If a 2019 Acura MDX were to follow a 2018 version around a corner it’s unlikely you’d notice the difference, that is unless the second model was updated to new A-Spec trim.
Acura has made some minor external changes to other trims, such as new wheel designs, but swapping out 95 percent of the chrome and bright metal with glossy black on the new A-Spec branded sport model, and then fitting a near equally darkened set of 20-inch 10-spoke Shark Grey alloy wheels on lower profile 265/45 rubber, makes this new addition stand out in a very positive way.
The MDX has long been the sportiest Japanese luxury utility, but new A-Spec trim now puts styling on par with performance. Specifically, the new MDX A-Spec gets gloss-black and dark-chrome detailing for the grille, headlamps, window surrounds, and rear tailgate spoiler, a more aggressively formed front fascia design, painted front and rear lower skid garnishes, body-coloured exterior door handles, body-colour lower side sills, and larger-diameter exhaust finishers, and those aforementioned wheels.
Climbing over exclusive A-Spec door step garnishes to get inside, Acura has positioned a special set of A-Spec gauges above metal sport pedals, while adding a thicker-rimmed A-Spec-badged steering wheel, unique carbon-look console trim, and sport seats upholstered in “rich red” or black leather with black suede-like Alcantara inserts plus high-contrast stitching.
This being more of a sport styling exercise than any true performance upgrade, the larger wheel and tire package aside, it won’t be causing owners of the 567 horsepower X5M and 577 horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 (or 362-hp GLS 450/449-hp GLS 550) to contemplate their next SUV in Japanese. Acura does make a more potent MDX Sport Hybrid that can give some of the lesser Germans a run for their money thanks to 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque, but so far the sportier A-Spec trim will only be applied to the conventionally powered MDX, which continues forward into 2019 with a much more modest 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque.
As with all MDX models in Canada, the new A-Spec comes standard with Acura’s torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), and utilizes a nine-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles and multiple driving modes dubbed Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which include the same Comfort, Normal and Sport settings found in all other MDX trims.
I’ll comment on how all of this kit meets the A-Spec model’s sporting pretensions in my upcoming road test review, not to mention my views on styling and interior design, fit, finish, materials quality, comfort, utility, and how this trim specifically measures up to some key competitors, so for the time being I’ll just cover what you can expect with respect to features.
For the most part the $60,490 A-Spec is built upon the MDX’ second-rung $57,890 Tech trim, yet despite only costing $2,600 more and featuring the previously noted styling upgrades, it incorporates a few features shared with the $66,990 Elite version that aren’t available with the two trims below, including LED fog lamps, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, perimeter/approach puddle lights, keyless access buttons on the rear doors, and ventilated/cooled front seats.
As for features pulled up from Tech trim, the list includes navigation with voice recognition, a sun position detection system for the climate control, a 10-speaker ELS Studio surround audio upgrade, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, AcuraLink subscription services, front and rear parking sensors, and Blind Spot Information (BSI) with rear cross traffic monitoring.
If you’re wondering about all the other advanced driver assist systems that would complement those above, take heart that all Canadian-spec MDX trims come standard with AcuraWatch, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), plus Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).
Additional standard features pulled up from the MDX’ $54,390 base model to A-Spec trim include unique Jewel Eye LED headlamps with auto high beams and washers, LED taillights, acoustic glass, a heated windshield, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, ambient front footwell, door handle and cabin lighting, pushbutton ignition, two-position memory for the driver’s seat, steering column, side mirrors and climate control, an electromechanical parking brake, a powered moonroof, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated turn indicators, a colour TFT meter display, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, a heated multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, multi-angle rearview camera with active guidelines, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email reading capability, satellite radio, four USB charging ports, tri-zone front and rear synchronized automatic climate control with humidity control and air-filtration, Active Noise Control (ANC), Active Sound Control (ASC), heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar support, seven-seat capacity, a powered tailgate, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring with location and pressure indicators, all the usual active and passive safety features including a driver’s knee airbag, trailer stability assist, a 1,588-kilo towing capacity (or 2,268 kg with the towing package), and more.
Incidentally, all trims, packages, and options are detailed out at CarCostCanada, where you can also find important rebate info as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
All MDX trims get the same 3.5-litre SOHC V6 with direct-injection, i-VTEC, and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that shuts one bank of cylinders down during light loads to save on fuel, which together with a standard engine idle stop-start system and the previously noted nine-speed automatic helps the MDX achieve a claimed 12.2 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.8 combined in its regular trims, or 12.2 city, 9.5 highway and 11.0 combined in A-Spec guise, the difference coming down to the grippier tires, while it should also be noted that the more powerful two-motor hybrid version mentioned earlier is good for an even more agreeable 9.1, 9.0 and 9.0 respectively.
Once again, this thriftier yet more potent powertrain can’t be had with the A-Spec’s sportier styling and upgraded wheel and tire package, while that model’s active damper system is also unavailable below Elite trim that also makes them standard. As it is, the A-Spec makes do with the standard amplitude reactive dampers, which along with standard Agile Handling Assist and the SUV’s front strut and rear multi-link suspension design, has long provided strong performance through the corners.
Once again you’ll need to come back to find out how the MDX A-Spec’s lower profile rubber performs, and to see if the rest of this well-seasoned model’s features are still up to snuff amid a very competitive three-row mid-size crossover SUV segment. Until then, enjoy the photo gallery above…
It might look the same from the outside, but Nissan has nicely updated the 2019 Qashqai despite only arriving on our market two years ago. As noted most changes go unseen, such as the adoption of Intelligent…
It might look the same from the outside, but Nissan has nicely updated the 2019 Qashqai despite only arriving on our market two years ago.
