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2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo

2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo

The Nissan Maxima’s replacement is finally on track for arrival next fall as a 2015 or early-2016 model, with a shift in focus toward performance to better differentiate Nissan’s flagship sedan from the popular (but bland) Altima sedan.

Exclusive TopSpeed Renderings show a speculative preview of this hot new sports sedan, which looks to shake off the front-drive proportions and goofy grin in favor of a wider, lower and meaner style like the 370Z and GT-R.

Nissan’s sports car lineup has never been this strong, and continued support for the company’s two tiers of performance cars has really helped the brand’s image, despite being diluted from selling millions of basic Sentra’s and Versa econoboxes to pay the bills.

The Maxima was really at a crossroads before this current re-alignment to its 4DSC roots. The next generation was even mooted to go the full EV route, with the cab-forward styling of the 2011 Nissan Ellure concept thought to be previewing both the just-launched Altima and next Maxima.

Another option on the table would adapt the 370Z’s latest chassis for use in a rear-drive sedan, or even a stretched GT-R of our dreams. These two scenarios are far less likely than a continued front-drive layout, but low and dramatic proportions that evolve the boring Nissan look very nicely.

Keeping the existing Maxima layout is a safe bet because it is the only way to continue the current model’s $31,000 to $36,000 price range. Nissan’s ability to sell a volume sedan for more than $40,000 is less than a sure thing, especially with Infiniti’s billion-dollar name changes and new Q50 sedan to replace the G37.

Click past the jump for a closer look at these exclusive renderings, with the 2015 Nissan Maxima debuting as soon as this fall or winter at one of the major auto shows.

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Nissan Planning a Sports Car Below the Mighty Z-Car

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the very few compact sports cars that grabs a fair share of the limelight. Thanks to the increased demand for such compact sports cars, it is no surprise that other manufacturers are planning to join the bandwagon. BMW, for instance, is planning to launch a Z2 to rival the Miata.

And now, thanks to the confirmation from Nissan’s executive vice president Andy Palmer at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Nissan will also accompany BMW in building such a vehicle, sans the open-top option from what we can tell.

This little sports car will be the entry level model for Nissan’s two-door sporty offerings, sitting below the Z-models and the mighty GT-R. Bear in mind, however, that this upcoming sports car isn’t meant to rival the award-hogging Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S.

Expect the car to be designed by the same hands that gave birth to the design of the Juke, so we can all anticipate a more youth-oriented approach.

Under the hood, Palmer mentions that the car will be "guilt-free.” What could be guiltier for a vehicle than polluting the environment? So, expect either an electric or a hybrid powertrain, though we have our bets placed on a hybrid system.

Palmer confirms that a concept model of the entry-level sports car will be shown off within a year. So, expect its production version to land in our shores somewhere around 2015.

We’re sort of excited about such a model being announced from the makers of the Godzilla. It gives more people an opportunity to enjoy sporty two-door model in a less expensive package.

Image Shown: 2011 Nissan ESFLOW Concept

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Nissan set to produce new hatchback to rival VW Golf and Ford Focus

Well after Nissan recently teased five redesigned models and with rumors circulating that the Japanese brand is considering a sub-370Z sports car, Nissan definitely has its fair share of projects on hand. But that’s not all, as the company recently announced that it will produce a brand new vehicle to compete with the VW Golf, Ford Focus, and Citroen C4 from 2014 onwards at its British production facility.

Very few details about this new hatchback have been released, but it’s been confirmed that in excess of 1000 jobs will be created in the United Kingdom because of it, with 225 being directly involved in the production of the car. The remaining jobs will be created in companies supplying components for the car.

Nissan’s chief operating officer, Toshiyuki Shiga said, “Nissan already produces more vehicles in Europe than any other Asian manufacturer and the model announced today will bring world-class quality and leading technology to our customers at the heart of the European C-segment."

In order to compete with the VW Golf and the Ford Focus, Nissan will have to create a car that can be easily upgraded and modified for future variants as both the Golf and Focus are offered in array of different versions.

Additionally, Nissan will have to develop new systems for the car as there’s no way it’ll be able to recycle all the required components from its extensive range of cars. In saying that however, we wouldn’t be surprised if the new hatchback came fitted with the same 1.6-liter engine as the base Juke, which has already proven itself to be quite capable.

Image is of Nissan’s latest b-market segment concept: the Nissan Invitation.

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Nissan Revives Talks of Mid-Level Sports Car

Back in the 1990s, Nissan was knees deep in sports cars. These sports cars began with the Sentra SE-R, then moved to the mid-range 240SX, and at the top end was the 300ZX. Even after the Sentra SE-R was eliminated in 1995, the 200SX SE-R, which was little more than a restyled Sentra, came into existence.

In the late 1990s, this all went away, as the 300ZX disappeared after 1996, and the 200SX and 240SX vanished in 1999. The Z-car was resurrected with the 350Z, then the 370Z, but the SX lineup has since remained dormant. Now with Subaru and Toyota teaming up to bring a new mid-level sports car to the marketplace, Nissan has again begun talks of releasing its own mid-level sports car.

