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Driven: 2013 Fuga Hybrid

Back in 2009 Nissan has unveiled their spectacular looking flagship executive sedan:  the Nissan Fuga. Also known as the Ininiti M, the successor of well received 2004 model it followed the same principles including lots of gadgetry, exclusive comfort, sporty handling and modern design.  
I find the exterior being particularly striking.  It follows the curves of the Skyline 370GT (Infiniti G37) but adds a bit of luxury look with more curves around the rear, more vertical large grille as well as larger wheels.  This model came with 18 inch rims while Nissan offers 20 as option.
Back in 2011 I was lucky to have driven the Infiniti M37x in the US, which is a counterpart of Fuga 370GT Four in Japan and while it lacked the sport package it still delivered a hefty punch from the rev-happy 3.7L V6 identical to the one in 370z. it rumbled nicely and provided plenty of power. Handling was very sharp and responsive, especially for a car this size.
Fuel economy was rather poor, however, and that’s where the Hybrid version comes in.  Unlike most other hybrids on the road, this does not combine an underpowered engine with a small electric motor, It has a mighty 3.5L V6 from the 350z producing 313PS and electric motor rated at 68PS. When combined they supply enough power to propel the 1860kg monster from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds. 
My fuel economy numbers were pretty good too as I averaged about 11.5 km/l through entire day of combined city/highway driving.  My average on the Nissan Skyline 370GT was abysmal 6.7km/l
On the inside, even on base model you are surrounded by luxurious finish. Beautiful lines on the dash make it look even more spacious.
Ride comfort is enhanced by cabin quietness achieved by passive noise suppression.  Pretty much the only thing you hear is a gentle growl of the V6 engine as the car glides without much concern about the quality of the road surface. 
Car is packed with electronic safety features such as blind spot detection, parking and side cameras, as well as impressive front facing radar that enhances cruise control to match the speed of the car in front.  It also  provides brakeassist function, which I found rather annoying. 
This car is a luxury cruiser, so problems begin once you enter tiny side streets. Stretching 4.95m with 1.84m in width it does take a lot of space and with long front it becomes particularly difficult to turn into narrow streets.  Corner sensors and top view camera are optional, but highly recommend.
City stop and go traffic is also not pleasant as braking is too responsive, and radar brake assist making stopping very jerky.  Turning it off, although improves braking feel leaves the yellow warning light on the dash, which can be distracting. 
As a whole, however, the car is very well put together.  It’s the fastest hybrid sedan on sale at the moment and it is also very refined and fun to drive.
Personally, I would opt for a 3.7L with sport package option, as with firmer suspension, lower profile tires and 200kg of weight saved with removed battery it is notably more agile and responsive.  Even with less power and torque it feels quicker than the hybrid.
Fuga Hybrid is on sale in Japan starting at 5,397,000 Yen for the no-Nav version, which is not particularly a bargain, but still cheaper than the slower 535i Active Hybrid from BMW.

Things get more appealing in the used car market, where the 370GT version starts to look more attractive, as you can find a Sport version for just above 2 million. 
 
Cost of ownership
3/5
A hybrid can save a lot on gas and acquisition tax, but 3.5L engine and nearly 2 ton body will cost a lot in taxes afterwards.  Wide and large tires will cost a lot to replace as well.
Practicality
3/5
While having a very spacious interior, trunk space is compromised by the battery, which is attached to rear seat, making it impossible to collapse.  It can be difficult to navigate in narrow streets (I would rate non-hybrid version at 4/5 due to more practical trunk)
Appeal
4/5
I could be the best looking Japanese car to date. It turns heads as its presence is felt due to its large profile and curvy form.
Fun factor
3/5
While power delivery is quite amazing, handling is a bit numb and irresponsive. For a hybrid it is good, but car enthusiasts would unlikely be impressed.  Fuga 370 Type S gets 4/5 as there is a big improvment in handling and responsiveness.





