Short Report: TFW turbo – as in the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo – is a misnomer

It pains me to say this, but the 2017 Sentra SR Turbo is a whole lot of empty hope. When “turbo” is not only part of a vehicle’s name but also slapped onto its rear for all to see, this means it’s going to be fun, right? For the newest member of the Sentra lineup, not so much. The Sentra nameplate has been around for 35 years, with its seventh generation receiving a refresh just last model year, but that doesn’t matter because the model still feels…basic. Nissan sales are on the rise, and the Sentra closed out 2015 with a not-too-shabby 203,509 vehicles, which is an 11 percent increase. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that for all the brand’s momentum, some of its models are left to languish. Competition is fiercer than ever in the compact car segment as consumers are not necessarily looking for a cheap commuter but an affordable bells-and-whistles hauler. And when compared to the rest of the class, the Sentra lags in almost every way that not even an alleged performance-oriented iteration should make it a top choice. Bigger engine, little else The Sentra SR Turbo is the first North American market Sentra to boast a turbocharged engine, which sounds like a great idea (on paper). Utilizing the same 1.6-liter direct injection gasoline engine found in the Juke subcompact SUV, the new Sentra SR Turbo produces 188 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 177 lb.-ft. of torque – a significant increase from the 130 horsepower, 128 lb.-ft. of torque produced in the non-turbocharged 1.8-liter engine of other Sentra models. The Sentra SR Turbo is available with a six-speed manual transmission and Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, both of which are tuned to the vehicle’s unique power band and torque curve. Enhancements were also made to the suspension, steering and brakes to improve driving feel. These changes include a 10 percent increase in front Continue Reading

Short Report: Jaguar’s midsize XF sedan is stylistically sensational and dynamically brilliant but technologically troubled

Get ready to see a bunch more Jaguars on the road. For 2017, the company is going mainstream with the dynamically delightful XE entry-luxury sport sedan and the undeniably appealing F-Pace midsize SUV. No doubt, these two new models will substantially improve Jaguar’s fortunes, counterbalancing the automaker’s pricey F-Type sports car and costly flagship XJ sedan. Seemingly lost in the space between the XE and the XJ, the XF sedan is the wallflower of the Jaguar lineup. Though redesigned just last year, the XF looks exactly like the headline-grabbing XE, stretched to provide enough rear seat space to hold a couple of adults in comfort and commanding a significant premium for it. Aside from extra interior room, the XF’s value proposition is murky in comparison to the XE. Squared off against competitors like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, however, the more distinctively and attractively designed Jaguar comes across as a potential bargain, depending upon how it is equipped. Loaded like my test car, that value is hard to discern. My wife guessed that it was priced at about $60,000. She was almost $17,000 off the mark. A 2017 Jaguar XF S with all-wheel drive and a 380 horsepower supercharged V-6 engine starts at $65,700. By the time you add my test vehicle’s metallic paint, a heads-up display, a Comfort and Convenience Pack, a Driver Assistance Pack and the top InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, you’re looking at spending $76,735. Given the price, one rightly expects a greater degree of polish than the XF provides. Cookie-cutter approach to design Long, lean and lithe, the XF is a beautiful car. Instantly recognizable as a modern Jaguar, this simply adorned automobile will look sensational for years to come. The problem is that with just a handful of exceptions, it looks exactly like the smaller, less expensive XE. Established luxury automakers like BMW and Continue Reading

