When an automaker creates a sports car as immediately classic as the now legendary 240Z, it’s often all downhill from there. It’s like the band that has a top-10 hit on their first album, and never…

Nissan’s latest concept is the Z car we want

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The new Nissan Z Proto concept combines design cues from past and present into an all-new form.

When an automaker creates a sports car as immediately classic as the now legendary 240Z, it’s often all downhill from there. It’s like the band that has a top-10 hit on their first album, and never achieves the same level of musical genius again. Could the next Z be the one that finally outdoes the original?

Sometimes we forget that Nissan (then Datsun in North America) had already experienced relative success with another great sports car before the 240Z arrived in 1969. In fact, the 1965–1970 1600 roadster (and predecessors), named Fairlady in Japan and raced in SRL 2000 form by actor Paul Newman at the very beginning of his motorsport career, was the 240Z’s (Fairlady Z’s) predecessor despite looking nothing like it. Where the 1600 roadster looked and performed similarly to British and Italian sports cars of the era such as the MGB, Triumph TR4/TR5, Alfa Romeo Duetto/Spider and Fiat Spider, the 240Z left every other entry-level competitor in the visual and literal dust, and became an instant hit because of it.

1969 Nissan (Datsun) 240Z
The now legendary Nissan (Datsun) 240Z was introduced to the world in 1969.

The Zs that followed gained displacement to overcome pollution equipment and therefore weren’t quite as appealing, while the 280ZX added luxury and weight, a scenario that continued to play out with the 300ZX, although the second-generation 300ZX was absolutely gorgeous and extremely powerful for the era, and is therefore considered by many as the best Z since the 240. This said the 350Z was lauded for styling and performance when it arrived, while the 370Z added more luxury and weight, and has kind of worn out its welcome after 12 years on the market. This brings us to the here and now, with hopes that the yellow beast before us all is a thinly disguised seventh-gen Z.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
Long overhangs have caused a 5-inch increase in the Z Proto’s length.

The Z Proto, as it’s called, appears more than just a concept. The name Proto is short for prototype after all, which outside of sports car racing circles means a near production ready concept designed to test the waters before a full introduction. Nissan has a history of near-production concepts, which bodes well for this car becoming the new 400Z, as netizen pundits are calling it.

Nissan has been teasing the next-gen Z for quite a while, first with a teaser video showing the car in silhouette a few months ago. This caused quite the stir, with many expecting a production-ready car to appear, but alas we only have a concept, albeit a nicely fleshed out one at that. The Z Proto looks like it could easily be a production model, from its graceful lines that pay greater respect to the original than any Z since the ‘70s, to its fully formed interior that continues forward with many of the key design elements that have always been part of Nissan’s much-loved super coupe.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The rear design incorporates styling from the 300ZX, as well as a roofline that pays tribute to the original.

From the front, the Z Proto immediately reminds of the early 240, 260 and 280 Z cars, particularly the blocky, rectangular grille that seems to pay tribute to a popular mod of the era which saw owners removing the thin chromed front bumper (this practice became even more popular amongst 280Z owners due to its larger safety regulated front bumper), but also shares similar sizing to the current 370Z’s frontal opening. Just the same, this has been the new Proto Z’s most criticized design element, with some thinking it’s just too big and square.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The Z Proto’s creased and domed hood pulls some cues from the first-gen Z.

The Proto’s elegantly formed hood plays off early Zs too, but with a much wider domed centre section that begins farther rearward after a more pronounced crease down the middle. The ovoid headlights are entirely new, however, sharing some circular symmetry with the first Z, particularly the daytime running lights that are supposed to represent the circular reflection of the transparent headlamp fairings used on Japanese-domestic-market (JDM) models (and aftermarket upgraded North American cars). Their flush glass-covered sealed beam look is more in-line with the fourth-generation Z32, mind you, which incidentally housed the Z’s first Xenon HIDs as part of its 1998 makeover, but the new concept uses LED technology.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
Some classic design details separate the Proto from all Z cars after the first generation.

The Z Proto’s roofline, rear quarters and hatch, on the other hand, pull cues from a variety of eras, albeit mostly from the ‘70s due to moving most of its visual weight to the rear, which sees nicely upswept quarter windows as well as pillars with integrated “Z” logos, paying direct homage to first-generation models. This said, the rear lighting elements and back panel garner more influence from both the refreshed 1987-1989 Z31 and all Z32 300ZX models thanks to their large, horizontal taillight treatments, while the entire car is a major departure from both 350Z and 370Z models, necessary to provide a fresh approach to such an outdated model.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
This full fleshed out interior combines classic Z styling cues with modern electronics and refinement.

For those wanting a return to what arguably made the original 240Z a great car to drive, its superb power to weight ratio, the Z Proto’s five-inch longer body won’t be good news unless Nissan constructs it from lightweight metals and composites. Doing so, of course, would drive the price up substantially, which means we’re only likely to see the same types of high-strength steels and alloys used in the platform-sharing Infiniti Q60’s body structure, with any exotic materials allocated to the much pricier GT-R.

The new Z Proto measures 4,381 mm (172.5 in) long, 1,849 mm (72.8 in) wide, incidentally, which is exactly the same width as the Q60, plus it’s 1,310 mm (51.6 in) tall. We can expect a production version to use at least as much aluminum for its body panels as the current 370Z, which gets a lightweight hood, door skins and hatch. Aluminum suspension components will make the grade too, the current Z already using an aluminum-alloy front subframe, engine cradle, and forged aluminum control arms (upper and lower in the rear), steering knuckle, radius rod, and wheel carrier assembly.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The fully digital gauge cluster modernizes the entire cabin.