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Jaguar F Type Goes On Sale In Japan


Jaguar has always been in high demand here in Japan, so they weren't too hesitant to unveil their new instant classic: the F Type

The F type is a 2 seater convertible with powerful engine that follows the roots of the magnificent E type, sporting elegant body lines and exceptional handling and performance.

Japan is getting 2 engine types, both supercharged: The 3L V6 with 340HP and 450Nm of torque and 5L V8 with 380HP and 625Nm of torque, both send power to rear wheels through 8 speed AT gearbox.

Looks like it is set to compete with Mercedes Benz SL, but priced at 9.5 million for V6, and 12.5 million for V8 it may like a better dealfor some enthusiasts. 


Read Entire Article on Car Watch here
Photos: Car Watch
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A Good Day at Daikoku.

Sometimes you get this feeling that if you just get behind the wheel and drive, you will have a good day.  And that's exactly what happened yesterday as I turned in for a quick stop at Daikoku Futoo parking area, which turned into an hour long photo session.
 
First thing appearing in front of me as I turned into the lot was a Porsche owners meet-up who brought their goodies along
Some were particularly eye catching, as this tuned Cayman with carbon fiber roof

Or this yellow one with beautiful gold rims.

There was a significant number of new Boxters. One next to a Nismo 370z with its owner saying that the race is still on.  Maybe he's got a point.
Turn the other way for a moment and you see that this wasn't just Porsches as you time slip into golden era with this moddded C110 GT and classic 86 parked next to each other.
Just look at this profile!

The old school fender mirrors just add to that classic look.
A closer look reveals how much work was put into these vehicles.
Couple of old Alpha's added diversity to the scene
Parked all on its own was this beautiful white F430.  Japan has probably the largest number of white Ferraris, but they do look good indeed!

The owner of this magnificent C63 AMG seemed to be out on his own, but he probably knew that out of all the cars here it could generate loudest and meanest exhaust note.
Then things just got weird.  I am not sure how he made it here with this camber angle.  A lot of money and patience went into this Accura though, as the owner imported it all the way from the US. 
And it was even more weired from the front! Nice face mask, boss!
Meanwhile a classic Ferrari 308 made its present heard with absolutely stunning exhaust note. (Yes, another white Ferrari)
Couple of bikers had a good day out as well
As did this Subaru Legacy GT owner particularly proud of Subaru's WRC pedigree. I would actually love to see wagons go at it in Rally.
This beautiful NSX was parked up front and didn't seem to be a part of any meets, but it didn't have to.  Lower stance, black rims, and titanium exhaust truly made this one of a kind tuner.

But it wasn't the only thing representing JDM tuner scene as a couple of RX-7's were parked nearby.
On the other side, things got a bit more exclusive as combined value of the cars parked in this area could probably exceed GDP of a small country.  (Yet another white Ferrari)
These black edition AMG's are a true badasses of the motoring world.  Good luck replacing those rear tires, boys!

All in all, a great day! I hope I will be back soon with more car spotting! Thanks for reading, everyone!




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Where Are LPG Vehicles?

This is very tempting! I think LPG is extremely under-rated these days.  I remember when I was still a kid back in USSR some people were modifying their LADA's to drive on LPG.  Then when I came to Japan I saw that all of the taxi's are running on LPG.  It can't be that difficult, but I do not see any info, nor a single private owner convert to LPG. I was always wondering about it, as natural gas is the only natural resource that can be extracted in Japan.

Does anybody know anything on converting cars to LPG in Japan?
Full Story: Car Throttle








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Subaru Previews XV Hybrid Crossover

Subaru XV, a funky version on jacked up Impressa went on sale in 2012 and since then enjoyed a moderate level of success.

