2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Nissan Kicks – Automotive Review

2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Nissan Kicks – Automotive Review

The Nissan Kicks is coming in hot with a fun and perky attitude.

With efficiency and affordability in mind, the Kicks will get you from point A to point B without hurting the bank. Compact size and responsive steering will get you in and out of the busy city with ease. It was hard to find anything negative to say about this car. From the moment you see this car to the moment you hit the lock button, you know precisely what this cars job is, and it does it well.

The boxy styling of the Kicks is adorable. The ground clearance is ample, and the ride is excellent. It’s a shame it isn’t available in all-wheel drive but given the fact that it isn’t the most powerful car, front-wheel drive suffices. Trunk space is more than convenient, and the headroom available is fantastic. From the outside the Kicks looks small, but when sitting in the driver seat you notice the space. Well done, Nissan. The Bose speakers in the headrest are the feature you never knew you needed. That being adding to the already great sound system, even the local radio station will sound premium. You won’t be getting the same novel-like list of safety features like the lane-keep assist, or the semi-autonomous steering that the Rogue or Qashqai offer but the around view monitor, blind-spot warning, ABS, and TCS will keep safe. Leather seats are comfortable, but the one complaint I have is the armrest. It’s a smidge too high, making you hike your shoulder into an unnatural position, for me at least. Making it adjustable, or even getting rid of it altogether and using a storage compartment as an armrest could do the 2020/2021 model some good.

Every 2019 Nissan Kicks comes standard with the 1.6-litre DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). The engine is rated at 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. Combined with a smooth, fuel-efficient Xtronic transmission, fuel economy is anticipated at 33 mpg combined. The best way to describe this car is “Go-Kart with leather seats.”

The Kicks will not be your first choice for track day, but it can be your first choice when it comes to your daily drive. It’s cozy, it’s perky, it’s fun, and it’s affordable. Heated leather seats and an excellent sound system are great additions for anyone looking for value. Toss in a touch-screen infotainment system and a fun exterior color, and this is at the top of your list when searching for your next ride!

Model tested: $25,498

Models available: S, SV, SL

Fuel Economy combined: 33mpg

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Automotive Reviews Crossover
2019 Mazda3 - Cover

2019 Mazda3 – Automotive Review

2019 Mazda3 - Cover

2019 Mazda3 – Automotive Review

“Despite sharing the same Mazda3 model name, the two forms represent entirely different personalities”. The completely new design of these vehicles is on the border of drastic and subtle, you could almost call it perfect

Overview

Mazda graciously lent me the all-new Mazda 3 Sport AWD in a beautiful Polymetal Grey Metallic paint. I fell in love with this car as soon as I laid eyes on it and I was not disappointed after driving it. It was comfortable, quiet, smooth, and aesthetically pleasing. It ticks just about every box when it comes to sporty hatchbacks. It’s fun, its AWD, it’s nimble, and the price isn’t outrageous. During my “Month of Mazda” test driving the CX-9, MX-5, 3 Sport, and 6 Signature, the 3 gets the top spot in my books and my heart. There’s a reason the Mazda 3 has been Mazda’s best-selling car since 2003, and this year’s model shows you why.

Styling

When coming across a 2019 Mazda 3 in the wild, you will look twice. The new design is on the border of drastic and subtle. You could almost say perfect, almost. The 3 has a new aggressive face and a round and sporty looking back end. The hashmark grill sits well between 2 narrow and long LED headlights while the shiny and large Mazda emblem sits dead-center and also doubles as the front-view camera when parking. The taillights are a gem to stare at, and they help the 3 give it it’s the wide-body look. The model I had the honor to test had the 18” alloy rims finished in black which went exceptionally well with the Polymetal gray body color. The 2019 Mazda3 finally adopts the all-new Kodo design. The Japanese styling is on point and not in your face about it at the same time. There aren’t any swooping, sharp body lines as you usually see these days on sporty cars, but the silhouette of the 3 is what definitively separates itself from the pack — nothing else in its class like it.

