$30K-$40K

$30K-$40K

Needing the right tool for the job often requires ingenuity. That’s exactly the case at Nissan’s Stanfield, Arizona proving grounds. The team of engineers needed a truck-like vehicle to haul test gear, but something that got great gas mileage around the 3,050-acre complex.

Meet Sparky, the wild idea a few Nissan engineers cooked up while trying to solve the dilemma. The team started with a stock Nissan LEAF, the all-electric hatchback and combined it with several parts scavenged off a Nissan Frontier pickup. The combination is something of a Frankenstein, but it gets the job done.

Not using a drop of fuel, little Sparky makes his way across the grounds and helps out with testing of future Nissan products. "I needed a project for a team building activity so we can bring the team together. We had a need for a truck . Something to drive around, a shop truck," says Roland Schellenberg, one of Nissan’s masterminds behind Sparky.

Helping build Sparky was Arnold Moulinet. “I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work,” he says. “We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed.”

Now the Nissan development team has an electrically powered mini truck that functions as park of the team. “It’s something that we all put together,” says Schellenberg. “We all share, so it has a little bit of everybody in there.”

What happens when you combine rally heritage, diesel racing technology and a small sports car ? If you ask Audi, it will tell you that sounds the perfect recipe for the new 2015 Audi TT 2.0 TDI Ultra.

Yes, I know it’s an obnoxiously long name, but there is a lot of important information in there. First off, the 2015 Audi TT portion lets us know that this is based on the latest and greatest version of Audi’s venerable coupe , the TT. The 2.0 TDI tells us it uses the latest Volkswagen family, common-rail, turbo-diesel engine. The Ultra is the most important part though. Audi has reserved that term for new versions of its cars that are ultra-efficient while still retaining the fun and excitement that the brand is known for.

Considering this little rocket will hit 60 mph in less than seven seconds, reach a top speed of 150 mph and still manage more than 50 mpg, I think Audi has succeeded in its mission. Is this new TT the Ultra choice for frugal fun? Read on to find out more and decide for yourself.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Audi TT 2.0 TDI Ultra

Peugeot launched the 308 in 2007 as the successor to the 307 . The company’s new competitor to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus was based on the same chassis as the 307 but received a redesigned body and a revamped interior. The 308 included a host of gasoline and diesel engines at launch, and it carried over unchanged until a facelift in 2011. A brand-new 308 was unveiled in late 2013, sporting Peugeot’s new design language showcased on the 508 sedan and the 208 hatchback. Besides inaugurating the new Peugeot numbering system where the final digits remain fixed, the 308 received the 2014 European Car of the Year award, beating vehicles the likes of the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S . As we’re moving closer to the 2015 model year, Peugeot is introducing a warmed-up GT model that boasts extra power and sportier looks compared to the standard versions.

This new GT trim is available in both the hatchback and wagon models. Power is provided by either a gasoline or a diesel engine, with both mills being the most powerful of the 308 lineup as of September 2014. Beefed-up engines aside, the GT is also a more stylish proposition for hatchback and wagon consumers, as it comes with a host of unique features inside and out.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Peugeot 308 GT.

Although the Lancer nameplate goes all the way back to 1973, the sedan didn’t become the high-performance vehicle we all know today until the early 1990s. It was 1992 when Mitsubishi launched the Lancer Evolution , a beefed-up version of the standard Lancer originally intended for the Japanese market. Its immediate success prompted Mitsubishi to sell it globally, and the Lancer Evo legend was born. No less than ten generations have been developed since then, with the first nine built through 2006. The most recent iteration, the Evolution X, has been in production since October 2007 as a 2008 model year but took a one-year break in 2009 only to return the following year. The 2015 model year will be the last for the Lancer Evo, with the iconic moniker to be retired all over the world.

Having been discontinued in many markets as of September 2014, the Lancer Evo X lives on for the 2015 model year in the United States with a host of updates and new features. Read on to find out more about the final version of the Evo X and the updates it received since its 2010 facelift.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2008-2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

BMW announced its new 2 Series convertible, including the M235i and this 228i, in September 2014. While the M235i will be the choice of most enthusiasts and weekend track rats, the standard 228i and the 228i xDrive will be the ones found at Whole Foods and Macy’s, and will constitute the bulk of 2 Series sales. That’s not a bad thing, however, as the BMW’s latest drop top checks all the right boxes for topless automotive fun.

A high-strung, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine comes boosted by a twin-scroll turbocharger and is backed by an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters or a six-speed manual. The quick-shifting flappy paddle helps the 228i hit 60 mph in a surprising 5.7 seconds. What’s more, the 228i’s chassis share many of its designs and parts with the 228i coupe, giving it some street cred right out of the box.

The 228i xDrive brings an extra level of usability to the 2 Series Convertible’s lineup. With a normal torque split favoring the rear axle, the xDrive 2 has plenty of sport still in its chassis. However, when the weather turns rough, all four wheels grip the road. The xDrive system even makes itself useful in the dry, helping the 228i xDrive knock a tenth of a second off the 228i’s 0 to 60 mph time.

While the now-dead 1 Series may have been the first drop-top contender in the premium sub-compact segment, the new 228i and 228i xDrive take the legacy into the future. If 1 Series 130,000 units sold worldwide is any indication of the 2 Series Convertible’s potential success, BMW’s latest convertible will have no trouble finding homes.