As noted most changes go unseen, such as the adoption of Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Nissan’s smart Rear Door Alert (RDA) system (that reminds if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat), across the entire Qashqai line, while the little utility’s interior now benefits from a new NissanConnect centre touchscreen that’s now 2.0 inches larger at 7.0 inches and features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, live navigation, plus mobile apps and services, while the base Qashqai also includes a second USB port within the centre console, and Nissan’s useful Divide-N-Hide cargo system in the storage area.
Even more impressive, all of these new features have been added without impacting the base Qashqai S model’s base price that still starts at just $19,998 plus freight and fees, making it the second-most affordable sport utility available in Canada behind Nissan’s own Kicks.
Standard features that continue forward into 2019 and by doing so make the latest Qashqai seem like an even better deal include projector headlamps with integrated led daytime running lights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, power windows, power door locks with a switchblade-style remote key fob, an electromechanical parking brake (which oddly reverts to a foot-operated one on S CVT and SV CVT trims), a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, a colour TFT multi-information display, variable intermittent wipers, sun visors with extensions and integrated vanity mirrors, overhead sunglasses storage, micro-filtered air conditioning, a rearview camera that’s now easier to use thanks to the larger centre display, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, text message read and response capability, Siri Eyes Free, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with illuminated steering wheel controls, speed-sensitive volume, Radio Data System (RDS), fabric upholstery, two-way Quick Comfort heatable front seats, a rear-seat centre armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, a cargo cover, six cargo area tie-down hooks, tire pressure monitoring with Easy Fill Tire Alert, all the expected passive and active safety and security features, plus much more.
The Qashqai is once again available in three trims, the aforementioned base S model joined by the SV and SL, my tester being in the latter. Before delving into its new upgrades, standard features list and various options, the $25,998 SV is a good choice for those not needing the premium-level pampering offered by the SL, thanks to 17-inch alloys replacing the base model’s 16-inch steel wheels with covers, automatic on/off headlights, plus fog lamps, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, high beam assist, rear parking sensors, illumination added to the vanity mirrors, a powered moonroof, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, cruise control, two more stereo speakers, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear passenger air vents, etcetera, while a host of new advanced driver assistance systems get added including enhanced autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Intelligent Lane Intervention, and Rear Intelligent Braking (R-IEB).
My tester’s top-line SL trim starts at $31,198 yet really helps to make it feel like a mini luxury ute thanks to standard 19-inch alloy wheels, the electromechanical parking brake again (the only trim that mates it to the CVT), a 360-degree Intelligent Around View Monitor, navigation with detailed mapping, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver’s seat including two-way powered lumbar, and a front driver’s seatback pocket, while Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), enhanced rear auto braking with Moving Object Detection (MOD), and ProPilot Assist semi-automated self-driving capability are new to the SL’s standard list.
Lastly, my tester featured the $2,100 SL Platinum Package that includes LED headlights, an auto-dimming interior mirror with an integrated Homelink garage door opener, plus a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and NissanConnect Services.
By the way, all pricing for the 2019 Qashqai, including trims, packages and individual options, was sourced at CarCostCanada, where you can also find money saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
SV and SL models also come standard with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), not to mention Intelligent Engine Braking, and while this will likely be preferable to the majority of Qashqai buyers you may enjoy the six-speed manual that comes standard in base S trim. I tested it last year and came away smiling, as it’s a well sorted manual gearbox that adds a lot of sport back into this utility’s character, which is more about smooth, quiet, comfort in its higher trims.
I won’t go into too much experiential detail in this garage report, being that we just brought it home from Nissan’s detail team today and haven’t spent anywhere near enough time in it to comment, but this is hardly the first Qashqai at our weeklong disposal so already have a good idea of what we’re about to live through. Suffice to say the 2019 Qashqai SL hasn’t disappointed us thus far, but rather reminded us why Nissan is quickly taking the lead in this all-important entry-level crossover SUV segment.
The Qashqai is Nissan Canada’s second-best-selling vehicle behind the larger compact Rogue, and quite frankly its growth in popularity throughout 2018 has been staggering. Sales were up by 119.2 percent to 19,662 units last year compared to just 8,970 in calendar year 2017, making it tops in its segment and after passing the Subaru Crosstrek that’s been on a 30.2-percent sales surge of its own, albeit with only 14,539 units down the road, while the new Hyundai Kona is close behind at 14,497 deliveries. Interestingly, Mazda’s CX-3 grew sales by 13.8 percent to 12,445 units, while the redesigned Jeep Compass found 46.4 percent more buyers in 2018 for a total of 9,434.
Trending the other way is the once best-selling Honda HR-V that saw its sales fall by 35.9 percent to 9,071 units (although some of this results from a flood in its Mexican plant that shut down operations for quite a while), whereas the recently introduced Toyota C-HR made significant gains of 57.8 percent yet only managed a rather lacklustre 6,819 deliveries, and the entirely new (to us) Ford EcoSport enjoyed its first full year of sales, but found just 6,315 takers.
Moving in the opposite direction, a subcompact crossover SUV segment loser was the somewhat stale Mitsubishi RVR that experienced a sales decline of 17.5 percent to 5,750 units, while the Chevy Trax lost 25.1 percent to post 4,465 deliveries, which is just ahead of the aforementioned Nissan Kicks’ 4,362 sales despite that model’s mid-year arrival. The final two to make gains were the new Kia Niro, in hybrid and plug-in forms, with 2,659 deliveries for growth of 67.2 percent, and the Mini Countryman that’s also available in plug-in guise, and possibly due to this saw its sales rise by 36.9 percent to 2,479 units.