Hybrid version is another offspring of the Toyota and Subaru partnership as its proudly presents Subaru's flat 4 engine, symmetrical all wheel drive system, accompanied with THS (Toyota Hybrid System), which sports a small 15 HP motor that should bring fuel economy to moderate 20km/l, while minimizing weight and reducing impact on Subaru's fine handling dynamics.
It is still capable of accelerating to 60km/h or cruising at 40km/h for 1 mile on electric motor alone.

When designing this vehicle, Subaru engineers wanted to attract enthusiasts as well as average eco car buyers. They have re-tuned the steering to provide more response, fitted better suspension to reduce body roll as well as "Yokohama Blue Earth" Eco tires with 225/55 R17 size all around. These tires come with firmer side wall that adds even more steering response. Not bad, but I personally would prefer to see 245/40/19 (As on The A Class). I guess we'll just have to wait for Sti version.
 
Interior has also been refined to create a sporty but yet very comfortable environment.  Instrument panel is bright, sporty alcantara seats and a thick soft leather wrapped steering wheel ensure the driver enjoys being in full control.
 
I will keep an eye of the development of this vehicle and will try to get one for test drive once it is available.

Source: Car Watch

Photos: Car Watch

http://car.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/photo/20130523_600547.html
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Commercial of the year!

Love it!
I have driven the A class recently and it was simply astonishing.  I can only imagine A45 AMG feels like!
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First Look: 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport

A new IS is always exciting news for anybody following the developments in the motoring world.  For an average buyer an IS is a high quality small sedan with plenty of power, comfort, and practicality.  For an enthusiast, it's a rear wheel drive sports sedan with racing pedigree, excellent handling and lots of tuning potential.

The 2014 was no exception. Since in 2012 Lexus has been displaying their LF-CC concept keeping everybody anxious for the exciting news. Finally, on May 16 it happened and the 3rd generation IS went on sale in Japan, so last weekend I went down to local dealership to have a look.

In front of me was a beautiful "Red Mica Crystal Shine" (or Matador Red Mica in the US) fully loaded IS 350 F Sport with about 1 million yen worth options, bringing total price close to whooping 8 million yen, which is close to GTR territory! 

So what did Lexus do to make it worth it?

First of all: the design, they went for an aggressive look. with massive grille with angular corners extending low to front lip spoiler making it look like it's screaming with anger! 

The body lines are sharp, connecting to headlights and angular DRL's in front and similar angular tail LED's in the rear. 


Rear wheel arches have upwards swinging lines slightly extending width of the body. The lines also merge with tail lights.  It may look like a bit too much on pictures, but in person it just looks fabulous.
Stepping inside and it becomes clear that designers in Lexus did not take any shortcuts. All materials are high quality, very stylish, and incredibly friendly to the eye. 


This model had heated/cooled leather sports seats, which were suprisingly firm but very comfortable.  Center console is low and extends from dash in an angle creating more space for front occupants.

Driving position is close to perfect, although the dash seemed a bit high creating noticeable blind spots, but I don't think with this car's size this would be a problem in narrow streets.

Once in driving seat, nothing is more eye catching, than the bright high resolution LCD instrument panel that made its way straight from Lexus LFA. 

Car is also equipped with optional Mark Levinson premium stereo sound entertainment package, which includes blue-ray player, Digital amplifier and 15 speaker combining for 835W Output.  High resolution 7 inch LCD, SD navigation system, and Digital TV tuner is standard. 

Car indeed is equipped incredibly well and should keep its owner happy for long time. 

The specs look very promising.  The 3.5L V6 engine produces 306 HP that are delivered to rear wheels through speed-shift 8 gear automoatic gearbox. 

As usual manual shifting can be done through gear lever or steering mounted titanium paddles.  There are also options for 2.5L V6 200 HP and a hybrid with combined 217 HP. 

The F sport package can be ordered with any engine option, but it comes with a price, it does however deliver very desirable options such as sport suspension, active steering, and of course the very striking body kit. 

I didn't get to drive one yet. but I am hoping I to get to do so fairly soon.  Of course,
full review will follow. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading





















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