When hopping inside, the sleek styling continues. The Mazda3 seemed to be the only vehicle of Mazda’s 2019 line-up to have the slightly upgraded and tweaked interior. This interior is with the times and well thought out while the other models were a tad dated and a little annoying. In the Mazda6 Signature, the armrest was set a little too far back for your arm to sit comfortably. The CX-9s infotainment system was the previous version, and the cameras were low resolution and tough to use. This was not the case in the Mazda3, as Mazda clearly saw these flaws and gave the driver a clear, almost 4k like back-up camera, and an adjustable center armrest with plenty of cargo space. The red leather accents throughout the dash and door panels, color matching the seats, set a very luxurious and high-end feel. The infotainment is clean, modern, and user-friendly. Android Autoplay and Apple CarPlay work fine, but I found myself using Mazda’s software as it just looked more natural to the inside of the car. Digital tachometer doesn’t look digital at all and is wildly smooth. The quietness of the cabin is one of the first things I noticed when driving. It is quiet. Scary quiet. The cabin was designed with a “double insulated” structure. Engine noise and road noise are reduced immensely. Being 6’1”, I didn’t feel cramped, and visibility was ample. As for the back seats, don’t expect your taller passengers not to complain when squeezed back there.

Driving

Out of the two engines offered for the 3, 2.0L and 2.5L, I was given the 2.5L. 186hp and 186 ft/lbs of torque powering all four wheels with the i-ACTIV AWD.  Seven seconds after the light turns green you can be at 60mph, and for a bit of added fun, you can give the paddle shifters a flick, or 6.  It’s a hair faster than its competition, the Honda Civic Touring, which comes with a 1.5L turbocharged engine. As fun as a turbo is in most cars, its fastened to a snooze-fest of a CVT engine. I can go on for hours about how annoying the CVT engine is, but I won’t, today. The Mazda 3 after 4000rpm sounds nice, and maybe after a few minor upgrades, it can sound great on the daily. The G-Vectoring Control Plus, MacPherson struts, and a newly developed torsion bar in the rear keep the Mazda 3 planted and in control when cornering hard; it’s quite impressive. It gives the driver plenty of control regardless of the circumstance. The safety features seem endless. With a plethora of acronyms on the invoice, just know you will be safe out there. Lane-keep assist, Auto breaking at low speeds, Rear Cross-traffic sensors, Driver fatigue warning, Windshield active driving display, and the list goes on.

Summary

For my money, there isn’t a car that will make you feel special like the Mazda 3 will in this class and for this price point. You’ll forget you’re sitting in a Mazda. The only thing I could muster up to criticize is the lack of excitement. It holds itself together well. No loud noises. No aggressive and darty steering. The engine has some “pick-up-and-go” but nothing surprising. A turbo would be nice to get the juices flowing. Other than that, the 3 is an exceptional car for Mazda. It shows the progression Mazda is making, and it’s setting a new standard for this, and other classes. Here’s to hoping the competition sees the progress and steps up their game, because currently, Mazda’s getting my money.

Key Features

  • As tested: $33,295 (Fully loaded)
  • Fuel Economy: 9.8L/100km (City) 7.4L/100km (Highway)
  • 2.0l SKYACTIV-G
    • 155 hp @ 6000 rpm
    • 150 ft-lbs torque @ 4000 rpm
  • 2.5l SKYACTIV-G
    • 186 hp @ 6000 rpm
    • 186 ft-lbs torque @ 4000 rpm
  • 8.8” MAZDA CONNECT infotainment screen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard
  • Available 12 speaker BOSE premium audio system
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Automotive Reviews Car Compact

2018 Jaguar E-Pace – Automotive Review

2018 Jaguar E-Pace – Automotive Review

With coupe-like lines, wide low stance, with wheels ranging from 17” to 21, subtle F-Type features, the E-Pace immediately looks the part of a Jaguar SUV.

The E-Pace is Jaguars very first compact SUV. They’ve been making quite the name for themselves in the luxury SUV market with the incredibly desirable F-Pace, but will the E-Pace be able to join its ranks? With the single available engine offering, with two different power figures, the E-Pace already puts itself ahead of the competition. 