Lastly, the biggest losers are Jeep’s Renegade with a downgrade of 60.4 percent to 1,193 units, and that same model in Fiat 500X form that saw its sales jump off the proverbial cliff by 90.8 percent to a completely pathetic 79 units, despite being a nice little SUV that I quite liked last time I tested it.
The Qashqai makes more sense though. It costs less, and provides a lot more comfort and size. It’s actually quite large for its subcompact SUV class, reason enough for Nissan to slot the Kicks in down below, yet compared to the Rogue it’s a small fry, despite riding on a version of the same chassis architecture, complete with a fully independent front strut, rear multi-link suspension setup with stabilizer bars front and back.
Under the hood is an efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine good for 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque, while its previously noted CVT drives the front wheels or all four. To reiterate and clarify, base S trim makes the CVT optional, while SV and SL trims include it as standard equipment, whereas AWD is optional with both lower trims and standard with the SL.
As you may have expected the 2019 Qashqai remains a fuel economy leader with a claimed 10.0 L/100km city, 8.1 highway and 9.2 combined with the FWD manual, 8.8 city, 7.3 highway and 8.1 combined with FWD and the CVT, or 9.0, 7.5 and 8.4 with the CVT and AWD.
As usual I’ll wait to talk about driving impressions, interior quality, fit, finish and everything else in my upcoming road test review, although if you just can’t wait go ahead and check out my review of the 2018 Qashqai S with a manual transmission or my review of a top-line 2017 Qashqai SL, which is much the same as this new 2019 version except for a foot operated parking brake and some additional upgrades mentioned earlier in this garage review. Also, enjoy the photo gallery of this 2019 Qashqai SL above…
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan…
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan all snickering stopped, it really was super.
A decade and a half later the Japanese luxury brand is now celebrating a significant milestone, the 15th anniversary of its industry-leading torque-vectoring SH-AWD technology. To mark the event, Acura has produced a video (see below) highlighting the advanced all-wheel drive system’s history and capability.
SH-AWD actively and continually distributes engine torque between the front and rear wheels, from 70 percent to the front and 30 percent to the rear, or 30 percent to the front and 70 percent to the rear, while additionally up to 100 percent of rear twist could be distributed to either the left or right wheel to reduce understeer and therefore aid high-speed cornering. Of course, SH-AWD has improved with each new generation, and now is either standard or available in five of Acura’s six models.
The latest version of Acura’s mechanical SH-AWD, now in its fourth generation, debuted on the new 2019 RDX last year, with 40 percent greater torque capacity at the rear axle, quicker front-to-rear torque transfer, plus 30 percent faster torque transfer between the left and right rear wheels.
Looking toward the future, the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid, the second-generation 2017 NSX, and the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid came equipped with the most advanced iteration of SH-AWD yet. The new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system incorporates electric motor torque for a more immediate application of four-wheel performance as well as much greater efficiency.
The mid-engine NSX supercar utilizes a unique design with three electric motors, two of which form a Twin Motor Unit (TMU) that distributes torque to each front wheel individually, whereas the RLX and MDX reverse the process with the gas-electric hybrid engine up front and TMU in back, distributing torque between each rear wheel, just like with the mechanical SH-AWD system. Despite the different layouts, the supercar, sport sedan and three-row SUV that feature Acura’s electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system apply identical technologies and use many of the same components.
Also notable, later this year Acura will be celebrating another milestone, one million SH-AWD-equipped vehicles sold worldwide. Past models equipped with SH-AWD have included the RL (2005-2012) that utilized the first-generation system, the MDX (2007-2015), RDX (2007-2012), TL (2009-2014), and ZDX (2010-2013) that incorporated the second-generation system with Hill Logic, VSA and TCS, the TLX (2015-present) and MDX (2016-present) that feature the third-generation system with a 25-percent lighter rear differential and more, RDX (2019-present) that boasts the fourth-generation system with a more compact and quicker responding design, and lastly the RLX Sport Hybrid (2015-present), NSX (2017-present) and MDX Sport Hybrid (2017-present) that feature the electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.
Make sure to check out our photo gallery above to see images of all the aforementioned Acura models past and present, plus remember to watch the “What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive?” video below that details out the history and capability of Acura’s SH-AWD system:
What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive? (6:23):
Infiniti gave its only relevant sedan a mid-cycle refresh last year, updating the Q50’s grille, front fascia, headlights, taillights, rear bumper and more, so 2019 doesn’t see any visual changes other…
Infiniti gave its only relevant sedan a mid-cycle refresh last year, updating the Q50’s grille, front fascia, headlights, taillights, rear bumper and more, so 2019 doesn’t see any visual changes other than a new Canada-exclusive standard “I-LINE” cosmetic treatment specifically for the now renamed I-Line Red Sport 400 model.
Just like eyeliner, the I-Line upgrade, which was actually derived from “Inspired Line,” blackens the grille surround in the same fashion as last year’s glossy black fog lamp bezels and diffuser-style rear bumper cap, while the rear deck lid spoiler gets upgraded to high-gloss carbon fibre and wheel wells are filled with a special “custom imported” glossy black finish set of 19-inch alloys. I-Line trim further helps to visually differentiate Infiniti’s sportiest 400-horsepower Q50 from lesser trims in the lineup, a smart move considering the $7,700 leap from the already quick 300 horsepower Q50 3.0T Sport AWD.
