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Canada To Open Borders to Mexico

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  • On 03, Oct 2011

“Haven’t seen the orange VW before? The CrossFox is an off-road version of Volkswagen’s Fox supermini, and would be perfect for Canadian roads.

Just before Canadian Parliament dissolved in late March, to clear the way for the Federal Election, it passed Bill S-5, to very little fanfare.

But maybe we should have been done the Mexican Hat Dance.

Because Bill S-5 will (eventually) clear the way for Canadians to not only purchase late-model used vehicles from Mexico — something we always could do— but to actually license and register and drive them in our respective provinces — something we could never do.

So how about an Audi A1, or Ford Ka, or the Toyota Hilux diesel pickup truck?

Not so fast, enchilada breath…

Here’s the deal… It will take another year or two for the government to work out the regulations and protocols for Mexican used-vehicle importation, and the only vehicles allowed in will be those that can be certified for Canadian safety and environmental standards. This means that some vehicles will continue to be effectively persona non grata in Canada, because if they don’t already meet Canadian safety and environmental standards, it will likely be too costly and difficult to make them so.

But as is the case with American market vehicles, there will no doubt be a lot of vehicles that already meet Canadian safety and environmental standards; the only modifications they need then for Canadian certification are relatively affordable and straightforward ones, such as daytime running lights, metric gauges, and Canadian compliant child seat latching systems.

(At some point, Transport Canada will certainly publish a list of Mexican market vehicles, which fit the above criteria.)

The Mexico-market Chevrolet Tornado, basically Cobalt-sized El Camino.

NAFTA Compliance Issue

Why did Canada suddenly get the impulse to invite Mexican used vehicles to our party? In order to bring Canada into compliance with the automotive provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Those provisions require that Mexico, the United Sates and Canada allow the importation of used vehicles from one another’s countries. All the parties were supposed to have this provision done by the end of 2010. Canada was the lone laggard; hence the rush to get it done before the election.

Canada and Mexico will follow a phased implementation: Allowable importations start with vehicles 10 years old and older. The age threshold for the vehicles will decrease by two years, every two years, until 2019, when all the NAFTA countries may not adopt or maintain any prohibition or restriction of used vehicles from each other.

U.S. Vehicles Pave Way

Vehicles imported for use in Canada that are 15 years old or older are not required to meet our safety or environmental standards — regardless of which country they originate from.

So this new Mexican move is about late model used vehicles (14 years and younger), and will (eventually) make Mexico equivalent to the U.S., when it comes to used vehicle importation into Canada. We’ve been able to import late-model used vehicles from the U.S. since 1995, due to provisions in the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of the late 1980s.

And by the way, before the Mexican move, the United States was the only country in the world allowed to ship its late-model used vehicles into Canada.

To monitor and regulate the importation of American used vehicles into Canada, the government set up, in 1995, the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (www.riv.ca). This registrar program will be extended to cover Mexican vehicles.

The sold-in-Mexico Peugeot RCZ, a “French-ified” Audi TT Coupe, is one of the most beautiful cars on sale at any price.

How many Mexican vehicles?

“There won’t be a rush of people of people at the border, waiting to take their cars across,” predicts Brian Osler, president of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA). His member companies are those that buy and sell vehicles across international borders.

He suggests a slow build up, because that’s what happened when Canada first allowed U.S. imports.

“It took a long time for people to become aware that there was one more buying channel… It takes your nieghbour buying one, takes seeing it in the press. It won’t happen overnight.”

In 1995, just over 13,000 used vehicles were imported into Canada. In 2010, over 150,000 made the journey.

Considering the millions of used vehicles currently on our roads, the American used import portion would certainly have to be classified as a “niche.” But it’s a big niche and on track to one day outgrow the term.

“It is not insignificant any more,” notes Osler. “All the industry players, be they manufacturers, leasing companies, dealers, etc., have all adjusted their buying and selling practices to allow for used vehicle imports.”

Because of all this future potential, Osler was actually “shocked” about how little press coverage and general discussion there was, when Canadian MPs did the deed back in March, and officially opened the door to Mexico’s used vehicles.

“All of sudden you open up this whole new market and no one is talking about it.”

Future Predictions

Osler expects growth, but not at the level so far seen with American imports, due to the added comfort and better logistics offered by the American market.

“I expect dealers to buy from Mexico long before consumers,” adds Osler. “Some of our member dealers are already busy developing contacts in Mexico. Dealers are more accustomed to treating the automobile as a commodity.”