Sitting on the Evoque and Discovery chassis, the E-Pace’s shell embodies an F-Type inspired design, and I love it. The headlights and taillights are straight from the F-Types blueprints, and the front end is delicately aggressive with its mesh grill accents. Above the rear wheel arches sit body lines that resemble shoulders for a beautiful widebody look. The E-Pace struts more of a boxy look than the F-Pace does with its shorter wheelbase, making visibility a tad bit more driver friendly. The rear hatch window still sits at a wild angle which makes looking for on-comers a little tricky at times. Jaguar had always made the right choice when it came to wheel design and size, making sure the rims didn’t look too cartoonish while still filling the wheel wells perfectly.

The interior is snug but not crowded. It gives you a nice sporty feel with practical and straightforward media controls. Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is on duty in the E-Pace, with a 10” touchscreen featuring tiles that include a touch of whimsy: The tile to connect your phone bears an image of the iconic red telephone booths that were once scattered on the British landscape. WiFi hotspot is available in the S trim level and up. The front seats are comfortable, and the rear seats offer acceptable legroom, with their lower cushions providing good under-thigh support. With better but still only okay visibility, the crystal-clear parking cameras and 360-degree sensors come in handy. There is an optional panoramic glass roof that lets a significant amount of light in, but it doesn’t open, meaning Jaguar does not offer a sunroof for the E-Pace which is odd. Ambient lighting puts you in the mood for a nice calm drive, and the color options for the leather seats are eye-catching.

The E-Pace offers single available engine offering, with two different power figures. It comes with a 2.0 litre in-line four AWD engine that produces 246hp and the R-Dynamic models are tuned to fire out 296hp and do the 0-60 stint in 5.9 seconds (versus 6.4 seconds for the X2 and 6.5 for the XC40) and features a more advanced AWD system that will power all 4 wheels only when needed. To add the cherry on top, its all connected to a 9-speed ZF transmission that gives you the acceleration at any time in the perfect gear and cruises at highway speeds at low revs. The engine has a great growl at wide-open throttle, and it revs eagerly to it’s red-line. All models come with the auto-start/stop feature. The E-Pace offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sports setting, which provides maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. EPA estimates 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the E-Pace P250, similar figures for the R-Dynamic.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the E-Pace offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. For a few extra bucks you can opt for the Park Assist that’ll take the lead on attempting the treacherous parallel park. Forward collision warning and lane-keep assist come standard in the E-Pace. Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes GLA, Volvo XC40 are in the same class, have similar safety features, comparable price tags, competitive power figures, and are all good contenders for your ownership. The midrange P250 SE trim starts at $45,295, and the R-Dynamic reviewed above came with a hefty dollop of options that lifted the final tab beyond $54,000. So, if you’ve got the wallet, a test drive wouldn’t hurt.

Key Features:

  • P250 – 2.0L i4 246 HP TURBOCHARGED GAS AWD
    • Starting at MSRP $49,500 CND 
    • 0-100km/hr 7 sec.
    • Combined Fuel Efficiency of 9.8L/100km
    • 246 HP @ 5,500 RPM
    • 269 ft-lbs torque @ 1,200 – 4,500 RPM
  • R-Dynamic P300 – 2.0L i4 296 HP TURBOCHARGED GAS AWD
    • Starting at MSRP $55,200 CND
    • 0-100km/hr 6.4 sec.
    • Combined Fuel Efficiency of 10.1L/100km
    • 296 HP @ 5,500 RPM
    • 295 ft-lbs torque @ 1,200 – 4,500 RPM
  • Curb Weight 1832 Kg.
  • Trunk Volume 577 L.
  • Seats 5
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Automotive Reviews

2018 Nissan Maxima – Automotive Review

2018 Nissan Maxima – Automotive Review

Nissan’s new line up of vehicles is taking the roads by storm. With their updated styling and incredible value, it's easy to find one at just about any red light.