Both 300 and 400 horsepower versions of the Q50 source their power from the same turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine in different states of tune, while the other big change for 2019 is the elimination of the Mercedes-Benz-sourced 2.0-litre four-cylinder that continues to make 208 horsepower in other markets where it’s still offered, like the U.S.
All remaining trims utilize Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and downshift rev matching, the latter a rarity in this class, while Infiniti’s “Intelligent” all-wheel drive system comes standard as well.
Keeping up with the Jones’s, 2019’s biggest Q50 addition is the inclusion of Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) as standard equipment, which means these critical accident avoidance systems are now part of the Luxe model, Luxe being the base trim level in the Q50’s recently revised grade structure.
Without going into detail about each trim, the Q50 3.0T Luxe AWD starts at $44,995 plus freight and fees, and the model in our garage this week, the Q50 3.0T Signature Edition starts just a hair higher at $46,495, whereas the aforementioned Q50 3.0T Sport AWD enters the picture at $48,495, and newly revised I-Line Red Sport 400 starts at $56,195.
With all of that out of the way, there’s nothing remotely base about the twin-turbo V6 behind the Q50’s trademark grille, thanks to the 300 horsepower noted a moment ago, and the direct-injected mill’s equally impressive 295 lb-ft of torque (well, almost equally impressive). I’ve waxed poetic about this engine before, and I’ll probably do so again in my upcoming review, not to mention go on at length about the seven-speed gearbox and “Intelligent” AWD system, that’s actually pretty smart.
Some upgrades specific to our tester’s Signature Edition trim that you might find interesting include the exact same performance-oriented exterior styling details as the Sport, particularly the sharper gloss black lip spoiler and deeper black fog lamp bezels up front, and a less aggressive version of the black and body-colour diffuser-infused rear bumper mentioned earlier, while both models make use of the same more conventional silver-painted 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/40 all-season run-flat performance tires, an upgrade over the base Luxe model’s 18-inch rims on 225/50 all-season run-flat performance rubber.
Lastly, both trims get silver “S” badges on the front fenders, but strangely the Signature Edition gets a unique rear deck spoiler just above its own “Signature Edition” decklid badge, whereas the Sport makes do with no rear spoiler at all, although it gets a silver “S” badge next to its Q50 nomenclature.
Signature Edition and Sport trims also feature the same Sport Type seats with driver-side powered lumbar support and powered torso bolsters, plus manual thigh extensions for both front occupants, while both models’ surrounding decorative inlays are finished in genuine Kacchu aluminum.
Pretty well every other feature is shared with the Q50 Luxe, which is why there’s only $1,500 separating the two trims, so along with all of the items above the Q50 Signature Edition includes standard auto on/off LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps and front turn signals, LED brake lights, aluminum “INFINITI” branded kick plates, proximity-sensing keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, Infiniti’s “InTuition” for storing climate, audio and driving preferences within each “Intelligent Key”, welcome lights on the front exterior door handles, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a garage door opener, micro-filtered dual-zone auto climate control, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with 8.0-inch upper and 7.0-inch lower displays, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio with HD playback, RDS and speed-sensitive volume, two USB ports, a heatable steering wheel, heated front seats, powered front seats, a powered moonroof, and more.
Of note, a number of features that were previously optional are now standard with the move up to the base V6 powerplant, including remote engine start, Infiniti InTouch navigation with lane guidance and 3D building graphics, the Infiniti InTouch Services suite of digital alerts and remote services, voice recognition for audio, SMS text and vehicle info, power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre pass-through.
At the other end of the trim spectrum, the only real changes to previously noted Sport trim are actually performance oriented, such as steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a unique sport-tuned dynamic digital suspension, and identical sport brakes to the Red Sport 400, which boast four-piston front calipers and two-piston rear calipers, while the two sportiest trims also get exclusive front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental airbags.
Speaking of features not available with this Signature Edition, only Sport trim gets the option of electronic power steering, while Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) system is available on all trims except for the Signature Edition, as is the auto-leveling adaptive front lighting system (AFS) with high beam assist, a power-adjustable steering column with memory, an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), premium 16-speaker Bose Performance audio with Centerpoint technology, front and rear parking sensors, Intelligent Cruise Control with full speed range (ICC), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) with Active Lane Control, and Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA).
Features not available with the Signature Edition, optional with the Sport and standard with the Red Sport 400 include auto-dimming side mirrors with reverse link and memory, plus Infiniti’s Advanced Climate Control System with auto-recirculation, Plasmacluster air purifier and Grape Polyphenol Filter.
All of this seems to place the Q50 Signature Edition in a unique value position, offering plenty of Sport trim features yet limiting its choice of options to colours, of which include the same five offered in Sport trim, and interior themes, which just like the Sport can be had in Graphite (black) and Stone (grey) interior motifs. By the way, the base model can be had with a Wheat (tan) interior, while dark-stained gloss maple hardwood provides a more traditional luxury ambiance, plus you’ll lose the option of Mocha Almond (brown metallic) paint when moving up into the sportier Q50 trims, but you gain Iridium Blue in both Signature Edition and Sport trims, whereas Red Sport 400 buyers get exclusive Dynamic Sunstone Red.