According to Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, Nissan’s head of design said "It is the time to look at that [smaller engines]. With 370Z, we still don’t know next generation will have a larger or smaller engine." The chances of a Z-car with a lower engine size are rather doubtful, given that it has always increased in size throughout its entire lifespan. Plus you have to add in that the Z-car crowd is a tight-knit group that will likely not take change too well.

Those points all lead to Nissan possibly creating an all-new mid-level sports car, maybe even bearing the “SX” nameplate. A good possibility could be a 250SX bearing the same – or maybe better version of – the 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine found in the 2012 Sentra SE-R. This could also spawn a base level 200SX that has the 140-horsepower engine that you can find in the base 2012 Sentra, maybe with a few upgrades to punch up the power a bit.

Given the fact that the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT 86 are not speed demons, Nissan would need to worry more about it looking and handling well, as opposed to making it a screamer. As of now, this is purely speculation, but it damn sure would be a cool thing to see!

Image is of the 2011 Nissan Esflow Concept which is said to preview the future sports car.

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We drive the 2011 Nissan LEAF, kind of

We drive the 2011 Nissan LEAF, kind of

While Chevrolet is still setting the stage for the future of battery powered vehicles with the Volt, the Japanese automaker Nissan has been perfecting the art of the electric car for over 60 years now and their all new LEAF BEV is just about ready to roll off the assembly line in order to become the first mass market affordable electric car. As part of the Nissan LEAF Zero Emission Tour, the hamburger brand brought their Aqua globe show car from Detroit all the way down to Orlando where we got a chance to get up close and personal with it and a ride behind the wheel of the user friendly test mule that features all of the parts that make it work. Nissan has been investing heavily in the advancement of lithium ion technology ever since they teamed up with NEC to produce revolutionary hybrid battery packs that produce nearly twice the energy density compared to traditional units which mean they will last longer with a much more potent charge that have powered everything from fictional animatronics dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to texting teenager’s cell phones in Japan’s Shibuya district.

The LEAF is about as green as a new car can get, not only does it lack a tailpipe to emit harmful emissions, but the seats were made from recycled plastic bottles and even the tire supplier was chosen because of their diminutive carbon footprint. Despite being an electric car with a compact electric motor in place of an internal combustion engine under the hood, Nissan has chosen to keep with the traditional two box layout, albeit quite curvaceous and a bit wide in the back. Nissan chosen to set the LEAF apart from the rest of the lineup with a variety of blue anodized emblems and Zero emissions logos. The LEAF offers room for five and lots of cargo thanks to the ultra low shelf in the trunk, and even fully loaded, the additional weight won’t compromise the LEAF’s range. Speaking of distances, Nissan expects that their new electric vehicle will be able to travel up to 100 miles between charges, more than enough for the average daily commute, and reach a 90 MPH top speed, making it more than adequate for highway use.

Continued after the jump.

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2010 Nissan Leaf

2010 Nissan Leaf

In a very bold move Nissan Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha has made history by unveiling their first zero emissions vehicle intended for mass production. In an attempt to skip the gas/electric hybrid craze and jump directly into plug in electric vehicles, it might appear that Carlos Gohsen is set on taking over the world like a James Bond villain with the long awaited lithium ion beattery technology. This past Sunday the Japanese automaker unveiled the Nissan Leaf, a five door electric vehicle with a 100+ Mile range at their home base in Yokohama. The Leaf features a sharp, upright V-shaped body with a pair of slanted LED headlights that were designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind, noise and drag.

Those top secret batteries that we were talking about are made up of laminated lithium ion cells that are capable of delivering over 90 kW of power and weigh only 440 pounds. The battery pack sends it stored energy to the Leaf’s front mounted electric drive motor that only outputs 80 of those kilowatts for a maximum output of 107 HP. The interesting thing about an electric motor is that they make their peak torque at 0 RPM, we know this sounds crazy, but unlike the internal combustion engine, the amount of energy an electric motor can do is based upon how it was made and it delivers that power at one constant amount. That is a healthy 208 lb-ft of torque. The instantaneous power should provide off the line acceleration comparable to the Infiniti G35 sports car.

Of course the question with any purely electric vehicle is how long will it take to charge? Nissan claims that the Leaf will take 8 hours for a full charge from a 200 V source; so a high capacity 220 V outlet is recommended, otherwise it will take twice as long for a full charge from a standard 110 V AC outlet. There is an impressive 50 kW AC fast-charge capability. This allows for an 80% charge of the lithium ion batteries meaning you can go up to 80 miles with only a 30 minute charge, or if you are really in a hurry, you can get an additional 31 miles after being plugged in for only 10 minutes. Although the hardware necessary is a little too expensive for in home use, leave that up to your local municipality. The disadvantage of having to run with all that electronic gear onboard is the excess weight, however because it can be mounted low in the chassis it should make for a decent handling package.

Press release after the jump.

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2009 Nissan Cube 1.8 SL

2009 Nissan Cube 1.8 SL

The Nissan Cube may be new to the U.S. market, but the miniature box shaped people mover has been on sale in Japan for over a decade. For 2009 Nissan has redesigned the Cube and decided that they can compete with other space conscious small cars like the Scion xB and the new Kia Soul. Our car came with a 122 HP 1.8 Liter four cylinder engine connected to a fuel efficient Xtronic CVT, continuously variable transmission.