Things like the uniquely styled LED headlights, and front grille the Maxima will help you standing out while people spot these cars a mile away. Their vehicles are looking sleeker and sportier every year, especially the Maxima. The self-proclaimed ‘4DSC’ comes with a plethora of trim levels to choose from that all share the same engine.

The interior is clean and functional. It looks and feels modern, with Navigation coming standard on every trim. The infotainment center slants towards the driver in a very “Saab” like style with a modern twist, adding to the functionality. The 2018 Maxima now comes with Android Auto to add to the Apple CarPlay that is featured on a clear 8.0” screen. It may come to you as a surprise, but the Maxima doesn’t share any styling plaques with the Altima. The center console, the infotainment screen, the seats, even the steering wheel, all newly designed for the Maxima, but it’s a different story when it comes to the exterior. Nissan decided to “beef” up the Altima, add some sharper angles, fix a few sporty accents here and there and slap a Maxima badge to it. Curiously, the Maxima doesn’t offer as much cabin space and leg room in the back seats as the Altima, which baffles me. A revised grille design cleans things up in front, but you’ll probably have to park it next to last year’s Maxima to spot the differences. The automatic rear window shade throws a dash of elegance into the mix which comes in handy more often than you may think.

The Maxima comes with a name ‘4DSC’ (4 door sports car) and they say it’s because of the 3.5-litre 300hp engine that’s fastened to a CVT that comes in every trim level available, from the S to the Platinum. 0-60 happens in 5.7 seconds with the standard FWD setup. It’s nothing special, but its right in the wheelhouse of its competition. The high-effort steering helps the Maxima feel decidedly more athletic than rivals such as the Toyota Avalon. For a mid-size sedan, it’s surprising how the handling and drive are praised by others considering most 4 doors have a huge amount of body roll. All 2018 Maxima’s come standard with six airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, a rear-view camera, and automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings. Standard on SL and higher trim levels is even more advanced gear: blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Lots of features that come for a very reasonable price when compared to its colleagues. The Maxima offers 25 mpg combined which makes it justifiable, although Nissan recommends premium unleaded fuel.

Nissan has built their brand around a few simple concepts that include: reliability, affordability, and now they’ve added a dash of luxury into the mix. The Maxima Platinum is an incredible showcase of these qualities. Sleek and modern interior, updated and eye-catching styling, fuel efficient yet sporty engine. The back seat and the cargo space in the trunk were a little disappointing but other than that, the Maxima checked all the boxes and Nissan seems to have hit the mark with this one. The Base price for Maxima is in the ballpark, starting at $36,990 CAD with some very nice standard features that others don’t offer. The model reviewed above comes in at $41,500.

Key Features:

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment
  • 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
    • 300 HP & 261 lb-ft torque
    • 11.1/7.8 City/Hwy L/100 km
  • Legroom front 1143mm
  • Legroom rear 870mm
  • Cargo volume 405L
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Automotive Reviews

2018 INFINITI Q60 – Automotive Review

2018 INFINITI Q60 – Automotive Review

Offering both a 2.0L and 3.0L engines in 5 different model options all with stunting sharp, slick body lines -- the INFINITI Q60 has all the pieces to the puzzle for a great sports coupe. While the Q50 is the popular sports sedan, the Q60 stands apart with its compact coupe design with a clear focus on the driver.

Design

The interior is on point. The front seat/cockpit is snug, driver-focused and functional. I never found myself overreaching for controls. The infotainment system is simple but a little cluttered. The leather seats are designed to keep your hands at 10 and 2 while being comfy enough for long drives. The rear seats are not easy to get in and out of but, that usually isn’t one’s concern when shopping for a 2-door car. Coupes, in general, usually have a problem with visibility and blind spots, but with the Around View® Monitor and the Moving Object Detection, it is no longer an issue in the Q60.

In my opinion, the major 2017 redesign of the Q60 exterior made it one of the best-looking coupes on the market. With the competition featuring massive mouthy grills and deep cut and swooping body lines, the Q60 is organic and eye-catching at the same time. Compact, sporty, with a low, mean stance, and you’ve got yourself a car that looks like it’s in its own league.