Within that just-noted engine cradle will be Nissan’s impressive twin-turbo 3.0-litre VR30DDTT engine, an advanced power unit that delivers superb performance and much better fuel economy than the 3.7-litre V6 currently in use. It comes in two states of tune in the Q60, including 300 and 400 horsepower variants, with most pundits expecting a 400Z nameplate to accompany the most potent version. This said it would be an unusual move to limit the upcoming Z to just the top-line engine, as a 300Z’s lower price point would allow for many more sales, while a potential 300ZX could denote available all-wheel drive, currently standard in Canada in the Q60, while provide an ideal marketing connection to the aforementioned historical Z models. A six-speed manual is shown in the concept, nothing new here, while it’s possible the new Z will debut more forward gears for the automatic, which currently houses seven.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The usual trio of dash-top dials is included, albeit with a new turbo boost gauge.

As has mostly been the case through the decades, the new Z Proto’s interior is heavily influenced by first-gen Z cars, albeit with modern-day refinement and technology that far surpass today’s model. A key giveaway includes the sport steering wheel with its classic circular centre pad endowed with a “Z” logo instead of Nissan’s usual crest, but fans will appreciate the trio of driver-canted ancillary gauges atop the centre dash even more. Along with the usual oil pressure and voltmeter dials, the Z Proto replaces the current model’s digital clock with a boost gauge, a nod to the twin-turbo V6 housed just ahead.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
A large state-of-the-art infotainment touchscreen will be included in any new Z.

The digital gauge cluster and large high-definition infotainment touchscreen are the most notable improvements over all predecessors, the former necessary for respect in this segment, and allowing for much more driver usability due to the ability to incorporate sophisticated performance readouts, while the latter should come equipped with all the usual modern amenities including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a big, clear backup camera with the possible option of a 360-degree overhead bird’s-eye view, and more.

The three rotating dials used for the heating and ventilation system strangely don’t appear to provide dual-zone capability, but it is automatic so this version is at least up to par with the current car.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The Z Proto’s 6-speed manual and single-zone automatic climate control are nothing new.

Speaking of the current car, the Z Proto’s side-window defog vents on the outside corners of the dash, and its uniquely shaped door handles with integrated air vents, appear directly pulled from today’s Z, a strange choice if the brand wants to wholly differentiate the upcoming model from the one it replaces.

The seats look fabulous, but such can be said for the current model’s top-tier Recaros too, all of which help to make the new Z Proto appear like a production model in waiting. Then again Nissan is calling it a “development study vehicle,” so we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high, even though the 2001 Z Concept ended up looking a lot like the 2003 350Z. Reports claim the production vehicle has been signed off and development is well under way, but so far we haven’t been given a launch timeline. Considering today’s Z is now the oldest generation of any model sold in Canada, they may want to get a move on.

On that note, the 2020 Nissan 370Z is available with up to $1,000 in additional incentives. Find out about this and other info at CarCostCanada, where you can learn about manufacturer rebates, leasing and financing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. See how the CarCostCanada system works, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Also, make sure to check out our full photo gallery above and the three available Z Proto videos below:

Unleash the #PowerOfZ (2:18):

Hear the Z Proto roar (0:33):

Get ready for the Nissan Z Proto (0:29):

Did you see the new Z (check out the gallery above)? The Z Proto, which dropped on September 16, isn’t production ready, but its level of interior detail, its prototype-referencing name (prototypes…

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo Road Test

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Still looking good after all these years, the 370Z is even more attractive in top-line Nismo trim.

Did you see the new Z (check out the gallery above)? The Z Proto, which dropped on September 16, isn’t production ready, but its level of interior detail, its prototype-referencing name (prototypes normally refer to near production cars, rather than concepts that may only be built to gauge public reaction to a proposed design language or garner some press for a brand while having a little fun), and Nissan’s history of building production vehicles that closely resemble their prototypes/concepts, make it appear more like the real deal than merely a dream car. Either way one thing is clear, the 2020 370Z Nismo I’m reviewing here has quickly become last year’s news, if not the last decade’s news.

Unfair? That’s what I’ll try to determine in this review. After all, if you’re reading this review, you’re obviously still interested in a car that’s been around for a very long time. Nothing I can tell you here will be any different than what I could’ve told you a couple of years ago, other than news you may have missed about the 2020 370Z 50th Anniversary model, that gets two, thick diagonal stripes on each door along with special badging and some other nice extras.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Nismo trim adds black and red trim details along with more aggressive bodywork.

Nice, but I’m reviewing a Nismo, which is the best Z currently available. Its seasoned 3.7-litre V6 gets an extra 18 horsepower over lesser trims’ 332 for a total of 350, plus 6 more lb-ft of torque for a maximum of 276, and can only be had with a six-speed manual gearbox, a seven-speed automatic with paddles available in lesser trims. This is a performance purist’s machine after all, so why bother with a slush-box?

It costs a lot more than the $30,498 base Z too, at $48,998, but for that money you get special red and black accented trim, a gorgeous set of 19-inch Nismo Rays forged alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40YR19 front and 285/35YR19 rear Dunlop SP Sport MAXX GT600 performance tires, a Nismo-tuned suspension setup comprised of increased spring, dampening and stabilizer rates, front and rear performance dampers, a reinforced three-point front strut tower brace, and a rear underbody V-brace, plus a Nismo-tuned free-flow dual exhaust system with an H-pipe configuration.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
We’ll never see LED headlights on this generation of Z car.