But no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, and in future years the relative currency values and the relative used vehicle prices in each country may set the tone as to how fast, or how slow, is the flow of used vehicles from Mexico.

Currently the conditions must be at least favourable — many NAATA dealers already purchase Mexican used vehicles for export into European markets.

Future Funkiness?

At the very least, the move will eventually establish protocols and an infrastructure to import a lot of interesting models that were heretofore unseen in Canada. If they were 15 years old or older, they could have arrived before now — but now it will be easier and more likely to happen. We may even see dealers who specialize in the funkiness. If so, in a few years I might even put an order in for, say, a decent Peugeot RCZ. “

Source: Sympatico Autos

BC Street Racers Lose Cars

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  • On 03, Oct 2011

“It has been a while since we heard any updates on the alleged B.C. teens street racing incident that saw numerous exotics yanked off the street and locked away in impound lots. The last we heard was that the B.C. government was intending to permanently seize five vehicles and auction them off. Well the word is now out on which five vehicles the lawsuit is aiming to take possession over – two Lamborghinis, an Aston Martin, a Mercedes SLS AMG and a Nissan GT-R.

The drivers were reportedly swerving in and out of traffic in an unsafe manner which was considered by other motorists as street racing at speeds of over 180-200 km/h.

The director of civil forfeiture would like to see the vehicles be put up on the auction block and make the teens feel the pain metaphorically to what their dangerous driving could have resulted in. Out of the five vehicles, one was driven by a minor, and an additional two were operated by novice drivers. The driver of the Nissan GT-R only holds a driver’s licence issued by the People’s Republic of China.

The Province also reports that several of the defendants are now known to have previous driving records that include not having a valid licence, all the way up to, you guessed it, street racing.”

Source: Autoblog

Top Gear USA Season 2

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  • On 03, Oct 2011

“The first season of Top Gear USA was a little rough, and the statistical proof of this came in the form of lukewarm ratings. But instead of dumping the show in favour of more Pawn Stars re-runs, The History Channel decided to give the auto-focused program another chance at success. Good thing, too, as the second season of Top Gear USA was more refined, more entertaining and, we’re guessing, it brought in more ad dollars. That’s because the show’s ratings jumped by 30 per cent, with the much-sought 25-54 demographic jumping by 35 per cent.

Thanks to those 1.9 million average viewers, History decided to extend season two by eight more episodes. Hosts Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood and the crew are already in production, and History tells us the new episodes will feature “more exciting challenges, crazy antics and legendary vehicles.”

The extended season will include Adam and Rutledge coming up with dangerous ways to charge an electric vehicle while driving and Tanner heading to England to drive the Noble M600. The show hosts will even whip up some homemade limos out of some funky rides, and use the stretch monstrosities to chauffeur celebrities to the Emmy Awards.

Like we said, the first season was pretty average (and sometimes unwatchable), but the second run of shows were far more entertaining. We’re thinking that a larger audience can only lead to more investment in the show, which should be a good thing.”</p.

Source: Autoblog

Nissan 370Z Nismo Review

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  • On 03, Oct 2011

“Many years ago I recall being out for sushi in downtown Los Angeles with a few friends. We were hosting a couple Japanese Nissan employees and we were awaiting one of the US Brand Managers stationed in LA at the time. Naturally, he has to upstage everyone and rolls up in a 350Z Nismo Edition – red, of course. Our whole table clears out at this point to get a glimpse of the pre-production version of the first Nismo Z here. And it was that kind of extra attention that the Nismo touch gives to the Z, the most current iteration not excluded.

Now we know what you are thinking; the 370Z Nismo Edition isn’t new. You would be correct because it has been available in the US for some time now and the previous Nismo Edition on the 350Z chassis never made it to Canada. Although we never received official word on that, the rumour is that Canadians weren’t ready to pay for such a premium version of the car and that it had to build some brand equity first. Well, Z-cars have become very popular here even when critics said a 2-seater RWD car wasn’t practical for this market. They still aren’t practical with our climate but Nissan Canada decided the latest Nismo Edition would still push some units here.

We have reviewed the merits of the 370Z ad nauseum for over two years now but the Nismo Edition was a welcome addition to our garage. There are enough tweaks on here to really differentiate it from the standard 370Z and its presence on the road commands attention at all times. The styling of the latest Z has gotten the nod from the general public since its debut and the Nismo Z has a more dramatic aero treatment that engineers perfected over serious R&D. First, the front fascia has been reworked with a low slung chin spoiler which is said to reduce lift at speeds. The front end is also slightly flared out giving the appearance of much wider fenders. Flanking the car are a pair of beefed up and sculpted sideskirts that make the car appear both lower and meaner. If the Nismo Z appears longer, you are not imaging it because the body work extends the car by over 15 cm.

