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Hatchbacks

All-New Nissan LEAF Ready To Take On Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3

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New Nissan Leaf EV, white

The Nissan Leaf, the car that sparked the mainstream electric car segment into second gear, has been redesigned, gaining a fresher style, more technology and longer driving range to better compete with the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3 and other new EV challengers.

For starters, the second-generation Leaf gains a bigger battery (40-kWh) that provides approximately 150 miles of driving range, a 40-percent increase over the previous model. As good as that is, that level of performance actually places the electric hatchback in the middle of the pack, beating the Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s 124 miles, Honda Clarity’s 89 miles and BMW i3’s 81 miles but falling far short of the Chevy Bolt’s 238 miles and Tesla Model 3’s 220-310 miles.

A new, more capable electric motor also grants the Leaf with a significant power increase, delivering 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Nissan’s engineers refined the chassis for better stability and revamped the electric steering system for a more linear feel.

The exterior of the new Leaf is an evolution over the its predecessor, eschewing a quirky design for a more traditional look highlighted by Nissan’s trademark V-Motion grille and a floating roof.

Ditto with the technologically-superior interior, which has the same general layout as the previous Leaf’s and boasts upgraded versions of the same switchgear. Why mess with something that isn’t broken, right?

All models come standard with a single ‘e-Pedal’ system that allows drivers to accelerate, cruise, decelerate and stop using just one pedal. Simply removing your foot from the pedal initiates a 0.2g deceleration, eliminating the need for a brake pedal in most situations.

The new Nissan Leaf launches in the Japan in the closing months of 2017 and arrives in North America in early 2018 with a starting price of $30,875 in the United States, a price point that undercuts the competition.

A more powerful Leaf variant with even longer range will be released for the 2019 model year.

So, what do you think, does the new Nissan Leaf have what it takes to outsell the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and other mainstream electric cars? Let’s not mention the Tesla Model 3 — that car is in a league of its own popularity-wise.

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Concept Car

Mazda Kai Concept Looks Amazing, Previews New Mazda3

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Mazda Kai Concept, new Mazda3

The current Mazda3 is a great looking hatchback, and if the Mazda Kai concept is anything to go by, the new Mazda3 will be even more attractive.

Unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, the Mazda Kai progresses Mazda’s current Kodo design language, strongly hinting at what the fourth-generation Mazda3 will look like. It oozes masculinity, power and sportiness.

The driver-focused interior has a very minimalistic design, featuring an infotainment system that’s integrated into the dashboard for a much sleeker look than the infotainment system in the current Mazda3.

The Kai concept is based on the company’s new Skyactiv-vehicle architecture and powered by its next-generation Skyactiv-X engine, a remarkable piece of technology that will be the first compression-ignition engine to hit the market.

The Skyactiv-X engine will not only be between 20-30 percent more efficient than Mazda’s current engines, but will also have up to 30 percent more torque.

Gorgeous looks and revolutionary technology aside, we can also expect great handling. I have high hopes of the new Mazda3.

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Hatchbacks

Volkswagen Scirocco Is Dead… Again

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2014 Volkswagen Scirocco R

Volkswagen has killed off the VW Scirocco once again

The Scirocco nameplate has so far been around for three generations. It was revived in 2008 after being discontinued discontinued in 1992.

Based on the Golf V’s PQ35 platform, the latest, third-generation Scirocco remained in production for almost 10 years and produced 276 horsepower in its most powerful configuration — the Scirocco R (pictured). Enthusiasts hoped it would be sold in the United States, but that never happened.

Years of low and declining sales has made the sporty three-door hatchback a victim of VW’s updated priorities, so now the whole world won’t be getting it as well.

The announcement of its demise was unofficially made by the company’s German website, which stated:

“The Scirocco cannot be ordered with individual specifications anymore. But you can purchase vehicles already built.”

The German automaker has shifted its focus to electric cars ever since the diesel scandal shocked its core. This could mean the Scirocco could return one day as an electric coupe, but that’s a strong “maybe.”

Are you sad to see the Volkswagen Scirocco go?

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Chevrolet

Why The Chevrolet Bolt EV Isn’t Cool

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

As arguably the first long-range electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt is a fine piece of automotive technology. More than that, it’s a very good car for what it is. Now, if that’s the case, why does the average car buyer looking for an EV consider it uncool all the while praising the similar-performance Tesla Model 3 as the second coming of Christ?

Yes, the Bolt is an EV and it’s small — a subcompact, by classification — but it’s packaged in such a way that makes it surprisingly roomy for four adult occupants and their luggage. It’s also among the top two farthest-driving pure-electric cars with a range of well over 200 miles, as well as one of the fastest accelerating. It’s handling and price aren’t too shabby either for segment.

The Bolt is a very well-though-out, well-engineered vehicle for everyday use, so why the cold shoulder? That the Tesla Model 3 is also a fine piece of automotive tech cannot be denied, but is it really that much better than the Chevy?

Auto enthusiast Doug DeMuro pondered the same question with his review of the Chevy Bolt, and as obvious as the answer might be, I quite agree with his overall assessment. Watch his review below and let us know if you have the same sentiments in the comments section.

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