Fabulous black leather Recaro sport seats with red perforated Alcantara inserts and harness slots on their backrests are included too, as well as numerous comfort and convenience features pulled up from lower trims, a shortlist including auto on/off HID headlamps, LED DRLs, LED taillights, proximity entry with pushbutton start/stop, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated backup monitor, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, automatic climate control with an in-cabin micro-filter, navigation with SiriusXM NavTraffic, Bose audio with satellite radio, a USB port, and much more.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Gorgeous 19-inch Nismo Rays wheels frame upgraded performance brakes.

For all points and purposes the 2020 370Z Nismo is a great value proposition, that is until factoring in its age. In automotive terms its 11 years without a significant update make it ancient. In the entire consumer industry, Nissan’s own Frontier pickup truck is the only vehicle that’s has lasted longer, having arrived in 2004. A new Frontier is expected sometime in the near future, as is the redesigned Z noted earlier, and both will likely be much pricier than the vehicles they replace due to more sophisticated body shells, powertrains and electronic interfaces. The big question is whether the introduction of the new 400Z, as most are starting to call it, will cause today’s 370Z values to crash or, alternatively, allow them to hold in place thanks to the current model’s reasonably priced range. There’s no way this can be predicted, so we’re left with the gamble of choosing an ultra-old-school sports car that’s soon to be replaced.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
LED taillights are standard, but the Nismo badge denotes something truly special.

Still, it’s a very good car with plenty to offer performance fans. Acceleration is strong, with its zero to 100 km/h time coming in under five seconds, which might seem like a laggard when put side-by-side with a GT-R Nismo that achieves the same in the low threes, but it’s still pretty good. Likewise, where the GT-R Nismo tops out at 321 km/h (200 mph), the 370Z Nismo hits its terminal velocity at a respectable 286 km/h (178 mph). Nothing wrong with that.

Fortunately braking is equally impressive, thanks to four-piston opposed aluminum front calipers clamping down on 14- by 1.3-inch vented discs, and two-piston calipers biting into 13.8- by 0.8-inch rotors in back, plus high-rigidity brake hoses and R35 Special II brake fluid. Stomp down on the centre pedal and speed gets scrubbed off quickly, but I recommend doing so in a straight line as the car’s 1581-kg (3,486-lb) mass can be a bit unsettling when diving too deeply into a corner without reducing speed enough first.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The Nismo provides nice detailing from front to rear.

Of course, this can be said for a long list of performance cars, many of which cost a great deal more than this Z. Hidden below the shapely bodywork is a double-wishbone suspension in front and four-link design in the rear that collectively ride smoothly considering the higher spring and stabilizer bar rates, plus stiffer roll calibrations and increased damping levels. The Nismo even gets a 0.6-inch wider track than non-Nismo trims, which together with a carbon-fibre composite driveshaft and viscous limited slip differential that come standard across the range, add to that planted feel I noted earlier.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The 370Z interior, filled with plush suede-like Alcantara, leather and stitched, soft-touch surfaces, is quite refined.

All of this is great, but the aforementioned six-speed manual is even better. It features SynchroRev Match, a technology that instantly spins engine revs up to the ideal rotation in order to synch up with the upcoming downward gear before it arrives, as if perfectly blipping the throttle yourself. It makes any driver feel and sound like a pro, and provides a nice, clean engine-transmission match-up in order to minimize drivetrain jolt. Shifter feel is excellent too, with a wonderfully tight, crisp, notchy feel and positive engagement, while clutch take-up is superb, and the overall pedal arrangement ideal for applying the right-foot’s heel and toe simultaneously on the brake and throttle, a useful technique for modulating engine revs when braking into a corner.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Old-school, but still very nice. The entire gauge cluster tilts with the steering wheel too, but the column offers no telescopic ability.

Those pedals are aluminum with rubber grips, incidentally, and look great, Nissan even finishing the dead pedal in vertically striped brightwork. There’s more brushed and bright metal throughout the cabin, but the theme is more of a red on black affair, the Nismo getting crimson red thread highlighting most of its key visual points, not to mention a red centring stripe at the top of the leather and psuede steering wheel rim, red gauge accents and those fiery red ultra-suede seat inserts mentioned earlier.

Suede-like Alcantara trims off the door inserts and armrests too, not to mention the sides of the lower centre stack, the latter protecting inside knees from chafing, while the dash top and door uppers were nicely wrapped in a thickly padded stitched leatherette for a premium feel. Following that theme is red-stitched leatherette flowing around the gearshift lever, and no I’m not just talking about the boot. Nissan actually finishes the top of the lower console in what appears like leather, making the car feel more like a luxury-lined Maxima than anything so sporty.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
We love the ancillary gauges… even the digital clock.

Back to those lightweight Recaro sport seats, along with superb support all over, their backrests get a set shoulder harness holes that look fabulous. The driver’s seat is eight-way adjustable and the passenger’s just four, and true to its performance mission these aren’t power-adjustable, but instead require hand-wrenching via a set of dials in the usual positions. Once set they deliver the goods, but those with oddly shaped bodies (like mine that has longer legs than arms) might find the steering column’s lack of telescopic reach disconcerting. This forced me to twist my seatback rake farther forward than I would normally have liked off the track in order to maintain optimal control, but it was never uncomfortable, just not as comfortable as it could’ve been.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The next-generation Z will update the infotainment display, which is much needed.