Well that was a more comprehensive overview than I had planned, so I’d better show a tiny bit of restraint and call it quits for this garage piece until the full road test review gets published later. We’re still driving it after all, so make sure to browse through the gallery provided above, and remember that all of the prices quoted in this review can be found in detail, broken down into trims with packages and options, at CarCostCanada, along with important manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing (yes, the price they pay) that could save you thousands. Check them out and be sure to come back here soon for the review…
It’s not too often that the cheapest and stingiest choice ends up being the most enjoyable, but such is the case with Nissan’s Micra. Cheap? How does $10,488 sound? If you were in the market for…
It’s not too often that the cheapest and stingiest choice ends up being the most enjoyable, but such is the case with Nissan’s Micra.
Cheap? How does $10,488 sound? If you were in the market for this little city car last year it probably sounds $500 too high, because the Micra was one of Canada’s only new sub-$10k cars for its entire four-year existence (except for the $9,995 Chevy Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage when it went on sale to clear out end-of-year stock), but thanks to a new standard 7.0-inch centre touchscreen featuring an integrated backup camera and some other updates, it’s a bit pricier this year. You can see all of the trims and check out previous years’ pricing at CarCostCanada, where you’ll also find rebate info and dealer invoice pricing.
Its new list price still beats inflation (according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator), as well as the Mirage by $510, and now that I think of it the Micra also beats the Mirage by 31 horsepower, 33 lb-ft of torque, 400 cubic centimetres of engine displacement, one cylinder, one rear suspension stabilizer bar, one-inch of standard wheel diameter, 20 millimetres of standard tire width, 32 litres of additional passenger volume, 41 mm of front headroom, 29 mm of rear headroom, 0.5 inches of standard centre touchscreen, six litres of fuel tank volume, and the list goes on.
All said it would be unfair not to mention that, while the Mirage is about as sporty as a Kenmore dryer on spin cycle, its claimed fuel usage nears hybrid levels of efficiency at 6.5 L/100km combined city/highway in manual form and just 6.2 with its optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), compared to 7.9 L/100km for the Micra’s five-speed manual and 8.0 for its available four-speed automatic.
The Mirage beats the Micra in a number of other notable ways too, such as standard auto off headlamps, LED taillights, body-colour mirror caps, exterior door handles and liftgate handle, a chrome rear garnish, standard power door locks with remote access, power-adjustable side mirrors, powered front windows, air conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, two more standard stereo speakers, a driver’s knee airbag, 79 additional litres of cargo capacity behind the rear seats, 511 more litres of cargo space with the seats folded, two more years or 40,000 more kilometres of basic warranty, five more years or 60,000 more km of powertrain warranty, etcetera, while year-over-year sales of the Mirage were off by just six percent compared to 39 percent for the Micra.
That last point might make it look as if more people like the Mitsubishi, but just 2,351 Canadians took a Mirage home last year compared to 5,372 that opted for the Micra. It’s easy to see they didn’t make their choice by comparing standard features and fuel economy, because the Mirage clearly comes out on top in these categories, so why all the Micra love?
Take both cars for a drive and you’ll immediately understand. The Micra is so much fun you’ll be wondering why everyone’s making such a fuss about SUVs, whereas the Mirage feels best when idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic. If the latter describes your commute and you never plan on driving up to Whistler or Kelowna via the Coquihalla for a weekend getaway, by all means go all in on the Mitsu, but if you want a car that has the power to keep up with traffic while climbing steep grades, let alone is sporty enough in stock trim to compete in its own spec racing series, choose the Micra, and while you’re at it watch a few segments of the highly entertaining Micra Cup (see below for Race 1 of the 2018 season).
Rather than applying lipstick to a pig and trying to pass it off as the prom queen, Nissan invested its Micra money into a formidable direct-injection 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine good for 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, compared to 78 and 74 respectively for the Mirage, plus a sporty feeling five-speed manual transmission with nice, progressive clutch take-up, wonderful steering feel, a front strut, rear torsion beam suspension with stabilizer bars at both ends, 15-inch wheels on 185/60 all-season tires, and overall driving feel that punches way above its 1,044-kilo welter curb weight.
Of course, how a city car takes to the corners may not matter as much to some folks as others, but let me know how you feel about that after you’ve just managed to avoid an accident thanks to the fleet footedness of your much more agile Micra. Due to such well-engineered suspension systems, I’m thankfully able to share a number of near misses that could have been bent metal at best, so handling is as much of a safety issue as braking performance, which I must say is pretty good on both cars despite their front disc, rear drum setups.
I know, many buying into this class will likely care more about colour choices and styling than performance and safety, and when it comes to visual appeal I think the Micra has an edge in this respect too. While both are quite seasoned, this generation of Mirage Hatchback having arrived on the scene in 2012 and the current Micra in 2011, albeit in Canada during the spring of 2014 as a 2015 model, the little Nissan looks well proportioned and actually quite sporty from all angles.
Inside my base S trimmed tester, the word spartan comes to mind. Maybe minimalism might be kinder, because it does brighten things up with silver metal-like accents in key areas, and a nice, sizeable 7.0-inch centre touchscreen filled with a colourful interface, this especially true when placing the shifter in reverse and enjoying the big new backup camera on the display, while Bluetooth audio, Siri Eyes Free, and plenty of other functions provide a fully up-to-date user experience, but the black cloth seats come up a bit short on creativity, and the three-dial HVAC system is, while perfectly functional, easy to use, and adorned with blue and red highlights on the temperature knob and some backlit orange elements elsewhere, hardly exciting.
