. Inside a set of serious bucket seats do their best to hold you in place and alcantara trim on the wheel and seats is a nice touch. With a near 50/50 weight balance that Giulia should be a responsive handler. It doesn’t go on sale until later this year but it should prove that after the 8C and 4C sports cars, Alfa remains serious about performance in America.
For many years, BMW could be counted on to provide cars that satisfy the enthusiast itch. Frequently offered with manual transmissions, silky smooth inline 6 engines and perpetually with rear wheel drive it was hardly arrogant for BMW’s tagline to make the claim of being the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine.’ Unfortunately, the truthfulness of BMW’s slogan has been taken into question with ever heavier (but fast) SUV’s, less driver focus on the 3-series, and finally (horror of horrors) the front wheel drive based 2 Series Active Tourer. So the official unveiling today of the M2 had to be a relief for the BMW faithful. The M2 does the M badge proud by offering a manual transmission with 365 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque produced from that ever lovable 3.0-liter Inline 6. The M2 is capable of reaching 60 mph in 4.1 seconds when optioned with the 7-speed DCT. BMW claims under an under 8 minute lap time at the famed Nurburgring. All this driving purity comes at a cost: the M2 starts at $51,700.
We have complained for more than a year at Mazda’s reluctance to provide buyers a choice of transmissions on the top-line 2.5-liter four cylinder versions of its fantastic 3 sedan and hatch. Well, we’re thrilled to report someone finally heard us, because for 2015 you can save a grand and shift for yourself with an excellent 6-speed manual as standard equipment. We drove one not long before attending the NAIAS and found it predictably excellent, and wanted to highlight the good news for you at the Mazda stand at the North American International Auto Show.
Watch as Gernand takes a rally car out on the track for a couple of hot laps. Well, sort of. When we say “hot” we mean the mercury in the thermometer was pegged, and when we say “rally”, well, he drove a Subaru Legacy 2.5GT. So really, he took a family sedan out for a rather sedate spin. We’re blaming the boost gauge for our delusions of rally grandeur! Read more…
BMW’s Popular Coupe Loses a Turbo But None of its Charm
We’re sorry if a certain subset of our readers are tired of hearing the automotive enthusiast press gush about how great the BMW 3-Series (pick a body style, any body style) is. We maintain that if you don’t understand why the 3 earns our endless praise you’ve either never driven one, or are economically relegated to something far less German and far more Gremlin-esque. Either way we feel obligated to remind you that the 3-Series has been around a long time making used examples relatively affordable. Also, life is too short to drive something mundane. The rest of you already know how this review is going to end and just want us to get on with how the newly installed single turbo straight-six engine improves the breed. The quick answer is fuel efficiency. The 841 word answer is below. Read more…