If merely offering tilt steering wasn’t already enough of a faux pas, the 370Z’s gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen are throwbacks to a bygone era. The former is actually quite nice for any lover of classic sports cars, thanks to a lovely set of analogue dials that include a centre-mounted tach and a right-side speedo, plus a tiny little red liquid-crystal display for the odometer (yah, an LCD, just like anyone old enough will remember from their high school calculator or better yet, early ‘70s digital watch, while the circular binnacle on the left is filled with two bizarre rows of tiny red diodes that light up to show the fuel tank level and engine temperature. This hover above and below another red readout, but this time more of a heavily-pixelated monochromatic Minecraft encounter trying to double as multi-information display, albeit with less convincing graphics.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The 370Z’s six-speed shifter is superb.

Comparatively the centre touchscreen is advanced tech, but don’t get too excited just yet. Features include navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a number of car settings, but it’s displayed with yesteryear’s resolution quality, processing speed and graphic designs. My recommendation is to use its functions as required, because all work reasonably well, and then rest your eyes on the always wonderful row of ancillary oil pressure and voltmeter dials (plus a digital clock) just above (the upcoming Z Proto is showing off a boost gauge within its hooded threesome, hinting at the twin-turbo V6 ahead of the firewall).

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Some cargo capacity is better than none at all, and the 370Z’s liftback design allows for easy access.

Cargo space isn’t the 370Z’s forte, but you should be able to throw in a weekend’s worth of bags for two if you pack light. Forget the clubs, of course, and don’t even think about going camping, the sporty Nissan’s gear-toting capacity just 195 litres (6.9 cu ft).

Nissan is offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives on 2020 370Zs, by the way, this useful info found at CarCostCanada that also provides info about available manufacturer rebates that dealers won’t necessarily tell you about, plus leasing and financing deals, and best of all dealer invoice pricing, or more specifically, the actual price your dealer pays for the car. This way you’ll know how far you can drive down the discount before even entering the dealership. I recommend learning how the CarCostCanada system works, and downloading their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Check out this gorgeous engine cover and fabulous three-point front strut tower brace.

Getting a new 370Z for less than $30k would be quite the bargain, or for that matter lopping a couple of grand off the price of this Nismo model, or one of the 2020 370Z 50th Anniversary editions if any are still available. None provide fresh styling or new-edge tech, but each one looks great, delivers superb performance and pampers with a reasonable level of refinement.

Photos and story by Trevor Hofmann

Nissan is giving its best-selling Rogue compact crossover SUV a complete redesign for 2021, and thus far it’s received very favourable reviews. We covered all the key details in an earlier story, but…

Nissan Canada prices new 2021 Rogue from $28,498

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $28,498.

Nissan is giving its best-selling Rogue compact crossover SUV a complete redesign for 2021, and thus far it’s received very favourable reviews. We covered all the key details in an earlier story, but now Nissan has released pricing, standard features, trim specifics, and options information, so here’s what you need to know in order to compare it to upcoming 2021 versions of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and other key rivals.

As is often the case with a redesign, many features that were previously optional with the 2020 Rogue are now standard for 2021, such as LED headlights that replace the old halogen lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels instead of identically-sized steel wheels with covers, a new heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel rim joining heatable front seats that were already standard, new standard steering wheel paddle-shifters for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s once again the only transmission on offer, proximity-sensing Intelligent Key access, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat that now gets standard powered lumbar support, and much more for a new base price that’s a reasonable $1,000 higher than the outgoing 2020 model, at $28,498 plus freight and fees.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Bolder styling and many more standard features make the 2021 Rogue a more enticing buy.

A redesigned set of LED taillights continues Nissan’s focus on safety, with some of the advanced driver assistive systems carried forward on all trims including Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus a host of new ones that were previously optional as part of the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of technologies, such as Pedestrian Detection being added to the Intelligent Emergency Braking system, Lane Departure Warning included as part of the side alert system, High Beam Assist making nighttime travel easier, and Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking improving safety when backing up.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Top-level Platinum trim promises a much more luxurious compact SUV experience.

The new Rogue also keeps last year’s standard Rear Door Alert system that upon arriving at a destination informs the driver if something or someone was placed in the rear seating area prior to leaving, while a new Intelligent Driver Alertness system also gets added to the base model. Lastly, the new Rogue includes 10 standard airbags.

Once again, tech features like NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard in the 2021 Rogue, as does a backup camera and SiriusXM satellite radio, but the centre touchscreen that all these features get displayed on grows from 7.0 to 8.0 inches diagonally in the base model, with the upgrade adding another inch for a larger, more premium interface. Nissan adds another powered USB port to the standard mix too, the new total being two, while the new base model also gets Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with streaming audio, a hands-free text messaging assistant, pushbutton ignition, and more.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue Platinum gets a fully digital gauge cluster, a head-up display, and a 9.0-inch centre touchscreen.

Along with the aforementioned CVT, the 2021 Rogue pushes forward with the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine making an identical 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft or torque, plus if the base model is enhanced with Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, a $2,300 upgrade to $30,798, it also boasts a drive mode selector with Terrain, Snow, Normal, Eco and Sport modes. With the Eco mode engaged, Nissan is claiming the AWD version will achieve an estimated fuel economy rating of 9.6 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 8.7 combined, while the base FWD model is rated at 9.1 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.2 combined.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue features both USB-A and USB-C charge points, while a wireless charging pad is optional.