The steering wheel is new, and in its most basic form gets a fresh set of metallic silver audio system and Bluetooth phone switchgear on its leftmost spoke, but the two-dial gauge cluster hasn’t changed for as long as I’ve been testing this car, my first review being a 2015 version of this very Micra S, with its only option being a sparkling coat of Metallic Blue paint. This 2019 tester’s $135 worth of Magnetic Gray paint aside (the price of optional paint hasn’t gone up one cent), the gauge package is large and easy to read in any light, while the little LCD gear selector, odometer, fuel gauge, and trip computer display, capable of showing current and average fuel economy plus distance to empty) is kind of cool in a retro Seiko digital watch sort of way.
I reviewed 2016 and 2017 examples of the top-line Micra SR too, the former in a beautiful blue-green Caspian Sea hue (that’s still available), and the second in a less playful Gun Metallic grey (that’s been replaced by this car’s aforementioned Magnetic Gray—Metallic Blue is now only available in upper trims, incidentally), but Charcoal Cloth (black) is the only interior colour choice, albeit upper trims get some patterned colour woven into the seat inserts that’s a big move up in visual stimulation.
What else do you get with the base Micra? The new infotainment system and steering wheel switches aside, the Micra S comes with thoughtful little luxuries like rubberized knobs for the manual winding windows, cool little toggles for manually adjusting the side mirrors (although you’ll need to stretch across the car or ask for help to set up the one on the passenger’s side), carpeted floor mats front to back, and did I mention the genuine cloth seats? Of course, I’m poking a little fun at the expectations of our first world life, because very few cars available on the Canadian market have wind-up windows these days, let alone require a key to get into each front door as well as the rear hatch. Seriously there’s not even an interior latch to remotely release it, but once it’s unlocked you have the luxury of opening and closing it at will.
Standard features of note that have not yet been mentioned include tilt steering, micro-filtered ventilation, variable intermittent wipers, an intermittent rear wiper, two-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a USB port and aux-in jack, a four-way manual driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and more.
If you want air conditioning and/or cruise control, not to mention an upgraded steering wheel featuring switchgear on its right spoke, simply opt for the Micra S with its available automatic and these features come standard. That upmarket move requires a surprisingly hefty $3,810 resulting in a new total of $14,298 before freight and fees, which, once again to be fair to the Mitsubishi, is $2,100 more than the Mirage CVT that already includes the autobox-infused Micra upgrades as standard. The thing is, you’ll be hard pressed to get up a steep hill in the Mitsubishi, while you’ll be hard charging in the Micra.
The fancier cloth isn’t all you get when moving up from the Micra’s base S trim to its $15,598 mid-range SV or $17,598 top-tier SR grade, with the former trim’s standard features list swelling to include the automatic transmission, body-coloured mirror caps and door handles, power locks with auto-locking, powered windows, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, chrome interior door handles, cruise control, air conditioning, four-speaker audio, a six-way manual driver’s seat with a folding armrest, etcetera, while factory options for this trim include a $400 SV Style Package with 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.
The top-line Micra SR gets the same rooftop spoiler and its own set of aluminum wheels, although its standard machine-finished rims grow to 16 inches and ride on 185/55 all-season rubber, while the rest of its standard features list includes upgraded sport headlights and taillights, front fog lamps, side sill spoilers, chrome exterior accents, a chrome exhaust tip, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift lever with the manual transmission (which once again comes standard), even nicer Sport cloth upholstery, and more.
Paint colours aside there aren’t any factory options for the Micra’s two upper grades, but Nissan provides plenty of dealer-installed accessories no matter the trim, and some really celebrate the car’s sporty nature. For instance, there are Colour Studio packages that include contrasting coloured mirror covers and sport stripes available across the line for $219, or alternatively you can swap out the body-colour door handles on SV and SR models with the same contrasting colour from the aforementioned City Package by choosing the $461 Trend Package, while the $599 Intensity Package ups the ante with a contrasting coloured rear hatch finisher and a custom “Premium Package” emblem.
Alternatively you can get all of the above individually, as well as colour centre wheel caps, a rear rooftop spoiler (for S and SV trims), a chrome exhaust tip (ditto), etcetera, plus a whole host of more conventional accessories like all-season floor mats, a cargo mat, bicycle and ski/snowboard/wakeboard carriers, and more.
I should mention that the Micra and Mirage aren’t the only hatchbacks vying for your attention in this class. As noted earlier, Chevy’s little Spark is also a credible competitor for about $500 less than the Micra, while it bridges the gap (more like a chasm) when it comes to performance thanks to 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque (still 11 hp and 13 lb-ft less than the Micra), and fuel economy that’s rated at 7.2 L/100km combined, plus it offers an identically sized 7.0-inch touchscreen with standard CarPlay and Android smartphone integration, etcetera. It was redesigned for 2019, which spurred the strongest year-over-year growth within Canada’s entire small car sector (including larger subcompact and compact models) at 24.2 percent, resulting in 4,945 units and second place in the city car segment.
At the other end of the positivity spectrum Fiat’s much pricier $22,495 500 lost even more ground than the Micra at -68 percent and just 269 units down the road during the same 12 months—year-over-year Micra sales were down 39 percent, incidentally. The Smart Fortwo, which doesn’t really face off directly against any of these five-place competitors due to having just two seats, now being solely electric and thus starting at $29,050 and wearing a new EQ badge, saw its sales shrink by 13.9 percent to 317 units last year, while the entire city car segment has been contracting in recent years due to the cancellation of the all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV last year and the Scion iQ the year before.
Glancing back at that list of rivals and it’s not too unreasonable to surmise some future cancellations. Truly, if it weren’t for Daimler’s brilliantly innovative Car2Go sharing program (it was first) it’s highly unlikely the Smart brand would exist anymore, at least in our part of the world, while both Fiat, which is repositioning itself as a boutique premium brand like Mini, and Mitsubishi, that’s only having any notable success with Outlander compact SUV that saw growth of nearly 50-percent last year due to a plug-in hybrid version, may not make it through the next inevitable recession.