Around back, the rear valance was been carved up with a pair of pressure relief vents in the hind quarters and a turned-up mid section with modest rear diffuser fins in the rear. Larger openings have been cut into the back end to accommodate the massive 120mm Nismo cannons firing out sweet exhaust notes. Sitting atop the rear hatch is a fairly high GT2-style wing which generates 75lbs of downforce at 120 km/h for much improved cornering and stability. The rear of the vehicle is capped off with bold Nismo badges to let boy racers of the world know that you like to keep it real, real Nismo.

Adding to the tendency for other motorists to strain their necks looking at the Nismo Z are the new wheels. Although striking, these forged 19-inch wheels bear too much similarity to the 19s found on the 370Z Sport Package. Not only are they the same size and same finish but they are also made by Rays and could have been blessed with a more distinct design. At the same time, everyone was really gripping the wheels so if we owned this car maybe a simple powder-coating in deep bronze would give the premium appearance they should have had.

The interior of the Nismo Z brings a few welcome tweaks and others that caught us off-guard. First off, when entering the vehicle we kind of let out a sigh that our familiar Navigation screen and dial weren’t present but the ho-hum storage locker was. Apparently, the Nismo Z is so highly tuned, they couldn’t dial-in the car with all the extra weight of the nav… sorry we just don’t buy that and the weight should have been shaved off elsewhere. Aside from missing our old nav friend, the high bolster Nismo seats were a welcome change but we’d suggest they should have been high-backs with harness holes – a proper Nismo car. The gauges are Nismo branded as are the floor mats and the balance is standard Z fare.

For more of an improvement over the standard model is the horsepower and torque bump. While nothing groundbreaking, the VQ37DE V6 in the Nismo Z cranks out 18 more ponies to generate 350hp and has an extra 6lb-ft both of which you can feel as modest as they may seem. An improved exhaust with less back pressure and some ECU tweaking helped Nissan arrive at the new numbers, along with an improved powerband and higher rev limit to 7400rpm. Alas, it feels like 2009 all over again because we again have to point out the weakest link in this car – the lack of oil cooler. It is common knowledge that after a handful of laps on the track the 370Z will go into limp-mode and the Nismo Edition was no exception although we’re really surprised this was addressed. Why Nissan did not feature an oil cooler on the Nismo Z is beyond explanation but even if they couldn’t justify the cost, why wasn’t it an option?

Around town, this motor does offer a great drive. It sounds great and has lots of low-end grunt to zip from light-to-light. At 11.6 L/100km city and a scant 7.7 L/100km the tuning and aerodynamics of this car work well together because it really does sip gas for a high performance vehicle. The gearbox is direct and the clutch definitely livable although it should have been a step up since it can slip here and there. The Syncro-Rev offered with the sport package is standard here and that technology is just as amazing today as it was over two years ago.

Nismo engineers got to work on the handling to give it the edge over the competition and it’s stable mates. The rubber has been slightly improved by running with the summer only Advan Sport Tire with a 245/40R19 front and 285/35R19 rear that features a sticky 180-AA-A rating. The suspension received a shot in the arm with stiff re-valved dampers and higher spring rates to make a more agile 2-seater. The sway bars also received an increase in stiffness up front but far more in the rear for a flatter cornering experience and the chassis is tightened up with a massive front strut bar.

On the street, the suspension is livable although it is much stiffer than a standard Z. Navigating the crumbling roads around the mega-city can be a bit of a headache but buyers of this car are ready to make that sacrifice. Driving the Nismo Z over the week around the city was a decent experience since it is comfortable enough to commute in but serious enough to track occasionally. On the track the Nismo Z shines with a neutral feel and enough power to get the back end to rotate when needed. The traction control can definitely get in the way and even intermediate drivers will be opting out of it in no time.

It became very clear we’d like to see more weight savings in the chassis to make it more agile on the track. The car feels heavy lugging itself around and we were expecting more of a dramatic edge over say, the Infiniti IPL G Coupe. Sure enough, when we checked the specs it tipped the scales at 1498 kg (3300-pound) is actually heavier (11kg) than a regular Z! Not super porky but why is it heavier? That leaves us confused and wondering how much of a difference that missing nav system is really yielding and whether the Nismo team should have have gotten more hardcore chasing a lower curb weight?