Nissan is once again offering the Rogue in three trim lines, albeit mid-range SV trim can be had with an SV Premium Package. Before delving into options, however, for $31,998 with FWD or $34,298 with AWD, the regular Rogue SV builds on S trim with 18-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless entry added to the rear doors, UV-reducing solar glass, an Intelligent AroundView Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Blind Spot intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention, ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving technology, an eight-way powered driver seat, two additional stereo speakers for a total of six, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, two rear USB ports, a Wi-Fi Hotspot, and a security system. If you want more you can opt for the just-noted SV Premium Package that, while only available with the AWD model, adds Prima-Tex leatherette-appointed seats, rear door sunshades, heatable rear outboard seats, and a powered rear liftgate.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The mid-range Rogue SV can be upgraded to include side window sunshades.

Most of the above items come standard in the $39,998 Rogue Platinum, except the 18-inch rims are upgraded to 19s, the dual-zone automatic climate control is expanded to a tri-zone system, the powered driver’s seat features memory, the leatherette upholstery has been swapped out for particularly rich looking quilted semi- aniline leather, the powered liftgate now includes motion activation, the centre touchscreen grows to 9.0 inches and includes Nissan’s “Door-to-Door” navigation system, ProPilot Assist includes Navi-link, and the audio system comes from Bose and gains four more speakers for a total of 10.

The Rogue Platinum also includes LED fog lamps, front parking sensors, an auto-dimming centre mirror, tilt-reversing side mirrors, an advanced 12.3-inch “Digital Dashboard” gauge cluster, a 10.8-inch head-up display, Traffic Sign Recognition, a wireless charging pad, a four-way powered passenger seat, a remote folding rear seat, interior ambient lighting, a driver seat-mounted front-centre supplemental airbag, and a redesigned Divide-n-Hide system in the cargo compartment.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue Platinum gets an updated Hide-n-Divide cargo system.

For more detail about the 2021 Nissan Rogue, check out our comprehensive “Nissan redesigns its popular Rogue compact SUV for 2021” news story. Alternatively, by going to CarCostCanada’s 2020 Nissan Rogue Canada Prices page you can find out how to receive up to $5,000 in additional incentives on a new 2020 Rogue, which is already $1,000 more affordable than the 2021. Learn how a CarCostCanada membership can save you thousands on your next purchase, and make sure to download the free CarCostCanada mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all the most important car buying information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

Nissan has taken a cue from Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 by toughening up the look of its Rogue for 2021, and if recent sales trends are indicative of things to come, most would-be buyers should find…

Nissan redesigns its popular Rogue compact SUV for 2021

2021 Nissan Rogue
Nissan has squared off some of the Rogue’s curves for 2021, and by so doing has produced a more assertive looking compact SUV.

Nissan has taken a cue from Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 by toughening up the look of its Rogue for 2021, and if recent sales trends are indicative of things to come, most would-be buyers should find its sharper angles and more rugged appearance appealing.

Like Toyota, Nissan has built decades worth of respect for its 4×4-capable SUVs and pickup trucks, so pulling a number of styling cues from its full-size Armada down to the more affordable, economical and car-like compact class certainly doesn’t hurt the new Rogue’s image.

To a lesser extent Honda did likewise with its CR-V, but other than ATVs and motorcycles the second-most popular compact sport utility’s maker doesn’t have any serious off-road heritage to pull from, giving Nissan and Toyota, not to mention Chevrolet, Dodge/Ram, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Kia and Mitsubishi, which also currently produce or have produced off-road-oriented trucks and SUVs, a unique advantage while the SUV sector continues to take over the entire automotive landscape.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The more rugged looking 2021 Rogue should be appealing to compact SUV buyers.

While the word aggressive is probably not applicable, the new 2021 Rogue looks more assertive than its predecessor. Nissan is quick to point this out in its press release, using words such as “edgy” and “adventurous” to describe the overall “spirit of the vehicle,” and expanding on that theme with phrases like “commanding presence,” “athletic strength,” and “adventure-ready exterior.”

While we all love creative marketing-speak, the expected Nissan design cues are clearly evident, including its new squared off V-motion grille up front and blackened D pillars at back, the latter creating the appearance of a “floating roof,” this now enhanced when choosing new two-tone exterior colour combos that allow for an all-black roof. Rugged looking lower body cladding beefs up appearances further, accentuated via a new “U-shape” bodyside design, while the attractive set of LED taillights don’t depart quite as much from their forebears as the new multi-level LED headlights do up front.

2021 Nissan Rogue
New two-tone colour combos help accentuate the Rogue’s blackened D-pillar design.

In a market that always seems to expand outer dimensions, a compact SUV that shrinks 1.5 inches from nose to tail and shaves 0.2 inches from its height is a welcome addition. While its shortened and lowered stance won’t be felt inside, these slight dimensional changes contribute to the crossover’s blunter more traditional SUV-like appearance without making it look too tall and boxy.

Unlike the RAV4, Nissan has yet to offer the new 2021 Rogue with an off-road trim line, the competitive Toyota having provided a more rugged looking and somewhat more 4×4-capable Trail version since its 2019 redesign, which can be upgraded with an even more empowering TRD Off Road Package for 2020, but that’s not to say the Rogue’s hardy new image is only skin deep.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Nissan seems to have really upped the Rogue’s interior design and materials quality for 2021.