I mean, if Fiat only managed to sell 596 vehicles brand-wide up until October of 2018, which is a 73 percent drop from the year prior, and then conveniently forgot to mention the brand in its monthly and yearly totals in November and December, there’s a pretty good chance they’re about to say arrivederci to the North American markets sooner than later. We sourced the information from Automotive News Canada that reported 645 calendar 2018 sales for a 72.4 percent downturn compared to the 2,339 units sold in 2017, but that’s still got to be beyond challenging for the Italian brand’s 55 independent retailers.
I’ve driven all of the above so therefore it’s easy for me to understand why the Micra is Canada’s best-selling city car, not to mention more popular than plenty of other small cars including the Mini Cooper at 4,466 units, the Honda Fit at 3,520 (although a flood at its Mexican assembly plant was the cause of its 29.9 percent downfall), Chevrolet Sonic at 2,836 (which will soon be discontinued), Volkswagen Beetle at 2,077, Ford Fiesta 1,323 (also cancelled), and Hyundai Veloster at 1,077 units (but it’s more of a niche sport model). I’m not saying this final list of cars aren’t more appealing than the Micra overall, but when value is factored into the mix, only the Honda Fit measures up.
While we most likely won’t see a redesign of our Canadian-exclusive Micra anytime soon (most other markets received an all-new Micra in 2017), because it’s not available in the U.S. and therefore may not warrant the investment, it’s possible that a change in market conditions could see it quickly become even more popular than it already is with price- and interest rate-sensitive first-time and fixed-income buyers. Still, as much as I’d like to get my hands on the more up-to-date version, the current Micra offers so much value for its asking price and provides so much fun at the wheel that it’s impossible to beat, and now that Nissan has given this base model new life with a fresh infotainment touchscreen it’s even better than ever, putting the new 2019 Micra S high on my budget conscious shoppers recommendations list.
Nissan Micra Cup 2018 – RACE #1 (37:56 – Note: race starts at 4:55):
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands…
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands of dedicated customers that loyally come back time and time again to renew their pledge at the 911 altar.
Along with the introduction of the completely redesigned 2020 911 at the Los Angeles auto show in November of last year, Porsche announced a new Wet Mode designed to assist would-be owners that get over their heads in standing water.
As it turns out, the deep end that can cause a 911 or most any other sports car shod in ultra-wide 21-inch performance tires to lose grip can be merely a single millimetre (0.04 inches) in depth, and it doesn’t need to be raining either, so don’t think the optical sensors used for your car’s rain-sensing wipers can be reallocated to detect sheets of water covering the road.
Porsche’s new Wet Mode can detect standing water, however, via acoustic sensors positioned within the front wheel arches just behind the tires. Rather than see water on the road, Wet Mode sensors listen for water spray, and if decibel levels get too strong the 911’s multi-information display will suggest you turn on Wet mode via a button on the new “button bar” above the centre console, or if equipped with the available Sport Chrono Package, by twisting the steering wheel-mounted “DRIVE MODE” selector.
That would be the rotating dial and “Sport Response” button just below the steering wheel’s right-side spoke, which can also be used to select “Normal”, “Sport”, ‘Sport Plus’ and ‘Individual’ driving modes. For the 2020 911, and without doubt more Porsche models to come, it also includes the new Wet mode, allowing drivers to select a safer setting when traveling over water-soaked pavement that could cause aquaplaning, or hydroplaning.
“Wet Mode was developed to provide the driver with consistent support in wet conditions,” said August Achleitner, a.k.a. “Mister 911” who headed up development of the new 911 and took part in its launch just before retiring. “It does not restrict the maximum power of the engine or limit the top speed, and should therefore also not be used as insurance for driving too fast in very wet conditions. Instead, it should be seen as an assistance system in the truest sense.”
Achleitner, who’s been with Porsche since 1983, earned his alternate title by being responsible for 911 model series development since 2001, and interestingly Wet mode was actually first developed back in the ‘90s.
When put into play, Wet mode applies more sensitive preconditioned settings to all of the 911’s driver assistive systems, such as Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Traction Management (PTM), and the car’s active aerodynamics, before combining their collective capability toward wet weather management. Specifically, the active variable rear spoiler extends to its performance position at just 90 km/h (sooner than in dry conditions), adding downforce to the rear tires, while frontal cooling air flaps open to increase downward pressure over the front wheels.
While the engine doesn’t relinquish any power, Wet mode delivers thrust more evenly in order to minimize engine torque buildup, with the end result being maximum traction at each wheel. What’s more, if piloting an all-wheel drive 4S model, additional torque gets transferred to the front axle for even more balanced distribution.
Of course, both Sport mode and the PSM Off function can’t be activated in Wet mode, while the new eight-speed PDK transmission’s shift strategy and the electronically controlled rear differential’s locking ratios automatically adapt to a smoother, more linear power delivery too.
Porsche claims “more confident handling” when using Wet mode in inclement conditions, and also states that Wet mode is ideal for snowy conditions as well.
While driver assistive technology this effective would be welcome in any car, it’s especially important in a sports car as capable as the new 911 that, thanks to 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque behind the rear axle, can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds in Carrera S guise, or 3.6 seconds when benefiting from the Carrera 4S model’s all-wheel drivetrain, or 3.5 and 3.4 seconds respectively with the Sport Chrono Package, before attaining top speeds of 308 and 306 km/h (190 and 191 mph) apiece.