Review: Presto change-o! Mercedes-Benz transforms GLE450 SUV into an AMG Coupe

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. That’s especially true in the world of luxury sport-utility vehicles, a segment that is expanding and shifting into countless niche segments and categories. First, any SUV on a slightly smaller scale suddenly became known as a “crossover.” When that wasn’t different enough to stand out from the crowd, you could always replace “utility” with, say, something that sounds like a truck that’s up for a jog and protein shake. Sport activity vehicle, anyone? FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. BMW buyers, raise your hands. And since we’re on the subject of Bavaria’s most famous automaker, now is a good time to introduce a vehicle that has one of BMW’s most segment-defying vehicles directly in its sites. The Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe blends the size, scale and power of the new GLE sport-utility, with the added ‘bonus’ of a sweeping roofline that mimics the sleek profile of a 2-door coupe. Does that recipe sound familiar? BMW offers the same thing in the form of the X6, which is based on the X5 SUV. Aside from the obvious marketing maneuvers going on here, does the style transformation work when you see the GLE Coupe in person? Yes, it really does! In fact, start by taking a look at the GLE from the rear. Those thin tail-lights and steamroller-sized rear tires instantly bring to mind the gorgeous AMG-GT sports car. Seen from the side, I’d argue the GLE Coupe is actually an even more handsome version of the Porsche Cayenne SUV than, well, the SUV built by Porsche. Seen from the front, the GLE450 AMG Coupe has so much black mesh, you feel like you’ve accidentally caught this Mercedes slipping into a pair of fishnet stockings. A huge three-pointed star sits proudly in the (black mesh) grille, though I’m less Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo proves beauty is more than skin deep

In case you haven’t noticed, the brand “Kia” doesn’t have quite the connotation it used to. With a portfolio of strong products that rival – and even surpass – the quality of traditional Japanese and American economy cars, combined with undeniably attractive design, the Korean company has turned its reputation around in just a matter of years. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. Strong sales have followed, but are Kias as good underneath the skin as their improved quality would suggest? Some recent products have proven this, while others seem to be more smoke and mirrors than actual substance. With the redesigned 2017 Sportage crossover, Kia is heavily betting on build quality, because the styling is taking a new (and questionable) direction. Design: 8.4 Rating Okay, first thing’s first. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: that face. Whether you see a “pissed off frog” or visions of the Subaru B9 Tribeca (yikes), from no perspective is the Sportage’s new front end anything close to “pretty.” This is surprising from a Kia product, as the company’s lineup has consistently contained some of the most head-turning mainstream models in the industry. Fortunately, the rest of the Sportage’s sheet metal is well proportioned and sleek, and this SUV has a handsome rear quarter profile. It looks as off-road-ready as a Jeep Cherokee, but 19-inch wheels (standard on the SX Turbo model) and tasteful chrome trim make this crossover look like it could blend in among BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. My test vehicle was finished in the handsome “Burnished Copper” metallic paint, and I think it’s the color that suits the Sportage best. Inside, things are more conventional, and still somewhat like a Jeep. The vertical vents mounted on either side of the touchscreen remind me of an old-school Continue Reading

Test Drive: 2015 McLaren 650S takes only minutes before making you fall in love

One hour, the invitation stated. Would you be interested in driving the McLaren 650S for one hour? Taking a 641-horsepower supercar on public roads for mere minutes can seem as unsatisfying as mishearing the last digit of a supermodel’s phone number. “Testing” is hardly an appropriate way to describe the extended test drive of the McLaren 650S, which was scheduled to take place in Greenwich, Connecticut, on a sunny afternoon in October. Brevity being the obstacle, your mind races to diligently spend every moment of this precious amount of time. That the 650S is theoretically capable of 207 mph, flat out, not including pit stops, inspired thoughts of a manic run to Baltimore for lunch. Realizing that one hour in a McLaren represents 60 minutes more than most people will ever spend with any car in the brand’s lineup, we said yes, and headed to Miller Motorcars, where our ochre-colored test car was waiting outside. The 650S evolves from the MP4-12C, the sexy and short-lived supercar that relaunched the McLaren marque as a builder of road cars. New for 2014, the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive 650S retains most of the 12C’s chassis and powertrain, while its carbon fiber “tub” is lighter and new componentry complements more aggressive styling. Both a coupe and a Spider roadster endure, and the name change is in reference to the German Pferdestärke figure for engine output, which is 650 PS, or about 641-horsepower. The even figure does have a nicer ring to it than ‘McLaren 641S,’ we’ll admit it. The in-your-face nature of the 650S’ styling, which borrows heavily from the limited-run P1 hypercar, is the first punch it throws. Scoops, louvers and intakes all over the body-work are massive hints to the car’s lightweight build, yet muscular abilities. A quick pop of the roof turns a 650S Spider, like our test car, into a full-fledged Continue Reading

Review: 2015 Audi RS 5 celebrates life, liberty and the pursuit of driving happiness