Our $22,780 Cube Mobile Device came complete with the optional Ginormous Kit that adds some bulging bodywork and a healthy dose of personality to Nissan’s boxcar. The interior was equally as interesting with a few carbon fiber trim pieces and a piece of funky looking shag carpet smack dab in the middle of the dash. The only thing better than the spacious interior of our Cube was the way it drove. The Cube was softly sprung and extremely comfortable. The 2009 Cube is all new for the U.S. and it might take some getting used to for domestic consumers, however one quick fix for any hesitant new car buyer would be a test drive.

Continued after the jump.

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2009 Nissan Sentra FE+ 2.0 SL

2009 Nissan Sentra FE+ 2.0 SL

Top Speed is proud to have been handed the keys to our favorite econobox, the Nissan Sentra, especially when it is the top of the line SL version. Our well-equipped Economy sedan came with leather, a continuously variable automatic transmission, AM/FM/XM radio and some stylish 16 inch inch rims and Bluetooth; quite a bargain at just over $22,000. Gaining entry into the vehicle is facilitated by the Nissan Intelligent key that can remain in your pocket throughout the duration of your commute.

After all, that’s what the Nissan Sentra is all about. Being an affordable and reliable transportation option. This compact four door sedan is the perfect vehicle for new car buyers starting out in the world of automobile ownership. Our Sentra’s simple and modern design redefines what the econobox has to be. One thing is for certain, Nissan has always done a good by their compact sedan and the Sentra SL is no different.

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2009 Initial thoughts: Nissan Altima 2.5 S

2009 Initial thoughts: Nissan Altima 2.5 S

We have just received a Nissan Altima S in our Top Speed test fleet. Although this looks like a basic four cylinder midsize five passenger people mover, that is because it is. Beneath our Altima’s gold painted body, connected to the stylish 16 inch wheels; is a continuously variable transmission. This Xtronic CVT replaces the traditional cog swapper and is supposed to hold the engine at a desired RPM, while varying the distance between two different sized sprockets, which makes the vehicle accelerate. This has the benefit of smoother acceleration, as well as a more efficient drive. Pretty neat stuff, eh?

Aside from the tranny, our Altima 2.5 S is pretty ordinary. There are black cloth seats, cloth door panels and the usual bright gauges and orange glowing radio from the Nissan parts bin. The only part of the interior that makes you forget that you are driving a four cylinder midsize sedan is are the a/c vents in the middle of the dash that trick you into thinking you’re behind the wheel of a 350Z. From the outside the Nissan Altima is what you would expect from the Japanese automaker. The sheet metal is simple, but the lines are bold and hint at unseen performance. The rims get the job done, but they are nowhere close to the 19 inch rims we saw on our Altima Coupe.

Continued after the jump.

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2009 Nissan 370Z

2009 Nissan 370Z

When I found out that Top Speed would be getting a 2010 Nissan 370Z in our test fleet I was excited to say the least. I have been a Nissan fan since I found out about drifting and an owner for the last five years. You could say that I love Nissans. So although I had dreams of clutch kicking the new 332 HP VQ in the Z car, and run up and down the 6 speed gearbox, taking full advantage of the new Syncro RevMatch transmission that is said to be able to replace the need for heal-toe while down shifting. I am proud to say that the updated Z car is the first car I’ve ever gotten to take on the Top Speed Test Track. Unfortunately, being a first timer I could only muster up the courage to stand on the throttle at corner exit. I can confirm that the Nissan 370Z has no problem stepping the back end out.

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2010 Nissan Cube

2010 Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube may be new to the U.S. market, but the miniature box shaped people mover has been on sale in Japan for over a decade. For 2009 Nissan has redesigned the Cube and decided that they can compete with other space conscious small cars like the Scion xB and the new Kia Soul. Powered by a 122 HP 1.8 Liter four cylinder engine connected to either a six speed manual or an automatic continuously variable transmission, the smaller Nissan box should be a strong competitor for the segment.

Continued after the jump.

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History repeats itself with the GT-R Spec-M

History repeats itself with the GT-R Spec-M

Back when the Japanese automaker was producing the R-34 Skyline, Kozo Watanabe, “Mr. GT-R” and head of Nissan development, was celebrating the vehicle’s racing success by releasing a hard core V-Spec model. The Skyline GT-R V-Spec was set up with a harsh suspension that gave the vehicle razor sharp handling. However, these machines were better suited for smooth racing surfaces and not the typical Tokyo city street where the vehicles would spend most of their time.

Back in 1999 when Carlos Ghosen became President and CEO of Nissan, he gave Watanabe the boot and brought in Kazutoshi Mizuno to head up the GT-R engineering team. Mizuno was the former Nissan Le Mans chief engineer and Group C racing team manager.

The GT-R V-Spec had become a track ready performance machine, but the former racing engineer had other ideas for a friendlier Mizuno-Spec GT-R.

Continued after the jump.

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