To learn more about the new 2020 911’s Wet mode watch the video below, and also remember to browse through our photo gallery above for some fabulous shots of water spraying behind the new 911 during wet weather testing.
Learn how the Porsche Wet Mode works (1:43):
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks…
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks to 19,662 unit sales during calendar year 2018, a 119.2-percent increase over the previous year.
All the more reason to give the upcoming 2020 Qashqai a mid-cycle refresh, featuring Nissan’s more rugged looking Vmotion 2.0 grille surrounded by revised headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights, a more dynamic lower fascia, and a new sculpted hood design up front, plus available 19-inch alloy wheels down each side and reworked rear styling with sharper looking combination taillights. From front to back the new Qashqai has been modernized with a sportier yet still classy look for a subcompact SUV.
The Qashqai received Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Nissan’s Rear Door Alert (RDA) system, that reminds if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat, across its the entire for 2019, and these important safety features continue into the 2020 model year, but even better the upgraded Qashqai will get the entire Nissan Safety Shield 360 system in base S trim too.
Nissan Safety Shield 360, currently available in SV and SL trims, upgrades the Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, plus adds Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and High Beam Assist (HBA) to the 2020 Qashqai’s list of advanced driver assistance systems, for a full slate of Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy functions.
Of note, Nissan made its ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous single-lane “hands-on-wheel” driving system standard on the top-line Qashqai SL for 2019, while making it optional on the SV model. ProPilot Assist has the ability to completely drive itself, but due to safety concerns only lets you remove your hands from the steering wheel for about eight seconds at a time. Still, it can reduce driving fatigue by limiting the need to apply acceleration, steering and braking inputs and, together with the aforementioned Nissan Safety Shield 360 system, may even help to avoid a potential accident.
“Our Qashqai is a critical vehicle in Nissan’s popular CUV lineup; slotted strategically between the Nissan Kicks and Rogue,” said Steve Rhind, director of marketing, Nissan Canada Inc. “We’re committed to keeping our crossover/SUV portfolio fresh – which also includes the redesigned Murano, new Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition and flagship Armada. Nissan is on a roll and we’re not letting up heading into 2020.”
The current Qashqai also received a standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen for 2019, complete with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, live navigation, plus mobile apps and services. The upcoming 2020 Qashqai appears to have the same centre display included, which would certainly keep it up to date with others in the subcompact crossover SUV segment.
Like the current Qashqai, the new 2020 model will once again be available with both front-wheel and “Intelligent” all-wheel drivetrains, depending on whether choosing base S, SV or SL trims. Today’s 141-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine will continue as the standard powerplant for the 2020 model year as well, mated to either a six-speed manual transmission in base S trim, or with an optional Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Expect additional trim and pricing information closer to its launch date later this year.
Infiniti showed up at last month’s Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal with a new Canada-exclusive “I-LINE” trim upgrade for the sportiest versions of its popular Q50 luxury sedan and Q60…
Infiniti showed up at last month’s Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal with a new Canada-exclusive “I-LINE” trim upgrade for the sportiest versions of its popular Q50 luxury sedan and Q60 sports coupe.
Specifically, Infiniti is in the process of replacing the Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models available last year and earlier this year with the new Q50 I-Line Red Sport 400 and Q60 I-Line Red Sport 400, which means that buyers spending the $7,700 needed to move up from the 300 horsepower Q50 3.0T Sport AWD, or $9,500 to do the same from the Q60 3.0T Sport AWD, to get into one of the 400 horsepower I-Line Red Sport 400 models, now get more visual bang for their buck.
I-Line, which Infiniti says was derived from “Inspired Line,” blackens both models’ grille surrounds so that they more closely tie in with the glossy black fog lamp bezels and diffuser-style rear bumpers found on the outgoing Red Sport 400 cars, while the rear deck lid spoiler has been upgraded to high-gloss carbon fibre, and wheel wells are now filled with a special “custom imported” glossy black finish set of 19-inch alloys.
These changes make both I-Line Red Sport 400 models appear as if they have larger more imposing grilles, while the black alloys go further toward creating a more powerful, menacing look. The outgoing Red Sport 400 cars already featured glossy black rear deck lid spoilers, but replacing these composite lip spoilers with more sophisticated carbon fibre ones helps to elevate the two cars into BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG territory, befitting of performance models making 400 horsepower apiece.
Behind all that thrust is a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 3.0-litre V6 that also produces 350 lb-ft of maximum torque from just 1,600 rpm, which is connected to Infiniti’s “Intelligent” all-wheel drivetrain via an advanced in-house produced seven-speed automatic transmission featuring manual shift mode and downshift rev matching, the latter function rare in this segment.
“We are delighted to showcase the I-LINE editions which have been created with a vision to be further developed into an INFINITI Canada sub-brand,” says Adam Paterson, managing director of INFINITI Canada. “We are building on the Q50 and Q60’s award-winning engine and engineering excellence, to add even more eminent style.”
Pricing for the 2019 Q50 I-Line Red Sport 400 sport sedan starts at $56,195, while the 2019 Q60 I-Line Red Sport 400 sports coupe can be had for $65,295. Both models, which are available across Canada this month, can be fully configured at CarCostCanada, with full pricing of trims, packages and individual options available, plus otherwise hard to find manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Also, take note that many Canadian Infiniti retailers will still have outgoing 2019 Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models available, which they’ll probably be more than willing to sharpen their pencils on in order to make a deal.