Full Car Details More Reviews This Audi RS 5 Cabriolet is special. That’s not just because it’s painted “Nardo Grey” with an optional Black Optics package, or performs in jaw-dropping fashion on my favorite stretches of twisty road. It was in this automobile that my wife, our two daughters, and I took our first ride in a convertible, together. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. The kids have been in my Miata, one at a time. My wife has been in my Miata, while a sitter took care of the kids. But all four of us have never taken a top-down ride at the same time until this Audi RS 5 Cabriolet arrived, complete with a back seat large enough to install a forward-facing child seat* and booster seat. Aside from providing this family milestone, this RS 5 represents a fond memory of a day spent endangering my driver’s license (without my family aboard). Heck, any Audi that I drive does, because they’re fantastic vehicles. From their tasteful designs and detailing to their impeccable engineering traits and thrilling dynamics, a modern Audi is always a good time, and no matter the weather, thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive. READ MORE ABOUT THE 2015 AUDI RS 5 IN OUR BUYER'S GUIDE HERE. My RS 5 test vehicle cost $86,575, including the $925 destination charge. The flat gray paint was an upgrade, as was the Black Optic Plus package and Technology package. It did not include the Comfort package, which would have added ventilated front seats and a neck heating system, and is an option that I strongly recommend. Nor were ceramic front brakes or the Driver Assist package’s adaptive cruise control and dynamic steering included. Taken together, adding all these options would have pushed the price tag north of $95,000. Usually, people in certain parts of Los Angeles do not notice a car like this. The only Audi rare enough Continue Reading

Chevrolet Bolt aims to take electric cars mainstream

With an EPA-certified range of 238 miles on a charge and a base price under $30,000 after tax credits, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt aims to rewrite the book on electric vehicles when it goes on sale later this year.The combination of practicality and affordability is a breakthrough for EVs, leaving vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus electric and Volkswagen e-Golf behind and going on sale well ahead of Tesla’s promised Model 3.“The Bolt makes other automakers’ new electric vehicles obsolete before they even hit the road,” said Eric Noble, president of the CarLab consultancy in Orange, Calif.  “GM is about to change customers’ expectations of the range and cost of electric cars. This raises the bar for all other automakers.”The Bolt has more than double the EPA-certified range of the electric leaf, Focus and Golf. Tesla is believed to be more than a year from offering a car than can match the Bolt’s price and range.It’s the payoff to a three-year development program the led to the first Bolts rolling off an assembly line in Orion Township north of Detroit right now.► First Drive: New V6, transmission lift 2017 Ford F-150The Chevrolet Bolt engineering team didn’t set out just to beat other electric cars. Their job was to build a great car.“That’s how you expand a technology from the early adopters to mainstream buyers” said Bolt chief engineer Josh Tavel.We’re about to find out if he succeeded.The roomy Bolt is Chevrolet’s bid to shake up the auto industry and convince regular drivers their next car should be electric. The Bolt’s range and price make it affordable and practical enough to compete not just with electric cars, but with family favorites like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.The Bolt will be in dealerships by the end of the year.A short drive in one of the few Bolts that have been built makes the case for converting to an EV. The five-passenger Continue Reading

Harman wants to be the brains inside all connected cars

LAS VEGAS — Dinesh Paliwal drives a sleek snake of a car, a BMW i8, befitting his status as CEO of electronics giant Harman.Paliwal is happy with his high-end hybrid. But it’s readily apparent that there’s lust in his heart for the lime green version of the i8, which is packed with Harman (HAR) connected car technology.Dubbed the Etos and built in conjunction with German tuner Rinspeed, this glammed out i8 dominates Harman’s showroom here at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. It showcases the kind of technology, well beyond audio, that Paliwal is determined to spread throughout the automotive ecosystem.“What we’re looking at is a future where cars will be comfortable and safe and offer the luxuries of both home and office,” says Paliwal. “That means lots of sensors and software, as well as the critical safety systems to protect the car’s information from hackers.”Stamford, Conn-based Harman is a quiet partner in everything from Audi’s interactive dashboard screens to Tesla’s software updates, helping to keep cutting edge technological interfaces simple for consumers.That's in addition to its audio-focused brands — including Harman Kardon, Mark Levinson and Infinity — whose infotainment tech powers systems for the likes of BMW, Lexus and Ferrari.Earlier this week, Harman announced it was buying yet another connected car-focused cyber-security company, TowerSec. At one Harman demo station, executives showed how a hacker breeching a car’s systems through a smartphone-anchored dongle in the OBDII computer port could be detected and thwarted in real time before the vehicle’s engine and brakes were hijacked.Paliwal says it’s all part of a mission to ensure that all the advancements brought to consumers through connected and cloud-based mobility aren't jeopardized by compromised systems. The hacking of connected cars continues to be an issue that Continue Reading