Driving

The Q60 comes with 3 pretty much different engines, but only one of them really matters. The new 400 hp 3.0-litre twin turbo V6, found only on the INFINITI Q60 Red Sport. The main difference is having a boost pressure of 14.7 psi, versus 9.5 psi for the 300-horsepower version. The impressive twin-turbo system enabled smooth and immediate responses under both careful and aggressive acceleration. The 100 hp will set you back almost $10,00 CND, but the 12.5 city/9.2hwy L/100km is only is almost the same as the standard 3.0l. V6.

The AWD system is clever and adaptive and if you want a bit more excitement there is an RWD option, but it is only available in the USA. Around corners, the Q60 stays planted with minimal body roll, but in the city, the ride isn’t the smoothest. The steering and suspension have been a common criticism, many saying it “feels numb”, and that is to do with INFINITI’s Direct Adaptive Steering. Essentially, DAS is a steering setup with no physical connection, just sensors, and switches. The system is constantly, automatically making subtle adjustments to increase stability but at the cost of feeling the road. The good thing about the DAS setup is that you can adjust the steering via the vehicle settings to fit your needs best. But no matter how much you adjust and tinker with the steering, it comes second in my mind to the feeling of a mechanical setup.

Summary

The Q60 is an eye-catching vehicle no doubt, but is 400hp worth the $60,000? With team Germany offering the comparably priced 320hp BMW 4 Series Coupe, and the 362hp Mercedes AMG C 43, the INFINITI Q60 represents a viable alternative to the leaders in sports coupes. I can say with confidence that (in my opinion), the Q60 has the competition on the ropes in the styling department. My final thought is that the Q60 is a great car, looks incredible and the engine sounds mean without being rambunctious and obnoxious. Its luxurious inside the cabin and is quiet on the highway, the steering situation can be something you get used to, the Q60 is worth a test drive for anyone looking for a sporty 2 door car.

Key Features

  • Starting at $46,295 CND for Q60 2.0T PURE AWD
    • $61,295 for the Q60 RED SPORT 400 AWD
  • Around View Monitor® (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD)
  • Available twin-turbo V6 that can put up to 400 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft maximum torque at 1,600-5,200 rpm
  • With up to 336 customizable driver settings on the INFINITI Drive Mode Selector
  • The worldwide debut of the new Bose® Performance Series Audio System with Advanced Staging Technology
  • INFINITI Total Ownership Experience
    • Trip Interruption Benefits covering meal, lodging, and transportation costs if you break down more than 100 km from home
    • 24-hour Roadside Assistance
    • Complimentary Service Loan Car when you drop off your INFINITI for warranty repair
  • Basic Coverage is 48 months or 100,000 kilometers, (whichever comes first), for all parts and components of new INFINITI vehicles
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Automotive Reviews

2019 Acura TLX – Automotive Review

2019 Acura TLX – Automotive Review

Since 2014, Acura decided to make something smaller than the TL but bigger than the TSX. With that in mind, the TLX has been holding the fort down very well.

To provide more “character and performance” Acura introduced a new trim level called A-Spec. Entry-level luxury sedans have been always a win-win for the masses. Luxurious interior, more power, and a sportier chassis gives everyone the best bang for their buck. BMW had an answer for all those amenities with their classic 3-series. They set the bar high over the years and became the go-to for that customer, but in the process, these types of cars have evolved into more of a luxury vehicle with even pricier options. The TLX could be the under the radar answer that you may be looking for.

The TLX’s styling is near the top of the list along with Audi and Mercedes. Introducing the new Signature Diamond Pentagon grille, replacing the bright satin finish grille. Dead center of the new grille is a large Acura emblem that hides the hardware for the Adaptive Radar Cruise control. The front end has become larger and larger over the years and it is noticeable, but it isn’t as theatrical as the Lexus’ front ends. Adding to the new front end are the re-shaped full LED headlights that help tie the front end together very meticulously as well as show you what’s ahead in the late hours of the night. Large dual-exhaust tips provide a very aggressive looking rear diffuser.