They’re here! Nissan previews two of its sportiest 2015 vehicles, and offers some blasts from the past

What do a classic roadster, diesel-powered crossover, and electric utility van have in common? In this instance, they all have a Nissan badge on their nose – Datsun makes a cameo appearance, too. The NY Daily News Autos drives two of Nissan’s hottest 2015 models, a few tempting European-market cars and trucks, and even classics like the original 240Z.

Nissan has one of the fastest-evolving and diverse lineups in the auto world, with most products in showrooms having been redesigned or updated within the last five years. We recently tried out the most recent additions to the Nissan lineup, and had the rare opportunity to spend time with prototypes, classic cars, and products sold in markets outside the United States.

We were among the first to officially drive the 2015 370Z Nismo, a track-oriented 370Z that unofficially debuted at an owners gathering in May. The ’15 model makes a 7-speed automatic available for the first time on a Z Nismo, and adds Recaro seats and some changes to the chassis tuning.

We drove a Z Nismo equipped with a 6-speed manual and liked the balance of performance enhancements and drivability. (A GT-R, which we drove directly afterward, still felt like a mental, hair-raising machine by comparison.) It may not rival a classic Z car for future desirability, but the Nissan Z remains a great – and sometimes overlooked – choice in the sports car world.

This was also our first drive of the Juke Nismo RS, a fantastic, performance-oriented treatment of the cheeky Juke crossover SUV. A 6-speed manual transmission, on-point steering feel, superb seats, and a surprising amount of turbo oomph make it as fun to drive as it is polarizing to view. Even if you think it looks like a giant frog, the Juke is still fantastically fun to drive.
The Juke Nismo RS is proof that great things can come in small, strange-looking packages.

It was surprising to see Nissan’s first electric van for mass production, the e-NV200, at this event. Based on the vehicle you know better as the Taxi of Tomorrow, the e-NV200 sources its batteries and motor from the Leaf hatchback, resulting in a silent delivery van with a range of about 100 miles.



Its driving position and road manners are van-like, sure, but it accelerates well, and is much quieter than its gas-powered counterpart. The e-NV200 is currently being tested by FedEx, and any future commercial sales are likely to be limited to work fleets.

The teeny-but-not-too-tiny Micra is sold in Canada and Mexico, where it competes with the Mitsubishi Mirage and Fiat 500 as basic urban transportation. It impressed us with its solid fit and finish, punchy 109-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, and high level of equipment. This is no GT-R – or even a Juke, for that matter – but there is merit in its small dimensions, frugal nature, and able chassis.

More forbidden fruit materialized in the form of the Qashqai crossover SUV. Underneath the Qashqai (say cash-kie) is a U.S.-market Rogue, but this particular SUV was equipped with a torquey turbodiesel engine. Don’t hold your breath for that motor to make it here, however. We still like the Qashqai’s elegance, both in and out, and would forgive its slightly louder engine note for the greater returns in efficiency.

Nissan fastidiously keeps running examples of its historic past, including the 1600 Fairlady Roadster seen here. Don’t be fooled by the Broadway-worthy name, because this little car is an absolute driving delight – Julie and Rex would almost definitely give it a standing ovation, in our opinion.


The Fairlady is a light, tossable roadster that does a great impression of similarly small and charming British sports cars. Except unlike the British cars in the 1960s, the Nissan was absolutely reliable (sorry MG and Triumph fans). The Fairlady’s agility is impressive, even though it does without power steering. Once the exhaust’s overrun kicks in around 3000 rpm, you have no choice but to fall in love with this tiny Nissan roadster.

The Fairlady got things rolling, but the original 240Z defined Nissan’s balance of style, performance, and budget-friendly pricing in the ‘70s. This particular 240Z was rehabbed by Nissan in 1996, as part of an official effort to breathe life into the Z brand, despite the temporary discontinuation of the car. That pricey restoration paid off, because this car is sublime to drive!
The wooden steering wheel, slick shifter, light clutch action, and limber chassis make the 240Z as compelling to drive as many modern sports cars. In time, the Z packed on more luxury features, additional power, and extra pounds. The original is the best, and probably the Nissan we’d most like to take back home.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/latest-reviews/nissan-taste-2015-models-back-article-1.1878555#ixzz3ArFWsw9R

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