In models equipped with Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, it starts with a centre console-mounted Drive Mode Selector that incorporates an “Off-road” setting for tackling more treacherous terrain, or at least it can help overcome unruly rocks and other reasonably sized obstacles poking up from the dirt on the way to the summer cottage. A “Snow” mode does likewise for slippery conditions, while the Drive Mode Selector also incorporates Standard, Eco and Sport settings when weather patterns are less extreme, these final three the sole settings available in front-wheel drive trims.

Enhancing traction further, the new Rogue gets an entirely new Vehicle Motion Control System that Chris Reed, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at the Nissan Technical Centre North America, claims to do “what a human can’t.”

2021 Nissan Rogue
An available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster lends the new Rogue premium appeal.

“The all-new Vehicle Motion Control predicts what the driver is trying to do by monitoring steering, acceleration and braking,” adds Reed. “It can then step in and help to smooth things out.”

Basically, Vehicle Motion Control joins the all-wheel drive system and Drive Mode Selector to provide individual four-wheel control, improving line traceability in order to smooth out corners via the braking system, and even applying an individual brake pad to do so. The system, which features a chassis control module that “monitors and adjusts engine, transmission, Vehicle Dynamic Control, all-wheel drive and steering functions” is especially helpful when “driving on snowy slopes, deep snow, snow flat turning and off-road driving (such as beach or dirt trails),” said Nissan in its press release, although it’s always on and therefore assists in all situations.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The optional 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is one-inch larger than the already sizeable 8.0-inch base unit.

As for the Rogue’s all-wheel drive system, it now incorporates a new electro-hydraulic controlled clutch that distributes torque quicker and more accurately thanks to an ability to predict front-wheel slippage, thus allowing for better rear torque distribution along with greater traction and responsiveness overall.

Speaking of responsiveness, a new quicker-ratio rack-electric power steering setup should result in more immediate turn-in, while a rigid six-position front suspension mounting and redesigned multi-link rear suspension will no doubt help to flatten out the curves.

This is important, as the new Rogue with be quicker thanks to an updated direct-injection 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 11 more horsepower and 6 additional lb-ft of torque, the new total being a nice even (or odd) 181 units apiece. In order to achieve this gain in performance, Nissan uses its GT-R-proven mirror bore coating technique to reduce friction and therefore enhance efficiency, while also adding a variable displacement oil pump, an integrated exhaust manifold and an e-VTC intake valve along with other improvements.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Wireless charging is available.

Yes, Nissan has been a technology leader as of late, so prepare yourself for some serious digital wizardry along with a bigger safety kit filled with new gear like Intelligent Driver Alertness that monitors steering patterns and if detecting drowsiness warns to take a break with a chime and coffee cup icon, Rear Door Alert that signals if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat when exiting, and Easy Fill Tire Alert that lets you know when a tire needs more air.

The brand’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driver assistive systems is included as standard too, with features like Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and High Beam Assist, while an unusual yet welcome addition is standard Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, which will automatically stop the Rogue if backing into an obstacle or worse, out into oncoming traffic.

2021 Nissan Rogue
An electronic shifter allows for a taller “floating” centre console with storage space below.

Of note, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Intervention and Intelligent Cruise Control with improved stop-and-go are optional, the latter integrated with an even more advanced version of Nissan’s semi-self-driving ProPilot Assist system. Safety improvements continue with 10 standard airbags instead of the six found in the outgoing Rogue, and extended crumple zones in case of impact. Additional options include a new four-door Intelligent Key system that allows the driver and passengers to open all four doors, this part of the Rogue’s new “Family Hub” combination that also includes tri-zone automatic climate control with two independent temperature zones up front and one in the rear.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue’s NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats are said to provide comfortable support along with standard front heaters.

Even more noticeable, the Rogue’s upper-crust trim gets a fully customizable 12.3-inch “Digital Dashboard” gauge cluster that completely replaces the conventional instruments with a colourful TFT display, although the base model’s regular primary gauge package is still advanced thanks to a 2.0-inch larger 7.0-inch multi-information display at centre, which is also capable of full personalization.

On top of this, literally, a supersized 10.8-inch head-up display unit projects key information onto the windshield where it’s easiest to see, while the standard 8.0-inch centre touchscreen display (already large for the class) gets increased to 9.0 inches for those willing to spend a bit more. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard across the line, with Google Maps and Waze (with voice recognition) integration available.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue is hardly short on standard or available features.

It all comes in a cabin that looks wholly improved over its predecessor, with many more soft-touch surfaces plus richer optional Prima-Tex leatherette or quilted semi-aniline leather upholsteries in Graphite, Grey or Tan, as well as nicer wood grains and metallic trims, while Nissan’s NASA-influenced Zero Gravity seats offer comfortable support along with standard front warming. The steering wheel rim is heatable in base trim too, a smart nod of respect to Rogue owners of all means, while rear outboard seat heaters are optional, as is two-way driver’s memory. Other options include a surround parking camera system Nissan calls Intelligent Around View Monitor, this combined with the aforementioned rear driver assistive systems.

A smart electronic shift lever is shorter and positioned closer to the driver, and due to not needing any mechanical hardware underneath, allows for a raised centre console with plenty of what-have-you space on a shelf below.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Cargo space appears generous, while new auto-folding rear seats add convenience.

The Rogue still doesn’t provide a centre pass-through in the second row or better yet, the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks provided by some competitors, which allow owners to lay longer items like skis down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable, optionally heated rear window seats, but Nissan does include a one-touch automated folding mechanism with “an available remote fold feature” for convenience. The Japanese brand’s useful Divide-n-Hide cargo system is once again available too, plus a powered and Motion Activated Liftgate that lets you open the rear hatch by kicking your foot under the back bumper.