Local 8-year-old races around Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tuscan Nuccitelli, dressed in a blue fire suit and racing helmet, slides into his bright orange race car with the number 66 on the side. The engine bursts to life and he rolls out of the pit, heading toward The Bullring short track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.In many respects it's similar to the scenario played out by hundreds of other race car drivers on speedways throughout the country. Most of them, however, aren’t 8 years old.This will be Tuscan’s first time driving on an actual race track. When he turned 8 this past summer he reached the minimum age required to race a Bandolero-class car. Now he’s following in the tire treads of his father, Nick Nuccitelli, who races his bright orange 1972 Ford Torino stock car in the speedway’s Bomber-class competitions at The Bullring.When Tuscan saw other Bandolero racers, he wanted in.“Last year when I was racing my stock car he was like, ‘Hey, can I race with those other kids?” Nick says, acknowledging that watching and driving, however, are not quite the same. “That view from behind the wheel is a lot different.”With Tuscan approaching the minimum age, Nick purchased a Bandolero car from the actor Skeet Ulrich, best known for the 1990s films “Scream” and “As Good As It Gets.” He then transported the car from California to their home in Ivins City, where Nick works as a sergeant for the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.Bandoleros are entry-level racers with engines capable of 20-30 horsepower and maximum speeds of more than 70 mph, though they are mechanically limited at The Bullring, a 3/8-mile track, to 60. They are built like mini stock cars with roll-bars and other safety features but they have left-foot braking and a centrifugal clutch to ease the learning curve for young drivers.Drivers of Bandoleros are typically between 8 and 16 years old and most move on to Legends racing, where the cars are slightly larger, Continue Reading

Wilmington police aim to disrupt street gun violence

Walking to his squad car parked on a northeast Wilmington corner where a man was shot to death in February, city police Cpl. Devon Jones spots a guy with a patchy beard, baggy sweatpants and a hoodie bearing the words, "Stop hustling backwards."Jones knows the man has a criminal record. He calls out, "If I run you, nothing's gonna come up, right?"The man mumbles an inaudible response, and Jones orders him to put his hands on his head.Jones checks a laptop to see if the man has any outstanding warrants but finds none, then he gets permission to frisk the man, shaking his sweatpants until he's certain nothing will spill out. Satisfied he's clean, Jones sends him on his way, prompting a woman on a nearby stoop to protest, "You see that? Get his car number."Similar uncomfortable encounters like that one last week are now routine in some long-troubled areas of Wilmington as part of Operation Disrupt, a city police initiative launched in late January.Alarmed by five gun homicides and nine other shootings during the first 26 days of the year, police began flooding the most dangerous streets with teams of officers whose mandate is zero tolerance for any kind of infraction.For eight hours, six nights a week, teams of officers on foot and in cars are looking for any way to clear the streets of people selling drugs, carrying guns, or committing lesser offenses such as drinking beer on a sidewalk or disobeying traffic laws.Officers are stopping and searching people suspected of wrongdoing, pulling over cars for rolling through stop signs, serving warrants and chasing juvenile curfew violators.The goal is simple, Mayor Dennis Williams says: "Crack down on gun violence."The city's 22-officer Disrupt teams work Tuesday through Saturday. On Sunday nights, six members of the New Castle County Police Mobile Enforcement Teams perform those duties. Disrupt teams don't work Mondays, but city officers on overtime do extra foot patrols in the same targeted areas, police said.Two months Continue Reading