The introduction of the V-12 Vantage S to the Aston Martin lineup, which stuffs the exotic British brand’s latest and most powerful engine into its smallest and lightest car, results in the marque’s fastest car, apart from the hyper-exotic One-77.
The Vantage S will feature a slightly modified version of the V-12 lurking under the hood of the pricier Vanquish, and ups the power slightly to 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque from its 5.9-litre V-12. The automated manual transmission is still a single-clutch unit, but is now a seven-speed versus six-speed box, and notably lighter.
Official pricing hasn’t been announced, but it’s a safe bet that the V-12 Vantage S will be priced slightly higher than the V-12 Vantage it replaces, and occupy a similar role to the outgoing V-12 Vantage in the unusual Aston Martin sports car hierarchy. Unlike its exotic Italian and German rivals, Aston Martin’s fastest model is no longer its most expensive machine, the Vanquish, which is roomier and more of a grand tourer than this performance derivative of the “base” V-8 Vantage.
Nissan trumpets low cost of Sentra ownership
Nissan Canada has released a detailed comparative infographic that suggests its Sentra sedan is one of the lowest-cost compact sedans on the market, when comparing typically equipped MSRPs and fuel consumption numbers.
And while it’s tempting to dismiss the findings as far from independent, or complete – no accounting for depreciation, insurance prices, service costs, freight charges or available buyer incentives – it is still enlightening to see how well the redesigned ’13 Sentra stacks up to most of the 10 best-selling cars in the country.
It’s a list that Nissan is obviously pushing its Sentra to reach. Sentra sales of 6,311 units to the beginning of June is up by 50 per cent over last year, the firm reported this week, helped tremendously by the redesign that not only made it look like a mini-Altima, but also traded some power for fuel efficiency. It went from one of the quickest but thirstiest in the super-competitive segment, to one of the slowest but most frugal, a tradeoff evidently welcomed by many cost-conscious buyers in this market.
Yet the Sentra still hasn’t cracked the best-selling list of cars in Canada for 2013, which up to the beginning of May contains seven compact car heavyweights: Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta and Ford Focus, in that order, according to DesRosiers Auto Consultants. All of these cars made it on to Nissan’s MSRP and fuel cost comparison, as did the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza, 2014 Kia Forte and the Dodge Dart.
Nissan took base models of all these cars, added in some reasonable “must-have” items (automatic/CVT, cruise, A/C, Bluetooth, keyless remote, steering wheel stereo controls), then a couple items that could have its necessary status debated (USB input, tilt and telescoping steering wheel), to come up with an “MSRP plus features” price comparison. Perhaps surprisingly, the Sentra 1.8SV came in only second-lowest here, costing almost $800 more than the Jetta Trendline.
To these prices, the company added a five-year rundown of what it would cost to fuel each of these cars for 20,000 km per year, at $1.29/litre, with a city/highway split of 55/45, using official Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption figures. Unsurprisingly, the Sentra cost the least here, at $7,482 over five years, with the best fuel efficiency numbers of all of these non-hybrid or diesel compacts. The worst of the bunch? The Jetta, at $10,450, according to Nissan.
Once the two cost figures were combined, the Sentra once again came out on top, at a total cost of $26,330, followed by the Civic, at $27,445, the Elantra at $27,724 and the Corolla at $27,760, Nissan calculated. Not huge differences, though the last-place Cruze’s $29,955 total seems notably higher.
Regular readers will know, however, that these two-cycle NR Canada numbers are usually optimistic. Even NR Canada admits its figures need careful driving to achieve, and should be used for comparative purposes, and not for real-world estimates of what drivers’ fuel bills will cost.
With that in mind, I punched in figures for these top four finishers at the U.S. government’s useful fueleconomy.gov site, which uses a more realistic five-cycle test that accounts for colder temps, higher highway speeds and climate control use, then personalized the figures to equal the 20,000 kilometres of driving as well as the infographic’s assumed price of $1.29/litre.
The result? The Sentra did indeed finish as the most fuel-efficient of these top four, averaging 6.9 litres/100 km in combined city and highway driving, compared to the Civic and Elantra both finishing at 7.4, and the soon-to-be-replaced Corolla falling well back with an 8.1 average.
As for overall fuel cost, the American site estimated the Sentra would use $8,750 worth of fuel over five years, which worked out to $100 less per year than the two cars duking it out for the Canadian sales crown, and $300 less per year than the four-speed auto-equipped Corolla.
Tesla speeds up charger installation
Tesla Model S drivers near Vancouver will be within range of one of its free Supercharging stations by the end of the month, the company announced recently, while owners in central Canada will see the first installations in this country by this fall.
Tesla has sped up the timetable for installing its company-specific fast chargers across North America, which allow for faster and less worrisome inter-city travel by most versions of the all-electric luxury sedan, as well as upcoming Tesla models. The company wants to encourage its owners to take road trips, promising that the electron fuel provided by the Superchargers – some solar-equipped, others not – will allow Model S owners to “fill up” for free, and forever.
The next round of Superchargers will be installed by the end of June, Tesla said, and will include one that will allow travel along the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor. Within six months, the first Superchargers will be installed in Canada, in Vancouver proper, as well as three stations on the 401 corridor that will link up Montreal to Ottawa, and Toronto to Detroit. In 2014, the company expects the rapid expansion to link 80 per cent of the United States and Canada, making road trips possible from Montreal to Miami, or Vancouver to San Diego, with zero local emissions and zero owner cost, for fuel at least.
Accord plug-in not coming to Canada
Honda Canada confirmed recently that its Accord plug-in will not be sold to the public in Canada this year, saying it is still studying the market. No timetable was given for how long this study may continue, but it’s likely that Honda Canada is keeping close tabs on Ford Fusion Energi sales.
The Accord plug-in promises up to 28 km of all-electric range, and went on sale in limited markets in the United States in January.