Once again available in S, SV and Platinum trim levels, the 2021 Rogue will be available this fall, with pricing expected closer to its launch date. If all this sounds like it’s worth waiting for, stay tuned for more updates, but if you’d rather take advantage of some pretty incredible savings available on the current model, check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 Nissan Rogue Canada Prices page that was showing up to $5,000 in additional incentives at the time of writing. All you’ll need in order to learn about available manufacturer rebates, financing and leasing deals, plus otherwise hard to find dealer invoice pricing is an inexpensive CarCostCanada membership. Find out how it works now and while you’re at it, download the free CarCostCanada mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

How do factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent sound to you? That’s what Nissan is offering in order to entice you into a new 2019 Versa Note. Yes, I know the Versa Note was recently discontinued,…

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV Road Test

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
Nissan’s Versa Note might be on its way out, but there are still plenty of new examples available and it remains a very good little car. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

How do factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent sound to you? That’s what Nissan is offering in order to entice you into a new 2019 Versa Note.

Yes, I know the Versa Note was recently discontinued, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good car. In fact, Nissan’s second-smallest hatchback is a great little runabout that provides more interior room than most subcompact competitors. It’s just passed its best-before date, and is therefore being replaced by an all-new subcompact sedan for 2020.

If you haven’t seen the new four-door Versa yet (and you may not have as it’s only being offered in the U.S. so far), imagine a shrunken 2020 Sentra or a smaller version of the recent Altima crossed with Nissan’s newest Leaf. If you’re not sure what the Altima looks like, Nissan’s mid-size family car was recently redesigned to look like a smaller, less dramatic Maxima sedan, the latter being Nissan’s ultimately stylish flagship four-door (it really is a nice looking car), while the current second-generation Leaf was recently normalized in order to appeal to a larger audience (the first one was a bit whacky). All in all the new Versa sedan looks fresh and modern, and the outgoing Versa Note doesn’t.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The Versa Note features a long wheelbase and tall roofline for impressive interior room. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

While not the latest, greatest Nissan on the block, this final Versa Note nevertheless incorporates most of the brand’s newest frontal design trends for much more attractive styling than the original version sold here, which was in fact the second-generation sold elsewhere. That car ended up replacing the even blander Versa sedan as well as the unorthodox (but brilliantly cool) Cube crossover, and actually did rather well on the sales charts when first arriving on the scene in late 2013.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
It’s lack of fog lamps are a clear sign this example is not a Special Edition, while its alloy wheels denote its SV designation. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be clear, the 12,297 Versas sold in 2013 and 13,314 delivered in 2014 were a combination of the Note hatchback and Versa sedan, the latter cancelled in Canada after the 2014 model year. Thus calendar year 2015 resulted in just 9,120 Versa Note unit sales, which by hindsight should have been celebrated as a banner 12 months being that Canadian sales slipped to 7,417 units the following year and only climbed up to 7,865 in 2017, before dropping all the way down to 5,385 examples in 2018 and only 2,369 last year.

Despite losing favour with the buying public as the years continued, which was partially due to the extremely well received Micra city car that arrived in 2014, and also because of Canadian consumers’ continued purge of cars for crossover SUVs (Nissan currently leading the market’s small SUV charge with its popular Kicks and Qashqai subcompacts and Rogue compact), the Versa Note is a well-designed four-door hatchback that delivers big in space and comfort.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The Versa Note is a back to basics car, but it’s still very comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The Note offers loftier occupants an incredible amount of headroom thanks to a tall overall design that makes it feel more like a subcompact SUV or a mini-minivan than an economy car. The seats are especially comfortable too, thanks to memory foam that really cushions and supports the backside, and the upholstery is attractive as well, with a nice blue fleck on black cloth. The driver even gets a folding armrest attached to the right-side bolster for added comfort.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
Although the design looks dated compared to Nissan’s newer offerings, the Versa’s cabin is well organized and reasonably well equipped. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Other nice details include a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt function, and some attractive satin-silver detailing on its spokes. The silver treatment circles around each HVAC vent too, plus it adorns the centre stack and surrounds the shift lever. What’s more, the gauge cluster is particularly impressive, with backlit dials and some great looking digital displays. In fact, it’s so nice that it makes the infotainment touchscreen seem dated by comparison. The truth is that the centre display does look a bit behind graphically, especially when compared to interfaces in Nissan’s newer more recently updated models, but it’s nevertheless plenty functional and easy to use, plus at 7.0 inches in diameter it’s quite large, which works well for the backup camera.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
This upgraded gauge cluster is a real treat for this class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Due to the lack of telescopic steering, the Versa may not fit your body type ideally however, my long legs and short torso necessitating a seat position that was closer to the pedals than I would’ve liked, causing me to compromise with a more upright backrest than normal. I managed to get reasonably comfortable after spending some time setting it up, after which it also provided an adequate driving position for decent control.