However, the Nismo Z was capable in cornering and enabled us to lay down the power nice and early in the apex. But as we mentioned, our experience was in brief jaunts as the oil temps shot up making it challenging for a coherent picture of performance. Track enthusiasts will definitely want to opt for an aftermarket oil cooler (like from Nissan specialists Stillen) to ramp up the performance.

At $46,898 the Nismo Z is a lot of car that appears far more exotic than it’s price point. We had people of all kinds wanting to get a more in-depth glimpse at the car and even pissed off one proud Camaro SS driver (not in a drag race, the SS would make short work of the Z) when his kid wouldn’t stop staring and pointing at the Nismo Z, he got super annoyed. All the cool Dads have Nismo Zs these days, didn’t he get the memo?”

Source: Autoblog

The Targa Newfoundland Enzo Lives!

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  • On 26, Sep 2011

“If, like the rest of us, you were wondering exactly what would become of the bright yellow Ferrari Enzo that took a dive into the Atlantic at the 2011 Targa Newfoundland, wonder no more. According to the owner’s Facebook page, the carbon-fibre beast will ride again courtesy of the good people at Edo Competition. ZR Auto has packed the Prancing Horse into an air freight crate for a quick hop across the the pond in a 747. Judging from the photos, the vehicle only suffered slight aesthetic damage on the front right corner after smashing through a wooden walkway. The owner also took quick action to begin disassembling the dash to hose everything down with WD40 to displace any sneaky salt water that could cause problems later.

What does Edo Competition have planned for the Enzo? There’s no telling, but we’d guess that even more power is likely part of the recipe. Owner Zahir Rana has already hinted at returning to Race the Base in 2012 with even more power on tap.

Source: Autoblog

The Exclusive 2 Second Club

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  • On 26, Sep 2011

“There are many ways to measure a car’s performance, and no shortage of benchmarks against which to judge them. The 200 mile-per-hour (321 km/h) mark, for example, holds its share of bragging rights. And back in the day, Road & Track would hold shootouts to determine which cars made the cut and which did not. But now the magazine is back with a new benchmark, one that’s a lot tougher to beat: the two-second sprint to sixty.

There are only a few cars – that is, showroom-stock production cars – in the world that can run from 0-60 in less than three seconds. Most of them are all-wheel drive, have dual-clutch transmissions, and are made by one division or another of the Volkswagen Group. R&T admitted the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Porsche 911 Turbo S and Nissan GT-R to the exclusive club.

We’d like to see the Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 458 Italia and McLaren MP4-12C give it a shot.”

Source: Autoblog

Chevy Shows us that the Manual Transmission is not Dead

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  • On 26, Sep 2011

“Perhaps the manual transmission isn’t as dead as a few Italian automakers would like you to believe. Porsche has declared that as long as there is demand it will continue to supply automobiles with do-it-yourself gearboxes, and the German automaker has outfitted its 2012 911 with a seven-speed manual gearbox. Now it seems General Motors is following suit, and the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette will reportedly offer up seven forward gears, as well.

Inside Line has reported that the 2014 Corvette is set to swap in an extra cog for increased fuel efficiency. As a bonus, this move will allow engineers to play with the lower gear ratios thus providing a bit more speed from the lower end.

Now that Porsche has made the leap to a seven-speed manual and Corvette is following suit, could a cackling, wild-eyed locked-in-the-basement transmission engineer be working on an eight-speed unit? We doubt it, but we’re already doing heavy shoulder workouts just in case.”

Source: Autoblog

Can The Nissan GTR Get Any Better?

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  • On 26, Sep 2011

“The Nissan GT-R is an impressive piece of machinery on a number of levels, but perhaps most astounding is the fact that it’s performance continues to improve year over year. If the rumours kicking around NAGTROC forums are to be believed, that trend will continue for the 2013 model. Nissan reportedly held a European press event at the Nürburgring where the company unveiled some of its plans for the next-generation supercar. Thanks to new engine mapping, a revised intake and exhaust, the 2013 Nissan GT-R may produce as much as 570 horsepower – around 40 more ponies than the current variant. In addition, the transmission and suspension mapping will also receive minor adjustments.

Underneath, the vehicle will likely sport new aero tweaks for better cooling and efficiency, and the report suggests that the 2013 model will be even cleaner than its predecessors, emissions-wise. Don’t expect any aesthetic adjustments, however. The model is expected to sally forth with no new colour options or visual changes, though both the Premium Black and Egoist editions are anticipated to be available worldwide.”

Source: Autoblog

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