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW 2-Series Convertible.

Subaru has another special-edition model for the BRZ . Raise your hand if you think it’s becoming a tad too much. I don’t mind that the company wants the sports coupe to improve its on-road presence, but there’s been a lot of these lately and none of them come with the upgrade we all really want. You know, that part about improving the car’s performance capabilities.

Granted, this BRZ Special Edition does have a few nice additions, especially those GT stripes that add an aggressive touch to the sports car . It’s also a different touch from what we’re used to. Heck, some people might think the stripes themselves are worth the "Special Edition" label attached to the model.

Add all the new exterior and interior upgrades, and they all combine to make a pretty appealing package that a lot of customers will definitely be interested in. But even with all those additions, there’s still that one little piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and we all know what it is (read: more power).

I’m not getting my hopes up, but then again, stranger things have happened.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Subaru BRZ Special Edition.

After months of rumors, teasing and other details surrounding the all-new Jaguar XE, it is finally official, as Jaguar unveiled it on September 8, 2014. Marketed as the British answer to the BMW 3 Series , the XE looks as if it will take on the 3 Series lineup from top to bottom. At the official reveal, Jaguar turned much of its attention to the XE S, which is obviously the answer to the BMW 335i and Mercedes C400, it also touched on the potential for diesel models and an entry-level, four-cylinder model that will battle the likes of the C250 and the 320i. The only model that Jaguar failed to talk about was the answer to the C63 AMG and M3, which should wear either an "R-S" or an "SVR" badge.

This new car is the first that is built using Jaguar’s all-new aluminum architecture that was first previewed with the C-X17 Concept SUV . Jaguar has been building aluminum-intensive cars for over a decade now, but this move further reduces the weight of Jaguar’s many offerings.

The new XE, which will likely create the backbone of Jaguar’s sales once it hits showrooms in 2015 — U.S. availability is 2016 — is the first big step the company is taking toward a lineup that will include lighter and fuel-efficient, yet powerful and sporty vehicles. Let’s have a closer look at the brand-new XE right after the jump.

Updated 09/09/2014: Jaguar unveiled a new video featuring Emeli Sandé performing on the Thames during the official launch of the Jaguar XE.

Updated 09/25/2014: Jaguar announced that the all-new XE will be offered with two versions of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine with output going up to 177 HP and CO2 emissions from just 99g/km. Details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about 2014 Jaguar XE.

It took months of rumors, spy shots, speculation and leaks, but the newest member of the Land Rover family is finally official and we have all the details. Say hello to the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Much like the Range Rover Sport , the new Discovery Sport is a smaller and faster version of a car that wears a similar name. It has an all-new design that is very similar to the Discovery Vision Concept that bowed earlier this year. The new model is loaded to the gills with new technology, and it features some of the nicest design touches ever fitted to a Discovery.

To make the most of this new, stylish shell, the engine and modern nine-speed ZF automatic transmission from the Range Rover Evoque are combined with an advanced AWD system to create a dynamic and capable machine.

If you want to know all the exact details like horsepower, ride height and available extras just click through to read our full coverage. We even have a whole collection of nice high-res photos to go with it. Enjoy.

Updated 9/4/2015: Land Rover has officially unveiled the new Discovery Sport.

Click past the jump to read more about the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The Subaru BRZ isn’t getting a facelift anytime soon, but over in the UK, the BRZ is getting — or at least getting back — the entry level SE trim. It doesn’t sound that sexy, that much I think we can all agree on. But it does give customers in the UK a cheaper BRZ alternative than the ones they’re currently getting.

There’s not a whole lot to be excited about the return of the BRZ SE other than its £22,495 ($37,033 at current exchange rates) price tag. The engine is still the same (ho hum) 2.0-liter flat-four and there aren’t any added features unless you get the higher-grade SE Lux version. At least that one gets Alcantara and heated leather-trimmed seats.

Otherwise, prepare to see standard features like keyless entry and push-button start; dual-zone climate control; cruise control; sports seats; VSC; Torsen limited slip differential; and front, side, curtain, and knee airbags. Satellite navigation is also available, although that one comes as a dealer-fit option.

Judging by what’s being offered, the BRZ SE can be an attractive buy if you’re looking for a sports car across the pond. But you’re probably better served getting the SE Lux trim. For an extra £1,500 ($2,469), you at least get some nice Alcantara-wrapped heated seats.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Subaru BRZ SE.

Ever since Zenos introduced the E10 in 2013, I’ve been pretty intrigued about the company’s production plans. I knew that the E10 was a road-legal, track-focused sports car. I also knew that the company had plans for expanding its lineup in the future. Recently, that talk of expansion began to take shape with the unveiling of the E10 S, a faster and more powerful version of the E10 .

Zenos was actually founded by ex-Caterham boss, Ansar Ali. The man started Zenos with the idea of building sports cars based on the Lotus Elise . While he’s still a ways away from getting there, he’s done an admirable job in building up Zenos with a line of models that now includes the E10 S.

Give it a few more years and we might see more Zenos models prowling the roads and tracks everywhere. For now, it’s the E10 S’ well-deserved turn in the spotlight. Smile for the cameras, you little track-ready racer.

Click past the jump to read more about the Zenos E10 S.


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