On the positive, the rear seating area is spacious with more legroom than average for this class (Natural Resources Canada actually classifies the Versa Note as a mid-size car), so like I mentioned a moment ago, this little car (with a long wheelbase) is perfect for large people on a budget. A flip-down rear centre armrest gets filled with dual cupholders, plus there are two cupholders on the backside of the front console that are easy to access for rear passengers, while a magazine holder gets added to the backside of the front passenger’s seat.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The infotainment interface is fairly old school in design, but very functional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The Versa Note is good for those that haul a lot of cargo as well. It includes 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, which is normal in this class, but unusually welcome is the fancy Divide-N-Hide adjustable cargo floor that moves up and down as needed. It’s good for stowing tall cargo when left at the bottom, or when lifted allows for a totally flat loading area once the seats are lowered. The Note’s dedicated cargo volume measures 532 litres (18.8 cubic feet) behind the rear seats, while laying the seatbacks flat results in a really generous 1,084 litres (38.3 cu ft) of maximum space.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The large 7.0-inch display provides a good view from the backup camera. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All of that spacious interior volume comes well stocked with features, but of course its content will depend on which trim you choose. Take note, Nissan dropped the model’s sportiest SR trim for 2019 and its most luxurious SL trim for 2018, but they introduced the $700 SV Special Edition package for the model’s final incarnation, which adds fog lamps, a rear rooftop spoiler and Special Edition badging to the exterior, plus proximity-sensing keyless access to get you inside and a pushbutton ignition system to turn on the engine, while the cabin includes upgraded NissanConnect infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as SiriusXM satellite radio.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The HVAC interface is fairly rudimentary, but it all works well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

One glance at my tester’s lack of fog lamps and it’s easy to see that it’s not an SV Special Edition, but instead its 15-inch alloy wheels make its regular $18,398 SV designation clear (the base Note S comes with wheel covers over 15-inch steel rims). The SV also adds the impressive instrument cluster and leather-wrapped steering wheel I mentioned earlier, plus power door locks with remote keyless entry, powered windows, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) as standard equipment, cruise control, a six-way manual driver’s seat (that now includes height adjustment), heatable front seats, a cargo cover, and more.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
SV trim comes standard with a more efficient CVT automatic. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The $14,698 base S model is the only trim available with a five-speed manual transmission for 2019 (it came standard in the SV as well for 2018), but the CVT can be had for $1,300 more. No matter the transmission, the base model also includes power-adjustable heated side mirrors, a four-way manual driver’s seat, air conditioning, the aforementioned 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity with audio streaming, audio and phone switches on the steering wheel spokes, a hands-free text messaging assistant, Siri Eyes Free, aux and USB inputs on the lower console, a four-speaker audio system, and more.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
Two-way heated front seats make the winters more bearable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course, all the expected active and passive safety features are included too, but if you want the latest advanced driver assistive systems such as collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with lane departure warning, or dynamic cruise control with Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPILOT assist self-driving technology, it’s best to look toward one of the newer SUVs in the Japanese brand’s lineup.

The Versa Note is more traditional than those trendier utilities, and in this respect it does everything that most practical consumers need. It’s not quite as fancy or edgy as the newer Nissans, yet along with its comfortable seats, and thanks in part to its aforementioned long wheelbase it provides an extremely nice ride for its subcompact price, plus adequate performance off the line or when passing, while its CVT is very smooth if not particularly sporty.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The front seats are very comfortable, but the driver’s position isn’t ideal for those with longer legs than torso and arms. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The same 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder found in the tiny Micra puts out an identical 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque in the Note, which means the larger, heavier car doesn’t feel as enthusiastic when going about its business. Of course, the focus is more on fuel-efficiency in this class, and to that end the Versa gets a Transport Canada five-cycle fuel economy rating of 8.6 L/100km in the city, 6.6 on the highway and 7.7 combined with the manual, or 7.6 city, 6.2 highway and 7.0 combined with the CVT, which doesn’t sound all that good until comparing it to the just-mentioned Micra that when fully loaded has an identical 1,092-kilo curb weight as the base Versa Note’s starting point (the as-tested Note SV weighs in at 1,124 kg), yet nevertheless manages just 7.9 combined with its manual and 8.0 combined with its less advanced four-speed auto. A better comparison is the similarly roomy Honda Fit that’s good for 7.0 L/100km combined with its six-speed manual or just 6.5 with its most efficient CVT.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The rear seating area is very spacious, and actually rated as a mid-size car. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The Note is a tall hatchback as mentioned, so its high centre-of-gravity works against performance when pushing hard through the corners, but if you don’t mind a little body lean when trying to make up time, it manages fast-paced curves reasonably well. This said, if you’re looking for a sportier runabout and don’t mind slightly less room, the considerably less expensive Micra that I mentioned a moment ago is a very good bet. The Versa Note, on the other hand, is designed more for comfort than speed, and therefore does a great job of shuttling one to five adults around town with ease, and would likely make a decent road trip companion as well.

2019 Nissan Versa Note SV
The Versa delivers a lot of cargo space for the subcompact class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If you’d like to take advantage of the zero-percent financing noted earlier in this review, and think this little Nissan might suit your lifestyle and budget, I’d recommend checking out CarCostCanada’s 2019 Nissan Versa Note Canada Prices page where you can go over all trims and packages in detail, not to mention quickly scan the available colours within each trim, while also learning about the latest manufacturer rebates that could save you even more.

Best of all, however, is a CarCostCanada membership that provides access to dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands upon purchase. All of the above is available online at CarCostCanada’s website or via a new CarCostCanada app downloadable for free from your phone’s app store. So before you call your local Nissan retailer or connect with them online (it’s probably a good idea to deal with them remotely during this time of crisis) make sure you’ve first done your homework at CarCostCanada, so you can get the best deal possible on your new Versa Note.